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Vol 3.11 | November 2017

UNCORKED FEEL THE HEAT Susan Wong gets her Mexican on at Mercado

WOMAN IN WINE Leleshwa wines are flying the Kenyan flag high

SMOKING GRAPES The truth about global warming and wine


CLASSIC COCKTAILS Enjoy incredibly special, handcrafted new cocktails at The Balcony Bar. Everyday from 4:00 PM

For reservations call +254 703 049 000 or email dining.villarosa@kempinski.com


YUMMY

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E X C E S S I V E C O N S U M P T I O N O F A L C O H O L I S H A R M F U L T O Y O U R H E A LT H . NOT FOR SALE TO PERSONS UNDER 18 YEARS OF AG.


EDITOR’S YUMMY NOTE

IN VINO VERITAS You don’t have to be a wine expert to enjoy a good glass of wine, argues Katy Fentress, who is happy to have passed the responsibility of curating this month’s wine section to someone unarguably more qualified than her. A little bit about me: while I am, to all intents and purposes, American by birth, I was brought up in Italy and spent every summer of my life at the bottom of a green little valley lost in the hills of the Chianti wine region. Growing up, wine was something that over the course of the long hot season would be consumed by thirsty guests in monumental quantities; so much so, that buying the stuff in bottles simply did not make economic sense. Instead, every few days, my parents (and later me), would drive up to our local farmer, step into his small and damp cellar and fill up a jerrycan’s worth of anything from 10 to 50 litres of garnet-coloured red wine which gushed out of the fibreglass tank with such vigour, it would leave a good head of foam at the top of our container. This was no fine wine, mind you, and costing little more than 50 bob a litre (yes, you read that right, that would be 1,000 now-defunct Italian liras, roughly the equivalent of 0.50€ today) it did the trick and kept everyone happy.

Unfortunately, thanks to stringent health and safety laws imposed by the European Union and the fact that the farmer probably wasn’t paying taxes on the wine he sold us, by 2010 this practice was clamped down on and we had to instead get our bulk wine in the more legal but certainly less romantic, wine bag-in-boxes available from registered cantinas (wine cellars) in the area. All this to say that while I may have grown up in one of the most famous wine areas of the world, and can at this point probably tell a Merlot from a Pinot Noir, I am no wine expert and don’t think I ever will be. Which is why it was so nice to be able to pass over the responsibility of curating this year’s Yummy Wine section to Josiah Kahiu who, fresh from a year studying wine business and oenology in Florence, Italy, is far more qualified to wax lyrical about the stuff than I am. For our third annual wine issue, Iloti Mutoka visited Leleshwa, our favourite Kenyan winery, to celebrate

its chief winemaker and oenologist Emma Nderitu whose career, since we last saw her in 2015, has come along in leaps and bounds [p28]. Josiah Kahiu interviews the owner of Pharley’s Wine Club Tim Challen and is excited to find that Kenyans are loving the idea of taking part in a monthly wine club [p36] and we conducted a long phone call with the Italian oenologist Stefano Marinari, to find out more about the effects of global warming on wine production today [p38] and what can be done to mitigate them. Think wine drinking is just for old people? Think again argues Kahiu, who in his feature on the drinking habits of his millennial peers, shows how social media is feeding a whole new wine revolution that is doing great things for the industry. Elsewhere in the magazine, Susan Wong is lucky to get a table at the super popular Mercado restaurant and comes back altogether happy with the experience [p22], we got Chef Dario Aloisio to prepare us a

special meal for our Sicilian Table recipe section [p40], Karanja Nzisa can’t get a delicious meal he had in the holy city of Jerusalem out of his mind [p58] and David Cecil describes how a magical Rasta caterer turned the vegetarian food on his film shoot from bland and depressing to delicious and invigorating [p60]. I sincerely hope you enjoy reading the magazine as much as we did producing it and that at the least, it will inspire you out of your comfort zone to go and try a new wine from the delightful selection that Kahiu hand-picked and vetted especially for you.

Katy Fentress Editor In Chief

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NOVEMBER 2017

CONTENTS 24 WOMAN IN WINE Winemaker Emma Nderitu is determined to make sure Kenyan Leleshwa wines just keep on getting better

WINE SECTION 28 Guide: Wine Pairing 30 Trend: Millennial Wine Drinkers 32 Wine Picks 35 Ask a Wino: Decanting Wine 36 Interview: Wine Club 38 Q&A: Smoking Grapes REGULARS In Conversation: Kenyan Sweetie 18 22 Susan Eats: Mercado 54 Social Butterfly: Deal Breaker 52 Man About Town: Positioning Statement EAT AND IMBIBE 46 Dish Spotlight: Imposter Pasta 48 How To: Cheese Board 56 Cocktails: Vermouth 50 Ingredient: White Truffles

NUGGETS 5 Dear Yummy: Lucky Winner 16 Coffee Break: Arctic Tale 20 Kahawa Diaries: Ciru Muriuki 58 Culinary Escape: Taste of Israel 60 Kampalan Missive: Food Doctors

40 36 A SICILIAN TABLE Chef Dario Aloisio cooks us some mouth-watering recipes from his home on the Italian island of Sicily

YUMMY Vol. 3.11 · November 2017 · PUBLISHED BY EATOUT, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. MANAGING DIRECTOR Mikul Shah GM Michelle Slater EDITOR IN CHIEF: Katy Fentress STAFF WRITERS Winnie Wangui, Leroy Buliro CONTRIBUTORS Jackson Biko, David Cecil, Josiah Kahiu, Patricia Kihoro, Iloti Mutoka, Karanja Nzisa, Anyiko Owoko DESIGN Brian Siambi SALES, MARKETING & OPERATIONS Daniel Muthiani, Devna Vadgama, Gilbert Chege, Jane Naitore, Joy Wairimu, Ruth Wairimu, Seina Naimasiah PHOTOGRAPHY Tatiana Karanja, Brian Siambi IT Douglas Akula, Erick Kiiya, Asim Mughal SALES INQUIRIES Call Yummy, 0711 22 22 22 EMAIL info@yummy.co.ke

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CONTRIBUTORS

KARANJA NZISA Karanja is a freelance writer and communications consultant with a mania for books, food, travel and wine. He loves to be paid to do the things he would be doing anyway. He thinks that water should be a free commodity available to everyone.

DAVID CECIL David works in music and film production in Kampala. When he is not working he is walking the dogs or exercising his liver in the local pub. He really thinks that foodie culture begins at home, but is not sure that his kids agree…

JOSIAH KAHIU Kahiu is a wine consultant and oenologist. When not working, he can be found trolling Nairobi’s wine shops like a kid in a candy shop. He is of the opinion that most people are more interesting after a glass of wine.

LUCKY WINNER

ILOTI MUTOKA Iloti is a writer who has lived all over Kenya. At this moment in time he would rather be butterfly hunting in Kakamega Forest. He is of the unwavering opinion that tomatoes are both fruits and vegetables.

WIN THIS MONTH This month for our giveaway we have two tickets for the James Connects event up for grabs. Might you be the lucky winner? Then answer this question: What was the name and the ingredients of the Jameson Black Barrel Whiskey cocktail we featured in last month’s Get Grilling issue? Send your answers to editor@eatout. co.ke. Offer ends November 27th, prize will be collected at the EatOut office.

Shaleen Gulam (left) is the Lucky Winner of last month’s Tullamore DEW competition having got right the answer to the question: “Why is TULLAMORE DEW 3X Better?”. The answer, of course is because it is triple distilled, triple blended and triple cask matured! We hope she is enjoying her tipple in her prize glasses right about now.

TY DOLLA $IGN PRESENTS


YUMMYSCENE SOCIAL

COOL VIRGINIA

EatOut Kenya was honoured to be hosted at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dar es Salaam on the 26th of October, for the launch of Qway international’s newest product: Virginia Black Whiskey. The whiskey, which is officially backed by US singer/rapper Drake in collaboration with influential Tequila entrepreneur Brent Hocking, has officially landed in East Africa and will be available in Nairobi just in time for the start of the holiday festivities, in selected clubs and bars across the city.

