Friday, August 18, 2017

Cafe Vigor - Suncoast


Cafe's have become popular spots over the last decade, people come there to hangout with friends, catch up over a cup of coffee, some come to make use of the WiFi and get some work done, I've even seen some play as a venue for business meetings. With Cafe's its always a relaxed atmosphere offering a small select variety of food and drink. Suncoast Casino in Durban has Cafe Vigor, you cannot miss it as it is situated right outside the main entrance to the Casino and on the main walk way through the complex, I've always enjoyed the food offered there but yesterday I was invited to sample some of the new items they've added to their menu. It definitely was a taste sensation and one that is authentic to Durban.

Butternut & Feta Salad
To start things off yesterday, we were greeted by Sous Chef Lyndon who was going to take us through each new item on the menu. First up was a butternut and feta salad. For me salad's have always been a side dish, never a starter or a main and many a time I would give a skip. I was pleasantry surprised by this one though. I expected the butternut to be soft and mushy but it was blanched and still maintained that crisp, along with crumbled feta, some leafy green and all brought together in a tangy balsamic vinaigrette.

Creamy chicken and mushroom fettucinne
Next up was a favourite of mine, creamy mushroom and chicken fettuccine. This warm pasta is perfect for a cold day with all wholesome flavours that make it the ultimate comfort food. The sauce was creamy but not rich, also another aspect I liked about it, the mushrooms were left rather big and chunky, many places dice the mushrooms to a smaller sauce and they shrink in the sauce. The chicken, tender and moist, encapsulating all the flavours, I could honestly eat that the entire day. 

Lamb kebab Korma
They spoke about the new items wanting to display the authentic tastes of Durban and for the next item, this did exactly that. Many are used to the Lamb Korma dish that is served at many of the traditional Indian restaurants, Cafe Vigor has taken this dish and given it their own twist. Lamb Kebab chutney is a popular Durban dish and this is an interesting take on it but the chutney is substituted for a creamy cashew nut gravy synonymous to the Korma but with a Cape Malay flavour. This dish was out standing and I'll definitely be back for more!

Hake & Calamari
I'm a massive fan of seafood and I was glad to see that the next course involved that, after all we are at the sea so how can their not be some seafood? Cafe Vigor has take your standard fish and chips and zhuzhed it up by adding some spice to the batter and accompanying the hake with some calamari rings, served with a tasty, tangy tartar sauce. It was fresh, light and crispy, everything you would want from a dish like this. 

Spicy Chicken Livers
Durban, much like it's weather, likes things hot and one of the popular starter on many menu's in the city would be Peri-Peri chicken livers, if you're a fan, you would be pleased to know that Cafe Vigor has it and made some adjustments to the flavours, as it's not Peri-Peri but rather Durban curry. With a mixed blend of curry powder and Garam Masala, it lifts this dish to a new level. It's warm, hearty and hits the spot. 

Butter Chicken Wrap
There's no such thing as too much curry, especially if you're from Durban, so in saying that the next item was definitely very welcomed. It was created by our host, Sous Chef Lyndon, it is a Butter Chicken Wrap.  Tender morsels of chicken, cooked in a creamy butter gravy, using local sourced spices from a popular Durban spiceworks, gives the curry a different dimension, it's quite a thick consistency so you don't have to worry about gravy dripping all over the place.. All this goodness is wrapped in a soft, butter naan. 

Vegetable Fettuccine
Now if you're a vegetarian, you must have been reading this post and wondering, "well what about us?" , not to worry, Cafe Vigor has some items that are perfect for you. We were brought a vegetable fettuccine. Now I've eaten many bland veg pastas before, I can honestly say this was nothing close to bland! The creamy napolitano sauce had a great kick to it, and I amongst the crunchy veg, I spotted a green chili, adding that fresh bite to this great pasta dish.

