Silver Orange Bistro Bliss! Almost :)

Silver Orange Bistro! What a surprise!  The word “bistro” mostly refers to a small eatery that serves simple food, but in this case, it’s a small place that packs a huge punch.  Silver Orange Bistro found its feet in the early 2000’s and is situated in the Hartebeespoortdam region just a 30 minute drive from the capital Pretoria or a 50 minute drive from Johannesburg.  Nestled in between the bushveld and orchards  (yes you read right) surroundings, you almost feel like you have just arrived at your mini holiday.

The setting is very laid back and relaxed, and with adequate seating that offers you inside and outside dining, you can take your pick where to enjoy your meal.  One thing is certain, please book before you drive all the way out to Hartebeespoortdam as Silver Orange Bistro is quite popular and you don’t want to be turned away on arrival.  (so be clever – BOOK!).

They have a lovely menu that offers you culinary delights with European and African influences.  Be sure to ask them about their special offerings.  My favourite?  I enjoyed their Pork Belly with Balsamic Mash potatoes and roast peppers and aubergine.  It was well prepared and executive chef Leon Nel sure knows how to balance his flavours and marrying your palate to visual presentation.  Please visit Silver Orange Bistro’s website, to see what their standard menu offers.  Take note that they updated their menu, so you might find more items when you open their menu on arrival.

Now for the Almost part…. (yes, you thought I was going to be impolite?)  Almost Orange is just a short walk or rather stroll down the orchards just beyond the Bistro.  You are greeted by a scene I can swear is straight out of Tuscany!  Platters, Tapas and premium drinks your thing?  Then this is the place for you.  Where the Bistro offers you a great setting that suits families and individuals alike, Almost Orange caters more for adult patrons and children under 16 is not allowed.  Once again, book your spot well in advance.

So! If you find yourself looking for an adventure outside the hustle and bustle of the city perimeter, then jump in your wagon and take a drive to Harties and experience a wide selection of Gin, MCC, craft beer, wine, etc while enjoying superb food.  Well done Silver Orange Bistro and Almost Orange, this was an excellent experience.

Ok, so what about my YES, NO & MAYBE? Here goes:

YES – They offer a unique experience, good food and well rounded relaxed dining with a killer (and award-winning wine list).

NO – The service was a bit slow to my liking, but as always, when the food is good, I’ll tolerate some ‘slowness’ to my experience.

MAYBE – It gets quite hot during the summer season, so if you find the heat unbearable, please book your spot inside.  The road to Silver Orange Bistro is not in good condition and maybe you should take it slow driving there, you don’t want to ‘not arrive’ at your reservation and leave a bit earlier.

All an all, I was impressed, they will most certainly see me again.  Well done Silver Orange team! Itsfoodoo likes you a lot, no, we love you!

 

Freestate beauty in Clarens!

South Africa is most probably the best country to live in when it comes to scenery, beauty and places to visit.  (Yes, I am South African and might be a little bit biased, but bare with me).  It can be very vast when traveling by car, but all special and popular cities, places of interest and holiday spots are easily accessible by a 2 hour flight (and tickets can be bought at a bargain when your timing is right).  We have deserts, the Karoo, the Bushveld, Game Reserves, tropical beaches, mountain ranges that takes your breath away and then there is the Freestate.   A very VERY underrated and unappreciated patch of earth, smack bang in the middle of our country.

Being born in the Freestate I do know that there is little happening, apart from agriculture and farming, but there are a few gems that’s just waiting to be discovered.  Clarens is most certainly one of them.  I have visited this quaint little town quite a few times and every time, I feel like I’m greeting an old friend and also learning something new with every time I set foot in this booming town.  Only 3 hours (by car) away from the capital Pretoria, this town sees a lot of weekend visitors from mostly Johannesburg, Pretoria and surrounds.  It’s just a beautiful place to spend a weekend and plentiful options for accommodation.  December last year, a few friends and I  took a trip down and we enjoyed every moment of it.

Take note that winter times can be very VERY cold and you should plan for possible snow, but in warmer months, you can have lots of fund river rafting, hiking in the Golden Gate Nature Reserve or just spending time in the town shopping.  I would like to share my top picks of Clarens with you.

1.  Accommodation

The choice is yours to stay outside of the town or in the town itself and it really comes down to what tickles your fancy.  This time around, we opted to stay in town at the Golden View Luxury Self Catering in their Oak on Church unit that’s got a view to die for!  Tastefully decorated and affordable, it’s close to town and a quick walk will take you right to the square, where all the action takes place.

2.  Dining at Clarens

When it comes to dining, the options are endless.  Breakfast spots that you should give a go, is The Post House, The Courtyard and Artists Cafe.  My personal favourite?  The Courtyard.  Their fresh baked artisan breads are pure dough magic and tastes amazing. (Don’t forget to check out their bakery section, sweet tooth heaven!).

Lunch time is always a great treat when visiting the Clarens Brewery, they’ve got amazing beer tastings, gin offerings and charcuterie, cheese and bread platters that is a killer lunch pick.  Make sure to visit the RED STONE GIN distillery when you are there.  Love it!

Dinner in Clarens offers you a variety of options, from the local Pizza spot, to Pub dining or you can take a turn and head off to Clementines and enjoy amazing food, prepared well and never disappoints.

3.  So? What to do in Clarens?

Art Galleries in Clarens are quite bespoke and when you set foot into one of them, you can see why.  Art and artists alike find their spot there and paint on canvas is not in short supply.  The art is quite high-end and beautiful!

Shopping isn’t getting the backseat as I like to take a few souvenirs home.  Anything from lamps, doorknobs (the artistic ones), carpets, jewellery, pastas, pickled goods and jams are to your disposal.  They even have an Eco friendly shop that sells functional items, go check them out.

