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The DL – London & surrounds. Edinburgh. [Censored]

6 Dec

Right kids – I’m back from an utter whirlwind week in the UK. I’ve never been on so many trains, planes, tubes, cars, cabs etc in a week, thank God for iPods. What an insane trip – places to go, people to see. So here’s the Down Low. Now now, I will not share everything with you for absolute fear of judging. Some things are better left unsaid.

It’s always so amazing to see old friends. You know the kind of friends I’m talking about here – the one’s that when you see each other after a long time and it feels like you just saw them yesterday. Endless catching up, masses of laughs and pure good times. Love it – Boffy, Ricky Bee, G Dog – thanks my darlings for taking such good care of me.

So a few do’s and don’ts, according to moi.

London & surrounds

Do go to Floridita in Soho. Perfect venue for a razzle and couple of bevvies to catch up with mates. There’s a dancefloor downstairs if the night turns out to be one of those. Which it naturally did.

Don’t go to watch the play Blood Brothers. You will fall asleep like I did.

Don’t go to Oxford Street for shopping close to Christmas unless you have time to shop. It’s not a case of in and out. It’s rammed with people and can be super irritating if you’re in a rush. I nearly went outside of my mind.

Do go to Camden Lock Market and take a walk along the canal. Do not go to Camden Town Market. The Lock Market has so much more character. Mind the Chav’s though.

Do go to the English country side, Surrey, for a walk with friends and a well deserved pub lunch at The Dolphin afterwards.

Do go to the South of England, Bognor Regis, to see your beloved aunt for a good fat catch up.

Edinburgh

Do go to Edinburgh. It is an INCREDIBLE city that is breathtakingly beautiful. I fell in love with it.

Do take a proper rain coat to Scotland. Not a coat. A RAIN coat. Brollies are useless too and will break in the space of 2 minutes. Otherwise you’ll end up with a street side special that is screaming pink and look like a total tool. As I did, out of pure desperation to stay dry. This is unfortunately the exact same jacket that I was sporting on the one rainy day. Absolute fashion FAIL!


Do walk as much as possible. You see so much more. Even if it’s raining. Suck it up and power on princess (pink jacket and all).

Do go to a bar / restaurant called Iglu in Edinburgh. Amazing cosy little spot that serves delicious wild, organic and local produce.

Do go to Babelon Cafe for heart shaped eggs. Loved this.

Do go to Greyfriars, a cosy little pub with the story about Bobby the Dog.

Do go to Edinburgh Castle. Try not to go in the rain if possible – you’ll freeze your tits off, as I did. There’s lot to see but my fav was the Crown Jewels (naturally, I love bling) and the War Memorial.

Don’t drink rum on a night out because you’re told “that’s what people drink in Edinburgh” and get totally vrot.

Do climb the 250 ridiculous stairs to the top of Scott Monument. Perfect 360 degree views of Edinburgh city. And Do take the G Dog with you for a complete run down of the city, could’ve sworn he was a tour guide as a side job.

Fabulous trip and so good to see all you lovely’s. Love it. Best get planning the next one.

Miss M x

Eat Out Awards 2011. Oh, DEAR ME!

28 Oct

If you’re a Saffa and love good wining and dining as much as I do you’ll know all about the prestigious Eat Out Awards. Check Eat Out here if you’re not in the know, tsk tsk – http://www.eatout.co.za/

These awards honour the Best RestaurantChef of the YearService Excellence and Top 10 restaurant, along with additional categories for Best New Restaurant, and the Boschendal Style Award for a restaurant with spectacular design. This year, they’ve included the following new categories that will also honour the best: Asian restaurant, Steakhouse, Italian restaurant, Country-style restaurant and Bistro. You can see all the nominated restaurants on their site.

So this is where I get to name drop as much as I want to and just don’t expect me to be diplomatic here because I just so won’t you see. Yes, of course the restaurant where my sister is the Head Chef, Dear Me, is right in here. They have been nominated for the Boschendal Style Award and one of the 10 nominees for Best Bistro. I just get a lump in my throat and a little tear in my eye whilst I am writing this – I am just SO crazy mad proud of you my little one.

Vanessa Marx – in case you didn’t know she’s my sister.

Dear Me has only been open for 7 months and has taken the Cape Town scene by storm with Tjing Tjing Rooftop Bar becoming the latest night jol hot spot. Now, I have not had the privilege to eat at the restaurant yet as I live in the desert but let’s be real peaches – the Chef cooks for me for a laugh when I’m at home so I know exactly why Capetonians are crazy about her food. I have also not been able to sip on copious amounts of bubbly on the rooftop either, yet. But trust me, this will be happening so very soon.

