Macaroon Stocking-fillers from Le Petit d'Lor! by Gavin Higgins

My friend Caetlin cooks....is probably the understatement of the year. She has traveled the world working in kitchens from Pubs in Leamington Spa to Luxury Yachts cruising the trendiest ports this planet has to offer. Needless to say, when Caetlin invites you for a meal you say yes and cancel whatever plans you had. Having returned to South Africa she is putting down her roots and has founded Le Petit d'Lor, a luxury Patisserie specializing in pastries, sweets, gateaux and macaroons (Her recipe is a variation of that of one of the best patisseries in Paris).

So recently, when I saw her advertising her delicious Macaroon packages as Christmas stocking fillers, I jumped at the chance to place an order with her. I must be the world's most difficult customer sometimes, when she asked what flavors I would like, I responded with "something Chritmassy"!

Such is the joy of dealing with someone who is a true professional in their trade, she immediately offered a mixture of colors and flavors including Mint, Salted Caramel, Raspberry, Red Velvet, Pistachio and Vanilla.

I knew they would taste amazing, but when they were delivered I was truly surprised by just how amazing the packaging was. Each pair individually boxed with a little ribbon and decorated with some mistletoe icing, they look fantastic!

Now I need to take a good hard look at my friends list and decide who has been naughty or nice this year so I know who gets them!

It's not too late to get your Christmas orders in, you can contact her on 071 271 2002 or E-mail her caetlin_garland@yahoo.com . She can create tailor-made menus and items for any occasion so definitely run your next event past her and see what ideas she has!

The Juice Kitchen - Worth the squeeze? by Gavin Higgins

*This is not a paid endorsement. If a place or product is bad I will tell you it's bad.*

I had to collect a few items from a client who was briefly in Ballito and she suggested meeting at The Juice Kitchen, at the Ballito Lifestyle Center opposite Zaras. I'd love to tell you that I was unearthing the newest gem on the North coast, but then I'd be a big fat liar, they opened on the 2nd November and I've just been late to the party.

When you walk through the doors the first thing that hits you is the "No Nonsense" approach to the layout of the store. The far wall is stark brick with a simple yet stunning vintage-styled sign saying JUICE. To your left are some wooden crates with fresh fruits and vegetables which are clearly organic and look like they have literally just been pulled out of the ground or picked from a tree. To your right is a display-cooler full of yet more super-fresh ingredients and the star of the show; the juices. 

The decor is definitely no mistake, and is obviously a reflection of the values of this business. This is clearly a case of letting the products do the talking which in this day and age of advertising and marketing is very refreshing. On returning to the office and checking out their webpage here I was struck by the following passage: 

"The Juice Kitchen is an organic, cold pressed juice business established in and born out of a genuine passion for providing the body with the highest quality nutrition available in the modern world- raw fruit and vegetables.

From farm to bottle' we grow juice and bottle all our ‘liquid sunshine’ under organic principles and are based here in Hillcrest on our farm in Summerveld"

This is not a business hopping on the healthy-food bandwagon in order to make a quick buck, these are people who genuinely care about putting out a great product that helps their customers.

Speaking of people, Zora and Sandile make a hell of a team manning (and womanning) the store! While Zora was giving me a crash-course in juicing and detoxes, Sandile was juicing up a storm behind the counter. Zora told me that as quickly as they can get the bottles onto the shelf they seem to fly off, I'm not surprised, in the short time I was there I saqw no less than 20-30 go out the door.   

Shari, a friend who had popped in to collect her juices, treated me to my first Ginger Shot as she warned me "Watch out, it burns a little on the way down". It felt like what I would imagine chewing on a handful of pickled-ginger at a sushi restaurant would feel like, but in a good way if that makes sense. It hit me straight away and I have to say I'm stunned with how immediately and how intensely energized I felt. Not 10 minutes before that Shari had asked me why I looked tired and I had explained that I was up for training at 4h20 this morning, not 10 minutes after this I was singing along to music on the drive back to the office, full of beans. 

They have all sorts of juices. They have juices for hangovers, juices for colds, juices for weight loss, juices for energy and so many more. They also offer various juice detox courses for different objectives too, and Zora will be able to tell you a lot more than I will, so pop in for a visit and a chat with her. It was too difficult to choose just one to taste so I left with 6 and Caro and I will be tasting them all for the next day or two. Of course these are completely preservative free so we will have to get through them fast!

All in all I'm so glad I went in and tried it because I know it's somewhere I'm going to end up visiting often in the future. Who knows, maybe it will even help me lose some of this wedding weight, I'll let you know in a future blog-post.

Buen Provecho!

Prime Circle at The Barnyard and the end of an era by Gavin Higgins

When the Barnyard Theatre opened at Gateway Mall, Umhlanga 15 years ago, the last thing I was interested in was live theatre. I was far too busy being a youngster up to no good. But over the last few years we've visited the Barnyard a few times a year and we've made some great memories there. 

As a lot of you will know already, The Barnyard is closing down at the end of December and it's a damn shame. The easy assumption to make it that it has not been well supported of late, something Durbanites are notorious for in event organisation circles and a major reason why we don't get a lot of the bigger concerts Joburg and Cape Town get. But that's just me speculating, I don't know the facts.

The Barnyard has a certain character that I will miss, an intimacy where you feel very close to the performers and it really becomes a personal experience. I'm not a big fan of concerts, I find them messy and awkward, but give me a table at the Barnyard anytime!

Back to last night when a group of friends piled into two vehicles and headed down to watch South African rock legends Prime Circle live. If you are one of the 3 South Africans who haven't seen them live, go to their website (I'll wait) here , register for their mailing list, and book a ticket to their next show near you, you won't be disappointed. Buy their new album and a T-shirt while you're at it. 

