Tag Archives: Johannesburg

In the summertime

In this day in 1898 the North Pole was discovered. It’s one of the coldest regions on earth, so you’re probably wondering what I’m doing mentioning it in a post about summertime.

I’m a summer person, I don’t like the cold. I live in Africa so my summers are hot and winters temperate. I have experienced snow 4 times in my life, one of them when I visited my friend T, in the States. And it wasn’t bad snow – a bit of snow on the ground in Yosemite, and maybe a little more in Tahoe. This was late November, early December.

As I think back to the polar vortex experienced in the Northern Hemisphere this past winter, I’m hoping we don’t get an African equivalent – in Joburg it wouldn’t be snow and blizzards, more like wind and rain, and maybe a day or two of snow. In the mountains it would be much worse off course.

Last winter, 2013, we didn’t switch the heater on even once. Cold in the evenings and mornings, it was very warm during the day.

My fondest memories of this last summer were inaugurating our newly marbelited pool, sunlight until almost 8pm and sunrise before 5am. Family Christmas.  A family gettaway. Family birthdays. Gobbling juicy strawberries even before unpacking the rest of the groceries. Having meals out in the garden. The scent of the sun on sun-dried clothes. Opening all the doors and windows and letting the outside in. The smell of braaiing* meat. The fragrance of frangipani and magnolia in the evening air. Farmland in varying shades of green on the nearby hillsides.  Late afternoon thunderstorms. The smell of wet earth after the rain.

All of the above is what I am looking forward to when summertime comes around again in October.

*Braai – South African word for barbecue.

Slap-stick in the morning

I got caught up in a traffic jam of note at 7h00 this morning. Two sets of consecutive traffic lights were out at 2 intersections in the Johannesburg CBD, the route I decided to take to get onto the M1 to Sandton.

Traffic gridlocked at these 2 intersections. It just wasn’t moving. Minibus taxis pushed in. Busses were stuck in the middle of the intersections. Cars edged forward, each motorist to their own devices – me included.

On the intersection of Booysens and Webb, traffic police half-heartedly  and unsuccessfully tried to get some control – but they surely need some assertiveness training because no one paid them any attention. They eventually just stood on the pavement dejectedly watching the scene unfold – I felt sorry for them actually .

At the intersection of Booysens and Trump, a traffic policeman was directing traffic more or less successfully, but I waited 10 minutes before he gave us right of way.

At the onramp to the M1 another traffic policeman resorted to shouting, hands on either side of his head, furiously gesticulating at motorists who were trying to cut in front of the cars already waiting to get onto the freeway.

“Wat n’ gedoente!”

Please believe me when I say that I laughed so hard I got to work in a good mood. Because it was really funny. Like something out of Schuster movie!

Note 1: "Wat n' gendoente" is an Afrikaans expression and means "What a mess/fuss/hullabaloo."
Note 2: Leon Schuster is a popular South African filmmaker, comedian and actor who specialises in slap-stick humour and candid camera type movies.

AureLie’s and a storm

AureLie’s Health and Lifestyle Cafe came highly recommended and it didn’t disappoint.  There aren’t many vegetarian eating places in Joburg, so when I hear about a new one I’m there in a flash. So today, my friend K. and I went there for lunch.

It’s situated in the new Waterfall Estate in Kyalami and easy to reach either via the N1 (Allandale offramp) or the R55 from Woodmead. Much of this large estate is still under construction as people buy land to build homes there. The roads were the first things to be built, so getting in and out of there is a breeze.

AureLie's Health and Lifestyle Cafe, Waterfall Estate, Kyalami
AureLie’s Health and Lifestyle Cafe, Waterfall Estate, Kyalami

The menu is quite extensive, with freshly squeezed juices (I had the Vitamin Booster), smoothies, wraps, salads, focaccia, and so much more. Not many eating places offer vegetarian burgers, and AureLie’s has a large selection. I settled on the the My Favourite focaccia instead with (amongst others) roasted aubergine, honey, wallnuts, rocket and goats cheese.

My Favourite Focaccia
My Favourite Focaccia

K had a yummy Rosa salad, presented in a gorgeous bowl.

