South African Hip Hop

Last weekend when I arrived at my hostel in the Maboneng district of Johannesberg, I dumped my stuff in my dormetory room and headed for the bar. There I met a couple of friendly Joberg students. I was not planning on having a big night but in the end I ended up partying like it was 1999. We concluded the evening at Stones nightclub in Melville which is a lively and energetic hotbox den of all the latest SA hip hop sounds. I am no connoisseur and, albeit a strange obsession with DMX, know very little of the genre. Anyway, here are some videos motherf***er…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Markets Of Warwick Triangle

 

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Warwick Triangle

 

Around the Berea Road Station in central Durban and the flyover passes marking the beginning of the N3 highway is a fascinating dishelved mess of markets known as the Warwick Triangle. These markets are so raw and alive they make the infamous Tepito Mercado in Mexico City look like Portobello Road market in Notting Hill. One day I decided to go on a tour of this part of town with a local guide from the tour firm Markets Of Warwick.

 

The Bead Market

This market has been temporarily relocated onto the narrow sidewalk of one of the busy flyover passes. Walking here was a challenge and trying desperately to be on your guard – even with a guide!

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The Bead Market

 

The Impepho Market

Entering this market was like walking through a post war bombed out Barbican or Westway. Here traditional Zulu women sell impepho and bowling size balls of red and white limes mined from iNdwedwe, north of the city.

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The Impepho Market

 

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Impepho

 

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White lime

 

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Red lime

 

The Brook Street Market

This market sells mainly textiles…

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Brook Street Market

 

The Berea Station Market

This is the place to go for pirate DVDs, CDs, shoes and designer clobber at rock bottom prices as well as traditional Zulu King Shaka spears and shields…

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Berea Station market

 

The Early Morning Market

This market is known as the Mother Market and has now been going for 100 years. This is the place to go for fruit and vegetables as well as spices. The quality of the fruit and veg is better than what you’d find in Pick n Pay and Checkers and at a fraction of the price. The spices here are cheaper than those in nearby Victoria market…

 

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Inside the Early Morning Market

 

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Abundant veg 

 

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Spices at rock bottom prices

 

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Early Morning Market trader

 

Bovine Head Cooking Market

I think if I took Morrissey here he’d have a stroke. This is not a place for animal rights activists. Yet Francis Bacon would be captivated. This place is raw and visceral. The severed heads and other body parts of cows and goats lie openly in green rubbish bins and black rubbish sacks – life here is cheaper than table salt.

 

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Inside the Bovine Head Cooking Market

 

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Super gourmet food I just can’t wait to dive into

 

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Too much

 

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Look away

 

The Herb Market

My guide explicitly tells me not to take photos of the herbs as I’d be ‘diminishing their potency’ – the last thing I want to do is incur the wrath of the traditional Zulu people so I only manage one cheeky photo from the entrance. As well as traditional herbs and plant extracts, one can find small used whiskey bottles now experiencing a new lease of life carrying the contents of different animal fats including those extracted from the Big Five.

 

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The entrance to the herb market

 

by Nicholas Peart

23rd June 2016

(all rights reserved)

Four Great Places For Indian Food In Durban

Indian restaurants in Durban are ten a penny, but here are four establishments in this city that serve up wonderful no nonsense Indian food…

 

MY DINERS

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My Diners Indian restaurant chain

 

At the northern end of the suburb of Overport and in a lively part of town full of Indian supermarkets and grocery stores is the restaurant chain My Diners. There are others in town but the Overport branch is the one I frequented. At first glance this is a very ordinary eating establishment and you may be mistaken for thinking this is some kind of Eastern Steers but you’d be making a big mistake. This place does very brisk business and is often packed with local Indian families. I had a tremendous mutton bunny chow floating in a pool of curry gravy like some edible Tower Of Babel. I ordered a half loaf and just as well since I would have had to summon some locals to assist me if I ordered the full loaf.

 

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A half loaf mutton bunny chow

 

 

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Half time bunny carnage

 

 

HOUSE OF CURRIES

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House of Curries on Florida road

 

This establishment, located on Florida road in the suburb of Windermere, is noted for its rotis, which are very generous. The lamb rotis here are especially good. HOC is also a great place to idle an afternoon or night away with a cold beer or four. I washed my roti down with a cold pint of Windhoek beer.