We arrived around an hour before the show kicked off and purchased a few ice-buckets full of adult beverages, ordered a tower of pizzas, my wife bought and changed into her new Prime Circle vest, and we took a seat at our table ready for action. Soon there was rapturous laughter and we were within grasping distance of world peace. 

The lights dimmed and it was showtime as the band walked on stage and took their seats. The intimacy factor was evident again as frontman Ross Learmonth introduced everyone and casually ended up in conversation with somebody at the front table. He also took some time to talk about saving the Barnyard Theatre... oh yeah, I forgot to tell you about the guy! Before the band came out, there was a man, not affiliated with The Barnyard, just a regular I think, who walked onto stage and gave quite a stirring speech about saving The Barnyard. I'm not sure what us regular people can do, but I suspect its too late unfortunately. I digress...

The next 2 hours were just awesome. Prime Circle were fantastic to watch as they told their story while playing hit after hit from their brilliant catalogue of music with the smoke and the lights and all of those amazing things that make a music show great. We laughed, we cried, it was the best of times. And then it was over, done too soon as all good things seem to be. The sheer force of the applause of the crowd sucked the band back on stage for a little encore before it was over for realises this time.

All in all, that was probably our last trip to The Barnyard and what a great evening to remember it by. You all now have around 30 days to book yourself a seat at the barnyard here to make your own memories and I sincerely hope they are as sweet as mine. 

Dear Barnyard; it was good while it lasted, thank you for the memories, we'll never forget you.

 

Buen Provecho!

 

 

The mythical R8 Cappuchino; Loch Ness Monster or the real deal? by Gavin Higgins

Let's face it, Ballito isn't the cheapest place to live on Earth. It's the price we pay for calling one of the most amazing places in South Africa home, but one thing we all love are little places, deals and gems that save us a few bucks here and there whilst still letting us live the good life.

One such gem is headed by Jack Abrahams and based in the Ballito Village. As you walk into the Village Spar you will be greeted by Jack, often whipping up some cinnamon-sprinkled pancakes or deliciously fresh vetkoeks oozing mince, and of course his big fancy coffee machine. He has this machine sussed and can pour you the most delicious Lavazza cappuccino without a pause in the conversation you will inevitably end up having with him about the latest hot topics in Ballito. 

The really amazing part of this story is that the 250ml version costs just R8! That's a third of the price you would pay in most coffee shops. There are equally good deals to be had on Espressos, Latte's and all manner of tasty treats.

If you want to laze around enjoying free wifi with some Cafe Del Mar in the background then you will want to visit a coffee shop, but if you want a fast and delicious caffeine fix and exceptional value for money, pop past and Jack will sort you out in a flash.

Let me know your favorite budget-beaters in a comment or on the Facebook page.

Buen Provecho!

Sushi Ninja, Ballito by Gavin Higgins

Brett Michielin, of the Mo-zam-bik fame, is at it again. This time his newest foray into the restaurant scene is an open-air sushi restaurant based at the Boulevard Shopping Centre just off Ballito's Willard Beach. 

Caro, my wife, and I were taking it easy at home after a particularly festive birthday celebration for her best friend Lucy at Fiamma Grill last night, when my phone beeped. Brett had invited me to like his new page Sushi Ninja Ballito . Intrigued I got in touch with him to find out when he was opening and the news was good; just after 3 today. 

We peeled ourselves off the couch and made ourselves presentable before popping past the office to grab my camera. You see I very rarely "take it easy" and had spend the majority of the day building the webpage you are currently on. Not bad for a day's work, hey? Anyway I knew I would need a first blog post and what a fantastic co-incidence this timing was. You could be reading a blog post about Nando's right now so thanks Brett!

And then we arrived. The first thing we noticed is the re-design of the new parking lot. "Why did they make the parking smaller, wasn't there already an issue for space?" I asked Brett. He laughed, I obviously want the first one to ask. "There are actually 2 more parking spaces than before after the work". He's going to need every parking he can get. 

There is an amazing "Al Fresco" feel to the new restaurant. With a similarly simplistic approach to the venue as he took with Mo-zam-bik, the result is an open and intimate space where the breeze cools you on a hot Summer's day giving you a very pleasant sense of relaxation. 

Sushi Ninja doesn't have a Liquor Licence yet. You would think that would be a problem but it creates a unique opportunity for patrons to bring along their favourite tipple of choice and enjoy it without having to pay a corkage. What a money-saver! We were both still a bit tender from our festivities the night before so Cokes with lots of ice it was for us.

The restaurant had only been open for about an hour so understandably the food took a little while to come out. Again this wasn't a problem though because there was a pleasant vibe and tables were openly all interacting with each other while the kids did their thing. anyone who knows Brett knows how hands-on he is and it was great hearing about whats to come for Ballito's newest gem. 

The food arrived and boy did it look great! Caro and I had ordered Salmon California Rolls, Salmon Sashimi, Prawn Battleships and Salmon Roses and there they were, beautifully presented and garnished. The first thing we noticed is that the portions are larger than those typically found in the franchises. 

It tasted every bit as good as it looked and the freshness and quality of all the ingredients was very apparent. We hadn't finished our first serving and we had already asked Hazel, our friendly waitress, for another order of Prawn Battleships and California Rolls. The tables around us had equally positive feedback regarding their dishes. 

All in all it was a great experience and Caro and I spent the walk back to the car planning our next trip there. They will need some time to settle like all new restaurants do so prepare for a little wait, but definitely put it high on your list of places to try as it will be worth it to enjoy that delicious sushi in a fantastic ambiance with the ocean breeze at your back.

Have a look at our Facebook page here to view more photos.

Buen provecho!