I’ve had a visitor from New Zealand staying with me for the last few days. He didn’t want to do the sights (been there, done that), but he did want to eat and drink out a lot. He’s a real foodie, and a difficult man, which makes him hard to impress.
But that didn’t stop me from trying.
Our first stop was Bean There at 44 Stanley Avenue. This man is not a skinny cappuccino kinda guy. He’s a short, strong, double espresso kinda guy. I was nervous when he ordered a Rastretto, thinking the Barrister may say ‘What. Mate, speak up?’ But he didn’t. He very smoothly made him his Rastretto, delivered it seamlessly, and even managed to sell him a bag of Kenyan fair trade coffee beans.
A perfect start.
The Sheds at No 1 Fox Street had opened, and I was quite duplicitous in telling my friend it was a great place to eat. I wasn’t really hungry, I just wanted him to see how the Johannesburg inner city is changing and developing. It was a good move. We loved the oysters and champagne, and bought a ton of exotic meats, sold by a Polish woman with a very authentic accent. We ate lamb souvlaki and I came home armed with fresh flowers and a chocolate tart from the very handsome Belgian Patissiere. He came home a little tipsy from the small, dry beer that he discovered at the Craft Beer stand, which maybe was not so small after all.
It was Day Two and things were going well.
He’d asked me to stock the cupboards with biltong. I bought the first packet from the Tyrone fruit and veg shop in Parkview, and I think it would have been good enough for him, but my kids ate it. I bought the next few packets from Texas Café in Parkhurst, and that was delicious. So delicious my kids still ate most of it and my dog bit him on the finger when he didn’t share, but hey, he got a small taste and he did lick his lips.
We had a lunch at Croft and Co in Parkview where he enjoyed the Caesar salad; happy to point out they used the correct white anchovies. He wasn’t as impressed with his short espresso and thought the cigars were a bit ‘meh’ but that the cigar cabinet was impressive. A six out of ten for that experience, although I gave it a ten, my Prego was yum.
He doesn’t eat dessert, so I chose to eat them for him. An almond Danish at Châteaux Gateaux at The Thrupps Centre was fair, but the chocolate cronut at Belle’s Patisserie in the BluBird Centre was to die for. The lemon and berry ice cream from The Market Place in Craighall was so good that I took two tubs home with me, and the chocolate mousse at The Whippet in Linden, divine.
The highlight was a dinner at Stelle, also in Parkview. I was nervous as he kept rolling his eyes when I said ‘authentic Italian’, but Stelle did not disappoint. In fact, he said the Rabbit Ravioli was as good as anything he’d ever eaten in Italy, and he wants to go back for the Carpaccio di Polpo. (Octopus Carpaccio)
We bought fresh cherries from Woolworths and watermelon from Checkers. He sneered at the cherries, mostly because they weren’t sweet or local, and maybe he was right. Fruit should be eaten seasonally and from our own trees.
We drank wine in the evenings at Scusi accompanied by delicious cheese and olive plates. I showed him the Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein and he shopped while I ate the paella, and a visit to the Market on Main in Maboneng was perfect for gifts and fudge and chocolate brownies and all the things I love!
Everywhere we ate was close to home, and that means close to all our Johannesburg Guest Houses. Everything, except for the biltong, which I blame my children for, was delicious, successful and I believe he is going to come back for another holiday.