I’ve had this post bubbling inside for a while; pun intended. You see, two years ago I started working in the liquor industry – previously uncharted territory for me. I quickly realised how little I knew about it. You think wine is complex? Try the industry. I spent my first week in primary and secondary production facilities, at bottling plants, on farms, in warehouses – I loved it! I’ve always been fascinated with production lines and heavy machinery; perhaps because I spent so much of my childhood in a truck manufacturing plant in Benoni’s Apex.
As consumers it’s easy to forget/ignore a product’s roots and often humble beginnings. I heard a story recently about some kids that didn’t know milk came from cows. Why? Because it came from Tesco (a UK grocery chain). My point is that we ought to. My sentiment pertains to all sectors I suppose, but I’m going to reference the local alcohol industry here.
As South Africans we cannot rest on our laurels and wait for the government to create employment and affect change in this country. Why? Because we can vote with our wallets at the very least. Have you ever stopped to think that supporting local alcohol producers and manufacturers means supporting job creation in the following industries?
- Farming and agriculture
- Manufacturing and processing at breweries, distilleries and wineries
- Distribution, wholesale and retail
- Wooden barrel and tank manufacturers
- Stainless steel tank manufacturers
- Import and export industry
- Bottling industry including manufacturers of glass and bottle caps and labels
- Manufacture and supply of boilers and burners
- Chemicals, gases and fermentation product manufacturers and suppliers
- Advertising and marketing industry
- Event management industry
- Food and product safety and quality monitoring industry
- Health and safety industry
- Generator industry
- IT (hardware and software) industry
- Industrial cleaning industry
- Promotional branding industry
- Public relations industry
- Recycling of glass industry
- Tourism industry
- Vineyard equipment industry
- Viticulture industry
- Water and effluent treatment industry
- Wine filtration equipment manufacturers
- Liquor licensing consultancies
That’s a lot of jobs.
We are the citizens of a nation producing award-winning wines and spirits on a global scale. The following products walked away with GO (Gold Outstanding) and gold awards at the recent 2014 IWSC competition (International Wine and Spirit Competition) held in London:
- Van Ryn’s Fine Cask Reserve 15YO
- Oude Meester Reserve 12 YO
- Van Ryn’s Distiller’s Reserve 12 YO
- Richelieu 10 YO Vintage Brandy
- Van Ryn’s Collectors Reserve 20 YO
- Oude Meester Souverein 18 YO
- KWV Grape Brandy 12 YO
- KWV Grape Brandy 20 YO
- KWV Grape Brandy 15 YO
- Mainstay Island Fusion
- Klipdrift Gold
- Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky 5 YO
- Three Ships Single Malt 10 YO
The list of South African wine and spirit brands walking away with awards in the Silver Oustanding, Silver and Bronze categories is too long to mention; evidence of the high quality of product being manufactured locally. With this in mind, the next time you go to a bar or restaurant put brand/badging status aside for a minute and think about the country of origin and industry/industries you’re supporting by the choice you’re about to make. We have a hell of a lot to be proud of as South Africans. Now let’s start showing our support with our voices and wallets.
- Farming and agriculture
Derrick and I were invited to a wedding in Tuscany recently; we decided to make the most of it by cramming as much of the surrounds as possible into 1o short days. If Rome and Tuscany are on your wanderlust lists, then I can recommend an itinerary similar to ours:
- Rome (2 nights)
- Florence (3 nights)
- Siena (2 nights)
- San Gimignano (day-trip)
- Saturnia & Porto Santo Stefano (day-trip)
- Bucine (2 nights)
We stayed at the Venetia Palace Hotel; a great little hotel a stone’s throw from the train station which was super convenient for getting in and out of Rome. This was also the starting point for the Citysightseeing Roma red bus tour – a great way to get acquainted with any city. You need to tick the traditional sights off when visiting Rome: the Trevi Fountain, the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum and the Spanish Steps. As is the case with most European cities – walk! You’ll burn off all the gelato (try Gelateria Pistacchio Verde) you’ll be eating and discover the gems off the beaten track. We walked from our hotel to the Trevi Fountain on our first night in Rome and happened upon a great little restaurant about 200m east of the fountain; Vineria Il Chianti.
