This past week, we woke up to a country in crisis, a cabinet re shuffle tantamount to treason. How many more blows can our beautiful but battered country take? Is this divine planning? The powers that be being given enough rope to ultimately hang themselves? Or are we facing scars that will take generations to heal?
In need of cheer, we decided to head to the hours-old Fabb Café & Gelato on 4th Avenue Parkhurst. The first glimpse of the awning lifts our spirits, a blue & white palette reminiscent of calm Greek isle tones transports one. The name ‘Fabb’ is shortened from the original Italian ‘Fabbri’ and its ‘fontophile’ heaven, a passion we wear proudly at ‘They’re Wonted’. It seems to have inspired the pleasing colour palette and design of the space. A very smart ploy to make one forget that you’re plodding through an ordinary Jozi week. Close your eyes and you have salt in your hair and your skin is still tingling from the sun, now firmly in holiday mode, order another scoop with reckless abandon. Classic flavours like Vanilla, Coffee & Pistachio are nestled between the Italian flair of Ferrero Rocher, Fabbri’s Famous Cherry, Lemon & Biscotti.
The thought behind all the details and bravery of not a hipster glint insight gives one the impression that this place is here to stay. They serve their own brand of 4th Avenue coffee, fresh from the grinder to help you make calculations – how many visits will it take to get through all the flavours? For brutally hot days, their refreshing, palest pink strawberry soft serve in a crisp waffle cone is close to culinary treat perfection. As we cautiously head into winter, the pursuit of the perfect crema on our macchiato and waffles with Gelato & toasted nuts will be luring us back.
We are all afflicted with sensible days, especially Mondays, full of new week diet vigour and determination. Fabb caters for this madness with breakfasts and light lunches. Out of a tiny sunny kitchen in the back come fresh salads piled high with moist shredded roast chicken and parmesan shavings.
Perched on a deep blue velvet stool on the pavement, I think; can a country so full of diverse creativity and strength really all be washed away by the insatiable greed of a few? Call me a hopeless optimist, but little places like Fabb on a sunny street in the friendliest city in the world, bring me hope. If two people can hold onto a dream to share a product from Italy that they fell in love with 15 years ago on a trip to Bologna, where they got engaged, what can we collectively achieve? Ian and Ro were introduced to Nicola Fabbri and knew they wanted to someday bring home a piece of this remarkable company that have been making and exporting some of the best food products in Italy since 1905.
It brings us so much happiness to bring you Fabb. The food scene in Joburg is undergoing an awakening of sorts. It feels as though, as the corruption begins to subside and the roads are slowly painted with crisp new lines, there is a creative spring seeping into her very culture. It may be unpopular to say a word against Joburg’s darling Avenue but the germ terrified hypochondriac in me wants to personally sponsor high pressure cleaning the grubby pavements. Dare I say a possible re-think of a few of the eateries as well? Fabb is a much-needed injection of fresh, complete with shiny clean floors, their own bathroom, the smell of coffee beans grinding and sweet batter hitting hot pans. Ian is an engineer and alchemist by nature and his pursuit of frozen creamy sublimity has paid off. Many late nights of experimentation now mean Joburg can now enjoy gelato worthy of any Italian piazza.
The signature gelato is made on site daily and has the full mouth feel you expect of Italian gelato. The quality of the flavourings is obvious and it’s unapologetically creamy without leaving any nasty buttery film on the roof of your mouth. You can buy your very own bottle of Fabbri’s famous bottled cherries to take home and enjoy over ice cream or cheesecake (or simply from the fridge when no one is looking).
I love the idea that a concept, bravely brought to life, can offer one a new experience – Fabb embodies this. There is so much more to say about this place, the story of how it came to be and the history of what they serve. We’ll leave the rest for you to discover. Pop in, the owners Ian and Ro may be making a round of cappuccinos or in the back mixing the ice cream for the day. Grab a chair or piece of pavement, settle in and join the Fabb family.
The power of our country united is immense, we have fought evil regimes before and won. Let’s stay and fight, for ourselves and in honour of everyone who fought before us. Most importantly let’s keep our spirits buoyed and eat ice cream along the way!
Just a note . . . Lactose intolerant? Vegan? Fabb have, excuse the pun, the most fabulous chocolate vegan gelato for you. You couldn’t pull it out of a line-up of the real deal!
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DILLON DU PLESSIS