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Cape Town, South Africa


Restaurant Review - Lunch at Addis in Cape by Business Day Live

Review on, 17 October 2014 by Eugene Yiga

AFTER zigzagging through Cape Town’s central business district, we’re the first to arrive at Addis in Cape. At noon, the waiter unlocks the door to welcome us in with a smile. It’s the day after a steak dinner and I’m in the mood for something healthy. Good thing I’m with my vegan friend; he knows just what will hit the spot.

"I was here for my brother’s birthday dinner two years ago," I say as we make our way up the stairs of the Ethiopian restaurant. "But I’ve never been here in the daytime."

The space, which I remember as cosy and intimate that evening, takes on a different feel as sunshine pours through open windows. It’s airy and casual, but just as relaxed.

"Sharing is an important part of my culture," our waiter explains when suggesting a lunch combo. But despite my earlier intention to avoid meat for the day, I decide that my friend and I should have separate dishes. And so we place our order: a vegetarian platter for him, meat for me.

Our food is ready in about 15 minutes (there was nobody else in the restaurant for a good half an hour after we arrived). "If it’s this quick at lunchtime, you could come here with your new colleagues," I suggest. He’s a few weeks away from starting a job nearby. "I don’t know how many other decent choices you’ll have."

The waiter explains each wot (the general name for stews and sauces) as he tips the bowls, one by one, onto the injera (a large and thin sourdough flatbread).

Beef cubes and chicken fillet for me. Chickpea cakes and brown lentils for my friend. We share mushrooms, chickpeas, split red lentils, and tomato salads. Our meals become a smorgasbord of colours, smells and spicy tastes. I look down at the feast. It’s big enough to wrap my arms around.

"Don’t worry," my friend says. "It’s gluten-free, so you don’t end up feeling bloated." He scoops up his first bite, eyes happy to be back in his happy place. "And the best thing for me is that all the vegetarian meals are fully vegan."

Halfway through, we take a short break. "This isn’t the kind of place to rush through your meal," he explains. "It’s for enjoying yourself and taking your time."

Even though we somehow manage to get through (almost) all our food, I realise that we could have enjoyed a lighter lunch by ordering only one platter.

We end our meal by ordering coffee. Given that there are only two of us, the traditional ceremony is a shorter one. (The full version is available on request for a minimum of 10 people.)

"I love the smell of frankincense," my friend says as the tray is brought over. I put the burning candle on the windowsill so the rest of Cape Town can love the smell too.

"And I love coffee that tastes like coffee," he adds as the woman pours from the jabena (traditional pot) into a small cup. He leans back into his low chair and downs the bitter blackness straight.

I frown and add a teaspoon of sugar to mine. I have no qualms about sweetening the deal. Because I know I’ll be up until after midnight, it’s the perfect way to gear me up for the rest of the day.

Rating: four stars out of five.