Thursday, January 28, 2010
More characters to be found around and about the scene in South Africa...
THE GYM BUNNY
Avoid the gym bunny especially around mealtimes. They are completely obsessed with food and gyming and will spoil any meal for others. Don't try to change the subject when they are harping on about their gym routine or the lettuce leaf which they had for lunch (o my, delicious!). Don't try to have an interesting conversation as they will immediately and firmly steer the conversation back to themselves. It's all about them. They will tell you in minute detail exactly how long they spent on the treadmill, what their personal trainer told them to eat and what not to eat (most things, including chocolate), how bad gorgeous food is for you, how many calories they consumed that day. Your eyes glaze over and you nearly fall down with boredom. You never ever ever want to see the inside of a gym if it has people like that in it. It's kind of like childless people who don't want to be around people who do have little darlings, the Walking Contraceptive kind that is (see further down on the list). Yummy mummies, beauty contestants and would be Sex in the City girls over 40 tend to be complete gym junkies. Are there any women out there who LUUUUURRRVE their food, make no apologies for it, excercise discreetly and quietly and don't believe in being a complete bore all the time?
THE DESIGNER BRAT
The designer brat is not at the top of his or her game because he/she is particularly good or talented. Usually it's because they have rich friends who patronise them or spread the good word on them. The designer brat quickly becomes the most obnoxious person in the fashion pack, almost overnight. It's scary. They do have power and influence because, as I say, they have rich friends or clients. They dress the part too. Designer brats usually wear their Own Label, with sunglasses. Sunglasses are very much part of the designer brat's wardrobe and all the twittering fashionistas will slavishly copy them and wear them in the middle of the night. It must be to ward off all those popping flashbulbs (those damned tabloids, it's such a bore). Designer brats make up a lot of their own publicity, some of which is soooo not true. Sometimes designer brats fall off their perch and have to go to earth, designing clothes for factories or the new Cosatu line for fall. It's sad when that happens. Sometimes they don't recover, sometimes they crawl their way back because people still remember their names from old magazines. Usually it's best if designer brats decide that their talent is required "overseas" where Vogue beckons enticingly and they envisage a little Parisien atelier for themselves. Then we can get rid of them. Yay.
THE WALKING CONTRACEPTIVE
I was once in a Woolworths with two 12-year-olds going on 45 behind me and a Sandton mommy in tow. They looked me over coolly from head to toe and decided I was retrenched schoolteacher material, ripe for the insulting. The one nudged the other, and pointed to my hat (I love my hat and never travel without one). "Mary Poppins!" she said sotto voce, so Sandton Mommy couldn't hear. I pounced. "You should patent your children as walking contraceptives," I told her, pointing at the offending offspring. "You could make a LOT of money." I don't know if she took my advice, but every time I see an obnoxious child I think of those two. It's true, some children are just plain offputting, especially when they haven't been brought up right. Nice children are a delight and a joy for ever, a lot of hard work has gone into making them that way. Nice children really are children, not vicious little Lolitas who have not a shred of innocence. Blame the parents, it's all their fault. And laws that state that you may not smack your child. Sometimes a good smack, not just a threatening, works wonders. It ensures that your child will never be called a walking contraceptive by some mean lady in a hat in the queue at Woolies.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Sometimes bad things have to happen before you learn stuff ... still on my plates, I just got back from my mechanic where I was informed that it would cost me R200 for a new plate and on top of that another R200 for them to "bolt the plates on". Now chicks today are a sussed breed. Unlike the Women's Libbers of the 70s we love to be feminine and to dress nicely. But we also know that our earning power is considerable, that marketers look into what we spend our money on and why. We also know when we are being ripped off. Even if we don't know a car inside out we don't accept some Neanderthal wiping his greasy paws on a filthy rag telling us that we have to cough up massive sums to fix something! Not that R200 is a massive sum, but it is R200 more than I was quoted for. And I know for a fact that you cannot drill through a numberplate or "bolt it on". That's why they are so easy to steal in the first place!
