Friday, March 30, 2012

Wining and Dining in Cape Town

 I have received about a dozen emails this week from readers and friends that are coming to Cape Town. I don't know if this is because my readership has grown in the past couple months or if Cape Town is becoming a hot destination, but nevertheless, I like it.

Cape Town is an amazing place and I want visitors to love it as much as I do, so I am always happy to help direct people to some of my favorite places. I love to read travel magazines and search trip advisor, but I know the best way to find out where to go is always to Ask a Local...

Am I Local? I don't know what the classifications are, but I have lived here for almost 4 years, so that's that.

Am I an expert? No, just someone who appreciates good food and wine. I like cooking and eating at home, so I don't eat out on the basis of convenience. If I go to a restaurant, it's because I genuinely like the whole experience, from the decor, to the menu, to the ambiance.

Here's what's in my little black  brown book...

Hip & Cool in the City Bowl. 

  • Jason Bakery. 185 Bree Street. This corner cafe is great for a quick breakfast and coffee or a sandwich at lunch. It has both bar and outdoor seating, and the people watching is great. The service is spotty at times, but the quality of the food is fantastic and I love the vibe. *Closed Saturdays
  • &Union. 110 Bree Street. Craft beer and solid bites. The menu is small, but well thought out. This spot is great for lunch or after work drink. They have covered outdoor seating and an old-school vibe. 

Glamorous and Seaside. 

  • The Grand Beach Club. Hard to find...Granger Beach Rd, Off Beach Rd. Adjacent to the waterfront,  on a private beach in a restored warehouse. It's worth seeking out, since it's such a unique spot. It's a European style beach bar, which I would compare to Nammos in Mykonos. This is a Cape Town hot spot, and you will see lots of beautiful people. The best tables are on the deck and it's a bit of rustic glamour.  Pizzas are served on long wooden slabs and salads can be ordered family style. Plenty of cocktails and wine, including a personal favorite with slices of fresh grapefruit. More Info

Restaurants I Visit on the Regular.
  • Bukhara. 33 Church Street. Upscale Indian food in the City Bowl. This restaurant features a large open kitchen  and a great menu for both meat-eaters and vegetarians. We love Indian food, and this is arguable one of our favorite Indian places to date. Try the Dal Makhani or the Bhartha! 
  • Willoboughys & Co. In the V&A Waterfront. My humble seafood in Cape Town. They have a traditional style seafood menu as well as a Japanese kitchen and sushi bar. Everything is delicious. Don't be afraid of the line, it moves quickly!
  • Il Leone. 22 Cobern Street, Green Point. Busy Italian joint with authentic food and a fantastic rotation of specials using local and seasonal ingredients. I love the mussels and they do a fantastic pasta with shrimp, pine nuts, and cherry tomatoes. Wine lists has a great selection by the glass and the bottle. I adore their house red...
  • Tashas. Constantia Village Shopping Center. Fantastic eatery with extensive menu for breakfast or lunch. Portions are sizable, and menu is innovative and utilizes fresh, quality ingredients. Service is impeccable and I have yet to order something I didn't enjoy. Great outdoor seating with umbrellas and fabulous people watching. 
Posh Eats for Special Occasions (or an Expense Account) 
  • La Mouette.78 Regent Road, Sea Point. This is a relatively new restaurant that has made a big impression on me and quickly become one of my favorites. The food is spectacular and their seasonal tasting special is the best "bang for your buck". Each course holds it own and the cheese croquettes are unbelievable. They have vegetarian options and I highly recommend adding the wine pairing. 
  • Constantia UitsigSpaanschermat River Road, Constantia. Although La Colombe is the most notable restaurant of the wine estate, I prefer Uitsig. It has a more homey feel and the food is just good food, nothing fancy. This place is relaxed, but still has an elegance about it. I love taking out of town guests here because it's something a bit different. It's just 15 mins outside of the city and it feels like a world away. 
  • Myoga. 54 Colinton Rd, Newlands. Another gem in the Southern Suburbs, located at The Vineyard Hotel. This place classifies itself as contemporary cuisine and there is a bit of an edge to it. A live video feed of the kitchen in bathrooms, innovative cocktails, unusual food combos, and a bit of Asian flair in the menu. They do a great 7 course tasting menu that has bits and bites of everything and plenty of options. You really can customize your dining experience here and the staff is knowledgeable and friendly with food and wine recommendations. 
More information about Cape Town Restaurants, has a comprehensive guide.

