Sunday, 18 March 2012

Hotel and Restaurant Reviews

Please have a look at The Benjamin Hotel Sidewalk Cafe Critique, and keep a look out for the Olive&Oil Critique coming out soon! There will also be a review of Upton Hall and Docklands Hotel and Wodka Restaurant as well.

I am also starting a comparative restaurant crit - focusing on a popular family restaurant chain. Watch this space!

If you are a restaurant owner/manager or hotelier, and would like me to review your venue then please email me at

Meanwhile - feast your eyes on the delicious calamari and home-made mashed potato below...

Free expanding waistline, courtesy of Olive&Oil

Sandy Bigara

The Benjamin - Restaurant/Hotel Critique

Restaurant Critique: The Benjamin Hotel - Sidewalk Cafe
Location: 141 Florida rd, Morningside Durban
Contact: 031 3034233
The Benjamin - Sidewalk Cafe

After two lovely dining experiences at The Benjamin, my husband and I were given two complimentary meal vouchers for the new Sidewalk Café at The Benjamin.

We headed over unexpectedly in the middle of a hot and stifling day in Durban!
I liked the simplicity of the café layout, pretty tables set with white décor, scattered under the branches of a gorgeous indigenous tree. We opted to sit on the second level under the porch and I enjoyed having a slightly elevated view as we snacked and chatted.

Chicken breast with basil mayo and grilled
tomatoes, on a white french loaf.

I ordered a pot of Five Roses tea, and opted for the chicken breast with basil mayo and grilled tomatoes on a white french loaf. My husband ordered a cappuccino and went for the Smoked salmon on seed bread.
Both meals arrived with a gorgeous array of greens and olives, we both absolutely loved our choices! My roll was fresh and crisp, the chicken was soft and juicy, the basil mayo was freshly made and delicately flavoured. The cherry tomatoes completed the dish with their gorgeous sun ripened taste! I never eat salad (my dear Mum will testify to this) but every time that I have eaten at The Benjamin, I find myself enjoying every bit of salad on my plate!  

Smoked salmon on fresh seed bread.
My Husband, when asked "So what did you think?" replied with much enthusiasm "Tasty!" he said that the salmon was delicate, not too 'fishy' and that the portion was perfect and had left him feeling satisfied. He mentioned that the flavours were subtle and intriguing and that the herbed mayo was gentle and suited the salmon perfectly. His only complaint was that he had ordered a cappuccino instead of an orange juice… and promptly ordered an orange juice!

The vibe of the place was reminiscent of my time in Spain, sitting at sidewalk cafes and watching the world go by. The waitress arrived when we needed her, and we weren't 'interfered with' and the gentle Florida road breeze was fabulous after a sweltering day!

Francis's Cappucino.

Warning: Do not go there for a "quick snack" this is the perfect place for deep thinkers, poets, muso's and people who appreciate a meal that is made with love and attention to detail. This venue is not child friendly – it is a place where harried Mums can escape for a while sans kids!
Some suggestions from a patron's point of view, when you arrive make sure that you announce yourself at the front desk. Because the café is outside of the hotel it will ensure that you are seen to quickly. Also, once seated it is difficult to get the waiter's attention. It would also be lovely to have some signage – even removable signage – announcing that it is a sidewalk café and drawing attention to any specials that might be on offer. Another suggestion is to have a guitarist (some African French music perhaps?) playing live music or perhaps have music playing outside.

About The Fabulous Chef
Sandy Bigara and the multi-talented Tess Cebekulu

Tess Cebekulu is the Chef at The Benjamin; she prepared our meal on Valentine's evening this year, and managed to present delicious dishes to quite a large crowd. Each course of that meal was exquisitely made, subtle tastes, textures, flavours and colour – an absolute treat for patrons who are used to being served rubbish at many other restaurants…
My Valentine's starter was baby prawns on a bed of mixed salad with a sweet sticky mango salsa – I do not eat prawn OR salad but wolfed this started down and wished for more… my main dish was succulent chicken breast served with a mixed baby salad, divine peppadew pesto, grilled garlic (without that garlic smell!), mashed peas and potato au gratin – I absolutely loved it. Every part of the dish was well balanced and served to bring out the flavours of each separate entity. It was like eating art…
If you want to experience dining that is home cooked, made with care and attention to detail – then Tess Cebekulu is the person to call upon. I for one am going to be taking my Mother and Grandmother there asap for lunch!

Sandy Bigara

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Internships & Learnerships / Bursaries : March 2012

Monica Mosia wrote:

Internships & Learnerships / Bursaries

- Student Job: FNB Brand Ambassador 2012 16 March 2012

- National Lotteries Board Internship 2012 Closing Date: 30 March 2012

- Kruger National Park Internship Programme 2012 Closing Date: 9 March 2012

- HR Administrator Internship Closing Date: 09 March 2012

- MWeb IT Internship 2012 Closing Date: 12 March 2012

- Anglo American Learnership Closing Date: 09 March 2012

- Media24 Journalism Bursary Closing Date:18 March 2012

- Nedbank Scholarships Programme opens for registrations

- SARS Needs ICT Graduate Trainees Closing Date:20 March 2012

- Foschini Internship Programme 2012

- Transet Graduate in Training Programme 2012 Closing Date: 09 March 2012

- Eskom Technician Programme Closing Date: 16 March 2012

-sourced from Monica Mosia on Facebook.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Cosatu March against e-Tolling : South Africa

Cosatu has begun their protest marches against e-tolling in Gauteng. This initiative by Cosatu members has gained massive support and has caused chaos with the public transport sector. ( )


My office assistant was stoned this morning while running for cover – she has injured her back but managed to find a taxi. We will be driving her home tonight to ensure that she arrives in Inanda safely.


