Friday, 4 July 2014

Cactus farm, a thing of beauty...

In the small town of Robertson, 170km outside Cape Town, there lies a cactus farm called the Sheilam Cactus and Succulent Nursery. For those who love thorny plants, plump leaves and cycads, this place is a little bit of paradise. Actually even if cacti do nada for you, you'll find yourselves being amazed at the vast collection of bizarre looking vegetation. Sheilam has been around for ages- since 1954 - and is owned and operated by the Schwegmann family. You can walk through the nursery rows where about 2000 species are neatly laid out - plants of all heights, widths, shapes and colours, creating a bizarre and beautiful landscape. And they have weird names like the The Old Man of Peru, Mother-in-Law's-Chair, Horses' Teeth, Elephant Feet, Klipplante (stone plants), Bushman's Grape... take a drive into a stunning part of the Cape and have a wander amongst the pricklies....just don't touch...

http://www.sheilamnursery.com

Ps, there are amazing wine farms in and around Robertson so make a day or weekend of it..

 

All pics copyright DIVA PR, taken on a Canon D600

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, 30 June 2014

Coffee & a vibe at The House of Machines, Cape Town...


Sunday morning coffee yesterday was at The House of Machines. Smoothly brewed Evil Twin and toast heaped with avo. Followed by a smoothie, and a muffin and a bite of my brother's breakfast. Don't judge me, I was hungry.
HoM is one of my best places in the Mother City - it has an amazing vibe and  I always get a great  welcome, every time - that sort of consistency goes a long way for me. During the week I'm there often - it's my escape-the-office destination. Easy access via parking across at Heritage Square is a big plus, and it's situated in one of the best parts of the CBD, just off Bree Street, Cape Town's most happening thoroughfare, hugely popular with locals and tourists.
HoM is many things rolled into one. There's the bikes: the team sources (in the US), fabricates and assists in building unique bikes from the ground up; THoM Workwear, with shirts designed by the inimitable Paul van der Spuy; branded T-shirts, hoodies and other top end accessories and product; and the Prohibition Bar with live music & DJ's, Thursdays to Saturdays. And very importantly, the coffee is excellent- some say it's the best in the city. 
So if you're on the tip of Africa or reading this from Afar, make a turn at the House when next in our hood. (Visit www.TheHouseofMachines.com for all details). 



















Saturday, 21 June 2014

Autumn colours in the Cederberg...

I've been going to Kromrivier in the Cederbrg Mountains for about 17 years now in the summer holidays and this was my first visit in autumn. The colours and textures blew me away.... plants, flowers, rocks, sand, the sky, the falling leaves...it seemed like I was walking around inside a painting.
Kromrivier is a farm about 4 hours from Cape Town, 280km to the north. It's owned by the Nieuwoudt family and its proper name is the Cederberg Tourist Park. The farm borders the Cederberg Wilderness and has basic but comfortable self catering bungalows. If you're an outdoor and nature loving person you'll love it at Kromrivier, it's soothing for the soul. There are amazing walks, hikes and drives to incredible places like the Stadsaal rock paintings and caves, Truitjieskraal for rock climbing, Kromrivier Valley (Disa Pool, Kromrivier Cave, Apollo Peak), Maltese Cross and the Wolfberg Cracks and Arch. 

I'm not always that energetic so lazing about with a book in the sunshine or chilling out fireside with a bottle of red wine does wonders for eliminating my city stress levels and rejuvenating me. That and the smell of fynbos...aaaaahhhhhhh.....People From Afar won't know what that is but need to get here to SA to find out.

Oh by the way they've starting brewing their own craft beer at Kromrivier which, according to Lateral Paul, is excellent. Another incentive...

Take a look at my pics....




One of the bungalows on the dam...


This rock shaped like a seahorse is at the farm entrance...








Fields of heather....


A protea against a vivid sky and a fading moon....


The farm dog...


Weaver bird and it's nest...





Prettiest pink...


See, a painting. That's my eldest boy Luke up there... he was 3 when we first starting visiting the farm..


We took our parrot with...he's enjoying his early morning rusk clearly...


Colours....

For bookings: 027-4822807 / namapip@netactive.co.za
wwww.cederbergtourist.co.za

    Monday, 9 June 2014

    Tapas that's too tantalising to resist...

