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Archive for March, 2009

Bobbi Brown

I’m turning 25 this year. I reckon it’s time to start doing things properly. Like saving for my pension fund, and learning how to apply my make-up the way the pros slick up those models backstage before they push them out into a spotlight in to-die-for clothing.

A little while ago, I got my get-out-of-jail-free card. The make-up pros from Bobbi Brown hosted a workshop at my offices and not only did I get a mini makeover, but I also got a voucher for a free make-up lesson.

With card in tow, I made my way down to my nearest Bobbi Brown counter (Edgars, V&A Waterfront) for an education in blush strokes and blending. Yumna, a pretty little Muslim girl with a mochacino complexion, perfect brows and size triple zero pores set to work on me.

After cleansing and moisturizing my skin, it was time to tackle the first hurdle – which foundation to use. Yumna grabbed three foundation sticks and proceeded to draw think lines from my cheekbone to jaw. “Look here. Can you see how this one melts into your skin? That’s the right colour for you,” she said. No way, was it honestly that easy! OK then, moving right along…

Blush. I have feared blush for years. I refuse to buy it because I don’t have a cooking clue how to use it. With no desire to look like chico the clown, blush and I have never been acquainted before.

Yumna chooses a cream variant and I immediately cringe – aren’t these even more tricky to apply! Three tiny dots later and a little bit of easy-does-it blending and I’m glowing as beautifully as a three year old in the spring afternoon sun.

Then it’s onto brows, eye shadow and lashings of jet-black mascara. Throughout the process Yumna chats to me about exactly what she’s doing and how’s she’s applying it. You’re given a hand held mirror so that you have a voyeuristic view of each dab, tap and smudge. It’s fascinating.
By the end of the process, not only do I feel prettier but I also feel smart. I know that the perfect blush matches the tone of your lips and that you shouldn’t test your foundation on your wrist because the skin on your face doesn’t have anything to do with the skin on your wrist. By the way, I want to know which ridiculous person told women that!?

I’ve always liked Bobbi Brown but now I actually have a bit of a theory about the worldwide brand. Bobbi Brown has revolutionized make-up for women. It’s a realistic, honest brand that doesn’t promise you perfect pores. They work with what you’ve got and each product simply enhances the fantastic and makes the not so fantastic disappear into the background. Even though I love all those cool, crazy colours and trends that come out season after season, to be honest, it’s not for me. It’s not practical for me to wear lumo green sparkly eyeliner during the day. Not only would people think I was on an acid trip, but Yumna says that it’ll clash with my blue eyes. And Yumna knows everything.

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I’m in grey, wide-legged trousers that have four perfectly placed buttons – two on either side of each hip. These trousers also have turn ups which I love; truly the reason for me buying them in Top Shop while holidaying in Kuala Lumpur. I’ve got a simple white T tucked in and black pointy heels. I’m looking pretty smart but tonight even though I’m heading out to Long Street (pop art central in Cape Town), I’m doing so with accountants… Lots of them. Oh, and a guy who I call “Matt with the stars” who looks like he should be in rock band. Matt with the stars (MWTS) has recently quit smoking, taken up vegetarianism (“It’s not forever,” he tells me) and is currently channeling Johnny Cash – in a way that’s pretty scary. They look so identical that I keep staring and embarrassing myself.

We start off at the Big Daddy. Bigger, classier brother of the Grand Daddy a little further down long street. The Grand Daddy have these fabulous custom caravans on the roof of the building and each one is funkier and crazier than the next. It’s simply fabulous. Accountants and MWTS head there first and I catch them walking out while I’m driving past in a tiresome effort to find a damn parking. To veer off the topic for just a moment: I’m convinced that Cape Town has the lowest parking spots to cars ratio in the whole entire world.

Next we head to Neighbourhood. Where waitress after waitress tells us that our crowd is standing in “their” spot at the bar. The place is so packed that there’s no where else to stand and so we stay put. Crazy waitress with the asymmetrical black cropped hair gets more and more irate us with. Eventually, we’re just doing it on purpose. More than half our group downs their drinks and declares it’s time to move on. And not a moment sooner… This waitress chick is starting to bug me.

Cape To Cuba is our next spot. We have to walk up stairs and then more stairs and then through a restaurant and then ask for directions before we eventually find the damn bar. The walls are red and the place reeks of hubbly. Before you know it though, you’re so intoxicated with the fumes that you barely notice it… Thinking about it now however, that could also be because of the tequila. This is where the night really starts to go pear and MWTS and I start to laugh hysterically over blondie who keeps telling us how much she loves Sloggi bras (loudly!). She notices that we’re canning ourselves and asks us why… I tell her that we have a secret language and she buys it. In fact she looks jealous and for a moment there I was almost expecting her to ask us to teach her. But lucky for us, blondie has the memory of a goldfish and she turns to continue throwing herself at my poor friend. He’s a bit trashed, but not that trashed. On the way out, someone tells me she’s from PE… And then suddenly it all comes together.

