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).

16 August 2015

Buskaid 2015

This year's annual Buskaid concert was a couple of weeks earlier than usual, but there was still an almost capacity audience at the Linder Auditorium. 

The program started with Rameau (sort of a Buskaid tradition) - Overture to Pigmailion and Dances from Zaïs. At least in South Africa, Buskaid seems to be the only ensemble that plays a selection of composers outside the greats (Beethoven, Mozart etc.) - and the Rameau is an example of that. I can't say I love the style - but it is nevertheless enjoyable and different.

My personal favorite was Sibelius' Impromptu for String Orchetra. It is an amazing piece - slow and moody at the start and end, sandwiching a very energetic middle. It was an amazing contrast to the Rameau; and the performance was mesmerising. In fact, I went and found a performance on Apple Music to listen to while completing this post!

Camille Saint-Sans' Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso is played quite often on Classic FM, but this was the first time I have heard it live. It is a virtuoso piece, and Simiso Radebe's solo performance brought the audience to its feet. A perfect follow up to the amazing Sibelius.

The last performance before the interval highlighted another great difference between Buskaid and other classical ensembles. I had not heard Luigi Boccherini's Night Music of the Streets of Madrid before - but the ensemble took it further; by having a coordinated dance performance while playing the music. It was fun to watch, it was fun to see and gave a real feel for what the music was trying to achieve - something Boccherini himself was unsure could be achieved.

The second half started off with Khachaturian's Waltz from Masquerade, before going through to three movie themes - Theme from Age of Innocence, Theme from Cinema Paradiso (soloist Kabelo Monnathebe) and Tango Por Una Cabenza (probably best known for as the tango in Scent of a woman, soloist Simiso Radebe). 

As with all Buskaid performances, the movie themes indicated a transition to the kwela, gospel and Afropop - to bring the evening to a close. Once again, Buskaid delivered a standout performance. 

12 August 2015

The Test Kitchen

The Test Kitchen has been the No 1 ranked restaurant in South Africa for a few years now (and also has significant global attention). Located at The Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town, the restaurant itself is rather relaxed; with an open kitchen where the patrons can see the chefs working their magic. The restaurant has a long waiting list - I booked in March for an August date - and it was definitely worth the wait.

We had the tasting menu, lasting approximately 3 hours. The food was perhaps a bit too slow paced - but otherwise the service was excellent. However, I would not say that it was my best fine dining experience. A corporate dinner at the 2-Michellin starred Dolder Grand in Zurich was amazing in its oppulence, setting and off course its food and I would rate Hartford House as the best fine dining experience (despite its colonial setting). That said, the Springbok Rose (main course at Test Kitchen on Saturday) is probably the best dish I have had.

Overall, the Test Kitchen is definitely worth getting a reservation for. The prices are fairly reasonable (although the waiting time should definitely be used to save up). However, I don't know if I would specifically plan another trip around going to the Test Kitchen (although the past weekend was a long weekend, hence I targeted this specific date). It's a great experience - but not necessarily a repeat one.

The bread was fresh out of the oven - with an interesting variety. The pie like one was definitely the most praised.

The first appetiser


The second appetiser - Tuna and Cabbage 3 ways - maybe the best cabbage dish I have ever had?


The pickled fish starter was amazing - my second favourite of the day. Layered with a variety of fish, it was somewhat like a sashimi course.


My second course was guinea fowl and foie gras. I wasn't as enthusiastic as the rest of the table; who raved about the scallop and mirin tea (below).



The third course was the choice between the line fish and the pork belly. The pork belly was amazing.

There was a variety in the main courses. The Springbok Rose (above), was by far my best dish of the day - in terms of both food and presentation. M raved about the parsnips in the vegetarian mains although the lamb (below) didn't get too many wild adulations.



The meal concluded with two deserts - Tropical (above) had a fruity theme, while the Milk Stout Sponge was more cake and pastry. They were both great tasting deserts - but I found both to be quite disjointed, especially the Milk Stout Sponge. 

