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Vasco’s Durban, A Tasty Delight

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Recently I had the privilege of attending a dinner at Vasco’s – a new restaurant which has recently opened its doors to Durbanites and visitors to Durban alike.

Vasco’s (named for Vasco da Gama, who introduced us to the spices of the East) is located at the Hilton Hotel, Durban. It has replaced the old Hilton Hotel restaurant, the Rainbow Terrace, yet is not just any ‘hotel restaurant’ – it is seen as it’s own entity, a stand alone restaurant where hotel guests and outside guests mingle alike.

The decor is very contemporary-chic, with a large focus on local in the design.  You can see that they’ve used both African and Indian styles in their decor with the gorgeous colours used, and the mountain range inspired wall art.

The staff were exceptionally friendly and helpful, and we had a nice long chat with both the executive chef, Cleo Govender and the Hilton’s food and beverage manager Cameron Townend.

Vasco’s is also one of the only restaurants to have an electric Tandoori oven, and this provides authentic food as well as an entertainment value, as you can watch food being cooked in the oven while perusing the rest of the buffet foods available.

One can find delicious breakfasts and dinners at Vasco’s, both buffet and a la carte, and they do occasionally open for lunch.  They have two ‘themed’ evenings – Off The Hook, a seafood buffet on a Friday evening at R350pp, and Flavours Of The East, a curry buffet on a Saturday evening at R275pp.  The regular buffet cost is R310pp and the buffet is open from 6:30pm-10:30pm.  They can also host functions on their terrace, which has a gorgeous view and a very Sandton-esque feel to it.

Although we were going to eat buffet-style (my favourite – you can take exactly what you like, or just try and taste everything! Note – I could honestly not fit everything in, and I’m going to have to go back to taste the rest… yum), we did have a quick look at the a la carte menu, and the meals looked amazing.  Chef Cleo’s South African Eggs Benedict (regular eggs benedict, with added sauteed spinach, chakalaka and boerewors make this sound delightful) and the Murgh Makhani Pizza (pulled Butter Chicken, mozzarella, coriander and crispy onion on a pizza – um… yes please!) both shouted out to me.  I might have to go back for that pizza alone!  They also have an impressive wine list, with a nice variety of wines for all flavour palettes and price ranges.  We sipped on the Ernie Els Big Easy 2016 Red Blend and it was sublime.

We headed up to check out the buffet and what was on offer – and boy did I have a hard time making a decision.  On offer at the Salad and Starter section was a stunning make-your-own-salad bar, with every topping and goodie you could imagine.  I grabbed a few thing to make myself feel healthier about the fact I KNEW I’d be grabbing some naan bread later on.  There was also cured meats, cured and smoked fish, two different noodle/pasta salads, a tabbouleh salad, beetroot salad, a tomato, fennel and baked fish salad, the BEST potato salad I’ve eaten, with sesame seeds and mustard, corn fritters, sticky pork ribs, a creamy broccoli soup and an assortment of breads with butter.

VASCO'S RESTAURANT, DURBAN

Starter – Tabbouleh Salad

I tried some of the salad goodies, a potato salad, a corn fritter, some smoked salmon, some olives and pickled onions and the beef and sweet chilli noodle salad.  All were delicious and my plate was wiped clean very quickly.

Next up – the Hot and Main section.  They have a hot top grill that has a 6 day rotation of meals, which vary between things like braai/grill meet, a carvery, a chow mein station or a pasta station.  They had the chow mein station and pasta station open, and I was so tempted to go with some beef chow mein with noodles and veggies and lots of soy sauce (oh gosh I love soy sauce!) but I figured I’d go back for it.  I didn’t.  They also had the beautiful Tandoori oven going, with naan breads being constantly baked (garlic/sesame/butter varieties) and were producing some gorgeous Tandoori fish and chicken.  There was also a butter chicken curry, mutton curry and a broad bean curry, as well as a veggie casserole, a paella with chorizo and white wine, steamed green veg, baby potatoes and basmati rice, along with various toppings and chillies.

VASCO'S RESTAURANT, DURBAN

I went with the naan, some butter chicken, a bit of the Tandoori chicken and the Tandoori fish, and some of the gorgeous looking paella.  I also grabbed some of the whole chillies, as my partners plate was too full for them!  I won’t lie, I figured I’d go back for the chow mein and some of the mutton curry, but I just knew I wouldn’t have space for dessert then.  It didn’t stop me having another piece of naan though!

The Dessert section consisted of a lovely board of local cheeses with crackers and bread, as well as red velvet cake, fruit salad, brownies, trifles, mini pavlovas, mini fruit tarts, mini pecan tarts and a hot chocolate pudding with custard.

VASCO'S RESTAURANT, DURBAN

I knew I wouldn’t be able to fit much more in my full tum, so I went for a thin sliver of the red velvet cake and a brownie.  Both were utterly divine, the best red velvet cake I’ve eaten!  My only regret is not trying out the hot chocolate pudding and the pecan tarts, but hey – I’ll be back!

Visit the Hilton Hotel website to view the menu and make your booking!