The new numberplates that are coming out contain a chip that means they are traceable. They cost around R700 and are also a huge rip off because the Government is going to start to charge each vehicle toll fees without actually having to go to the trouble of building toll gates and man them with staff.
Does that mean if it isn't the backyard mechanic trying to screw you over, it's the Government? My solution to the chauvinistic mechanic is to attach them to a chain close to the cars where they can run around, assume dominant male positions, grunt and scratch themselves without annoying the female clientele too much (if only they were cuter, we could forgive them. Fortunately my place put the cute boy front-of-house and the Neantherthal gets to yell loudly at his staff off-site while scratching himself in places you did not know were possible). As for the Government, well there are ways to deal with them too. Look at what happened to the Nats, even if it did take 50 years.
So I will not be paying the extra R200, instead I am taking the car with its new plate to a friendly neighbour who will put it on for me.
Let's hope by next week the plates aren't gone again, as all the thieves have to do is slide them out of their backing. Wish me luck ...
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Still annoyed about finding my registration plates gone after leaving the ftv afterparty for Errol Arendz and Craig Port's show last Saturday. I always thought people who drove around without numberplates were (a) gangsters, or (b) ordinary non law-abiding citizens trying to evade the long arm (or the long pocket, in South Africa's case) of the law, and would always wave my fist out of the window at them with a few juicy curses. Now I understand everything - those are all the poor fools who park in Nelson Mandela Square and get their plates 'jacked while they go around their business. The victims' own plates are probably over in Bloemfontein or somewhere Down South being used on a heist vehicle, or worse. The thieves had managed to scale one set and were working on the back ones, which were definitely loose, when I arrived on the scene. But did I see any sign of the dudes who did it though? They had completely vanished into the woodwork.
It kinda put a bad taste in my mouth after a really great party. I was told that the only way to stop being arrested and thrown in the clink with a whole lot of really interesting people for the night is to go and report the plate theft to your nearest cop shop, and get an affidavit which you are supposed to wave around like fake papers at the Gestapo hoping this will protect you, the innocent party, from being blamed upon for the bad deeds of others.
But it does beg the question: crime is getting so very enterprising in this country that you wonder what they will come up with next? Identity theft seems to be the new crime-chic, and taking someone's integrity with it is part of the game. Even if you are law abiding in this country, which increasingly fewer people seem to be, someone will manage to take away your good name.
"Who steals my purse steals trash but he that filches from me my good name
robs me of that which not enriches him, and makes me poor indeed."
PS: On the bright side, and completely not apropos of anything except for Bloemfontein, I was told that a bright spark has come up with the idea of planting young saplings in all the potholes in that thriving city. Why let a good pothole go to waste, after all?
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Met an interesting face at the Audi Fashion Week last night, straight after the Spero Villioti show. I was introduced by jewellery designer Kevin Friedman to South African born Shaun Borstrock who has started up the Shaun Borstrock Foundation for the Creative Industries, in South Africa. He is working in combination with well established label Karen Millen whose show kicked off the fashion week, along with other international partners.
The Karen Millen label is scouting for talented emerging young designers who might not have the education or the funds to start off on their own. Which is where the collaboration with Shaun's foundation comes in. The foundation will "mentor, nurture and empower" young designers within South Africa's creative industries ... so that's not just fashion. It's graphic designers, product designers, jewellery designers and industrial product designers. I asked Shaun about crafts as they do influence design to a certain degree in South Africa, but he told me that it was about design in a wider sense. The Foundation wants to find someone who will make it in the world of design internationally.
Shaun says that the Foundation is looking to support a designer and that this is a
collaboration between the University of Hertfordshire, CPUT, Ruth Prowse and BHC
School of Design, all in Cape Town, working together on a project called
The International Entrepreneur. He told me to have a look at their work in progress on www.designforafrica.org.
Ultimately the most promising among the young designers is going to London to work in the Karen Millen studio, and then on the Premier Vision fabric fair in Paris which is a huge opportunity.
Shaun says he wants to teach the young designers how to put a collection together, how to price and merchandise and how to establish their market, so that they can go out on their own afterwards.
