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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Martini Review - Liquid Chefs

Not to blow my own horn or anything, but I am a great friend. How do I know this? Because I recently helped Ed pick out a fantastic anniversary gift 4 the Gf. As most of us ladies know, boys don't always know what 2 buy us... thats where I swoop in with my great gal gift skills. U totally want your bf to know me... I will hook a sister up! I digress... My reward for services rendered was a trip to Liquid Chefs in Rosebank because Ed also happens to be a great friend 2 and knows me all too well.  

So the amazing thing about this place is that you can design your own Martini and cocktails. WHAT? Yes, I said it. The menu comes with a number of ingredients and easy steps for you to concoct your own boozy bonanza... they've got some herb vibes going on, fruity stuff accent flavours. Its all very snazzy. Unfortunately, here's where I stop being cool and start being a dumbass. I thought I'd try something a little different with flavours I know I love. The fact that I am not a Top Chef Mixologist contestant did not cross my mind as I ordered a Cherry and Thyme Martini. 

In Eds words: 

"I feel like I've just licked a leg of lamb soaked in vodka"

wow. fail. 

So while I'm going to give this drink a 1/2 olive rating I encourage you all to go and make a delicious combo of your own that isn't a complete cocktail catastrophe. Pomegranate, Rose Water, Mint... I could have done so much better, and I love the concept. Won't be the first time I say that, won't be the last. Guess we have to kiss a few frogs before we find a prince and sip on a few failed flavours before we find one with finesse. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

DisaSTARS and Magicians

There are very few things a girl can rely on. What with stripper heels making a come back, the price of a Martini getting hiked up faster than the skirts outside Thrupps centre and all the good 1s going gay. But I have a one up. I have Ed.
Carly: “Ed, I’m a mess.”
Ed: “I brought wine.”
Carly: “I’m not drinking.”
Ed: “Yes you are.”
Carly: “It’s over Ed.”
He gives me his famous bear hug and we go sit by the window on the edge of my vintage red couch. It’s our spot. The stars are almost on their way out and I can see the whole of Joburg, sympathizing with my latest tragedy. The way it always does. I take a sip of another vintage red and slowly unravel the end of my relationship and the end of an era. Suddenly the flat I’d once shared with Ed and then Charlie and then... him, is the quietest it’s ever been and I surrendered to it all. I let go of The Plan and accept that right now I have no idea who I am, where I’m going or what I’m all about. For someone who has a worry schedule, plans outfits the night before and has at least 3 to do lists on the go at any time, this is unfamiliar territory.
Ed: “you don’t really have a worry schedule do you?”
Carly: “I do, it’s typed up on excel on my desktop. I allocate a certain amount of time to worry about things everyday so that they don’t sneak into my mind and turn it into a shit storm of anxiety”
Ed: “Friend...”                                                                       
Carly: “I know but I feel lighter now Ed. I know I’ve done the right thing. ”
A few days ago I had gone to see my new physio after weeks of walking around like a 70 year old woman, it was time. She looked at my back and immediately said “Hmmm, back and ankles, you know what that means? Financial strain, and somebody holding you back” I smile sadly in agreement and let her fix me, the best she can. Not quite knowing how to fix myself. If only our lives could be mapped out like the stars or like muscles on our bones, so definite so exact.
This was strike 3 of The Plan. I had a Josh Plan that played out until year 3; I had a Garth plan that got to 2 years 8 months until it was taken over by the last plan, 3 years 1 month. 3 rounds of the three year relationship curse. And here I sat, planless. I figured that if things really do come in 3’s and that my karma had handed me a 3rd plate of disappointment to digest then I was well within my rights to buy my third pair of shoes for the year. It’s practically compulsory break up law is it not? Screw law, it was my destiny.
As I walked through Rosebank Mall trying to find a pair of shoes under R500.00 that cured heartache and a wine hangover I walked passed a shop that had a sign outside reading:  “Card Reader, by appointment”. I’d stopped reading my star sign years ago and the amethyst stone that I’d bought at this very shop to cure my insomnia was lying without purpose on my windowsill. But seeing that I was a girl without a plan or a pretty pair of pumps, I figured... fuck it, and booked.
I shuffle the deck of cards and pull one after being “reassured” that I was being advised by a man with 20 years of experience in magic. Suddenly I wish I’d done another round in Aldo, maybe my R400 would have been better spent on those half price peep toes yes?
He tells me that my self esteem is functioning at a medium level and that I’m sick and tired of everything. Who isn’t I think. We talk about work and money (the fact that there isn’t much, again... massive surprise) and just before I leave he asks if I want to know about love. I laugh sarcastically and tell him that no, I do not want to know about love. But we have 15 minutes left and I’ve given up my shoe money for this so I reluctantly say yes. He pulls the High Priestess card and reminds me again that I’m a powerful woman... that all the stars in the sky are in my hands. He shows me another card, The King... representing the love that I have had in my life up until now.

