Backyard gazebo

Backyard gazebo
Enjoying a cup at home

Thursday, March 19, 2015

And so the Crawl ends...... it was not about the coffee

This is it, my final PECC blog post.  Lou's and my time in PE is quickly coming to an end and we will soon be returning to the States permanently.  I decided that the 4th anniversary Crawl would be the perfect time to end this incredible journey.  It matters not where we went to celebrate the occasion on February 19.

Our 4th Anniversary

More 4th Anniversary Crawlers

I started the Port Elizabeth Coffee Crawl in February, 2011, seven months after Lou and I moved to PE.  My initial intent was to introduce my family and friends back home in the States to PE via blogging about the local coffee shops.  But it was also intended for me to meet some new people, learn my way around town, and perhaps even improve my computer and photography skills.
For as much as the teacher in me wants to give a final grade on how successful I was in accomplishing these goals, I'll refrain and, instead, impart some reflections on the four years of the Port Elizabeth Coffee Crawl.

Some of the Crawl regulars celebrating our 4th

I ended my very first post, dated February 13, 2011, with the words, "And so the crawl begins...."
At that time I could not have imagined the enormous impact the Crawl would have on my life here in PE, South Africa.  It started as a couple of ladies going out for a quick cup of coffee but, during the course of the 4 years, over 140 people (men, women and children - ages spanning 9 decades!) have joined me on my weekly coffee shop visits.  These Crawlers represented 11 different countries, we have visited over 120 different coffee shops and have tasted 29 brands of coffee!  What eventually became a core group of 15-20 regulars brought family, friends and visitors to Crawl with us.

At first, back in February, 2011 the shop visits and my blog posts were all about the coffee.  As the years progressed and we met more and more people, including shop owners, baristas, visitors, strangers who just joined us for the day and strangers who became regulars, it became less and less about the coffee.

The Crawlers have celebrated becoming parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents, we've consoled those who have lost loved ones, exchanged cultural ideas and ideals, hosted a bridal shower and attended the subsequent wedding, reunited long lost cousins, celebrated birthdays and holidays, shared hundreds of books, have said farewell to old years and welcomed in new years, and have turned relative strangers into the best of friends.  Over a weekly cup of coffee the Crawlers have become my SA family and I have come to realize that the Port Elizabeth Coffee Crawl was, in fact, not about the coffee at all.

Tons of thank you's:

~Thank you to my husband, Lou, who came up with the name of my blog!
~Thank you to Lou and my father-in-law, Sabie, whose support and encouragement got me through
  some frustrating times with the blog
~Thank you to my family and friends Stateside for whom the blog was initially intended
~Thank you to Beth Vieira, Fran de Beer and Gail Taverner who agreed to come on the first Crawl
   with me
~Thank you to everyone who has ever been on the Crawl and especially to the 15-20 regulars who
   pitched, rain or shine
~Thank you to Firefly/Jonker Fourie for the technical help back in 2011 and who is the PECC most
  dedicated reader even though we have never met in really kept me going!
~Thank you to all the coffee shop owners, baristas and staff members for your patience and general
  good humor with the Crawlers
~Thank you to everyone at Masterton's
~Thank you to all of the PECC readers all over the world who have contributed to the 90,000 hits on
  my blog!

And so the Crawl ends,

Three of the four original Crawlers
Fran, Ellen, Beth

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Ground Floor Cafe

Back in January the Crawlers revisited Brioche.  We received excellent service from our waiter, Bright, plus a recommendation to visit Ground Floor, the coffee shop where his twin brother Brian works.  It took us a few weeks to act on Bright's suggestion but on Thursday February 12 the Crawlers headed to Ground Floor, located at 20a Stanley St. in Richmond Hill.  As a point of reference, Ground Floor is situated between The Granary and The Love of Wine.  Owner Janey Nortje, along with her right hand man/barista Brian opened Ground Floor in November, 2014.

Meet the Owner
Janey Nortje

Wise words!

Though relatively new Ground Floor has become very popular among PE coffee lovers.  A personable hostess, an efficient staff and Brian's excellent barista skills make a visit to Ground Floor quite enjoyable.  The shop seats approximately fifty patrons and offers breakfasts, cakes. light lunches and a variety of beverages.

Meet the Barista
Brian, Bright's twin brother

A Valentine cappuccino

The Ground Floor's hours are Mon-Fri, 6:30-5; Sat, 8-2; Sun, 8-1.  Call Janey at 041 582 2081 for a booking or to order take-aways.

