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Five of Cape Town’s Best Sundowner Spots

1.The Camps Bay Retreat

Situated in the Glen area of Camps Bay, this property is surrounded by both the mountain and the ocean, as well as Table Mountain National Park. David Ryan, Founder and CEO of Rhino Africa, says the property has a colonial feel. “Visitors can explore the terraced garden or play a game of tennis to work up a thirst for the jugs of Pimm’s they offer, which can be enjoyed while sitting in the garden overlooking the water and the setting sun.”

2.Stella Bar & Café at Southern Sun The Cullinan

When Cape Town’s famous south-easter starts to blow, sundowner venues that offer a bit of shelter may be a better option, including the new Stella Bar & Café at Southern Sun The Cullinan in the Foreshore area. Overlooking the pool on the ground floor of the hotel, the bar offers freshly prepared meals and a wide selection of South African wines. Stella Neethling, Product Purchasing and Development Manager for Springbok Atlas says: “Sheltered in the belly of the grand hotel, guests can enjoy alfresco meals, an extensive wine list, craft beers and a dazzling array of cocktails.”

3.The Bungalow

Situated in Clifton, The Bungalow offers panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and an extensive drinks menu. From the usual classic cocktails to signature creations such as pomegranate mojitos and watermelon martinis, The Bungalow also offers a huge selection of imported and local sparkling wines, while the food menu includes various sushi and seafood dishes. Ryan says: “The Bungalow is glamorous and sleek, with the ocean breeze and trendy crowd creating an energised sunset feel. With an open view of the ocean, it is one of the best places in Cape Town to enjoy an unhindered gorgeous sunset while also enjoying a perfectly prepared cocktail.”

4.The Leopard Bar at the Twelve Apostles Hotel

Known for its extensive range of whiskies and brandies, The Leopard Bar offers a fully stocked bar and an array of cocktails, from Cosmos to its famous Vanilla Chocatini, made with Stolichnaya vanilla vodka and white crème de cacao, garnished with a chocolate flake and maraschino cherry. The venue features live entertainment from Monday to Saturday evenings, as well as ‘Tea by the Sea’, an afternoon tea with all the trimmings, including chocolate brownies, cream scones, finger sandwiches and a selection of teas. James Ramsay, MD of Wilderness Touring Cape, says The Leopard Bar’s terrace is the ideal place to watch the sun set over the Atlantic, cocktail in hand. Janine Southwood, Head of Thompsons Africa’s Luxury Collection agrees: “The Leopard Bar at Twelve Apostles has an incredible view and the setting could just as well be the French Riviera, but even better.”

5.The Rumbullion at The Roundhouse

This historic property was originally a Dutch East India Company guardhouse, dating back to 1786. It offers expansive views of Camps Bay and the Atlantic. The outside dining area, The Rumbullion, offers a tapas-style menu, along with pizza and desserts, making it a popular option for sundowners. The menu also features over 20 types of craft beer, along with a variety of wines. Ramsay says: “This stately old hunting lodge perched on the slopes of a lush valley overlooking the Atlantic is the perfect location for a gin and tonic as the sun descends.” 


 

Safari Cuisine

Cuisine on a safari is more than just a meal - it is an experience, an indulgence and an African cultural experience. If you haven’t been on an African safari before, the thought of safari cuisine may conjure up images of Boy Scout food and bitter coffee. After all, how would a safari chef – in the middle of nowhere - be able to supply fresh, delicious meals that could grace the table of a top class restaurant in London or New York? These experienced and highly qualified chefs will amaze you with their artistic flair and tickle your palates with a wonderful fusion of African, Asian and Western cuisine.

Micato Safaris says this about their Safari Cuisine.

“From the moment that we welcome you to Africa until your reluctant departure, all meals are provided as part of our inclusive tour cost—and each meal is a delight. Meats, vegetables and fruit arrive daily in the bush, fresh from the surrounding area's rich farmlands. Early morning coffee is served before the sunrise game drive, followed by abundant breakfast buffets, luncheons on the veranda and a formal afternoon tea. Dinners are fashionably late following the return of the afternoon game drive, allowing time for relaxation and "sundowners" in the lounge or around the campfire. From the mouth-watering regional specialties of Nairobi to the delectable South African fare, the cuisine on your journey matches the stunning wilderness with epicurean splendors.”