03 August 2015

Marikana - The Musical

M and I had completely opposite reactions to the multi-award winning Marikana - The Musical, now on at the State Theatre until mid-August. I saw the miner's song and dance akin to a war dance, while M saw it as positioning the miners as an arrogant bunch of thugs. I found the lyrics and positioning to confront the socio-economic dynamics, while M saw it as a reflection of the miners committing to their own demise. Both of us contrasted the performance to Rezad Desai's Miners Shot Down, which focused quite a bit on the political machinations around the tragedy - something the musical doesn't really focus on; and I think the documentary will remain the definitive voice on the tragedy. Neither of us read any reviews before going to the performance, and there a few criticims (esp with regards to attribution of cause) - but we did both agree that the performance itself was amazing. 

The set design was genius - the hill serving as both the musician cage and the prop. The music traversed various styles; and the vocalists were great. The translations of various vernacular phrases was patchy (some of it was projected) but there was enough English around to keep the story in line. And the acting was equally impressive - regardless of the viewpoint of the interpretation.

I think I convinced M on my interpretation -  but I suppose it is to be expected that different people will interpret art differently. As long as it is accepted that the musical itself is not a full portrayal of the events; I think it will be fine. Like the last two scenes - first by the widows followed by a father - the musical is also an eulogy that reminds all of the socio-economic factors that hold down our fraught labour relations. 

This is an amazing performance that needs to be seen by all, and at R100 a ticket, the musical is very accessible.

31 July 2015

Art of the Brick

It took quite a few months to convince M that we should go see The Art of the Brick - an exhibition of artwork by Nathan Sawaya, made of Lego bricks - and we were both glad to have finally gone. There are some amazing sculptures - both replicas of famous works and original works. Almost all the works are made from classic lego pieces (of differing colours off course); which really showcases the versatality of the toy. The show has been extended by a few days - if you haven't gone; go.






26 July 2015

New Bike

I bought my old bike 10 years ago. Back then it was a good bike for the price - it had front shocks (yes that was a novel feature) - but most of the components and features are significantly outdated today (such as v-brakes). Since I restarted cycling seriously 2 and a bit years ago, I have been itching to get a new one. Once MN landed one of the only Sliverback Slade 1s in the country a few weeks back; I decided to get one too.


The Slade 1 has medium range components (Shimano XT, Rock Shox Gold) and an amazingly light frame. I decided to get cleats also, and it has taken me a while to get acclimatised to cycling with the front of your foot. And it is a joy to ride - especially uphill! I took it on my current circuit at Groenkloof and made good time for a first ride - 8 minutes up on the previous ride, and 0.8 km/h faster. Once I get used to bike, I expect even better times and speed.

Lastly, Anton from Summit Cycles has provided great service in the process - from measuring before order, to setting up the bike optimally. Looking for a bike in Northern Jo'burg - go check out Summit Cycles.

19 July 2015

Coffee and Chocolate Expo

Expos can be a hit and miss affair, and IMO it depends on the combination of exhibitors, activities and the uniqueness of the combination. This weekend's Coffee and Chocolate Expo was largely a miss.

For R100 entry, you didn't get much. Yes, there was a band playing, but it was outside and cold; so not much going there. The exhibitors were largely the same that you find around Jo'burg - either commercial chains such as Vida and Seattle Coffee or those that frequent weekend markets. There were some gems in the rough; but overall it wasn't worth it.

28 June 2015

Movie: Jurassic World

20 years ago, Jurassic Park was a ground breaking movie - not only the visual effects but the scary impact of genetic engineering taken to the limit. Jurassic World, pays quite a bit of homage to this past; and introduces a dinosaur that is "bigger, scarier and cooler" - made by genetically splicing a number of species of modern and ancient species - that is both dangerous and intelligent. It is not groundbreaking like Jurassic Park, and the concept is more like a zoo gone mad than a natural park (as anyone who has been to a safari can attest); but it is still fun. Throw in some family drama, regurgitate some plot lines from the earlier movies, and even better special effects - and you have a highly entertaining movie; despite the poor script.