Rosa Salad
Rosa Salad

AureLie’s is on a higher level than the surroundings and the area provides wonderful views eastwards towards Kempton Park, and northwards towards Pretoria. During our after-lunch walk we observed the approaching storm, and decided to rush home because it looked rather nasty…and it was nasty (more about this later).

The approaching thunderstorm - you can see 3 of them towards the north
The approaching thunderstorm – you can see 3 of them towards the north

The thunderstorms towards the east.

Approaching thunderstorms to the east
Approaching thunderstorms to the east

After dropping off K, the rain started. As I approached Alberton, the rain fell harder and visibility dropped to just a few meters. Surface water made driving not so easy and the water levels started to rise on the surface of the roadway. The little stream at the bottom of my street had broken its banks, so I had to do a U-turn to reach home through the top road.

It’s still raining outside albeit softly now. The back garden is looking green and lush, the tomato plants and other vegetables are loving the constant watering. The pool is filled to the top. The front garden is waterlogged. But in this land of scarce natural water resources, I am not complaining.

Diners Drive-ins and Dives

I enjoy watching Diners Drive Ins and Drives. It’s enough to make a vegetarian like me want to eat meat again. There’s none other like Guy Fieri and those cars he drives – nice, very nice cars!

The variety of food influences in America is vast – Cuban, Mexican, Creole, Italian, Greek and…meat…it’s a meat culture like ours. Life revolves around meat. It all looks yummy (I haven’t always been vegetarian, I still remember what meat tastes like).

Which begs the question – do we have diners in South Africa right now?

There’s a 24hr joint in the Alberton boulevard called Pink Cadillac. It used to be open 24hrs – it now has an opening and closing time. I think a diner should be a 24hr place. Anytime you’re hungry, there’s a place to go. Hungry after a concert – no problem, go to the diner. Hungry after a night out – no problem, drop by the diner. Hungry, no food in the fridge – no problem, there’s the diner. Good home-style food. The Pink Cadillac menu included spaghetti bolognaise and macaroni cheese at any time of the day or night 🙂

We have tons of restaurants and coffee-shops which have an opening and a closing time, and many are in malls. I remember a diner at Bedford Centre years ago who really tried to emulate the diner experience – the decor was all red and rock and roll, complete with jukebox (very 50s), and food was served in plastic baskets. The food was nice, the vibe was nice, but they closed early. So, no satisfying of the hunger after the 10 o’clock show.

Hubby and I found a place, quite by accident (years ago), while aimlessly driving around Braamfontein on a Friday night, hungry as hell. Tucked away at the street level of an office block, fronted with big glass windows, the warm glow from inside invited us in. We walked in and were welcomed by the owner, a big bear of a man – I think it was a Greek restaurant. Or it could’ve been Croatian. Or Italian. I don’t recall exactly. The influence was European bistro-style. There was a row of tables on either side of the narrow space with a corridor down the middle. We had the tastiest meal ever, home cooked by Mamma in the back I am sure. I just know that I haven’t tasted food like that since, truly (outside of my Mom’s kitchen)! We were offered dessert and the cognac was on the house. I half-expected to be offered a cigar. The owner sat with us and we chatted for a long while, I think he found us a bit of a novelty because the rest of the patrons were much older than us, they all knew each other – probably went there every night. Or maybe it was just a front for the mob…:-)

Another wonderful memory, although not of a diner, but of a 24hr food place nonetheless, was Casablanca roadhouse at the bottom end of Hillbrow. I have fond memories of going there after clubbing or a movie, a whole lot of us piled into a skedonk of a car (poor students, more of us than was legal in the car). It was there that I had my first dagwood – the-best-ever-dagwood-in-town, in the world, a sumptuous tower of bread, burger, ham, egg, and other stuff I can’t remember, and a coke! Absolutely delicious, I still remember the taste, enough to make me salivate as I write this.

As I end this post, I am left wondering what a South African version of Triple-D would look like. If the Food Network had to do a South African version of Diners Drive-ins and Dives, where would they go? If you know, share on this site (I haven’t been out much lately)!

I bid you good eatings!