 

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Vegetable roti 

 

 

PATELS VEGETARIAN REFRESHMENT ROOM

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Patels on Yusuf Dadoo street is one of the oldest restaurants in town

 

This eatery is perhaps the most special and legendary of my picks and is located slap bang in the heart of little India on Dr Yusuf Dadoo street. Patels was recommended to me by an elderly South African Indian gentleman whom I met at a local corner restaurant also off Dr Yusuf Dadoo street and not too far from this place. This is one of the oldest eateries in the city and has been serving the population for 85 years. Don’t be fooled by the rough hole in the wall exterior. This is the place to go for a quarter vegetable bunny chow. When I ordered mine I got a mixture of sugar beans, dhal, lentils and potato curry. It was delicious and very inexpensive. I followed this up with a R4 cup of chai and a small traditional Indian sweet treat for desert.

 

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Classic original quarter veg bunny chow

 

 

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Chai and an Indian sweet treat

 

 

MALI’S INDIAN RESTAURANT

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Mali’s restaurant in Morningside

 

One night I decided to have dinner here in the suburb of Morningside after reading all the glowing reviews of the place on Trip Adviser. This is a more formal dining experience compared to the other three places (and I’ve got to admit I wasn’t taken by the internal decor which I found a little sterile – not that I came here for that!) but I was not disappointed by the food and the restaurant lives up to the hype.

I began my evening by ordering the infamous paper dosa. That thing is so big you could write the entire Mahabharata on it. I needed three separate plates to accommodate all the broken down fragments of this beast.

 

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The legendary paper dosa

 

Next I ordered one of the restaurant’s signature Chettinad curries. I went for the lamb one accompanied with a side garlic naan, which was very good.

 

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Chettinad lamb curry 

 

Then for dessert I ordered the restaurant’s homemade kulfi (Indian ice cream). I’ve had kulfi before but I was very impressed with the one I tasted here which was rich and full flavoured. Very nice to savour.

 

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Homemade kulfi

 

OTHER INDIAN EATERIES IN THE CITY

ORIENTAL inside the Workshop mall in the centre of a town is a good place for cheap Indian food although I prefer My Diners. Nevertheless I had a decent mutton curry served with rice and salad. There are a couple of very cheap hole in the wall Indian food eateries both located on Yusuf Dadoo called AL-BARAKA and ALMASOOM TAKEAWAY & RESTAURANT; absolutely nothing to write home about but if you are watching the Rand they are two good choices. For thrill seekers the former has a rough and tumble Bukowski vibe to it and there is more chance of Jacob Zuma paying back that R250 million of taxpayers money he spent on his Nkandla homestead than bumping into another tourist.

The following places I haven’t sampled. I hear good things about LITTLE GUJERAT close to Victoria Market which does a variety of cheap vegetarian fare. For a more formal dining experience similar to Mali’s, LITTLE INDIA RESTAURANT ON MUSGRAVE gets almost equally dazzling reviews.

 

by Nicholas Peart

20th June 2016

(All rights reserved)

India In Durban

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Durban

 

Durban is the city with the largest Indian population outside of India. Originally called Port Natal, the city was renamed Durban by the British after Sir Benjamin D’Urban, the governor of the Cape Colony. Originally a sleepy settlement of less than 1000 people, Durban’s expansion began in 1843 when Britain annexed the Colony of Natal. In the space of ten years, there was a large wave of immigration from the UK.
The city grew phenomenally throughout the latter half the nineteenth century. It was during this time that many indentured Indian labourers were brought over by the British Empire to work on the sugar cane plantations and railroads of the Colony of Natal and this is the source of the enormous Indian population in Durban.

 

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On Yusuf Dadoo Street (or Little India)

 

Dr Yusuf Dadoo street (or Grey Street as it was formally known) is the heart of the Indian community full of bazaars, Indian shops and cheap hole in the wall eateries selling quarter bunny chows, curries, rotis and birianis at rock bottom prices. Ah yes, the legendary bunny chow which is unique to this neck of the woods. You can get bunny chows in other cities in South Africa but if you want the real thing this is the place to be. There are a few stories regarding the origin of the bunny chow but one goes that it was invented by a group of Indians immigrants known as Banias (an Indian caste) at an eatery called Kapitan’s in the city. The bunny chow is a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with curry. In Durban it comes in three different sizes; full loaf, half loaf or quarter loaf. The quarter loaf, the smallest version, is the classic or qota as its sometimes called.

