Sunrise from the Metrorail

With petrol prices absolutely sky-rocketing (and rocketing higher still into the universe) I have decided to start taking the train to work. And it’s been great so far, considering that today is day two of this new mission. Riding in cars also get on my nerves and walking from the station to work allows for a bit of excercise. All in all a few not-so-bad reasons to explore our country’s very old (and sometimes frowned upon) public transport system.

Now it may not be the safest of options for a girl travelling alone, but I’m hoping that constant vigilance will protect me. Phones and ipods shouldn’t be flaunted either.

So on my second day of Metrorail travels, I captured the sunrise through the window. Beaut.

train sunrise

HQ – for the love of steak

Disclaimer: you don’t have to eat meat to indulge in the brilliance that is HQ. Keep reading, you’ll see.

There’s a lot of beauty found in simple things. I’m talking uncluttered, but masterful. Simple, yet brilliant. And that’s exactly what you’ll encounter when you spend an evening at HQ. Loosely based on a French dining concept, Headquarters specialises in one thing and one thing alone.

Steak.

Which means that they’re good at it. I would much rather eat at a place that knows a lot about one thing than a little about a lot of things. So here’s how it works:

First, you get a warm welcome at the door and you’re shown to the lounge and bar area where you can have a quick drink while you wait for you friends. It was a Monday night when we went and Mondays mean live music from a Bob Marley cover band. They were busy setting up, the fire was blazing and we were soon nice and toasty.

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Now you go to your table. These are stacked quite close together, but it’s not bothersome at all. In fact, it created quite a cosy, friendly feel.

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You look down at your menu.

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Yup, that’s it. There’s a separate drinks menu, but this is stamp is only thing resembles a food menu in here. Makes for much less clutter on the table.

Now you can spot the other tidbit of information on the table – two-for-one Mondays. Score.

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Next up, the drinks come and you’re asked only one food-related question: How would you like your steak? That gets written down on your table. Like this.

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Now there’s a bit of time to drink, chat and enjoy the music which is just loud enough so that you can groove along to the songs, but soft enough so that you don’t need to strain to chat to the other people. It’s all very well balanced.

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The food starts coming. First up is you starter. All of these are the same and they’re just perfect to get the taste buds ready.

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And now, for the main treat – a quality slice of steak, with butter and herb sauce and perfectly crispy French fries. These are what I would imagine gourmet McDonalds fries would taste like – extremely delicious. And the steak? Well, I’d say it’s close to perfection.

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Now vegetarians, don’t fret. Except if you can’t stand being surrounded by so much meat, you can enjoy a delicious mushroom substitute with the same fries and the same yummy sauce.

Just as you get about halfway with this impressive plate of food, the waiter comes by with a large dish and offers you more sauce and more fries. Yes! That just happened! So a good idea would be to get going on your fries before they come around so that there’s space on your plate for another proper helping.

Now you can order a spot of dessert if you feel that you can handle it. I couldn’t, but the creme brule on the table next door did look rather delicious.

And that’s it! Two hours later and my tummy couldn’t be happier.

HQ Cape Town

HQ

100 Shortmarket Street,
Heritage Square
021 424 6373
www.hqrestaurant.co.za
Facebook

Opening times:

Monday – Saturday
Kitchen serving 11h30 – 22h30
Bar open till late

Cafe Frank – not just a café

Café Frank has been around for a while, but it’s often overlooked as a coffee stop because of the ever so popular Jason’s just across the road. I only discovered it because the queue at The Hatch promised at least 10 minutes’ waiting time which I didn’t have that morning. So I went to Cafe Frank’s hatch, and subsequently to sit inside and eat. Now I’ll keep going back. There’s just so many things to try.

The inside is simple. There’s long, light-wood benches and tables and walls of shelves stocking yummy eats and drinks for a quick lunch. You order at the counter, paying, tipping and getting all of it done. Then you can sit back for a chat or a good read. I love the high stacks of Rolling StoneWired and Time Magazine just sitting there, waiting for you to stuff your brain with new information. If you can’t stand reading something that’s printed on paper, there’s always the free wifi to keep you occupied.