Nessie, I am so unbelievably proud of you and I claim all rights to name drop at any possible opportunity whether you like it or not. Ilze and the whole Dear Me team – BEST OF LUCK for the awards on the 20th of November you little biscuits!

Check Dear Me out here – http://www.dearme.co.za/ and follow them on Twitter tweethearts @DearMeFoodWorld and @TjingTjingBar. You can find this amaze place at 165 Long Market Street in the city bowl, Cape Town, and phone them on +27 21 422 4920 for bookings.

Go get ‘em kiddo. We’re behind you all the way and love you so very much .

Miss  M x

Get your brunch on!

11 Apr

I just spent the most AMAZE weekend in Dubai. That city just never fails to be down right fabulous. I decided to take a few days off work and head up for a long weekend. The Accomplice and I headed off on Tuesday evening and drove up. Now here’s a thing, we’ve decided that this is just not our vibe. Yes, we will be total snobs and fly next time.  Few reasons why:

  1. I nearly platsed when I saw about 100 military tankers in Sohar. Scary scary, did I mention scary!?
  2. The toilets at the gas stations are revolting. (Just threw up a bit in my mouth thinking about it).
  3. My car has a ding ding ding noise that does not go away when you reach over 120km’s. Fail.
  4. You can’t have a bevvie at the airport bar. Not that Muscat International has one at the moment, but still. I’m still going with this as a very valid point (just saying).
  5. The cuisine on the side of the road is far from anything western, as you can see and I’m not one for packing a lunch box, thank you very much:

Very special drink indeed. Special.

Needless to say this particular beverage was NOT consumed otherwise I would have potentially had a house mate with an um, you know. OK, let’s just not go down this road. So enough of the negativity already, it’s ruining my vibe, we will not be driving in the near future. (Well, HE will not be going in this direction anymore, very sad topic and we’re not talking about it, someone pass the tissues please).  Bottom line. Capiche.

The weekend was spent gallivanting around the city that is Dubai, early afternoon drinks in Apres (don’t judge, I was on holiday and it was past 12) following onto some delightful bars around the Marina, watching football (mmm, not out of choice really but I will say it wasn’t too bad at all, possibly for other reasons which are far more interesting than soccer footie. Might even watch the 2nd leg I believe it’s called – getting so educated these days it’s a joke). Also had a lovely evening for dinner and then shopping around Mall of the Emirates with my 2 FAVOURITE Scottish ladies (these 2 just crack me up every time) and then brunch. Puh-lease, of course we brunched my peach. Of course.

Few arvie drinks at Apres in Mall of the Emirates

…followed by happy hour (buy 1 get 1 free bottles of bubbles) at Ibn Battuta Gate. Love some bubbles of course…

Onto the pool side bar at The Address at the Marina – lurvely, we like.

Ending off at McGettigans Irish Pub at the Bonnington.

Yes, for the football. Don’t go judging now.

I’ve been to the Warehouse brunch before and I lurved it. This time, it was even better and there was a barfday to celebrate, fanastic. On arrival we were greeted by the friendliest of staff dressed up in 80’s kit and a shot of fruity beverage to intoxicate ourselves, a tad. Lovely, thank you kindly, I will have one of those – to get my brunch on! We had a table of the most amazing friends which I think most certainly adds to the festivities of the day. Actually, it makes the day (or ruins it in some cases).

Warehouse at the Le Meridien

Now I’ve given you this tip before, make bestest friends with your waiter the minute you arrive. I duly did this. Jerry was just amazing. Constantly adorning us with bevvies and platters of sushi, spring rolls and Thai beef salad. The food wasn’t amazing, but it was still delish – nothing to complain about. As I’ve said before, brunch is not about the food, especially not this brunch. This brunch is about getting your brunch on in a vibey atmosphere, great music floating through the venue, friendliest and efficient staff I’ve ever come across and never ending Mojito’s, or whatever your heart desires. Vodka & Lime in my case. Jerry was lovely enough to reserve us a little VIP table next to the dance floor he loved us that much for after brunch festivities and the rest of the day is slightly, um, blurry. Warehouse is definitely up there as a venue to razzle and dazzle at and get your brunch on. Here’s the contact details – book in my peach!

http://www.lemeridien-dubai.com/en/dining

I do know I ended up in the chippy eating haggis at the end of the night. Enough said. And yes, there is more. But don’t be such a nosy parker puh-lease daahling. Some things are better left unsaid.

