As an intern at a fashion house I have had my fair share of ‘firsts’, and ‘lasts’ for that matter and I am always over hearing interesting coversations about love, fashion, men, women, diets, clothes and everything in between. The latest conversation was about dieting, which I suppose isn’t a surprise since in an office of over neurotic fashion industry women a discussion on dieting happens as regularly as cigarette and coffee breaks or trying on each other’s shoes.

Listening to these women at work talk, apparently the ‘new’ diet is ‘THE COMPETITIVE DIET’. You find someone, for example your sister, and you see who can lose more weight , Quicker. Its quite simple, there are no rules and no limits to the extremes one can resort toone woman has starting smoking ‘Id rather live thin than die fat’ is her explantion . Another is only eating Miso soup for two weeks. Then you agree on a reward, for example (as in my boss’s case) a weekend at a spa resort and the loser pays! Many woman resort to this, not only because ‘really everyone is doing it’ but also because ‘it is the best way to loose weight, and if you the winning type (which apparently my boss is) you are guaranteed to look better than you relative at Christmas, which, lets admit, is better than any reward or Christmas present’.

I thought about this concept, thinking perhaps a partner in dieting, like a partner in crime, may be a good option, but I think of my sister as a ‘wingman’ who would spur me on or share the chocolate in the middle of the night binge… not as my enemy. I suppose it ultimately comes down to the fact that this sort of diet, or in fact (who am I kidding) any diet, would never work for girls who collectively call themselves ‘koeksisters’.
Heavens now I am hungry!

As I was waiting outside a quaint little health shop while my dinner was being prepared amongst alfalfa sprouts and gogi berry concoctions, I was imagining how I would describe the scene to you… In fact how I would describe the walk from my apartment, across two avenues, and down one street in order to pick up my health pizza (sounding decidely unhealthy sitting next to its menu-neighbor of homemade silky fofu). The route from A (my apartment on 11th Street and Avenue C) to B (the health restaurant serving, and I quote, “innovative organic cuisine” on 10 street and Avenue A) entailed a walk through Nigeria, past Hipsters Paradise (sidestepping the Middle East and Italy-ville in the form of cafe Vinieros on the way), with step or two in wonderland (or did the man in a full velvet suit, pointy shoes and a top hat and the lady in a bo-peep dress wonder into my land?) in order to get to the above mentioned oragically innovative restaurant in the heart of the East Village NY. I must say however, that while I waited for the above mentioned health pizza I sat next to a man on the bench outside who ordered three separate and consecutive servings of the same flavour soup, I thought I might have detoured through the nuthouse too (especially when I discovered it had been enriched with dulse, basil and a dash of propolis that boosts the body’s healing power…). And all of this in 15 minutes on Sunday while I pop out to get some dinner…

Welcome to my world. The inexplicable city of NY where the bizarre becomes the everyday and normality is but a rumour. It keeps you alive. On your toes. An adult’s playground which prevents you from ever submerging into the mundane. Nutcases are your neighbors and inspiration is your daily bread.

Last weekend while I headed out to the Mets’ stadium to watch them take on the Yankees in my first baseball game, I read Elwyn Brooks White’s take on the city on a poster in the subway. Being part of the category “the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something” this resonanted with my love for this place:

“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter–the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these trembling cities the greatest is the last–the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion.”

Who knows which were natives, commuters or settlers in my dash outside for dinner on this summer’s night, but the passion was as evident as the humidity.

This is a true story. It happened (or is happening???) to some one you know. Yours truly.

Jamba Juice is a smoothie chain. My favourite drink is a medium carrot and oragnge juice. Yummo. Ok, so last week I go into Jamba and am told about a special offer- get a free smoothie if you buy a Jamba card for $25. The card works like a voucher so I thought why not… They don’t expire and I go there often enough. Going through the process, the machine (or whatever it is that activates these cards) refuses to work. So I said, don’t worry about it, I will just buy a single medium carrot and orange juice. The lady serving me felt so bad that the card didn’t work that she gave me the juice for free anyway!

A few days later I go back to the same branch and, recognizing me, the lady said the machine is now working and I can get the card. Great. Especially considering I had already had the free juice. But she gave me another free one anyway.

A day or two after that I pop into another Jamba branch (going through a carrot-orange obsession at the mo) and order a medium carrot and orange juice. They by mistake made a a large (which in American terms is HUGE), apologised and gave me the large at no extra cost.

