Thursday 31 March 2011

Guilt-free Chocolate. Is There Such a Thing?

(NoMU's Sugar-free Hot Chocolate - two tins are better than one)

I like chocolate. I like it a lot. Give me a bag of Woolies Chuckles and I laugh all the way to the couch . Chocolate and the TV remote go hand in hand. I'm also partial to those marshmallow Easter eggs. Sweetie Pies, Chocolate logs, Top Deck, I'm not all that discriminate. But I don't like Bourneville dark chocolate. And I quite like the pricier stuff like Cote d'or and Lindt and Green & Black. And now that it's almost Easter I could scoff a bunny or two.
But all of this makes my thighs shudder. And not in a good way.
So I try and be virtuous on occasion. Which is why I alway have an emergency stash of NoMU Sugar-Free Hot Chocolate in the cupboard. I have a lot of NoMU products in my cupboard, as I'm sure so do you. ( I love-love-love their Fonds - but that's a blog post for another day). But for now, we're dealing in chocolate, and this hot chocolate is superb, chocolatey and rich and less fattening that the others on the market. And of course you can taste the difference between the NoMU one and the sweeter, more calorific ones, The NoMU one tastes better... I make it with half milk / half boiling water. And then all I need is a bit of rain to make me truly, divinely happy.
I didn't think that guilt-free chocolate could get much better than this.
But them my lovely friend Lise sent me off (as she does) to The One & Only for a Bastion Gonzalez PediManiCure treatment. The Spa is running an Easter (Yes, there WILL be chocolate) promotion for the month of April (1 April - 31st April) on this most luxurious foot and hand experience.
Now, I have had many pedicures at beauty salons, and quite a few podiatrist/ chiropodist appointments as well. But have always found that the one was aesthetic (beauty salons and spas) and the other medicinal (podiatrist/ chiropodists). And that there is seldom an overlap. Until my Bastien Gonzalez experience. These treatments, developed by an ex competitive skier and podiatrist to the stars (Don't you just love that expression? Imagine the conversations...'Tell Halle Berry to wait, I'm busy with Eta Carinae now and she's flown in from far.') are curative and aesthetic as well as incredibly luxurious. Therapist, Area Manager and Bastien Gonzalez devotee, Kim Milton took charge of my feet. While Celeste Osbourne managed my hands.
There were a few things that immediately told me that this pedicure and manicure would be unlike any other I had ever experienced. Firstly I was offered chocolate once I was snugly ensconced in my electric-blanket-already-on-reclining-chair. I knew I was off to a great start.
Surprisingly no water was used during either treatment, as wet skin can hide problems that need to be evaluated.
Cuticles are not pushed back, or cut as in other treatments.
No foot file, or pumice stone came near my feet, as this apparently promotes and encourages the growth of hard, thicker skin, causing ugly cracked heels. Instead, a blade is used to remove excess skin, and the use of powder is recommended to prevent friction when wearing closed shoes or high heels. Feet should be moisturized at night. Nail varnish should be removed, allowing nails to breathe etc,etc
I know all of this is hardly appropriate for a mostly-food blog. But wait, the results are amazing, butter-soft heels, and shiny buffed nails. And the experience was really relaxing and luxurious. Once all the work had been done, the lights in the treatment room were dimmed and the chair moved even further back until I was almost lying down. And then I smelt it... the sweet, beautiful scent of chocolate. This was the vitamin-E enriched, cocoa and paraffin wax treatment which was used to massage my hands and feet in tandem. A heavenly 75 minutes later, it was still raining outside, but I was walking on sunshine. Havaianas might not be in the same league as Jimmy Choo, but my feet sure as hell didn't know the difference. They had developed a personality all of their own. It may have been the sugar rush, it may have been the massage, but they felt goooood. And they wanted to be shown off. They wanted to party...

So there you have it; another guilt-free chocolate pleasure.
Sure the treatment is pricey, but so is liposuction!

One &Only Spa Cape Town
Telephone: 021 431 5810
Promotion: from 1 April to 31 April 2011
Cost: Pedicure R650 Manicure R350 (normal price for both R1265, and if your budget is balking at the idea of both. Go for only one. But go.)

Tuesday 22 March 2011

A Shitty Espresso & My Bucket List

(Peter and Ali in front of Haas)

(the gorgeous grey of Haas interior)

(The R80 a cup Kopi Luwak espresso)