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NEWS & EVENTS

LUXURY DINNER Time for a Truffle Tasting For the first time in Nairobi, diners have the chance to taste real fresh truffles, flown in straight from Italy exclusively for this one-off event hosted by Dolce Vita Restaurant at the Muthaiga Mini Market. Choose between a two and a three course truffle-laden meal and discounted bottle of your wine of choice. Not sure what a truffle is? Turn to page 50 to find out more. Prices start at Ksh. 7,100 per person for a two course meal happening on the 7th of December at 6pm. eatout.co.ke/la-dolce-vita

PERFECT MATCH A Night of food and wine at Picazzo Revel in a five course wine pairing feast at Picazzo restaurant on 30th November and indulge in Executive Chef Hector Boo’s creatively crafted menu. Wine guru Dimitri Lingris, has matched decadent wines to every course, promising an unforgettable experience from 7:30pm for Ksh. 2500 per person. Be sure to reserve your spot every month by calling 0714 653 355. eatout.co.ke/picazzo

JAMESON CONNECTS TY Dolla Sign, Nasty C Live In Nairobi They brought the house down last year with Tinie Tempah and this year they have set the bar even higher. Jameson Kenya presents Jameson Connects with TY Dolla Sign and South African Hip Hop award winner, Nasty C live on December 2nd at Uhuru Gardens. Best known for his popular hits “Drop that Kitty”, “Or Nah”, American singer, song writer and record producer TY Dolla Sign promises an electrifying show. As always, there will be a fantastic lineup of DJs, including DJ Bash, DJ Kace, Jack Rooster, DJ Burn and Butch Norman and Nasty C who fully intend to bring the house down churning out hit after hits. Get your tickets from: mymookh.com/tickets/event/490

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TY DOLLA $IGN PRESENTS

& NASTY C

2ND DECEMBER

UHURU GARDENS

GALLERY 2,500 VIP 5,000

GATES OPEN AT 4PM

TICKETS AVAILABLE ON WWW.MYMOOKH.COM

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EXCESSIVE CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL IS HARMFUL TO YOUR HEALTH. NOT FOR SALE TO PERSONS UNDER THE AGE OF 18YRS.


Viva Global Ltd

@viva_global

NOT FOR SALE TO PERSONS UNDER THE AGE 18 YEARS. EXCESSIVE ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION IS HARMFUL TO YOUR HEALTH.


NEW RESTAURANTS

LEBANESE AFFAIR Dubai Dining at Two Rivers Located at The Two Rivers Mall, the Aldar Lebanese and Oriental restaurant offers up steaming mezze platters with mixed grills, middle eastern dips and other classic fare from the Levante. Should you wish to linger on after a hearty meal, their sheesha lounge provides the perfect ambiance to relax. eatout.co.ke/nairobi/aldar

AGUA FRESCA Fonda NBO gets tastebuds tingling Serving some of the best margaritas and non-alcoholic drinks in town, the interior design of the recently opened Fonda restaurant in Rosslyn Riviera is authentically Mexican in vibe and 100% Kenyan in execution. Sourcing their chilies from a dedicated shamba, the owners take pride in their selection of salsas, homemade tortillas and mouthwatering meat fillings. eatout.co.ke/fonda-nbo

ITALIAN GARDEN Bella Maria’s Little Italy From crusty brick oven pizzas, comforting pasta and risotto dishes, to freshly brewed tea and coffee, Bella Maria’s Little Italy has everything you expect from an Italian restaurant and then some. Their location along Peponi road comes inclusive of an expansive garden which is perfect for lingering a bit longer and enjoying serenity over a glass of wine. eatout.co.ke/bella-maria-s-little-italy

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NEW RESTAURANTS

TACO TAKEOVER Sabor Mexicano! Located at the Kenrail Towers Mercado Mexican Kitchen and Bar features an extensive menu which includes traditional Mexican dishes such as tacos, quesadillas, chicken, pork, snapper, lamb and shrimp. They also provide tasty vegan and vegetarian options ensuring everyone gets to enjoy their expertly prepared meals. eatout.co.ke/mercado-mexican-kitchen-and-bar

COFFEE LOVE Bottomless Coffee at Mugg & Bean This South African coffee shop franchise has opened its first outlet in Kenya at the Limuru Rd Total Petrol station. Start your day with their bottomless coffee, giant muffins, Danish pastries, croissants and more. Whether you want to stay for breakfast or carry it “to go”, their extensive menu gives you more than enough to choose from. eatout.co.ke/mugg-bean

CITY CAKE Get your fix in the city Cake City recently opened a branch at Avenue House, Kenyatta Ave. The bakery will be featuring all of the great cakes and pastries they are known for. Whether you’re stopping in for a quick slice of something delicious or are getting a custom cake for a special someone, the new Cake City in the CBD is the place to get your cake fix! eatout.co.ke/nairobi/cake-city-cbd

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EATOUT PICKS

IN ACTION Once upon a time restaurants used to serve food directly to your table from behind closed doors, how it was prepared was not meant for the eyes of patrons. Today, however, largely thanks to the many popular cooking shows, customers are more interested in watching the theatrics that take place in a restaurant kitchen. Open kitchens fascinate most of us. We like to imagine them crammed with flaming pans and acrobatic skills. So for that day when you decide want to observe the chef in action, we have compiled for you a number of restaurants in Nairobi which open up their kitchens for clients to peer in and take in the show. Anghiti Anghiti offers some of the best Indian barbecue menus in town and its vegetarian options are nothing to sneer at. To finish it off, their large open kitchen is always a hive of activity with chefs deftly knocking up steaming portions of murg malai kebab, brinjal curries or Indian biryanis for the visual pleasure of their hungry customers. eatout.co.ke/anghiti-westlands Chop House at Radisson Blu Nairobi The owners at Radisson Blu recently refurbished their large open-plan kitchen to accommodate their prize possession: the coal burning Josper Grill. This contraption now has pride of place in the kitchen and is

strategically located at the opposite end from the entrance, reeling you in with a fascinating view of the chefs at work. eatout.co.ke/chop-house Graze at Sankara The biggest attraction at Graze, apart from the thick juicy cuts of meat that is, has always been their elegant kitchen which sits gracefully under the huge blackboard which represents a cow with all its edible sections mapped out. Graze artfully combines the relaxed steakhouse vibe with an elegant ambiance which lives up to the highest of expectations. eatout.co.ke/graze-steakhouse Js Fresh Bar & Kitchen (Karen) Located in Karen, the original Js

is more intimate and cosy than its raucous sibling on Muthangari Drive. Since renovating earlier this year, they have enlarged the outside area, adding to the patio an extra five tables and a DJ booth. Unchanged remains their legendary bar area and the open kitchen which allows diners to peak in at the food-making process as they sip on their drinks and wait for their food. eatout.co.ke/ js-fresh-barkitchen Tatu at Fairmont The Norfolk Duck into this calm oasis just minutes from the crowded streets of Nairobi’s CBD. Tatu restaurant’s open kitchen is situated at the back of the room. Best seats in the house are at the chef’s table which provides the perfect view

of the culinary action and a chance to talk to the amiable Chef, Aris Athanasiou, in case he sticks his head out of the kitchen. eatout.co.ke/tatu-thefairmont-norfolk Urban Eatery This vibrant and airy space features stylish décor which enhances the modern, sleek setting. Urban Eatery is a beautiful venue for a meal during the day and lends itself to a swanky evening hangout spot. Here, you get not one, not two but four different open kitchens, each offering a different cuisine; Asian, Indian, Mexican and Mediterranean. eatout.co.ke/urban-eatery