Miss M x

Constantia Fresh, and my sister’s (almost) famous!

15 Feb

OK I just had a little teary moment, my little sister, Vanessa Marx, has been selected amongst 5 other top male chefs for the “Best White Blends Constantia Taste Festival” in Cape Town. Lump in throat, tear drop – I’m so proud of her! Now I’m not one to brag, but in this case I will – thank you kindly.

Constantia Fresh is going to be held at the Buitenverwachting farm in the Constantia Valley in Cape Town on the 25th and 26th of February 2011. This is basically a wine festival that will focus on featuring Sauvignon blends and other white blends from the Constantia Valley and elsewhere, both locally and internationally. Can you imagine – white vino from all my fav’s! Constantia Uitsig, Klein Constantia, Groot Constantia, Steenberg, Buitenverwachting and Constantia Glen. Pure bliss!

Now back to the bit about my little sister. She’s a Chef as I’m sure you have worked out and here’s a bit about her, taken from the Constantia Fresh site http://constantiafresh.com/chefs.htm  Check it out.

So gorgeous !

Vanessa Marx attended the Institute of Culinary Arts in the Cape Winelands and graduated in 2005. After doing her apprenticeship at Peter Goffe-Wood’s PGW eat and Kitchen Cowboys, she continued to be mentored by Pete until 2007.

Vanessa then went abroad to widen her culinary experience and worked on a privately owned yacht in the south of France, as well as at a private residence in Zurich. Her travels took her to London where she worked at food and wine bar Vinoteca (Farringdon), where she developed her ability to create menus daily, using only the freshest and most seaonal produce available,as well as observing the art of pairing wines with food.

On her return to Cape Town, Vanessa worked at Cassia under English chef Dan Evans, formerly of Michelin-starred Odette’s and Anglesea Arms in London. She then went on to work for Charl Coetzee of the Caveau group, and currently finds herself in the final stages of preparation for the opening of much awaited new CBD restaurant Dear Me.

Dear Me is the brain child of Ilze Koekemoer, who teamed up with Vanessa to make it all come to life. The menu is based on seasonal, local and ethically farmed produce. Dear Me’s philosophy is about creating an awareness of what you are eating, how it was produced and where it comes from.

“My food is inspired by people, places and seasons”, says chef Vanessa,”people like the women in my life, and the men in the kitchens I have worked in. Places I have seen and places I dream of seeing.”

“I am constantly in awe of nature, and just as you get in the comfort zone of a certain time of year, so you see the produce of the next season creeping in, and a crush begins to develop as you start falling in love with the coming season and the abundance of produce and fresh ideas it has to offer.”

So what she (and the other chefs) will be doing at the Festival is making canapes which will be paired with the wines from selected estates that they’ll be given.

Now this is where being an expat really really down right sucks. I so wish I could be there (wine glass in hand and bursting with pride). I love wine (that’s no secret) and my sister is cooking! The restaurant Dear Me will also be opening very soon – I’ll update you on this closer to the time and I’m missing that. Sigh.

Can I just say again how proud I am of you my little one! So young, so talented and you’re related to me (this could be a mistake)!

Here’s the link for more info: http://constantiafresh.com/home.htm

Capetonian peaches, get involved! Nessie, good luck! You’re going to be fab! And I love you.

Someone pass the tissues please.

Miss M x

The brunching culture

14 Jan

When I first moved out to the desert and I heard the word brunch being thrown around, I had visions of late (say 11ish) civilised breakfast taking place – so bacon and eggs on a Sunday morn stretching into the early arvie, with perhaps a glass or 2 of champagne and OJ. Um, I think NAAAT.

I attended my 1st brunch, and this is where I first met my entourage of fabulous girlfriends. Here’s the DL on what brunch really is about. Now listen carefully and write this down if necessary. Firstly, it doesn’t involve bacon and eggs, so don’t look like a muppet wanting to order breakfast. No pork allowed. It’s not even about the food really, although at all brunches there is an array of delicious food at the buffet (pronounced buff-it). It happens at various fabulous hotels, starts at midday on either or Thursday or Friday (not Sunday, this is the desert people) and is about the champagne, or shampoo as I like to call it. Those attending a brunch on a weekend get all dolled up and head to a great brunch of choice for the afternoon (note to self: don’t wear such killer heels to the next brunch).

