Tag Archives: restaurants

A mini-expedition in Kloof, Durban

I ventured out the office today shortly after midday to experiment a little and get some fresh air. 

Here are some photos I took in Kloof.

  • Their breakfasts aren’t so grand anyway

  • It’s tough being on the road all day and all night

  • Twin effort

  • Another angle – all wired out

  • Graveyard Road, Kloof

  • Parking with the birds and bees, Fields Shopping Centre

 

This post is followed by “Another mini-expedition in Kloof, Durban”.

Varanasi

Whilst  reading THE CULTUREUR this afternoon, I came across the post SPIRITUAL CHAOS ON THE HARIDWAR GHATS ALONG THE GANGES RIVER.

I immediately thought of Varansi (calm and chaos) and this inspired me to pull out some photos I recorded there during my last trip to India in 2011/2012.

I first went to India in 2009/10: see related blog here and some other photos here.

I have inserted my photos above, below and in between the comment by Wikipedia that enlightens us as follows “Varanasi (Hindustani pronunciation: [ʋaːˈraːɳəsi] (listen)), also commonly known as BenaresBanaras (Banāras [bəˈnaːrəs] (listen)) or Kashi (Kāśī [ˈkaːʃi] (listen)), is a city on the banks of the Ganges in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, 320 kilometres (200 mi) southeast of the state capital Lucknow.

It is regarded as a holy city by Hindus and Jains, and holiest of the seven most sacred Hindu cities (Sapta Puri), of its ancient historic, cultural and religious heritage. Hindus believe that death at Varanasi can bring salvation.

Body being transported to a ghat for cremation

It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and the oldest in India.

Unfortunately many of its temples were subject to plundering and destruction by Mohammad Ghauri in the 12th century. The temples and religious institutions seen now in the city are mostly of the 18th century vintage.

The Kashi Naresh (Maharaja of Kashi) is the chief cultural patron of Varanasi and an essential part of all religious celebrations.

The culture of Varanasi is closely associated with the River Ganges and the river’s religious importance.

The city has been a cultural and religious centre in North India for several thousand years and is one of the world’s most important religious centres with a history which transcends and unites most of the major world religions.

The Benares Gharanaform of the Indian classical music developed in Varanasi, and many prominent Indian philosophers, poets, writers, and musicians resided or reside in Varanasi. Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath located near Varanasi.

Varanasi is today considered to be the spiritual capital of India.Here scholarly books have been written.

Ramcharitmanas was composed by Tulsidas here while there is the temple Tulsi Manas Mandir that is famous here.

In addition to this, the largest residential University of Asia, Benares Hindu University is located here.

People often refer to Varanasi as “the city of temples”, “the holy city of India”, “the religious capital of India”, “the city of lights”, “the city of learning”, and “the oldest living city on earth.”

Ghats in Varanasi are an integral complimentary to the concept of divinity represented in physical, metaphysical and supernatural elements.

All the ghats are locations on “the divine cosmic road,” indicative of “its manifest transcendental dimension.” Varanasi has at least 84 ghats.

Steps in the ghats (ghats are embankments made in steps of stone slabs along the river bank where pilgrims perform ritual ablutions) lead to the banks of River Ganges, including the Dashashwamedh Ghat, the Manikarnika Ghat, the Panchganga Ghat and the Harishchandra Ghat (where Hindus cremate their dead).

Many ghats are associated with legends and several are now privately owned.Many of the ghats were built when the city was under Maratha control.

Marathas, Shindes (Scindias), Holkars, Bhonsles, and Peshwas stand out as patrons of present-day Varanasi.

Most of the ghats are bathing ghats, while others are used as cremation sites.

Flash not allowed at cremation ghat and my settings were off

Morning boat ride on the Ganges across the ghats is a popular visitors attraction. The miles and miles of ghats makes for the lovely river front with multitude of shrines, temples and palaces built “tier on tier above the water’s edge”.

The Dashashwamedh Ghat is the main and probably the oldest ghat of Varansi located on the Ganges, close to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

It is believed that the god Brahma created it to welcome Shiva and he also sacrificed ten horses during Dasa -Ashwamedha yajna performed here.

Above the ghat and close to it, there are also temples dedicated to Sulatankesvara, Brahmesvara, Varahesvara, Abhaya Vinayaka, Ganga (the Ganges), and Bandi Devi which are part of important pilgrimage journeys.

A group of priests perform “Agni Pooja” (Worship to Fire) daily in the evening at this ghat as a dedication to Shiva, Ganga, Surya (Sun), Agni (Fire), and the whole universe.

Special aartis are held on Tuesdays and on religious festivals. The Manikarnika Ghat is the Mahasmasana (meaning: “great cremation ground”) and is the primary site for Hindu cremation in the city. Adjoining the ghat, there are raised platforms that are used for death anniversary rituals.

