Thursday, 21 August 2014

Meet the Mangosteen....

Breakfast today? Mangosteens. What, might you ask, are those? Well it's another exotic, completely more-ish fruit that I've just discovered here in Koh Phangan, Thailand. I went to market yesterday with my friend Kem and was introduced to many weird looking edibles, one of them being a most gorgeous tasting fruit, the purple Mang-Kut or mangosteen, only available between July and October so best book your Thai trip around that *wink*. 
Not as spectacular looking as the dragonfruit, the mangosteen nevertheless way upstages the latter...the taste and texture (for me anyway) is a combination of a loquat and a litchi. It opens simply - no knives please, in case you cut through and destroy the perfectly placed segments inside...all you need do is gently press on the sides and the fruit sort of pops open revealing the soft white flesh - see pic. Of course, like with most Thai food, mangosteens cost pretty much nothing, unless of course you're buying them at Fauchon in Paris! 

And check out the nutritional value of the mangosteen:
  • Delicious and juicy, mangosteen is one of the popular tropical fruits. It comprises an impressive list of essential nutrients, which are required for normal growth and development and overall nutritional well-being.
  • This fruit is very low in calories (63 calories per 100 g) and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. Nonetheless, it is rich in dietary fiber (100 g provides about 13% of RDA), which can be very important for individuals who are concerned about putting on excess body weight.
  • Mangosteen is good in vitamin C and provides about 12% of RDA per 100 g. Vitamin-C is a powerful water soluble anti-oxidant. Consumption of fruits rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against flu-like infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
  • Fresh fruit is a moderate source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, niacin and folates. These vitamins are acting as cofactors the help body metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
Pretty impressive! The mangosteen also holds the title as Queen of the Fruits and having devoured about 20 today so far, trust me, it's a well deserved accolade. So I bow before you, majestic little fruit, and back to market I go, for more.



Pic by Allison Foat, copyright DIVA PR

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Enthralled by a Mall...

Until today, I'd  never really given a mall much thought, the way it looks and feels. I mean why would I?  if you've seen one mall, you've seen them all right? Wrong. Yesterday I visited the very new Central Embassy in Bangkok and was totally mesmerized by what I reckon is architectural design beyond anything I've experienced. If you think I was stunned, Lateral Paul was almost hyperventilating. Amanda Levete Architects (AL_A) London have created a masterpiece with this airy retail and hotel space (the latter is still being completed), situated in the former gardens of the British Embassy on Ploen Chit Road in Bangkok. Admittedly I know very little about architecture but my heart races when I see this type of creativity, design and innovation (I had the same reaction  to Tadao Ando's mall in Omotesando in Tokyo by the way). 

We've all been impressed by malls and glitzy plazas like Galleries Lafayette (Paris), the Bullring (Birmingham), Siam Paragon and CentralWorld (Bangkok), Omotesando Hills (Tokyo) and even Cape Town's V&A Waterfront on the Harbour's edge,  all amazing buildings in their own right and with their own signatures but truly, Central Embassy takes first place for me. Of course it's the newest on the global mall block and thus draws on the very latest in digital design and all that jazz and architectural blah blah. We hung around for hours, walking around slowly, level by level, admiring everything from the considered alive open spaces, light wells and skylights, to the sculptures, curves and lines of the escalators and banisters. Just gorgeous.

So whilst malls are neither here nor there in my universe I'll definitely return to this one, to absorb the beauty of the space if nothing else. My quest to perpetually acquire stuff is long since a thing of the past - at 50 I've come to embrace the Less-Is-More philosophy and I'd trade vintage shirt hunting at a street market in BK or a second hand store back home any day. I have enough Massimo Dutti and Paul Smith threads to last a lifetime and edging past a doorman with a superior attitude and a look of disdain on his face at Hermes, Vuitton or Prada is just a drag.

So then what's in a mall trawl for me? I want to be in a beautiful space and go where I can browse at stores with incredibly designed product (like the retro industrial and bluecollar work wear at Levi's or a concept store at Central) and then sit myself down and have a superb coffee in chic, cool surroundings like the Rocket Cafe in Siwilai at Central Embassy. This look-don't -buy approach is clearly not the objective of those creating these insanely beautiful shopping environments - they're made to attract well heeled feet that are ultimately attached to the black credit cards of the Big Spender and certainly they do achieve that. Good for them. Good for me. I'll mall it my way.













Central Embassy ->  546/4 Phloen Chit, Lumphini, Pathum Wan, Bangkok, only a 5 minute walk from the BTS Phloen Chit. www.centralembassy.com

All pics copyright Allison Foat, DIVA PR/ Cape Town
#capetowndiva


Saturday, 9 August 2014

A small market in Montagu in the Klein Karoo...

This is a small market that happens in Montagu on Saturdays...I've been a few times & there is always something divine I spy, usually to eat! Today it was these amazing delicate almond biscuits, made by a very nice Belgian gent with an accent. To be honest I've seen way more interesting markets & if I may say so, I think they could perhaps up their offering a tad. My eye did alight upon some of the fabulous items like mohair throws, divine olive oils, homemade breads, interesting craft items & wire works....
Take a turn but don't go thinking you're in for a mini Biscuit Mill. Take it for what it is and seek out the fabulous, as one does.  Montagu is one of my fave destinations...















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