Next up is Waiting Room – the jol I’ve been waiting for all night. They’ve got electro jazz buzzing and the cool kids are all chilled out and lounging on old couches that like to swallow you up once you sit on them. The music changes and Billy Jean blasts out loud. Everyone “woooohoooos” and I hit the dance floor before landing on the softest, most comfy couch ever.
I look at my watch and it’s 3.30am.

That’s Long Street for you… It gulps you down, shows you a little craziness and then it’s time to make your way home but not before 25 Nigerians hustle you all the way to your car asking you if you’d like to call it a night with a guy named Charlie. My suggestion is that you say ‘No’.

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I have a strange little passion: coffee shops! I have no idea where this quirk comes from but I suspect it has something to do with my mother and her love for a little place in my hometown called Schonnecks. They used to make delicious open sandwiches and you could choose between a mouth-watering array of fillings. Back in the day we didn’t have a choice between rye, ciabatta, white, brown, health, wholewheat, whole grain that we have today (it was standard white or brown), but what you didn’t know, you didn’t miss. When I think back to those Saturday lunches with my Aunt A and cousin C, I get terribly nostalgic.

In Cape Town, cute, quirky, gorgeous coffee shops are as common as hot dog stands in New York City. I’ll keep you up to date weekly with all my new finds and old regulars – but for now, I simply have to tell you about Table Thirteen.

On my way to my favourite lunch-break stop, Ecco il caffe, I walked straight past this gorgeous antique shop… I stopped and was suddenly drawn to the opposite side of the road. Something was up. This was new. I have to investigate immediately!

Table Thirteen is a coffee shop with a difference – it shares a space with a showroom displaying monumental pieces of furniture, nestled between sweet and pretty little trinkets (the expensive kind) like vintage pieces of chunky jewellery, candles that you want buy in bulk and display all over your house and original ceramic pieces that are really modern but somehow remind you of the ancient world.
And then there’s the bread… And the salad that comes with the bread. I visited Table Thirteen with my aunt and noshed on snap-fantastic green beans, crisp lettuce and steaming hot baby potatoes that are buttered up with mustard seeds and a dressing that you want to eat by the spoonful.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I spotted their brownies. For anyone who loves chocolate, this might just be the most important thing you read all year. Table Thirteen bake double-chocolate brownies the size of a standard block of supermarket cheese. One brownie could easily be accompanied with tea for three people.

Slightly gooey, decadently chocolately and embedded with titanic chunks of white chocolate, you’ll be forgiven if you eat the whole thing yourself.  Table Thirteen is the perfect spot to meet friends – but don’t rush it. Food this good, is meant to be savored.

Coffee = good (they make skinny versions too)
WiFi = nope
Price = Lunch is pretty pricey. Brownies cost R15.
Service = good.
Best bit = When you get the bill, you don’t get mints. You get bite-sized portions of brownie or whatever the cake of the day is. Nice!

78 Victoria Junction, Green Point. 087 808 7064/5. http://www.tandco.co.za

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Dom and Dave live and in action

Dom and Dave live and in action

Goldfish – live at Spier Ampitheatre (Stellenbosch)

Watching Goldfish perform reminds me of paintball – it’s an explosive mass of colour, everywhere! So much colour in fact that you stop trying to figure out what exactly it is you’re seeing. And then of course there’s the sound. The amazing sound that duo, Dom and Dave have created. It’s electronic like you’ve never heard before. Now let me just clarify something: I’m not a fan of that heavy-house-doof-doof music at all. But Goldfish. They’ve got a whole different kind of vibe about them. And I love, love, love.

Imagine watching an electronic act performing live with jazz instruments like saxophone, bass guitar and cello… Then add flute and keyboard to the mix. Sounds totally weird right? Believe me, it works. Goldfish have created such a unique infectious sound that before you know it, your head-bopping has turned into full on foot-tapping, knee-bouncing, body-swaying moves. Beneath their crazy beats and upbeat tunes, these two blond-haired musos are the kind of boys who love being outdoors surfing it up in Muizenburg. They’re hippies at heart who love SA and all cultures which mesh up messily under Africa’s bright orange sun. They mix and match a bit of afro culture here, with a bit of Bob’s Rastafarianism there and then throw in a few classical tunes that you recognize but can’t quite put a name too. The result? Goldfish has become the quintessential Rainbow nation band, cutting effortlessly across cultural divides and age groups.

Google them… They’re definitely worth discovering.

pic: Casey Crafford

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Nokia

nokia-5730-xpressmusic-71I’m obsessed with music. If you ever have the opportunity to drive with me in a car, for regardless how long your journey with me may last, you’ll notice that I’ll completely ignore you because I’m so zoned into my ear-splitting music and singing at the top of my lungs. I know the words to a countless number of songs. I’m serious. I’ll give you my mother’s number if you don’t believe me. And if I don’t know the lyrics of a song I fall in love with, I’ll google it, find the lyrics and sing them till I remember them. I’m a bit of freak when it comes to lyrics. I’ll admit that openly without any contestation.

