I am really disappointed that I won’t make it to the Green with Envy Christmas Fair until Saturday morning. For those of you who have a gap, it is on this evening, tomorrow and Saturday. Not completely certain of times, but will endeavour to find out.

What I do know is that the fair features talented Durban creatives selling items just waiting to become your Christmas gifts! The setting is just gorgeous, too and if you’ve never visited Green with Envy, this is a perfect excuse to go.

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What to Wear to Madame Zingara

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It seems that lots of people are being directed to my blog in the hopes of finding some enlightenment on what to wear to Madame Zingara and so, I thought it a good idea to write a quick post sharing my thoughts on this sartorial riddle.

There is one rule for dressing for Madame Zingara and that is anything goes. The gents in my party were all in their suits but there was a man in a tutu, braces and a swan made out of tinfoil on his head. It is one of the greater regrets of my life that I was unable to capture his image to share with you. (There are various reasons including poor light and lack of the brazeness that would have been required.) My point, however, is that if there is a man wearing a homemade waterfowl sculpture as a hat, there’s not really much in the way of rules now is there?

As for the ladies, I would use this as one of the few opportunities Durban presents for dressing up. There were girls in jeans and heels and others in floor-length gowns. Accessories are also encouraged and feather boas, masks and oversized glasses abound.

The waiters and waitresses are generally dressed up in full fancy dress from pirates to fairies and it might be an idea to choose a theme for your party to add to the fun.

If you arrive and find you feel underdressed, there is a shop filled with hats and props to make your outfit a little more over-the-top and add some Zingara zing. The most important thing is that you go intending to enjoy yourself. The show is really very good, the atmosphere is upbeat and the food, excellent – you will love it whether you are in a tux or a t-shirt.

FNB Whisky Live Festival

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Last night I tasted whisky for just about the first time and by that I don’t mean tasted in a formal tasting situation, I mean tasted, ever.

I have to admit that it is still not my drink of choice but the fact that I started out on Johnnie Walker Blue, Gold Reserve and Platinum means that it probably won’t ever be.

One thing I must say is that it wasn’t nearly as awful as I had anticipated and I was pleasantly surprised at the fact that I could identify the different aromas and tastes that Nick Morgan, Johnnie Walker’s Head of Whisky Outreach, Diageo and Keeper of the Quaich, a veritable library of knowledge and insight, pointed out. I may not have loved the whisky but I did enjoy every minute of listening to Nick talk about the history of whisky, how it is blended and why Johnnie Walker has introduced these two new blends to their range and the South African market.

My husband, who is a whisky connoisseur (he has eight bottles of whisky in his bar and is not an alcoholic!) was fascinated with the presentation and with the new blends. We were both really interested to hear Nick talk about how different whiskies should be consumed in different situations and that a whisky you might drink in a bar with friends over crushed ice is not the same one as you would drink in a contemplative moment after dinner.

After the treat of listening to Nick Morgan, we moved across to the festival itself and were armed with far more information which made the evening much more worthwhile and enjoyable. I must say that I was most impressed with the layout of the festival and the setting of the ICC which really makes it feel like the premier event it is. All the major brands are there and have knowledgeable bar staff to answer the questions you may have about their ranges and we learnt even more about whisky as a result of knowing the questions to ask.

The festival runs on a coupons basis and you can exchange your coupons for whisky tasters which vary in ‘price’. If you are a whisky drinker, the FNB Whisky Live Festival is a wonderful opportunity to taste whiskies you may never splash out and buy and I think that that alone makes a visit worth the ticket price.

Th FNB Whisky Live Festival is on at the ICC, hall 3, tonight from 18:00.

Christmas Open Day tomorrow – Not to be missed!

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My talented friend Jenna and her equally talented mother, Felicity, and sister, Tammy, are hosting an Open Day at 4 Sackville Place from 9am – 2pm tomorrow. They have invited a whole host of creative friends to join them in offering you a wonderous selection of treats and eats.

If you are looking for that perfect, unique gift for Christmas you will find it here, sure as Christmas is 52 days away. Don’t miss it and go early as some of the best buys go very quickly!

Has it really been that long?

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I can’t believe that it has been so long since I last posted something on Durban Diva! To employ a cliché, time has flown.

I have been very busy writing away over the last few weeks in between trips to Cape Town and the Midlands for special friends’ weddings and I don’t think I have told you, Dear Readers, that I am now gainfully employed as the KZN Contributing Editor for Garden and Home magazine – a dream come true and an endeavour which is taking a lot of my time and focus, as it should. I really do love every minute of it and feel very lucky to have found a way to do exactly what I dreamed of when I left my teaching job two years ago and started writing regularly on this blog.

So excited I could burst!

I promise not to desert you for this long again and I will be back to my regular schedule of giving you the what’s what about what’s on in Durbs. Thank you to those of you who have taken the time to drop me an email and comment on my absence – it’s so good to know that my posts were missed!

Look out for some news about an exciting opportunity to get some Christmas shopping done on Saturday a bit later today.

Play Santa for Underprivileged Kids this Year

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The Santa Shoebox Project is one of those that really gets to the heart of giving – they are not only asking for money or donations but rather that you take time and care in putting a shoebox full of things together for a specific child.

The idea is that you register on their website to provide a shoebox for a child you have chosen from a list. You are given their name, age and gender and emailed a personalised label. Then the fun begins as you fill the box with a toothbrush and toothpaste, a facecloth and soap, an outfit of clothing, some educational supplies, sweets and a toy. You may add extra bits as well and include a personalised note or card. The boxes are often kept as keepsake boxes by the children and, so, they ask for you to decorate them rather than just wrapping them in Christmas paper. Each box has to be dropped at a particular drop off point, which in Durban, include Grace Family Church in Umhlanga, the Durban Jewish Club in town and the Pinetown Baptist Church.