 

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A quarter veg bunny chow courtesy of Patels restaurant

 

Dr Yusuf Dadoo street is also home to the largest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere, the Juma Masjid.

 

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Juma Masjid mosque on Yusuf Dadoo street

 

Right by the mosque is the Madressa Arcade full of traders selling everything from blankets and old radios to secondhand shoes. For a brief moment I feel like I am wondering through a souk in downtown Meknes.

 

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Inside the Madressa Arcade

 

Adjacent to the Madressa Arcade is the Ajmeri Arcade featuring a very cool record shop, Ajmeri Record King, which has vast piles of battered vinyls which might not be much on the outside but if you persevere you may find the odd ruby in the sludge. I found a couple of rare Stax records. The shop also has a good and comprehensive selection of CDs of music from across Africa.

 

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Ajmeri Record King record shop inside the Ajmeri Arcade

 

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Inside Ajmeri Record King 

 

The nearby Victoria Street Market, first established in 1910, is an important market in the city.

 

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Victoria Street Market

 

Inside the market there are a few Indian shops selling spices and other products. The first one I enter, RA Moodley has a decent selection of different spices. As well as traditional Indian spices there is a spice pile called Nando’s spice and another entitled KFC spice. RA Moodley is also a hovel of miscellaneous Indian trinkets and products. About four portraits of Sai Baba, the controversial Indian guru, including a photo of him on the weighing scale, adorn the interior of the shop.

 

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RA Moodley spice shop

 

The next spice place I enter, Delhi Delight, is run by a kind and charismatic South African Indian gentleman who gives me and some Cape Townians a tour of his shop and all the spices on offer. I am intrigued by his own Delhi Delight brand spice concoctions which range from medium to very hot

 

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Delhi Delight spice concoctions

 

The final spice shop I visit is a more modest affair than the other two yet I will never forget the Mother In Law Hell Fire spice pile. I love the name so much I think I will swing by here before I depart Durbs for a sample.

 

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One spice it would be rude not to try

 

Durban is also the city where Mohandes Gandhi lived for sometime during his time in South Africa. When he first arrived in Durban he lived on Grey Street. Two important Gandhi related landmarks in the city are a bust of him at Tourist Junction (old Durban railway station) in the city centre and the Old Court House nearby, where he spent much time when he worked as a lawyer. There is also a street in his name close to the southern end of the city beach but watch your back in this part of town, especially around the junction with Anton Lembede street. I was mooching around there one afternoon and some miscellaneous black student with a surf board walked up to me and indignantly told me I was crazy to be walking around this part of town and insisted on hailing down a local mini van taxi to get me out.

 

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Gandhi bust in the city centre

 

Outside of the city and off the N2 highway is the Phoenix settlement, close to the Inanda squatter camp, which Gandhi founded as a self sustainable community and to build on his philosophy of satyagraha or passive resistance.

In my next post I will be listing my favourite Indian eateries in this marvellous city.

 

by Nicholas Peart

20th June 2016

(All rights reserved)

Visiting Qunu, Nelson Mandela’s Home Village

Last week I embarked on a road trip from Plettenberg Bay to Durban. Along the way I covered all of the Eastern Cape breaking the journey in Grahamstown, the Transkei and Kokstad on the border between KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape.

Driving through much of the Eastern Cape, especially the Transkei region, I am reminded of the vast sertão of northern Brazil; a very poor region, which many families leave and make the long journey south to São Paulo. Likewise, many Xhosa families leave their traditional homelands in the Eastern Cape for the big cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg. The Cape Flats in Cape Town are where many reside.