Flash not allowed at cremation ghat and my settings were off

It is said that an ear-ring (Manikarnika) of Shiva or his wife Sati fell here. According to a myth related to the Tarakesvara Temple, a Shiva temple at the ghat, Shiva whispers the Taraka mantra (“Prayer of the crossing”) in the ear of the dead.

Fourth-century Gupta period inscriptions mention this ghat. However, the current ghat as a permanent river side embankment was built in the 1302 and has been renovated at least thrice.”

I also found out that kite flying (or fighting) was important in Varanasi ; but even more so in Jaipur where the youngsters and adults ran around madly after fallen kites.

Emergency repairs

Fun in the afternoon

Rooftops were a hive of activity 

She “shared” her puppies with me (rooftop of Suraj Guest House; the owner’s daughter)

Suraj Guest House is a good bet when looking for somewhere to stay

The owner was very helpful and accommodating – visit Suraj website here

No post about Varanasi would be complete if Ganga Fuji Restaurant was not mentioned. The owner Kailash asks that you design a “country of origin” poster for his wall

Lovely non-oily food and great entertainment 

Some uninformed person called the food bland. The owner cooks exactly what you ask for i.e. freaking hot spicy or mild like a cucumber

Free entertainment 

Bhai on drums!

Ganga Fuji was recommended by the owner of Suraj: good contacts usually recommend good contacts

Impromptu hair appointment 

Roadside food stall

Outskirts of Varanasi – Chinese Buddhist temple at Sarnath

Sarnath is where Buddha gave his first sermon.

It was a lovely break from the hustle and bustle of Varanasi, but we will leave all of that for another day & post.

Some related posts you may be interested in:

Durga Puja, the Worship of the Hindu Goddess Durga, Returns to Calcutta, India (part 1) 

A World of Prayer

A must watch documentary filmed at Varanasi:

Beyond

The Queen of England (off to see her)

On 3 November 2012 we were sure we could smell Turkey.

The plan was: a little stop in the UK on a farm, two weddings and then off to Istanbul.

On 16 November I disclosed that the visit to Turkey was “cold” and would just have to wait.

Despite this “setback”, Timol and I still had lots of fun in the few days on land and in air.

A little snack at Durban International Airport (King Shaka) was in order before we left.

I hadn’t been to Mugg & Bean in a while and was pleasantly surprised by what was served up and at a fair price.

 

I initially wasn’t going to eat but was soon tucking into everyone meals.

Didn’t have too much to eat as I was hoping to taste the yummy food on Emirates.

 

We were loaded up not too long after the air-hostesses who speak a multitude of languages.

I made sure that the meals were being loaded by Sky Chefs before I took my seat.

Up into the air we flew; bound for Dubai then the UK.

A good meal with some red wine helped settle us into the evening.

The selection of movies was vast and I had enough leg-room.

I watched three movies in a row before I got all “movied-out”.

Flying from Durban to India via Dubai on Emirates is OK, but the flight from Dubai to the UK (BHX) on this trip was a bit too long at 7 hours 50 min (Durban to Dubai is 8 hours 40 min). That’s over 16 hours of flying in a row.

I would rather fly direct next time thank you.

In the next post we will have a peep at the farm outside Birmingham where we stayed for one night.

And when I really get energetic, I will show some pics of London and the food inside Harrods.

I can smell (that) Turkey

By the same time tonight, Timol and I will be cruising at an altitude of 35000 ft on an exciting trip. It will also be dinner time.

The menu on Emirates should be something like this:

Chicken breast

Grilled chicken breast with caramelised plums, served in a cranberry reduction, accompanied with mashed potatoes, baby spinach and carrot slices

Lamb brochette

Fillet of lamb marinated in Arabic spices, combined with assorted peppers, charcoal grilled and served with a cinnamon scented sauce, accompanied with broccoli, roasted baby corn and steamed rice

Dessert

Sticky date pudding – A delicious dessert served with caramel sauce

Red Wine

Cecilia Faugerres Oak Aged

Now what’s this about “I can smell (that) Turkey”..?

Well, it’s not that we will be eating turkey but that we will soon be seeing:-

And before I forget, if you have the time, please have a look at some of Marc Bega’s photos of his home cooking direct from Tamarin, Mauritius.

I have given him this exposure as I really hope that he will soon also get a WordPress blog up and running to showcase his lovely dishes and photos.

PS – maybe encourage him with a few messages if you like what you see!

The Fat Croissant

My friends Natalie and Tim (little Paige too) own a lovely spot across from Sutton Park.

Located in the heart of Morningside, on the corner of Windermere and Sutton Road, you will discover “The Fat Croissant”.

Pop in before or after an early morning at the beach which is “on the way”.

Based at the Alliance Francaise, enjoy scrumptious breakfasts and light lunches in the garden area or inside the newly decorated venue with its cosy atmosphere.

The menu offers a variety of dishes, including freshly baked croissants, toasted sandwiches or health rolls, crisp salads, wholesome homemade meals and a great cup of coffee.

