May, 2013 browsing by month


I love my laundry

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Ever felt like sitting in a laundry eating dim sum listening to French music? How could such a concept not be irresistible? Last time I had a dim sum breakfast at I Love My Laundry it was accompanied by the pleasant tones of Constance Amiot, Pascal Lejeune and Sandrine Kiberlain. Management has a strict policy to play only French music.

This quirky little establishment also offers dry cleaning, dyeing, alterations, and ironing services. Did I mention that it is a wine shop too? And a coffee bar. And a gallery. Confused?

Somehow it all hangs together as if it were the most natural thing in the world. The brainchild of owners Clayton Howard (currently sporting a conservative version of a Mohican haircut) and business partner, Mico Botha, this April it has already been open for one year.

It is something you’d expect to find in lower Manhattan, and perhaps the I Love My Laundry logo primes one for that. The inspiration actually came from a place (now defunct) called The Public Library in Soho, New York.

The interior is exposed red brick walls crammed with artworks. A laundry line runs diagonally across the middle with an ever-changing exhibit of things pegged on it. The entire centre of the shop is taken up by a massive 14-seater, concrete slab table; it had to be cast in the shop, the cement piped into a mould from a concrete mixer that idled outside.

The table is crammed with tsatskes de luxe, from such design labels as Boe-peep “handsome things”, Sweet & Soutie “gift ideas”, Toucheefeelee “home décor and pamper products”, and even Wagalot organic dog biscuits made by the NGO work4you.

Every Wednesday evening at a free wine tasting “laundry party”, photographers, designers and artists launch their work in the gallery and shop space. The result is a kaleidoscope of creative delights, and as a result the interior is completely redecorated on a four-week cycle. Even more novel, one can lease the art on a monthly basis for one’s own home or office.

There is a steady traffic of people dropping off their laundry, which is returned discreetly, rather quaintly, wrapped in orange paper, so you don’t have to bare your undies in public; not that this seems to bother anyone these days as under 30-year-olds regularly sport their underwear in the street while wearing it.

The turnaround time is 4 to 5 hours (at R10 per kg), but there is an express service that does it in 2 hours at a higher rate. That’s enough time to do some errands in the CBD, catch up on the free Wifi, and enjoy a cup of Brazilian jogajoga coffee at the laundry’s espresso bar. The coffee is served with the ambiguous slogan, “drink it naked”, which doesn’t mean you have to check your clothes at the laundry door, but suggests you try the coffee without milk, sugar or other “contaminants”.

With or without a washing basket it is worthwhile popping in for the dim sum made by Maria Tia and her family, formerly chef at the well-hidden Bamboo Restaurant off Long Street. The dim sum is Korean style, which means no fish oil and no wheat in the pastry. Pure rice flour and water is used to produce three thicknesses of pastry depending on the consistency of the filling. There are meat options, but most offerings are vegetarian. Vegetables respond better to steaming in any event. The pricing, as with all the products and services at I Love My Laundry, are reasonable. Portions cost R30 and consist of eight dumplings served on a bed of spinach in a bamboo steamer.

The tofu dim sum uses the firmer type of tofu and minced vegetables and carrots. The pastry is silky and pleasingly light. I highly recommend the kimchi filling, which includes a little tofu too. On the table are bottles of oyster sauce, soya, chili, and sweet mango sauce.

Surprisingly, there is only the faintest hint of laundry smell. The detergents used are all organic, eucalyptus based and fragrance free. Windows are usually kept open however and four fans spin from the roof.

As a registered heritage building, a fat trap could not be installed, which is why cooking is by steam. But every Thursday, there is a fondue evening at R125 per person. On the table are four stations, each with three shared fondues: three cheeses and three breads – a sour dough, a sweeter bread and an oil-based bread; a beef consommé with fillet, rump and green peppercorn steak, and rye bread croutons; and a dessert pot with dark chocolate fondue, brandy, marshmallows, sponge cake, orange segments and banana.

To accompany the food there is no shortage of wine as the laundry is also Cape Town’s only social media wine distributor and wholesaler. They buy in bulk and offer some wines at silly prices, such as R28 for a bottle. There is a shelf of current wines with their prices clearly displayed attached with washing pegs.

The venue can also be hired for parties of up to 60 standing or private sit-down dinners for 14 people. As one would expect, Howard and Botha have a dozen suggestions for themes, including toga parties.

At this laundry, you can easily find yourself three sheets to the wind.

I ♥ My Laundry, 59 Buitengracht Street, Cape Town. Tel 084 660 0777 or 083 602 0291.

This aricle first appeared in the Mail & Guardian 19 April 2013.


Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Perhaps no food has been more closely linked to health geeks than yoghurt. In the old South Africa, yoghurt used to be vaguely associated with people who eat wheat germ and await flying saucers to take them to a better world.