On a safari you are in the middle of “no-where” – with animals and excitement of the bush all around you; that means that there is fun and challenge in the “safari kitchen” most minutes. If you ask a safari chef what his biggest challenge is in the bush, he will probably chuckle to himself and answer candidly “the resident wildlife”. And when you look at him a little confused; he will start to elaborate, telling you many animated stories about elephants snatching bags of sugar off a kitchen shelf and how a sly hyena was seen dashing off with a whole cabbage between its powerful jaws.

The safari chefs are some of the most skillful and experienced in making sure the cuisine is superb. You will sit and watch in wonder as he (and now “she” in more and more cases) rustles up the most delicious bread you have ever tasted – using a hole in the ground as an oven and serving sumptuous dinners and bush breakfasts prepared on a metal grill balanced over firewood.

As a vegetarian you may be wondering if you’re going to go hungry or just eat lettuce and toasted sandwiches on safari. Well, the short answer is no, you won’t be stuck with junk or get underfed. Every safari company and operator, and of course the chefs are skillful with a vegetarian selections. And interestingly there are several safari operators who offer Kosher cuisine, cooked and prepared in the bush under license by a recognized Kashrus authority.

Again – in short - safari cuisine is grand and guaranteed to more than please you – and of course the “sundowners” – the after-the-day-cocktails are incredible and somehow taste better than they do in New York, London or Los Angeles…

See you on a safari!!!


Art of Sushi-Making African-Style

Silver blades forged with high-tensile carbon steel flash as they slice through cardinal-red fillets of salmon on a restaurant counter in inner-city Johannesburg.

Themba Khumalo’s most treasured possessions are his Japanese sushi knives, which he keeps razor sharp and disinfected “at all times.”

“Without beautiful knives, a sushi chef is naked,” says the lithe 33-year-old chef, dressed in a checked shirt, tattered jeans and sneakers. “Where I come from the only people who love knives as much as I do are gangsters!”

Khumalo lives in Vosloorus, a sprawling, smoky, impoverished township east of Johannesburg. “People there think I’m lying when I tell them I’m a sushi chef.

“The few who even know what sushi is tell me: ‘Black people can’t make sushi, it’s only for Japanese and white people,” he says, winking and smiling.

Beneath a pitch black wall decorated with golden chopsticks, Khumalo gently sculpts maki - teardrop-shaped mouthfuls of raw salmon, cucumber and avocado, surrounded by sticky, snow-white rice in a wrap of paper-thin dark green seaweed.

Next, he creates a serving of spicy prawn bean curd. It looks like a piece of bread, topped with chopped raw pink prawns, slivers of avocado, creamy mayonnaise sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds and an auburn-colored sauce.

“Don’t ask me what’s in the sauce. It’s our secret,” Khumalo maintains. “All I’ll say is that it contains a blend of African and Japanese spices.”

Khumalo gets paid to make “sushi art” at The Blackanese – an eatery that’s the brainchild of 30- year-old restaurateur Vusi Kunene.

Like his head chef, Kunene was raised poor, but in a village in Mpumalanga province.

“My grandmother farmed vegetables for my mother to sell in Johannesburg. We ate mostly pap (maize porridge) and morogo (spinach). On special days, we ate chicken.”

He laughs at the memory – a guffaw that’s a mixture of irony and disbelief, at the fact that he was once a person who didn’t know that sushi existed.

Kunene says if someone had arrived in his village when he was a boy and offered him a piece of raw fish, he would have found it “impossible” to eat.

“I would think: ‘Are they nuts?’”

Yet now he’s one of the key players in a rejuvenated central Johannesburg’s fine food revolution.

His mother died when he was 14. Kunene left his village school and headed for the big city. After some “directionless” teenage years, he became a security guard.

Then he took a job as a waiter at a restaurant at O.R. Tambo International Airport, which later led to a sushi eatery in Cape Town – where he was almost fired for his “fixation” with watching the sushi chefs.

“I neglected my customers because I was mesmerized by the whole process of crafting sushi, the intricacy; the colors. The way they used their knives; it was like they were dancing. It was like hearing beautiful music for the first time,” Kunene remembers. “I fell in love with sushi before I even tasted it!”