The food is wholesome and without fancy frills. Apart from the pastry-based breakfasts (everything is baked fresh and lined along the counter, tempting you to forget those healthy eating habits), there’s also the very delicious and colourful looking yoghurt, muesli and fruit to indulge in if you manage to stop yourself. Lunches are either decently filled ciabatta’s and sourdough sandwiches, plated chicken/salmon/quiche and salad, soup of the day or a wide variety of filling salads.

Going on a picnic? Stop here on the way and pick up a fresh, delicious picnic box.

Not keen to cook and less keen for takeaway? Pick up a take-home dinner on your way from work.

They really have all your meals covered, and deliciously so.

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Café Frank

160 Bree Street (corner of Bree and Bloem)
cafefrank.com
info@cafefrank.com 
021 423 0360

Opening times: 

Monday – Thursday 07:30 – 18:00
Friday 07:30 – 17:00
Saturday 08:00 – 14:00

Photo: The pro’s of winter in Cape Town

For some reason, people think that winter in Cape Town is a devilish affair. They complain, they sit cooped up in their houses, they refuse to go out (even to a cosy restaurant), and then they complain some more. But when you look at these two pictures, you have to admit that there are a few awesome things about Cape Town’s winter. Just look at what the clouds and the mist do on a chilly morning and an overcast afternoon. You won’t see this in summer.

cape town

cape town

Open Design Cape Town: share all the design!

I know there’s a reason why I should attend more Pecha Kucha events in Cape Town, and this is probably it. At last night’s event, they announced the first Open Design Cape Town event. It’s going to take place from 21-31 August, all over Cape Town, and the overall theme and motivation is ‘Design is for Sharing’. These folks believe just that, that design is something to be shared openly with anyone and everyone that is interested and that it’s not reserved for an elite group of professionals.

So basically, any organisation that sees design as a part of what they do can take part. The event will cover everything from exhibitions, workshops, conferences, talks, films, pop-up shops, restaurants and parties at venues all over Cape Town. Some are official events, like launch and after parties and others are events created by Cape Town’s creative community.

It’s simple. You go onto the website, have a look around and add your event. Then the panel has a look and helps you so that it contributes to the ‘Design is for Sharing’ concept. You’ll see on the homepage that the different events in each category become more and more as time goes by.

I think this is an awesome idea, and even though I’m not a designer myself, I’m very excited to attend as many of these events as I can fit into those 10 days.

open design cape town

Open Design Cape Town

21-31 August 2013

opendesignct.com
info@opendesignct.com
Facebook Page
Twitter

Alba Lounge – cocktails with a view

For some reason, a prerequisite for drinking cocktails is a having a good view to admire. The two just go together so well. Take a sip, stare at the view, take a sip, stare at the view, repeat. And although it’s been around for a while, steadily supplying a range of classic and exotic cocktails, Alba Lounge really gets it right. There’s the extensive list of cocktails and shots, the ceiling-to-floor windows, the view over the harbour and the glittering V&A Waterfront, and the shoreline in the distance to stare at. Perfect recipe.

Alba Lounge is called a lounge for a reason. The seats are deep, the tables are low and the music is mellow. The decor is all about dark wood and a fireplace centerpiece and the waiters are smart. Something I really like is that the music’s volume goes up and down according to the mood. On a Saturday night it’s pumping and happy and in the middle of the week it’s subtle, allowing you talk to the people you’re with.

Alba is stylish, but they don’t force you to dress up. During the day (mostly in summer) the outside deck is a laid-back place on which to enjoy cold beers and chilled wines. They also have thin-based pizzas to munch on while dreaming about owning one of the impressive yachts parked below.

You’ll find Alba Lounge above The Hildebrand, at the Pierhead, sort of in line with Quay 4.