Breakfast times:
Monday to Friday: 6.30am – 10.30am
Saturday, Sunday & public holidays: 7:00am – 11:00am

Dinner times:
Monday to Sunday: 6.30pm – 10:30pm

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Art

THE EAST COAST RADIO HOUSE + GARDEN SHOW

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Come out to play! We’re all going to be at the East Coast Radio House + Garden Show 2024, opening from the 29 June to the 7 July at the Durban Exhibition Centre.  Every day and every night for 9 full days, you’ll get to discover a brand-new world of fresh and fabulous takes on Creating Happy Homes… and you’ll leave with a headful of different ideas, hands full of goodies and gadgets, and a heart full of joyful spoils and inspiration.

IT’S A WIN-WIN!

We’ve got all the spoils this year, with over R300 000 worth of competition prizes in cash, products and experiences; not including our legendary Show discounts and specials available every day! Join Plascon as they take you on a fun digital Treasure Hunt, and ka-ching, a chance to step out with R10 000 cash in your pocket. Eye and try your luck at Hirsch’s Mysterious Big Blue Box, packed with appliances, little and large. Peer into the box’s peepholes, check out the contents, estimate the total value, and pop your golden guess into the Entry Box. Best Clue Ever… snoop around the Hirsch’s stand to discover the goods and their prices! Then, for all our budding creatives, Cricut is giving away a whopping R100 000 worth of awesome products when you design a custom shopping bag that everybody loves best! The Cricut experts will assist you with making your actual bag right then and there. Let the voting begin!

The East Coast Radio House + Garden Show caters for dreams too! One Stop Travel has FIVE competition prizes to transport you to other worlds… from local to global, from land to sea, to three hot pairs of rugby tickets for the Castle Lager Rugby Match where SA take on Ireland in Durban on the 13 July, 2024! Sail away, travel north, south, east or west, or snap up two air tickets on Qatar Airways to Doha for four nights! R100 000 worth of dreams, and all prize winners will be announced at the Show!

IT’S A FAMILY AFFAIR

This year’s Show is big on families! It’s the holidays, so bring the children along for the fun and games. We’ve got everything awesome from an outdoor Jungle Gym, Bubble House and Sand Art to the magical indoor Play Space by Melissa and Doug. Your kids can meet their favourite fairytale characters, play dress-up and make-believe and join other friends in a dozen different kids-only workshops – painting with Rapunzel, decorating take-home toadstools, or creating super cool snow globes. Let them listen in to story time, and escape to a fantasy storybook world where they can be whoever they’ve dreamt of being! The great outdoors or the fun-filled indoors – there’s a whole heap of good kids’ things going on at the East Coast Radio House + Garden Show. It’s going to be the best fun ever for kids and parents alike.

IT’S A FOODIE FAIR

Food glorious food! This year’s Foodie Fair is a playground of flavours and fresh faces, from tasty newcomers to equally tasty old favourites – they’re pulling out the stops to ensure everybody’s tastebuds are catered for! With around 40 fabulous, hand-picked food stalls, what’s it to be today or tonight? Grand gourmet burgers or delectable eisbein, go Mexican or Korean, choose sweet and sticky or something artisanal and curated? All the best brands! And at the heart of it all, is the coolest Gin Garden – bag your barstool for insane cocktails, craft beers, and mellow tunes. Think bright gin cocktails and beer on tap, all washed down with a line-up of musicians ready to entertain at scheduled times throughout the Show. Meet up with mates at the Gin Garden stage to watch and listen to the cool sounds of Matt Gardiner, Freddy L and Tatum Holder. Before, during or after you tour the Show, the Gin Garden will be the best place to be… and be seen. Don’t just visit the Show, come for a day or night on the town. Make it a meal and a Show. It’s all happening at this year’s Foodie Fair at the East Coast Radio House + Garden Show 2024!

IT’S AN OUTDOOR PLAYGROUND

Go on, take the family, the Great Outdoors awaits, whether it’s as close as your garden, or as far as unexplored corners of the globe. Stroll through our outdoor lanes, snooping, plotting, planning and shopping your next wild getaway. From rugged little off-roaders to adventure accessories, garden gadgets and 4×4 vehicles, this is where nature waves her wand. A fresh world of adventure awaits you outside at this year’s East Coast Radio House + Garden Show.

IT’S A DÉCOR DELIGHT

What’s in, what’s out, what’s hot, what’s not – decor and designs, quick fixes and slow burns, colours you can taste… they’ll all be there at the 2024 East Coast Radio House + Garden Show. Welcome to this year’s powerhouse of local and global design concepts, all collated for you to Create a Happy Home. Come and Discover KZN Design, where local is king – a hand-picked collective of exciting artists, crafters and entrepreneurs, producing dynamic, world-class work right on our doorstep. From unique ceramic pieces to iconic artwork, you’ll want to take one home.

The Show loves to showcase local, but global always gets a big look-in. Whether it’s our favourite demonstrators conjuring up international aromas, flavours and recipes in the madly popular Hirsch Test Kitchen, or the thrill of mind-blowing technology advances as Hirsch’s parades good-looking appliances and very cool gadgets.