YUMMY

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COFFEEYUMMY BREAK

ARCTIC PART 2 TALE In part two of this tale of a trip to the North Pole, Iloti Mutoka finds he has to put his own worries aside to understand what it is that is driving a wedge between him and his Swedish guide. “Iloti, why are you here? What are you running from? Or running towards? What is this expedition to you?” Erik had the look of a man who had asked himself that question many times. I waited a beat and answered in a monotone: “I am doing it for charity and for national pride and also because I want to be famous”. I had that answer by rote, the last part only partly tongue in cheek. I was tired of being sized up, of my motives being questioned. If you get an opportunity to do something that interests you, wouldn’t you do it? What do your reasons matter anyway. He laughed, a short, mirthless hacking noise. We had been together three days in an effort to bond before the ten day expedition but

there was a strange wall between us. Neither dislike or insincerity, it was an invisible barrier. We avoided eye contact and didn’t talk more than we needed to. This sudden inquisitiveness was unexpected. “This is my last run to the Pole, once I am done here I go back to Sweden,” he told me, matter of factly. I lifted an eyebrow in mild surprise. “I have a son in Gotenborg who has insisted I finish my days with my grandchildren.” I said nothing. Later that evening, after we had set up camp on Bathurst Island, we clustered around our gel stove for heat. Erik took off where he had started that afternoon: “You see,” he began in a low voice, forcing me to move in closer, “the mother of his

children is no more with us. As is my wife. It was in Mombasa, she is gone, they are gone.” Talk like this made me more introspective than I necessarily wanted to be. Yet the heaviness in his voice was compelling. He was the one lost in his thoughts now, words coming out in strange, uneven formations. The wind howling lent an aura of sorrow to his words. I was confused, but made an effort to comprehend it all, the cold and my own obsessions clouding my logic engine. “What happened?” He was a taciturn man, but I could sense that he was about to go against type. “They were just boys, you know.

Like you. They were drunk...” His voice shook. “I watched it happen, Stav and I were in the car behind with the twins. It was like a flash, the car was rammed off the road. Rolled many times and no survi-” The trembling voice broke and he bowed his head, unable to continue. I reached out a hand, placing it on his knee which was now shaking uncontrollably. The percolator was bubbling merrily away, a strange juxtaposition to the mood in the tent. We could use some coffee. The smell of the beverage brewing perked him up considerably, and he steeled himself to continue. Another shudder. I let him go on. (to be continued...)

We’re looking for short fiction stories! Think you can write a winning story in 600 words or less? Or do you have a story you can serialise in 600 word instalments? Send us submissions for your chance to get published in Yummy magazine and win an exclusive coffee hamper courtesy of Dormans coffee. To know more, visit Yummy.com or contact editor@eatout.co.ke

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IN CONVERSATION

KENYAN SWEETIE

PHOTOS BRIAN SIAMBI

Not content in being one of Kenya’s biggest stars, turns out that Avril is also quite the home cook, or so finds Anyiko Owoko over the course of a recent interview at the Sarova Stanley hotel.

From time to time, I wouldn’t mind a fruity cocktail and definitely a cup of black tea

Almost 10 years in the industry and Kenyan multi-talented star Avril has no intention of resting on her laurels. After a stint away from music on the silver screen, Avril recently appeared on Coke Studio Africa, collaborating with Tanzanian rapper Izzo Bizness. “ I am ecstatic to be back in the music scene. Kenya is owning its own industry,” she tells me, adding that she feels that this is the biggest stage in Africa and its growth is launching careers across the continent. Participating on Coke Studio’s Food Exchange, Avril and Izzo Bizness prepared their cultural delicacies for each other. Izzo Bizness was treated

to Mùkimo and Mùtura alongside Kachumbari. “It was fun because he assisted me while making the dish over conversations on culture and music. I found the experience very exciting.” Avril enjoys making ugali, sukuma wiki and beef stew. Confessing her love for food and cooking, she takes joy in experimenting with various recipes. “I made roast chicken not so long ago and replaced coriander with parsley and it came out so well I can still taste the flavours in my mouth. For drinks, I usually just have water with my meals whether at home or out. From time to time, I wouldn’t

YOU’RE FLAMING 18. HOT I AM ICE COLD.

mind a fruity cocktail and definitely a cup of black tea for the Kenyan in me.” Avril has always been big on collaborations. So far, she has managed to release one smash hit after another all through the lifespan of her career. In 2009, she collaborated with legendary Tanzanian rapper AY in “Leo” – what would later become a continental hit amassing her regional recognition. She has also worked with Ommy Dimpoz from Tanzania and Kenyan artists: Mustapha, Marya and King Kaka. Avril’s latest collaborations: “Babiee” featuring A Pass from

Uganda and “Forever” with Izzo Bizness are currently ruling East African airwaves. “As clichéd as it sounds, all my collabos are my favourite because each has had a different vibe to it.” She more recently recorded a new song with producer Shado Chris and the two have plans to release it soon. Avril on her best career moments: “That will have to be every time I am on stage. All the work I do always culminates with the moment I get on stage.”


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CIRU MURIUKI IS A TV AND RADIO PRESENTER, A WRITER WITH A TASTE FOR ADVENTURE AND FOOD AND A DESIRE TO REDEFINE WHAT FEMINISM MEANS IN KENYA TODAY. A PASSIONATE COFFEE DRINKER, SHE HAPPILY SHARES HER THOUGHTS WITH US ON THIS MONTH’S DIARY OF ALL THINGS COFFEE. Do you feel you’ve accomplished everything you set out to accomplish this year? It’s definitely been a better year than previous ones but gosh, when in November you look at your vision board from January earlier in the year and it’s always impossible not to feel like you’ve been a total failure! My highlight was hosting a couple of events which saw Millenials debating some of the issues that stemmed from this year’s elections. I feel Millenials don’t get a voice in this country so I was proud to give them a platform be heard.

until I have had my first cup in the morning. I just love how it smells and makes me feel.

What was the most delicious thing you ate all year? That’s so easy. 2017 was the year I fell in love with crab samosas. I was in Kilifi when I tried them, I kid you not I almost told my boyfriend that I would consider leaving him over a plate of crab samosas.

How do you take your coffee? I love a well done caffe latte or cappuccino and when I’m abroad, I’ll often order a frappuccino but here in Kenya not so much because I feel they overdo it with the sweetener. Oh and I’d love to drink an espresso but it just makes me too wired!

What are your goals for 2018? I’ve got a new new job on the horizon that I cannot tell you about but it promises to be a bigger role than my current one and I’m really excited What importance does coffee have in your life? I’m not a morning person and sometimes I wonder what I’d do without coffee. I literally tell my significant other he is not allowed to talk to me

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When and how did you first discover it? As kids we were not allowed to have coffee but my dad liked it so there was always some instant coffee hidden to the back of the cupboard. My sister and I once found it but we had not idea what to do with it so we dunked the biggest spoon into water and then knocked it back. We were up all night, I’ll never forget it!

How many coffees a day do you take? I used to easily drink five cups a day but I’ve recently cut down to three as I felt that five were giving me too many palpitations. Is there a particular food you take it with? I used to go to Artcaffe and order the treacle cake but I seem to be losing my taste for sweet things of late and have recently taken to ordering flaky pastries and Danishes instead of cakes.

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SUSAN EATS

PHOTOS BRIAN SIAMBI

FEEL THE HEAT Nairobi is bang on point with the global Mexican food trend and if Susan Wong has anything to do with it, we aren’t turning back any time soon.