Although they are only open for breakfast and lunch, the Alliance Francaise arranges a list of concerts, mainly jazz, movie nights/open air cinema in the garden, art exhibitions and other events.

The Fat Croissant also caters for large bookings, takeaways, office lunches, corporate lunches and conferencing.

They provide outside catering and snacks and various functions such as birthday parties.

I really enjoy the coffee and watching Tim put great effort into each cup..

They say: “At The Fat Croissant, we are passionate about our coffee as is our supplier Colombo Fine Beverages Co, and serve a great cappuccino that is ready to drink the moment it reaches your table.

We “micro-texture” the milk portion of our cappuccino in order to enhance the natural starches and proteins in milk, making it a lot sweeter.

Our coffee’s flavour profile tends towards notes of Dutch-process cocoa and spicy accents, while its finish is full of sweet fruitiness courtesy of the carefully selected blend of three origins, Brazilian, Colombian and Ethiopian.

We provide you with one of the freshest and character-full cups of coffee possible!”

For sure I say!

Relax at the table during the week to have a break from your office. Sip on flavoursome coffees and work away on your laptop; or just sit idly in their garden. You might be able to get wireless connectivity (please ask) or at least a power point.

Read more here or telephone 031 822 8181.

I am off to go and make myself a steaming hot cup of aroma filled coffee.

Harvey’s Restaurant

It was my big day and I needed a top-spot to enjoy a great meal with my precious company.

Friends had told me of Harvey’s and I thought I would investigate. It turned out to be a very good decision.

Their “about” on the web states:

“In Durban’s bohemian suburb of Morningside, a restaurant that combined the demeanour of fine dining with a super-cool attitude and sleek modern styling that spelled instant success with its previous reputation intact and improved.

The original Harvey’s, opened fifteen years ago, has re-opened, This second incarnation of Harvey’s, has already won all the accolades the first one gathered over the years, SA Top Ten, Amex Platinum Fine Dining Awards and International Wine and Food Society best restaurant award for 2009.

Harvey’s restaurant is in a landmark building, nestled between two elegant parks in Durban’s prestigious Morningside suburb. Within its first few months it became a nationally known institution as one of Durban’s must visit venues for any visitor or local.

The venue comprising two rooms, one for dinning, named the picture room for its mass of original paintings covering the padded walls and out elegant Cocktail lounge that spills onto the veranda and pavement terrace, cheekily covered in “grass” and a pavement terrace. An open-air cigar lounge is strikingly decorated as a sort of indefinable retro-quasi-gothic-hunting lodge hodgepodge, complete with mounted buffalo trophies, padded velvet walls, gold ceilings and original oil paintings.

Consistently crowned Durban’s best since 1994, this stylish restaurant is known for its innovative flavour combinations, excellent presentation, and efficient service. The menu changes every two months, but may feature items like crisp fried spiced calamari served on marinated aubergine with an avocado ice-cream and a roasted pepper coulis or duck confit with grilled magret served on pak choi, with a sticky red currant and pink peppercorn jus, with pear infused pomme William or an assorted berry plate that includes a rhubarb and ginger crème brulee, with a white chocolate and strawberry cake, lightened by a cherry and nougat ice-cream.

Although the menu changes every two months, Timol and I did not miss the bold-printed information above as the waiter “purred” away.

We started at the Cocktail lounge that spills onto the veranda and pavement terrace.

It was lovely to just watch cars and pedestrians go by as we slowly sipped on the bottle of Alto Rouge.

 

 

They weren’t joking about the picture room

 

Timol was not the only pretty lady in that room

 

After viewing the frame below I had doubts about my gold card being able to pay for the meal we were about to have

 

The calamari was certainly crispy

 

Timol had the Dorado on mash

 

I went for the duck

 

A present was thrown in for good measure

 

We ended with more wine and coffee on the veranda

For me, it’s now a toss-up between Harvey’s and 9th Avenue Bistro. I was properly impressed with both and did not mind paying the extra Dollars for extraordinary food.

Cafe 1999, which I previously went to, is not really my cup of tea.

I will have to return to 9th Avenue for round 4 to make up my mind.

Mutton curry potjie

Visit Potjiekosworld and read about our South African culture.

Here is a taster from them:

“When the first Dutch settlers arrived in the Cape, they brought with them their ways of cooking food in heavy cast iron pots, which hung from the kitchen hearth above the fire.

Long before the arrival of the early settlers in the Cape, the Bantu people who were migrating into South Africa, learned the use of the cast iron cooking pot from Arab traders and later the Portuguese colonists.

These cast iron pots were able to retain heat well and only a few coals were needed to keep the food simmering for hours. They were used to cook tender roasts and stews, allowing steam to circulate inside instead of escaping through the lid. The ingredients were relatively simple, a fatty piece of meat, a few potatoes and some vegetables were all that was needed to cook a delightful meal.”

Read more here.

Guided by expert cook Timol, I set about cooking a mutton curry potjie with beans.

The images below tell their own story.

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