mucho caliente 

I discovered a new addiction. I tried a new pizza from Massimo’s, but as I am usually a bit picky about sausage I only ventured to try half. I had a half Pancetta and half Hot Latina. But I wish I had been brave enough to go full Caliente as it was divine! It’s the one on the right below.
  
The pancetta pizza is simply tomato, mozzarella and pan fried mushrooms and pancetta and is really good, but the Hot Latina is Massimo’s delicious tomato sauce, mozzarella, chorizo, smoked Portugese salame, red onions & fresh chili. If I had the Latina only it would go for R120. Not sure of the half and half cost but I like that option as it’s hard to pick just one sometimes. 

Sunday I made a giant pot of vegetarian curry which served us as a family meal, a few lunches for the girls and then the rest went to Cordelia and her daughter. It was yummy. I made basmati rice and poppadoms to go along with it, I used up all the veg in the house so it was a bit of a strange mix of sweet potato, broccoli, butternut, carrots and regular potato. But it worked! 

I worked such long hours this week and got home so late, we ended up having take aways all week. Even had I wanted to cook it would have been impossible as we also had loadshedding several evenings. You can’t eat every dish in the half light. Pizza is uncomplicated. 

We had a ton of rain this week. I was prepared for some of it, if it is damp in the morning I know to take a rain coat, but Wednesday there was no prior warning, it just bucketted down on my way to the car after work. I walk about 2-3 blocks so by the time I finally arrived at the hotel where I rent parking I was sodden and the rain was running down my scalp and my cardigan was soaked through. 

  
I was not a happy kitty. 

Friday I really fancied a steak so asked Lily to pop by Woolworths to get some nice fillets and bits to go with. I can’t remember the last time I cooked on a Friday. But I fancied a home cooked meal with our week of take outs, it was delicious if I say so myself.

  
The steaks were just right, nice and pink in the centre. We had steamed baby broccoli spears, baked potatoes with sour cream and porcini mushrooms cooked in pepper, huge chunks of garlic and butter. I marinated the steaks in teriyaki, garlic, worcestshire and a dash of dark soy.

Today we had a little networking meeting with Bronwyn from Community Cohesion to see what synergies there might be with Norman’s contacts and projects. I think it was a good session I would hope some positive energy flows from it. 

Afterwards we were starving so we went to my fave breakfast spot The Riverway Cafe even though it was lunch time as I hadn’t had anything except coffee. Norm had the spicy Thai sweet potato soup.

  

  
I am a creature of habit and had the Retro Roll. that is a huge pile of fluffy scrambled eggs, grilled bacon, sweet, sticky caramelised onions and HP sauce. It is R45. We shared some chips which as always were so beautifully presented. 

 
 
Even the tomato sauce has an adorable dragonfly spoon.

  
 After we ate we had a run round Clicks for bits and pieces and went looking for a new pair of jeans for Norm. We got a nice gray pair as well as a cool grey Aztec print flannel shirt. 

We again had 2 hours of load shedding and then Norm went to get a curry for us at The Indian Oven as the girls were out. He left at 7 and it is now almost 9. I’m so hungry I may eat one of the dogs. 

I can’t believe a take away could take so long. It better be awesome. 😳

Unfathomable

I have blogged before about the disparity between the various socio-economic groups in South Africa, it is a part of our every day lives but sometimes it rises up and slaps you so hard in the face that your head reverberates with the force of it. 

It’s been a busy week, work is still long hours and stressful days. Even so, Caitlin shopped for us so I have actually cooked much of the week. We are so rubbish at making a menu for the week and shopping accordingly. This means I have to plan on the fly. 

We had Mexican Tuesday night, I made cheese quesadillas and refried beans and fried onions. We had salsa and sour cream but our avos were not quite ripe unfortunately. Wednesday I made a yummy pasta with bacon and mushrooms in a creamy sauce which everyone seemed to enjoy. It was nice having home made food even though I was dead on my feet after we finished.

Thursday was our Hout Bay Women’s Gin Bunnies get together. We had it at Spiro’s in Hout Bay and there was a big turn out, I estimate about 30 women turned up. Spiro served us delicious platters of various bits of meze, crunchy fried calamari heads, grilled little calamari tubes, spicy peri-peri chicken livers, galicky Naxos potatoes fried in onions and covered in parmesan, bruschetta topped with tomato and feta, warm pita bread wedges accompanied by 3 different dips, spanakopita which is a spinach, feta and phyllo pastry dish, cauliflower fritters in a creamy dill sauce, stuffed calamari tubes oozing with prawns and pesto, and chicken wings. It was all delicious and plentiful – we all paid 100 rand per head. 