It’s been a while since Nairobi has had Mexican. If your idea of Mexican or even Tex-Mex cuisine, a fusion from America, is from guacamole or the refried beans in your breakfast combo or at the former Mexican restaurant at Parklands Plaza, then it’s time to revisit and explore the global food trend a little bit more. Globally, Mexican food is having its moment right now, just like how Peruvian did. Additionally, diners are embracing the global food trend of street food-inspired dishes, and Mexican cuisine features many creations that fit perfectly into that category. Taquerias have been popping-up everywhere, featuring high-end tacos, for a long time. I’m just happy that Mexican is back in Nairobi, and hopefully is here to stay. At Mercado Mexican Kitchen and Bar, there are no sombreros hanging on the walls or a cliché Mariachi band walking around, serenading guests. Instead, contemporary songs rooted in Mexican influence feature

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an electric guitar here, a jazzy sax there, and an expressive trumpet confidently in solo. The music is an eclectic mix that complements the chic, sleek, modern and moody interiors - a melting pot just like Mexican culture itself. The expansive restaurant gazes out onto the busy centre of the Westlands neighbourhood by way of a terrace. Interesting light fixtures create a soft ambiance and are the genesis of many conversations, just like how the indoor swinging benches inspire a few laughs and giggles. Mexican cuisine is beyond quick preparation items like guacamole. In fact, it’s quite complex and features many traditional culinary practices that take time. From grinding chilies, preparing mole or making in-house corn tortillas, at Nairobi’s new-kid-onthe-block, preparation often begins the day before. The menu features food from different regions of Mexico with a modern twist through a selection

of small plates that are perfect for sharing. There are tacos, tamales, tostadas, quesadillas, tortas and burritos for the adventurous. Also featured are salads, soups and a collection of familiar entrees for meat lovers and vegetarians. Our polite and knowledgeable waiter first delivers some homemade salsas for the table. If you love your heat, then perhaps you’ll finally meet your match with the Habanero Salsa that features a simmering burn that lingers all over your tongue and finishes with a smoky kick just in case you had forgotten what you were eating. Tread lightly with this one. We begin with a granite mortar of Guacamole served with crispy homemade nacho chips. The ripe avocados were creamy and the dip was well seasoned and balanced. Next to arrive was my favourite of the evening, Shrimp Mexicana Tostadas. The Chipotle Mayo pulled together the avocado, coriander, tomatoes and perfectly seared shrimp. The crispy

corn tortillas had a lovely corn flavour and remained crunchy, despite being loaded with toppings. Then there were soft corn tortilla tacos filled with juicy pulled pork, refried beans, and pickled onions, inspired by the popular tacos in Yucatan. The refried beans were savoury and earthy, with a beautiful texture that wasn’t completed pureed. The Fried Fish Ajo Quesadillas were a miss for me. The filling of fresh fish seasoned with olives, garlic, and parsley was dry and stringy. The beautifully folded parcels of steamed corn dough in banana leaves, Tamales, had chicken and cheese throughout. The soft texture and moist dough were comforting, and together with the Red Mole Sauce made with 25 different ingredients that include a touch of dark chocolate and vegetarian broth, was something out of a delicious dream. I was reminded why I loved to eat tamales: slightly sweet and savoury, they have a comforting texture of


Mercado is a good place to get an introductory experience on culinary traditions of Mexico. silken tofu or cheese curd. Dessert was to follow, but I’ll be honest, at this point, we were stuffed. Just like Ugali, homemade corn tortillas have a way of catching up with your appetite. When Chef Raúl Martínez Ramírez from Mexico City, told me they

were making their tortillas by hand, the image of someone working a tortilla press diligently - portioning, shaping and pressing - in the kitchen came to mind. The in-house chips and tortillas had a beautiful flavour of a deep corn muskiness that only could come from the most incredible masa harina. Mercado is a good place to get an introductory experience on culinary traditions of Mexico. Contemporary and sleek, the menu offers familiar items that first-time diners won’t feel intimidated by, and if you are, just ask one of the knowledgeable servers for some suggestions. We’re sitting on the terrace and it’s a beautiful evening, surrounded by families, couples and friends catching up on their week. It is a busy evening, the conversations hum steadily in the background. Just like a bustling market, there’s a constant buzz at Mercado. And, being only a few weeks young, that’s a very good sign.

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WINE PROFILE

WOMAN IN WINE Leleshwa wines continue to be a source of pride for Kenya and their talented winemaker Emma Nderitu might well be the only female winemaker North of Johannesburg and South of Sicily. Stick that into your glass and drink it, says Iloti Mutoka, after heading to Naivasha to meet the woman behind the award-winning wine.

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PHOTOS BRIAN SIAMBI


PHOTOS TATIANA KARANJA

I always imagined I would go to France one day to learn about the secrets of making wine. I pictured myself sitting with a white-haired farmer after a day picking grapes, smoking Gauloise cigarettes as we shared a joke and knocked back small glasses of dark red wine. So it came as a great surprise when the other day I got a call from my friend, a wine connoisseur, who asked me if I would be interested in accompanying him to the Rift Valley Winery in Naivasha for a story about Kenyan winemaker Emma Nderitu. On the day of the meeting, we drive down the escarpment under a heavy grey sky that looks ready to burst. We drive in through the gates of Morendat Farm, home to the winery and take in the open paddocks that contain large fat cows basking in the shade of the looming acacia trees. In front of us stands a white warehouse which we soon discover is the winery we have come to visit. Emma Nderitu is outside, ready to greet us and hands us a white lab coat each before we enter the building. Once inside we are hit by a cool air, a slightly musty wine odour in a large room packed with thick steel vats that are used to ferment grapes as they are turned into wine. “We use steel because it gives us greater control over the process,” says Nderitu, raising her voice to be heard over the hum of the machines. Growing up in Nyeri County, where

agriculture is the lifeblood of the local economy, Nderitu insists she always knew she was interested in food production. In 2009, she was completing her degree in BioChemistry and Microbiology, when she visited a horticultural fair in Naivasha. It was here, at the Rift Valley Wine stand, that she met James Farquharson, who would later become her mentor in all things wine. Farquharson, who before coming to make Leleshwa at Morendat Farm, was employed at the Stellenbosch winery in South Africa, convinced her to come back in January and try her hand at harvesting grapes. A few months and many long days later, Nderitu completed her first harvest and was forever hooked. By 2011 she had been employed by the company full time as their winery manager and, by the looks of it, this is not a decision they have come to regret. There is no question in Nderitu’s mind that the time of year that tests her mettle is the harvest period. That said, despite the early mornings and late nights and the back-breaking work, it is a vintner’s favourite time of year. “I love it,” she smiles, “You learn so much and it is a really fun time.” Those long days, Nderitu explains, are what make it a job like few others. “The smallest error can ruin three years of hard work. Good wine, though, is made from the best grapes, the best grapes are borne of struggle and here in Naivasha the struggle is

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WINE PROFILE

real.” Nderitu pauses, thinking before adding, “Oh they love it here, it is very hot during the day and super cold at night.” I am informed that this temperature contrast is what gives wine grapes the necessary complexity for a great tasting wine and that if it is only warm, they end up sweet and are better used for eating. As we make our way into the grapevines, bright green rows set against the silhouette of Mount Longonot and the dark skies over the far away Nairobi, Nderitu begins by telling me about ‘wine latitudes’ and why she is eager to disrupt the industry. “The wine latitudes are a region that are between 30° and 50° in latitude in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. It is thought that this belt is the only one capable of making good wine, but we are making good wine and it will only get better. Witness the rise of the new latitude wines!” she declares with excitement. This is obviously not just big talk: in 2015 Leleshwa white wine won the Michelangelo International

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The best grapes are borne of struggle and here in Naivasha the struggle is real Wine and Spirits Gold Award and their 2017 vintage is already generating a buzz. Nderitu takes this all in her stride, just as she appears to do with the unique challenges of being a woman in her industry. “I never really am conscious of it. I believe that if you work hard and are good at what you do, then the respect

will follow”. A long term Rotary Club member, Nderitu acknowledges that her unique position can serve as an inspiration to anyone, that application is crucial and that anyone can adapt to anything, no matter what their gender or background. “It is never enough. When you get there, find a new place to go,” she says, when I ask her what drives her. She talks without hesitation, with an assuredness that speaks to a confidence in her own ability. In her eight years at Rift Valley Wines, she has done research and development to see if it was viable to produce a sweet white dessert wine and currently has plans in place to make the first Kenyan Grappa, a strong Italian-style spirit made from fermented grape skins and stalks. The first drops of rain start to splash around us so we quickly cross the highway that cuts between the vineyard and the winery, to get to cover. It is a huge farm; the vineyard alone is 33 hectares. Nderitu says that there is scope for more growth in the wine industry in Kenya if people start

thinking that way. “I didn’t plan to become a winemaker but I did and this has so far been such a rewarding job”. Give her a chance to talk about wine business in Kenya and she becomes effervescent, convinced that wine, an industry that is steadily growing in an economy that has gone through some bumpy years, can only improve if more people follow her lead. “Go for it,” she urges my friend, when he mentions a plan in the pipeline for opening his own winery. “More people means more diversity of ideas and new ways of thinking.” The future of Emma Nderitu is filled with promise. Primarily though she still wants to spend more time where she is, learning more about wine and how to make it. As she closes the winery for the day, we watch her as she moves effortlessly through her natural habitat and it is clear that this vivacious, knowledgeable and ambitious woman is not so much breaking the mould as she is making a whole new one all on her own.


