Citizen Cafe in Blairgowrie

Over the weekend, we packed the kids into the car for a coffee break at the Citizen Café in Blairgowrie. It was all the bicycles parked outside the café while driving down Conrad road that first drew my attention. With the café so close to Delta Park and the Braamfontein Spruit, it seems that many cyclists are in need of a caffeine fix when they get to that part of the route!

Both the décor of the café and the atmosphere inside is very appealing. The walls are covered in wallpaper depicting the cityscape. Vinyl records are playing in the background. The waiters are laid back and friendly. It looks like a great community café and I am sure the Blairgowrie residents must just love it. In that sense it reminds me of the Whippet in Linden or Butter in Berario, and I think every little village in Johannesburg must have one of these – a good local hangout. 

You can like Citizen Cafe on Facebook here.


I told you a couple of weeks ago that I am on Instragram now and that I am hooked. It is such a convenient point-and-shoot camera on hand, since my phone is always with me. Plus, it is so easy to use and the filters do make those everyday snaps look incredible. Since my previous blog I’ve started using Statigram, a web-based app that allows a person to share his/her IG photos with non-IG users. So, if you are (... my mom or dad and ...) not on Instagram but still want to follow and interact with your friends and bloggers, this allows you to see all the photos in you feed, with the tags, comments, likes and even the filter used by the Instagrammer. One of the cool features that are available on Statigram is the ability to pin photos to your Pinterest account. Most of the other social sharing buttons are also on Statigram. 

Below are a few more of my own IG photos, all taken with an iPhone 5:

A few behind the scenes photos from Diner enBlanc

1. Setting the table for our monthly book club 
 2. Coffee with the in-laws in the lovely Parkhurst 
 3. Daniel decided Britstown (in the middle of the Karoo where my parents live) needs an airport. In his design the airport is bigger than the town. We get the impression he does not like the 8 hour drive :-)
 4. Daniel after playing in the rain, drip drying in the doorway

1. Setting the table for the tea after Emma’s baptism 
2. Escaping the cabin fever on a Saturday afternoon with coffees at the Citizen Café
3. Picnic in our own garden. Emma is at that stage that her toes are her favourite toy 
4. A beautiful bouquet of flowers from my husband on our wedding anniversary. 

So, if you want to follow me on Statigram, click here.

To create

Inspired by one of the blogs I follow, This Brown Wren, Daniel and I gathered newly fallen blooms from the garden, leftover mint leaves from the kitchen counter (after we made this) and wilted petals from a bouquet of flowers I received from my husband for our wedding anniversary. Daniel then spent the rest of the afternoon on the floor, sticking the flowers on his drawing. I, camera in hand, looked at him and the joy this little project gave his. I was reminded that it’s fun making things, whether it is a drawing, a photograph, a crocheted blanket, a cake. Whatever leaves you fulfilled and glowing is different for all of us, but making the time to create seems so obviously beneficial. So why do we make so little time, then? 

Mint from my garden

A couple of months ago our book club came together at my friend Tania’s house. She served a dessert that was utterly divine. We were all surprised at just how well the combination of mint and pineapple worked and it turned out to be the easiest of recipes. So, from my newly revamped herb garden, Daniel helped me to pick the mint and the two of us made this Jamie Oliver recipe. My boy loved bashing everything in the mortar and pestle!! 

All you need is:

1 pineapple

4 heaping tablespoons of caster sugar
1 handful fresh mint
Plain yoghurt

After finely slicing the pineapple, lay it out flat on a large plate. Pound the sugar and mint in a mortar and pestle until the sugar becomes green. If desired, drizzle the yoghurt over the pineapple and then sprinkle the mint sugar on top.

It’s that easy. 

I also found this great diagram from The Savory and it gives great tips on pairing herbs and fruits.

Revamping the herb garden

For my birthday earlier this year, friends gave me a large clay pot full of different herbs. With spring in the air, I decided to replant the herbs into all the different long-forgotten pots that’s been either cluttering the garage or standing around in the garden without any purpose. I found this great recycled pallet stand for all the containers. It is from The Wood Lady and their products are available on-line or at the Ceramic Factory in Linden.

We are patiently waiting for our first crop of tomatoes, but in the meantime it seems there is a tiger in the parsley….

The Wolfpack

A weekend or two ago we tried out a new burger joint on Parkhurst’s 4th Avenue. It is called The Wolfpack and is all about craft beer on tap and gourmet burgers. They have at least ten local brewers’ beer on their very extensive craft beer menu and will whip up a cocktail in no time. Their out-of-the-ordinary burgers are served with very unusual complimentary sides such as polenta chips and Crispy Wasabi Onion Rings. Our food was delicious!  

