Monthly Archives: November 2009

Massimo’s authentic Italian pizza in Hout Bay

Massimo making pizza

I heard about Massimo's Pizza Club in January when they opened, and on Saturday we finally had the chance to visit for dinner with two of our friends. From the name I expected that the restaurant would be run by an Italian family, and as it turns out I was at least half right! And you do know that there's no better pizza than pizza made by a real Italian, right?

As you may already know, I'm in the IT field, so it was cool to hear that Massimo, the owner, spent many years as a mainframe programmer and software support specialist in Italy. He then spent a few years working in London (where I think he met his wife, Tracy), which led him to realise that IT wasn't the way he wanted to spend his life. So now Massimo and Tracy live in beautiful Hout Bay, and run Massimo's Pizza Club at night!

If you're in the mood for real Italian pizza, head over to Massimo's (here's a map) - and while you're there, try the Limoncello shots (which are really, really lemony) and the after-dinner flaming sugar cubes soaked in alcohol. They're really cool! :)

Sunsets behind Table Mountain

Sunset behind Table Mountain

We met up with some friends at an interesting restaurant last night, which I'll tell you about tomorrow. Today I have to share this photo of one of the most beautiful sunsets I think I've seen in Cape Town (which, to be honest, is a really tough matter to judge!).

The photo doesn't really do the view justice (it's so difficult to capture exactly how the light was) but perhaps what the picture will do is allow you to understand why we love this part of the world so much. We arrived at the base of the towering Table Mountain and Devil's Peak about 10 minutes after taking this shot. The light changed to bright orange and pink and then slowly started to fade.

Cape Town's summer sunsets really are the best.

GeekDinner at Café Max

GeekDinner at Cafe Max

Café Max was the location for the 17th GeekDinner, codenamed Quarrelsome Quince. We were introduced to Café Max's spectacular buffet dinner, as well as two brand new Internet start-up businesses based in Cape Town.

The first, Personera, allows you to import photos (along with your friends' birthdays) from Facebook into a calendar that they then print and mail to you. The second was JobCrystal, a new (and different) careers portal that matches you to the most suitable available jobs, based on information you provide and questionnaires that you complete.

Dinner at Café Max was great - the dessert of Malva Pudding with Creme Anglaise was to die for, and the rare rib-eye beef was perfectly complemented by the Delheim red wine. The area that you see in this photo is a large hall alongside the main restaurant, and it's actually a lot prettier and more cosy than it appears here. It really is a nice little restaurant; take a look at their website to see what I mean.

& Union for drinks

& Union Beer Salon

We had the chance for the first time to visit & Union (yes, that's And Union) for drinks and a light snack last Friday. We had an awesome evening, not only due to the fun people that we met up with, the exclusive selection of imported beer, and the yummy bratwurst snacks, but also because we were fortunate to be treated to a few dozen songs by photographer and musician, Andy Lund (pictured here, on the right).

As you may have gathered, summer has arrived in Cape Town. Days are getting longer and evenings are getting warmer - which means that restaurants have started spilling over into the open air, creating an awesome party vibe throughout the city. I love this time of year!

If you're looking for directions to & Union, no worries, here's a map. :)

The Book Lounge in Roeland Street

The Book Lounge in Roeland Street

We popped in to The Book Lounge on Tuesday for my first outing to a book launch ever. The Book Lounge is one of those traditional book shops with authentic dark-wood book shelves and comfy couches, and it's perfectly situated on the corner of the city's well-known Roeland and Buitenkant Streets.

The shop became very crowded and a little stuffy a few moments after I took this shot, as the book launch guests streamed upstairs for the evening's formalities. It seems as though The Perfect Weekend by author Dominique Herman and photographer Brett Florens drew more attention that I'd anticipated! Unfortunately we had to leave just as the talks were starting so that we could to make it to the Silicon Cape event on time.