Spero Villioti is another designer who is helping youngsters in the world of couture. His students works kicked off his show, and showed a polish and finish which few young South African designers have grasped. Attached to his couture school is the Couture Educational Foundation which was also established to help those who are not in a financial situation to pursue a career in fashion design. The foundation grants bursaries, scholarships and awards to select candidates and some of the money raised from the Fashion Week show went towards this foundation.
His show elicited gasps of pleasure and delight from the audience, as his garments are always so feminine and exquisitely made in gorgeous fabrics.
Talk show show and socialite Carolyn Steyn joked later that she "had found her wedding dress" at the show and vowed to pay him a visit!
Monday, January 18, 2010
My last posting got me to thinking about some of the best meals I have ever eaten. They pale in comparison to my globetrotting parents who have circled the globe several times and dedicated themselves to eating well in most of the places they have visited. They still have a menu from New Orleans's most famous fine dining establishment, Antoine's, which they have framed in their kitchen. Antoine's was the place where Oysters Rockefeller were invented, and named thus because of the richness of the sauce. My parent ate there in the 1960s and still remember the meal (they saved every penny for it). They have also paid a visit to Spain's oldest restaurant, Botin in Madrid where they ate roast suckling pig on my father's birthday.
I can't aspire to this level of fine dining but hope that my best eating years are still ahead of me! There is still the Americas, Russia, India, China, the Middle East and parts of the far East to explore. As well as places like Austria, Scotland, Germany and the Balkans.
AUSTRALIA has been a frequent destination and I enjoyed a memorable meal in a little French restaurant in St Kilda's in Melbourne with my sister in the 1990s. Daniels is now sadly no more but I remember the menu: onion tart, followed by a salade verte (Daniel himself stood over us and made sure we finished every scrap), then scampi which we picked up with our fingers and sucked noisily to great giggles. This was finished off by a slice of dense, dark and delicious chocolate cake dusted with sugar. No doubt about it, Oz is foodie heaven and boasts some of the best coffee in the world in Collins Street.
Another very good meal was at The Fisherman's Pier in Geelong a couple of years ago. The oysters were brought in from Coffin Bay and were the best I have ever eaten, accompanied by a vinaigrette sauce that was superb. I followed the oysters up with scallops ... would that the scallops in South Africa were so good. The maitre d' was Italian and very attentive, saying to my father when he arrived: "Would the gentleman like a Scotch?"
Sadly, I've been to PARIS only twice, and my mother tells me of the time we dined with the students on the Left Bank when I was a child. The proprietor was very nice, she said and sent out for milk for myself and my sister. We had steak followed by fresh strawberries but all I can remember are the striped candy canes which she bought us and which we were only allowed to have a bit of every day. I can remember the meals I had two years ago better. I was taken to Laduree tea room where I had macaroons and Marie Antoinette tea. I loved the wine, the pastries and the bread, and had a great supper at Kong and lunch at George's (salmon and mashed potato made with olive oil) near the Ritz. What heaven France is and what a dedication to pleasure they enjoy there.
In LONDON I was taken to Zuma (no relation) where the star of the show is the "age watarigani” or soft shell crab with wasabi mayonnaise. I also enjoyed some spicy tuna roll made with chilli miso and there were things like prawn tempura and grilled red miso quail on the menu. The place was full of Russians with girls who had had bad plastic surgery and who wore tiger-striped lame skirts but the food was really delicious. It was so busy that you had to wait to get into the queue but the people watching was worth it. We had a young David Bowie lookalike behind us who was also delicious.
In ITALY it is impossible to have a bad meal and I loved the food wherever I went. I had little lamb chops on arrival in Rome and got horribly drunk. Not because I drank a lot but because the alcohol content seemed to be higher than I was used to. So it was an aperitif then a glass of wine then a limonello, and a different tiramisu every night. It's nice to be a food slut sometimes. In Florence a sleazy pair of fellows tried to pick myself and a girlfriend up in a joint called Guido's and I really can't remember the food there. But I do remember Lobs, where I had a wonderful steamed seafood platter with different sauces and a wonderful restuarant where they made a sliced Florence fennel salad with Parmesan shavings that was so simple but just so good.