I feel that this is one of the most worthwhile charity projects around and I can’t wait to get started on putting my boxes together. I was really touched by a note on the website which points out that it is the teenagers who are picked last and therefore my boxes are all going to teens this year. Having spent years teaching and counselling teens they hold a special place in my heart. It’s definitely going to be more of a challenge than packing a box for a little one but I hope that it will also make it that much more worthwhile.

Santa’s Shoebox is hoping to have a box for almost 100 000 children in 2012.This is the current situation:

As you can see, the project has only achieved a third of the pledges required so far.

For more information and, hopefully, to sign up to pack some boxes of your own, visit http://www.santashoebox.co.za Hurry, though, as boxes must be dropped off towards the end of October.

Beautiful Berea Court

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I am so pleased to see Berea Court in Glenwood has been given a lick of paint which enhances her magnificent Art Deco design. Doesn’t she look as proud as the recipient of of a great make-over? Warms my heart, it does.

If you are interested in Durban’s Art Deco heritage, have a look at the brilliant website of the Durban Art Deco Society which allows you take take a virtual tour of Durban’s Art Deco buildings. There are pictures of the building and text which tells you the history of each spot. A really fascinating insight into a type of architectural style that Durban is renowned for. These screen shots will give you an idea of what the website is like. Do go and have a look.

This pic was taken at the end of a fabulous day touring Durban’s townships with Street Scene Tours. More about it later in the week when I have time to write about it at length.

Brilliant Buffet at the Hilton

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On Wednesday evening my husband I put on our glad-rags and went off to the Durban Hilton Hotel’s Rainbow Terrace restaurant to sample their new Asian themed buffet which was such a treat. There are few meals to beat a buffet, don’t you think? I love that you can try a little bit of everything and then go back for more of the things you liked. It’s ideal for a fussy eater like me who is too scared to commit to something different if I have to choose just one meal.

Held every Wednesday night, the Asian buffet consists of a range of Chinese and Thai cuisine prepared by Chef Goo and his team led by Executive Chef David Goette. We were delighted to see all of our favourite Asian dishes on the buffet tables and surprised by some of the new discoveries we made.

From a deconstructed sushi salad, to dim sum, wonton soup, spring rolls, egg fried rice, Peking duck, lamb and Thai green curries, everything you could hope for on an Asian buffet makes an appearance. A clever touch was adding an Asian ‘flavour’ to the desserts with chilli in the chocolate spring rolls and green tea sponge cake.

Everything was delicious but my dish of the evening was the most tender piece of steak I have ever tasted. Cooked right in front of you as part of a stir fry which you design yourself, the Teriyaki beef fillet just melts in your mouth. My husband loved the Crispy Fish with Red Curry Paste – I must admit that it was a bit too hot for me. That being said, I am not a lover of blow-your-broeks-off hot food at any time, and he never fails to let me know that I am missing out. My first love when it comes to food is certainly the sweet, and I was not disappointed at the Hilton! I thoroughly enjoyed the lemon sorbet, green tea sponge, chilli chocolate spring rolls and coconut ice-cream (it was a buffet, remember!) whilst Brett’s standout desserts were the deep friend banana and the mango pancake.

The service is excellent and I was happy to note that the Hilton ensures that none of the usual buffet niggles, such as food running out or cutlery not being replaced, is allowed to happen in the Rainbow Terrace.

As you may recall, the weather was miserable on Wednesday night and the convenience of the undercover parking, accessible from Walnut Road, was very welcome and deserves a mention, too.

I am embarrassed to say that this was my first visit to the Hilton and I was most impressed. We will certainly be back for another meal at the Rainbow Terrace – this time I think we’ll try the Friday night seafood buffet.

The Asian Themed nights are held every Wednesday at the Durban Hilton Hotel from 6:30pm. The buffet costs R160 per person.

Artists, this is one for you – Interpret Durban Art Competition

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Interpret Durban is one of those great events that acknowledges and encourages the creativity of Durbanites.  The main event is happening on 29 September (more about that later) but one of the most exciting aspects of the event is already underway: the Art Competition, where we get to see just how this city is being thought about, talked about and portrayed.

Don’t you love the Art Deco style of this poster?

The Art Competition is broken up into four categories this year:

·         Video – “A moment, a time, a place”  (Open)

·         Photography – “What is a Postcard?” (Open)

·         Mix Medium “Windows of Durban” (Open)

·         And T-shirt Design “Enter Durban” (invite only)

“The T-shirt design element was the corner stone of Interpret Durban from its start in 2010, building on that they have decided to up the ante this year and make this particular category an invite only affair and as such will be inviting some of Durban’s freshest, most forward thinking and talented designers to compete. The top 3 design entries will be put onto O’Neill shirts along with the artists name and signature. These shirts will then be sold at the O’Neill concept store as well as independently by the event organisers. Proceeds of these shirt sales will be going to a phenomenal organisation by the name of Umthombo who do some kickass work rehabilitating street kids in and around the Durban using high intensity sports such as surfing as  part of the rehabilitation process,” say the organisers.

Entry forms for each of the three open categories can be found on the Interpret Durban website ( www.interpretdurban.com )and submissions close the 25th September at 12h00.

As usual, I am always keen to support an event with a social conscience so, for more information about all things Interpret Durban see

Facebook: www.facebook.com/interpretdurbanDBN

Twitter www.twitter.com/InterpretDurban