Silicon Cape – first networking event

Silicon Cape networking event

I've mentioned previously that we've met several people visiting from our sister city, San Francisco, who've said that Cape Town reminds them of home. San Francisco's Silicon Valley is a world-famous hub of technology and innovation and has been the birthplace of Internet stars like Google and Facebook.

A year or more ago a small group of successful entrepreneurs, one of whom had already relocated his Internet startup's Head Office to San Francisico, gave birth to the vision of Silicon Cape. Cape Town, and even South Africa, is filled with bright developers, business people and entrepreneurs, and the idea behind Silicon Cape is to encourage the birth of Internet startup businesses and to promote local and foreign investment in the industry.

Tuesday evening saw the first official networking event that brought together developers, entrepreneurs, marketers and investors. The evening started with a couple of talks, followed by eating, drinking and a lot (a lot) of networking. :)

If you're interested in getting involved with Silicon Cape, take a moment to sign up on the website. Make a few friends, and keep your eye open for the next networking event.

Pimped-out Citi Golf

Pimped out Citi Golf

In my previous article I mentioned the end of an era, the end of the Citi Golf Mk1, as well as how the Citi Golf is loved by many, and pimped out by many. I found this Golf parked near the one in my previous article - the rims were so awesome that I just had to take a photo! :)

Do you see what I mean about people loving their Citi Golfs? I mean, who would do this to a Fiat Uno, Honda Jazz, or some other small car? Probably very few. In Cape Town you'll often find guys driving Citi Golfs that have been uniquely customised. When I see these cars, I catch myself thinking, "why not just buy a nicer car instead of spending so much money on pimping out your Golf?". I've however come to believe that it must simply be a matter of perspective, the sense of unique identity that it gives, and a love for the car that causes people to spend thousands of rands adding these kind of trimmings to their Citi Golf.

Goodbye to the Citi Golf Mk1

The last Citi Golf Mk1

South Africa's been producing Volkswagen Citi Golfs since 1984, and has since that date made about 377,000 of the little beasts. The last Citi Golf Mk1 rolled off the production line on 2 November 2009, and while it's a dream come true for many who dislike these old cars, it's the end of an era for many people who love them.

The Citi Golf became something of a cult car in South Africa. It seems like those who've owned one have fallen in love with the car, and talk fondly of memories that they've shared with this vehicle. If you were to ask current and past owners for a single word to describe the car I think the most frequently used word would be "dependable".

To celebrate the Citi Golf, and commemorate the many years of production, Volkswagen took this car (the last one to come off the production line) on a tour of South Africa, inviting fans of the brand to leave a short message and signature on the bodywork.

Wherever in the country this Golf went, fans were sure to follow, standing in long queues to get a chance to make their mark on the car. Indeed, it's the end of an era, and although production has now stopped, I assure you that based on morning rush-hour traffic it seems as though there are still around 377,000 of them on the road! Farewell Mk1! :)

See a few more photos of the signing of the Citi in our photo album.

Robyn Hobson – actress, model and a smidgen of geek

Robyn Hobson, Cape Town actress and model

If you've been following our blog for any length of time, then you'll know that Cape Town has plenty of beautiful buildings, beaches, mountains and farmlands. But that's not all, of course... the city also has more than its fair share of beautiful women. To illustrate this point, we'll introduce you to one of them.

Kerry-Anne and I met up with the beautiful Robyn Hobson for a quick lunch (which turned into rather a long lunch) at Andiamo - an Italian restaurant at Cape Quarter in De Waterkant.

The name @robynhobson popped into our Twitter feeds a while back, after her first visit to a geek-filled 27Dinner. What caught our attention first was that she's an FHM model, and second, that she was quite unlike any model stereotype we'd ever imagined - she's friendly, smart, and funny (no, not the laugh-at, but the laugh-with kind of funny :D). Robyn's just finished her final exam as a Business Science student, and now plans to focus on her acting career for a while.

