Sunday, October 31, 2010

Things that take us back.

These are lights!

Something in the world feels right when you wake up after dreaming of the water lilies in the Okavango Delta. On top of that, it's the first really, really hot day of Summer and there's left-over apple crumble for breakfast, with Greek yoghurt. My friend Madame Fi recently went to Botswana and Zambia and her pictures came to life in my dreams. Also read what she said upon return.
I've only been there in my dream, but I feel nostalgia for that place.
"A sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations."
As I watered the garden this morning, an old Mercedes drove by and the sound of it threw me back to my childhood and thoughts of my father. A true gentleman he was. This Summer I will make his Pimms no.1 Cup and sip it with my feet dangling in the pool.

I bought six of these plates at the boot sale yesterday. They remind me of my Grandmother's kitchen. Then, in the afternoon, T. brought me a bunch of sweet peas from her mother's garden. One sniff of their wonderful scent and I was back in Ouma and Great Aunt Lil's garden in the Eastern Cape.

It's a glorious and searing thing, this squeezing of the heart.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It waxes gibbous.

A difficult, even dangerous day in all astrological traditions. It is suited only for struggles with enemies and the destruction of anything outmoded. On this day, good deeds and noble actions may bring a very different result to the one you had been hoping for. It isn't suitable for starting anything important, especially connected with earning money. Marriage is undesirable, and you should also avoid drunks.

 Oh dear. I have a nasty cold. Luckily there are movies to watch. There is miso soup with rice noodles and crunchy mange tout and baby corn. The Morning Visitor has extended his visit and lies purring on my best blanket. Seems I chose a good day to stay in bed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Parties and Wedding Bells.

The weekend passed in a swirl. MORE sushi at Minato. It was that good.

TWO birthday parties on one night. Mixed Doubles: fun to see who matched who. Ah... so the girl with the furry ears in the ladies room belongs to the guy at the bar, ditto furry ears. Behaving like naughty children in the parking lot. Dancing till 3h30 in the morning at the Kimberley Hotel.
Awoke on Saturday morn to fat plopping raindrops on the pool, but nary a cloud in the sky. Jakkals trou met Wolf se vrou. (The Afrikaans equivalent of a Monkey's Wedding - Jackal marries wife of Wolf.) And then off I zipped to the sleepy hamlet of Stanford, for the union of two lovely, gentle souls.

Where everything grows in lush abundance.

The Bride was what all brides should be. Angelic, ethereal, calm and graceful.

After the service, there was a procession across the green fields to the place of the party.
Many faces from long, long ago. Champagne and tiny gruyere tarts on the stoep, spilling onto the street. Then rooms leading into rooms, filled with beautiful things and chatter and laughter. Sweet potato and roast lamb with salsa verde. Chocolate cake. Conversations about typography and obscure music. Somewhere, hidden by clouds, a huge orange Harvest Moon. Rain on the tin roof.

Later on, my bed was high enough to warrant a step. A feather quilt and an almost dreamless sleep. A walk impeded by mud and breakfast with a favourite family. Home again, home again. Back to week days and crowds and traffic and of course, the morning visitor.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dokter and Misses and Mister Minato.

I take my hat off to David West. I have some friends in the rag trade and from what I gather it's a scary place littered with many sharp scissors. Yet the intrepid Mr.West has just opened another outlet in Cape Town. Dokter and Misses is at 113 Long Street. His other shop is Weekend Special, near the Biscuit Mill.

 Cute dresses.

 And a changing room lined with high-density foam for when you need a moment...

 It was so comfy in there, I didn't particularly want to leave.

 But for a cold glass of wine. And sushi...
My Lovely Friend and The Production Designer picked me up for supper at Minato. Beautifully cut fish - for example: the nigiri - the fish doesn't end bluntly, it tapers into an almost translucent point and is draped over the rice.

 The pieces are big. Apparently this puts The Tall Drink of Water off so much that he doesn't want to eat here. I rather like it. I struggled valiantly with the sticks for a long time, but The Lip taught me some years ago that sometimes it's okay to use your hands. Very liberating.

 The Healthy Roll: no rice. Delicious. As was the one with the crispy tempura coat. We refrained from the Crying Roll and the Sweet Kiss Hot Roll. None of that thank you very much.