Though a few days early, Crawlers Beth Vieira, Stella and Beryl Dawson, Gail Darne, Leanne Waller, Colleen Le Roux, Jenny Fowler, Vicki Minnaar, Nicolette Hijmans, Eliza Pretorius, Margaret Zoetmulder celebrated our Valentine's Day Crawl at the Ground Floor.  It was a beautiful morning so we all decided on outside seating to take in the atmosphere only Stanley Street can offer.

This Week's Crawlers
Beth, Beryl, Elize, Stella, Leanne,
Vicki, Gail, Nicolette, Jenny, Margaret, Colleen

More of Brian's barista skills

As we enjoyed our Sumatran brand coffees and Ground Floor's freshly baked cakes (and the Valentine's chocolates I brought) conversation centered yet again around what has become the bane of existence in SA.....load shedding.  And, alas, at 10:00 on the dot, the power went out!  AAARRRGGGHHH!  Thank goodness Janey has access to a generator.....the coffees kept coming, uninterrupted.

Conversation then turned to Pres. Zuma's State of the Nation address scheduled for that very evening.  Eskom assured citizens that no power interruptions would occur during the President's televised speech.  The Crawlers were all planning to watch the address in anticipation of  interruptions of a different kind!  TIA

~Thank you to Janey, Brian, and the Ground Floor staff
~Thank you to Brian's twin brother, Bright, for recommending Ground Floor

And, for the last time......
Until next week,


Inside dining area

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Fratelli Foods

Prior to our February 5 Crawl, it had been three months since we've visited a new coffee shop; revisits have been the norm.  However, thanks to the ever watchful eye of Leanne Waller, our Crawl #162 took place at the newest coffee shop in PE.

Fratelli, located on Alabaster St. in Baakens Valley, opened its doors in mid January of this new year.  Owner Michelle Puggia has been a distributor of Fratelli Italians Foods for a number of years and decided to expand her business to include the cutest little coffee shop in town.

The only way I can think of to describe Fratelli is "Italian Rustic."  With seating at tables and bars surrounded by Italian goodies, continental wines and liquers, and fun old black and white photos of "the fam," up to thirty patrons can be treated to one of the best cappuccinos in town.  Barista Pique whips up not only cappuccinos but a variety of coffee specialties using Fratelli's own blend of La Dolce Vita brand coffee.  A selection of other hot and cold beverages along with cakes, baked goods, light lunches and deli items make up the menu that appears chalkboard style at the entrance to the shop.

Meet the Owner
Michelle Puggia

Everything looks yum, but as aside......when Leanne and I made our scoping out trip to Fratelli to make the February 5 Crawl reservation I ordered the chicken and butternut salad......probably the best salad I've had in my kidding!

PE residents, a visit to Fratelli, our town's newest coffee shop, is a must!!!!!
Fratelli's hours are Mon-Sat, 7:30-4.

Meet the Barista

It was nice for the Crawlers to visit a new shop after so many revisits.  The excitement was palpable as Crawlers June Nash, Leanne Waller, Nomusa Nkomo. Jenny Fowler, Stella and Beryl Dawson, Sylvia Mynhardt, Gail Darne, Margaret and Arthur Marshall, Margaret Zoetmulder, Colleen Le Roux Nicolette Hijmans, Pierrette De Winne and her daughter Nathalie settled in for the first February Crawl of 2015.

February 5 Crawlers
Beryl, Sylvia, Gail, Nomusa,
Pierrette, Nathalie, Nicolette

More of Thursday's Crawlers
Arthur, Margaret M., Margaret Z., Jenny,
Leanne, Stella, Gail, Colleen, June

Now, after just about four years of Crawling we've certainly had conversation repeats but I believe that Thursday's topic was a first.  Our discussion on the Six Degrees of Separation (theory developed in 1929) started after Gail revealed that her son and his fiancee recently had the opportunity to be photographed with Barack and Michelle Obama.  Sooooooooo, does that mean the Crawlers are all 3 degrees from the President of the USA?  Well, why stop there?   After we all shared various almost famous people we or family members have met, and after much deliberation, it was determined that all of the Crawlers are 3-4 degrees from: Mother Theresa, Pope Francis, pretty much everyone in Hollywood, Bill Gates, numerous international sports and political figures, everyone in PE, and, if fictional characters count, Juan Valdez!

~Thank you to Michelle and Pique - we wish you good luck with your new business venture!