This city took my breath away. Florence is beautiful, surprising and full of energy. As soon as we arrived I said to Derrick that I liked the feeling of the place; that feeling never left me. We stayed at a quaint B&B a short walk from the station, Hotel Sempione. Again we hopped onto Citysightseeing Firenze to get our bearings and then revisted the sights over the next few days. I can recommend seeing the Cathedral (the climb to the roof and top of the Duomo is worth the 463 steps), Ponte Vecchio, Uffizi Gallery, David, Basilica Santa Maria Novella, the Medici Chapel and the historic centre. Highlights for me include drinking Aperol Spritz at Rivalta on the banks of Fiume Arno at sunset, dinner at L’Osteria di Giovanni and charcuterie at La Prosciutteria. The best views of Florence are from Piazalle Michelangelo on the other side of the river.
This walled Medieval town upon the hillside is enchanting. We stayed at the Hotel Athena on the edge of the town; views for days! It also boasts a lovely rooftop terrace with a bar and a restaurant – perfect for sundowners and dinner. We overestimated the amount of time we’d need in Siena (3 nights, 2 would’ve been ideal) so we used the town as our base for some day-tripping out into the Tuscan countryside (San Gimignano) and coast (Saturnia & Porto Santo Stefano). Highlights for me include walking the town’s perimeter walls, lunch on the Campo and dinner at the famed La Taverna di San Giuseppe. The taverna’s wine cellar dates back to 300BC – hard to wrap your head around that.
Bucine is a one-horse town in the Tuscan province of Arezzo. This is where the magical Mijich-Leitch wedding was set and I’d recommend it for travelers wanting to rent an iconic Tuscan villa and do nothing but eat, drink and swim for a few days. There are a few villas dotted along a hill-top; ideal for a destination wedding and accommodating a lot of people. Oh, and there’s a chapel and a reception venue too. We stayed at Villa Felciai La Selva.
If you’ve got any tips or recommendations you’d like to add – please do leave a comment. And go ahead and book that trip to Italy – you won’t be sorry.
I’m super excited to announce the imminent launch of British fashion giant River Island in South Africa in July. The retailer will be opening its premier South African store in Rosebank, Johannesburg – with plans to expand to Cape Town in 2015. The Autumn/Winter 2014 range features 6 key themes: puritan, luxe traveller, 60s pastels, snow, noir and grey. I mean! And along with this exciting news; River Island have kindly offered one brandslut reader the opportunity to attend the epic Night of Fashion launch event on September 18th along with two friends. The winner will receive R900 to spend on the night plus two tickets to ensure they’ve got their entourage in tow.
Right, so this is how you enter…
1. Visit www.battletobritain.co.za
2. Vote on the look-book I’ve created as inspiration for the River Island launch. I decided to emulate the look and feel of the initial scamps that would have been created in planning the fabulous Autumn/Winter 2014 range and featured some my favourite pieces. The items I’ve sketched will all be available in store for purchase. Voting also offers you the opportunity to win additional vouchers, so there’s a double chance to win here – yay!
3. When you’ve voted for me, brandslut (thank you!), let me know by commenting on this blog post and letting me know you’ve voted. Your e-mail address won’t be published, but please do leave one so I can contact you if you’ve won.
That’s it, easy peasy lemon squeasy. Voting closes midnight on June 18th 2014, and I’ll announce my winner on Thursday the 19th 2014. Winners will need to be Johannesburg based or be able to get there for the event. However, so as not to exclude any readers from being able to participate – if you win but can’t make it on the night, I will happily be your personal shopper and grab you those items you’ve been coveting. I will send you the catalogue to choose from if you can’t make it.
Fingers crossed and thanks again for your vote, it means the earth.