Chakalaka Soup
To end off, we were served a starter, I know it may seem odd but I felt this was a nice wrap of this culinary journey we had taken earlier. Traditionally, tomato soup is served with a toast on the side to add that crunch and cut the acidity from it all, Cafe Vigor took this traditional starter item and added a nice spin to it, the soup is now a thick rich Chakalaka, full of local flavours and it is served with a toasted cheese sandwich to dip in. It really ties the whole dish together beautifully. 

Chocco-chino
We had the option to end off our experience with waffles and ice cream but after being so stuffed from all the previous courses, I could only manage a chocco-chino. These are some wonderful additions to the Cafe Vigor menu and I enjoyed all of them thoroughly, you'll find me there back soon for most of them, starting off with that Lamb Korma!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Holiday Express - August Trips


When last have you been on a train ride? Or like me,  who has never been on one before! Well there is a certain stigma to using local public transport and I don't blame many for not using it due to security factor but with recent upgrades done to most train stations and the introduction of the new KZN Business express carriages, this might change the view of most people if introduced to it and one of those ways is the Holiday Express which has two destinations on specific weekends of the month, which gives commuters an out-of-the-ordinary experience to explore the countryside.


KwaZulu Natal is really a unique province, with the warmest beaches in South Africa and some of the most majestic mountain ranges just about an hours drive from the City, with our warm tropical weather, this makes it an ideal tourist spot for many. But how many locals take the time to appreciate what this province has to offer? Not many, I can tell you that for myself, as laid back as our culture may be, we often find the stress of daily routines eating away our time that we don't have enough of it to explore the wonders that are waiting to be seen. With this in mind, what better way to sit back and relax while aboard the Holiday Express with your family and getting to enjoy the views while on your journey?

Premier Lounge at Durban Station
The Holiday Express departs conveniently from the security of the Premier Lounge, Durban Station (Jelf Taylor Street) with its own private platform. Convenient, boom-protected parking is available directly outside the Lounge. Travelling time is approximately one hour to Shongweni and 90 minutes to Scottburgh, with a selection of refreshments available on board. Next weekend, the 26th and 27th of August see's this months trips depart with many more planned for the coming months and a special Christmas Ever outing planned for Umhlali following the successful trip enjoyed by so many in 2015.  In October, November and December, the Holiday Express will be available for corporate groups on any Thursday by arrangement, or on other days by special arrangement and trips can be arranged to Scottburgh, Nottingham Road, Salt Rock and Ballito.  


The Holiday Express can also be booked for parties, corporate or year end events. Bookings of up to 350 people can be accommodated, or individual carriages for 18 people can be reserved as part of other scheduled trips, and a tailor-made package can be developed to suit your budget and requirements.


I will be riding along on the Holiday Express next Saturday the 26th to the Shongweni Farmers market, so be sure to follow my journey on Snapchat and Instagram Stories, I cannot wait to share the fun with you. For more information on the Holiday Express, visit their website at www.theholidayexpress.co.za or to book, email info@theholidayexpress.co.za



Sunday, August 13, 2017

Monday Choon: Don Diablo - Momentum


Probably one of the biggest rising DJ's in the EDM world right now? I'm not alone in sharing that sentiment, many others feel the same way. Don Diablo has quickly affirmed himself released hit after hit and this blog is proof, I think this is the 3rd song of his that I'm featuring in the space of 2 months but how could I not? It's good music and it needs to be heard. His live set at Tomorrowland was nothing short of incredible and having his mom come onto stage was just he cherry on the top. The guy deserves all the credit he's getting, many say he's just reworking old songs, yes but its damn good reworks, much like todays featured track. Taking an oldie from Fatboy Slim and bringing it up to date but with that unique Don Diablo syle. The music video for Momentum was released a couple weeks ago with many of the worlds top DJ's in it, and we have it for you today!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Bucket Seat: KIA Rio 1.4 TEC


I won't lie, I'm pretty lucky that I get to drive some amazing cars from top class manufacturers. More often than not, the cars I drive I can't really afford and its always those expensive ones that get you excited but there comes a time when I get a car, knowing that it's in my price range of what I could buy and it just blows my mind, the new KIA Rio did just that. The Korean car market has really come around in leaps and bound, not only proving to be a major competitor to the Japanese market but impacting the global market on a large scale. KIA is one of the manufacturers that has contributed to this success and when you look at their products, you can understand why. Not only are they making cars that can rival the opposition on pricing but also technology, style and quality. After driving the new Rio for 7 days, it was a bitter sweet moment giving it back as I really got attached to the car and this is how it went down. 


