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Pretoria City Snapshots

Text Robyn Alexander Photographs Sarah de Pina, supplied Best Weekend Lunch The country’s best-kept food secret won’t be a secret for long: Lientjie Wessels and Robert Denton recently opened their new eatery, Albizia, in the quaint mining village of Cullinan just 20km northeast of Pretoria. The food is irresistibly delicious (if available, try the seven-hour leg of lamb followed by the granadilla and amaretti fool) and the eclectic decor, just like Lientjie and Robert themselves, is utterly charming. 082-531-6141 Best Wildlife in the City Regarded as one of the best zoos in the world, the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa features 209 mammal species, 202 bird species and 93 reptile species. Be sure to wear comfy shoes (you’ll be doing plenty of walking around the spacious enclosures) and don’t forget sun block or your camera. 012-328-3165nzg.ac.za. Best Farmers’ Market The freshest veggies and flowers, as well as excellent nuts and handmade cheese, make the Pretoria Boeremark a must-visit for foodies. It happens every Saturday morning at the Pioneer Open Air Museum at Silverton – just be prepared to get up early, as it’s only open from 5.30am to 9.30am. pretoriaboeremark.co.za. Best Tea (with the kids) Take tea in one of the prettiest settings ever at Anja’s Tea Garden: the cute cottage and child-friendly play garden are the perfect environment for a bit of a gossip and some of Anja’s excellent baked goods. The quiche is worth skipping lunch for and the lemon tart is Tshwane’s finest. 012-807-4100, anjasgarden.com. Best Cultural Experience Inside you’ll find a superb collection of 20th-century masters, including breathtaking works by Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef as well as Pretoria’s own Tommy Motswai, Judith Mason and Walter Battiss. And then there’s the fact that the Pretoria Art Museum’s elegant mid-century building is worth admiring as a work of architectural art in its own right… pretoriaartmuseum.co.za. Best for Garden Inspiration Still top of the pops for plant lovers is Safari Garden Centre. From plants to pots, equipment, pest-conquerors and more, Safari has it all. If you’re in the process of planning your garden, this is a genuinely useful place to spend a morning. 012-807-0009, safarigardencentre.com. Best Doughnuts Elsa’s, in Menlo Park Centre, has been around for more than 30 years and is still serving up doughnuts that, frankly, put Krispy Kremes to shame. Grab a fresh circle doughnut to munch in the car (trust us, you won’t be able to get home first) and don’t forget to pick up a bag of the small round ones as well – the white chocolate-dipped variety are the best of a superlative bunch. Try the excellent pies and quiches too. 012-460-6053 Best Picnic Spot The Sammy Marks Museum is a Pretoria must-visit, and one of its citizens’ favourite places for a weekend picnic or afternoon tea. Dating from 1884 and the only fully intact, authentic Victorian mansion in the country, the sprawling home has 48 beautifully decorated rooms and is set in a picturesque garden. 012-802-1150 Best Panino and Gelato Nigel Slater once wrote, ‘Only the generous can make a sandwich worth eating.’ Which means BICCCS, in Waterkloof Heights Shopping Centre, is a veritable haven of generosity: their panini (positively stuffed with Italian salami, provolone and a plethora of other fillings) plus excellent gelato for afters have made this daytime eatery a Pretoria favourite. 012-346-3203 Best for Handmade Gifts Held in the charming grounds of Smuts House Museum, the Irene Village Market is a Tshwane original and still the best place to buy handmade creations from candles to jewellery and furniture to food. The Christmas markets are legendary and well worth the drive from Jozi. 012-667-1659, irenemarket.co.za. Best Deli Pure Café is known for its large selection of delectable deli items as well as being the purveyor of some of the city’s finest coffees (we’re especially partial to the double-shot latte). The breakfasts and light lunches are outstanding too – get there early, because this popular spot fills up fast. 012-342-1443, purecafe.co.za. Best Boerewors Mondanette Butchery, in Monument Park Shopping Centre, is the place to go for the best wors in town, as well as a cornucopia of other superb meat products. 012-346-1882 Best Saturday Shopping (and socialising) The Hazel Food Market is one of best Saturday-morning markets in the country, with a wide selection of stalls selling everything from delicious Dutch kroketten to artisan breads, handmade cheeses and home-cured meats. Sit down at one of the long tables and snack on homemade prawn dumplings while you people-watch – and decide what else to buy. 083-554-5636, hazelfoodmarket.co.za. Best Bread With its huge selection of excellent rye breads – we love the Berliner (traditional rye with caraway seeds) – Die Brotstube in Natalie Road is the go-to bakery for Pretoria’s large German community. The rolls, breads, superb pastries and cakes are all delicious. (When you visit, make sure to pop into Alma Butchery next door: their German-style cold meats and cheeses are the perfect match for your Brotstube loaf.) 012-803-2883 Best for Lunch with a Friend Carlton Café in Menlo Park Centre is an intimate eatery that’s ideal for catch-up sessions. Breakfast options include the wittily named What Rabbit? (their delectable take on Welsh rarebit) while light lunches include a divine toasted cheese sarmie (with Camembert), excellent salads and specials. Note that you can also order out via Carlton Café’s own ‘deli brand’ Delicious. 012-460-7996, carltoncafe.co.za. Best for Foodie Gifts With its range of oils, vinegars, dips, tapenades and pestos, Oil & Vinegar at Woodlands Boulevard is the place to go when you need just the right oil for that special salad or vinegar (fig balsamic, perhaps?) to drizzle on your veggies. You can sample to your heart’s content too. We snapped up an extra virgin olive oil with Tuscan herbs – a great gift for the foodie who has everything. 012-997-7761 Best Garden Accessories For devotees of French country style, Garden Bleu is one the best garden decor shops in SA, and the original Hatfield store (they now also have branches in Riebeeck-Kasteel and Joburg) is satisfyingly crammed with owner Rhoda Kruger’s elegant designs in wrought iron, metal and wood. You’ll find everything from gazebos to bistro chairs, trellises and chandeliers here. 012-362-1664, gardenbleu.co.za. Best Supermarket The Glenfair Superspar may have its fans (especially for its meat market and huge range of Asian condiments) but the Food Lover’s Market at Woodlands Boulevard is even better. From its gargantuan fresh fruit and veg section to the wide range of seafood, superb cheese selection, in-store bakery, pizzeria and sushi bar, this is convenience shopping at its finest – and all at competitive prices too. 012-997-5364, fruitandvegcity.co.za/the-food-lovers-market.html. Best Urban Birding The Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary is home to a large number of avian species including the blue crane, our national bird. It’s a suburban oasis with a hide from which to watch birds in the small dam, guided walks and a place to warm up with a coffee (the Blue Crane restaurant) after your twitching session. 012-440-8316tshwane.gov.za/Services/Nature%20Conservation/Pages/Austin-Roberts-Memorial-Bird-Sanctuary.aspx. Best Fresh Food Store The Food Lover’s Market at Woodlands Boulevard is convenience shopping at its finest – and all at competitive prices, too. It has a gargantuan fresh fruit and veg section, a wide range of seafood, a superb cheese selection, in-store bakery, pizzeria and sushi bar. 012-997-5364, fruitandvegcity.co.za. This original article is from the January/ February 2012 issue of House and Leisure…