A few years ago I stumbled into the world of podcasts and my life is better for it. Not only do they help pass my 2 hour daily commute; they enrich my life. I’ve listened to episodes about topics I’d never typically have gained insight into. Breaking up, bad babies, killer paracetamol, paedophiles, introverts, colours, Typhoid Mary; just some of the things I’ve learnt about through podcasts. Now I realise summarising an episode into one word just won’t do it justice, so you’ll need to take my word on this.
What is a podcast?
I’m going to give a bit of an introduction here for readers who don’t know what podcasts are. I know the word confused me before I started researching the medium. A podcast is an episodic series of audio made available online (you get video and novel podcasts too, but I’m focussing on audio). They’re like neatly little packaged radio shows with amazing production quality, minus the terrible DJs, useless content and bad advertising. They’re themed and are usually between 25 and 55 minutes long. I like the long ones. Get your mind out of the gutter. Podcast file sizes are typically smaller than music files, and you’re looking at roughly 22MB for a 50 minute podcast (file sizes vary, but they’re small).
If you scroll to the end I’ve included a step-by-step guide to help you download your first podcast, if you haven’t already. And no, you don’t have to download them, you can stream them and listen online, just click on the links (podcast titles) below…
10 Podcasts That’ll Make Your Life More Awesome
1. This American Life: Ira Glass hosts this award-winning show comprising first-person stories that are touching, funny and surprising
2. The Moth: true stories told live and without any notes to standing-room-only crowds worldwide
3. RadioLab: hosted by Jad Abumbrad and Robert Kulwich, this is where science meets culture and information sounds like music
4. Freakonomics Radio: Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner explore the hidden side of everything
5. TED Radio Hour: a journey through fascinating ideas, astonishing inventions and fresh approaches to old problems
6. NPR Programs – Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me: have a laugh and test your knowledge in this weekly current events quiz
7. Stuff You Should Know: explores topics like “8 Reasons Why Your Body Is So Gross” and “How The Paleo Diet Works”
8. The Nerdist: Chris Hardwick talks about stuff with his two nerdy friends Jonah Ray and Matt Mira, and someone more famous than they are
9. The Bugle: John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman leave no hot potato unbuttered in their hit weekly topical comedy show
10. Death, Sex & Money: a biweekly podcast about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation
I received a heap of awesome recommendation on twitter today but decided not to include those before I’ve listed to them, so I’ll do a follow up post soon. If you’ve got any you’d like to share with readers, please comment on this blog post with a link to the podcast – let’s share the love.
How to Download a Podcast From Your iPhone
Sorry BlackBerry and Android users, I can’t help you. Well, I suppose I can – click here to buy an iPhone. iPhone users, this is how to download a podcast:
Go to the app store and search for ‘Podcasts’ to download the app to your iPhone. Click on the purple ‘Podcasts’ app/icon, the one with the little ‘i’ wearing a halo.
Click ‘Search’ (bottom right) and then type the name of the channel you’re after into the search field e.g. This American Life
Click on the podcast channel you’re searching for
To download, click on the little cloud shooting an arrow. The little arrow will turn into a spinning progress wheel while it downloads (doesn’t take long at all, less than a minute). You can then click on that episode to play it.
If you’d like to find the channels you subscribe to or the podcasts you’ve downloaded, click on ‘My Podcasts’ bottom left.
Connect your phone via Blue Tooth or AUX cable to your car audio for easy listening.
Magnum pints are now available in South Africa in 4 ridiculous flavours: chocolate, vanilla and chocolate, chocolate and raspberry & hazelnut and chocolate. Because life’s to short not to eat ice-cream straight from the tub.
I recently moved to Bo Kaap and I adore my vibrant new ‘hood, full of quirks and culture. Its streets and homes provided the perfect backdrop for this weekend’s GAP Styld.By shoot. Styld.By is GAP’s global influencer programme where bloggers from around the world are briefed to donne some denim and have fun with GAP fashion. This is my take on the 1969 Destructed Sexy Boyfriend jeans, paired with a brown leather braided belt and sweater, all from GAP. Heels from Zara, Hamilton Messenger bag from Michael Kors and watch from Daniel Wellington.