In fact right up and until the late 1980s, almost the only yoghurt available locally was the thin “Bulgarian” variety from Dairy Belle, sold in cartons for drinking through a straw, or thrown in as an ingredient for certain baked goodies.

And yet, there were always South African backpackers returning from exotic climes on the Mediterranean with fantastical tales of delicious extra-thick yoghurts and rumours of goats milk yoghurt laced with honey.

In the end, yoghurt caught on mostly thanks to the health kick industry of the early 1990s and reports about the longevity of Bulgarians. Places such as Camphill Village led the way with organic pastures. Yoghurt-making machines became a brief craze and could be found on hypermarket shelves. Anybody completing a course of antibiotics was encouraged to binge on yoghurt. Today, yoghurt is virtually a staple food in South Africa.

Yoghurt is essentially fermented milk, not curdled milk as reported by among others the Oxford English Dictionary. Two strains of lactic bacilli working together are responsible: Lactobacillus bulgarius, which acidifies the milk, and Streptococcus thermophylus, which provides that distinct aroma and the tart Granny Smith apple flavor.

Much continues to be made of the digestive health benefits of prebiotic and probiotic cultures in yoghurt. In general, strains used by industrial manufacturers are either killed in pasteurization or don’t survive in the human intestine, so the idea of repopulating your gut’s flora and fauna with those yoghurts is quackery. Some strains do colonise however, and these “probiotics” must be live and noted on the labels, although my GP says you’d have to eat kilograms of the stuff to get the equivalent benefit of a good probiotic pill.( A warning: the market is flooded with thousands of dud probiotic drinks and products.)

Sticking to the health theme, frozen yoghurt was “invented” in the 1970s in the United States as an alternative to ice cream. In South Africa, it was pioneered by Marcel’s, starting in 1989 in Stellenbosch. By 2005, probiotic BB-12 cultures were introduced and the fat content reduced to 2.4%. They have 19 stores in four provinces and are expanding to Saudi Arabia.

Another frozen yoghurt franchise is Wakaberrÿ which started in Durban in May 2011 and now has 16 outlets in four provinces.

When a little frozen yogurt parlour opened on Kloof Street in December 2011, it appeared Cape Town had been blessed with yet another brand, Myög. Its bold and cheerful signage, cool colour scheme, and eye-catching logo led many to assume it was the first branch of some international chain.

But the interior was slightly quirky, with AstroTurf on the counters and the floor, and funky white leather couches and chairs. Taken together with the extremely attentive and personable service in slightly hesitant English, one quickly gleaned that behind the counter were owners not employees. They are the handsome duo of Frenchmen Joris Hadjadj, who hails from Auxerre, and Jean-Eric Leblanc of Montereu.

Myög (standing for My Yoghurt) has been an instant hit, though somewhat forsaken during last year’s long, Cape winter.

The story is familiar to Capetonians. They came on holiday to Cape Town, fell in love with the city, and devised a way to stay.

They did their research and saw a gap in the market for their passion – frozen yoghurt.

The South African taste it seems is for creamy and sweet. They too focus on health, outlawing artificial flavourants and heaven forbid no yoghurt powder (which gives some frozen yoghurt brands a sherbet taste). Their frozen yoghurt is rich in calcium, potassium, and its halaal certified. It has 5% sugar and 2% fat (Myög prefers to advertise this as “98% fat free”). In comparison, normal yoghurt has 4% and Greek-style 10% fat. By contrast, regular cream is 18% and double-thick cream 48%.

A regular size Myög serving is 150ml and has 75kcal. The yoghurt is specially produced for them from a single Cape dairy farm using fresh skimmed milk (not UHT), which means the yoghurt has a relatively short shelf life. This is partly why in addition to plain they offer only one weekly flavor, cycling through real peanut butter, coconut (very subtle), mixed berries, Nutella, and rooibos. They will soon add cinnamon.

Toppings include nuts, Astros, muesli, Oreo cookies, fresh seasonal fruit (in summer and when available, mango, kiwi, strawberries, pineapple and melon, and in winter apple, pear and banana).

Myög offers its flavours in smoothies. The rooibos is my favourite; the inclusion of nuts with the rooibos was a taste revelation. You can also try the parfait with layers of yogurt, muesli and fruit.

To date Myög had been open from noon till 10pm, but will soon open for breakfast from 9am. Large waffles promise to be popular, as well as their invention, a Yoffee – coffee with frozen yoghurt instead of milk or cream.

Plans are now well underway to open an outlet in Sea Point. Perhaps, a new franchise has landed after all.

Myög Frozen Yoghurt, 103 Kloof Street, Gardens. Info:

This article first appeared in the Mail & Guardian on 3 May 2013.