Kunene learned as much as he could about the “culture of sushi,” milking many chefs about what constituted “perfect” sushi – a process that wasn’t easy.

“At the time the chefs were Japanese, were Chinese, who could not speak English. And who were not willing to share the information. Then I started doing my own research, on the Internet and moving to different types of sushi restaurants.”

Kunene spent years investigating Cape Town’s sushi industry and seven years ago started a mobile sushi business in Johannesburg.

His dream of owning a sushi venture “with a twist” was realized about two years ago when he opened The Blackanese in the city’s rapidly transforming and trendy Maboneng Precinct.

“I got the idea for the name from a funny guy at a function I was catering. He said: “Great sushi; what part of Japan are you from?” I said: “I’m not Japanese, I’m Blackanese,” Kunene explains, laughing.

The name’s strongly indicative of this restaurateur’s mission: To “turn black people on” to sushi. “For me to fulfill this, I had to create sushi for the African palate.” The challenge was to overcome Africans’ “one big misconception” that sushi hat is simply raw fish.

“Sushi’s a combination of rice and vinegar. You can actually have sushi without raw fish. Raw fish is just one of the fillings,” Kunene insists.

Kunene “Africanized” the Asian cuisine by adding traditional South African ingredients, such as springbok and kudu antelope, and even biltong, which is dried spiced meat.

“When you talk to an African person and then you’re telling them about biltong sushi… they are willing to try it out. And then immediately when they get into it, this is when you sort of push them into the extremes.”

Kunene says Africans “eat with their eyes first.”

“So we’ve found here that if our sushi is attractive, even if it’s raw fish, African customers will eat it.”

He adds that he’s proved this by coating raw fish in alluring sweet chili sauce, giving the food a shiny, orange glaze, flecked with red.

“Few Africans will eat wasabi (a pungent paste made from the roots of a Japanese plant) on their sushi. But they will eat it with sweet chili sauce,” says Kunene.

“Immediately when you drizzle that onto that roll, when someone looks at it, it looks amazing, it looks inviting and people are like: ‘I want that.’ They don’t even know what it is, but their first statement was: ‘I want it.’”

His chefs are all young black men, trained by sushi masters.

He insists: “Africans are much more willing to try sushi if they see that it’s made by fellow black people.”

When The Blackanese opened, Kunene says his clientele was 70 percent white; now it’s 50 percent black.

“Black patronage has grown intensively, and it continues to grow. Sushi has become sort of their staple food. It’s something that they eat actually three times in a week,” he says.

One of Kunene’s best customers is Seth Mbhele, a bespectacled digital strategist in his early 30s. Mbhele’s the epitome of black urban chic: clad stylishly in a blue cashmere sweater, black pants and expensive shoes, eating sushi rolls for lunch while working on his IPad.

He recalls the first time he tasted sushi a few years ago, and the dish he ate.

“Tuna sashimi (thinly sliced raw tuna). I found the textures interesting, I found the flavors interesting. Once you get over the idea of what it is that you’re eating, it becomes enjoyable. I’m here pretty much four times a week, I think.”

Demand for sushi from black people in South African continues to “stun” Kunene.

About a year ago his restaurant was hired to cater at a function, where he knew most people would be black. So most of the food he prepared was “usual African fare, lots of meat and chicken and starch” but only “minimal” platters of sushi.

“But then when we got there it turns out that people are just mad about sushi and nothing else. We had sort of understocked. It was such an embarrassing moment… and I learned a big lesson that night,” says Kunene.

“Most amazingly, you change somebody who’s never thought of actually trying sushi. But when they come to The Blackanese and we give them that opportunity to try sushi and we always make sure they enjoy it, then the most amazing reaction is these people become loyal to you.”

Kunene is demystifying sushi, making sure it’s not the sole preserve of elite, rich, sophisticated people, by giving it an African spin. Some of his regular clients are construction workers from nearby building sites.

“There’s a gentleman who just walked in here now who’s an electrician in the area,” says Kunene. He gestures toward a man in blue overalls who places an order at the takeout counter. “He’s been bothering me about getting sushi for his girlfriend, because he has actually tasted sushi and he feels like his girlfriend should also experience what he has experienced.”