I’ve just returned from an incredible holiday in New York City and Boston. As I write this I have perhaps the worst Sunday blues in history and I think hearing the Carte Blanche theme music might actually send me over the edge tonight. Manhattan is a city that really is *that* special and unforgettable. I was inspired by my friend Angie’s recent visit to Japan; she captured it on video (check it out here) and I decided to do the same on our trip. I used an app created by Honda called RoadMovies and filmed a series of movies comprising 24 x 1 second frames that we mashed together and put to music using iMovie. I’ve never edited film before and this is my first YouTube upload, so please be kind and excuse the amateur job. Here’s our trip summarized in 4 minutes, I hope you like it…
Pretty cool, huh? I’m going to try and film more stuff from now on; 80s gnarly Betamax home-video style.
I also Instagrammed our trip along the way (you can follow my Instagram account and check out the snaps here) and a few people asked me to please share some tips and recommendations. Now, I’m by no means an expert on New York City or Manhattan, but I’ve been a couple times and have stumbled upon some pretty cool stuff along the way. Here are some favourites and tips that I hope will inspire you to buy a ticket and visit this vibrant city in all her glory. You’ll be surprised at how cheap tickets to New York can be, particularly on Emirates.
I’m going to list (in no particular order) some favourites in 10s, starting with food. Because let’s face it. If you don’t like food then New York will be wasted on you. As a caveat, I’m not going to mention Michelin Star rated restaurants and fine dining that will cost you a fortune in Rands. What I am going to list are good restaurants with great ambiance that offer a certain level of value for money (relatively speaking, I mean, there’s no such thing as value when you have to multiply Dollars by10.5).
10 Great Meals in New York City:
1. Fette Sau – offering up barbecue fare in Brooklyn. Just trust me on this one. And order the refried beans with burnt ends.
2. ABC Kitchen – the restaurant attached to probably the most incredible home-ware store I’ve ever laid eyes on. The 3-course Prix Fixe menu is worth the $32 you’ll pay and you need to have this dessert: salted caramel ice-cream with caramel corn, peanut praline and chocolate sauce. Need I say more?
3. Cafeteria - open 24 hours and serving up the best truffle mac and cheese in town
4. Rosemary’s – this delightful West Village restaurant serves up some mean poached eggs and has atmosphere for days. Apparently its roof garden is fabulous in the summertime.
5. Morandi – brunch and Bloody Marys. Do it, especially on a Sunday.
6. The Standard Biergarten – nestled neatly within one of Manhattan’s most visually arresting buildings at the end of the iconic High Line, here you’ll find great German fare, craft beer and table tennis. I’ve heard the main restaurant at The Standard is great too but I haven’t eaten there.
7. Joe’s Shanghai – this Chinatown gem will make you think you’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. Take a number and wait for a table, it’s worth the experience. Oh, and order the soup dumplings. Thanks Stu and Ana for sharing this gem!
8. Eataly – I don’t know how to describe this place other than a grocery store on crack. Get lost in it, try the great meat, cheese, coffee, gelato and more, and leave with a basket of groceries that’ll blow your mind. It’s high-end and simply beautiful to look at.
9. Anywhere at Chelsea Market – quaint restaurants serve up pretty much everything you can imagine. What you’ll struggle to find is a seat, so order yourself a lobster roll to-go from Cull & Pistol and take it up to the High Line to enjoy in the sunshine.
10. Juliana’s – people recommend Grimaldi’s for the best pizza in town. Well, Juliana’s is next door and is owned by Patsy Grimaldi. He started Grimaldi’s and sold it to retire. Itchy feet got the better of him and as he’d sold his world-famous pizzeria’s naming rights, he decided to start afresh and open Juliana’s. We put the two to the taste test (I mean, essential for the authenticity of this blog post, right?), ordered a plain margarita at both, and Juliana’s emerged victorious. Why? Well, we were greeted at the door by Patsy Grimaldi himself, the service was fantastic, the restaurant warm and atmospheric and they have a liquor license. Grimaldi’s is big and lacks the charm Juliana’s offers. It also recently had its liquor license revoked. Either way, be prepared to wait at least 30 minutes for a table. It’s well worth the wait though, so hang in there, even if it’s raining like it was the day we visited.