Until next week,


Friday, February 13, 2015

Fresco- Crawl #63 Revisited

The Coffee Crawlers finished off the first month of 2015 with a Revisit to one of our favorite coffee shops in town....Fresco.  We first visited Fresco, located at 20 Nile Rd. ( Norvic Dr., The Acres) in Perridgevale, in June of 2012, shortly after its grand opening (see June, 2012 post).  We all immediately fell in love with the shop's decor and fun atmosphere, not to mention barista Addie's deft hand at the coffee machine.  In the three years since our first visit the ownership, management, waitstaff, and coffee brand have changed.  However, those things which we adored in 2012, the clock motif, eclectic furniture, pleasant surroundings, and Addie's incredible barista skills still remain the same......fortunately for us!

Meet the Barista

Addie's barista skills

Even though Fresco was quite busy on Crawl Day, manager Wesley and waitstaff members Fatima and Syno made us feel welcome and took the time to chat a bit with the Crawlers.  The service Thursday morning was excellent and the breakfasts, cakes, and Peacock coffees, outstanding.  As a result Fresco remains one of the Coffee Crawlers' favorite coffee shops in PE.

Meet the Waitstaff
Syno and Fatima

Outrageously good caramel cheesecake!

Fresco seats a total of approximately 60 guests upstairs, downstairs and at outside tables.  The shop's hours are Mon-Fri, 7-4; Sat, 8-4; closed on Sunday.  Call 041 363 0990 for information or to make a booking.

This Week's Crawlers
Nomusa, Sylvia, Ellen, Beryl,
Beth, Stella, Gail, Margaret, Colleen
not pictured - June and Leanne

Conversation at the table on that very warm last Thursday of January centered mostly around the load shedding that SA had experienced regularly throughout  the month.  Crawlers Colleen Le Roux, Beth Vieira, June Nash, Leanne Waller, Nomusa Nkomo, Stella and Beryl Dawson, Gail Darne, Sylvia Mynhardt, and Margaret Zoetmulder did approach the situation with a sense of humor, though......and as long as it doesn't impact our Thursday morning coffee we're all good!

~Thank you to Wesley and the Fresco staff
~Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!
~Happy Birthday to my son, Jeff, in Indianapolis, Indiana - February 17
~Happy 1st Birthday to my grandson, Matthew, in Birmingham, Alabama - February 22
~Happy Birthday to Crawler Beryl Dawson - February 22

Until next week,


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Brioche - Crawl #62 Revisited

The PE Coffee Crawl has reached the #160 mark!

Brioche, located at 181 Main Rd. in Walmer, was the site of our Wednesday, January 21 Crawl.  Our usual Thursday morning was switched to Wednesday for the Brioche Revisit to accommodate the schedule of Crawler newlyweds Lee (Rodwell) and Graham Wood as they were visiting PE from CT that week.  For most of the Crawlers it was the first time seeing the happy couple since their nuptuals in October.  It was wonderful spending the morning catching up with them and enjoying the relaxed and homey atmosphere at Brioche.

We first visited Brioche in April, 2012 (see April, 2012 post) only three days after the official opening of the shop.  It quickly became one of the most popular coffee establishments in PE.  From the outstanding freshly baked artisan breads and other amazing baked goods to the menu of tempting breakfasts and lunches to the delicious Illy brand coffee beverages and homemade lemonade and ginger beer, Brioche provides delightful eats (and drinks) to satisfy every taste!

Meet our Waitress

Meet our Waiter and the Barista
Bright and Dan

The management and much of the staff has remained the same in the three years since Brioche opened its doors.  Celestine (who served us at our 2012 Crawl), Bright, and barista Dan made sure that Crawlers Lee and Graham Wood, Stella and Beryl Dawson, Leanne Waller, Elize Pretorius, Colleen Le Roux, June Nash, Gail Darne, Margaret and Arthur Marshall, Sylvia Mynhardt, Margaret Zoetmulder, and I  enjoyed the revisit as much as our first visit.....and we certainly did!