If you have more questions, don't hesitate to Contact Me. 

Any Other Wining and Dining Recommendations for Visitors to Cape Town?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Country Club Chic

Thanks for all the comments on my post about the BIG MOVE. I am really excited and it looks like I will have some local friends. Reading the comments gave me a permanent smile. I still am shocked that people read this blog...I cannot thank everyone enough. It's great to know you have people cheering you on as you make big life decisions.

When will I be moving? Nothing is for sure, but it looks like the beginning of summer. We are looking at some places and will make a decision once we get there and have a good look at some apartments. My requirements are simple: Walk-in closet, double basins in the bathroom, and decent water pressure. Is that asking too much? I'm half joking, I am confident we will find something fabulous. Apparently it's a pretty big city or something.

Remember when I played tennis? Ya, about that. It's something I want to do, but I'm not terribly dedicated. I didn't play tennis today, but I used it as my style inspiration.
What I Wore: Polo Dress, Lacoste. Grosgrain Belt, J.Press (it's my husbands...). Grosgrain Headband, J. Crew.

Apparently our pups forgot their manners while we were away. I opened they car and they jumped into the drivers seat. Rude. Usually we have to coax them into the car, so this was a shock. 

I made a huge mistake of telling my husband about this golf shop about a year ago. It's a pretty decent drive from our house and I've been there more times than I can count. Bane of my existence. Developers should put something wife-friendly next to golf stores. I sit in the car and read twitter. 

After that little detour, we went to lunch at Caffe Milano. They were out of coffee...#ItalyWouldBeDissapointed

No coffee at an Italian eatery was a shocker, but the food made up for it.  We shared the beef cannelloni and it was fantastic. I definitely want to head back for brekkies. 

I waited for it to cool down and did a run along the Atlantic seaboard. I seriously love running by the Ocean. No music required when the views are magnificent. 

4.5 Miles. 40 Mins. Average Pace 8:53 min/mile. I walked an additional mile and just enjoyed the scenery. I'm excited about Chicago, but I'm sure going to miss Cape Town. 

Do you borrow clothing from your husband? He has a couple belts that I occasionally wear and I use some of his hats for running. He has a couple silk pocket square that I use as headbands or tie on my purse. When I am sick, I love wearing a big comfy sweatshirt that kinda smells like him.  

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It's About to Get REAL

Blogging is sometimes tough to balance. There are some things that happen in the background that I cannot share at the time, but really would like to. The blogs and the posts that I enjoy the most are the ones that are 100% honest, where you can relate to someone on a human level and see a bit of your own thoughts and emotions in their experience. While you may not find anyone in your immediate circle of friends and family that are going through a similar situation, the internet is a big place and I always seem to stumble across other bloggers that are going through the same things.

So, without further ado, here is what has been happening in my life that I cannot wait to finally talk about...For the past couple months, my husband has been applying for MBA programs in the states. This means that we are planning on moving back to the states this summer! Am I excited? Yes, obviously. This is something that my husband has wanted to do for a couple years and we are finally making it happen. It has been a wonderful four years in Cape Town and I have had the best experience. I wouldn't change it for the world.

Now, admission decisions have rolled in and we were faced with making a decision for the next chapter of our lives. The two of us have discussed the options and come to a decision.

Want to know where we will be settling? Today, we reached a verdict.

CHICAGO...Here we come. 

More details to come. Right now I am just overcome with gratitude and excitement.

<---Truth. Spiritual Nurse on Twitter is rocking my world.

Please kindly tell me everything your know about Chicago...