STYLE

KIA Motors chief designer, Peter Schreyer who is also one of three presidents of the company has really set the right design language for the brand. While the previous generation Rio was pretty good, the new look is more Euro-centric, by means of clean lines, more square edges and trims but overall very professional looking. The ex Audi design chief has incorporated some of the styling from the German manufacturer in KIA's interior design but added it's own flair to it. The car has new LED headlamps which pronounce the cars front end as well as the LED rear lights add lovely detail to the back of the car. The 1.4 TEC model which I had came with a few extras that really enhanced the car, for starters it had 17" rims, glass sunroof and large touch screen infotainment screen which also had Apply Car Play and Google Android Auto but more about that later. The interior design is very sleek with some similarities to the previous model, many will recognize some of the switched and dials from the old Rio but it still looks great. 


PERFORMANCE

The KIA Rio comes in two engine variants, a 1.2 and 1.4 both of which are available in manual or automatic transmission. Both engines are in-line 4 cylinder 16 valve Double OverHead Cam with CVVT which basically mean you have two separate camshafts, one for intake valves and one for exhaust valves. This coupled with the CVVT design reduces valvetrain inertia which leads to a more responsive output. Some figures from the engine is that  pushes out 74kW and has a Max Torque of 135Nm. For a hatch it size, it is adequate power but on lower gears I did find the engine to be a bit tame. It only really opens up between 4th and 6th. This goes to show with its 0-100km/h time, but one has to realise, while it does look rather smart, this isn't a hot hatch so if it's performance you're after, look elsewhere as this car does everything perfectly apart from that. Another major plus side to that is the economy, I swear I thought this was a diesel at the end of my 7 days, I couldn't fathom how a tiny car like this with me pushing the limits hardly drank fuel. I managed to rack up just over 600km's with it and it still had a range of 100km! remarkable. 


COMFORT

I spoke early about the Audi influence in KIA's design philosophy, while their are similarities I'm sure the brand would like to say they've created their own. The KIA Rio was extremely comfortable, the ride quality is unbelievably soft even with the large rims, For a hatch, I found that very surprising but pleasing at the same time. The car came with leather seats, which were pretty good quality as well. It wasn't that stiff leather that normally makes it hard to slide in and out. Space wise, even though it is a relatively small car, it was rather spacious, even for the rear passengers. The boot space was more than adequate for a smell weekend away. The climate control aircon ensured the cabin stayed at a comfortable temperature. 


TECHNOLOGY

As mentioned before in this post, the car came with built-in Apply Car Play and Google Android Auto. This is relatively new to South African motorists and for me, is the future of in car connectivity. When I say it's relatively new, while Apple Car Play is available for iPhone users, Google is yet to make Android Auto available for the local market, since I am an Android user, I found a loophole to get the app installed onto my device, it wasn't rocket science and in no time I was all set. No idea why but with these services, it requires your phone to be plugged into the USB port, even though the car has Bluetooth connectivity. With Android Auto, the infotainment screen came alive, first thing it does is disables your phones screen so everything you want is available on the cars display, from Maps, to contacts, calls and music! What's even better, Googles voice activated menu is active at all times so you don't have to fiddle around pressing buttons or selecting menus, you can control virtually everything by just talking to the car! It really is the future of in-car entertainment and information, I hope to see other manufacturers make use of this in the future. 