The décor of the café-style dining area is modern with interesting murals on bare brick walls, a gorgeous checkered stencilled floor, retro bright orange chairs, clever lighting and a touch of grunge, just to make it interesting. The sidewalk has high tables and allows for great people watching, but it is the rooftop terrace outside that looks like the place to be on a balmy summer evening!

In case you’re wondering, the three wolves on the mural apparently represent the owner and his two managers who promised each other after a boozy night out that they will, like a wolf pack, always stick together. …

You can like their Facebook page here.

Image credits: Elanie Fourie and Nani Kornelius

Dîner en Blanc Johannesburg

It was just more than a year ago that I blogged about Le Diner en Blanc after stumbling upon the all-white secret posh picnic during a late night walk in the streets of Paris. (You can read about it here). Since then the photos on my blog were used by the girls organising the Brisbane event, and it was the same girls that sent me an email a few months ago to let me know that the event is coming to Johannesburg. I immediately registered to be on the waiting list.

And then I settled in for an anxious wait.

After the initial tickets were sold to friends of the organisers (as you do), the people on the waiting list were informed it was time to buy those tickets urgently. I did not realise how urgently. The 1200 tickets were sold out when I tried to make the payment for “my ticket”. Luckily, the organisers released another 200 tickets and with lots of luck, my husband and I managed to each buy a ticket for the event with 1000’s of people online all at the same time. Each ticket is for a couple so we invited our friends Teresa and Rudolph along.

So, what is all the fuss about? Well, Diner en Blanc is a world-wide phenomenon that started 25 years ago in Paris. François Pasquier returned to Paris after a few years abroad and decided to have a dinner party for all his friends. So many wanted to attend that he asked them to convene at Bois de Boulogne dressed in white, so as to be recognizable to one another. Each attendee was also asked to bring a friend. The evening was such a hit that guests wanted more friends to join-in the following year and thus was born the concept of Dîner en Blanc.

Part of all the excitement is that the location of the event is kept secret until the very last minute (the local authorities in Paris did not allow such large gatherings in public places). So, in South Africa we were told to meet at different points across Johannesburg. We opted for the Gautrain Station. It was very exciting to arrive outside the station and join the group of people in their white outfits (by the way, if you’re male, trust me, it’s not that easy to buy a pair of white pants in Johannesburg – the amount of slim-fit Zara pants at the event made me smile since I also did a run to Sandton on behalf of my husband :-). We boarded a bus and the secret location was revealed. The War Museum in Forest Town, with its memorial arch, right next to the Johannesburg Zoo, was the location of this first Diner en Blanc Johannesburg. 

Upon arrival, tables with white cloths and white chairs were awaiting us. All the guests brought along their own white crockery, silver, white napery and table decorations. People went all out with flowers, candles or lamps. It was possible to pre-order picnic baskets from the organisers, but we opted to bring our own food and wine. Rudolph, the wine connoisseur, made sure we started the evening with a blanc de blanc French champagne (with a white label, of course!) We started our 3 course meal with a vichyssoise (can’t help that it was white too :-). Our main course was a mezze platter with delicious picnic food (with another white labelled wine) and our last course was a cheese platter with fruit, nuts and chocolates (and dessert wine). 

Part of the traditions of the Diner en Blanc is to “occupy the site” by waving our white napkins above our heads (they do it at French weddings as well when the newlywed couple arrives at the venue). A new tradition started specifically for the Johannesburg event was the writing of a wish on a piece of paper. We attached this piece of paper to a white balloon and watched how it, together with 100’s of other balloons lifted up into the air past the statue on top of the arch, who must have been slightly bemused by all of this! Later the evening all 1400 people simultaneously lighted sparklers and waved them in the air. It was magical.


What made this particular event so successful in my mind was definitely the music. The Rocketeers played while we dined. An exciting guest appearance by the girls from the band The Muses with their violins had every one on their feet (and on the chairs, where most remained for the rest of the evening!) Tamara Day from Flash Republic also sang a couples of songs before the DJ for the evening took over. Her name is DJ Ultra-Mel and I want her at my next birthday party!! She was fantastic.

In the end, an evening like this can be seen in one of two ways. Either it’s a thoroughly frivolous way of entertaining people with nothing better to do, as John Robbie seemed to imply when he interviewed one of the organisers a few weeks before the event. Or, the second alternative, the one which was written on the faces of all the people in these photographs: it’s a celebration of life and all it has to offer. The white, seemingly frivolous from the outside, creates a temporary tribe which treads the earth lightly - occupying its own secret space for a while before disappearing again, having created nothing but a memory and leaving nothing behind. It’s a perfect metaphor for modern life dressed up in its best white frock, having a great time. And I can’t wait for the next one.

You can read more on their website or like their Facebook page.