“A King is good. But you need a Magician. Someone who will challenge you, someone who is as much of a force as you are.”
Is he hitting on me? I think.
And then he pulls another card that hits a nerve. The card has the number 10 on it and two small children with a rainbow.
“This is a 10 out of 10 for happiness and it’s for you. There’s a marriage and 2 kids if you want it. But you have to want it, you have to choose it. And your King, he isn’t facing this card.”
I smile and hand over my 400 bucks. Maybe this is all bullshit, but maybe he’s got a point.
Later that day I turn to the one source of truth I have – Google. I look up my card, the high priestess and read something that makes me reconsider my judgement of the Magic Man. “It’s not always necessary to act to achieve your goals. Sometimes they can be realised through a stillness that gives desire a chance to flower within the fullness of time”.
And I realised something quite fantastic. I realised that as much as I felt my life was at a standstill and that my path had been dusted away, I was being moved forward in the moments of sadness, in the disaster, in the confusion and the conundrum. There is no plan, only destiny. And the only way to reach it is to be present in my own undiscovered happiness. If the stars really are all in my hands, perhaps its time to let them go and light up a night of stillness that I’ve been uncomfortable to be alone in for as long as I can remember. 
And as I go to switch off the light before bed I realise that there are new spaces, new gaps of vastness between those little sparkly bits in my universe. His toothbrush is gone, his side of the bed is empty and I no longer have my spot between his shoulder and his neck where my head used to rest in sanctuary before sleep. There’s a crease where his guitar used to rest on the armchair and a cigarette butt in the ashtray on his bedside table. I want to be swallowed up by duvet and the lingering smell of him on my pillow but I don’t. Instead I allow those spaces to fill up with the idea of possibility. Of lightness and hope and sweet surrender to spontaneity and greatness.  And maybe, just maybe... a little magic.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Who Run The World? Gays.

Where’ve all the good men gone? I’ll tell you. They are at Babylon, ordering trays of Lavodka and fist pumping to Madonnas latest album.

It’s a typical Friday afternoon at chateau Carly... my fridge is stacked with premixed cocktails, I’ve just replaced my work pumps with some fabulous blue velvet wedges compliments of New York and my DSTV is set to Cityscapes. If I close my eyes I can almost smell the weekend. I’m waiting for my guests to arrive before My Oke is banished to our room to get lost in his world of Battlefields and Fifa. Headphones on. My lounge will soon be filled with 7 gorgeous men. No I am not partaking in an orgy... I am questioning my  queer compadres on all the things I think straight guys are just too... what’s the word? Pussy, to talk about.

“Daqueri , Pina Colada or Mojito?” I ask as they arrive one by one.

“Mojito!”;“OOooh, whats good?”; “Surprise me!”

My Oke knows this is his queue, one quick kiss before we begin and then its just me and my boys.

“Right lads before we begin I’d like to thank you all for coming over and for sharing your candour with me. I may not be the most religious girl but I know there’s one thing we all believe in, Prada!”

We pass the bag around and swear on Prada to keep things real and of course anonymous. I look at the group in front of me and think to myself, how great it is to be around a group of people who are not afraid to be who they are.
Cocktails are poured to get inhibitions down. And I began with some banter about relationships – man on man. I was intrigued to hear about the complexities in a same sex relationship, the hardships and the unique challenges. I was surprised to hear the very same and similar qualms I would have in my own life and with my own relationships.
As the evening went on and we began to talk about way more tantalizing topics such as insider blow job tips, double fisting techniques and assentials... I was “blown” away at how easy conversation was. There was no holding back and everyone’s honesty card was on the table. How lucky was I to be sharing mojitos with a bunch of mo’s who felt comfortable and free in their love lifes, identities and sexualities.

That’s when it hit me... the gay man is the new alpha dog. They are everywhere and taking over fast. Think about it... with the feminist movement in full swing they have the best of both sexes... they are these well equipped men, in tune with their emotions and armed with a healthy dose of testosterone, drive, emotional intuition and empathy to inspire great character and creativity. Suddenly I looked around my immediate universe and all I could see was bright rainbow flags.
I know very few men with as much balls, courage and beautiful complexity as this bunch. Can you imagine having to confront your parents with the idea that you aren’t going to have the stereotypical life with a white picket fence and 2.5 kids plus a Labrador? Or being completely in love with a girl but knowing you’d never love her quite like you’d love a man? Crazy courage.