He describes such events as his “greatest triumphs” as a restaurateur.

“Also when black parents bring their kids to eat at my place, it makes me very proud. It really shows that South Africa is a very different place these days.”

The once-poor village boy, his taste buds accustomed only to porridge, vegetables and the occasional chicken, is indeed symbolic of a country that continues to reinvent itself.


Unique Drinks of AFRICA

Kenya: Urwaga
What it is: Banana beer
Why it's great: Because bananas are great, and the beer they make is sweet and sessionable. And apparently it makes you really, really good at running marathons.

Ethiopia: Tej
What it is: Honey wine
Why it's great: Ethiopians make the sweet stuff for super cheap in their house -- it just takes a lot of honey, water, and gesho (a type of buckthorn). To serve, it requires a berele, or a vase-like bottle, that's as fancy looking as something out of Walter White's lab.

Madagascar: Toaka Gasy
What it is: Rum
Why it's great: Because it's often made in small villages and used for ritualistic purposes and celebrations, proving once and for all that all rituals are way better when they're soaked in rum.

Nigeria: Ogogoro
What it is: A high-proof palm wine
Why it's great: Because it's a hugely popular, home-brewed nectar made all over the country and used as an offering in religious ceremonies that probably often end with two strangers making out. (Why it's not great: Amateur brewers often make it wrong and die as a result.)

South Africa: Springbokkie
What it is: A cocktail mixing mint liqueur and Amarula… a cream liqueur made with marula fruit.
Why it's great: Because the combination of cream and mint kind of makes it taste like a boozy version of the Shamrock Shake, but greener and alcoholier.


Morocco's Saffron

Saffron harvest season ended early this month in Morocco's Atlas Mountains. More than 50,000 crocus flowers must be hand-picked for every pound of the crimson threads, but each pound will fetch around $1,500 at market.

The most predominant feature of Taliouine, the principality for saffron, is the fact that it is not only surrounded by spectacular mountains, but colorful fields filled with Crocus Sativus. It is therefore affectionately referred to as the Saffron Capital of Morocco. Each year, during the months of October and November, the saffron covers the landscape in vibrant color and it is for this awe-inspiring phenomenon that visitors come to Taliouine. To be able to understand the magnitude of its beauty, it is easier to describe the production of saffron. Taliouine produces approximately seven thousand pounds of saffron. And to produce only one kilogram of the spice, a hundred and fifty thousand saffron flowers are needed. Large fields of saffron need to be planted to produce the required amount each year and these massive fields are one of the most popular attractions. The spice is used in medicine, cuisine and in cosmetics across the world. It remains the main agricultural product in the area, and local farmers have carved a living from these fields for centuries.


African Chefs Fight for Legal Stay in France

France's cherished culinary tradition hold big attraction for foreign visitors thus making this European nation the world's most popular tourist destination.

But few tourists realize that these days, many chefs and most kitchen staff in Paris and other big cities are immigrants from Africa.

Trade unions say a lot of these under-chefs of French cuisine are working illegally in France - but most are paying taxes and social charges.

Despite high unemployment and France's difficulties in integrating immigrant communities, the unions are backing a campaign by illegal immigrant workers to gain the right to live in France legally.

"We're doing the jobs the French don't want," says Diaby Gandega, an illegal immigrant from Mali in West Africa who slipped into France four years ago and works as a dishwasher.

Mr. Gandega usually finishes work after the metro and suburban trains have stopped running, so like many other illegal restaurant workers, he has to kill time in an all-night cafe until he can catch a bus home.

He complains that many French people see immigrants as a threat to law and order.

Following clashes with police in mainly immigrant suburbs, President Sarkozy has proposed that foreign-born French nationals be stripped of their citizenship if they commit crimes or are found to be polygamists.

But Mr. Gandega says he and many like him are paying into the social security system in France without gaining the rights or benefits enjoyed by other workers.

"We're not hooligans, we're workers. We have jobs and we pay taxes and social charges." He says illegal workers like him often have to put up with low pay, anti-social hours and no job security.

But with the help of the unions, mainly the left-wing General Confederation of Labor (CGT), they're becoming more organized.