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WINE GUIDE

WINE PAIRING MADE SIMPLE The truth is, says Josiah Kahiu, that there are not many wine choices that will actually ruin a meal (except all-round bad wine of course). That said, a good wine selection can raise the experience of a meal from enjoyable to memorable. When pairing food and wine, our aim is to achieve a balance between what we eat, and the wine we drink with it. When choosing which wine to go with your food, remember to keep the mirror and contrast rule in mind. When we talk about mirroring or contrasting, we are talking about complementary or opposing pairings. Mirroring is choosing wines that have the same characteristics as the food and contrasting refers to wines that are diametrically different in taste and or mouthfeel. To make things easier for you, here is a quick guide on some basic pairing elements that will help make your next dinner party a memorable experience. Textural Explorations When we talk about texture, we are talking about the mouthfeel. This is the tactile sensation that reaches every corner of your mouth. Thus a full-bodied bold wine, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon, has more texture compared to a more delicate wine such as a Pinot Noir. A Cabernet Sauvignon will go best with a rich and hearty stew, while a Pinot Noir will combine better with a lighter chicken meal. Simply put, bold to bold, delicate to delicate. Salt, Bitterness and Bubbles Effervescence or bubbles in wine are a very important factor. First, they lessen the effects of salty foods and more importantly, they create a cleansing effect on the palate for foods that have a bitter component. The general rule of thumb is to avoid salty foods with red wine as it increases the bitterness in the wine. While of course we would all love to pair caviar with our champagne, pairing popcorn with our prosecco will do just as well.

Aromatics and Spices Spices come from roots and bark of plants while herbs come from the leaves. The big component of spices is that they drive flavours and aromas rather than texture. When pairing a hot spicy food with white wine, it is good to look for wines that are dry, low in alcohol and acidity such as Riesling. For red wines and spice, the ideal pair is wines with low tannins, low alcohol and which are fruity such as a Dolcetto. Foods with herbs are much more wine friendly than spicy foods. Fruity Fruit This may sound like a kindergarten song but it holds some truth. Foods that have fruity components work well with aromatic wine. Aromatic wines pair well with pork and apple sauce for example, because they are able to match the aromas in the food creating a good balance. Rich and Fatty Succulent foods with high fat content such as animal fat or butter require an equally strong structured wine. Full bodied flavoured foods require full bodied flavoured wines. The rich and corpulent structure of the wines stands up well to the structure of the food. Wines with a good tannin content, are softened and rounded out by the richness and fat in the food. Strong Umami When we think of umami, we think of savoury dishes like parmesan, soy sauce or mushrooms. East Asian people consider umami as the “fifth taste� and it is increasingly a sought after flavour profile in dishes. When paired with a suitable wine, it

greatly enhances the overall food experience. Wines that can have an earthy component to them pair well as they combine with the umami flavour in the food. Sweety Sweety Sweet wines are not the same thing as fruity wines. Think pannacotta and chocolate desserts rather than passion fruits and pineapples. When pairing a sweet food with sweet wine such as desserts, it is important to consider the level of sweetness in the food. If the level of sweetness in the food is higher than the level of sweetness in the wine, the final effect can be to reduce the overall effect of the wine making it taste dull or causing it to loose character. Great pairing with sweet wines are foods that have not so sweet tendencies such as a fruit tart. Crisp and Salty Acidity in wine often works as a great palate cleanser with salty foods. This is because they both work in contrast to each other. The high acidity in wines act as a counterbalance to the acidity in the food. Think of asian dishes with a salty component to them due to soy sauce. These type of dishes would work well with high acid wines such as Riesling. In the end, these steps are more guidelines than rules. They are there to help you get an idea and understanding of the different elements when it comes to pairing food and wine. The main thing is to find the balance between your personal preferences and the general set of guidelines mentioned above.

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TRENDS

TEXT JOSIAH KAHIU

MILLENNIAL WINE Baby boomers beware, Millennials are coming for your wine. Over the last 20 years trying to understand consumers needs and wants has become a difficult challenge. For many professionals who have worked in the industry, the shift from the Baby Boomer generation to Millennials has had quite a drastic effect on marketing. When we think of millennials and their drinking culture, we might imagine youngsters knocking back artesanal beer or taking selfies with whatever the cocktail of the day is. The fact is, though, that millennials now consume more wine than any other generation that came before. A study in 2015 showed that 42% of wine worldwide is drunk by people born between 1980 and the late 1990s. I find this interesting because growing up in Kenya, wine was generally only drunk by our parents or elegant women with perfect manicures. Our generation (yes, I too, am of this generation) generally grabbed any sweet alcoholic beverage we could get our hands on

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with Redds, of course, topping the game. One of the reasons Millennials are so wine-focused today is because of branding. When choosing a wine to drink, my peers focus a lot on what’s on the bottle and less on what is actually inside. Gone are the days of comparing grape varietals and vintages of certain years. Our generation has always been very visual so it’s no wonder that interesting branding or packaging appeals to us. When it comes to branding, we are also more interested in a sense of authenticity - who are the people who produced the wine and what’s the history behind it. We prefer the story behind the wine rather than the score it was given in a wine magazine or by a critic. Another fascinating change from generation X to Y is that we want to discover wines more than our parents did. We have broader tastes and are more accepting of blends rather than single varietal wines. This has forced

winemakers to be more creative in their recipes. Whereas red blended wines were seen as a heresy in the past, they currently account for a large percentage of wines being produced. Millennials have also greatly impacted how wines are produced. Try a little experiment and ask an older, more experienced wine drinker what eco-certified or vegan wines are and you will probably get a “that’s a thing of your generation” type answer. But the truth is, as we get more conscious about our environment, our buying patterns change. We tend to drink wines that align with our personal or world views. Our generation has also seen the birth of interconnectivity. We are able to access information at our fingertips. Hence, we tend to shy away from direct marketing - i.e we don’t like brands to market to us, we prefer to discover things on our own. We like the idea of sharing experiences and being informed, so much so that a

picture on Instagram of your friend drinking a bottle of wine has a higher impact on you drinking the wine than if a wine critic gave it a good score. We are a generation of shared experiences. We also not only drink differently, we educate ourselves differently. This has been thanks to the number of wine apps available. Traditional media has not gone away, but we rely more on social media to access information. But above all, my favourite difference is that we are more friend oriented. Our friendship component is a big aspect of how we drink as we want to share the occasion and create memories. Now I’m pretty sure the 42% wine rule doesn’t apply here in Kenya yet, but I’ll venture that fashionable 22-year-olds are now more likely to pick up a bottle of wine than we were 10 years ago and older generations ever were. See you on the ‘gram! Follow Josiah Kahiu on IG @knife_ and_wine


YUMMY

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YUMMY

PHOTO BRIAN SIAMBI

El Miracle Cava/Brut - Straw yellow colour, with well formed persistent bubbles. Clean and fruity aroma with prominent citrus character with undertone of floral notes. Distributed by VIVA Global - viva.globa Viva Dial A Bottle - 0799786700 Price - Ksh 1130 Linderman’s Chardonnay/Viogner 2016 - A fresh nose with impressions of herbs, wet stones and white fruits. Medium acidity and fresh taste of green apples and peaches. Distributed by VIVA Global (available soon) - viva.global Viva Dial A Bottle - 0799786700 Price - Ksh 745