Please take a moment to visit Robyn's FHM profile, and if you think she's deserving and like the idea of a beautiful brainy actress from Cape Town winning the competition (we do!), click the button and vote for her. :)

Almost F1-racing at Killarney – you can do it too!

Reynard single-seater racing at Killarney

In my previous article I spoke about my outing to the Killarney racing circuit, arranged by Cape Town Tourism and Fantastic Racing. The plan was to show me (and you) what fun can be had taking a few laps in these Reynard racing cars. (See a few more photos from the day in our album over here).

We were given overalls, boots and gloves similar to the ones that you may have seen Formula1 drivers parading around in, and then we sat down while one of the instructors explained everything that we needed to know about driving one of these beasts.

After the briefing, we all jumped on the back of a bakkie (a small utility vehicle) that took us on a slow ride around the circuit. As we drove, the instructor explained where we should drive and what we should be cautious about - like braking before entering a corner, and staying off the grass. :)

On our return to the garage we grabbed our helmets and headed off to the Reynards. Getting into the car was a little tricky (it's a fairly tight fit) but once in I felt pretty snug, and with the 5-point harness, pretty well secured. I quickly tested all the controls to make sure that everything was within reach, fired up the engine, and waited for the marshals to indicate that it was my turn to pull the car forward.

Getting going was pretty easy - the speed-machine worked much like any other manual car, except that the gearbox was sequential. This means that you keep pulling backwards on the stick to go from first to second, through to sixth gear and then push forward to go from sixth to fifth, through to first - easy-peasy.

The instructor took the lead around the circuit, with everyone following in single-file. I have to say that it was pretty easy and within two laps I felt fully in control, gunning it as fast as the car could go down the straights, but being just a little cautious on the bends. ;) After about 6 laps the chequered flag came out and I finished the final lap as fast as I possibly could. :)

We had a little break with some refreshments and a little more instruction from our teacher and then headed off for our second set. This time was even better since I felt in control right from the start and the tips given in the break helped me to know better where to drive and how to get the most out of the Reynard.

All in all, it was fantastically awesome and I find myself fighting a motor-racing addition. :) The cost ranges from R2,500 to about R4,400, depending on the package you choose, and if you have a need for speed, it's definitely something to add to your to-do list!

Thanks to Bianca, Julie, and the rest of the Fantastic Racing team for the rocking morning. If you'd like to enquire about learning to race one of these cars, check out the contact details on this page, and if you'd like a map to Killarney, see the Google Map with the route that I've plotted from the N1 right to Fantastic Racing's doorstep.

Reynard single-seater racing at Killarney

Reynard single-seater racing cars
Who would refuse an invitation from the guys at Cape Town Tourism to experience a little more of what Cape Town has to offer? Who would refuse an invitation to visit Fantastic Racing (at the Killarney race track) to race around the circuit at up to 240km/h? Certainly not me. :)

From the photo you'll notice two things: 1) My name is on the coolest of the six racing cars, and 2) these ain't no go-karts! The machines are fitted with 3.5-litre Dodge V6 engines that produce around 450BHP/t (brake horsepower per tonne) or 335KW.

Just before these numbers bore you, let me explain the significance. The Reynard single-seater racing car produces marginally less power than a new Porsche 911 Turbo, which generates around 460BHP/t (350KW). What makes the acceleration on this beast even more awesome is that it weighs a fraction of what a Porsche does and sits really (really) low on the ground.

The cars are exceptionally easy to drive and the gear shifts are actually easier than a normal car. As far as acceleration is concerned, when you squeeze the pedal to the floor the grunt of raw power is all you hear as your helmet is forced back into the seat behind you. The only thing that makes driving the Reynard not quite a walk in the park is the lack of power steering - so you have to be prepared to whip up some elbow-grease and teach the racer who's boss. I'll post a little more info in my next article, but for now, visit Fantastic Racing's website for more info.