VERDICT

I get to drive some pretty cool cars, pretty expensive ones too but I didn't expect a car of this level to wow me as it did. Yes, it wasn't the fastest but in today's pace and roads cluttered with traffic, who has the time or space to go fast? The new Rio has everything you need in a car and with it being up to date with most of the tech which included reverse came and easy to use cellphone connectivity with Car Play and Android Auto, there isn't much one needs more in that space. The car is comfortable, a great city car and can be equally great for the open road. This honestly is the best car I've driven all year, it's price fits my pocket, it has everything I need and it looks great! 


SPECIFICATIONS

 Engine
 1.4 litre, 4 cylinder, DOHC CVVT
 Gear Box
 6 speed manual
 Power
 74kW
 Torque
 130Nm
 Top Speed
 176km/h
 0-100km
 13.2  seconds
 Price
 R 274,995*
*Excluding Extras



















Wednesday, August 9, 2017

SA on Tap - Craft Food & Music Festival


It's probably one of the best and by far my favourite Craft Beer festival around and it's back this weekend in Durban! It is the biggest festival of it's kind with over 200 different brews, ciders, gins and more featured this year, there is plenty on offer to quench any thirst in the Durban hot sun. Organisers say that this event is built around the people who attend and they want you there this weekend! With over 90% of the tickets sold already, their call has been answered. It's a great outing for friends and families with much on offer. There will be a stage with some great local talent to entertain the masses, Majozi and Shortstraw just to name a few. There will also be a selection of gourmet street food stalls for you to chose from. 

 brewers

Participating breweries for the event are many of the KZN local brewers, namely Nottingham Road, Zwakala, That Brewing Co, Mag Giant, Sxollie Cider, Growler, Drifter, Clarens, Smack Republic, Copperlake, Eversnos Cider, Standeaven, Time Anchor Distillery, Mainstram, Robsons, Two Okes, Scvenger Brewery, Basset, Great Railroad, Durban Brewing Co, Toti Brewing Co, Clockworx, Dragon Brewing Co, Distillery 031, Poison City and a variety of wine. Apart from featuring their normal range, there will be 32 Festival speciality brews so be sure to inquire about them on the day. 


This years festival see's it return to the Kings Park outer fields this Saturday the 12th of August, with gates opening at 11am for a day long fun filled time where visitors can enjoy a selction of bews, a gin garndem, lots of games and live entertainment. People attending are encouraged to bring picnic blankets, camping chairs and beach umbrellas. For those bringing children, there will be dedicated child minding areas. Tickets can be bought online via the website and a selction of glasses to chose from. Some of which are already soldout, tickets are R130 online or R150 on the day, on the day tickets are subject to availability. 



Monday, August 7, 2017

Monday Choon: Cosmic Gate & Markus Schulz - AR


Nothing like some Trance to get the week going and today we have got some of the legends in the genre featured on the blog. It's quite surprising that it took them so long to collaborate on a song as both German duo Cosmic Gate and Dutch DJ Markus Schulz have been around for as long as I can remember trance music but anyway, it happened, they made a song and now it's done! If anyone caught the live streams from Tomorrowland you would have already heard of this song by now as Markus played it during his set in the Trance Energy Arena, which I must add was one of the best stages/ arena's I've seen in a long time at a major festival! AR is the name of the collaboration and it debuted at Tomorrowland, not entirely sure on the release date yet but I do have the insert from Markus's set. Enjoy!



Friday, August 4, 2017

IBV VIP CHILDREN'S DAY


South Africa has a large number of underprivileged people in it's population, there are a number of factors that contribute to this, one of them being the high unemployment rate, from this the people who are most to suffer are the kids as many become abandoned or orphaned. Their life isn't a nice one and sometimes the smallest gestures mean the world to them. 

Every year for the past 8 years, one company in Durban has given these children a day that they won't forget. The IBV Children's VIP Day is one that warms the hearts of many, as it see's 3000 underprivileged children and their caregivers transported to a fantasy land for a day. This years event takes place on the 12th of August and the ICC Durban Exhibition Center. The day promises loads of treats and giveaways, as well as entertainment, food and treats by the truck load. 