Hundreds of illegal workers march through Paris nearly every week. Most work in catering or construction and recently they set up a camp in the heart of Paris to press demands to be given residency permits.

"We pay into the pension fund and we pay these charges in France, not in our countries," says Mr. Gandega. "That's why we're asking for the right to live here legally like other workers."

But France is struggling to integrate millions of immigrants or people of immigrant descent. Last year the government expelled nearly 30,000 illegal migrants and it has promised to deport more. But the protests by illegal workers do seem to be having some effect.

Despite tough anti-immigration rhetoric, Immigration Minister Eric Besson has recently announced that the government is taking steps to make it easier for those who have been working in France for years to obtain residency permits.

The head of the youth section of Nicolas Sarkozy's right-wing UMP party, Benjamin Lancar, says it's a misconception that the party is against immigration. "We are against immigration when immigrants don't work, get some aid from the state, and subsidies from the state, and don't deserve it. That's a problem," Mr. Lancar says. "But when they're working, when they're paying social charges, of course they need to be ever more integrated into our society."

Mr. Lancar dismisses accusations by left-wing parties that President Sarkozy is pandering to the far-right by linking crime and immigration. "We have a very strict policy on immigration and we've closed the camps in Calais where migrants were trying to go to England," he said.

"But France is a very open country and we are choosing our immigration. That means helping those who want to work, who want to succeed in France, who've been working here for a long time, to get residency permits," Mr. Lancar said.

The South Asian and African immigrants working in France's kitchens are making their presence felt in another way. These days, more cafes and restaurants are offering dishes like Tandoori chicken or vegetable curries.

One local cafe in Paris, whose kitchen staff are all Asian, combines a touch of Oriental spice with the ever more popular American-style hamburger in a "Bollywood burger".

It seems that even La Cuisine Françoise can no longer resist globalization.


Great Dakar Music with Great Senegal Dinner

While visiting Dakar, Senegal and having a great dinner in one of the local restaurants – one of the local young men performed by himself playing his heart out in a restaurant that was full of great conversation and laughter and joy… it was noisy by any standard.

But ultimately you were taken by the sound the young man made and ultimately, at least our table of eight people became hushed and we listened.

He is a talent – you can listen at www.badoumusic.skyrock.com

You will hear his recording and mixings he does in his home – all you hear on the versions on the internet is he – one man making incredible music and sounds that resonate the spirit of modern and uplifting Africa… and in Dakar, as you enjoy some great cuisine!


New Luxury Dining in Mogadishu

Our Editorial Board has been looking for good signs that might come out of Somalia. Finally we found one; an article by Abdi Guled who reported on a new restaurant operating in Mogadishu.

As he reports Ahmed Jama, London-trained Somali chef and now hotelier and restaurateur, returned to fairly devastated Mogadishu and opened two western-style restaurants in the two hotels he owns – one on the beachfront, and the other in downtown of Mogadishu.

The beachfront property with a restaurant dining is becoming Mogadishu's version of South Beach or the French Riviera. Menu features lobster, all variety of seafood, unheard of ice cream, and hookah pipes, though alcohol is not served since it is outlawed by the government; but we would assume there are some Virgin and Shirley Temple cocktails.

"I returned to my country with hope of bringing a new concept," Jama said at one of his lavish restaurants, called The Village. "I trained many people with cooking skills and they are working in the country now. I am so happy."

Jama's culinary success comes alongside a general revival in Mogadishu. Turkey has reopened its embassy, the U.N. has moved in new staff here, and Turkey's national airline now makes regular flights to Mogadishu.

Most of Jama's diners are European, frequently from Turkey or from Somalia's Diaspora. The prices are not exorbitant but most Somalis can't afford to dine here. The lobster dish costs $20; steak goes for about $7 and pasta for $3. But as Abdi Guled says in his report: “Don't ask for French preparation.”

And as Ahmed Jama, the Mogadishu restaurateur explains: "We don't serve foreign dishes. It's only Somali food. Our country has the best recipes.”


SPECIAL CULINARY NOTE:

In the current issue of the American magazine “Saveur” has run an exellent review of Senegal cuisine, with many great recipes, this very much inspired by our colleague, cook book author and chef extraordinaire Pierre Thiam, pictured below.

You can download the “Saveur” Senegal PDF file pages below.

