Sunday, 13 April 2014

Cocktails & lunch on a perfect Indian Summer day in Franschhoek, Cape Town...


What perfect days we've been relishing in Cape Town. We're currently in the middle of an Indian summer....hot, balmy days smack bang in the middle of autumn, and with winter right around the corner, we're making the most of it.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting two fine establishments in Franschhoek (a village that is one of the Cape's gems just 50 minutes out of the busy city centre) - Le Quartier Francais (LQF) on the main street and Bread and Wine Vineyard Restaurant a short distance away, on the Moreson Estate. My date was Paul van der Spuy of bluecollarwhitecollar fame and wheatgrass hair notoriety.

I don't usually do cocktails over lunch which is clearly ridiculous because it's a fabulous way to ease into a Saturday. LQF has an inviting selection of what they call 'food based' cocktails with unique South African ingredients like mebos, sour figs and buchu, all locally sourced. I opted for the light Francais 75.  LQF chef Margot Janse has also created a fabulous bar menu - I loved the tempura beans with a soya and sesame dipping sauce- next time I want to savour the Prawn Popcorn and Wildebeest Popovers! And thanks to Eleanor for the warm welcome and to Elizabeth for the great service.

The Francais 75 is made with Lady Bonin's Earl Grey tea, infused with dry gin, Miss Molly Bubbly, fresh lemon and sugar ~ tempura beans on the side...






From cocktails to lunch at Bread and Wine Vineyard Restaurant,  5 minutes from LQF, tres convenient. We were warmly greeted by Tina Jewell and well looked after by Cintelle. What a gorgeous setting - the restaurant has a rustic, comfortable feel to it and sitting outside under the trees in 35 degree heat was so cool, literally. The man behind the magic at Bread and Wine is Neil Jewell, aka the 'Charcuterie Guru', who opened the doors in 1999 and who believes in unfussy food, 'fresh, tasty and infused with a passion for life'.

As you enter...



Coolness under the trees...




Loved the red bread, made so by the addition of beetroot juice and fermented beets...



 Fig and Buffalo Ridge bocconcini, with hazelnut and port...



Carrot ravioli, parsley, dukkah and pickled radish...


Bacon wrapped springbok with butternut, granola and sour figs...melted in the mouth -superb!







 An excellent Mercator Premium Chardonnay ... salu!



West Coast mussels in a Cafe de Paris butter...


Dessert was the lemon tartlet with delicate champagne jelly and berries...







 Looking up...the leaves are turning....


The view as you leave Moreson...what a beautiful estate, what a perfect day, what a stunning city we are so fortunate to call our own...





Le Quartier Francais cocktail emporium, corner  Berg & Wilhelmina Streets, is open from 12h to 23h (the bar menu is available until 22h) | 0218762151 | www.lqf.co.za

Bread and Wine Vineyard Restaurant at Moreson trades for lunch Monday to Sunday from 12h-15h | (021) 876 3692 | www.moreson.co.za

All photos are taken on a Canon 600D - copyright DIVA PR


Friday, 11 April 2014

I like to ride my bicycle...

The bicycle. It's made a comeback. All types, for all people, big and small. I blame my sis-in-law for getting me into this when she invited me to come for a ride one morning this past February. I was hooked immediately and pretty soon afterwards found myself shopping for bikes - I ended up with a stylish Simple 7 from The Handle Bar in Sea Point and now you'll find me cycling most mornings along the seaside promenades, around the Green Point stadium and through the urban park. With a silly smile on my face. It really is the most liberating thing I've done in forever. Nothing really beats excercising outdoors (a lot of the time I just cruise on my simple 7, I won't lie) and the promenade takes me through prime parts of my city - from Bantry Bay all the way to Mouille Point. Not much can beat that. If you don't own your own two wheeler, hire one from the guys next to the Pavilion...and try get a cycle in early - it's best when there are few people...

The pics were all taken on an early morning ride this week...

There's my Simple 7...



Sea Point side...



Milton Pool-I spent tons of time there as a child...










Granger Bay...



The Mouille Point Light House...



 The Green Point Urban Park, looking out over the golf course and with the Stadium in the background...




Lions Head and Signal Hill...from the Urban Park...



A stop to say hi to the police horses stabled in Mouille Point...




Next up is Moonlight Mass on the 15th April...anyone coming?





Thursday, 3 April 2014

21_21 Design Sight, Tokyo...'Redirect your eyes'...

