Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The Pearls Mall in Umhlanga

It is hard to imagine that just over 20 years ago there were very few buildings in Umhlanga. All of that has changed now and development is booming with hotels, shops, malls, apartments and residential complexes. One of the newest shopping centres is The Pearls Mall which is situated at the Pearls development which consists of the apartment buildings Pearl Dawn, Pearl Breeze, Pearl Reef, Pearl Tides and the newest Pearl Sky which is still being constructed.

The Pearls Mall has a convenient and exclusive range of retail stores for residents and visitors with a gym, supermarket, hair salon, beauty salons, stationery, clothing and various other stores. It also has a great range of restaurants. Thanks to Rainmaker Marketing I and a few other ladies got to try out a few of the Pearls Mall stores.

We started out with breakfast at African Roots Coffee which I have written about before – read here. This was the third time I had been to the coffee shop and the second time to have breakfast. Mark and Christine Platt have put a lot of love and attention to detail to their coffee shop. Mark is very involved in the coffee side, making sure to source the best beans and getting them roasted to perfection. The baristas are well trained and make a fabulous cappuccino. Check the board to see what the coffee choices are or ask the waiter. If you are undecided whether to choose a Kenyan, Ethiopian or other single origin coffee they will gladly help you decide. Christine takes care of the food side and all the ingredients are sourced from local suppliers – well except for the croissants which are the genuine French ones flown in uncooked and frozen. Bread is from Glenwood Bakery and the delicious cupcakes and other sweet items come from Smith’s Bakeshop and Madeleine’s.

I had delicious Poached Eggs on Artisanal Toast Benedict Style with Bacon for breakfast and of course a cappuccino. I also had half a French croissant and a starter of their Banting friendly muesli served with plain yoghurt.

Next up was Planet Fitness which is situated on the lower floor with a full range of exercise machines and all manner of other fitness items for the gym freak. They also have a studio for exercise classes and we had fun doing a 20 minute class with one of their instructors. I had not been in an exercise class for many years and I surprised myself in still remembering how to do some of the moves. After the cool down another instructor gave a 20 minute class in Pilates, which I had never tried before. It was very good and I certainly felt the work on my muscles the following day. I actually want to try and find a Pilates class in my area now.

After Planet Fitness a great place to get a pick me up is at Power Plant which is situated right outside the gym and below the escalators. I have had a cappuccino here before which I enjoyed but this day it was smoothie time. I enjoyed a Berry Blitz which was very refreshing and kept me going until lunch time. For those that love getting the right Instagram photo you will love the motorbike and decor at Power Plant.

Wanting a quick change of colour on your nails? Then you have to visit Nail-It which is close to Power Plant. Just take your smoothie or coffee with you. I had a hard time choosing a colour for my nails and I eventually decided on Ice Box Colors “Tanzanite Ice” which is a beautiful blue. Melody expertly applied the colour while I finished off my smoothie and chatted to the other ladies.

Grant Harper Salon is situated near the escalators on the top level of the mall. The staff is friendly and welcoming and you are quickly offered a glass of bubbly or some orange juice. They have a small waiting area right by the door but I was quickly whisked away to get my hair washed. The products used on my hair were the Wella Oil Reflections range. After my hair was washed I relaxed with my glass of orange juice while my hair was expertly blow dried. The decor is mostly black and white with gold and turquoise accents. I love the touches of greenery from well chosen and healthy looking plants. I felt like a new woman with my freshly washed and styled hair.

The next stop for me was at Hello Hunny for a foot and leg massage and to have my toe nails painted. What a beautiful and very relaxing salon! They have the most comfortable chairs to sit back and relax in while having your feet attended to. The beauty therapists don’t have to carry ugly and heavy basins of water around as the basins are set into the floor and have a drainage system. They sell the Kalahari range of beauty products, Honey jewellery and handbags, beautiful leather sandals and a small range of designer clothing. I couldn’t mess up the beautiful Crisnail nail polish on my toenails so I carried my shoes and walked bare foot to have lunch at The Village Table. The security guard stationed at the residents elevators thought that was very funny.

The Village Table has the most amazing decor and is light and airy and the restaurant was quite full for a Thursday afternoon. There was much laughter and joy from a large table of ladies celebrating a milestone birthday. I ordered a cappuccino (not surprising) and found out from the waitress that their coffee is supplied by the Coffee Merchant which is based in Durban. After a lot of paging through the menu I decided to order one of my favourite meals – chicken schnitzel. This schnitzel was served with a blue cheese sauce, chips and sweet potato curls. The blue cheese sauce was not strong enough for me but was perfect for another lady who had the same dish. The chicken was soft and succulent and the topping was crispy. It was already late in the afternoon so I didn’t have any dessert although there were a good range of sweet choices like Crème Brulee.

Yes I did put my shoes back on for the walk back to my car! It was a wonderful and relaxing day and I happily made my way through the afternoon traffic and didn’t even get upset when stopped by a blue light convoy.

So the next time you are in Umhlanga and looking for a place to eat, shop or have a beauty treatment – make your way to The Pearls Mall. I will definitely be back.

The Pearls Mall

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Granny Mouse Under the Stars

On Wednesday the 17th May I attended the first ever Midlands Meander Pop-Up Kitchen – a one night only fine dining experience at Granny Mouse Country House & Spa. All the food was prepared on the grill by the Culinary Artists and we dined outside under the stars. Yes it was rather chilly as this is the Midlands in Winter, but we were warmly dressed and kept even warmer by lots of chatting and laughter and the delicious food.

I have written before about the hospitality that you receive when you stay at Granny Mouse and the care taken to ensure your comfort. Guests are treated as family and it is lovely to be greeted by exclamations of delight at your return. I must say that each time I visit it gets harder to leave as the Midlands is so beautiful and the stay so relaxing at Granny Mouse.