Hiring humongous tools

Coastal Tool Hire

Coastal Tool Hire is a company that, as you would have almost certainly guessed, hires out tools. While away on honeymoon (many, many years ago :P), Kerry-Anne and I stayed at a guesthouse on Knysna's Leisure Isle - and as it so happens, the owner of the guesthouse also owned Coastal Tool Hire.

Now, whenever we see one of these signs it brings back memories of boat rides, oysters, deep dark forests and that awesome guesthouse on Leisure Isle. :)

Of a bygone era

Of a bygone era

I mentioned a while ago that Chocolat, the coffee shop and restaurant in Durbanville, has interesting decor - most of which is for sale. This particular clock was standing on a small table, together with a beautiful lamp.

Isn't it cool that today, with all the modern furniture and appliances, you can still decorate your home as though it were an old-style cottage (or mansion if you're lucky enough to have one :) )?

Personally, I'm caught it a predicament where I like minimalist modern decor as well as this kind of retro old-style English/French decor. But perhaps there's a happy medium of minimalist old-style English/French - although some may argue that this happy medium is due only to my budgetary constraints. :)

Show me the way to go out

A big red exit sign

This oversized "exit" sign reminded me of those signs that you often see inside of theatres and similar venues. 17 November marks my dad's birthday and as a gift we've given him two tickets to go and see Cats at the Artscape theatre in Cape Town.

Cats has a cast of cat-suited people performing a singing-dancing musical of poems from T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats; it opens in Cape Town on Friday 29 November, and runs all the way until Sunday 10 January. Tickets have been selling really fast, so if you're keen to see it, head over to Computicket to reserve your (or your parents') place. ;)

Temporal tractor

A tractor

Years ago, before I was 10, my grandfather owned a farm in the Northern Transvaal (now called Limpopo). This tractor reminded me of our visits to my grandparents over the Christmas period.

I remember two small tractors, similar to this one, that stood on their property, with flat tyres and worn-out engines. The strange thing is that I can also remember the (very distinctive) smell of old oil and grease (from the tractors) baking in the sun, and now as I look at this photo I swear that I can actually smell it again!

Astrologers and Herbalists

Astrologer and Herbalist
I find it fascinating how many people subscribe to advice given by the likes of astrologers and herbalists - it just seems so weird to me. I'm fairly sure though that one could argue this point for several traditionally more accepted belief systems - but let's not get into that whole debate. :)

However, one thing that I have to say is that the kind of astrologer that consults from a dimly-lit, run-down office such as this one scares me just a little. ;)

Goodwood in the ’70s

Voortrekker Road in Goodwood

As a comment on my previous article, Jonathan suggested that Voortrekker Road is reminiscent of something out of the 1970s... and I do believe he's right. Were it not for the more modern cars in the photo you'd easily mistake this for a photo that my mom or dad may have taken.

I mentioned previously that I have lots of memories of Voortrekker Road - one of these is that I bought my first car from "Lekker Lieg Motors", which is just a little further along this road, on the right. "Lekker Lieg" is our interpretation of the letters that make up the name of the dealership. Roughly translated, the Afrikaans word "Lekker" means "Nice" and "Lieg" means "Lies". Put them together and I'm sure you get the idea. ;)

Voortrekker Road, Goodwood

Voortrekker Road, Goodwood

If you live in Goodwood, or perhaps did at some time in your life, I hope that you'll forgive me for saying that it's not the prettiest suburb.

I have lots of memories of the area, though, from visiting girlfriends and skateboarding with my cousin to going to see the annual Christmas-time parade in this, Voortrekker Road. Today the area just looks old and run-down, and from Monday to Saturday during business hours you'll always find the area heavily congested.

