The REEA community initiative is so worth supporting and there’s lots for kids to do

Recently a family with 2 energetic young boys stayed at Liz at Lancaster. As they did not have a car, they wanted to be able to do things nearby where their 2 little ones could let off some steam. One of their favourite places was the

Colourful Splendour, REEA and Delta Cafe

Colourful Splendour, REEA and Delta Cafe

REEA/Colourful Splendour Nursery/Delta Café ‘complex’ – 5 blocks away  from Liz at Lancaster – down the hill …..  but not forgetting that a return journey entails an uphill trek!  I have written about the little haven which is Delta Café in several posts http://www.lizatlancaster.co.za/blog/escape-to-the-country-only-5-blocks-from-liz-at-lancaster  With its shaded deck, grassy area, small playground for kids, water bowls for dogs, and bike racks for riders, it’s a firm weekend breakfast favourite with cyclists & dog walkers, fun for family lunches on high days and holidays, and a peaceful mid-week afternoon escape for Mums/Grandmas (like me!) and Grandpas with toddlers. Delta Café is open every day except Mondays.

Although Liz at Lancaster buys annuals and seedlings in bulk, there are always reasons to nip down to Colourful Splendour for fillers.  Any visit is a disaster for the credit card balance – bookshops and garden shops are my Achilles heel. But it’s so convenient too and the staff and management are really helpful.

At the southern end of the property behind the nursery is the REEA Foundation originally known as the Rand Epileptic  Employment Association.  Started in 1935 by doctors at the Lady Dudley Nursing Home in Hillbrow, it provides 24 hour care for people affected with epilepsy and mild neurological disorders. Over 40 people are housed in  a home-style hostel at nearby York Ave.   The Foundation runs various innovative initiatives which provide sustainable funding solutions.  One of these is the vegetable garden which not only provides vegetables to the hostel kitchen in York Ave and sells to the public on Wednesday mornings (along with fresh eggs and lavender bunches), but also supplies the kitchen of famous chef David Higgs, previously of the Saxon and now of the Marble Restaurant in Lower Rosebank.  I was wandering through the garden a few days ago and there was a man in chef’s outfit examining the rows of crops.  Trying not to be too invasive, I asked if he used these veges for his kitchen. It turned out that he was Werner, David Higgs’ Head Chef and he was having a squizz at what was available prior to the media opening of the Marble Restaurant a few days later to be followed by the soft opening with family and friends. (I tried to hint that I could be Werner’s NBF but it didn’t work.) Apparently Werner, David and Danielle (who oversees the running of  the REEA vegetable garden) as well as

Scarecrows galore

Scarecrows galore

Vege garden - all it needs is Peter, Mr McGregor and his hoe and sieve

Vege garden – all it needs is a naughty Peter Rabbit & Mr McGregor with his hoe and sieve

various chefs around the country, exchange information and trade secrets and even swap and share rare and special vege seeds. So it’s a very impressive initiative.   I love this vege garden. It evokes all those Anglophile childhood stories I inhaled as a small girl. There are scarecrows, and shade nets, and sheds, and pots and watering cans. The only anachronistic items are the suspended CDs glistening and reflecting as they sway in the wind. I wonder if they work better that scarecrows? Apart from these 21st century mobiles, I expect Mr McGregor to appear any minute chasing a scuttling scurrying Peter Rabbit with his rake. Childhood memories are deeply etched. At the end of the vege garden is the chicken coop with a very big, very beautiful and very self-important rooster who struts and crows and generally lords it over his harem of clucking hens. My grandsons are riveted by both him and his hens.

SignpostSeveral other initiatives include  a second hand bookshop; a charity shop –

Rambling Rose The Charity Shop

Rambling Rose The Charity Shop

Rambling Rose; a pet food delivery service; a furniture repair and a car wash service, the latter two run by York Ave residents, Paul and Cedric respectively.   There is also a venue hire option in the garden area of Rambling Rose – a secluded peaceful spot with tables, chairs and access to a kitchen.

