About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

24 January 2015

Yahoo! News Digest

I am a news junkie - and I have tried numerous apps on my iPad and iPhone. Apart from Flipboard, none of these have really stuck for continued usage. I discovered Yahoo! News Digest late last month - and it has become my defacto news app. The concept really works - a set of curated news summaries (multiple editions available), twice a day. The interface is sleek, and for the most part, the additional links (twitter feeds, maps, Wikipedia entries, etc) are a nice touch. For detailed news - Flipboard is still the leader - but this app is best for catching up on the key topics.

03 January 2015

Ryan's Kitchen

Located just outside Franschoek's Main Street, Ryan's Kitchen is listed as a restaurant specialising in contemporary South African cuisine. 

For lunch, they offer "small plates" instead of mains and starters - somewhat like slightly larger tapas portions. The advantage of this approach is off course the opportunity to try a lot more variety.

We had two vegetarian plates, two seafood plates, two meat plates and two deserts. The seafood, one angelfish, one trout were amazing - both takes on curries; but not in an Indian style. The tapioca mushroom plate was equally impressive. In comparison, the other plates had some impressive components but I was not overly impressed with the full combination. For example, the warthog was amazingly tender but the plate itself wasn't as impressive. Likewise, the Impala had amazing beetroot accompaniments but the Impala itself was fairly ordinary.

The deserts were amazing - the soufflé was soft and very fluffy; and the chocolate mouse desert was equally impressive.

Overall, I enjoyed Ryan's Kitchen more than Reuben's (on this trip); and the small playes makes a lot of sense for fine dining restaurants.

01 January 2015

Oroboros

Oroboros is a relatively new cafe, located in York street, Muizenberg. It is tiny - just a few seats, and a bar; with a small kitchen and staff leading to fairly slow service. But the menu changes daily (it's posted on a blackboard), cheap, and best of all, amazingly good. It's a quirky place - and the food is worth it.

31 December 2014

Table Mountain via Kasteelspoort and Corridor Ravine

I have hiked up Table Mountain numerous times, but yesterday was the first time I went up on the Camps Bay side of the mountain. Thanks to R, who seems to go up on the various routes up table mountain often, K and I got a different experience up the mountain.


We started at intersection of Kloofnek, Signal Hill and Table Mountain - and the first few kilometres is quite an easy countour path (I see it is often referred to as the pipe track); with glorious views of Camps Bay and Lion's Head. Unfortunately, the thick tablecloth at the top meant that the views from the top were non existent.




The push up Kasteelspoort is relatively steep, but well maintained path. With the strong wind and thick cloud, I found the last push to be difficult but I think this route is actually easier than Platteklip Gorge.

We stayed only for a short while at the top (given the absence of any views); and and down the Corridor Ravine - about 1 Km away. The descent was steep, on a rocky and sandy trail which eventually meets up with a jeep track around the base. Once we cleared the cloud, there was a great view of the 12 Apostles Hotel and surrounding area.

I am not sure I can rely on Strava's data from yesterday, but it looks accurate based on the other data I have seen. The full path was approx 14 Km, with the one major ascent, which is a good distance and route profile for a day hike.

27 December 2014

Rueben's

Reuben Reifel is one of South Africa's most well known chefs; especially with his more recent appearances as a judge on Masterchef and in TV adverts. Last year, our trip to Franschoek was not planned in advance; so getting a table at a well known restaurant was out of the question. So, this year these things were planned better ...

The food lived up to the reputation - simple style, great presentation and amazing taste.


The starter, which M & I shared, was probably the most different - trout with various pickled vegetables. 

M had the Kinglip with oyster and mussel sauce and I had a chicken and prawn curry. M doesn't like mussels much but there want much left on the plate afterwards! The curry was surprisingly sweet but very flavorful. I didn't think all the accompaniments worked though - the chilli oil for example didn't make sense with the style of curry and I didn't like the carrot sambal (bottom right of the picture) at all. 



The sparsely named "salted caramel tart" turned out to be an elaborate chocolate based dessert - really rich and decadent. I had the panna cotta, with various fruits - a combination that was far superior to the other versions I have had before with berry coulois as a topping for the panna cotta. Ultimately, I suppose that is one of the key differences between the fine dining and regular restaurants.


Swartberg Pass

I read an article some years back on the spectacular unpaved Swartberg Pass connecting Prince Albert and Oudtshoorn; and have wanted to drive over since. 

It is one of the best mountain roads I have traversed (admittedly some in Peru were at night). The narrow road winds itself up the Swartberg mountains with scenic views of the valley below on one side and the cliffs on the other. It was a cloudy day, and the temperature dropped  15 degrees to a chilly 12 degrees at the top! 

The drive down to Oudtshoorn was shorter; with the fertile ground below. It's well worth the detour!





Meiringspoort

The original plan yesterday was to try to go see the Cango Caves, but I was aware that getting tickets without booking was unlikely. I also wanted a detour; and the co-owner of the BnB at Graaff-Reinet highly recommended the first part of the detour - driving through Meiringspoort. It's a spectacular gorge, with a small river and the N12. Clearly the local authorities have worked out the touristic propositions and there are lots of rest places (with braai and toilet facilities) along the route. With a public holiday, it was very busy - and the caves didn't work out - but the detours were definitely worth it!


26 December 2014

Hester Rupert Art Museum

Housed in an old Dutch Reformed Church, which was saved from demolition by businessman Anton Rupert, the art gallery has a wide variety of South African artwork, mainly from the 1960s. There is no real theme, but there is probably something of interest for everyone. 



25 December 2014

Graaff-Reinet

I didn't do a lot of South African history at school, but for some reason the town of Graaff-Reinet stuck in my memory. Looking for a slightly alternate way to drive to Cape Town, I decided to stop here and then follow the Swartberg range. An old town, it has some spectacular architecture - especially around the magnificent old church in the centre. Almost everything is closed today - giving this old town an even more deserted feel. 




Valley of Desolation

Located in the Camdeboo National Park outside Graaff-Reinet, the valley is best known for its spectacular rock formations  against a backdrop of the Karoo. The late afternoon sunshine lit up sections spectacularly - but I didn't manage to get such good photos :(