One of few attractions of leaving my comfortable little cottage in Eastlea for two or three weeks a year to house-sit friends’ property in Milton Park (while they visit Thailand… Upper Thighland!) is that the temporary accommodation “never has power cuts”.
Report by Dusty Miller
It seems to be on the same circuit as Wilkins Hospital and I can’t recall previous Zesa outages/outrages — although water pressure’s miserably poor — but on Sunday, I woke to the ominous sound of silence: No fridge/freezer humming, nor electric clocks ticking.
The body craved coffee…bacon, eggs etc. and there was no way of knowing whether the cut may be for six minutes, six or 16 hours…or six days, as in the case of a “major fault” at Eastlea.
It was before 9am. I had an 11:15, so armed with Sunday papers and page-turner thriller, headed off to hunt for breakfast. The search didn’t take long. Heading up The Chase, I recalled the new Alo, Alo at Arundel Village had a sound reputation for a very fine petite-dejeneur.
Turning left, I pulled in to find they’d just opened. There was a nip in the air, so I didn’t eat in the sun-dappled garden as I do at lunch or supper. Inside is cosy, chintzy, cottagey; filled with priceless antiques, collectibles…and probably the odd bit of fairground junk! it looks as though it’s been serving fine food for decades.
Truth is seven months ago it was an empty shell. Alo, Alo moved in during March and have done wonders with the place, having been forced to move from previous premises at Alliance-Francaise.
Alo, Alo takes its name from the initials of chef-proprietors Adrian and Lesley Orford (A-L-O…geddit?). The eponymous TV programme is also their favourite viewing. Adrian was meeting, greeting and seating when I arrived and Lesley — who does almost all cooking herself, usually three bustling services a day — arrived soon after.
A pot of Zimbo-grown La Lucia filter coffee was gratefully received: first of several cups poured thirstily. Breakfast menu comprises many toasties, sandwiches, rolls and the like, but I wanted an honest-to-goodness egg-and-bacon British style fry-up, a veritable greasefest… sod the cholesterol!
Well, I certainly got it (without the grease): Two free-range organic soft fried eggs with golden yolks like children paint the sun; three rashers lean, crispy bacon, beef sausage (candidly, I much prefer pork bangers!); grilled ripe red tomato topped with bubbly cheese, two delicious crunchy sweetcorn fritters, man-sized portion of cubed-fried potatoes and caramelised onion and a whole Kew Gardens-sized accompanying salad…which I regret was surplus to requirements for me!
Two slices of nice hot toast (breakfast is served, professionally, on a lovely hot platter) with butter and marmalade with a grown-up bite ended a splendid meal which, with tea or coffee, came to US$12.
Alo, Alo opens each day: 9am-10pm Tuesday-to-Saturday; 9-2:30 Sunday and Monday. Fully lice-nsed, cosy bar; corkage US$5 a bottle; special lunch TDH menu US$16. Child/handicapped frie-ndly. Great service. Smoking/no smoking areas, indoors or out. Background music standards of the 1960s-80s. Safe guarded parking.
Dusty Miller rating 4,75 stars at September 2012.
Arriving “home” after work at 7pm two nights later, the place was again in total darkness and I mentally cursed my friends’ gardener — inappropriately named “Smart” — for, again, forgetting to switch on outside lights.
Yet another Zesa outrage! No idea how long it had been off. Coincidentally, I was at my Eastlea place when power was pulled there at exactly 1pm; pals at Greendale reported the same.
As the car was acting up badly (our chief transport officer didn’t know what the fault was) I’d failed to shop on my way home and didn’t want to risk driving again. Normally I’d have walked to Taverna Athena, Kensington, for supper, but that brilliant Greek restaurant sadly went bust during my overseas tour.
Sitting in pitch darkness, listening to MP3 music, I munched some magnificently more-ish cashew nuts brought back by a friend from Mozambique, washed down by a long-tom of only fairly cold Pilsener. I’d had a very light lunch seven hours earlier; sausage sandwich for breakfast.
Eating the last three squares of Cadbury’s Turkish Delight from a block my daughter slipped surreptitiously into my suitcase as I left England, I went to bed before 8, falling asleep to a crackly, fading BBC radio news on battery-powered shortwave, convinced Zesa would wake me at 9 or perhaps 9:30 and I could make something — anything — to eat and brew a pot of tea.
At 3am there was still no juice, nor at 5:30 when I got up. Having washed — and more seriously —tried to shave in stone cold water, I left Milton Park at 6:50am, clutching an invite to breakfast at Royal Harare Golf Club at 7!
Just in time, I recalled Royal’s strict dress code, donning long slacks for the first time since my return from Europe!
A few journalists (lots of no-shows), a handful of restaurateurs (even more didn’t show) and scores of folk from the retail trade were present for a re-launch of Cape juices as Cape Camisa.
That’s the sort of thing advertising and marketing types take really seriously, but I doubt if the man in the street even notices these rebrands.
We were told Camisa means “the place of sweet waters” in Khoi-San (Really? Where’s the clicks?) It’s the place in the Cape where fruit was first grown, using seeds salvaged from a 1647 shipwreck, when surviving Hollanders got together with the Hottentots to establish a Cape fruit industry. (And presumably founded the Cape Coloureds!)
This 100% juice product is available as apple, berry, guava, mango, orange, peach, pineapple, red grape and tropical.
You don’t say?
Now where’s that buffet of bacon, beef or pork bangers, grilled tomatoes, scrambled eggs or fried/poached to order; marmalade; coffee, tea or rooibos; fruit salad, cereals, fresh fruit… yoghurts?
They say hunger is the finest sauce and thanks to Zesa I was damned hungry. I’m grateful to Cape Camisa (and Royal Harare caterers) for filling the inner man and making me fit for another day’s graft!