Everything is Better with Champagne

10 Aug

Yesterday was National Women’s Day here, which meant no class for me!  Instead, I got to get off campus again and was treated to lunch by my classmate Greg and his husband, Roger.  They were kind enough to pick me up, and as it was another beautiful, cloud-free day we headed to Parkhurst so that we could eat lunch al fresco.

We ended up at a lovely restaurant called Bistro Vine which had an amazing menu and great wine list.  Lunch was elevated by the fact that Greg wasted no time in getting a bottle of champagne on the table.  I knew that we were going to get along fine.  Per Roger’s suggestion, I started with their escargot dish.  I LOVE snails, and in this case they were served in this sinnnnnnful curried blue cheese cream sauce.  Seriously outrageous.  I did in fact pair that with a salad, as there’s only so much cream and cheese I can take in a day.  Kind of.  I wish I had taken pictures, but I’m useless so you’ll just have to imagine it.  For dessert we shared a spiced orange toffee pudding, which is a bit like sticky toffee pudding.  However, I guess it was closer to a traditional Afrikaans pudding, Malva, due to the spongy texture and spice profile of the sauce.  Regardless, it was yummy.

After lunch, I had mentioned that I was dying for a good cup of coffee.  As it turns out, filter coffee doesn’t really happen on a regular basis over here.  There is filter coffee, but it’s not very good, there’s not a lot of variety, and often, if you order a cup of coffee it will be instant coffee.  It’s the exact opposite of the States, where everybody (myself included) has developed a mania about different kinds of coffee, different geographical sourcing regions, roasting methods, brewing methods, blah blah blah.  However, espresso and espresso drinks here and magical, and are heads above what you can get standard back home.

In order to satisfy my coffee cravings, we drove to Melrose Arch, one of the many malls in Johannesburg.  This one is nice because it’s open air, as well as having some of the fanciest public bathrooms I’ve ever seen.  Cafe Vida served us some lovely skinny cappuccinos, and we were off to the other reason for heading to Melrose Arch: Woolworths.

Let me backtrack a little bit.  I’ve been doing my grocery shopping at a store called Pick ‘n Pay, which is only about 3 blocks down from campus, easy to access and relatively inexpensive.  However, it’s certainly not the nicest of grocery stores.  I would equate it with maybe a crappy A & P or Jewel, or if you’re from NYC a Foodtown or something of the like.  I haven’t minded because my fridge is small and my freezer is TINY so it’s not like I can stock up on lots of wonderful items.  However, there’s not a lot of variety and sometimes I’m craving a bit more.

Enter Woolworths.  This store is basically what would result if you took a Macy’s and smacked a Whole Foods onto it.  So you’ve got your clothing and housewares and such, and then a whole other section for groceries.  Woolworths is beautiful.  The shelves are shiny, stocked and organized.  The produce is fresh and the variety is plentiful.  I’ve heard that it’s also definitely the most expensive of the grocery stores in SA, but it’s still not even close to Whole Foods prices.  I could have spent hours in there, but I did have my companions to consider.  What I did manage to pick up were some prepackaged, fresh, healthy meals that you pop in the microwave and then revel in the deliciousness.  Greg also graciously bought me a bottle of unique South African wine.  For anybody who cares, it’s a combination of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that started out as an accident, and has become an award-winning combination in the country.  I am super excited to try it on an evening that I don’t have 200 pages of reading ahead of me…

Needless to say, I had a wonderful national holiday and was not keen to get back to class today, regardless of how interesting I find the subject matter.  Which, unfortunately for International Trade, is not that interesting.  Help, anybody?  Spring has sprung and school is really getting underway, so I will have more stories to tell soon.

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Posted by on August 10, 2011 in Uncategorized


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