However, even though Voortrekker Road in Goodwood isn't the prettiest place to be, it sure is filled with an assortment of interesting small shops (and FAR too many used car lots!). If you don't live in Cape Town and find yourself here on holiday some day, and if you'd like to experience a little more of what tourists often don't see, pick an afternoon and take a drive down Voortrekker Road. Don't expect to drive fast, remember to keep your cool in the traffic, and I guarantee that you'll see plenty of interesting things. :)

Bendy-man at Renault

Bendy-man at Renault

Sticking with the French theme of the past two posts, let me present Renault, a genuine French icon, and Bendy-Man, who I don't think is much of a French icon.

The yellow man in the photo consists of few tubes of plastic with a high-powered fan below. The fan blows air through the tubes, keeping the guy standing. It's helluva amusing to watch him in the wind, because as much as the fan blows to keep him standing, the wind kinks the tube causing him to bend in all directions. Click here to see another photo.

I can imagine that if someone were to make an evil bendy-man with a terrifying scowl on his face and lights that cause his eyes to glow it would it eerily scary - especially on a dark, cloudy and windy evening. You need only to have stood and watched one of these for a while to know what I mean. :)

More Chocolat

Inside Chocolat
I mentioned the coffee shop Chocolat in my previous post and decided that it's pretty enough inside to deserve at least two photos back-to-back. This one was taken in the opposite direction to the previous one and shows the bright light streaming into the extensively decorated inner room.

I sometimes find myself wondering why restaurateurs hire dull, lazy, and sometimes even abrasive staff as waiters and waitresses. Staff like these only serve to put me off returning to the particular establishment. The owners of Chocolat and Royale (the burger place in Long Street) certainly never made this mistake. They both seem to have succeeded in hiring friendly, spunky, happy staff that make it a pleasure to return. Well done to both of you (and thanks to the friendly, spunky, happy staff)!

Chocolat – A French-style coffee shop

Chocolat Coffee Shop

Kerry-Anne's always raved about Chocolat (as well as chocolate), so eventually she managed to drag me along for coffee and cake. We'd actually intended to have lunch, but ran late and arrived only after the kitchen had closed for the day. So unfortunately we ended up just having coffee and cake - a huge piece of divine nougat chocolate cake, at that!

The decor is beautiful, with almost every decorative item in the store being up for sale. In fact, I do believe that I noticed a price tag hanging from our waitress's jersey. :) And, speaking of the waitress, the staff were really great - quick, polite and friendly. It's definitely worth your while to visit, but do take care - they close reasonably early on Saturday afternoons and aren't open on Sundays.

The Old’e English Shaving Shop

Old'e English Shaving Shop

The Old'e English Shaving Shop sells old-style English shaving brushes, razors, creams and after-shave lotions. While they do have a small shop (in Maitland, just outside of Cape Town), they also have an online store and a genuine old-style barber shop, Mr Cobb's, at the V&A Waterfront.

I'm not sure how comfortable you guys are with having a stranger toy with a cut-throat near your neckline... but I'm not convinced that I'm quite ready for the experience. I mean, what if the barber has some kind of alter-ego Mr Hyde-like personality? Scary stuff man, scary stuff!

Cocktail classes

Cocktail Classes

If you're in Johannesburg and plan on going to the Whisky Festival at the Sandton Convention Centre (11 to 14 November) then arrange your day so that you get to the show early enough to ensure a space at the Schweppes Art of Whisky Cocktail Making Zone. The class looked like an absolute blast, and what's cool is that entry is free but, clearly, space is limited! So, be there a little while before 6.30pm, 7.45pm or 9pm and queue to make sure you get a space!

Do the tourist thing!


Kerry-Anne and I took a ride in a similar boat to this one in Singapore, but to date I haven't ever taken a ride in one of these Waterfront boats. We always seem to do the fun things in other people's countries, but I guess we all tend to get too caught up in day-to-day life when we're in our own cities.

So the aim of today's photo is to remind you to explore the place where you live, and to remember to also do the fun things that visitors to your area get to do!