 

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The Transkei

 

As I drive east of Grahamstown, I pass through King William Town. My preconceptions before arriving were of a town similar to Grahamstown with Victorian architecture. What I stumbled on was more like a slice of the wrong side of LA. There is nothing remotely ‘kingly’ about it. Ol’ Dirty Bastard Town would make a more fitting name. I lock all my car doors and keep driving. As I leave the N2 and head on the R63 there are directions for towns like Fort Beaufort and Alice. Those towns are historically significant since they are where Nelson Mandela received his further education. Driving on the stretch of the R63 between the towns of Bisho and Komga you drive through the heart of the Eastern Cape. Small houses of many different colours, like postage stamps from a distance, dot the landscape. Connecting back on the N2, I notice that the landscape has changed and I am now in the Wild Coast region. A long truck carrying big slabs of rectangular gray bricks is forever in my way and I can’t go more than 40km/h. At one point I seize my chance and rev my little Polo Vivo to kingdom come. I make it by a whisker and consider myself very lucky. I am now a mess of adrenaline. I also notice that the sun is going down and consider stopping somewhere to break the journey. My aim is to be close to Qunu, so in the morning I can go there early. I pass through the town of Butterworth; a mess of a place a la King William Town. I don’t feel very comfortable stopping here but the directions to a hotel lift my spirits. When I arrive at the hotel I feel like I’ve just landed in the middle of the Bronx and duly resume my journey on the N2. The next town Dutywa is not much different but on a quiet side street I find a relatively appealing guesthouse called Kowethu B&B run by a kind elderly Xhosa lady. Alas I am too late for dinner (which must be requested in advance) and my only feasible option is KFC in town. My heart goes out to all the vegetarian and vegan travellers in my shoes.

 

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Mveso – the place where Mandela was born

 

On the way to Qunu, I exit the highway and drive along a newly paved road towards Mveso. This is the place where Mandela was born on 18 July 1918. His father was appointed the chief of Mveso by the king of the Thembu tribe. However following a dispute with the local white magistrate, he lost his chieftainship status as well as the majority of his land, cattle and money. The family subsequently moved to the nearby village of Qunu. On the road to Mveso, I get my first real taste of the Transkei heartland away from the N2. This is real Xhosaland. Several traditional Xhosa huts populate the landscape. The dusty, semi-arid, windswept terrain here is the opposite of the fertile lush Garden Route. This is no Wilderness or Tsitsikamma. I keep on driving until the paved part of the road morphs into a jagged and uneven dirt one. I drive a little further before turning back towards the N2.

 

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Outside the Nelson Mandela Museum in the village of Qunu where he grew up

 

At the Nelson Mandela museum in Qunu I am greeted by my tour guide, Zim, who guides me around. Within the complex there are a few rooms with info and photos chronicling his life. From the museum complex you have a spectacular vista over Qunu and the vast veld where Nelson played as a child. These abundant fields were an important part of his early development as he says in his own words;

In the fields I learnt how to knock birds out of the sky with a slingshot, to gather wild honey and fruits and edible roots, to drink warm, sweet milk straight from the udder of a cow, to swim in the clear cold streams and to catch fish with twine and sharpened bits of wire… I learned to stick-fight  –  essential knowledge for a rural African boy. From these days I date my love of the veld, of open spaces, the simple beauties of nature, the clean line of the horizon.

When I read those words I think of the San people; the original people of Southern Africa who had a very deep and special connection with nature.

His other name Madiba comes from the Madiba clan in Xhosa society, named after a Thembu chief who ruled over the Transkei region in the eighteenth century. Nelson is frequently referred to by his clan name, Madiba, as a sign of respect. His actual first name given to him at birth by his father is Rolihlahla which in Xhosa literally translates as ‘pulling the branch of a tree’ and colloquially means ‘troublemaker’.

 

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The fields of Qunu in the background where Nelson played as a child

 

Right next to the museum is the first school he attended, the Qunu Junior Secondary School. It was here on his first day of school that his teacher Miss Mdingane gave him his more familiar Christian name Nelson. A crowd of children are gathered outside. Despite its historical significance, it is a very modest school and from the outside the classrooms seem quite basic.

 

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His local school where he received his name Nelson on his first day

 

Afterwards I drive to his home, where he spent the remaining years of his life since being released from prison in 1990, located directly off the N2. At the gates I am greeted by a young man who works on the grounds of the estate. I am told that I cannot enter. Nelson’s grave is located within the grounds and that too is out of bounds to the general public. Sadly much of the surviving Mandela family is trapped in an ugly car crash like mess of never ending feuds; a very sad state of affairs and poor old Nelson must be spinning in his grave or maybe he just doesn’t care; his nature being of someone who avoids this toxicity.