My last day in Tokyo and I realised I'd almost forgotten about this place! I would have hated myself if I'd missed it because not only is 21_21 Design Sight an incredibly beautiful building, but the exhibition that's currently running, KOME The Art of Rice, is truly one of the best I've ever seen anywhere in the world. It's a very personal thing is art and for me this display of rice in its various forms was utterly captivating in its simplicity and presentation. 'In this exhibition, we take a fresh look at rice not only as food but also as Japanese culture, with graphic designer Taku Satoh and cultural anthropologist Shinichi Takemura acting as exhibition directors'.

The architect of 21_21 Design Sight, is unsurprisingly Tadao Ando and the Directors of the actual facility are three of the best, Issey Miyake (clothing designer), Taku Satoh (graphic designer) and Naoto Fukusawa (product designer). As per the website, 21_21 is a launch pad that provides the vision (sight) to search for, discover, and make things indispensable to the times and design as culture that enlivens our daily lives.

I spent hours there, mesmerized by the tiny writing on even tinier grains of rice, the superb photographs of everything rice-connected, moving short films featuring interviews with rice farmers and makers of sake, the test tubes of simulated growing rice, the endless framed sake labels, graphics, grasses, paddy field hats and long boots, the tools of the trade...there was so much amazingness which as you know, is something I'm constantly in search of as I wander here, there and everywhere, like Alice.

I've seen rice in a new light, with fresh, redirected eyes. So kudos to 21_21 Design Sight and KOME - you captivated and enriched me today and left me feeling lighter and gentler.

Walking down from Tokyo Midtown...



Striking angles...21_21 Design Sight is a work of art in itself...



Inside...



Gorgeous photographs by Yusuke Nishibe...





Wonderment...



Rice the way it looks before it's hulled...




Straw creations...



Constantly moving images of growing rice....



Everyone gets a chance to try write their name on a grain of rice. I gave up and just drew a heart...see next pic...






For details re how to get there (Roppongi) see www.2121designsight.jp
All pics on a Canon D600 | copyright DIVA PR

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Lying under the Sakura in Shinjuku Gyoen Park, Tokyo...

What a day, what a park. Seemed as if everyone was out in the spring sunshine today. I took advantage of the good weather, got myself a pain au chocolate, tea and a tub of yoghurt and did breakfast under a cherry blossom tree...the Sakura are looking magnificent at Gyoen. This 58 hectare garden started it's life as an imperial one in 1879 and in 1949 became open to the public for the first time, being named the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in 2001. There are 3 styles of garden here: Japanese, French and English. The garden is a favourite hanami (cherry-blossom viewing) spot and I tell you, it draws a vast local and tourist crowd with its more than 20,000 trees. In bloom it's a sight to behold: 1,500 cherry trees bloom from late March (Shidare or Weeping Cherry), to early April (Somei or Tokyo Cherry), and on to late April (Kanzan Cherry). Other trees found here include the majestic Himalayan cedars, which soar above the rest of the trees in the park, tulip trees, cypresses, and plane trees, which were first planted in Japan in the Imperial Gardens.

Scenes from Shinjuku Gyoen...

Peeping through the Sakura...

 

Just married....

 

 

Picnic under a cherry blossom tree...

 

The pavilion viewing point...

 
Take the metro to Shinjuku Gyoenmae...the park is literally a street away...ask anyone...

A beautiful children's library by Tadao Ando, in Tokyo...

Tadao Ando is a legendary Japanese architect, someone Lateral Paul has spoken to me about for years, literally. So to see the International Children's Library (and thanks to Shingo for taking me there) was a major design and creative moment for me. Located within Ueno Park in Tokyo, the International Library of Children's Literature is a renovation and expansion of the former Imperial Library built in 1906 and expanded in 1929. (This next part is courtesy www.galinsky.com, for those who know design/architecture): The subtle interventions of Ando create a dynamic juxtaposition between the old and the new while creating the first national library dedicated to children's literature.

Whatever your knowledge of design etc, one thing stands out- the dedication of the local government to inspire children about books and reading, especially crucial in a techno age where finger-tapping on smartphones is the order of the day and turning a page is fast becoming obsolete ...

The facade....

Inside....the play of light is beautiful and note the chair designs....

Glass wrapped around an ancient staircase....feeling Paris here, there & everywhere...

A wonderful experience for kids....to be surrounded by such creativity is so amazing- they're absorbing top end design without even realizing it...

Looking into the research room...note the circular lines inside...
Kids have everything at their disposal here...and again, stylish chairs...

Hello Kitty & origami on the Librarian's desk...just perfect...

The International Library of Children's Literature

12-49 Ueno Park

Taito-ku, Tokyo

110-0007 Japan

Easy to find on the Metro as well....enjoy!