Health Muffin

This Week's Crawlers
Arthur, Margaret M., Elize, Graham, Beryl, Stella,
Margaret Z.,  June, Leanne, Gail, Sylvia, Lee, Colleen

So, with all the cake and muffin choices available it was difficult for me to decide on what to partake of, but with a little nudging from Gail, I ordered the Famous Brioche Cinnamon Bun.  Now, I'm a real fan of the Cinnabon brand cinnamon buns that can be got at any mall or airport Stateside.....I even "liked" Cinnabon on FB just so I can get a glimpse of their luscious cinnamon bun pics every day!  I must say that the Brioche buns come pretty close....kudos to the Brioche bakers!  PECC readers, make it a point sometime soon to stop into Brioche and try a cinnamon'll be soooooo glad you did, even if it means extra hours at the gym.

Brioche is open Mon-Fri, 7:45-4 and Sat, 8-3.  No need to make a booking but for all inquiries call 082 927 5986 or 041 581 2136.

~Thank you to the Briioche staff

Until next week,


Crawling Cousins!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Flying Penguin - Crawl #54 Revisited

The Flying Penguin Cafe is located in the SAMREC building 

One of the many things I love about PE is its proximity to the water.  PE residents are sooooo fortunate to have the ocean right in their own backyards.  Every opportunity that Lou and I have we head to the shore to walk, swim, hike, or just gaze out at the waves.  I so enjoy the Coffee Crawls when we are at or near the water, and there have been quite a few, including our January 15 Crawl which took us to Cape Recife for our shop #54 revisit.

Just hanging out enjoying the sunshine!
SAMREC operates solely on
donations and volunteer work

In March 2012 we first visited The Flying Penguin located in the SAMREC building at Cape Recife (see March, 2012 post).   SAMREC (South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre) houses ailing and injured marine creatures, mainly penguins, at the facility.  Locals and tourists flock to SAMREC for an opportunity to see the African penguins up close.  The Flying Penguin Cafe offers beverages, light lunches, and a variety of cakes to the SAMREC visitors.
The Flying Penguin owner, Michelle Brackenridge, acts as chef, baker, barista, and waitron for the cafe's patrons.  Quite the busy lady!

In keeping with the SAMREC and ocean theme, the cafe is decorated with ocean artwork and photography along with outrageously creative crafts incorporating just about anything to do with marine life.  The Crawlers especially like the glass top tables showing off a variety of shells found right at Cape Recife.  It's definitely worth the trip just to check out these tables!

Glass top display table

Another table displaying more shells from Cape Recife

The shop seats about thirty guests in a bright and airy dining room overlooking the penguin rocks and pool....the perfect way to finish off your visit to SAMREC.  The Flying Penguin's hours are Tues - Sun, 10-4.  Call Michelle at 041 583 1830 or 084 869 2741 for a booking.

We had a large group, including two newcomers, at The Flying Penguin Crawl.  Crawlers Margaret Zoetmulder, Dale Mitchell, newcomer Sharon Helm, Nomusa Nkomo, Nicolette Hijmans, Margaret and Arthur Marshall, Leanne Waller and her sons Daniel and Luke, June Nash, Elize Pretorius and her newcomer friend Zdenka, Vicki Minnaar, Pierrette De Winne, Colleen Le Roux, Sylvia Mynhardt, Stella and Beryl Dawson enjoyed the gorgeous summer day watching the penguins while Daniel and Luke got to assist the SAMREC volunteers.  When the outside activities were over, we all settled inside for Masterton's coffee, cake, and conversation.  Everyone was anxious to hear all about Dale's new great-grandson.  He was less than a week old on Crawl day but Dale and Sharon (the grandmother) already had so many stories to tell!

This Week's Crawlers
Zdenka, Margaret Z., June, Arthur, Elize, Nicolette,
Vicki, Sylvia, Margaret M., Colleen, Leanne, Luke,
Daniel, Stella, Beryl, Nomusa, Dale
not pictured - Sharon and Pierrette

Another topic of conversation at my end of the table ended up being, of all things, road kill!  I have observed in my almost 5 years of living in SA that there is much less road kill visible here on the roads than in the States.  Hmmmmmm?  Anyway, I went on to tell the Crawlers about my contribution to the NY road kill one winter when I hit 5 white-tail deer in less than a month.  My neighbors dubbed me "The Deer Slayer," giving Natty Bumppo some competition.
Always riveting conversation at the Crawl!

All in all it was a wonderful morning spent in the company of our African penguin friends.  I'm definitely looking forward to more Crawls at the beach!

~Thank you to Michelle for hosting such a large group!
~Belated happy birthday wishes to my sister, Elaine, in Erie, PA - January 23
~Belated happy birthday wishes to my father-in-law and president of the PECC fan club, Sabie, in
  Binghamton, NY - January 24

Until next week,