 

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The front gates to the house where Mandela lived the remaining years of his life since being released from prison in 1990

 

A group of Zulu visitors arrive at the estate just moments after me. They too get rebuffed. No luck then for any of us. The Nelson Mandela Museum in nearby Mthatha is currently closed for refurbishment. I have little to no desire to pause in Mthatha. After the non stop assault of King William Town, Komga, Butterworth and Dutywa, I just want to press on to Natal.

 

by Nicholas Peart

14th June 2016

(all rights reserved)

Clover Cafe: Like Being In A Monet Painting

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Clover Cafe

 

Clover Cafe is a gem of a place set in pure nature. It is one of those places which feels very special and has a certain spiritual energy where words would be insufficient to describe it. It is situated by a beautiful lake with a small wooden bridge. Seeing this one could almost be mistaken for being in Giverny where Monet created many of his most significant and iconic paintings. I have had many happy times over there and it has enriched my time spent in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa.

It is run by Werner and his brother Christo who do an absolutely stellar job in making Clover the special and unique place that it is. What’s more they have a small team of very friendly and charismatic staff who make sure that everyone is happy and having a lekker (South African slang for good/cool) time.

Everyday they have a different menu of delicious and creative meals made from fresh organic ingredients. They have excellent meat and fish meals as well as a decent selection of healthy vegetarian options. Their pizzas are especially good. And the prices are very reasonable considering the quality of the food.

Sundays are a great time to head over to Clover where one can see and hear excellent and authentic local live music played with real heart and soul. And when it’s a glorious blue day than it becomes truly magical. Clover has so much potential to be not just a great restaurant and live music venue but an important hub where people come to be inspired and make great things happen.

by Nicholas Peart

May 15th 2016

(All rights reserved)

Bocca Dolce Cafe: Sensational Vegan Food In A Paradisiacal Setting

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The interior of the Bocca Dolce Cafe

 

The Bocca Dolce Cafe is a paradise of a place situated in the beautiful Quarry Lake Estate around the Wittedrift area close to Plettenberg Bay and planted firmly on the lush and infamous Garden Route in South Africa. The heavenly location alone is enough to warrant a visit. I am also told that they have excellent coffee, which I completely believe judging by what I’ve seen on my few forays over there. Sadly for me, I am not a coffee drinker.

 

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The beautiful surroundings

 

But for me it’s not about the beautiful location (yet it’s certainly a bonus) or the excellent coffee. My primary reason for visiting (and returning) is the divine, delicious and generous weekend vegan buffet they serve up every Saturday and Sunday from 1pm. I suppose one could split this abundant and tasty vegan buffet into three categories; Salads, Mains and Desserts.

The salads alone are a meal in itself with about 10-12 different selections to choose from. The selections change each time yet my personal favourites are the curried potato salad, the chick pea salad, the beetroot salad, the spinach, broccoli and bean concoction and, last but not least, the sublime humus. With such a selection I often run the risk of not leaving any space for the mains or desserts.

 

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My plate loaded up with some delicious salad selections

 

Now for the mains. The highlights for me are the vegan lasaña and the vegan curry. Both are excellent and very tasty. There is also a table loaded with a grand selection of different and exotic vegan snacks. I particularly love the vegan satay kebabs.

 

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Delicious and exotic vegan snacks

 

Finally the deserts. It would be a crime not to leave any space for those (easily done). Like the salads, the dessert selections change each time. On my last visit I got very lucky with the desserts to the point they became the highlight of the buffet that day. That day some of the dessert selections included a sensational vegan trifle, a very rich and delicious vegan chocolate and date cake, and a good no-nonsense vegan apple crumble. I have a weakness for trifle and I was very impressed with the textures, flavours and even creaminess of it all made a la vegan.

 

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Exquisite vegan desserts

 

If you can’t make the weekend buffet the salad buffet is available on the weekdays.

The Bocca Dolce Cafe is a special place. The exceptional food notwithstanding, it offers a unique and unforgettable experience. The place is a real labour of love designed and created very tastefully with beautiful furniture and artworks on the wall by local artists. I highly recommend dropping by if you are in the area.

by Nicholas Peart

16th May 2016

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