Damp Squibb

Admittedly taking a drive out into the Jozi countryside on a wet and rainy Friday afternoon for a long lazy lunch, is not the brightest thought ever, but who doesn’t grab the opportunity to spend an afternoon with a really nice person when such things don’t happen frequently enough. So off we went. The first hint that we should have turned around and gone home  may well have been the four sets of traffic lights that were out of order and having to navigate the acting four-way stops, pretty much taking your life in your hands when factoring in rain, wet roads and Jo’burg drivers. My driver, at least knows his stuff so I felt pretty safe crossing the deluge. Neither of us are good at taking notice of hints to we trundled on and eventually arrived at our destination.

I am pretty sure that when the sun is shining the place looks delightful but it looked a little bedraggled and forlorn in the wet weather, the cheerful smile of the somewhat dim security guard on the gate did nothing to lessen his Lordship’s impatience with signing in, especially since the guard never spoke, just stood outside the window of the car grinning, with his book in his hands, getting wet and still smiling at us. Poor guy was just doing his job of course, just not very well.

20150424_152847The restaurant looked lovely, thatch roof, the decor simple and rustic with a fabulous display of African Masks on the walls.  All the tables were set with cloths and fabric napkins artfully arranged. There was a welcoming and delightfully warm fire burning in the grate. Unfortunately the staff were not quite as welcoming and the five of them standing at the door, barely smiled.  Fearing that we were disturbing them, I asked if they were still open for lunch, to which they replied, yes, when maybe seeing as the entire 250 odd, seater restaurant was empty,  they should have replied, no. That was hint number two or maybe we were just a little late for lunch at 13h30.

We ordered two Rock Shandies to drink and looked at the extensive menu, it appeared to have a really nice variety and a little something for everyone. He ordered chicken livers peri-peri, and I opted for a delicious winter option, oxtail! Two minutes later the waiter arrived back to say there were no chicken livers, this message delivered with a cock crowing in the background. As sickly as he sounded, they obviously had no intention of slaughtering him for us, for lunch.

His Lordship changed his order to a halumi and orange salad that sounded delicious. I asked the waiter to make sure that they had halumi, the kitchen did, apparently. So we leaned back, and enjoyed our really fabulous rock shandies, they really were well made and truly delicious.

The highlight of the meal, a perfect rock shandy

The highlight of the meal, a perfect rock shandy

Lunch arrived, the salad looked colourful and interesting with plenty of crispy batter coated halumi cheese and lots of greens. My oxtail smelled good but tasted a little bland. It was perfectly soft and tender but needed salt and pepper and a little added Tabasco sauce and was a little short on gravy. It came with a good helping of rice. Me, being a bit of a traditionalist would have preferred mashed potatoes and the odd butter bean.  I glanced at His Lordship, who had started to laugh. Turns out the halumi was deep fried Danish feta, one third of the salad was gone. I called the waiter, who said he would go check with the kitchen, he left and never came back. By now half the salad was gone. Then the deputy manager came over and I told him the same thing, this halumi cheese is actually deep fried Danish feta, so he said he would go and check with the kitchen. Of course, he never came back either, but eventually the general manager came over to the table, two thirds of the salad was now gone. He also said he would take the problem to the kitchen. At this point the two of us were almost rolling around on the floor, laughing. Amazingly, he came back!  The kitchen had made a mistake. Of course they had, there was no way they were telling us that there was no halumi cheese in stock, and because of this he was not going to charge for the salad, which was now finished. That was very sweet of him given that the plate was now empty barring the dressing floating around on it.

His Lordship still gave the waiter a nice tip and off we went. Both deputy manager and general manager were standing at the door doing something with their backs to us, neither one said thank you or good bye or please come again, we got the hint this time. Our departure made us feel just as welcome as our arrival had as we ventured off home back into Jo’burg traffic in the rain.  Sadly, this well known lodge and conference venue with restaurant in Muldersdrift won’t be seeing us again

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A Beautiful Family…Not

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A golden family, a happy, a beautiful family. The gorgeous wife who never has a hair out of place, with that handsome, blue-eyed, Charlie Hunam, husband, the self-made millionaire. He always looks handsome and debonaire, he holds the door, lays his jacket over the puddle so she can cross without getting those beautiful feet wet. Those amazing straight-A children, who excel at everything they do. That private education is certainly paying off. They look happy, they look fabulous, they’re rich, how could life be anything but perfect? How could you be anything besides envious?
How little we know about what goes on behind closed doors.
How little we know about the people next door.
How little we know…

This book, A Beautiful Family by Marilyn Cohen De Villiers was thrust under my nose by a friend of mine, Marcia, who sent me articles and links and really pushed and shoved me towards reading it, but still I hesitated. I really didn’t feel like a family drama and especially a family drama about a Jewish family. Particularly at this time in a world where Jews are under the microscope and antisemitism is right back in fashion. Who, right now, wants to put the Jews, my tribe, under the spotlight for…..shhhhhhh, don’t say it out loud….ABUSE!
Abuse doesn’t happen in good Jewish families, well not that one would know because what happens in a Jewish home stays in a Jewish home and anyway, how could that pillar of the community truly do the things that he is accused of, it is not possible. Or is it?
This incredible book opens the doors to your mind. It is a book that everyone should read, this could be any family, this family just happens to be Jewish.
Marilyn’s book is a comfortable read, it makes you feel at home. For those who grew up in Johannesburg’s north eastern suburbs there are many bells rung, as familiar corners are turned and local spots are mentioned. Damn, I grew up there, I can picture in my mind exactly where that little car is or the tree lined drive in Westpark Cemetery.
Marilyn’s book is also an uncomfortable read, its topic, disturbing. A Beautiful Family, was not quite the “drama” I expected it to be, the book is more of a suspense drama with a twist, and well worth a read. I loved it and I cannot wait to host Marilyn Cohen De Villiers at Indulgence Cafe so that we can explore the family in more depth! She is apparently working on her second book, but I suggest you don’t miss her first!

Marilyn lives in Johannesburg with her husband, Poen. You can find her on Facebook
The book, A Beautiful Family, is available in limited print editions from Skoobs as well as an e-book, from Amazon. Priced at around R220.
Do yourself a favour and discover what having a beautiful family can mean