Whisky Live Festival

Sazerac Rye Whiskey

Mandy from invited me along to the opening of the 3-day Whisky Live Festival at the CTICC on Wednesday evening.

Although there were plenty of people at the festival it wasn't uncomfortably crowded. There were plenty of whiskeys (and whiskies) to taste, and even a few other bits and pieces like lovely dark chocolate and Lynchburg Lemonade (at the Jack Daniel's stand).

Mandy and I sat in on a whisky appreciation class with a master distiller from Glenmorangie, took the tour through the Jack Daniel's truck, drank plenty of whiskey, and sat down for a breather in the FNB VIP lounge (where we ordered virgin cocktails from Liquidchefs, just to help clear the mind a little). :)

If you missed the festival you could still catch it in Johannesburg from 11 to 14 November, and since Cape Town's weather is so grey and rainy, perhaps it wouldn't be such a bad idea to skip our lovely part of the world next week in favour of the warmer weather in Jozi.

And Mandy took a notebook and pen along, so visit for the full details about our evening at the festival.

Canal to the Waterfront

V&A Waterfront canal at night

In a post about the Westin Grand Hotel a few days ago I mentioned the canal that leads from the hotel and the CTICC to the Waterfront area. And voila, here you have it!

The canal is known as the Roggebaai Canal, and apparently water taxis depart from the Westin Grand Hotel every hour on the two-kilometre, 20-minute trip. From the hotel, the taxi takes passengers under the freeway, past a fresh sea-water waterfall, and then past the City Lodge Hotel. After the City Lodge the taxi heads on under more bridges, past the West Quay offices and under two lifting bridges, through the marina lock, and then to moor at the Two Oceans Aquarium.

The one-way trip costs just R20 for adults and R10 for kids, and as soon as the weather clears up, we're definitely going to take the trip! Take a look at the route map that I've plotted on Google Maps.

Cloudy skies at sunrise

Cloudy sunrise
The morning sky was filled with nasty grey clouds, and yet the breaking sun made everything look beautiful - beautiful enough that, even though I was running a little late for work, I dashed outside in my jammies to catch this photo.

Rubber buffer

Rubber buffer

Imagine the size of the car! No seriously, I think these tyres are the kind used on those hugely-oversized mining vehicles (see more here).

These mammoth tyres act as a buffer between docking (or moored) boats and the harbour wall.  My car's tyres cost between R800 and R1200 depending on the brand, with some luxury 4x4's tyres costing 4 or 5 times that price. I wonder what these tyres would cost and hope that the harbour sources used tyres from mining companies instead of buying them new - it's a great way of recycling rubber!

Harbour cranes

Harbour cranes

My dad retired from work many years ago, but back then one of the things that he use to do was inspect the harbour cranes to ensure that they were kept in a good working condition. He use to climb to the end of the jib (the part right at the end of the arm from where the cable extends downwards) in all kinds of weather. If you're familiar with Cape Town's weather you'll know that this would mean that on occasion he'd climb out there in high winds and even rainy weather - and apparently, even tough the cranes may look perfectly stable from the ground, when you're up there they bob about a bit like a rodeo bull!

The Pumphouse

The Pumphouse

Paul mentioned The Pumphouse in a previous post about the V&A Waterfront. Built in 1882, the building originally housed the dynamo that powered the first set of electric lights in the Table Bay Harbour. According to Eskom's website, there were sixteen 2000-candlepower arc lights at first (you can read more about the use of arc lights in the 1800s here - it's pretty fascinating). The Harbour Board's report to the Cape Colonial Parliament for the year 1882 said that the light "... proved of great service, not only in minimising accidents, but in facilitating the working of vessels at night."

More recently, in the 1990s, The Pumphouse was a popular pub and live music venue, one that it seems a lot of people have really fond (if somewhat foggy ;-)) memories of. The reason the building is called The Pumphouse, by the way, is because it contains the pumps used for draining the water out of the Robinson Dry Dock.