We go glocal, too, with glorious colour and decor trends in Plascon’s Showrooms, where we put an up-and-coming interior design agency in the spotlight using two of the latest colour palettes. We lust after the exquisite custom-made Barbet Interiors furniture, and plot how to make one of those pieces our very own.  It’s all about dreaming and scheming at the East Coast Radio House + Garden Show 2024 – and we provide all the stuff of dreams!

The East Coast Radio House + Garden Show is sponsored by Plascon with Durban Tourism as destination partners.
For more information visit www.housegardenshow.co.za or follow the Show on Instagram and Facebook using @housegardenshow.

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Events

Diarise these Oyster Box events in December

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Diarise these Oyster Box events for the month of December.

DINNER AND A MOVIE 2nd December
It’s date night at The Oyster Box! Start your evening with a two-course dinner in the Ocean Terrace at 18h00, followed by a movie with popcorn and a glass
of sparkling wine in the cinema at 20h00.
18h00 in The Ocean Terrace I 20h00 in The Cinema I Price: R590 per person

CAROLS BY CANDLELIGHT 14th & 15th December
A time of tradition and family, Christmas Carols on the Ocean Terrace at The Oyster Box, marks the beginning of the Festive season and summer holidays.
A plated starter, buffet main, plated dessert and festive entertainment are on the menu.
Time: 18h00 – 21h00 I Venue: The Ocean Terrace I
Price: R690 per adult, R420 per child under 12 years

CHRISTMAS EVE DINNER 24th December
Get the Festive weekend off to a stylish start with Christmas Eve Dinner in the elegant Grill Room.
Regrettably no children.
Time: 18h00 – 22h00 I Venue: The Grill Room I Price: R2 600 per person

CHRISTMAS DAY LUNCH 25th December
Each of The Oyster Box’s dining venues will be offering delicious lunch feasts on Christmas Day. All venues will be offering live music, a welcome beverage
on arrival and delicious seasonal menus.
Time: 12h00 – 16h00 I Venue: The Ocean Terrace and The Grill Room I
Price: R2 600 per person, R1 600 per child under 12 years

NEW YEAR’S EVE DINNER 31st December
“SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER”
Put on your best Boogie Shoes as we take you back to the Seventies this New Year’s Eve! Dance your way into 2023 in retro 70’s gear and join us for a blast from the past!
Time: 19h00 onwards I Venue: The Pearl Room I
Price: R2 900 per adult, R1 900 per child under 12 years

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Food

Enzo – first KZN pizzeria recognised in nationwide challenge

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Scottburgh’s renowned Enzo Pizzeria Trattoria has become the first KwaZulu-Natal restaurant to make it into the Top 10 of the nationwide Porcupine Ridge Pizzeria Challenge 2022.

Owner Enzo Tilli is over the moon for making it to the number five spot despite stiff competition from around the country. No KZN restaurants made it into the top 10 in the 2021 challenge.

In 1990, at the tender age of 18, Tilli decided to follow his passion for creating authentic Italian food and with the help of his mother, embarked on an adventure into the unknown opening Enzo Pizzeria in Johannesburg’s West Rand. The authentic pizzas he dished up were an instant hit and it was not long before Tilli opened a second branch at Gold Reef City.

Seven years later Tilli sold his two eateries and moved to KwaZulu Natal to open Enzo Pizzeria Trattoria in Scottburgh. As was the case in Gauteng, it did not take long for Enzo to become a popular destination for locals and tourists who – 25-years later – still can’t get enough of his mouth-wateringly good pizzas. Says Tilli: “Like all good pizzas, ours are made with the finest ingredients and cooked to perfection in a wood-burning clay oven.”

Despite the celebrations, Tilli made some time to answer a few questions about Enzo and – more importantly – his coveted pizzas!

Tell us a bit about your restaurant and what makes your pizzas so popular
Enzo’s is more an eatery or as we say in Italy a ‘trattoria’ which means casual and relaxed dining. Our pizzas are made in the authentic Neapolitan style, in a wood-burning oven. They have a light and airy base, and we use only the best quality ingredients. We believe that whoever is making the pizza should have lots of love for what they are creating and that their passion is a big part of what makes them so good.

What is your signature pizza or best-seller?
Without doubt the Del Greco pizza which has a bacon feta and fresh avocado topping. We also have four different starter pizzas, three Calzongino choices (foot long, fold over pizzas), six different vegetarian pizzas and 19 more other options from which to choose.

What’s better, a thin crust or a thick crust?
For me, it must have a thin, light base and slightly charred on the bottom and must always be cooked in a wood-burning oven just like in Naples, the home of the pizza.

What is your favourite pizza topping?
I still like the classics – a Regina, a quattro stagioni or a simple Margarita with anchovies.

For more on Porcupine Ridge, please visit: www.boekenhoutskloof.co.za/porcupine-ridge

Enzo Pizzeria Trattoria can be found at Shop 5 The Terrace, 129 Marine Terrace, Scottburgh, KZN. Telephone number for bookings: 039 978 3674

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