 

 

Courtyard and garden venue for hire with access to kitchen

Courtyard and garden venue for hire with access to kitchen

Rustic feature on the wall

Rustic feature on the wall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And at the south end of the vegetable gardens are the stables.   The Egoli Ranger Base is a community-based 2016 July Horse in water croppedEquestrian Centre.  The Rangers work with several community and local government  structures such as City Parks, JMPD, Joburg Water, Rand Water, HIV/Aids NGOs, schools and local Residents’ Associations.  When they started several years ago, they had only 2 horses. Today the Ranger Base owns 20 horses and ponies, most of whom are rescue animals.  They conduct daily patrols along the Braamfontein Spruit monitoring ecological, social, and security conditions. Their equestrian activities include instructions, outrides, pony parties, and riding for children and adults with physical challenges. When my grandchildren and I were exploring the stables one day (such fun), I asked my 3 year old if he didn’t want to ride a horse.  Although I meant ‘pony ride on a leading rein’, I thought to use the word ‘pony’ was too way too pedantic for a 3 year old. He adopted  a somewhat accusing, even self-righteous expression (as though I really was an irresponsible grandparent) as he reprimanded me quite firmly as if I should be more fully aware of this state of affairs : ‘But Nana I am too little to ride a horse’. Methinks that like his uncle, he is a little wary of these amazing 4 legged animals.

When we walk along the Braamfontein spruit we see the horses out in the paddocks and sometimes grazing on the bank of the spruit.  I am constantly reminded of why I love this suburb.

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Fabulous food at The Leopard in Melville

Artichokes with breadcrumbs, basil and parmesan

Artichokes with breadcrumbs, basil and parmesan

I’ve been wanting to have a meal at the Leopard for several years. I never managed to get there while it was in Parkhurst (despite being just down the road) but went several weeks ago to its current location in Melville.   Many years back Andrea Burgener was a Fine Arts student at Wits when I taught History of Art there,  so I know her creative leanings and talents well.   On leaving Wits she wanted a break from living in her head to doing something just as creative but that brought more instant gratification (I can so relate to that.)  As she said:  ‘make a dish, serve it, it gets eaten and move onto the next creation’.  So all her inspiration, innovation, energy and individuality was channeled into becoming one of Joburg’s best chefs and restauranteurs – all the while being a mother of 3 after marrying Nick Gordon ( a fellow Fine Arts student.)

Hoisin duck strips with slivered raw veg, ginger syrup and short grain rice

Hoisin duck strips with slivered raw veg, ginger syrup and short grain rice

Andrea started cooking  occasionally at Bob’s Bar in Troyeville in the mid 1990s while still a student. Close by was the well-known Kitchenboy restaurant run by the larger-than- life Braam Kruger (who when spit-roasting a lamb decided to replace the traditional embedded garlic cloves with liquorice allsorts!) You can see why Braam and Andrea got on – and so she started cooking with him. Andrea opened Superbonbon in Richmond (near Auckland Park)  in 1999 and has criss-crossed  Joburg with various memorable restaurants from Richmond  to Deluxe in Parktown North to a re-envisioned Deluxe at 44 Stanley, to Parkhurst (The Leopard) and back to Melville.

When asked by Layla Leiman in 2013 (10and5.com) what she wanted to do when she was growing up Andrea answered:  ‘First a chef, then changed to a painter, then a brain surgeon, then back to painter, and then, here we are. All three require a steady hand, and two require good knife skills, so I guess there are some links.’  Andrea is funny, clever, quirky and quick! All attributes reflected in her cooking style.

The bill served in an old-fashioned biscuit tin with jelly tots and a homemade nut brittle

The bill served in an old-fashioned biscuit tin with jelly tots and a homemade nut brittle

Superbonbon was great fun with its off-the-wall trashy-style where the food was served in one of those  compartmentalized airline food trays. ‘Chicken or beef?’ took on a whole new meaning. And on order were items such as coco pops and liquorice all-sorts. The madness was memorable. While there are still quirky elements at the Leopard, with Zoo biscuits and tea as a dessert offering, and the bill delivered in a fabulous old-fashioned tin decorated with a leopard image and presented with jelly tots, in the main the zaniness has been toned down without compromising the quality, individuality and integrity of Andrea’s cooking style.