The speaker this month was Bronwyn from Community Cohesion who spoke to us about the work that they do and the challenges they face trying to do that work. It was a very inspiring speech which gave those of us hope who are living in an environment which is immersed in fear and surrounded by stories of violence and chaos. I live with a man who is a responder for the local Neighbourhood Watch so we have the radio on all the time, we see the crime on social media, we hear it in conversation. It’s easy to feel hopeless about the future of South Africa. 

Bronwyn gave me hope. Hope that with a common push towards trying to support some of the people who are part of the crime before that happens and to try and approach  some of the ‘criminals’ with love and understanding and a desire towards exactly what the organization is called – cohesion in a community torn apart by crime and poverty. Many of the crimes committed are by children, children being called ‘feral children’. Some of these children have no home, or have such poor living conditions due to parental inability to parent, either due to drug addiction or alcoholism or just despair at the huge challenge to get out of their dire living situation. 

It breaks my heart to think of homeless children sleeping out in the cold and rain, of children with no food in their bellies for days. Of children with no love. We all need food to survive and develop strong muscles and bones, but we need love to develop humanity. If you have never had a loving hug or felt safe and secure, how can you have empathy for your potential victims? 

The weather on Friday was hectic with torrential rain pour, howling winds and freezing cold temperatures. We have a warm home, a warm gas heater, yet we spent the evening wrapped in blankets and our warm furry robes. What must it have been like for those with no home?

We would have stayed in that evening but for it being Norman’s birthday on Friday. He never wants a fuss so the girls and I just took him for burgers at Ragafellows one of our fave restaurants. 

  
There was a roaring fire and the restaurant was warm and cosy. We all had burgers except Caitlin who had the vegetarian curry which she said was very nice. 

  

I had the Baylock (as always) at R85. It’s made up of aged cheddar in a thick beef patty, topped with bacon, jalapeno, pickles, and BBQ sauce. Lily had the Bertram which is a burger with a beef patty, chorizo pulled pork, basil pesto, rocket, tomato and Norm had the Mortimer, a beef patty topped with red wine beef short rib, blue cheese crumbs, onions. I adore their burgers. 

We had to order dessert as it was Norm’s birthday and Norm is a big dessert fan. The staff all came out to sing when they served the complimentary Berry pavlova of delicious berries and meringue. 

  

   

Norm had ordered the chocolate ice cream sandwich which he enjoyed despite the cold weather.

 The girls and I all shared the very rich and delicious, Warm Chocolate Cake which is really a chocolate fondant with Salted caramel anglaise & sesame seed Biscuit. It’s on at R50.  
We came home and Norm opened all of his presents.

  
He got a few shirts and chocolates and bits and pieces. He and I wrapped up and put on the heater and relaxed and Caitlin and Lily headed out to a friends for a games night. 

Today Norm and I got up early and headed to the V & A Waterfront for Body Reactivation treatments. I went first and felt much better after. While Norm was having his I went in search of breakfast. Directly downstairs from the Wellness Center is a little place I’ve walked by a million times, today I decided to give them a try. It is called Cooked and serves middle eastern food. 

  
  
I ordered the potato latke topped with egg and bacon and a wee dollop of a tomatoey concoction. It was divine! 

  
The egg was perfectly cooked, the white solid and the center still runny. The bacon was nicely cooked but not too dry, I hate gelatinous floppy bacon but no one wants to break a tooth on a bit of leathery bacon either. The potato latke was similar to a hash brown. I really enjoyed it. 

After Norm finished  with David we headed to Mop Hair on Bree Street so I could get my hair coloured. The lady who assists my hairdresser lives in Hout Bay too and I just casually mentioned the storm last night and how miserable it was. She preceded to tell me that the shack she lives in with her mother and 3 children had caught light last week and had lost the roof from the blaze.  It was covered in a piece of plastic until this week and she said the new roof was not nailed down yet so it banged and slammed and the wind whistled in. 

To us who have always had a proper house around us, who go to bed warm and dry and with a full stomach, we really cannot comprehend what the lives of those in the informal settlements must be like. All we can do is help who we can where we can and try not to carry the weight of that guilt about the differences in our lives with us. 

just livin life

This has been a few weeks full of a lot of drama. Both negative and positive.

Last week a young man named Dede Chikala was murdered in the township in Hout Bay. He was Congolese and was in South Africa studying. This was such a tragedy. This is now the second stabbing in the same area, and there has been a child raped at this same place. There is an abandoned clinic there, or at least there is a shell of a building. It provides shelter for various criminals. Locally it is known as The White House.