So you can imagine my joy when I discovered there’s an entire company out there that I can bond with over my love for music: Nokia. Can I just say a huge thank you to whoever at Nokia – no matter how great your title or insignificant your position – for bringing the Nokia Music Store to South Africa. I’m so excited, I can barely contain myself. For those of you who live in a first world country with the advantage of having wireless and the iTunes store at the click of your cool arc-shaped Microsoft mouse, this development is comparable (well in my life anyway) to a cure for cellulite.

Next thing that I’d like to thank Nokia for is the 5730 XpressMusic phone. It’s so shiny and so pretty it just makes me want to go out and buy it right now, even though I know I can’t afford it right now and that I should really wait for my upgrade which is (cringe!) only due in July. Yip, people I want it that bad.

It’s got this amazing side-slide out keyboard. So if you want to reply to an email on your phone (I’m one of those people who do this all the time despite the fact that I don’t own a Blackberry or one of those other fancy Smart phones), it’s really easy and you don’t have to hassle with a tiny, little, silly keypad. It’s also got a speaker…  A loud one. And it’s got dedicated music keys. And then they decided to go one better and programmed the phone with a “say-and-play” voice controlled component. So I go, “Coldplay – Lost” and voila, it plays.

I love living in the 21st century. Don’t you?

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Nonna

I grew up Italian. Very, very Italian. So Italian in fact, that by the time we had just finished breakfast my Nonna would turn to me while we had our hands soaking in soapy suds and asked me what I felt like for lunch. Capisci? My entire childhood was mostly about food… And staying out of the sun. “It is a so bad for your skin-a,” Nonna would say to me, her hands gesticulating loudly trying desperately to convince me.

Nonna was a magical women. I would look in the pantry and see nothing. Nonna would take a peek and the soft skin around her eyes would crinkle and her lips would purse as she made a very quick, calculated descision. I could only watch and marvel as a three course dinner made an appearance in her head like a mirage. Butter beans with finely chopped onions and parsley would accompany crumbed fillet steaks and lots of crunchy, green salad that we pulled out of the ground that morning. There were always tomatoes and garlic in ample amounts tucked away in all sorts of corners of the kitchen, so we were never short of primi piatti (“first plate”): Pasta Napolitana. This is what most people don’t know. In Italian families, pasta is usually served as a first course. It’s meant to be light and not loaded with sauce and dished up in quantities that not even a Yank can stomach.

But it wasn’t only Nonna who had a certain delight to her, I’m almost sure that her kitchen was enchanted too. Often I would open a cupboard looking for bottled tomato pulp and I’d find a bar of chocolate, or a box of unopened Pannatone or the gorgeous, strong scent of ground Segga Freddo coffee beans would tickle my nose. I loved that kitchen and it’s never-ending, always surprising cupboards.

Before my Nonna renovated her kitchen, the cupboards were baby blue. I have no idea if that’s the reason why I still find this colour irresistible today – if there is something to buy, and it comes in baby blue, it’s got my name all over it and I have to have it. My kitchen in my apartment has baby blue cupboards. Baby blue, wooden cupboards in fact. When I walked into this flat, it didn’t matter what the rest of the place looked like or the fact that the toilet has a ridiculously small basin in it that you can barely use. My boyfriend hates our kitchen. As much as I try to tell him it’s vintage, he rolls his eyes in that very Casey way of his and says, “Lis, it’s ancient.” Me, I’ve never felt more at home.

One of my favourite Italian dishes is Risotto. A rich, creamy rice that similarly to pasta, tastes delicious with a number of ingredients: salmon and leeks; gorgonzola; lots of butter… It doesn’t really matter. It tastes so good, always!

Here’s a recipe for you to enjoy.

Risotto of wild mushrooms, parmesan and basil

Serves 4
6 tablespoons butter
15-20 fresh morel mushrooms
100 grams pierre blue or blue foot mushrooms
100 grams giroles or chanterelles
114 grams porcini mushrooms sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 small shallots, finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups carnaroli rice or arborio rice
¾ cups dry red wine
6 cups of vegetable stock
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
shaved Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large heavy pan over medium-high heat. Then add the mushrooms and sauté for 8 minutes or until tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat the oil in another saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the shallots and sauté for 3 minutes or until tender, but not brown.

Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute, then add the rice and stir for 1 minute. Pour in the red wine and stir constantly until the wine is almost absorbed, about 3 minutes. Then add ¾ cups of vegetable stock and cook the mixture, stirring constantly until it is absorbed. Continue adding the stock, ¾ of a cup at a time, until it has all been absorbed and the risotto is creamy, about 20 minutes.

Once the rice is almost ready, add ¾ of the mushrooms and reserve the remaining mushrooms for the garnish. The rice should be cooked until al dente. Once it has reached this point, remove from the heat and add the grated Parmesan cheese, mascarpone cheese and remaining 4 tablespoons of butter.

Stir the risotto until the cheese and butter have melted and the risotto is creamy, and then stir in the basil. Spoon the risotto into four warmed bowls and serve topped with the remaining mushrooms and shaved Parmesan cheese.

love love love
❤ ❤ ❤

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