Menu

Stuffed quail with rice, nuts, lemon and all sorts of delectable goodies

Stuffed quail with rice, nuts, lemon and all sorts of delectable goodies plus a lightly chilied Mozambiquan sauce

We both had items on the specials list so of course I cannot remember the full list of ingredients. Our starters were delicious fish cakes in a subtle sauce and fresh artichokes with a basil and breadcrumb topping. For mains I had the stuffed quail (with the most scrummy nut, lemon and garlic rice stuffing) and the surprising but oh-so-successful pairing of a subtly spiced chili Mozambiquan sauce, while my partner had a dish of Hoisin duck strips with raw veg and chili ginger syrup. Delicious all round. Andrea’s menu is unusual and different with fabulous subtle flavours and unexpected taste combinations. Her food is satisfying, generous, easy on the palate, not precious and delightfully individual.

 

Lampedus Pie by Andrea Burgener

Lampedus Pie by Andrea Burgener

Andrea and Nick took the name the Leopard for their restaurant from Giuseppe Lampedusa’s novel Il Gattopardo, (The Leopard). So of course when Andrea wrote her first cookbook in 2013 she included the recipe for the chicken and macaroni pie or timbale, which Lampedusa describes in his book.

And Andrea is generous – a wonderful quality. She is no egotistical prima-donna. Another of my favourite eateries is The Patisserie de Paris in Mackay Ave Blairgowrie – they produce the most sublimely sinful brownies. Proudly displayed behind the till at the Patisserie is a newspaper article by Andrea in which she says how she always thought her brownies were the best until she tasted those from The Patisserie De Paris.  It is this kind of generosity which is reflected in the Leopard – in its menu, its ambience and the whole dining experience.

I recommended the Leopard to guests staying at Liz at Lancaster http://www.lizatlancaster.co.za and they raved about it.   You can find the Leopard is at 63A, 4th Avenue (corner 5th Avenue), Melville 011 482 9356

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Cathedrals of industry with Joburg Heritage Foundation

Johannesburg Heritage Foundation runs great tours

L to R: David Gurney, Kathy Munro, Clive Chipkin. Monika Läuferts-Le Roux

L to R: David Gurney, Kathy Munro, Clive Chipkin. Monika Läuferts-Le Roux

The Johannesburg Heritage Foundation is the most amazing activist/educational/heritage/tourism organization which, amongst other activities, runs bus and walking tours of Joburg’s historical spaces and places.  Once such was the Cathedrals of Industry  tour on 4th Sept  where Kathy Munro (Jozi historian) and David Gurney (urban planner) led a bus tour taking us to various industrial heritage buildings.

Early 20th Century factory warehouse at 10 Angle St, New Doornfontein

Early 20th Century factory warehouse at 10 Angle St, New Doornfontein. Photo: Liz at Lancaster 2016

The 60 seater bus was packed (and for once I didn’t bring the average age down by 20 years!). We met at the Sunnyside Hotel and off we set to New Doornfontein to see  early 20th Century factory buildings which, as Chipkin says, were constructed as ‘random collections of corrugated-iron clad workshops with afdakkies and left-over space in an industrial wasteland’.

1924 Church in New Doornfontein

African Congregational Church 1924. 24 Alan Ross St, New Doornfontein

African Congregational Church 1924. 24 Alan Ross St, New Doornfontein. Photo Liz at Lancaster 2016

Nearby at 24 Alan Ross St is a small extant 1924 building which housed the African Congregational Church.  In the 1920s and 30s there were 8 rooms at the back of the property occupied by married couples  (unlike other ‘yards’ where single workers lived in often very overcrowded conditions).  The original wood and iron church was built in 1910 with Rev M.S. Dube as the pastor.  In 1917 Rev Gardiner Mvuyana took over and in 1924 the church was rebuilt as a brick structure. It continued to function as a church until the 1960s. There is apparently a foundation stone ( I didn’t find it) in memory of the founding of the church in 1917, which says : ‘to the Glory of God, the African Congregational Church (I BANDHLA LAMA AFRIKA).