Inge Loker and I enjoying a glass of bubbly, #lovecoffee, Hillcrest Aids Centre Traveller socks, sunset

Wayland Green and Kirstie du Toit are the Granny Mouse Culinary Artists and they worked long hours deciding what to prepare for the pop-up kitchen. Fine dining cooked on the fire is not easy and they certainly made it seem so with what we were served. Plating, colours, flavours and textures were all incredible.

Beautiful fairy lights covered the table, Culinary Artists at work

Kirstie du Toit and Wayland Green

We were served the following dishes :

Steamed mielie bread, sundried tomato, basil and mozzarella braai bread

Prawn and hake sausage, wild fennel and corn cream, corn kernels and salsa Verde garnish with verbena and wild fennel

Wood grilled beef fillet, ox liver stout jus, caramelised sweet potatoes, peppered baby corn and carrots

Deconstructed trifle, roasted almond flakes, chargrilled fruit, banana cream, Frangelico custard and puff pastry

Granny Mouse Country House & Spa team are always thinking up new and exciting things to do and I can’t wait to discover what they decide to do next.

Happy media before we braved the cold night air

If you are looking for a place to stay on the Midlands Meander then I highly recommend that you book into Granny Mouse. They have fabulous Winter Wonder specials on until 30 September 2017.

Connect with Granny Mouse on their social media :

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Springside Cafe

Every day I drive past Springside Cafe when I take my daughter to high school (well except on weekends and holidays). Last year on the spur of the moment I fetched my Mom from the Hospice shop in Hillcrest where she is a volunteer and took her for coffee.

Springside Cafe is an oasis from the hustle and bustle of Hillcrest – Yes Hillcrest does have hustle and bustle! Quiet, calm and cool with a gently flowing fountain and a lovely garden with lots of greenery and a few flowering plants. They also have a small jungle gym play area for kids. We decided to sit inside at a table by a side window looking onto the jungle gym. I would call the decor classy shabby chic and they have put in a lot of attention to the smallest detail.

There was a fabulous display of cakes covered with glass domes but I decided to just have a cappuccino and my mom would have her usual of 5 Roses tea. Well the coffee was bad, bad, bad. I drank it with long teeth (don’t you just love that saying). I had asked the waitress when I ordered what coffee they use and was told Bean Green, so I was expecting to have a really good cup. I really don’t know what they did to the coffee to make it taste so bad. Anyway, my mom enjoyed her tea and we had a lovely chat.

When my sister Carryn was down from JHB – doesn’t that sound familiar? I believe I used the same sentence in a post before. Well on her last day I wanted to take her to a place she had not been to before and I thought Springside Cafe would be great.

So it was four ladies – me, my daughter, my mom and my sister that chose a table outside under the awning. My daughter Laura had not had breakfast that morning and she immediately looked to see what she could order off the breakfast menu. She chose bacon, scrambled eggs, toast and a side order of chips. My mom chose 5 Roses tea again and Carryn and I ordered cappuccinos (I was holding thumbs that the coffee was going to be better). We also ordered a slice of lemon meringue pie and carrot cake and after having her breakfast Laura ordered a slice of chocolate cake.

I am very pleased to tell you that there was a HUGE improvement in the taste of the cappuccino. It is still not the best I have ever had but it was enjoyable and it paired well with the lemon meringue pie.
Springside Cafe seems to be very popular with ladies as there were quite a few ladies chatting over coffee and cake.

Coffee on the left the bad cup and coffee on the right
shows the huge improvement

The cafe is open Monday to Saturday from 7:30am to 4pm. It is closed on Sunday’s as there is a church on site in a separate building. Marcella Mia who has been a Hillcrest favourite for years for her beautiful gifts and home decor has recently moved to Springside Cafe as Marcella’s @ Springside. There is also a nail and beauty salon called Shabby to Chic.

Springside Cafe
20 Springside Road

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Delightful Deborahs

Do you love vintage, shabby chic and old world charm? Then I have found the place for you to visit and to take your Mother and your Grandmother to as well. It is situated at 5 Pioneer Road in Kloof and is called Deborahs.

I had heard of Deborahs for many years but had never gotten the opportunity to go. Which is crazy since they are local. So on a beautiful sunny day I met my friend and fellow blogger Inge for some coffee and cake.

Deborahs is very easy to find as Pioneer Road can be considered sort of a main road in Kloof. The coffee shop is also very close to Thomas More School. There is no intercom at the gate and you need to hoot for admittance and then drive straight ahead as the coffee shop is just through the gate. Choose your parking and park your car (make sure you watch out for the very large tree when you leave as I would hate for you to change your car’s shape).

Deborahs is a very large space and would be excellent for hosting a ladies tea or a birthday. Before choosing a place to sit (which ultimately was outside) we walked around and looked at the displays and at what was on sale. You can buy soap, journals, cups and other pretty items.

Inge and I sat outside at a table under a shady tree. Our menus were delivered to us as well as a warm fragranced face cloth so that we could wipe our hands. We both ordered a cappuccino and a slice of banting cheesecake. The cappuccino is okay but the banting cheesecake is divine! It was so relaxing with the warm sun and great conversation that we were both reluctant to leave.

When my sister Carryn was down from JHB I took her and my Mom to see Deborahs and we also sat outside but on the lounge suite under the awning. They were so impressed with the warm fragranced face cloths and all the beautiful decor inside and outside. There are so many quirky touches that I would love to use in my house and garden.

So the next time you are in Kloof, why not visit Deborahs and experience old world charm for yourself.

Deborahs is open Monday to Friday from 9am – 4pm