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WINE YUMMY PICKS

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Domaine de Mouchen - Beautiful golden colour, aromas of ripe and exotic fruits blend in the glass. The mouth is characterised by its roundness, softness and freshness. Distributed by Le Decanter - ABC Place Price - Ksh 950 Cave de Tain Première Note - A fun, fresh and fruity rendering of this flagship varietal of the Northern Rhône Valley. Fresh raspberry, strawberry and cherry fruit tastes. Distributed by Le Decanter - ABC Place Price - Ksh 1300 Casal Mendes Blue - A Portuguese wine-based drink which uses a white wine from the 2015 harvest, fruity, fresh with a balanced acidity and a final sweetness. Distributed by UVA wines facebook.com/uvawineske Price - Ksh 1260

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WINE PICKS

STAND OUT MarquĂŞs de Borba - A Portuguese classic. Structured style, dry with plenty of tannins under the fruit. A food wine, with blackcurrant and Cassis aromas. Distributed by UVA wines - facebook.com/uvawineske Price - 3520

Chocolate Block - Complex blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon with just a hint of Viognier. Opulent style wine, with superfine tannins and a luscious palate. Distributed by MIA Wines www.miainternational.co.ke Price - 6600

Springfield Wild Yeast Chardonnay - Fermented using the native, wild yeasts that occur naturally on the skins of the grapes. Highly complex aromas of pineapple and pear pairing with nutty, yeasty cookie dough notes. Distributed by MIA Wines www.miainternational.co.ke Price - 4650

Springfield Wholeberry Cabernet Sauvignon - Smooth full-bodied red wine has velvety soft tannins, aromas and flavours of blackcurrant, fruits of the forest, vanilla and warm spices. Distributed by MIA Wineswww.miainternational.co.ke Price - 4400

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Wine glasses, like fine wines, have always been a symbol of civilised living.

Arienzo de Marques de Riscal Crianza - Fresh, fruity lively wine, with reminders of red-berried fruit mingling with the coconut and vanilla aromas from the oak. Distributed by The Wine Company - www. thewinecompany.co.ke Nakuru Price - 1900

Domaine les Barthes - This Malbec reveals slightly spicy notes but also fresh and intense strawberries and pomegranates. A good persistent finish. Distributed by Le Decanter - ABC Place Price - 1100


ASK A WINO

TEXT JOSIAH KAHIU

STAY IN IGT Toscana Rosso Mhuri 2012 - Nuances of red fruits and baked strawberries with pleasant freshness on the palate. Intense bouquet with notes of ripe red fruits. Distributed by The Wine Company - www.thewinecompany.co.ke Price - Ksh 1650

Trumpeter Malbec – Dense, with an inky colour, cherry aromas with a touch of cinnamon and sweet spice. Fruity wine with excellent body and intense tannins Distributed by Dion Wines - dionwines.com Price - Ksh 1350

Italian-trained oenologist (pronounced Eh-no-lo-jist - that’s a wine expert to you and me) Josiah Kahiu answers all your questions on wine. What is the point of decanting a bottle of wine? Clifford Siloba, 25 Hi Clifford and thank you for what is probably one of the questions I get asked most. To start with, keep in mind that wine is a social drink and as a consequence, the act of opening, pouring and sharing it is all highly symbolic. Important wines are treated to a reverential ritual that indicates to the other drinkers that this is a wine of status. The term decanting might sound posh but it is nothing more than pouring a bottle of wine into a jug that basically looks like a small flower vase. This is the decanter and its main purpose is to aerate the wine. Wines need to aerate for different reasons: in the case of young wines that are still at their “child phase” of development - meaning they can be closed to the nose and palate, air can help them to reach their full expression. As the wine is decanted, it absorbs oxygen, helping release the aromas and flavours. Wines that truly benefit from this are more full bodied wines that are high in tannicity such as Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Trumpeter Sauvignon Blanc – Elegant crisp white wine with yellow green undertones, persistent, fruity aromas blended with noses of grapefruit, herbs and freshly cut grass. Distributed by Dion Wines - dionwines.com price - Ksh 1200

The other reason for decanting wines is in the case of an aged wine like a French Bordeaux. Some red wines create sediment as they age but this is not a bad thing: it is merely the process of the colour pigments and tannins bonding together. These then leave a sediment in the bottle and pouring it straight to the glass can create a cloudy wine that is unpleasant to look at and can pass on a bitter and gritty feel. In the end, decanting can be seen as a personal preference. If you have the time and have spent more than average on your bottle, why not experiment a little and try decanting? You may just find that the wine you are thought tasted one way has been given a whole new lease in life. If you have a wine dilemma, send an email to kahiu@oenokenya.co.ke Follow him on Instagram on @knife_and_wine

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INTERVIEW

WINE INC. Kenya’s wine journey has only recently started but, as Josiah Kahiu finds, if Tim Challen and his wine club have anything to do with it, we are nowhere near our destination yet. Recently back from my oenology studies in Italy, I felt slightly out of touch with the Kenyan wine market. This was not from a lack of knowledge of global wine trends that I had learned, but simply for the fact that the Kenyan market is moving into its teen phase and a lot can change in 18 months. To get better acquainted with what has been happening in my absence, I searched for someone who could get me up to date. My search led me to Tim Challen, founder of Pharleys Wine Club. Challen is a trained Manchester chef who has traversed the globe from the Hilton in Florida to the famous Ivy restaurant in London, spending years perfecting his trade before arriving in Kenya almost a decade and a half ago. He was convinced to come to Kenya by a friend from University - Chef Kiran Jethwa, and had his first posting in Loisaba before criss crossing the

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country working at establishments from Tamarind Dhow to Swahili Beach, never managing to leave Kenya. After getting the pleasantries out of the way, we do what any wine enthusiast would do and break out a glass of wine before starting the interview. I dive in by asking how he got into wine in Kenya. He explains that he started importing whiskey roughly four years ago but that “Wine has always been of interest to me”. It was while looking for a location to open a restaurant that he decided to start importing wines. One main factor that influenced this decision was that he wanted to have a restaurant that had a wine shop attached to it. In doing this, their hope was to allow their clients to purchase wine at an affordable fee and enjoy it with their meals. During the process of establishing the restaurant, the idea to create Pharleys Wine Club was born.

A wine club, now I was intrigued, as it was a concept I had been introduced to in Europe but had not encountered in Kenya. Challen explains that it is a subscription service, which he started after he noticed that the average wine consumer in Nairobi had difficulties in locating places to buy wine. “People always have their go to’s such as Beach House,” he explains, “but there is so much more on the market with better prices and quality; the whole ethos of the wine club is to educate people on wine and to discover new ones. If you come on with us you come on a journey, you get to learn what is a Riesling or Chardonnay and the different wine regions. We get members to sample wine that they would not necessarily buy, we are trying to demystify wine.” This all sounds very interesting, and we would normally end up talking about different wines for hours, but

I feel it wise to bring the topic back to why I came to meet him in the first place. I ask him if there are any trends he would like to see in the Kenyan market. “I would like to see more people wanting to learn more and start demanding more,” Challen tells me adding, “I would also like to see more wine gatherings as wine is trending.” Kenya is no different in terms of global wine trends to the rest of the world. The main difference is, as an emerging market, there is a thirst to try and more importantly learn about wine culture, whether it be different styles of wine or regions or learning the best pairings for specific wines. Coming back to Kenya with this insight suddenly fills me with immense joy, we are on a “wine journey”, as Challen puts it and I am glad to be onboard.


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Q&A

SMOKING GRAPES Is global warming something wine lovers should be worried about? Absolutely, argues Florentine oenologist Stefano Marinari as he examines the highs and lows of the 2017 wine year. Oenologist and wine producer Stefano Marinari has been working at the award-winning Castello di Bossi winery producing Chianti Classico wine for the last five years. Before returning to make wine in his home country, he spent time refining his expertise in California and Chile. In what kind of climates and terrains does wine thrive? This really depends on what exactly you want to make. There isn’t a one size fits all altitude or terrain that is good for wine but rather a combination of diverse factors that are dependent on the terroir. Different types of grapes achieve their maximum expression in different types of soils, at different altitudes and temperatures. Generally wine has been cultivated in regions with climates similar to that in the Mediterranean basin where it historically has been grown. In the last couple of centuries though, people have become more experimental searching out similar climates but at different latitudes or heights. Why is climate change an issue for wine production?