I'm no coffee connoisseur. I grew up on Frisco, and used to froth the milk and the caramel-colourd powder before pouring in the boiling water. But I drink coffee and I like it. And I'd like to think that my taste has improved somewhat since my pre-teen days. And we now have a coffee machine, but we buy whatever beans we can find at 9 pm when we've discovered we've run out of coffee. And sometimes I'll buy coffee solely based on the nice packaging. So no, I cannot claim to have a had a lifelong fascination for the stuff, or to have known about Kopi Luwak before I watched The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.
So for those who don't know what Kopi Luwak is or who have not seen The Bucket List: It's the world's most expensive coffee and it's made from the beans of coffee berries which have been eaten by the Asian Palm Civet ( or other coffee- berry-eating-civets). These berry/beans then pass through the civet's digestive tract. Yeah, yeah, and then defecated, conveniently keeping its bean shape.These are then washed, dried, roasted, packaged and PR'd and then sold on to
the rest of us. (Thank you Wikpedia) So in other words Kopi Luwak is coffee made from shit.
And it's available from The Haas Collective is in Rose Street , Bo Kaap, which is where I took my lovely friends Peter and Ali. Or rather they took me, as they picked up the tab for the R80 Kopi Luwak espressos.
We ordered the Kopi Luwak espresso, as it would surely be wasted in any other milky form. And it was a fine espresso. A nice way to start the morning. But as for the merits thereof, in all honesty I doubt that I could really tell the difference between the R2580 a kilo cup of Kopi Luwak or another fine ordinary (and much less expensive) coffee. But then I can't blind-taste wine either. However, the brilliant (yes, really, in the true sense of the word: he also understand maths) Neil Pendock can and also advocates it, so I would defer to his taste buds and opinion on this matter.
I like Haas, I like its style, I like their crockery, I like their packaging. I like their shop/gallery of beautiful things. I like their grey velvet antique sofa on the Bo-Kaap pavement. (I also like that it's next to Rose's corner cafe where I buy great samoosas and around the corner from Atlas Trading where I buy cinnamon sticks and cardamom in brown paper packets.) So I would go there again, because their iced coffees were divine and a fraction of the cost of my not-so-completely-shitty-kopi-luwak-espresso.

So, hyped-up on caffeine, here is my (partial) Bucket List
(this does not include my desire to lose weight/have a baby/live happily ever after/ or revisit any wonderful places I may already have been to)

Swim with dolphins in the wild (Very hippy-hey-chi-wow, I know, but I'd really-really like to)
Slurp noodles on the streets of Vietnam (Anywhere in Vietnam, I'm so desperate to go there, I'm not going to be picky)
Go horse riding on a beach (Perhaps need to learn how to ride a horse first)
Learn to play poker (Well. I need to learn how to play poker well)
Write a children's book (It has to be a good non-patronising one with great illustrations - obviously I'm not illustrating)
Dance as if nobody is watching (Because I still, stupidly, care what people think)
Chat to Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Wouldn't you?)
Go kayaking someplace where the seas are calm and the water is warm ( And the sharks are scarce)
Watch Tim Minchin live ( Because barefoot, mascara-wearing, messy haired boys can be surprisingly hot)
Drink icy G&T''s on the deck of Singita Lebombo (Because modern-glass -architecture and safaris are so appealing)
Finish Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy before the sequel comes out in 2013 (3 copies, 3 attempts later, I have to do this)
Perfect the art of making pancakes ( Hope springs eternal)
Celebrate the colourful festival of Holi in India ( And eat lashings of palak paneer with garlicky naan bread)
Own (and be able to walk in) a pair of red-soled Christian Louboutins.

Haas Coffee Collective ( you have to make your own Bucket List)
67 Rose Street, Bo-Kaap
Tel: 021 422 2239
Open: Monday to Fridays 7am -5pm (or 6pm if you're still finishing your coffee)
Saturdays and Sundays 8am till early afternoon (best get there in the morning)

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Three Bloody Months Overdue or Burials & Bashews...

(My Aunty Elaine (left before being diagnosed with cancer) and my ma (right - the one with the grey hair - taken prior to chemo hair-loss)

(The Bashews Christmas Delivery)

Tonight, I visited my blog again. It's been a long time, 3 months and a couple of days to be precise. I last wrote on 14 December. That's a long time not to blog. Partly procrastination, lots of laziness, but mostly as a friend explained it 'Life got in the way...' A lot can happen in 3 months. A lot can change in 3 months.
We had Christmas lunch at our home this year, about 45 loved one gathered here and it was gloriously chaotic, we ate gammon, and soetpatat and pineapple tart and drank delicious Kloovenberg bubbly and bottles and bottles of that ubiquitous Cape Town celebratory drink, Bashews, which to my delight is still delivered to your home in refundable glass bottles in wooden crates. And yes, the wind blew, and there wasn't really enough seating for everyone, and no it wasn't as I had imagined my Eartha Kitt 'Santa Baby' champagne-swilling sophisticated soiree to be, but we were all together, Jacques's extended family and mine. And I'm so glad we invited everyone, and didn't care about the wind, or the seating, or the elegance (or lack thereof ) of the food, because were were all together, aunts, cousins, siblings, babies and friends and it was everything that Christmas should be.
And then in January, Jacques and I went to London ( and I promise I'll post some blogs about the amazing places we ate at), and we had a wonderful time, but while there, we learned that my aunt, (my mom's sister and my Godmother) had been diagnosed with cancer. We came home, and three weeks later, she was gone. It is a hideous-hideous disease. I still can't believe she's not with us any more. And I worry about my mom, who is fighting her own battle with cancer and had to witness how it destroyed her sister. And so I've been caught up in that. And I didn't write much. And so one day turned into a week, turned into a month, turned into two. Without having blogged. Because life goes by quickly. And we tend to forget that. And so I'm not focussing on the bad stuff, or the immense loss I feel or the fear that I have. Or beating myself up because I have not written. I'm reminding myself, instead, that I got to see my aunt and mother laugh together as only sisters can, and as only they could. And I smile when I think how Aunt Elaine wrote some of my Afrikaans essays and all of my school speeches. And how nice it was that she made the Christmas soetpatat last year. And got to drink the Bashews . And once again, I'm glad that I wasn't precious about Christmas, because by not being so, it was.