Saturday, October 20, 2007

Late night dining at Soi




















Soi, a Thai-Viet restaurant located in 7th street in Melville, was our first dining experience in South Africa, and it was all in all one of our best. This was truly first class dining, and if you visit Johannesburg dining at Soi is highly recommended.


Location: BBB+

Melville is a safe part of Johannesburg, but not the easiest to find for tourists, as it is a part slightly off the beaten track. Once there, however, you find a good number of nice bars and restaurants. It is charming part of Johannesburg, but it has no wow-factor to speak of.

Interior: BBBBB

Soi has a charming interior and atmosphere, and plays on clearly on a Vietnamese communist theme, with red banners with yellow stars on the walls. The tables and chairs in dark wood are located on different levels. It was Saturday, and packed with people and this was clearly a favourite hang out for the many in the area. We got a table for six on the upper level.

Price: BBBBB

Soi is a very affordable place to eat. On the menu the appetizers, soups, and salads are priced at 25-35 ZAR, main course 40-80 ZAR, and desserts are priced at 20-25 ZAR. Even the wines are very affordable. And the quality is excellent.

Staff and service: BBBBB-

It was a busy night, and the staff was under a high pressure. Our waiter did, however, his best to give us the needed service. He was at times very difficult to get hold of, but the food was served with no delay.

The food: BBBBB

The food was mouthwateringly good. We started by ordering the Asia Combo (right) at 137 ZAR for 4. It was a combination of appetizers, crispy fried vegetable spring roll, prawn spring roll, crystal vegetable, crystal prawn spring roll and chicken satay on skewers, served with the most interesting sauces. It was a wonderful selection of tastes and textures, the crispiest, the crunchiest, and soft. The tastes were exquisite, and I particularly loved one of the dipping sauces made from peanuts and coconut milk. Yum, yum!!

Then the main course were served. I had ordered the garlic and Pepper Prawns, stir-fried prawns with garlic and pepper - no chili. I were in no mood for strong tastes, and avoided the chili. This was a great choice. The prawns were perfectly fried, in a well balanced sweet and salt sauce, with distinct pepper and garlic aromas, without being overpowering.

The others chose Saigon Barbeque Duck served with 5 spice and chef's BBQ sauce, and Thai Style Duck in Red Wine Duck in red wine sauce Thai style - no chili. Both these dishes had rich and smooth sauces bursting with flavour. Both dishes were priced at around 65 ZAR. Another dish ordered was the

Overall rating: BBBBB- (4,65 points)

Soi is not the easiest place to find, but when you have, you are in for a great experience. Highly recommendable in Johannesburg!!

Address:
Soi:
Corner of 7th Street& 3rd Avenue
Melville
Johannesburg 2092

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Trondheim - Medieval and Modern

















I have spent the last week in Trondheim, Norways third largest city. This city is today one home to a large university and one of the most important centres of science, techology and innovation in the entire country. I attended the NOKIOS conference, hosted by SINTEF, on progress made on IT in the public sector. I stayed with my nephew and his wife, did some home cooking, had a few nights in their favourite hangout and ordered a fabulous dinner. So there will be reports from Trondheim and from South Africa.

Trondheim was founded more than 1000 years ago, and grew into the most important religious centre in Norway. This is the place where St. Olaf, the Norwegian patron saint, was buried after he was killed at the battle of Stiklestad in 1030. Over his shrine they built Nidarosdomen or Nidaros Cathedral, and it became an important centre of pilgrimage during the Middle Ages. The Cathedral of today is, however, a monument heavily restored from 1869 as an expression of Norways national patriotism.

Trondheim is an old city, and I will guide you around to show you some of the many buildings from different periods of its history.

So stay tuned and discover Trondheim here at Enjoy Food & Travel

More Sights?

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Biff á la Lindström


















Tonight I went to dine at 3M, to meet my friend Ketil Zahl. I was a man with a mission, i.e. I was handing over 25 Havana cigars I had bought for him in South Africa. 3M are specializing in what we in Scandinavia call "husmannskost", meaning traditional food as served back in the good old days. Biff á la Lindström is one of these, and served with a twist. Yum!!

