Hello from Gauteng! I’m currently up in Johannesburg after a crazy four days in Durban at the Travel Indaba for Skybok. This weekend my brother and I went for an ice cream at the famous Nelson Mandela Square in the Sandton City Mall. The name ‘Sandton’ is derived from a combination of Sandown and Bryanston. In less than 30 years, Sandton has become the most significant business and financial district in South Africa. It’s home to approximately 300 000 residents and 10 000 businesses including investment banks, top businesses, financial consultants, the Johannesburg stock exchange and one of the biggest convention centres on the African continent, the Sandton Convention Centre. I loved the Nelson Mandela statue in the centre of the square.
Travelling to Tuscany was one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve had. I toured to Pisa, Montecatini and Florence. I’d heard so much about the “Leaning Tower of Pisa” that getting off the bus that day in Pisa was a tick off my bucket list! I loved the old streets, the ancient buildings and the history around this very interesting area.
I celebrated my 25th birthday in New York! My favorite moment was at a rooftop bar for my called “230 on 5th avenue”. It was the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to. I would recommend that if you have anything you want to celebrate in New York, this is the place to go! Check out their website. I also really enjoyed the “Hudson Hotel” … I suggest starting at the “Tequila Park” then working your way over to the “Sky Terrace” and finally ending up in the “Hudson Common” like we did 🙂 Here is their website and the address is 356 West 58th Street. (Needless to say the evening began with a bottle of proudly South African Graham Beck Brut…..you can take the girl out of South Africa, but you can’t take South Africa out of the girl…..!)
Both Spain & Portugal love their sangria … and it’s become a favourite drink of mine, too! We sampled sangria on the streets of Madrid, Toledo, Lisbon, Sintra & Cascais. The best I had was in Madrid, Spain, at El Mercado de San Miguel (nice drink to go with paella) It can be made very simply and it tastes similar to gluhwein… you serve it traditionally in a big jug filled with slices of orange. Here is a fantastic recipe I found… make it at home, you won’t be disappointed!
This friday night I’m MC’ing the event “Diner on the Wharf” at the V&A Waterfront’s Market on the Wharf. I’m super excited about this event, which is definitely going to be an amazing night of fun. With a three course meal, wine provided by Spier wine estate, a talk by senior winemaker at Spier Johan Jordaan and stunning prize giveaways, things will be very festive from 7pm. The cost is R200 per person, and you can book through “Go4Ward” Marketing & Events Company. To book, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or contact them via the event’s facebook page. You can find the Market on the Wharf building along the waterfront right next to the Aquarium.
Dermalogica is hosting an exciting food+ wine evening at Wembley Square! Each guest will receive a 20-minute face mapping, a DIY Dermalogica facial session, a Nitida wine + food pairing + a complimentary bDermalogica sample pack! More info on the poster below:
I like eating food at nice places with good service, a great wine list and a cosy atmosphere. I recently went to a restaurant here in Cape Town called “Simon’s”. It’s situated at a beautiful wine farm called “Groot Constantia” and during the day, the views of the vineyards are heavenly. My mom and I ordered a steak with cooked veggies and our friend ordered the duck. Together we shared a bottle of Merlot and it was the perfect evening. The food there is very good and I can highly recommend it! For dessert we had a cheeseboard. I must say, it’s my new all-time favourite. It got me thinking about some of the best places I’ve been for dinner here in Cape Town, South Africa. If you live here, here’s a list of places I would recommend (I also include some coffee places that offer light lunches because we all love a good coffee and it’s nice to try somewhere new):
1. The Brass Bell along the Main Road in Kalk Bay
2. Top of The Ritz Revolving Restaurant at The Ritz Hotel along the Main Road in Seapoint
3. Aubergine at 39 Barnet Street in Gardens
4. Duchess of Wisbeach at 3 Wisbeach Road in Seapoint
5. Carne at 70 Keerom Street in the City Centre
For light lunch and coffee
1. Jason Bakery at 185 Bree Street in the City Centre
2. Birds Cafe at 127 Church Street in the City Centre
3. Clarke’s at 133 Bree Street in the City Centre
4. Cafe Nood at The Quadrant Square, Wilderness Road in Claremont
5. O’ways Tea Cafe at 20 Dreyer Street in Claremont
I’ve found I’ve been asked to help out with the planning of a lot of stuff lately. Something I realized was that most people are terrified when they hear the word “party” or “birthday” because they know that this means they have to throw something. Let’s breathe! From my experience, our fears of what our guests expect on our big day are way disproportional to their actual expectations.
