Three pleasures of the Upper Highway

We live in the Upper Highway area. The Upper Highway area is a region west of the city of Durban in KwaZulu-NatalSouth Africa and includes the main suburbs of Kloof and Hillcrest, as well as the smaller areas of Assagay, Botha’s Hill, Forest Hills, Gillitts, Waterfall and Winston Park.  The people in this area are generally perceived as being conservative and the area is known for it’s brilliant schools and value for money houses that have large, lush green gardens. With that comes the attraction of families with children.

I have lived in the Upper Highway area since I was about five years old and have watched the area thrive, from being a small village to a booming suburb with bustling developments springing up like weeds in fertile soil.  Whilst I love this area and it’s beautiful people, I have always longed to live in the Cape.  I wrestle with this desire regularly but know that here is where we are meant to be… for now at least.  This week I was reminded of how blessed I am to live here and so I would like to share three simple Highway area pleasures that Dylan and I came to discover for ourselves.

It was our nine year wedding anniversary on Thursday and Dylan made a reservation for us at the very popular  Quo restaurant, situated in a dingy shopping quarter in the heart of Gillitts.  It was here that we discovered pleasure number one- the incredible fresh cherry tomato, anchovy, caper, olive and feta pasta.  I cannot begin to describe (maybe I could but not going try), how delicious this pasta is.  It’s a culmination of fresh, simple ingredients bursting with wholesome, salty deliciousness.  I ordered their tender Pork Belly (which I believe they are famous for) and ended up eating Dylan’s pasta.  The Pork Belly was great but the pasta was exceptional.  Maybe we love it more than other’s would- it reminded us of the times we have been in Europe, particularly Florence, eating food that is fresh and true.

The second treasure I stumbled upon is literally a stones throw from my house.  My friend Des Dales couldn’t believe I didn’t know about the renowned Kloof Park, which is right around the corner from The Kloof High School.  This beautiful park reminded me of being in the English countryside.   There are jungle gyms for the kids, a delightful stream trickeling through as well as benches and tables scattered under the sheltering trees that have stood there for many years.   We visited the park on Friday afternoon, along with every breed of dog you can imagine- dragging their friendly faced owner’s in tow.  Here every dog is known by name, as if the canines and humans are all the same.  The dogs are socialised and approachable, very few are on leads.  Being in the park made me feel as if I had been transported to a place my heart has longed to be for a very long time.  I was so grateful to have met this enchanting little haven, so much so we decided to wake up early the next day and introduce Google (our Beagle) and Salty (our Corgie cross Collie) to some potential playmates.

Third pleasure, which I am sure all of my friends living in this area already know about, is the recently famed Lineage Coffee shop in Hillcrest.  The words “less is more” defines this wonderful coffee destination owned by Craig Charity.  I have known Craig for many years now and I don’t think I have ever met a more passionate man.  He is a man of deep conviction, not only in his faith but in everything he puts his hand to.  Craig loves God and loves coffee.  His commitment to both has resulted in him winning numerous awards and growing his Lineage brand from strength to strength.  As I sip the coffee I am transported back to Monmouth Coffee, which we visited in Borough market in London a few years ago.  This was the place where I tasted my first cup of “real” coffee and was automatically converted into a complete coffee snob.

To those living in The Upper Highway area, I hope that my three simple pleasures will be yours too and that you are inspired to find your own.  To those living elsewhere, may you be inspired to discover… as they say “the grass is not greener on the other side but only where you water it.”





Moist Chocolate Cake

As a part of my desire to spend dedicated quality time with Mila and Sam I have committed to baking with them as often as possible.  Last week we chose to make a delicious, moist chocolate birthday cake for my sister Chanelle who was inviting friend’s over for a birthday picnic.  Mila was away with my in-law’s in the Drakensberg (we stayed home because Dylan had to study) and so Chan and her boyfriend came over to bake with us.  It was so much fun!  Chan and Paul did most of the baking (Chan is an avid baker and Paul is a chef), Sam did most of the messing and I did most of the playing and snapping on my NIKON camera.

The recipe was found on Pinterest and I must say, the outcome was amazing.  The buttermilk and coffee used in this cake make it extremely moist and very decadent.  We then chose to make a ganache icing which was perfect.

Enjoy it… Below are some of the pic’s I took and remember, as Barney says “sharing is caring”.

Author: Jennifer Hill
Prep time:  15 mins
Cook time:  35 mins
Total time:  50 mins
Serves: 12
– 1¾ cups all purpose flour
– 2 cups granulated white sugar
– ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1½ tsp baking soda
– ¾ teaspoon salt
– 2 large eggs
– 1 cup buttermilk (or substitute by putting 1 tbsp white vinegar in a cup then filling the rest up with milk; let stand 5 minutes until thickened)
– ½ cup butter, melted
– 1 tbsp vanilla extract
– 1 cup hot coffee (or 2 tsp instant coffee in 1 cup boiling water)
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Grease and flour two 22cm baking pans and set aside.
  2. In the large bowl of a standing mixer, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla extract and beat until smooth (about 3 minutes). Remove bowl from mixer and stir in hot coffee with a rubber spatula. Batter will be very runny.
  3. Pour batter evenly between the two pans and bake on middle rack of oven for about 35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs attached.
  4. Allow to cool 15 minutes in pans, then run a butter knife around the edges of each cake. Place a wire cooling rack over top of each pan. Wearing oven mitts, use both hands to hold the racks in place while flipping the cakes over onto the racks. Set the racks down and gently thump on the bottom of the pans until the cakes release. Cool completely before handling or icing.
Ganache Icing: (found on the Martha Stewart site)
– 250 grams semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Lindt)
– 1 1/2 cups heavy cream (I used woolies double cream)
Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan until bubbles begin to appear around edges (scalding); pour over chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. Set aside at room temperature until cool but pourable, stirring occasionally.
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