Do you see yourself as an extreme sports junky?  Then horse riding, biking, hiking and river rafting might be added to your list.  You can even go dinosaur hunting (take note, they are extinct and you will be chasing fossils and bones LOL!).

Ok, so this town is exceptional and you just have to make time to get yourself to visit Clarens whenever you can.  They have numerous wedding and function venues as well and the mountainous backdrop creates magical photoshoots.

Ok, so my YES, NO or MAYBE for Clarens are the following:

YES?  This town is an awesome experience and I will go back there again…. and again but do so in warmer months as the cold can sometimes be a bit of a mood damper.

NO?  The roads around the town is not in the best shape and if you aren’t careful, you  might loose a tyre in one of those gigantic potholes.

MAYBE? Check their online calendar for town events.  If there is a MTB race or Beer festival or some big event, KNOW that the town is going to be very busy, so plan your trip well if you are not much of a social animal and rather book outside their peak times.  Visit the Clarens website here to plan your visit.

Now there you have it! I do hope you visit Clarens soon and I look forward to hearing from you and your experiences in the beautiful and picturesque town in the Freesate!  The gem is waiting for you!

 

 

It’s Hemingway’s

 

 

Pretoria as the capital has so little options to experience fine dining that fits one’s pocket.  Hemingway’s Restaurant at Leriba Lodge is surely one of those little unexplored gems.  Stepping through the doors at Hemingway’s you are immediately inundated with the sophistication and elegance of their table settings.  I have a thing for crisp white tables and serviettes.  Add to that service with a smile or even smiles.  Waiters that caters to your every whim, friendly, available and their attention to the table was a good balance between overprotective hovering and the vanishing act. Being a special evening, we celebrated a birthday and man was this an amazing evening.

We were treated by amazing red wines from Doolhof Wine Estate and their range is ever impressing.  The food was undoubtedly one of my best food experiences I enjoyed in a long time.  Starters consisted of a beautiful Carpaccio served fresh with a Quails egg. Beautiful.  Main course offered us a lovely crisp Pork-belly prepared to perfection.  The plating and presentation is top notch and they surely know how to prepare their food.  Dessert was equally impressive and the ever-classic Creme Brûlée did not disappoint! A sugary crunch with delightful light and creamy custard sent me to foodie heaven! Hemingway’s is a sure stop for amazing food and is a great catalyst for good conversation.

The Centurion area is busy with it’s own rejuvenation process when it comes to good food, restaurants and unique cuisine.   Hemingways is sure getting it right.  They are also a good venue for weddings, family events and they regularly host tastings and festivals.  Well done guys, you won my tastebuds and I will most definitely see you again soon.  Your new fan. So people, all I have to say is…. Go! Now!

Choco-holic? Check out Chocolat et Café!

Personally I’m not one with a sweet tooth, but appreciate a good sweet or treat here and there.  Here in the capital of South Africa, you have plenty of options to satisfy the sugar craving if and when it hits, you just need to know where to look.  O yes, make sure that they have the good stuff.

The world of Chocolate in Pretoria is not a well known one in my opinion and the question lingers; “Where do Chocoholics go to get their fix?”.  The past weekend, I stumbled upon a little place hidden away like a pirate’s treasure and I was fortunate enough to find it.  Chocolat et Café is literally the sweet spot, located in the new trendy, up and coming Hazelwood Food Village in Pretoria.  Nestled between Culture Club Bar de Tapas and Alfies you go deeper where you are greeted by a refreshing space with Turqoise umbrellas, tables and chairs.  Quaint and pettite.  Obviously, the nosey person I am, a needed to take an up close look inside and was amazed by the amount of decadence this small space held.

Chunky Chocolate Brownies, Caramel Cheese Cake, Carrot Cake, Macaroons, Chocolate Toffees, Truffles that looks exquisite and of course slabs of chocolate in every variety, colour and fragrance (yes, I smelled them) you can get.  This is truly a HAVE TO, to any self proclaimed chocoholic.  Did I mention the coffee in a sugar cone?  Strange, but I have to go back to try it.  A second question popped: “Why don’t we know of all of these little treasures?”.  I arrived at a simple answer… routine dining.  Exploring a bit, hunting the treasure and when someone talks about something special they experienced, listen.  Luckily word of mouth did it’s thing and I walked away happy, over-chocced (is there such a word?) and telling my posé all about this little treasure called Chocolat et Café in Waterkloof, Pretoria. Go! Now!

 

 

 

The Belgian Triple, where Beer isn’t just Beer.

The Belgian Triple is a lovely, hip and vibrant place that grabs your attention from the moment you walk through their doors.  Beer is their thing and their European cuisine to match.  They have a variety of beer, close to 90 imported Beers to be exact.

We were treated to a promising evening and were enticed to 7 tasting courses each paired beautifully with a choice imported beer.  First was Bitterballen & Salt and Pepper Squid, much like Kroketten and the plating was very artistically done.  Followed by Radicchio Salad and a Goats Cheese Salad.  Fresh, tasty, crisp and decadent.  Their Salmon Fillet was perfectly prepared, moist, pink with mashed potatoes and spinach.  The Lucifer (I think it’s flame grilled hence the Lucifer) Beef Brisket was out of this world.  The perfect balance between beef and fat that gives you a good idea that the chef surely knows he’s trade and was mouth-wateringly prepared . Dessert offered Belgian Chocolate Mousse and Fraindise (a syrupy citrus waffle) to end off the evening.

Sometimes (to me) beer is beer.  What made this evening different, was the background given on the origin and evolution of the beer currently on their menu and how well it accompanied their food.  Well done to Geland & Nikolai for hosting us and to you reading this review, make The Belgian Triple a must on your culinary bucket list!  Top marks from me and see you again soon!