Then I ask the big question... are all of us just a little bit bent? I was interested mostly in this discussion because I battle with the idea of it being acceptable for girls to make out with girls (my favourite past time) but not boy on boy. What’s up with that? Why is it ok for a straight girl to kiss another straight girl and not the other way round?

“Because society says so”

“A lot of pressure is placed on a man to be the stronger gender, to be the support structure financially, to protect. It’s more acceptable for girls to be seen intimate together because they are viewed as more “weak” for want of a better word. If men had to openly express themselves like that it would attack their masculinity and that links to a fear in society.”

I ponder for a moment and biting my lower lip half wanting to know and half wanting to never many straight men have gay experiences?

“More than you think”

We discussed how most men at a curious age will experiment with their sexuality... and pretty much everything else. So did curiosity kill the pussy? Not necessarily. Some of these men will go on to discover they are gay while others will get married and start a family.

“I believe that everyone has varying degrees of homosexuality, from a guy checking out another guys penis in the bathroom to another guy getting head from a gay man. We’re all somewhere on the Kinsey Scale”

I take a beeeeg gulp of my watered down strawberry daqueri and think back to every man I’ve been with. I take another big gulp. Just before I judge I roll back the clock to varsity days when I’d been very close to dating one of my girl friends. As I think about her, I smile and think... where would I be on that scale? A 5, a 4?

As the splendiferous 7 get ready to depart chateaux Carly I can’t help but admire them. Them, who are not afraid to say what every one else dares to whisper.  If these forward thinking fashionistas are taking over, they’ve got my vote. Even if it is on a pink fluffy ballot. 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Martini Review - Wang Thai & Fire and Ice

While most of you were at home with family hunting for chocolate eggs, I was on the hunt for something else. A lover. In my favourite form - liquid. Not only did I get to galavant all around Jozi town with my finest of friends in search of this no-strings-attached suitor, I was also treated to shakedown of Cosmo's and Creme Brulee Martini's with some new found friends with equally fine tastes. I'm a lucky girl!

Wang Thai

If I see Chilli and Martini in the same sentence on a menu - you know I'm going there. There's something exciting about having something spicy and perhaps even a bit taboo with your regular sweet normality. This Raspberry Chilli Martini from Wang Thai does not disappoint, the Raspberry coolness compliments that hint of Chilli and makes u wanna misbehave. And don't we all need a bit more of that.

5 Olives

There's adventure and then there's going back to what you know. the good ol classic Gin Martini. The simpler it is, the trickier it is to get right. Pleasant but jussst missed the mark for me. 

3 1/2 Olives

Fire and Ice

Finally a spot with some swagger! Nothing like a bit of a DJ on the Decks to take you into a Saturday night. Especially when you are sipping with 2 of the coolest kids in town, Mimi and Jack! I knew my night could only get better when my classic Martini arrived. Olives - off. the. hook. good. And bartender with a nice firm... hand. I was holding out for a hero and I got one. 

5 Olives

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Wild at Heart

It’s 15:04 on a Friday afternoon and I find myself on the N4 heading out of Pretoria. It’s hot. I smear away the mist of sweat gathering under my sunglasses, peeping up at the line of cars ahead of me and suddenly I feel like 1 of a zillion cans packed tightly together in a spaza shop. Alex and Lee grow quiet and I’m eventually alone with the road and my super cool Indie Mix 2012.

Soon enough the grey lego like landscape with its lines and corners turns to wavey soft brushstrokes of greens, browns and yellows. There’s too many colours to count. For a moment my music hums to a mumble and I start to hear the old murmuring of Elton John, Enya, Phantom of The Opera, Les Miserables, Abba and Miss Saigon from trips to the Kruger with my grandparents. Something twangs in my heart like a branch slinging back from where you’ve held it to clear a path and I roll the window down, pull the pony tail out of my hair and start to sing out loud.

We arrive at our bush lodge and once I’ve done a thorough inspection of my tent, sealed off all possible cobra entry points and sprayed enough Doom to gas an impala I take a moment to shake the city right off me. It gets really quiet and I step out onto the wooden deck to inhale a full 2 lungs worth of fresh air. A blanket of darkness is shattered by stars like diamonds on a velvet backdrop and the raging waterfall beneath me gushes around rocks and bends like housewives moving through shops at a Sandton sidewalk sale.