MBA wives...Give me the low down. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Why can't we all use the same measurements? KM or Miles, just pick 1

I have been waking up seriously late. I am actually too embarrassed to reveal a number, but late. I've been using the jet lag excuse too long, so last night I put an end to it. I went to bed at a reasonable hour and set my alarm for a prompt AM workout.
Kilometers and Miles really mess me up, especially with speeds on a treadmill. My Garmin is in miles, but my treadmill at home is in kilometers, and I have been using running in the US for the past couple months, so basically, I have no idea about speed or distance at this point. Everything is a struggle. Running seems a whole lot easier when I had my morning routine with two running buddies. 
I used a conversion chart online and came up with this little interval workout. I didn't finish it because I was dying and my femur was hurting. I stopped at 7.5 KM...don't ask me to convert to miles, but it's nothing spectacular. I expected to feel fresher after a rest day, but no such luck. 

I made a ghetto ice pack that worked like a dream. Frozen peas plus athletic tape...somebody pin that for DIY, domesticity at it's finest. 

I had a lunch date at Jason with the family. 

What I wore: Shirtdress, Miss Selfridge (circa 2007?). Espadrilles, Stubbs & Wootton (I bought the same ones in black in October). 

We also got a pretty snazzy package in the mail. I hate to leave with a cliff hanger, but there is some pretty exciting news up in here. Get excited for a big announcement. I know I am. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Whole Coconut

I was too lazy after my 12 miles yesterday to take download the photos from my DSLR, but this money shot was too good to keep to myself. 

After the run, I wasn't super hungry, but I knew it was just a matter of time. After I stretched and showered, I started to look through the fridge and pantry to see what I wanted. I saw coconut flour and instantly had a craving for pancakes. 

I have tried a couple recipes for coconut flour pancakes, but THIS RECIPE from Nourishing Days is my absolute favorite.  They are fluffy and delicious and give regular pancakes a run for their money. 

When I went grocery shopping on Sunday, I also found one of my seasonal favorites: Coconut Chunks!  Woolworths seems to carry these periodically and I love this new little size. 

I'm big on texture and I love these little chunks of coconutty goodness. I eat them plain, but I imagine they would be delicious chopped up and put on oats, in cereal, or a salad with a sweet/tangy dressing. 

I clearly like coconut, but there is something about coconut water that I cannot stomach. Something doesn't mesh with my taste buds. 

Another fruit making an appearance? Grapes! Not just any grapes from our vineyard. Today is harvest day at our house! 

 We have two small vineyards on our property and today the grapes are ripe for the picking.

It was a beautiful sunny day in Cape Town, so I started off my morning with a green grey smoothie/protein shake. In the blender: About Time Protein Powder (cake batter flavor...tastes like vanilla), frozen berries, spinach, raw oats, xanthan gum, cinnamon, lemon juice, water, and lots of ice. Looks gross, tastes awesome. Hats off to all the healthy girls taking part in 7-Day Green Smoothie Challenge! I'm not official, but I am inspired to get in some much needed nutrients. 

In case you are wondering...yes, it's an "I <3 NY" t-shirt. She is an American and reps it hard

Coconut Water: Love it or Hate it? 

Do you put your pets in outfits?  Do they resist? This little lady LOVES it. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mid-Run Margarita

Yesterday marked exactly two weeks from Two Oceans. I needed to get one more longer run in before the race. If it wasn't today, it was not going to happen. 

Luckily, it happened. It was not fast, and it was not pretty, but I did the damn thing. 

12 Miles. 1 Hour, 55 Mins. 

My car is in the shop (once upon a time I hit a pole pulling into my covered parking space at my office), so I embarked upon my run from my house.  

I woke up early, but dilly dallied too long, so when I finally got around to my run, it was too hot. I wish I would of woke up earlier and got myself out the door an hour (or 3) earlier. 

The views were pretty incredible. Running in wine country my neighborhood is pretty amazing. 
Since I was running outside, I dressed for safety with my neon yellow lululemon top. I also slathered on the sunscreen. 

I am not usually too concerned about hydration, but since I was sweating like crazy, I made sure to stop 4 miles in for some water at a nearby wine estate. 