This Swedish beef dish is thought to be named after an army officer, Henrik Lindström, that brought it from Russia to Sweden. He was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and Swedish food lore has it that he brought the recipe to the Hotel Witt in Kalmar, Sweden, around 1862. The original recipe contains beets and capers and this may indicate Russian origin or influence.

What ever. This recipe had no capers or beetroot (I think), but the taste of well seasoned ground beef. It was served with the most delicious rich red wine gravy with whole pepper corns , roasted potatoes and thin slices of pickled cucumber. A feast!!

How to make it yourself? See a recipe here.

More restaurants?


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See all restaurants reviewed here on Enjoy Food & Travel

South African wines




















"I trust you will forgive my friend, the wines were too various, it was neither the quality, nor the quantity, but the mixture. To understand all, is to forgive all" These words from a famous British novel falls to mind, as I describe my encounter with South African wines. The wines were too various.


South Africa has a large production of wines, and I tasted a wide variety during my trip, carefully documenting my wine experiences throughout the journey. I will start with this wine, deceivingly similar to a bottle of traditional Champagne, both in shape of the bottle, and as labels go, as well. This Pongracz Method Cap Classique Non-Vintage is a refreshing blend of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, with classical yeast and biscuit character on the nose and a rich fruit character, dry and crispy, as I like a good sparkling wine. And what is the recommended company to this wine. South African biltong and well aged parmeggiano.

This wine was bought at the wine merchant at 7th Street in Melville, and enjoyed much later - in the Drakensberg mountains. I will return to that part of the journey much later.

On my page on South Africa from A-Z you will find links to all stories from the planning of, and the journey to South Africa, for your convenience.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

South Africa from A-Z




















Here you will find links to all stories from the planning of, and the journey to South Africa, for your convenience. This is page is updated December 19th 2007

Travel arrangement
- Finding the best airfare

Travelling to and in South Africa
-
Drakensberg Mountains - getting there
- Getting around - on transportation
- From Giants Castle to Pietermaritzburg
- Rating South African Airways

General information
- Crime in South Africa
- Health precautions
- Money and prices

Places
- Durban
- Johannesburg
- Johannesburg - Alexandra
- Johannesburg - Melville
- Johannesburg - Newtown
- Johannesburg - Riviera
- Johannesburg - Soweto

Hotels and guesthouses
-
Aintree Lodge, Pietermaritzburg
- Blue Waters Hotel, Durban
- Melville House, Johannesburg
- Sundown Ranch Hotel, Sun City

Bars and restaurants
- BJ's Restaurant & Fast Food, Harrismith
- Daytona Spur, Durban
- Gramadoelas, Johannesburg
- Lizards Rock, Pietermaritzburg
- Mezza Luna, Johannesburg
- Nambitha, Johannesburg
- News Cafe, Durban
- Orange Acorn, Johannesburg
- Soi, Johannesburg
- Restaurant Versailles, Durban

Sights
- Alexandra township
- City of Pietermaritzburg
- Credo Mutwa Cultural Village, Soweto
- Drakensberg Mountains, Kwazulu-Natal
- Durban, the Beach
- Mahatma Gandhi statue, Pietermaritzburg
- Museum of Africa, Johannesburg
- Nelson Mandelas home, Alexandra
- Nelson Mandelas home, Soweto
- Nelson Mandela Yard Interpretation Centre, Alexandra
- Newtown, Johannesburg
- Pilanesberg National Park
- Safari Pilanesberg National Park
- Sun, sand, sea - and surf!! Durban
- Sundown Ranch Lion Park
- Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World, Durban
- Sundown Ranch & Lion Park
- uKhahlamba caves, Giants Castle
- Workers Library & Museum, Johannesburg

Food Stories
- Bush Tucker
- Coffee in Melville
-
Dinner at Giants Castle, October 1st
- Delicacies in the wilderness
- Food
- Grocery shopping at Estcourt
- Lunch in Zululand
- More Goodness inside, Aintree Lodge