Before we set off on our very early game drive I warn the Ranger about not wanting to get close to the animals that could maul me.

Carly: “Carl is it? I have no desire to die today. I don’t need to see an elephant musking or a lion mock charge, u get me? I, myself am somewhat of a herbivore… got no problem being arms length from a zebra.”

We set off as the sun starts to rise and I can’t help but transport to days of hot and sticky car game drives with My Gran when I knew every bird in the bird book. Literally. Every. Bird. The woman had taught me them all from the time I could start talking. She was crazy like that. Crazy enough even… to give a mamba the guillotine with a spade! I tell you no lies.

As the light starts slanting in and illuminating whippets of grass on our path I can’t help but feel her. Her laugh, the way she spoke loud, the way her hair was never straight, the way she’d face anything, her wild abandon, her over-the-top-ness, her fearless approach to life.

I started to think back on the times in my life where I’d had the fire inside me to be untame. I’d jumped out of a plane, I’d signed a bond, I’d said I love you, I’d chased off a mugger (in heels!), I’d uneclipsed myself in a rotten relationship, I’d stood up in front of a full audience with a pineapple in my panties, I’d spoken up to a bully and I’d streaked stark naked through a hotel. None seem as exciting or adventurous as taking down a snake but somewhere inside me I’m chuffed. I know it’s her, urging me to dance with danger, or wrestle with the unknown. I may not be brave enough to have high tea with a hyena or have staring competitions with rhinos but I am brave enough to show people who I am, to be a leader, to tell stories and to make mistakes. That’s more than a lot of people can say.

 I climb out of our 4 x 4 and as my chunky hiking boots hit the sand I realize that I’m standing a little taller. I also realize that I’m dressed like a lesbian and laugh about what my best friend Ed would say if he could see me now – head to toe in khaki.

I’m holding what appears to be a dried out twig and it’s prickling the palm of my hand. I’m told to put it in water and wait to see what happens. I feel the dryness against my fingers and wonder what this Ranger dude hopes to achieve by having me put a dead plant in water. What’s done is done I think, what’s finished is finished. Just as I’m about to unzip my tent I see something bright and beautiful from the corner of my eye. It’s a butterfly, delicately perched on a branch. I tip toe near it, knowing at any second it’s going to take off but it does something I don’t expect. It stays. As I walk away I wonder if I’ll be able to muster up the courage to stay in the moment like that. When I’m about to take a step down the isle, publish a book or choose a new road to walk on in heels, hiking boots or Havaianas.

A few hours later my stick in a glass is a goblet of greenness having its last laugh at death and finality and I got to thinking about challenge, bravery and being wild at heart. I think back to something someone had told me in a company dynamics workshop earlier this year. They had said that a plant in the wild would flourish and grow more than a plant in captivity because challenge is required for growth. That facing storms, winds, heat and the elements unprotected was what made it grow taller and stronger. Maybe we need to step out of our doors to appreciate what instincts should tell us everyday. That we should indeed rage against the dying of the light, be fit enough to survive and take on challenge as the gift it was meant to be. The little branch knows it, the butterfly knows it and when my heart is quiet enough to listen to the voice of My Gran through an African sunset or a swooping bird I can’t remember the name of anymore… I know it too. 

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Martini Review - Ascot Hotel

So it seems the new thing to do is hotelling. I'd like to take credit for making this word up because it's pretty cool, however I can't take credit for the movement. I'd been wanting to check out the Ascot Hotel on Grant Ave in Norwood (kinda near my hood) for a while. A woman at gym keeps insisting she's met me there before, and we argue about it while half naked or half blow dried because I've never been nor am I married to Bill whats his name. Sigh. 

The signature Martini is called the Ascot Martini which I thought was eh, a little obvious no? But because I saw there were at least 3 others for me to try I figure, signature is the way to go for a first impression. And I have to say it was love at first sip. Peach Schnapps, pineapple extract and spiced mango? alcohorgasm! Believe it or not, this spicy little minx gets 5 olives from me! Best Martini I've had in a while. 

Macadamia Espresso Martini... now thats a catchy name! Nutty, coffee... delish. I gotta say I was a little disappointed with the STRONG coffee taste and the not so strong macadamia nut flavour. Also... a little more Vodka never hurts. It gets 3 Olives. 

Overall Ascot was a hit, apparently there's a DJ on the decks for Friday sundowners, definitely recommend you all swing by and check it out. And if you see me there, be sure to send an Ascot Martini or 4 my way mmk?