It is throwing distance from the police station.

Yes, a derelict meth den owned by the City of Cape Town and right in sight of the police station is a hideout for murderers and rapists.  

You couldn’t make it up. But that’s life in Africa. 

People in rural areas have their own justice system. 

The Congolese men in the township formed a group and marched into the shacks of the young boys who allegedly murdered Dede and took them to the police station. All 3 accused are now in custody.

There was a memorial the following day after Dede died and several politicians came and paid their respects, I hope it is more than lip service. I hope something positive comes from this man’s death. 

Tonight the White House burned, rumour is that it was set alight by people from the township. To most in Hout Bay its demise is long overdue. 

  
Photo courtesy of Hout Bay News on Twitter.

We couldn’t attend the memorial. On Thursday afternoon I was added to a whatsapp group and then we were advised that we were invited to attend a last minute party the following day. It was all a surprise for my friends girlfriend. 

I asked for the time off and was happy that my project manager was feeling generous. I arrived at work on Friday at 8, Norm dropped me then took my car off to work a bit himself. We left just after 10.30 for the party which was beginning at 11. 

Norm picked me up and we headed to Radisson Blu in Mouille Point but Norm and I arrived much earlier than the others so we relaxed and had a drink. And why not?

I had a strawberry daiquiri as always.

  
  

The view is so amazingly gorgeous there. And I don’t just mean Norm.

  

It wasn’t long before everyone else arrived and we moved to the private room my friend had booked to surprise his girlfriend. We toasted happy birthday with the bubbly and snacks were served to munch on. 

We spent a few hours there but had some things with our household to sort out and we headed home. We met up with everyone again later at Blue’s Restaurant which has been around for decades, but they have lost their mojo. 

It’s a stunning venue location.  

 

The problem is they think that is enough. 

It isn’t. The place very sparsely booked, we only phoned to book a few hours before, as we decided to go for a meal at the last minute.  A venue like that which was producing good food even at a high price should be in such demand that you would never get a table for 10 at the last minute especially on a Friday night.

We were given a menu and then the waiter proceeded to mention all the things that weren’t available as well as the ‘changed things’. I can’t understand reworking your menu without changing the actual printed menu? The printed menu is not the same as the menu on their website either. The line fish sounded good, but it was served on a bed of mixed beans in a mussel and Napoli sauce. That put me off and it did look as unappetizing as it sounds. I ordered the chicken supreme on a bed of risotto at R130. 

We were all starving and eager for our food to appear. The food was all on the table other than the 2 portions of lamb, so we waited and waited. It was so long I actually asked the waiter where they were. Those who had been served were waiting politely for the entire table to be served before starting and our food was getting cold. Finally we all had our food and could eat.

  
The chicken had a crispy flavoured outside. The skin seemed to have a Parmesan flavour and the inside was stuffed with a mix of chopped peppers. There were a few bits of rocket and sun dried tomatoes on the plate. 

The risotto had a slight lemony taste which was delicious. It was tender and creamy. The risotto went well with the chicken and it was tasty. I wasn’t so keen on the stuffing but it was edible, just not to my personal taste. 

Norm had the mushroom risotto at R110. He said “it was ok I had no complaints”. So, there you go. 

Scotsmen.

The people who had the lamb shank loved it. It was huge and came on a large bed of mash with carrots which had been cooked in the lamb pot and looked delicious. This looked like a great dish. The other nice looking dish was the calamari. 

We all fancied a celebratory dessert and when the waiter offered the chocolate fondant I positively drooled. We ordered coffees and desserts. A few minutes later the waiter comes to tell us that the fondant did not set properly and they can’t serve it.

What?! Grrrr. I half heartedly ordered the creme brûlée and hoped for the best. It was nice, not the best I’ve had but not the worst. It came with a slightly lemon flavoured biscotti type biscuit. 

  

 
 Most people at the table had the brownies. Everyone said they were delicious.

  
They certainly looked divine. Both the creme brûlée and the brownie desserts were R60 each. 

All in all mine and Norman’s dinner came to R400 including tip. 

We all chatted and laughed til late and then everyone headed off and Norm and I toddled off to Hout Bay.

Saturday I was happy to just chill so I got up and showered and got dressed in clean PJs and settled in for a day of doing nothing. My friend Retha popped by to show me her new Mercedes. It’s like a space ship inside.

We watched 2 movies. We watched The DUFF which we only watched because Caitlin rented it. It was so cute and funny. It has Mae Whitman from Parenthood and the insane Ken Jeong. We laughed a lot.