This weekend saw 15 or so twenty somethings  (and some 30-odd, bless their souls) heading to the Radisson Blu brunch for one of my lovely girlfriends birthdays – happy happy my darling friend!

Now to really get the most out of your brunch, become friends with your waiter. Simple. This is easily accomplished by asking their name, smiling, possibly a bit of batting of eyelids – and you’re in. Your glass will always be half full. Fantastic. Brunch always starts off cool, calm and collected but by the end of it, the restaurant staff looked washed out and are begging patrons to leave. (Ok ok, we’re leaving – to the next party that is).

Brunch is generally followed by heading out for a bit of disco to squeak some takkie (or heel), or lazying around a friends villa. The day after brunch is usually spent in bed, nursing a killer hangover with Panadol’s, water and Sex and the City series.

There are so many brunches to choose from (in Dubai) – some of my fav spots are The Warehouse at the Le Meridian hotel close to the airport. This doesn’t have a buff-it, it’s served right to your table so you need not separate yourself from you favourite glass of bubbles, or mojito in this case. There’s also a happy hour that kicks in at 4pm with some cheesy disco beats being belted out from the DJ box. Great vibe. Time out Dubai rates it as “One of the best value deals in town with some of the best food on offer and all you can drink mojitos”. Fabulous. Check out: http://www.diningatmeridiendubai.com/

Another excellent venue is the  Grand Grill at the Habtoor Grand Resort and Spa. Being a Saffa chica, this is an excellet South African steakhouse, that has everything from South African waiters to Amarula (delish as an Amarula Pedro – to die for)! During the winter, when the temp is only about 28 degrees, it is great to sit outside and sip on your shampoo whilst spending an arvie with fabulous company overlooking the beautiful sea view. This particular brunch was for my awesome Scottish friends birthday, which saw me and my accomplice booking flights spontaneously at midnight that night up to Dubai for the Friday, the had FOMO kicked in and we suprised her (but this is another story all together, next time). Check out: http://grandjumeirah.habtoorhotels.com/

Last, but certainly not least is Mina Salam at the Madinat. This brunch is fairly relaxed in relation to the other 2. It’s set on the canals that surround the hotel and is really quite chilled. What you don’t want to miss at this restaurant is the food. Now I know I said that brunch is not about the food but at Mina Salam it is. The food it truly excellent and innovative and is absolutely worth having a nibble. Check out: http://www.jumeirah.com/

Right, I’m off to continue nursing my hangover.

There will be plenty of brunches which I will be at this year, so will have much to report back on.

Happy brunchings peaches!

Miss M x

Okku Dubai – just fabulous!

10 Jan

So… the back end of 2010 saw me on a plane and up to Dubai for the weekend to bring in 2011. Many a weekends are spent up in Dubai purely because it is ever so close (45 minute flight) and the city is just incredible. It almost gives me that sense of “normality”, however you choose to define normality in the Middle East. Bringing in the New Year in style, I was off to Dubai with 2010 behind me!

Dubai - amaze!

To prove that the city is just amaze and has all the fabulosity that a chica could ever need, I headed out with my lovely girlfriends for dinner at Okku in the Monarch Hotel. One word comes to mind – FABULOUS!

The ever so lush Monarch Hotel

Okku offers a new style of contemporary Japanese cuisine, set in a stylish restaurant with the “who’s who” in Dubai seated next to you. The food, especially the sushi, is original and interesting and the taste sensations literally explode in your mouth. The service (and cuteness of waiters) deserves an 11 out of 10 and the vibe that carries through out the restaurant is electric, with a DJ playing some mellow music overlooking the diners . For fellow smokers, never fear – the bar area offers a smoking section… thank GAWD (Note to self: need to give up smoking this year – yuk!)

Bar

Lounge

After feasting on the amazing food, the restaurant turns into a stylish partaaay! Tables are turned into bottle service of Grey Goose voddies or whatever your heart so desires, the energy flows through out the venue with the DJ spinning awesome tunes and many a bevvie is to be consumed whilst dancing the night away.

Restaurant

All in all, it safe to say that Okku is one of my favourite night’s out in Dubai. For anyone in Dubai, or planning a visit – make sure you head to this stylish and fabulous restaurant. Check out out – http://www.okkudubai.com/.

Love food. Love life. Love Okku.

Enjoy peaches!

Miss M x