One we didn’t get around to visiting but was recommended by a thousand people is Momofuku. Use it, don’t use it.
What’s a good meal without a good drink, right? Well, prepare to cough up proper Dollar for some equally proper drinks. They’re expensive, but they’re good and they’re strong. I was on a cider mission on our trip and soon realised ‘hard cider’ (as ‘em Yanks call it) is impossible to find. I digress, here’s where to drink…
10 Great Bars in New York City:
1. PDT. That’s Please Don’t Tell. And I’m going to ignore that instruction and tell you to go there. If you can’t find it, it’s because the entrance is hidden behind a phone booth you’ll need to pick up and have a conversation to gain entry.
2. Employee’s Only. The barmen own the joint, hence its name, and they serve a mean cocktail.
3. Apotheke. If you think you’re lost in Chinatown you’re in the right place.
4. The Standard Biergarten. Great for beer-lovers. If you’re prepared to pay for it you’ll get beer on tap pumped to your table through the pipes in the ceiling. Awesome!
5. The Ava Lounge at the Dream Hotel. For its incredible rooftop views.
6. 100 Acres. For its Bloody Marys (I’m a Bloody Mary fiend, okay?) Their brunch is great too.
7. Bathtub Gin. Another speakeasy.
8. The Spotted Pig. Owned by Jay Z and next door to Annie Leibowitz’ house, this gastro-pub in Greenwich Village is cosy and cool. Oh, and it has an epic menu too.
9. Attaboy. If you like whiskey then order the Paper Plane.
Okay, so now onto the stuff you’ll need to do to walk off all the food and drink you’re going to consume…
10 Things to do in New York City:
1. Walk the High Line. This 1.6km elevated park cum promenade is unique, picturesque and architecturally arresting. A restored elevated railway that lay unused for decades, the High Line offers a surreal escape from this frenetic city. A must-do!
2. Cycle through Central Park. A two hour ride will cost you $28. The park is enormous and there’s a lot to see that you just won’t get to on foot, especially if you’re only in town for a short time. When your ride is over, grab a healthy take-away meal at Whole Foods (an experience in itself) and enjoy a Central Park picnic in all its splendour.
3. Walk. Manhattan’s grid system is logically numbered and easy to navigate. If you have the time, walk it all: Fifth, Broadway, Wall Street and the Financial District, SOHO, Greenwich Village, Chinatown, Little Italy etc. Every street has something unique to offer; discover it on foot.
4. Walk the Brooklyn bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan. That way you get to admire that iconic skyline all the way. A nice way to walk off the pizza you’ve just inhaled at Juliana’s. Explore Gumbo, Brooklyn Heights and Williamsburg too.
5. Take a helicopter flip over Manhattan. If you can afford the $250 price tag, then tick this off your bucket list. The 20 minute flip does a full loop of the island and allows you to get up close and personal with the Statue of Liberty and even offers a unique look into the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. This is an experience you’ll never forget. We booked our flights through Liberty Helicopters.
6. Get cultural. The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA, even if only for the gift shop), the Guggenheim, the American Museum of Natural History, Grand Central Terminal, Rockefeller Centre, Carnegie Hall and the 9/11 Memorial to name a few. I’d advise booking online or using the New York Pass to gain access to discounts and avoid cues. And check opening-hours prior to embarking on your mission across the island as some are closed on Mondays etc.
7. See Manhattan from the top. If your budget is limited then I’d recommend doing Top of the Rock at sunset because it offers views of Central Park and allows you to look straight at the Empire State Building. If your budget allows for both then do, the vistas are breathtaking.
8. See the Statue of Liberty. For free. By hopping on a ferry to Staten Island and back.
9. Go watch something. The entertainment lineup in this city is jaw-dropping and there’s something for everyone; ballet, opera, Broadway, stand-up comedy, live music and more. When I was in Manhattan last I went to see Sleep No More (OMG!) and this time around we watched The Book of Mormon in Boston (from the creators of South Park, incredible, not recommended for those who take offense easily).
