Old-world elegance makes up for uneven fare
Andre Burgener has been immersed in all things food since she took over the making of the family's lunch box sandwiches aged eight (her mom could make a mean creme brulee and a staggering souffle, but could never butter the bread all the way to the edges.
PEOPLE - well some - are always going on about how ugly Johannesburg is. And yet, where there is beauty, it's largely ignored.
The most beautiful dining room in the city (and beyond), the powder blue main dining room at the Rand Club in the old CBD, is only patronised by a handful of regulars.
There is something so perfectly Johannesburg about the suited nonagenarian mining magnates hovering above their mulligatawny soup, while on one side of the building the sounds of union protesters filter up through the huge windows, and a few blocks downtown people are feasting in far more modest rooms - Little Addis, A Palhota - on probably more delicious fare.
The downstairs bar - the longest wooden bar on the continent - is another thing of beauty, and they do a mean pink G&T. The fact that the food is uneven (one day the avo ritz and the Yorkshire puddings are great, the next visit dismal) is irrelevant.
Food is uneven in so many of the city's dining spots, with nothing to make up for it. Just stick to the dress code rules available on their site, www.randclub.co.za. Also, no children, and no answering cellphones in the dining room.
But what could be nicer than a grown-ups only, cell-free lunch in your loveliest clothes? I know, it's the whole colonial thing, and I'm aware that for years only white Anglo-Saxon males were allowed to set foot here, but I still say that in 2012 it's one of the best things about our city. Booking for lunch compulsory on 011-870-4263.
I'm no huge biscuit fan. Still less do I like Italian biscuits, which tend to be too sweet and too dry. But these are something else.
Made with olive oil instead of butter, white wine instead of eggs or other liquid, and spiked with anise seed and lemon, Ciambelle (which can also signify a bundt-style cake) are for those with biscuit ennui. Eat them with ice cream or coffee, or scoff them plain.
For about 20: 1 cup sugar / 1 cup white wine / ½ cup olive oil / 1tbsp anise seed / 2 tsp baking powder / 4 cups flour / rind of one lemon / 2 tsp extra sugar. Mix flour, baking powder, sugar and anise in bowl, make a well in the centre and add wine, oil and lemon. Mix all well, even kneading a bit. Tear off lychee-sized blobs, roll into worms, and form into doughnuts. Dip tops into the extra sugar. Place on greased trays and bake for about 20 minutes or until getting golden. Only eat once cool.