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Climate change has been an important factor in the last few years. In the past, when people planted vines they would always make sure they were facing the South (or if you are in the southern hemisphere, the North) to make sure they got as much sun as possible. Now we are seeing the reverse, with vines being increasingly planted in cool areas because it’s becoming easier this way for them to reach their full level of maturity and maintain their varietal characteristics. The problem now is if grapes are exposed to too much sun they become drier and the sugars increase in concentration which means the resulting wine is not as well balanced as it once was. Any recent examples? 2017 has on the whole been a disaster in Europe because at the beginning of the year, excessive temperatures induced the vines to germinate earlier than they usually would but then in March, much of Southern Europe was subjected to a big cold front and both France and Italy lost between 5% and 10% of their outcome. As if that wasn’t enough, we experienced major

drought this year which meant that the grapes were about half their usual size which resulted to a further 3040% loss of produce. Generally here in Tuscany we produce about 300 to 400 tons of grapes per hectare while this year it was more like 150 to 250 tonnes. So yes, overall in 2017 it is safe to say that Italian wine producers produced between 30% and 40% less wine than usual. Meanwhile in California, the September 2017 forest fires created a whole other disaster. Even though the vineyards were not directly scorched, they were subjected to a lot of smoke which significantly affected the taste of the grapes. Basically most of the Californian wineries that were near where the fires were happening have probably had to throw away their entire crop because it is virtually impossible to make wine out of smoked grapes. What can be done to mitigate the effects of climate change on wine production? One thing that has changed is that people are beginning to find ways to protect the individual grapes from excessive sun exposure. This includes

changing how the leaves are pruned and irrigating as much as possible and trying to pinpoint what the exact amount of water necessary is. Another thing that is happening is that people are moving to higher altitudes. While before 200 to 400 metres was the usual, today you’ll find more and more Italian winemakers moving up to heights of around 500 and 600 metres. Which wine producing countries stand to gain from global warming? Places like Washington State, Canada and Germany never used to make big wine productions, they were considered too wet and humid but are now moving more forcefully into the market with Pinot Noirs. Patagonia, to the south of Argentina, is also beginning to get much more active in the field and for all we know England might become a huge wine producer in the future.


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YUMMY

SICILIAN TABLE Food from the island of Sicily, at the southern tip of Italy, stands out from the rest of the country because of the many cultures and invaders that over the centuries have made the place their home. The North African “Moorish” medieval conquerors introduced a tradition of combining dried fruits with savoury foods, the Spaniards brought tomatoes from the New World and olives and pistachios made their way over the sea from neighbouring Greece. All this, combined with the bounty of fresh vegetables and fish, make Sicilian cuisine one of the most interesting and multifaceted in the region. In the following pages Chef Dario Aloisio, who hails from the capital of Sicily, Palermo, has spent the last decade working in Nairobi’s top Italian restaurants and currently runs La Cantina restaurant on Ngong Road, recreates some of the tastes of Sicily for Yummy readers to try at home.

CAPONATA BAROCCA 4 People Cooking Time: 1 Hour

You Will Need: 400g Eggplant 200g Onions 100g Celery 200g Tomatoes 10 Green Olives 1 Tbsp Capers 1 Tbsp Sugar 1 Tbsp Grated Dark Chocolate 3 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar Olive Oil Salt Pepper Sunflower Oil

Procedure: 1. Cut the eggplants into 2cm cubes, place them in a colander and sprinkle them with salt pressing them down with a plate. Allow them to release their water for 45 minutes and then squeeze them with a clean teatowel. Fry them in batches in the sunflower oil until golden 2. Chop the celery into 1cm cubes and blanch 3. Slice the onion thinly and gently fry them in olive oil until soft and slightly golden 4. Add the chopped and deseeded tomatoes to the onions, the celery, the roughly chopped olives, the capers, the eggplants, the sugar and the vinegar and let it all evaporate before adding some salt and pepper to taste. 5. Let the caponata rest for at least an hour and serve it sprinkled with the chocolate and topped with toasted bread.

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YUMMY RECIPE

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YUMMY

CUSCUS 4 People Cooking Time: 1.5 hrs You Will Need: 150g Medium grain couscous 1/2L Vegetable stock 1 Tsp Turmeric powder 3 Tbsp Chopped onions 1 Tsp Chopped Garlic Âź cup Cubed bell peppers Âź cup courgettes 120g Peeled prawns 120g Sliced calamari 100g Cubed red snapper fillet 100g Cubed king fish 1 glass Dry white wine 100g Halved cherry tomatoes 4 Grilled king prawns (to garnish) 6 Basil leaves 1 Tsp Thyme Salt/Pepper to taste Olive oil Green chilies (optional) Procedure: 1. In a heat proof bowl mix the couscous with a teaspoon of salt and turmeric and pour on 1L of the scalding stock and a glug of olive oil. 2. Mix everything with a fork to avoid forming lumps, cover with cling film and let rest for 15 minutes until fully cooked. 3. Pour olive oil into a casserole and put in the onions and garlic to gently fry for ten minutes, stirring continuously. 4. Add in slow progression: the cubed fish, the prawns and the calamari and sautee at a high flame for five minutes. 5. Add the white wine and allow to evaporate then add the cherry tomatoes and the remaining stock 6. Lower the fire and let everything simmer for 15 minutes 7. Add the basil, chili, thyme and let rest for 20 minutes. 8. Plate the couscous, pour the hot fish mixture on top and garnish with the grilled King prawns.

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YUMMY RECIPE

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YUMMY

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RECIPE YUMMY

BEEF INVOLTINI 4 People Cooking time: 45 minutes You will need: 300g Beef fillet 300g Fresh, semi-roasted bread crumbs 200g Chopped onions 80g Olive oil 50g sultanas 80g Finely grated pecorino cheese 4 Bay leaves 8 Rosemary stems 100g Peppered beef gravy Salt/Pepper Procedure: 1. Prepare the side by slicing the onions, peppers, courgettes and the sliced and blanched potatoes to be grilled 2. Slice the beef fillet into fifteen slices each ½cm wide 3. Place the slices in between two plastic sheets and flatten them more 4. Prepare the filling by simmering the onions and the sultanas in theolive oil until soft 5. Pour the oil and sultana mixture onto the ž of the breadcrumbs 6. Add the cheese and mix everything until a firm dough is formed 7. Form 16 small dough cylinders about 3 cm long each 8. Place each cylinder on a slice of beef and roll them tightly 9. Roll the involtini on the remaining breadcrumbs and then proceed to skewer them with the rosemary separating the rolls with a bay leaf and a piece of sliced onion 10. Grill the skewers on a gentle charcoal fire and serve them with the grilled vegetables drizzled with the gravy

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SPOTLIGHT

IMPOSTER PASTA Will the real Spaghetti Bolognese please stand up, asks Katy Fentress as she peels back the layers of this most famous of Italian pasta dishes. Contrary to what people might think, Spaghetti Bolognese is not an Italian dish. Sure, it owes its origins to a delicious pasta from the area but, put simply, no one in the Northern Italian city of Bologna (pronounced Bo-lo-nee-ah) has ever dreamed of combining their famous meat and tomato sauce with spaghetti. This is mainly because Bologna, and its neighbouring city Modena, have for centuries perfected the art of egg-based pasta. Think fresh ribbony fettuccine, sheets of lasagna and of course those delicious parcels of meat wrapped in a thin dough called tortellini (one of Modena’s biggest claims to fame). These are the vessels that were created to go with this rich and hearty meat sauce and not the hard and durum-wheat varieties that are popular in the south of the Italian peninsula. “Up and down Italy we have different ways of preparing a sauce we call ragù,” says Patrizia Fiora, owner of the popular Dolce Vita restaurant that sits on the lower level

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of the small shopping centre at Muthaiga Mini Market. Fiora, who has spent a long time studying the many different regional variations in Italian cooking, goes on to explain that ragù in itself is a confusing name because it comes from the French word ragouter which roughly translates as ‘to awaken your appetite’. Ragout was first introduced to Italy in the 18th century, Fiora explains, “but when the Fascist Mussolini came into power in the 1930s, he passed a law that said that there could be no foreign words in the Italian language, so he had the name changed to ragù”. So it is that we find a version of ragù made in city Naples, which is traditionally made around Mardi Gras and involves cooking large chunks of beef, pork and sausages together in a tomato sauce for hours before shredding it much like the Mexicans do with pulled pork. Or else we find that in the Tuscany region instead, people add both garlic and onion - a combination that borders on

the heretical for many Italian pasta sauces - to their beef and bacon ragù and cook it with red wine, with a few tablespoons of tomato concentrate. Fiora, recently created an entire menu inspired by the region of Emilia Romagna (of which the city of Bologna is the capital) which she served as part of her monthly regional menu series at Dolce Vita. She says she has no idea why it is that of all the ragùs in Italy it was the one from Bologna that caught the imagination of Italian food enthusiasts worldwide. Whatever the case, this is a dish that has burst the seams of its original inception with each country that has adopted it as their own, adding a special local twist. So for example in the UK they always add Worcestershire (repeat after me Wooster - yes you read that right, the correct pronunciation is Wooster ) sauce, in the USA they often add bell peppers, in Thailand they add coconut milk and in Nigeria, ginger.