IRELAND was another great foodie place, because everything just tasted so good. The yummiest potatoes ever and the ham!!!! I brought packets of soda bread back with me even though I had my mother's recipe for fresh soda bread at home. I must have put on ten pounds there. It was the soda bread, the gorgeous smoked salmon and my mother's cousin's Chocolate Mousse (nicknamed "Eirish Mousse" and loaded with one-and-a-half pints of cream) that saved me when crossing the Irish Channel. It was a very rough passage and I had booked a berth in the bowels of the ship. All my neighbours were retching violently and I was a nano-second away from joining them, when a brainwave struck. Eat all the rich goodies which my godmother had given me and I would have something to line my stomach with. It was almost impossible but I got it all down and instantly discovered a cure for seasickness.
On the other side of the world a different kind of foodie heaven awaited me in SINGAPORE. Fragrant teas of every variety wafted to my nostrils in Tangs, from bergamot to chocolate, and the noodle dens were open 24/7. My taxi driver took me down to a place which was dim-sum den by day and red light district by night. There he introduced me to one of the island's signature dishes, Singapore chilli crabs. He also told me about the frogs in congee and laughed when he saw a picture of the frogs outside a building. Look, he said, "they are so happpeee, they are dancing". My private thought was that they were probably trying to get out of the pot, but maybe I will try a bit of frog next time. The Singaporeans have a love affair with coffee and funnily enough all that chilli and coffee had no effect on my stomach or sleeping patterns.
In GREECE and TURKEY I was introduced to the delights of baklava, yoghurt (dubbed the "Peaks of Parnassus" or "Parnassus pud") with pistachio nuts and strong dark honey, strong coffee and chai filled with two lumps of sugar, and rosewater ("Gul suyu" in Turkey). It wasn't so much the fine dining places as the quality of the Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food which impressed. I loved the moussaka even when it was made with rough green olive oil that upset my tummy and I couldn't eat for a day. A weird feeling over came me when I was sitting on a stone wall outside my hotel in Rhodos and a boy called Poseidon was taking in the luggage for me. "Is this happiness, I feel?" I thought as a warm glow embalmed my very soul. Truly this was the food of the gods.
Promised I would check in after reading the Eat Out (parties are still a little slow this week, but you don't want to read about parties just yet, do you? The fun of my blog is that it is so varied, you never know what topic I am going to tackle next! From jacaranda trees to car guards to Jozi hotspots to facebook pages for cats. It ain't all skandaal and Joostgate here, believe me).
Well, I had a look and besides getting rather hungry it bothered me that some of the new better places in Joburg in particular were left out. Jozi has the reputation for mediocre establishments which open up, then close a few months later, or turn into a chain of franchises, thus losing all their exclusivity appeal. Why drive to this amazing spot that does the best whatever-in-town when you have one in your suburb, you ask. Ah, but that's the thing. When there's only one of something you have to make that effort and the place will never go off because everyone is beating the door down to get in.
Although the mag paid tribute to places like The Monarch, The Greek Sizzler, La Scala, Yamato, Bismallah's and Mythos (all favourites of mine), sadly about six of the places which I have grown to love in Joburg didn't feature.
Where was the Troyeville Hotel with its fantastic prawns and great vibe? And The Teak Place in the Cradle of Mankind where you can have a very good lunch outside, then go down to the vegetable gardens where they have a pick-a-veg project and can fill up your basket with seasonal produce to take home for a mere R50? Or The Chocolate Room at the Hertford Hotel which did faboulous gourmet pizzas and designer hot chocolate besides a roaring log fire in winter? Or the new restaurant down at Arts on Main in the CBD? Or the Darkie Cafe in Marshalltown which stays open late, late, late and is always such fun? Or the fabulous Signature in Morningside with its hardworking manager, Desmond Mabuza, which I wrote about last month?