Wine
- Allesverloren Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (Swartland)
- Allesverloren Shiraz 2005 (Swartland)
- Allesverloren Touriga Nacional 2005 (Swartland)
- Delheim Merlot Simonsberg 2004 (Western Cape)
- Durbanhills Merlot 2005 (Western Cape)
- Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (Western Cape)
- Lammershoek Tinta Barocca Barrique 2003 (Swartland)
- Nederburg Western Cape Baronne Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2005 (Western Cape)
- Pongrácz Method Cap Classique Non-Vintage (Western Cape)
- Porcupine Ridge Merlot 2004 (Western Cape)
- South African wines
- Stormy Cape Shiraz 2006 (Western Cape)

Nature
- A view from the hill, Giants Castle
- Birds of the Drakensberg Mountains
- Breathtaking Botanical Beauty
- Climate in South Africa
- Flora and fauna
- Plants in our Drakensberg Garden
- Trees and flowers of South Africa

Recipes
- Roasted chicken with garlic, pepper and lemon

A visit to Nidaros




















The coming week I will attend a conference on how technology change government. This conference takes place in Trondheim, one of the oldest cities in Norway and home to Nidaros cathedral, where the Patron Saint of Norway, Saint Olav is buried. I hope I will get time to share some impressions from this old and important city. I will stay with my nephew, Hans Ørnes and his wife Siren, so it will probably be time for a little home cooking too! So stay tuned!

Lunch at the Orange Acorn




















We were exhausted after the 11 hour flight, but met our friend Arne outside Melville House and our destination was a place to eat lunch. Arne highly recommended the Orange Acorn on 7th Street, so we headed there. A good choice!!!!


The menu offered pasta, salads, sandwiches for lunch. As two of my companions ordered salad and a crumbed chicken sandwich, I ordered this wonderful oven baked pasta. Minced meat, sausage and penne in a creamed tomato sauce, sprinkled with cheese and baked in the oven until crispy crisp. This was a substantial meal. I struggled to work up any hunger for dinner that night.

I chose two local lagers - Windhoek, actually brewed according to the old purity laws, and a bottle of Carlings Black Label. Very refreshing.

As I already showed you, my friend Jan ordered a pasta dish with chicken in a creamed peanut sauce. As I look at this picture I wished I could have enjoyed two lunches that day!! The Orange Acorn is a great place for lunch, and very reasonably priced at least for us Europeans.

Address:

The Orange Acorn
7th Avenue, Melville Johannesburg
Phone: +27 (011) 482-1162

More restaurants?

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Melville House - a home away from home

Melville House offers the traveler informal and small scale accommodation, a wonderful alternative to large and impersonal hotels. For Melville House felt immediately as a home away from home, a place to relax after a long and agonizing journey, a quiet oasis in the busy metropolis. The host at Melville House in none other than Heidi Holland, a nationally and internationally renowned writer and journalist and she is often present at breakfast and during the day sharing her views on different topics with the guests.

Location: BBBBB

Melville House is located in the northern suburb of Melville, a relatively safe area of Johannesburg. This area has a large range of shops, galleries, bars and restaurant. To get there, you have to rent your own car, or take a taxi from the airport. Once there you will find that this charming area of town has so much to offer.

Service: BBBBB

Heidi Holland and her staff made us feel like home:-)

Hygiene and maintenance: BBBBB


The rooms had wooden floors, and bathrooms were tiled. Both rooms, breakfast room and the garden outside was beautifully clean and well maintained.

Facilities: BBBBB

Melville House does not offer the facilities as an ordinary hotel would offer. There are no bar or restaurant. That does not matter - you just go outside, and you will find places to eat and drink in the nearby area. But you will find a charming garden with beautiful flowers and trees and an intimate breakfast room where you are served and informal breakfast. So the rating is given for quality, not quantity.

I have posted this little film to show you the beautiful patio at Melville House.

video

Room: BBBBB-

I stayed in room number 8 (picture left) and 9, during my three nights at Melville House. Both rooms had the same standard, but the latter was a ground floor room overlooking the patio.

The rooms at Melville House were spacious and with a very charming decor. Light walls, dark floors, and much space for storage. There were two beds with small and large pillows and two cute teddy bears to provide comfort for the tired traveler. Over my bed there were a beautiful original paintings in bright colours.

The room had a TV, small refrigerator with very inexpensive wine, beer and soft drinks and a kettle so you could make your own coffee in the morning.