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alba loungeAlba Lounge

0214253385
bliss@albalounge.co.za
www.albalounge.co.za

Opening hours: Mon – Sun: 11:00 – late

Fox & Raven – Cape Town’s freshest publishing house

Now here’s something you probably haven’t seen in Cape Town recently – a niche, indie publishing house that’s not afraid to take chances and even less afraid of having a bit of character. I spoke to Marius from Fox & Raven Publishing, a brand new startup publishing house, to find out what the fox and the raven has in store for the South African book scene.

I’ll be reviewing some short stories published by Fox & Raven in the future, doing mini profiles on the authors too. Seeing as I love books to bits, I thought it apt to promote a bit of local talent.

1. What Fox & Raven Publishing is all about?

In a sentence or two, Fox & Raven is about providing a trove of beautiful, well-written books that don’t necessarily conform to the commercialist ideals of most big publishing houses. It’s also about drinking Earl Grey tea (we live for bergamot) and consuming Seville orange marmalade while reading.

2. How long have you guys been out there?

We’ve been through many metamorphoses throughout the years. I suppose our roots can be traced back to the advent of Myspace (we were only in our teens, we swear! Stop judging!). Since then, we’ve been a blog, a forum, another start-up publisher-that-wasn’t, and now finally we’re here. In our current incarnation, we’ve been alive for only a few months!

3. It says on your Facebook page that you specialise in speculative fiction.

Please explain what this is exactly and why you chose this as your number one field.

Speculative fiction is the umbrella corporation/term (Resident Evil, anyone?) for more fantastical fiction genres. The main players are fantasy, science-fiction and horror, but it can be way more specific – think of post-apocalyptic demons trying to take over a steampunk world that can only be saved by High Elves travelling through space in primordial interstellar ships. You get the picture.

Why did we choose it? Because we love it, and there aren’t enough South African writers published in these genres!

4. Are you planning to publish other genres as well in the future?

Definitely. The idea is to expand, slowly but surely, into a publishing house that has a finger in many proverbial pies. Our first foray into a different genre will be announced in a couple of months – but we’re already working on it!

5. I see you’re jumping straight in with some short stories from local authors. Any specific reason?

Short stories are a great way to get people interested – in both the company and new authors. It’s also a good way for the publishing house to interact with a large pool of potential authors. We’re on a mission to find the coolest, most eclectic writers SA (and the rest of the world, fear not!) has to offer.

6. Any other publications in the pipeline? I heard speak of a full-length novel…

We can’t give you any details yet, but we’re in negotiations for not one, but two full-length novels! We plan on having them in the shops by Christmas.

7. Fox & Raven is a pretty rad name for a publishing house. Any specific reason?

Thanks, we love it too! It’s based on one of Aesop’s Fables (The fox and the raven). The fox represents the fun, fiction side of the company. The raven represents the more serious, non-fiction side (which we haven’t explored yet – that’s why it’s always the fox jabbering away on Facebook!).

8. What is the last book you’ve read?

I’m busy with Foundling by D.M. Cornish and The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. I’ve had to learn to read many things at once. The last thing I read to completion is actually Equinox by Rhys Shannon, an upcoming short story we’re publishing!

9. If you could have the life of any book character ever, who’s would it be?

I’d have to go with Ringil Eskiath from the A Land Fit for Heroes series by Richard K. Morgan. He has a cool sword, does magic, kills dragons. Oh yes, he is bad-ass! Can I say that? [off course you can! -Ed]

10. Where can we get hold of you?

Our website is currently under construction, but you’ll be able to find it at www.foxandraven.co.za once it’s up and running (check back towards the middle of July).

In the meantime, check us out on Facebook, Twitter (@FoxRavenPub), Pinterest and tumblr.

Sjoe! That’s a mouthful!

Thanks for chatting with us. See you around!

books are awesome
Image courtesy of Shutterhacks
Cover image courtesy of Az