At approximately 7 miles, I took an Espresso Love Gu. Soon after, I realized I needed more water, so I headed home for a little water break. When I got in my house and saw myself in the mirror, I was a wreck. I was drenched in sweat and red-faced. I splashed cold water on my face, drank 16 oz of water, and ate one Clif Shot Blok. 
I have never had these margarita flavored ones before, but they were in my drawer of running stuff and I knew they contained salt, so I ate one with hopes of helping me out with the immense amount of sweat I was dealing with. The taste was okay. You definitely get the salty flavor, so I doubt I could have more than one.

By some miracle, I got through the remaining miles. My brain was not working at this point, so when my Garmin hit 12 miles, I was still about a mile from my house. I was not about to run a single step further, so I walked it in.

When I got home, I had a welcome committee...

Left to Right: Molly, Bailey, Charlie...

Molly is the mother and Bailey (female) and Charlie (male) are her puppies. These pups were rescues from an abusive situation in a township. Now they live a life of leisure...

I love how green and lush everything is in our garden right now. Everything is in bloom. 

This is the last of the long runs before Two Oceans. I may do an 8 miler next weekend, but I will be sure to get it out of the way nice and early to beat the heat. I still don't have a really solid training plan, but I have two I really going to start now? Highly unlikely. Life happens, running just has to fall in line.

Do you do anything to replenish salt when running in hot weather?

Do your pups like to lick you after a workout? either. That would be weird. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Running Confidence

I arrived early in Cape Town on Thursday morning and spent some time at the airport with my husband while the traffic died down. I had a bit of a headache, so I avoided coffee, but Lennie was in for a special treat....

I got home, showered, started to unpack, and catch up with my in-laws. Somewhere I think I read or heard that running helps with jet-lag. Coming off two overnight flights and changing just a couple time zones, I figured I would give it a try. 

Ya....About that. 

My run was terrible. I struggled through...wait for it. 4 Kilometers. Not miles, Kilometers. Pitiful. 

I made up a long list of excuses in my head:

2. My music sucked
3. I'm tired. 
4. Two days off of running and I lost my stamina
5. Travel must of been more physically taxing than I thought
6. I can't run in South Africa
7. I hate kilometers, they are a false sense of accomplishment
8. Did I gain weight? Is that why I feel heavy?
9. I can't run without coffee
10. I think I prefer running outside

For most of the 4 short kilometers, my head with filled with self-doubt, lots of questioning, and a big dose of negative (hmm...maybe that had something to do with it?). I had been running 6-8 miles daily in the US and now I struggled to complete less than 3 miles (the conversion thing also kills me)?

It left such a bad taste in my mouth, that I didn't run the next day. I was up all night with jet-lag (apparently running didn't help) and slept in until 2PM. I had a couple hours before we had to meet up with some American friend in town, but I opted to marinate in my bathrobe instead of walk the 50 yards to the gym. I was too nervous it would be terrible again.

Yesterday, I didn't got back on the wagon treadmill. It wasn't pretty, but it was better than last time. I have a half marathon in two weeks, so I have to make it work. I love running, but it's okay to admit that every single run is not going to me magical and leave you with happy endorphins.

I need to get in a long run, and it's pretty nervous about it. Currently sitting here waiting for my Garmin to change before heading out. I just know that if I leave it until later in the day, I will over think it, and talk myself out of it. I think I'm a head case.

Sorry for the rambling post. I think the moral of the story is, be kind to yourself, listen to your body, don't fight what it's telling you, positive self-talk equates positive results, and running is not always easy.

Can you see I am trying to pump myself up for the miles that I'm about to attempt?

Quote or mantra to help you through the tough miles or terrible workouts?

In Transit

Now, where did we leave it?

Redeye to London....

Wednesday Morning: Arrive in London around 8:30AM. Grey skies, typically London. They had checked my bags all the way to Cape Town, so I was at my leisure. Everything was in Terminal 5. Since I am headed straight to the showers, I don't bother changing out of my lululemon pants and sweatshirt that I slept in. Go through security, and head to my first stop: Boots. I need dry shampoo in a major way. Buy three bottles of Batiste and go to the lounge, and find a 20 min wait for showers! They give me a buzzer to wait for my shower. Everyone is in suits and immaculately dressed and I am sitting there waiting for a shower in sweat pants, a messy bun, and slippers. The great thing about it is these people should be on a flight in couple hours, never to see me again. 

