Wow, our Tourism Team has been blown away by our local tourism offering once more. We’ve made it our mission during Tourism Month to carve out some time to visit our amazing members. Here’s some feedback from our experiences so far.
Guided Tuk-Tuk Tour of Uniondale
On Wednesday, Melanie, Claudine and intern Sino from our office did the tuk-tuk tour in Uniondale whilst in the area for a stakeholders meeting. Warm and hospitable host, Dirkie Coetzee, took them for an interesting historical tour across Uniondale – visiting sites like the Cork Tree, beautiful Jewish synagogue, Uniondale Golf Course, Anglican Church, Bacontree Succulent Nursery, the African Aloe Café, Skoonheidsentrum and Zenobia’s Roses! This tour is usually around 2 hours long, so our team couldn’t stay for the whole trip, which usually also includes the Anglo Boer War Fort and the Uniondale Nature Reserve. Each stop and site offer such interesting information and history. This is a must-do for any history buff and those who enjoy guided tours! Pre-booking is essential.
Yesterday, our team visited chic Caloroso Café on Meade Street and the gorgeous new Clay Café, which opened 3 weeks ago, on the airport road. Both experiences were utterly fabulous!
Caloroso Café’s Chocolate Appreciation and Chocolate and Coffee/ Wine/ Gin Pairings
The name Caloroso is an Italian word, meaning ‘hearty’ and ‘warm’. The origins of the logo and name also allude to the sense of community coffee culture has brought to the world. We can highly recommend a Chocolate Appreciation, and a Chocolate and Coffee/ Wine/ Gin pairing in the price range of around R180 per person. These experiences are between 1.5 to 2 hours and booking is essential. Owner Kelvin has a chemical engineering background, and it was fascinating hearing him talk about the various technical aspects and techniques used to enhance and preserve the flavours of the cocoa bean while we enjoyed our Chocolate Appreciation experience. This blind tasting teaches you all about the properties of chocolate and the cocoa bean, where you taste three different chocolates and discuss the chocolate flavour wheel. The cocoa beans used in Caloroso’s chocolates are ‘bean to bar’, meaning that they purchase the cocoa beans directly from the cocoa plantations, or through a single representative who has a relationship with the farm. They are willing to pay a premium to these African-based farmers for a bean which offers a complexity of flavours at an artisanal level. The fermentation and roasting of the beans is critical to the flavour enhancement, similarly to wine.
Caloroso’s artisanal chocolates, under the label Underdog, come in a 50% dark milk chocolate and go up to an 85% dark chocolate. Artisanal chocolates can only consist of 3% of the cocoa bean husk, and cocoa bean oil and a small amount of sugar are added to the cocoa beans to enhance the flavours. The chocolate mixture is carefully tempered between 27 to 33 degrees. The chocolates are also wrapped in foil, which is good for preserving the chocolate – and the planet – as foil can be recycled.
There are also beautifully painted chocolate truffles at the café, and the chic décor with striking murals and modern features is a great place to enjoy a coffee date with a friend or partner. We think it is safe to say that Caloroso has the best chocolate in town! These locally produced chocolates will make a great local gift. Foodies, chefs and anyone who typically enjoys pairings will most definitely enjoy these informative experiences.
Clay Café blew us away!
Clay Café’s Instagram account doesn’t do the property justice. This restaurant and experience are just WOW.
Once you’ve parked the car, you make your way down a bricked pathway, surrounded by the most stunning trees and gardens all around. The garden is speckled with outdoor dining tables and there’s a wonderful play area for children, which has the coolest wooden play structure, a trampoline, and some swings.
The open-faced building sprawls out across the back of the garden and is beautifully decorated. It is light and airy. A table was prepared for us – covered in protective paper in anticipation of our great art experience about to happen. What we loved is that they have a room full of different types of clay castings. From the traditional dinner dish and pot plant holder to fun things like a dog’s bowl, trains, and unicorns for children. The experience is quite affordable. Each item has a different price so you can choose according to your wallet, and it includes the paint, equipment, utensils as well as the firing. We had such fun choosing our stencils, stickers, paint brushes and paint colours to create our not-so-masterful pieces. The experience was incredibly relaxing. My colleague and I spent the time chatting and the art process facilitated a relaxing place of creativity and connection.
On the restaurant side of things, the menu is broad and offers breakfast, lunch, sweet treats, a kid’s menu AND a doggie menu! How fun is that – have you ever heard of a dog menu?! The service was also really good. Our waitress host was super friendly and knowledgeable. We felt welcome.
Clay Café is open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 9am to 5pm, but they will be open this Monday because of the public holiday. They also operate during loadshedding, which seems like a no-brainer these days, but we did check. This was a really surprising experience, and we hope you enjoy checking it out for yourself!