    Next to superstar ballet dancers, uber chefs are amongst my favourite PTA (People To Admire). There are only a handful in our fine city that are truly outstanding and it's not often I get to meet and speak at length with any of them. But halfway into this year I've been privileged to have met two: Andres Condé the Spanish chef formerly from elBulli, and this past Friday, at Bistro Sixteen82, Brad Ball.

    Brad is offering a divine new tapas menu at the Bistro, with a focus on a different country each month until the end of winter. I got the June theme - Italy - and it was exceptional. I'm an ex ballet dancer so eating small amounts of food throughout the day is how I like to roll, so it makes sense that eating tapas is one of my best ways to chow down. Bistro Sixteen82 offers perfect sized portions of unfussy, simple food, beautifully presented. Which brings me to the fab plating - the tapas is served in and on Mervyn Gers tableware from his new Earth range that compliments each dish perfectly.

    Situated at Steenberg (Stone Mountain) Wine Estate in Constantia, Bistro Sixteen82 is a 70 seater restaurant that opened in 2009. It's sophisticated without being pretentious, which so suits me because at times fine dining environments feel a tad too posh, in a fake sort of way. I far prefer enjoying top end culinary excellence at a place where I'm warmly welcomed and where the hosts and waiters are friendly, skilled and attentive, you know, like Andrew and Sean - a restaurant has to feel like home away from home and Sixteen82 has that sorted.

    Aside from the fine fare, there are of course amazing Steenberg wines that pair perfectly with the various dishes. The first I tried was the 2011 Semillon, one of the Vineyard's iconic brands, and the second was the Italian red Nebbiolo, quite rare in the Cape I believe. Kudos to winemaker JD Pretorius- needless to say I took a bottle of the latter home with me (thanks Andrew). I want it all to myself - Family, I hope you're reading this.

    Have a look at the food images that follow, then book your tapas table and thank me afterwards...  (relevant captions are above the images)


    >Yes I know all about that magnifico red and green resin chandelier at the entrance but I wnated to spotlight the tier of champagne flute and wine glasses ~  this is a lovely spot to start off with a  glass of bubbly before being seated at your table...


    >The 2011 Semillon, one of Steenberg Vineyard's iconic wines... peach, apricots, lime and a hint of spice on the palate...



     >The grilled-to-perfection spatchcock quail with garlic, olives, rosemary and lime...


    >Zucchini fritters with lemon, and a tomato sauce that I'd have liked to lick off the plate. Very un-Diva I know, so I didn't...



    >Polpetta ~ beef meatballs in a napoletana sauce... don't forget to take note of the Mervyn Ger plates people...it's always nicer eating off a beautiful plate don't you think?


    > Loved the little mauve fleurs... I just had to show them up more closely...


    >The Nebbiolo....my new fave red vino....perfect for lunchtime (or anytime obvs) as it's so light...with dried prunes and apricots, perfume, spice and soft oaky notes...


    >The hard chopped beef tartare with cornichons, beetroot puree, crispy quail eggs and my best, the crispy capers, is from the main lunch menu; add it to your mix...



    >A closer view of the more-ish crispy capers..I want them by the bowlful...


    >On that carb free diet? This will bring a smile to your face - the gnocchi made from ricotta with a delish creamy sauce and crispy cauliflower....


    >Before you get carried away and overdo it, remember this little beauty that lurks at the end of the food adventure - the dessert with green fig ice cream, rose panna cotta, pistachio sponge and marshmallow...



    >Chef Brad Ball...


    >And the restaurant ~ a beautiful setting overlooking a gorgeous water feature and a soft green hill ....


    >The winter tapas special at Bistro Sixteen82: purchase 2 Tapas and a glass of Klein Steenberg Wine for R120. Valid until the end November 2014 (T's & C's apply)

    >Opening Hours ~ Breakfast: 09h00 - 11h00 | Lunch is served from: 12h00 - 16h00
    The tapas is only available in the late afternoon and at sunset, from 16h30 - 20h00 |  0217132211.       reservations@bistro1682.co.za   Twitter: @Bistro1682

    >All photographs are © Allison Foat, taken on a Canon D600
    @AllisonFoat (CapetownDiva) on Twitter @allisonfoat_capetowndiva on Instagram