Turns out that the Chocolate Room's Andy Green is starting up a great new Italian restaurant called Si! Si! (as in yes, yes, o yes) near the Rivonia Spar where the new food hall will be. They will be joined by a great new vegetarian place called Hari (as in Hari Krishna). Signature took a full page ad in the mag but there was no review, very weird because the food is decidedly better than a lot of the places listed. While I am happy that my favourite spots are not out there on the Lonely Planet Guide it is annoying that the Cape should be so well represented. This oversight might change after the World Cup, although most of the fans will be looking for a place to have a good booze up rather than discerning dining. So no one will know that the best schwarmas in town are at the Schwarma Company in Norwood (the halva! to die for, doll. They do a mean chicken salad too), and that if you're hankering for hot brisket on rye or even some Cuban cigars there is a cafe near Senderwood that serves both, plus a range of Greek cakes and biscuits.
I want to keep it under my hat that you can get wonderful street food in Mayfair on a Saturday morning and that even the local housewives will drive up for it. Can you say the same about Cape Town, which has been trendified to such a degree that it has lost all its flavour and the food industry is now dedicated to ripping off the hapless tourists? Where are those amazing rotis that you could get once? They had the most wonderfully sensual bite to them. Where are the fishermen selling fresh vis on the quay? Besides Kalky's of course, where they still call you "Laidy" and the patrons order a Carling Black Label for their children. But o wow the fish and chips.
PS: Desmond Mabuza agreed with me that it was an oversight not to include his restaurant Signature. He even phoned the mag but editor Abigail Donnelly had not yet got back from leave. Lets hope they do something on their website to update the places they didn't manage to include. That said, it is a great mag and a great read beautifully presented
Thursday, January 14, 2010
After a very well deserved break I was welcomed into 2010 with a personalised calendar from Annie Malan Promotions when I met her for a coffee at Cafe Fresco at Benmore Gardens near her offices. Every year the bubbly Annie prints about 300 of these for her clients but each page has been digitally enhanced to contain the name of the person it is sent to. Her team of graphic artists labour for hours to include the name of each client, and my January has the back of a Volksie with SARAH's BUG on it, followed by industrial door with DANGER _ SARAH CANGLEY ONLY on it for February, and a personalised Easter egg, and so on. This is one calendar that does not hit the bin, she says. When she goes to see the likes of Jaco Marais the calendar has pride of place on his desk! Another treat in store was a huge gorgeous book on Cartier timepieces which Christine Roux and her team from Vendome Distributors had sent me, the most fabulous Christmas present ever. I staggered off home with it, vowing to only use the famous "little white glove" when I looked at it.
Back to Annie though. She really made me laugh when she told me that her cat Max "Sipho" Malan has a Facebook page with 100 friends. Cats are king in the Cangley household where they are worshipped in a manner akin to the ancient Egyptians. There really is such a thing as "catpower" so I decided to start a Facebook page for my cat Oscar who is a beautiful boy. He is soft gray and white and looks like Winston Churchill, all he needs is a cigar. Will alert the media when it is up as there are hopefully other cat-moggy people out there ...
Oscar "No 1 Kitty Boy" Cangley ... deserves his own Facebook page.
AS you can tell things have been very quiet on the social front (besides the Kurland P0lo and the Queens Plate down in the Cape), but there is a stirring next week when I have been invited to a slumber party at AtholPlace. Hopefully it will be a real girlie treat when we all get into our big fluffy bathrobes and never want to get out of them again.
And all the news again, after switching my phone OFF for three weeks! On a Caster Sememye watch to see if she runs again. A gift from God like that can't go unused. The attack on the Togo players disturbed me, South Africa is wide open right now, we need to adopt the Nazi techniques at our Customs and borders which are used by other countries like Australia, the UK and the US. Right now the terrorists are probably doing their homework and seeing how easy it is to walk right in with bombs, explosives, etc. There ain't even a sniffer dog in sight. And I dont know about the fans falling prey to our criminals so much, the soccer hooligans from other countries are probably worse. That said, it is going to be HUGE and I can;t WAIT!
Just picked up a copy of the Eat In, so will have something to say about that on my next posting. There are a few great places which they forgot to put it...