Then that evening we watched Focus with Will Smith and the jaw droppingly beautiful Margot Robbie. It was mediocre. The last few movies I’ve seen with Will in them have been mediocre. Sad as I like him a lot. Hope he isn’t just chasing the dollar.

Anyway my Saturday was lovely and lazy. I did make dinner, that is I piled things on a plate, some I bought at Spar. We had pies, steak for Norm and I and spinach and feta for Caitlin. I baked potatoes, heated some beans and fried some zucchini spears. Caitlin breaded them all so I just did the cooking. 

  
It was a nice winter dinner.

Sunday I hit Blue Route Mall as I badly need jeans. I managed to find everything I needed at Fashion Express. I got 2 pair of skinny jeans, 1 blue and 1 black and 3 tops. 

I was so chuffed! I’m a curvy girl (aka a bit fat) so that never happens.

I was starving so popped by Mugg & Bean in the mall and ordered a sandwich.

I ordered the backyard BBQ pretzel.

  
The word “BBQ” beef to me was going to be the US Version, but it was just overdone steak drenched in BBQ sauce. The menu version is above.

Mine was less meaty.

  
But it was tasty enough. 

This week is just as busy at work as always. Last night I got home late and we had no food in the house it seemed. We did have eggs, milk, onions and cheese as well as potatoes so I started cooking the potatoes southern style as Caitlin had done a shop and brought home mushrooms, tomatoes and bacon to accompany it. We had a yummy cheesy omelette, bacon, mushrooms, crispy fried potatoes, little Roma tomatoes all piled up, I sat down and had a single bite and managed to spill almost my entire plate down my pajama legs and into my slippers and all over the floor.

I almost cried. 

I saved enough for my dinner and Norm kindly gave me his omelette so it wasn’t too bad. I did miss those mushrooms fried in butter which all bit the dust.

Oh well. 

I’m off to watch some rubbish telly, enjoy your evening everyone.

Tequila For The Win

People say that you will never meet your true love in a bar, but conversely they also say that nothing can keep soul mates apart. My husband Norman and I are classic examples of the latter and a contradiction to the former of those ‘sayings’. 

Today is our 18th wedding anniversary. We met almost 20 years ago at my local back then, a Firkins Pub in Rosebank in Johannesburg in South Africa. I worked as a radiographer still and had worked late that night and was working the next day so my friend Stacy and I had just popped into Firkins for a quick drink while we waited for a table to be available for dinner at our fave Italian place next door.  We ran into my Aussie friend Colin and his Australian pals and somehow ended up doing rounds of shots together. Colin rang his friend Norman who was over in SA on a project and tried to get him to come out and join us, but by the time he finally arrived we were about 6 rounds of shots ahead of him. One of the guys in our group was an off duty bartender there and came back with a tray full of tequila shots and Stacy and I both found a variety of interesting places to place the lemon and the salt and proceeded to catch Norm up by virtue of body shots. 

He hasn’t left my side since so I must have done something right.

We have had a heck of an interesting ride the last 20 years. The tequila should have given him a clue it was not going to be a boring journey. We have lived in Northern Ireland, all over England, and now we hope to have settled in South Africa. We have both achieved a lot in our careers, but nothing can top Norm’s MBE last year and our visit to the castle. We have had a lot of happiness and a lot of sadness. We have both lost people we love. Life goes on. 

20 years ago in that pub draped across the bar with a lemon in my cleavage I never would have guessed that we would later be celebrating 18 years of marriage. 

Here’s to us. 

  

He has been such an amazing husband. I could not have asked for a better stepfather to my children. 

I know that our souls are entwined. I know from my past life regressions that Norm was my husband in the life my soul had before this life. He loves me unconditionally and that is a rare thing. I am so blessed to have found him.

The fact that we met at all is such a slim chance. I was born in a tiny town in Georgia in the USA, he was born in a small village in Scotland. The chance that we were in a pub in Africa at all is a zillion to one I am sure. But he was my destiny. We would have met one way or another. The Universe would have made sure of that. 

Today to mark the occasion we went to The Green Vine Eatery

  

That is the new name for the relocated Treetops Eatery I’ve blogged about before.

 

It was our first visit since they moved from the tip top of the estate. It is every bit as fabulous as ever. I love the draped ceiling in the main dining area. 

  

We were seated in the little side patio so had a stunning view.

  

There was a big toasty fire roaring behind us and it was rather cosy. Perfect for a winter Sunday afternoon. 

Again today we opted for the roast of the day for R140.