CEO of IBV, Ashok Sewnarain and the creator of this event had this to say about this years event, "We have once again partnered with CEO's, business executives, pop stars, sportsmen and woman, who have volunteered to get involved to serve and entertain these children for a magical day.

The event is unique in that no cash donations are accepted from sponsors, instead corporates are encouraged to get involved on the day, or to make donations in kind (food, entertainment or goodies to give away). "We want your time and energy" Sewnarain urged, "and not your money, so come along and get your hands dirty. You'll see life through a different lens after serving at this event. and your life will change you forever"

To get involved, contact Shivani Gosai on 031 566 3984 or shivani@ibvglobal.com, alternatively, visit www.internationalvaults.com for more information.  

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Formula One - First half complete


The teams and drivers have now gone on their summer holidays, a mandatory break forced into the F1 Calendar so members of formula one have a summer break. It's in essence a 2 week break from all track activities but spans over 3 weeks with 1 week for testing and preparations. The break splits the season into two halves so to speak and with the first half now completed after last weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix, this years title and constructors race is proving to be a lot more riveting than expected. 


While being a massive fan of the Italian team, I didn't expect Ferrari to be as competitive as they have proven to be this season. They were ruthless and dominant in Hungary, a race that drivers title hopeful Sebastian Vettel had to win to ensure he extends his lead in the championship after it his points gap was reduced to just 1 after the Silverstone Grand Prix which saw his title rival, Lewis Hamilton finish in first place. At the beginning of the season I picked Ferrari to surprise everyone and win the Melbourne race, that victory went on to spur a great revival of this F1 team and ignited a spirit that was last season when Schumacher was in the team. They brought the fight right to Mercedes who had a relatively easy last two years in F1 and one that was much needed to make the sport interesting for viewership. 


That's not to say Mercedes have been poor this season, their number one man Lewis Hamilton has a point to prove after losing out to his team mate last year in the drivers championship. While the team won't admit it, after Nico Rosberg's departure and the addition of Bottas, Lewis is very much their number 1 driver, as was proved on Sunday when Bottas allowed Lewis through to try and catch the Ferrari's but was unsuccessful and valiantly gave back the position just before the race was over. Merc will head into this break scratching their heads on what they can do to catch the red team and make a surge in the second half of the season. They're not far off but there is many factors that play its part. Tyres being a big one with the last few races seeing a lot of drivers getting punctures and blisters. 


While the other teams do make up the pack, it's been interesting to watching them fight it out for the remaining points places. Red Bull Racing have had a decent few races which saw them get onto the podium a few times. Their drivers are young and hungry, maybe just a bit too hungry as proved on Sunday with Max driving into Ricciardo on the first lap. Reliability also played its part at their home race in Austria, hopefully they can sort out those niggles and salvage their season when the break is over. There will be plenty of fight in the back as well, with Mclaren surprising in Hungary, who knows what could happen, would love to see Alonso get up on that podium at least once this year, it is a long shot but you never know what could happen. 


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Monday Choon: Merk & Kremont - Sad Story (Out of Luck)


Italian DJ duo Federico Mercuri and Girodano Cremena, better known as Merk and Kremont have a new track out and it is fire! Many would know them from their hit Invisible which soared through the charts earlier this year. Their latest offering delves more into their chilled deep house side and one hell of  catchy melody. I first heard the track when the official music video was released on the 12th of this month. Since then its been stuck in my head and I had to feature it on the blog. It's certainly one of my favourite songs at the moment and the music video is pretty awesome and features South Korean internet sensation Ko Hyojoo dancing on her skateboard. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Bucket Seat: Mini Countryman Cooper


After having tested the Mini Countryman Cooper S earlier on in the year, when I was told I was getting the bottom of the range Countryman Cooper to test, it seemed to have been a bit of an anticlimax. I mean, how could I possibly enjoy the 1.5L twin-turbo motor variant of Mini's SUV range more than the 2L twin-turbo? Well, funnily enough, I did! While the engines do play a big part in a car, with Mini there's so many other aspects to their cars that oddly enough, you can have fun in any of the engine variants. That is the one major points that differentiate Mini from it's competitors and make it the brand it is. I know many look at the brand and think its just overpriced cars for a select market but people seem to link Mini to it's humble beginnings where it was an affordable, low income targeted vehicle. The brand ever since being reborn has transformed into a luxury premium offering, almost scrapping the essence of it's nature but it was for the better.