This was definitely enough space for two, but you have to be a couple to share it. This as there were neither doors, nor blinds between the bathrooms and the rooms. This means that everything intimate has to take place in public. But let us face it. The price means that you may enjoy these room by yourself.

That was number 8, and here you may enjoy a glimpse of room number 9:

video

Breakfast: BBBBB

Breakfast at Melville House is served in the informal breakfast room. Here you feel the small scale atmosphere, as you are offered eggs in any form you want, bacon and fried tomatoes. Self service for the other foods available, brown bread, cheese, jam, yogurt, müesli, and juice. And you are served fresh toast with your breakfast.

And you may have a talk with Heidi Holland during the breakfast, and she has so much to tell.

Price: BBBBB

There were different rooms, and my rooms (8 and 9) were the most expensive at ZAR 550 pr night including breakfast. This is probably one of the best bargains I've had ever.

Rating the Melville House experience: BBBBB (4,96 points)

One of my best experiences ever, thanks to Heidi Holland and her staff!!

Address:

Melville House
59 Fourth Avenue
Melville 2109
Johannesburg
Phone: +27 (011) 726-3503
Fax: +27 (011) 726-5990
Visit the Melville House website

Johannesburg - the city of gold




















Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa, located in the province of Gauteng. It is located in a mountainous area, around 1700 mtrs / 5700 ft over sea level. Johannesburg embodies South Africa, as the contrasts here are unbelievable, from the most affluent neighborhoods of Sandton to the shacks of the township of Alexandra.

Johannesburg is a city where you must know where to go, as there are many areas where there are so much crime. My friend Jan has lived in South Africa, and knows the do's and don'ts fairly well. We also met another Norwegian, Arne, that has bought a flat in Johannesburg and stays there 6 months of the year. With those two, I felt at ease. Arne had even hired a local guide and he took us to see the other side of Johannesburg.

We visited five neighborhoods of this large city:

Melville

Melville is a charming area located in northern Johannesburg. It is located around shops, cafes, and galleries in 7th street. You can see how this street looks like in this little film clip:

video

Melville is a safer area than many other area of Johannesburg but the ever present walls, gates and fences reminds you of the reality in Johannesburg. In Melville we stayed three nights at Melville Guesthouse.

Alexandra township

Alexandra is located on the outskirts of Johannesburg bordering the most affluent suburbs of the city, Sandton. This is South Africa in a nutshell, wealth and poverty, side by side.

Alexandra is a very poor area, and definitely not the place you should go by yourself, as this township is one of the poorest in Johannesburg and the crime rate is high. We went there to attend a Lutheran service in a church regularly attended by our friend Arne.

We were also skilfully guided around in Alexandra by Sepive, an Alexandra resident training to become a certified guide. After the visit here, it dawned upon us the daunting task the South African government is faced with, providing houses and work for its huge number of its poor and underprivileged.

Soweto

We had a rather short visit to Soweto, and we enjoyed a great lunch in this township. This is the largest and most important of the South African township. Much happens here, as this is the home of Desmond Tutu, Winnie Mandela and Nelson Mandela himself.

Newtown

At the end of our trip we had a great lunch and a stroll around in Newtown in downtown Johannesburg.

In Newtown you find some very good restaurants, and we enjoyed our last lunch in South Africa at the Gramadoelas restaurant, and had a walk to a few monuments clearly showing us the cruelty suffered by the African population during the apartheid years.

Rivieria

The Riviera area is a middle-class suburban area. The Killarney Mall is located here, a moderately sized shopping mall, ideal for those of you who want to have some retail therapy.

Enjoy Food & Travel in Washington


















Enjoy Food & Travel co-writer Susanne Koch is visiting Washington DC from October 13th to October 20th. Even if this is a business trip for her part, she was determined to write a story or two from the US capital. We are thrilled and are looking forward to what she has to tell from Washington DC.


Susanne Koch is an Internet professional who works as an e-learning and web communication adviser at the University of Oslo. She blogs about search engines and search engine optimization at Pandia.com. Susanne loves to travel and blogs about her journeys at Susi's Souvenirs. You may also want to have a look at Susanne Koch's homepage.