 Oh. oh. I would love to have a tattoo. But I'm a scaredy cat. So now and then I draw one with a felt tip pen. This one is à la Derek from Las Vegas. (God made me draw it, says Derek.)

What do you think?

Monday, October 18, 2010

More things I like, including the Olympia Cafe.

I met an incoming plane from Ethiopia.

 Have you noticed, The Man With The Generous Heart asked me. Have you noticed, that when you type Addis Ababa, it feels like you're playing the piano? (I type those words and always I hesitate before the last "ba")
In Addis Ababa, The Lip tells me, there is no litter on the streets. Most people don't have cars or tv's. They are poor, they walk and they are happy. They don't beg. Maybe it's because they don't have tv's that they don't wish for more uneccesary things. They weave and they beat silver.

 All of a sudden it is Summer. Summer means fish and vegetables for supper.

 I love the Olympia Cafe. Many don't. They complain about all manner of things. They say it's not so clean. They say it's overrated. They say it's for tourists, perhaps because it's a busy place. I have always been satisfied. We once had a seafood ragout that, if I could replicate it, I would die a happy woman. I've dreamt about it. The lemon brulée tart is a revelation. 
Last night's fish was wonderful. Alaskan Salmon, moist and pink inside, served crispy skin side up - the skin like some kind of delicate crackling. Aioli, roe, small grilled tomatoes, skinny green beans, roasted almonds.

 And in the morning: a big fruit salad. My first taste of an Asian pear - crisp and juicy. The miniscule green label reads: Delicious Pear to Gentle Pressure.
Then, a swim in the sea. It agrees with my hair and my skin is salty and covered in a faint sun blush.
❤ Cape Town in the Summer ❤
Olympia Cafe & Deli
134 Main Rd, Kalk Bay
021 788 6396

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Trans-Continental Bake-Off.

Or: Die dinge waarmee jy my in 'n wip kan vang.
Every now and then I come across a recipe that I just know in my bones will be delicious. If it contains baked apples and brown butter and ground almonds and cardamom... it is added by default to the list of things you can catch me in a trap with.
So I was nattering away on Skype to The Man with the Generous Heart aka Our Agent in Berlin and we decided to make this together:
Brown Butter Spiced Crisp

  Granny Smith apples, unpeeled. Sultanas and lemon rind. Also added: a dash of cloudy apple juice to 'get it going'.
It's always advantageous to have a partner to share a crumble with. (A sneaky dish this - before you know it, you've eaten the whole thing on your own.)
I had sparkly company in the form of The Fantabulous T, who is visiting from Blighty. She is quite the expert - the crumb was analysed and pronounced most satisfactory.

 And this just in from Berlin: 

 Lilt, ek het die fotos met my cellphone gemaak. Ek stuur die nou ook vd foon, want ons het mos huisgaste. En hulle woon waar my computer is.
Ook nie asof ek eintlik tyd gehad het vir enigiets nie.  Vandat ek begin het om die koek te bak, met I., was dit meer soos damage control. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

 In die middle vd beurre noisette kom die gaste aan. Reg vir aandete.
Stuur hulle op hul eie boontoe, terwyl ek wag vir die botter om 'n hoër pitch te sing. Terwyl ek water kook en knoffel skil.
Exchange pleasantries terwyl ek die botter inroer, met I. wat insist: ek wil, ek wil.  Alles klaar, in die oond.  Skink wyn in vir die grootmense, klein potjie op die plaat met hot chocolate vir die kinders.  Die pasta sousie begin solank simmer, die water kook al amper.
Net toe kom C. met 'n week se groceries wat in die yskas moet kom, blomme wat gesny en in 'n vase moet kom, die tafel word weggeskuif vd muur en gedek vir 7.
People and sauce can wait, pasta cannot.
Dit was die eerste halfuur van ons drie-dae-besoek.

 Uiteindelik, apple crisp vir nagereg.  Voordat ek nog 'n foto kan maak, is driekwart weg.  Ek dink dis 'n goeie teken.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Between the unsettled and the settled.

Before I moved I thought I would miss the frog chorus and the owl who only hooted around the new moon. In that place there were memories so strong you could almost touch them. I have been here for 14 days and I'm trying on new things.