STYLE

Every aspect of this cars design must be appreciated, while many would say the changes that differentiate this Countryman to it's predecessor are minimal but it's the subtle nature of these changes that make the big difference. The car is now longer and wider than before, as well as taller. The new Countryman has more bulk than before and the addition of the roof racks adds to this masculine look. For me though, the interior of this car was one of the best I've seen from Mini and a true reflection of how far they have gone in creating options for each Mini owner to make a car that is unique and a true reflection of themselves. The seats had the cross-sectional stitching which brought out the brown/tan colour of the leather, it really caught your eye when opening the door. The Mini welcome mat is an awesome extra, to greet the driver on arrival, the interior mood lights add that ambiance at night when in the car. The detail gone into the middle console is fantastic with all the switches finished in chrome, the huge infotainment screen is big and pronounced up top. Displaying information and easy navigation from the jog-shuttle controller situated behind the gear selector.


COMFORT

While the interior looks nice, it really is damn comfortable. With the extra space in the cabin due to the overall size of the car being made bigger, it feels as if the seats are also bigger than normal. There is the option to have the front seats heated as well, to help on those frosty cold winter mornings and evenings. The cabin is spacious enough to accommodate 4 adults, I suppose one can seat 5 in there, with just a tiny squeeze. The new Countryman also has the new optional extra offering of a picnic bench. Which conveniently folds away under the boot floor. Taking it out is just as simple as it opens out over the rear bumper with the cushion positions just on the tailgate. Ride quality, as per the Cooper S is magnificent. The engineers really have done a great job on the suspension with smooth driving on any surfaces. I did take the Countryman on some gravel trails and it handled it with ease. While it not might be a fully fledged 4x4, it does the SUV thing pretty well. 

Picture by @mvrc1988

PERFORMANCE

Like I said at the start, this cars engine could do very little to persuade me over its bigger brother but surprisingly the 1.5L Twin Turbo engine that comes in the Mini Countryman Cooper isn't that bad. It's no slouch having to cart around this very heavy vehice. The engine pushes out 100kW with 220Nm of torque, pretty average numbers especially when you consider the type of vehicle its in but if you think of the purpose this car is serving, its pretty good. It has the perfect amount of grunt when needed but still perfect to cruise around with. When it comes to fuel economy, the weight will come into to factor again, while the claimed fuel consumption is 6 liters to a 100km, I very often found myself hitting the high 11L/100km. This could be due to my irradic driving style but the car is very thirsty. 

Picture by @mvrc1988

VERDICT

Overall, I really love this car. It's a Mini, its fun to drive and the high premium options one has to spec this car is insane. I love how you can personalise the car to such an extent and that makes every Mini made, sort of unique. They added the right type of extras which come standard to the car which make it that much more great. The roof racks and automatic tail gate, so you don't have to physically open and close the boot yourself. Downside has to be the it's appetite for fuel, I found myself having have to fill this car twice during my 7 days with it but there is some good news, Mini have confirmed that they will be bring a diesel version of the Countryman to our country in the last quarter of this year. I would love to see how that one performs.

Picture by @mvrc1988

SPECIFICATIONS

 Engine
 1.5 litre, Twin Turbo 4 cylinder
 Gear Box
 6 speed automatic
 Power
 100kW
 Torque
 220Nm
 Top Speed
 250km/h
 0-100km
 9.6  seconds
 Price
 R 428,500*