10. Shop. SOHO’s boutiques are my personal favourite, but almost every street in Manhattan offers something interesting. One of my favourite stores, Anthropologie, is located at Chelsea Market, and you’ll do well to explore Brooklyn and Williamsburg’s for unique finds. The great thing about shopping in the U.S. is you’ll find great sale items, so trawl those racks, it’s worth it.
10 Tips for Travelling to New York City (and the U.S, where applicable):
1. No $100 bills. You’ll be surprised at how many places won’t accept these bad boys, so get your forex in smaller denominations if you can.
2. Food and transport aren’t cheap, so budget at least $100 a day. And don’t convert. Our exchange rate is rubbish and all you’ll do is upset yourself.
3. Be prepared to wait. Whether you’re sightseeing or dining out, you’re probably going to have to wait. A while.
4. Pack light. You will shop.
5. Don’t forget to phone your bank and/or credit card provider to let them know you’ll be abroad. You don’t want to curb your shopping enthusiasm because of a blocked credit card.
6. The subway is a great and super quick way to get around at $2.50 per journey. You can share a card between travellers, so you’ll only need to buy one.
7. If you’re happy to rely on wifi you don’t need roaming or a U.S. SIM. Wifi is free and almost everywhere!
8. Tips start at 15%. 10% is frowned upon. Cough up.
9. Don’t bother packing a hairdryer or hair-straightener, they don’t work on 110 voltage U.S. plugs. South Africa works on a 220 volt system.
10. Cabs from the airport into Manhattan cost a flat $52 which is handy. At least you know you won’t be scammed and charged $100 because your driver took the long route.
And because I’m OCD and don’t want to add an 11th point to my list of 10s, I’m going to pretend this is worthy of an entire paragraph. Yes, you need a visa. But at least the Americans don’t require proof of everything (including DNA sample, like some other countries) in order for you to apply, so you don’t need to book flights and accommodation prior to your visa appointment. They’re also super generous and hand out 10 year visas willy nilly. I don’t think I’ve ever used the phrase ‘willy nilly‘ before. I don’t know where that came from.
I really hope you’ve found this post valuable. If you’ve got any other tips and tricks for fellow travellers, please do comment on this post and share the love.
I derive an immense (read unnatural) amount of joy from stumbling upon products that exceed expectations in terms of form, function and utility. I’ve been travelling to Johannesburg a lot and needed a handy wheelie bag to get me from A-Z with enough space for some clothes and my laptop and cables and things, but small enough to constitute carry-on luggage. I’m a stickler for design so wanted something slick and easy on the eye: enter the Incase travel bag range. You know Incase, the’re famous for Apple device protection. Well, they’ve remained true to their promise and expanded their range into luggage; I treated myself to the nifty Hardshell Roller. The roller has a protective glossy outer shell on the one side and the rest is upholstered in a beautiful grey fabric with green accents, like the wheels. The inner has storage compartments for days including a section specifically designed to keep your Macbook safe, and an expandable zip for when that credit card gets used a little more than anticipated. Here’s the Hardshell Roller and some of the other bags in the family:
Neat, hey? You can buy these bad boys in South Africa exclusively through iStore.
It’s less than two months until the FIFA World Cup kicks off in Brazil. I know right, where did those 4 years disappear to? I must admit, Brazil’s not featured all that prominently on my must-visit list, however after stumbling upon this Cara Delevigne for Vogue Brazil spread this weekend, I’m kinda bleak I’m missing out on the phenomenal photo opportunities that the game and country will present – I mean, colour and culture for days! Also, I have total eyebrow envy right now…
If, like me, you won’t be experiencing the Brazil fever in person, then catch it live and in HD on two dedicated SuperSport channels. You can also follow @SuperSportTV and @SuperSportBlitz on twitter. Click here for a little inspiration.
Best you dust off your vuvuzela!
Photographs by Jaques Dequeker