The next time I go to Jamba, yet another branch, the exact same thing happens.

And wait, the story does not end there…

Yesterday I ran into Jamba before calss to get, yes, you guessed it, a medium carrot and orange juice. But alas, they had run out of carrots. The lady that was serving me (the original one) felt so bad that she gave me a voucher for a free smoothie next time I go in!

I have just spent 4 days in Cape Town and have thought a lot of all the fun times we had together over the years in Cape Town and Stellenbsoch. I was lucky enough to be invited to join Parents and Gran on this mini-break as a substitute for Grandpa, who decided not to come on this trip, which suited me well in the end! Husband is at home as he is still working out his notice period while I am already a lady of much leisure. It has been a long time since I holidayed without Husband and this has definitely made me feel like more of Parents’ Child while away than my current adult self.

We have had such a lovely time – walks along the Sea Point promenade, meals at lovely restaurants, reading and relaxing, cocktails. The weather has been typical of Cape Town – two beatiful days followed by two rainy cold days. I was quite relieved when the bitter-cold hit as I packed according to the weather forecast (a risky approach when going to Cape Town) and was running out of warm weather clothes.

We have been having our main meal at lunch around town and eating a light dinner in the hotel at night. (Our rooms are really great – very spacious and, being on the 4th floor, a stunning view of the sea, as well as with kitchens cleverly hidden behind shutter-doors.) As you know I cannot resist a geat plate of food and we have had some superb meals during our holiday. On the day we arrived, we had lunch at one of our favourites, Manna Epicure, on Kloof Street. You two would have loved the cupcakes they had there – little cupcakes with shaved white chocolate arranged as a rose on top instead of icing. The next day Mom, Gran and I (three generations!) drove through to Kalk Bay for lunch at another perennial favourite and Cape institution, Olympia Cafe . Isn’t it funny how such a seemingly rundown and somewhat grimy place can be so popular and have such divine food. I’m not sure if either of you have seen the new, separate bakery they have opened where you can buy their delicous breads and pastries. Before lunch we looked in some of the antique/junk stores – they are packed with so many things it is quite overwhelming – and after lunch we took a stroll through the harbour. Yesterday we tried a new restaurant, Showroom, which I have read about in a few magazines lately. I do love chefs – better than other ‘known’ people like actors any day – and Bruce Robertson is a perfect example of why! The restaurant is adjacent to the Investement Cars dealership so you can drool over hot cars and your food and the chef all at the same time! We had delicious meals, all presented so beautifully. You both wold have loved the dessert – Snakes and Ladders – a selections of lots of littles tastes of a few desserts from Turkish Delight to Basil Mousse. If one can get over the oh-so-superior attitude dripping off the staff, it’s a great place for a unique and intersting but very tasty meal. (The Ghost chairs are stunning too.) Today we took in the stunning views as we drove from Bantry Bay through Camps Bay, past Twevle Apostles to Hout Bay and through to Constantia where we ended up in the Constantia Winelands at one on my favourite restaurants, Constantia Uitsig, for lunch. I just love being there – delicious food in a wonderful setting is such a treat.

Other than gorgeous lunches we have had cocktails at Salt (what a view!), watched Miss Potter (you must both go and see this gem about Beatrix Potter with Renee Z and Ewan McG), enjoyed evening meals relaxing at the hotel in our PJs, and a few games of Scrabble (Dad won them all – no surprises there).

So, as you can tell, I have has a great time here and could happily spend a few more days in the Cape but I am off home tomorrow – Husband is calling!

Bonjour little one! I read this article in the NY Times today: ‘Affordable Europe: Paris’ and, as a fellow student bounded by exchange rates, I thought of you. It has some great tips like where to shop, where to eat, free wine tastings etc. but my favorite has to be the free tango lessons along the Seine (could only be in Paris!)

Obtaining free things is somewhat of an art: it takes skill, charm, and curiosity. I could probably put together a whole (albeit not wholesome) meal from free samples around NY: starting off with trusty Gourmet Garage and their olive samples, then moving down the aisle to the cheese section for tasty square of jarlsberg, and finally complimenting the savory with a Tasti D-lite mini cup sample of the ‘flavor of the day’ across the road. Oh, and when on 5th Ave I can’t resist the free Lindt balls from the Lindt shop. Yummmo.