 

  Download PDF - click here

 

More Miles for Dinning at Addis Ababa Amsterdam Bar and Restaurant

Amsterdam Bar and Restaurant is one of the leading restaurants in Addis Ababa. Whether for a romantic dinning for two, business meeting or casual, you will get an unparalleled dining experience. From lighter menu of salads and pastas to a filling fare, you will leave with satisfied taste buds at affordable price! Enjoy their courtyard, cozy outdoor atmosphere under the moonlight with candles surrounding you with hospitable service.

Amsterdam Bar and Restaurant is located in front of the Millennium Hall and three minutes from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.

Starting from May 1, 2012, the Ethiopian Airlines’ ShebaMiles members will earn miles for their dining at Amsterdam Bar and Restaurant.

For more information about Amsterdam Bar and Restaurant:
Tel.: +251-91-151-6178/ +251-91-152-2680


Carnivore Restaurant, Nairobi

Since 1980 the Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi has been an important Kenya destination and an essential part of any East Africa safari. Most food writers and travelers will say "if you haven’t been to Carnivore, you haven’t been to Kenya!” – and as the foodies we are – we agree!!!

The concept of Carnivore reminds us of a Brazilian Churrascaria, but with distinct African style. The Carnivore is a meat specialty restaurant, justifiably referred to as 'the Ultimate Beast of a Feast' - twice voted amongst the world’s 50 best restaurants by an expert panel in ‘Restaurant Magazine.” We understand and do not dispute that The Carnivore since its inception has hosted over 2 million diners from across the globe, including celebrities and VIPs of every level - Carnivore visitors’ book reads like a global “Who’s Who” – impressive and when you are there ask if you can take a peak

Back to the food - whole joints of meat - legs of lamb and pork, haunches of exotic meat, rumps of beef, sirloins, racks of lamb, spare ribs, sausages, chicken wings, skewered kidneys, even crocodile, and other tasty morsels - are roasted on traditional Maasai swords over a huge, spectacular charcoal pit that dominates the entrance of the restaurant. Constantly basted and turned until cooked to perfection, the meat is succulent – a delight your taste buds will definitely remember.

The Carnivore doesn’t conform to the familiar restaurant traditions of passing out menus and waiting for people to order. Diners simply take their seats and the movable feast begins. First comes the soup of the day then a sizzling cast-iron plate is placed in front of you along with a plate of home baked brown bread and butter. Here you need a warning – don’t fill yourself on the bread, leave room for the real meal!

An army of carvers wearing zebra striped aprons and straw hats then move from table to table carrying the Maasai swords with different meats deliberately carving unlimited amounts onto your sizzling, cast iron plate. Accompanying the “meat feast” is a vast selection of salads and vegetable side dishes, and a variety of exotic sauces made from the Carnivore’s own recipes and stacked on to a double storey-revolving tray in the center of the table.

The feeding frenzy doesn’t stop until defeat is declared by the over-indulged guests who must signal that enough is enough by lowering of a white paper flag perched atop the central tray. This is followed by dessert and coffee. We should note for those non-meat-eaters that a vegetarian menu is offered and is very good!

First time visitors to Carnivore are enthralled by the spectacle of the roasting pit, the service and the distinctive flavors of food, however those in the “know” will miss the original meat selection that included all the game meats of East Africa, but that is no more! The non-game meat measure was dictated by the Kenyan authorities in a bid to stem illegal hunting of the country's wildlife. They figured that by banning all sales of game meat the illegal trade in game products would stop, and it has done so.

Despite the loss of game meat from its menu, Carnivore still lives up to its reputation as a carnivorous orgy not to be missed when on a Kenya safari or your next business trip to East Africa.

 

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to qualified sommeliers and wine critics who wish to comment on African wines. Your observations and recommendations would be welcomed and published in this African Kitchen section.
We wish to remind our reader that many “wines” are produced and in some cases brewed in Africa and that includes the delightful banana wine, with great and historical popularity in Uganda.
We wish to hear and read of all these, what many wine connoisseurs shall consider exotics, besides the established wines of South Africa that now are reaching the full recognition of excellence together with France, Italy, California and South America.
Contact us at:
AfricanTimes-USA@MindSpring.com