The new Gauteng/JHB e-Tolling system threatens to raise monthly expenses to an absurd level, threatening SMME's and Entrepreneurs alike. The raise in expenditure per person travelling is between R500 – R1000 a month, this will push up all transport costs, which will have a knockdown effect on things like food prices and bus fares/tax fares. The ruling body of South Africa has remained suspiciously quiet about the matter. ( )


Visit the e-Toll website and learn more about how this system can and will affect you, whether you live in Gauteng or not. ( )


For e-Tolling news links:,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=bd5f54be03667ba9&biw=1366&bih=673


Facebook status like the following:  

"All DBN peeps, avoid the (Durban) CBD for a few hours, the COSATU march is progressing down West Str (Dr. Pixley K str)!"


And Twitter is a buzz with tweets like: 

@HajraOmarjee: 30 thousand on the street in JHB. 

@phillipdewet: Police here wont yet give crowd estimates for #cosatu JHB, but none can remember a march this big since the 1980's.


Some more interesting links:,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=bd5f54be03667ba9&biw=1366&bih=673


What are your thoughts on e-Tolling? I personally think that it is absolute rubbish. With the amount of fraudulent activity going on at a Government level in South Africa it is surely just a little more "icing" on top of a very heavily frosted cake (too tempting)


Let me know.



Sandy Bigara
*Picture of marching crowd sourced from sabc2 via google search.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Tropical Cyclone Durban KZN : Photographs V

Sailing paper boats down our street. So much water everywhere! Crazy.

Although we were laughing, my heart aches for the shack dwellers :(


Tropical Cyclone Durban KZN : Photographs IIII

Umgeni road.

The M4 is closed between DBN CBD and Durban North.

Tropical Cyclone Durban KZN : Photographs III

Thanks to Kirsten Lee and Dee Wade for photo's.

Tropical Cyclone Durban KZN : Photographs II

Thanks to Lyn Maritz Wilson for these pictures.

Tropical Cyclone KZN : Photographs Pictures

Thanks to Kerry Aylward via Christine Thompson, Teressa Cameron, Rachel Basckin, and Moi for these photos - more to follow!

South Africa Weather Satellite Map -

Live satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Irina over KZN!

Tropical Cyclone KZN: Sunday Update

From a personal point of view this is very heavy rain, we are in Durban and it is belting down, puddles have formed everywhere and there is a steady stream of rushing water running down the road.

I've heard reports that sections of Durban's CBD are flooded and there was also a ridiculous bbm did the rounds that stated that Suncoast Casino had been flooded by a large wave.

So far so good, if the rain keeps up at this rate then I believe we will see the 300mm predicted for Durban and the full 600mm predicted for North Coast towns (Richards bay etc)

In the meantime stay safe, sand bag where you have too and drive slowly as visibility is very low. There will be deep puddles and pools on the freeways, typically under bridges or in curves of the road.

For a fantastic in depth article please click on the following link:

Keep safe, high and dry

Sandy Bigara

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Tropical Cyclone KZN : Update

So the much anticipated 18:00 came and went with only a smattering of light showers across the Durban area.

People are starting to joke and make light of the "Cyclone that wasn't" but a friend on Facebook recently posted that they are actually on the beach at Salt Rock - North Coast - and that the waves are unusually high and aggressive (like certain durban 'bergies' on a Friday night) indicating that the cyclone is still on it's way.

There is still a disaster warning being upheld. For those who live up the North Coast of KZN please be watchful, if your home is low-lying then take precautions (sand bagging, towels under doors etc) to lessen the chance of any flooding. If you live near a water source (river, lake, dam) then please be prepared.

Good luck everyone!

Sandy Bigara

My Novel Available for Purchase

PAPER BACK Please follow the link below to purchase my paperback Novel :
Price online is R98.00 / $13.00 / £8.20 (excl shipping)
ECO FRIENDLY OPTION Or alternatively - email me for banking details and after proof of payment I will email you a eBook Reader copy for Kindle etc.
Price is R80 / $11 / £6.77 (no shipping costs - free through email)
More info at:
The second installment is due out by year end and is already promising to be an unforgettable read!
Sandy Bigara

Friday, 2 March 2012

Error: mm not ml!

Having a bit of a giggle, it seems that a typo gremlin got it's way and changed tropical cyclone Demoina from a devastating 400 - 600mm of rain into a buddy coke's worth 400 - 600ml of rain...

Apologies for the misinformation.

Sandy Bigara

Tropical Cyclone Durban KZN

"ml/mm" has now been CORRECTED! Take THAT typo gremlin!

Northern KZN is expected to get over 400mm of rain over the weekend thanks to the nasty tropical cyclone headed our way. God be with the shack dwellers and those living near, or at the mercy of, rivers.

Disaster management teams are on standby.

The last big tropical cyclone was 'Domoina' which hit KwaZulu-Natal in 1984 and dumped between 400 - 600mm of rain over a few days.

The Durban's Metro Police and Fire Department can be contacted on the following number 0313610000.

Durban and surrounds are expected to experience heavy rainfall from about 18:00 with rainfall of 200 - 400mm expected over the next three days.

Other links:

Stay high and dry all.

Sandy Bigara