  

It was a sirloin roast, nicely tender. It was served with roast potatoes, al dente veg of carrots, zucchini and broccoli.  There was a Yorkshire pudding as well. There were 3 large slabs of beef.  

It was so gorgeous, we loved every bite. There were sprinkles of baby coriander leaves which burst freshness into your mouth periodically. So delicious. I would have liked a little jug of gravy to pour over my Yorkshire pud, but I’m a gravyholic.

We ordered cappuccinos which cost R19 each. Their desserts are all based on local ingredients and change so they have a chalk board (so I am not sure of the prices of our desserts). 

I opted for the red velvet pancakes with cream cheese ice cream.

  

Norm went for the bread and butter pudding made with berries and croissants.

  
He loved it, said it was nicely warm and the ice cream melted perfectly. 

My pancakes were a bit dry. They were a challenge to eat witha spoon as well, I needed a fork.

A huge credit to the manager who noticed I was not relishing the dessert and was standing behind me when I said to Norm it needed a chocolate sauce or something to moisten it as it was a bit dry.

She dashed off and brought back a nicely warmed pancake, new scoop of ice cream and a little pot of chocolate. How sweet is this?

  
I ate as much as I could fit in and we paid up and headed home. We stopped outside and had a look out over the vineyards at the stunning view of Constantia.

   
   
I’m right where I am meant to be, and happy that I am here. I love it when the unplanned comes together. 

Take Me To The River

Another week rattled by. Work is still intense but as it was school holidays this week, the morning traffic was much less. I left a bit later and therefore got a few more minutes of sleep. 

I do love the morning light, the mountains all lit by the dawn, the sky just starting to pinken. The sea so dark, reflecting the sky. It makes my heart swell. I use that drive time to ponder. One day this week I was thinking about the fact that it is Norman and my 18 year wedding anniversary tomorrow. 

I’ve done past life regression and know that we have been married before in our most recent lives. This made me think about the souls that stay in our presence life after life. I thought about how my Grandmother pays me visits, makes her presence known, touches me, speaks to me. I know she watches over me. I’ve not really felt that from my Father who passed when I was in my 20s, but I do feel that my son has my Dad’s soul. So I guess it’s logical that only when you are ‘between’ earth lives can you appear in spirit form. I then thought “I wish I had more visits from my Dad” and I instantly felt this warm feeling wash over me. I did feel him so strongly, it gave me such comfort.

He loved the 4th of July and died at this time of year. It always brings him to mind. I wish he knew my kids and Norm, I would love to hang out with him again.

I mentioned in my last blog that I bought Mom a surprise for her birthday and promised to show you her gifts. I found a website Fairy Garden Store and ordered some cute little pieces for her fairy garden.

   
 
She really seemed to love them all. I can’t wait to see the pics now that she has figured out how to send a photo. 

I have not been out all week other than a brunch and lunch both at The Riverway Cafe. I love that they have a delicious breakfast menu, lunch menu and a divine dessert table. It suits any time or occasion. 

Last Sunday Norm and I had a few errands to run so we popped in for a quick retro roll for sustenance. 

  
We had woken to load shedding from 8-10am so we were desperate for a coffee. 

   
 
The place was packed and buzzing. We still got served quickly and were soon off to shop. I got a lovely pair of black boots cut to my knee at Woolworths which were 20% off. We picked up some fillet steak for dinner and ran our other errands. 

We have shifted fully over to winter eating now, we had homemade soup made by Caitlin one night this week – made with our last box of veg from Harvest of Hope project. It was so delicious and to go with it Norm got some fresh breads from Oakhurst Spar which is often our go to shop. Later that week we got their gorgeous steak pie and I made baked potatoes and baked beans to go with it. So simple and easy after working all day. 

Last night we stayed in and watched some of the Glastonbury performances on Chromecast. It’s such a pleasure to sit on the comfort of our own couch and see the bands so close on our big Telly. Norm just queues the ones we fancy and a few new ones. It’s a great way to get exposed to new artists. Of course I slept for part of it. But enjoyed what I saw.

Today I had lunch with my bestie Retha. We seldom see each other lately as we are both so busy with work we don’t have much energy for social things. 

Of course we went to Riverway Cafe. We had Pimm’s Cocktails, 

  
Then we shared the Piggy Poppers. 

  
I had the steak sandwich and chips.

  
The steak sandwich was served on a crispy baguette, had loads of sweet caramelised onions, crispy bacon and thick slabs of cheddar. It was so yummy.

Retha had the bunny chow.

  
We both bought dessert to bring home.

Tonight we are relaxing at home as tomorrow we are out to Silvermist Eatery for our anniversary so I’ll take some pics for you.