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Posted 4/28/2018



Venice in high season. Tourist groups thronged the piazzas (those flags), while day trippers from mestre and beyond, hunkered down in the waterfront food emporia that promise food just like ‘back home’ (plastic-wrapped menus with lurid illustrations).


After several days in an airless bnb with views of an air-conditioning duct, we were ready for an overnight stay at the legendary Cipriani hotel, just a 10-minute ride on their swanky private launch from St Marks Square - but a world away from the scourge of mass tourism.


Waiting for the hotel’s boat to collect us my friend, deeply embarrassed, pretended not to know me; earlier, I had made the cardinal error of buying an “original” Louis Vuitton weekend bag from a smooth-talking sidewalk salesman. The other guests on our motor launch pretended not to notice.







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Posted 4/25/2018


Ever notice how people never say, “It’s only a game” when they’re winning?


The psychology of entering competitions and winning awards is an interesting one. We do so for affirmation that we’re the best at what we’re doing. And that’s just fine.


Of course Tant Sannie’s egg-in-the-spoon race isn’t really what is being discussed here, unless that egg has been perfectly poached and served with wilted spinach and a Hollandaise sauce. Which of course neatly takes us to the subject of chefs’ competitions.


There are a number of disparate competitions that take place throughout the year, sponsored by this or that food manufacturer or cooking academy. Then, of course, there’s the touchy subject of restaurant guides and their awards.

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Posted 4/17/2018

I am presently in France and staying at a guest establishment close to one of the airports. The most important criteria are as follows: that the bed is clean and the bedding fresh. And of course the room is a non-smoking one.

I commute into Paris by train or bus. The one is less expensive and quicker, the other, more scenic. The objective of this exercise is to write a piece provisionally titled ‘Pauper’s Paris’. This title will change, I’d imagine, since it is the title of a book lent to me be friend.

The book appealed to me since most people who are aware of Paris – and its magic – know how expensive it is. How wonderful, then, to search out the little bars, eateries and delis where the locals shop.

My friend and I found a bottle of particularly delicious Pinot Noir at a wine store. Armed with a bottle opener and two plastic glasses, we then found a baguette, some delicious cheese and salami, olives, a tomato that tasted of the sun and went to the banks of the Seine where we had our picnic.





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Posted 4/17/2018



OK, so I’ve been wrong. Mea culpa.  Whenever I heard the word ‘buffet’ I envisioned animals at feeding troughs, grey food, jostling queues, plates piled high, and plenty of waste.

Ivan Govender, general manager of Spiceburg in Greenside as well as Namak in Craighall Park, Jo’burg has changed my mind about buffets. Every Sunday Spiceburg features ‘off the menu’ dishes such as a choice of 25 vegetarian dishes. The next Sunday it might be South Indian seafood or North Indian non-vegetarian food.

The likes of Lamb Korma or Creamy Chicken and Prawn Masala are culinary euphemisms to Ivan who has Indian food newbies declaring at the end of the meal that the two restaurants to be the best Indian restaurant in Africa.

Take the pepper cauliflower. Cauliflower doesn’t quite stir me to sing five-star culinary praises but as always, it’s what you do with it. The two restaurants’ Pepper Ghobi involves mustard seeds and the florets that are crisp to the bite. You’ll never view cauliflower the same again.

Or it might be about the Masala Dosa, a crispy rice and lentil pancake stuffed with spicy mashed potato and served with lentil curry, coconut chutney and ‘gun powder’ (six types of lentil dry-roasted, with a touch of dry chili).

The breads, too, are finer, lighter and tastier than anything else I’ve experienced. Try the Rava Dasa – onion and semolina pancakes with a spicy potato fillingThere’s crab (soup or as a main course), duck, calamari and Madras tamarind prawns served with crisped curry leaves. Lamb and chicken feature, of course, as do an array of vegetarian dishes. In fact, the menu is so interesting and habit-forming that regular visits are obligatory.

Perhaps it’s not even about the food per se, but about the entire experience. The wine list matches the menu, the service is friendly and both places are open at convenient times.  If you think Indian food is about curry – make haste to one of these restaurants and give yourself over to absolute pleasure.


141 Greenway Road


Telephone 011 486 2255.

Lucky Bean Restaurant in Mellville

Martini Cocktail

Posted 4/16/2018


America has given us more varieties of cocktails than you can shake a swizzle stick at. But for reasons purely selfish the martini, now seriously back in fashion, is my focus. Because a martini cuts to the quick, so to speak. No stupid little umbrellas to deal with, no fruit syrups in outlandish colours.


I discovered the venerable martini when I lived in Manhattan and fell in love with Grand Central Station. I’d mosey down to the Oyster Bar and watch business people take a detour on their way home for some oysters – and that perfect martini.

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Why am I alive?

Posted 4/5/2012

don’t mean to state the obvious. But the thing is that life can be viewed as existence: get up in the morning and turn out the light at night.
Breathe. Ingest that which is nourishing (or not). Keep going.
And so, absorb – in other words, eat – blandness and live in a monochromatic world.
There’s an alternative, though: surrender. Yield to the banquet of life.
I have chosen that.
I dream and delight and salivate when I think of long late summer lunches and intimate jewel red pomegranate pips and black figs and tiny flowers on desserts melting on delighted lips. Beloved friends in abundance.

Someone at the table tells me about stealing, peeling with tender fingers sweet and sun baked prickly pears beside a dusty road in the Karoo. A bottle of pale gold wine in the cooler, opened under a lone tree.
Now, at winter’s bite, I watch an early sunset and think, I might light a fire tomorrow: sweet, spicy, gingery heat in an unctuous, rich meaty dish of deep delight.
And not too long from now – to soon, sometimes – dreams of blossoms and bees. But that’s for another season

Gwynne ConlynGwynne Conlyn

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Posted 10/6/2011

There's nothing like a cruise to ease your tensions. Nothing to plan, nothing to worry about. In March we enjoyed a four-night Nile cruise in an outside stateroom with private facilities. We took excursions to the Botanical Gardens, the Old Dam and the High Dam, the Temple of Isis, and many other interesting places.

SPA Resort in Catalonia

Posted 10/6/2011

This resort is situated on the sheltered bay, approximately 10 miles from the international airport. We had all-inclusive accommodations and enjoyed emerald islands and white-sand beaches for two weeks. Every other day we took excursions and saw lots of interesting places.