So here are my pointers / rules:
1. Start Early. It’s horrible running around days before the party. Make sure you begin your planning about 3 weeks in advance.
2. Don’t Just Use Facebook. Use text also. Believe it or not, not everyone bothers to check their event invites on Facebook and it would be really terrible if you are missing guests because you presume they know about the party. I suggest texting and e-mailing if you have their e-mail addresses.
3. Always over-invite. You’ll be surprised at people’s priorities. They don’t all stick to their commitments So make sure you add an extra five or so people to the list in case ‘life’ just ‘happens’ to some. It would be a shame to let all that good food go to waste – or worse, if you planned seating, to have empty seats.
4. Plan on a colour scheme. If you don’t have a specific theme that can guide your decorating, try a nice colour. Colours are great and can provide a nice base for decorating the venue! It depends on what the event is and how personal you want to get, but you can use your colour scheme to guide you when buying plastic cups, plates, bowls, ribbons, banners, balloons, invites and even the clothes if you want people to get into the festive spirit.
5. Arrange for music. Music is a really good ice-breaker and adds ambiance to the environment. Make sure you have some kind of stereo system set up, or even just a plain CD player. You can make a CD of music according to your crowd. It depends what kind of event it is, but jazz is always a great backdrop if you are having a dinner party. An alternative to music systems would be to get a live musician – a singer with a guitar is a great idea.
6. Always over-cater. Try get a nice catering company if it’s a big event. Even if it’s a small one, I recommend you use a local caterer to make the food. Unless it’s a dinner party where you are cooking yourself. Caterers are good with providing a lot of variety and you can use their experience to give you an idea for numbers. Catered food always looks professional, it’s fresh and if you get platters (savoury platters are always a hit), it arrives an hour before the party and there’s no fuss or cleaning up for you. In my experience, people eat more than you think!! You can also always take left overs home to enjoy over the following week.
7. Get wine and champagne. Again, it depends on the kind of event you are having, but (if it’s for adults) a must-have booze is red and white wine and a bottle or two of good champagne. You can also make punch – a great recipe for Sangria punch is HERE. A nice one for a Bloody Mary punch is HERE. Beer is also good if you know your crowd likes beer, as are basic ciders. But make sure you always have a non-alcoholic option like a soda or juice. There’s nothing more awkward than being the guest at a party which hasn’t catered for you. Another option if you’re having something more relaxed, is to tell your guests to bring their own booze. It’s up to you. This works nicely as they know what they like to drink. Most do anyway.
8. Balloons are nice! Okay, so what is a real party without balloons? Try and get 2 bunches of five balloons at least to fill up the room (hey, if you’re gonna do this, you may as well do it right hey?) 🙂
9. Give your guests a TIME. One of the worst things in my experience is to not know when to leave. Don’t put your guests in that position and give them a legit time to leave. Make it run for like 4 hours and then let them know via the invite your times (e.g. 7pm-11pm). This lets them know that it’s okay for them to say goodbye at a certain time viz. you won’t hold it against them. This time ‘says’ that there’s a designated time they can walk up to you and say: “Thanks so much for the great night, I’m going.” You can all smile and hug and say goodbye and everyone will be much more comfortable and happy. You can end on a high! Don’t let your party drag on. Besides your guests, this rule is for you; so you can feel that you’ve done your job and it’s finished. It will also force the stragglers who do like to hang around eating and drinking you out of house and home to leave!
10. Send out thank you’s for your presents. This is a huge rule for me that’s close to my heart because I know what it’s like when you have gone out of your way to buy and wrap a gift for someone with lots of love and thought put into it, and they don’t say thank you. I have had this more time than I care to remember; birthdays, anniversaries, stork parties, weddings – why do people do this? For me it’s the first thing I do when I open my gifts the next day. I write down a list of every gift I’ve received and who it is from. I then make it my personal mission to e-mail, facebook message or text them to say thank you. And I make it personal. I say; “Thank you for the soaps or for the perfume.” I personalize it to what they actually got me. This goes down very well and it makes then think fondly of you an remember the party with kind memories.
Hope these help and that the event you are planning is unforgettable!