 Some fit better than others. Skimming leaves. Mustard greens for sandwiches. Mint for lamb. The only farm in the city is around the corner. Pigs stray and forage. The mounted police trot by at midday and at dusk. In the mornings, the sun wakes me in stripes.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Reunions, Discoveries and Differences

 The boyfriend of my sixteen-year-old self said to me at the reunion on Friday night: "I'm surprised to see you here - not really your style, is it?" I'm a reserved kind of person and I mostly keep to myself. Now I offer this suggestion: go out and play. I'm discovering that I'm not that shy anymore and it was FUN.

 Kewpie is ready for her starring role in the next production by Nursery Rhymes for Adults Inc.
As I was sewing the last stitch, I remembered an incident from last Friday night at the Albert. The Tall Drink of Water and I were standing chatting at the bar when a very annoying man came up to us and held his finger to his lips. The band hadn't started yet and we were quite some distance from the stage. The Tall One said: You can't be serious! Annoying One continued with his charades. He was dressed like a Buddhist monk, with robes and shaven head. Just the Clark Kent spectacles detracted.
It so happened that I ended up standing behind him in the crowd and was just thinking how nice it would be to draw something rude on his shiny head with a fat khoki pen, when the Tall One piped up: "Ek wil sommer 'n mes dwarsdeur hom steek!" ( something to the effect of wanting to stick a knife right through him, like a skewer... ) I like these differences between men and women.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Harbour House and the Weeping Guitar.

These are things that I like: going for a long walk on the beach. Seeing the street lights come on. Wiping sandy feet on the doormat and watering the garden. Having a yearning for good fish and going to the Harbour House for dinner.

 Rare Yellowfin Tuna on a bed of garlic-mashed potato. Salsa verde and wasabi mayonnaise. Wilted greens. All topped with a perfectly poached egg. Waves crashing around us. Service was the perfect balance between quality attention and leaving well enough alone.
Afterwards we sat looking over the bay and listened to Righard Kapp play his guitar live on Pan African Space Station. "A mixture of composed pieces and spacey improvisation." The first time I came upon Righard, he was playing his guitar with a small handheld fan. It made the guitar sound like a lute or a sitar. He makes his guitar laugh and talk and wail. He takes an instrument of wood and metal and strings and makes it breathe. Later I drove home in the misty rain and saw lightning far away on the horizon.
Harbour House. Kalk Bay Harbour. Kalk Bay.
021 788 4133

Monday, October 4, 2010

~ The Imperial Tiger Orchestra is the coolest thing since electricity ~

Or: The lead actress is in my car...
Or: Brice Wassy ~ you're the man! 
Or: Bye Bye Albert.
I spent an evening and a very late night with some of my favourite people on Friday. :-)
The Production Designer made a mean broccoli and coconut curry. We had it with champagne. Then off we whizzed to the Albert Hall, which sadly is closing down. I've been invited by Nursery Rhymes for Adults Inc. to collaborate on their next project. The lead actress was handed over for a wardrobe fitting and she came along for the ride.

 Brice Wassy, you are the man. You with your leather hat and your beaded vest and your animal tooth necklace and your killer smile. 
Mr.Wassey's drumming was superlative and he was accompanied by an equally nimble-fingered bass guitarist and keyboard player. Their hands were a blur.
these photos from E.'s i-Phone
And then: The Imperial Tiger Orchestra. They're a six-man outfit from Geneva playing tunes inspired by the Golden Age of Ethiopian music in the 70's. With trumpet, saxophone, drums and an assortment of strange Ethiopian instruments, this bunch of snake charmers had us mesmerized and very, very happy. Dark and jolly. The epitome of rhythm.

Fantastic people, I want you on my i-Pod.

And so long Albert, I miss you already.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

New Asian Spice Supermarket.

 Keep your eyes open for this little shop - it's easy to miss. If you're coming from town, it's a ways after Laughton's, on the other side of the road. Large variety of good stuff, friendly and helpful service.

  The prices are really good - R45 for a kilo of miso! Those packets of goji berries, R35 only.
A fridge full of fresh Asian greens, home-made tofu, frozen dim sum....

 Pigeon brand pickled mustard cabbage.
Quail eggs in a can!

 The door buzzer says "Welcome!" when you arrive and when you leave.

 New Asian Spice Supermarket.  
186 Main Rd, Sea Point, 021 434 0598