Finally my buzzer goes off for a shower. Shower makes me feel like a new person. I haven't had coffee yet, so at the end of the shower, I put the water to cold. I love/hate ending my shower with a cold spray, but it makes me feel completely awake (try it!). Put on fresh clothes, dry-shampoo my hair, and put on some make-up. 30 mins later I walk out feeling 100% better about myself. My flight  isn't until 4:45PM, so it's not quite late enough to go into London for a day trip. Besides, my feet hurt and I am lazy. Sitting in the lounge and exploring the terminal sounds like a solid day to me. 

Amidst changing my tickets, I ended up with a first class ticket to Cape Town. Somewhere the travel gods are looking out for me, because I originally had a business class ticket to Johannesburg and an economy flight to Cape Town. For little bit more money, and less miles, I ended up with a direct flight down (We travel a lot and use a mix of miles, upgrades, and flying club memberships, so we never pay a full fare, but that is a post for a different day).  I called every single day for about a week, but I ended up with a great flight on my ideal date. 

I've never flown First out of London, so was excited to check out the hype of the Concorde Room. I read about it on one of my favorite travel blogs and was excited to see it for myself. My husband has been before and assured me I was in for a treat. 

I headed to the dining room for breakfast. The booths are very private and the service was fantastic. Just like a restaurant, but with no bill. 
Since I love all things mini, I was digging the little tray of condiments. Even though I hate Marmite, I have to admit these mini marmites were adorable and almost made it into my bag.

 Fruit, Soft Boiled Eggs and Soldiers, and a coffee. The food was delicious and I was starving after a sub-par lounge dinner the night before. I left the coffee because I remembered the last amazing coffee I had while travelling through the UK.

So good, exactly how I remembered it.

Wednesday Afternoon: The next couple hours were spent going through all the shops in Terminal 5. Reiss had amazing stuff and I wanted every single piece of the Valentino Red collection at Harrods. I didn't buy anything because I had a very full closet at home and I have shopped enough for the month. 

Another Elemis Spa...another massage. I chatted up the therapist and she was kind enough to load me up with samples. Score. Apparently, I am that passenger that makes sure to use all the amenities offered by the airline. 

Since I had a late breakfast, I opted for a late lunch. I didn't feel like going into those private booths, so I ate at one of the high-tops in the bar. 

I first ordered Pumpkin soup, but it was not the type of pumpkin soup I expected. Not good. I ordered a spinach and pecorino tart as a replacement. Best decision ever. Everything about this was perfect and I got in some veggies.

Wednesday Evening: Board my flight and settle in. Once we are airborne, I put on my cozy clothes and settle in for dinner and a movie. There are two women behind me that are SO LOUD, and SO obnoxious. It's one of those moments where you are a bit embarrassed to be American, because this instance is the stereotype of Americans that fuel the fire. The cabin is full of older brits rolling their eyes at these terrible, loud passengers, and I join in. One woman in the cabin tells them to "Shut Up" and I wait for it to pop off. Surprisingly, they do shut up.

Dinner is served and it's completely weird. There is a sugary coating on the nuts that hurts my teeth. I've never experienced a sensation quite like it. Totally weird. Love George Clooney in The Descendants.

 Dinner was not good, which is completely out of sorts for British Airways. I thought travelling out of London, it would be the best, but it was the worst airplane meal I think I've ever had.

Every single course was pretty bad. To make it even weirder, I tasted all three red wines and didn't enjoy a single one. I kept passing it over, and thinking I would eat the next course, but finally my main course came (halibut with green pea risotto) and I was not having it. 

I finally just ordered what I knew I would like. A Cheese plate and a glass of Vin de Constance
Cheese and wine for dinner two nights in a row. Picture of health right here. 

I forgot how good Vin de Constance's a South African sweet wine that is fairly well known in the states (and around the world). I think it tastes a bit tropical and I love how it pairs with the saltiness and creaminess of soft cheeses. It's also pretty special because it's from a winery in our neighborhood. I'm always proud when I see it on menus or shops around the world. 

Finally Bed Time. 

Next Stop, CPT.