Ferreira’s Stope Museum Standard Bank Building

4 meter mural of the Boxing Mandela by Ricky Lee Gordon

4 meter mural of the Boxing Mandela by Ricky Lee Gordon, Beacon Road, Maboneng. Photo:Liz at Lancaster 2016

Back on the bus we drove through the north-eastern part of the Maboneng District where I finally got to see Ricky Lee Gordon’s  huge 40 meter black and white mural representing Nelson Mandela boxing (cnr Staib St and Beacon Rd).  I’d seen images of it but always wondered where it was.

Looking down at Ferreira's Stope, Museum at Standard Bank, Simmonds St. Photo: Liz at Lancaster 2016

Looking down at Ferreira’s Stope, Museum at Standard Bank, Simmonds St. Photo: Liz at Lancaster 2016

We made a brief stop at the little known small museum (another of Joburg’s little jewels) in the  Simmonds St Standard Bank Building.  While excavating for the new HQ in 1986, an access tunnel or stope to Ferreira’s, one of Johannesburg’s first sub-surface digging mines, was discovered.  The original look of the hand dug tunnel has been kept, and the display includes old photographs, newspaper articles and old implements.

The Art Deco Lion Match Building

Lion Match Factory (later Ullman Warehouse) Photo: Liz at Lancaster 2016

Lion Match Factory (later Ullman Warehouse) Photo: Liz at Lancaster 2016

Leaving joburg CBD we drove along the major east-west artery of Main Reef Road until we came to Industria. This was where a new industrial township was laid out in the late 1920s and the Lion Match Company built their prestigious factory described by Chipkin in his seminal book Johannesburg Style as ‘a planned and orderly Palace of Industry .. with palm trees and flower beds axially positioned on green lawns to emphasize the symmetry of lay out and to project Garden City harmony’. (126) It was taken over by Ullman’s who are no longer in operation.  It’s a long low double storied building with a centralized entrance marked by two streamlined buttresses and topped with a modernist clock.

 

Clive Chipkin’s architectural insights

Capitals detailed as stylized matches. Photo:Liz at Lancaster 2016

Capitals detailed as stylized matches. Photo:Liz at Lancaster 2016

Best of all was that Clive Chipkin was on the tour with us and so spoke directly about this building pointing out many of the features which he mentions in his book.  He spoke about the references to classical architecture with vestiges of capitals on columns and when somebody pointed out the capitals were in fact stylized matches he was completely delighted as he had never made this connection before.  So even Clive can learn something from a Johannesburg Heritage tour!!   He spoke about how this building was one of Joburg’s principle sights when it was built  in 1936 – Johannesburg’s jubilee year. And that sightseers would come to see the factory lit up at night. It was a strange distorted echo having a metro train of commuters looking from the train carriages speeding by, at a busload of local Jozi-ites peering through the palisade at the now deserted Ullman Warehouse.

Johannesburg Gas Works at Cottesloe

Heritage Plaque Cottesloe Gasworks

Heritage Plaque Cottesloe Gasworks

Retort no 1, Gasworks Cottesloe. Photo: Liz at Lancaster 2016

Retort no 1, Gasworks Cottesloe. Photo: Liz at Lancaster 2016

Our last destination was that serious Cathedral of Industry – the Gas Works in Cottesloe.  And again we were so privileged to have Monika Läuferts-Le Roux on the tour with us.  She and Judith Mavunganidze are the authors of a book on the Gas Works based on their research for a heritage impact assessment on this site.  Unfortunately we could not go into this extraordinary building (which still has intact equipment on site) despite having closed as a working site in 1992.   The dream is to revive the site as an industrial museum – what a building, what a site, what a vision.

Heritage Day 2016 Programme

African Jim aka Jim comes to Jo'burg

African Jim aka Jim comes to Jo’burg

 

Saturday 24th is Heritage Day plus this year marks the 130th Anniversary of Johannesburg.  To celebrate this Johannesburg Heritage Foundation has lots of tours planned for this weekend. Check their website to see what is on offer on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th. http://www.joburgheritage.org.za/  The most exciting is the screening of the 1949 historic film Jim Comes to Joburg billed as the first film to express the black experience in the City of Gold.  So take your blankets and a picnic and enjoy the outdoor screening on the lawns at Northwards on the Parktown Ridge.

 

 

HeritageWeekendBrochure2_2016

 

 

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