Classic Ragù Serves 4, Preparation Time: 30mins, Cooking Time: 3 hours You Will Need 1 Carrot 1 Celery stalk 1 Medium onion Large glug of olive oil 500g Beef mince (choose a fatty cut to bring out the flavour) 250g Pork mince 3 tins of tomatoes One glass of red wine 1l Water ½ Glass of milk Salt and pepper to taste Preparation 1. Mince your vegetables and put them onto the pan to make a soffritto (that’s Italian for frying the vegetable trio slowly in olive oil to make a flavour base for your dish). 2. Add the meat at a high heat and mix until browned 3. Add the red wine and mix until it has all evaporated 4. Add pepper and salt 5. Add tomatoes and water and cook for three hours at low heat adding water if it ever gets too dry 6. Towards the end pour in the milk 7. When the sauce has lost most of its liquid it is ready to serve with your choice of pasta or whatever vessel you select.


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YUMMY HOW TO

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YUMMY

PHOTO BRIAN SIAMBI

SAY CHEESE Cheese boards are an great to keep your dinner guests’ hunger pangs at bay while you put the finishing touches on a main meal. That and the fact that they look pretty and are always bound to make an excellent impression. Just follow these eight simple steps and you are guaranteed to make a board that is both delicious and instagrammable. 1.

2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Head to one of the better stocked supermarkets or deli’s in town and get a selection of cheeses. You are aiming for a combination of: hard cheese (think goat gouda, manchego), soft cheese (something like brie, camembert or creamy goat), funky cheese (blue cheese, taleggio, something French and smelly), aged cheese (an English mature cheddar, parmesan, pecorino) Select a nice wooden or slate board Arrange cheese on board Choose a selection of crackers (oat, crispy, coal for example) Choose a selection of fruits (grapes, apples, cherries for example) Add condiments like a generous dollop of honey, some jam and or a sweet pickle Cold cuts are optional but add a nice salty contrast Fill in the spaces with pretty garnishes like edible flowers

For the board we used (clockwise from top): Sirimon Cheese - Gouda Emborg - Danablue Classic Butler’s Secret Special Reserve Cheddar Brown’s Cheese - Rosemary Camembert Chaumes Le Veritable

Our condiments were: Acacia Honey and Marula Jam from Olkerii Farm

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INGREDIENT

WHITE ROCKS

Love them or hate them, truffles are one of the top five most expensive foodstuffs in the world. Katy Fentress sets out to shed some light on what it is that makes these ugly little pebbles such a sought after delicacy.

There are few plants in the world that we rely on animals to track down for us. We assume that dogs are harnessed for their hunting skills rather than for their gardening ones. Yet, truffles, one of the most expensive mushrooms on earth, could not be found were it not for speciallytrained dogs, whose job it is to nose them out from under the foliage and in between the roots of trees. This year, white truffles are being sold in Italy for a record breaking price of €6,000 a kilo. Before now, the highest they had ever gone to was €5,000 in 2012 and €4,000 in 2007. The steep hike in prices is attributed to the heatwave that besieged Italy and much of Southern Europe over the course of the past

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year. Heat and drought were the hallmarks of 2017, and as a result, terrains that were supposed to remain cool and humid slowed down the development of the precious truffles. Truffles are an underground mushroom. The truffle tuber lives symbiotically in the roots of certain trees, like oaks, hazelnuts, pines and willows. Its shape is largely contingent to the ground it grows in, with soft terrains giving birth to spherical truffles while rocky and hard terrains give birth to gnarled and odd rock-shaped ones. If you are unfamiliar with truffles, you will undoubtedly find their smell quite hard to stomach. Much like the East Asian fruit Durian, revered by many while reviled and said to smell

of corpses by many more, the aroma of truffles is quite the acquired taste. It has been likened to the smell of old socks, sex and French cheese; a fact which makes it more, not less, attractive to the hordes of truffle fanatics across the world. In 2015 a white truffle from Alba, an area to the North West of Italy famous for producing the best white truffles in the world, sold for the grand total of $160,000 at an auction in Hong Kong. Luckily for us common mortals though, white truffles are not the only variety out there and some of the others types are almost as good and relatively more pocket friendly. There are four major types of truffles available on the market, with

most commercially available ones coming from Southern Europe and more recently Eastern Europe. These are, in order of decreasing price: white truffles, black truffles, black summer truffles and whitish truffles.

On the 7th of December this year, La Dolce Vita Restaurant will host an exclusive one-off Truffle night. Choose between two or three courses of luxuriously decadent, pungent and mouth watering classic Italian truffle dishes. Prices start at Ksh 7,100 which includes welcome drink and two courses eatout.co.ke/la-dolce-vita


YUMMY

W INE E STATE E X C E S S I V E C O N S U M P T I O N O F A L C O H O L I S H A R M F U L T O Y O U R H E A LT H . NOT FOR SALE TO PERSONS UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE.

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MAN ABOUT YUMMY TOWN

POSITIONING STATEMENT There are few things worse than having to talk to people on a plane when all you want to do is sit and think about your sore lip. Or so finds Jackson Biko who has not yet discovered a way to politely rid himself of annoying airplane interlocutors. I ran into some acquaintance at a liquor store at the Duty Free in JKIA. I was inspecting this whisky in a very odd-shaped bottle when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Nobody taps anyone on the shoulder anymore. It’s a very Cold War kind of behaviour. I hadn’t seen him in years. I follow him on Twitter where he’s loud and brash and colourful and is prone to quoting Machiavelli. In person he’s short and meek with small flowery ears and he wears T-shirts with a pocket. If only Twitter knew. We hugged. He introduced me to his girlfriend, who had on those trendy torn jeans folded at the bottom. She had wrists as brittle as the legs of a heron. They were headed to Doha to visit his sister. I was headed to Santorini, Greece. Three days ago I had bitten my lower lip while eating so I had a sore lower lip and I wasn’t in the mood to talk and answer the

same old questions that his girlfriend was asking me; where do you get your ideas from? (Hint: From people who want to talk to me when I have sore lips). Anyway, I was polite even though I wanted nothing better than to be left alone with that odd-shaped bottle. “So what takes you to Greece?” He asked and I told him I was turning 40 years old in three days. The girlfriend emitted a small shriek. She looked about 29; young and idealistic and convinced that she will never get to 40. “Yeah, I know. But I don’t have any hip problems and I don’t feel the need to take a leak all the time.” I told her. She said she was surprised that I didn’t look forty. Right. The shriek had said otherwise. “But how can you go to Greece alone?” She asked and I said. “I’m not.” Then she said, “but where is she?” I said, “She’s in the ladies,” and the man with a pocket

on his T-shirt laughed as if I can’t be with a woman who goes to the ladies. I think that was a compliment. It was them again in the plane, three rows down. He kept drinking that godawful alcohol they serve in the planes from those dwarf bottles which was fine but problem was he kept making pit stops by our seat to tell me something about branding. (He’s a branding guy). At some point everybody around me knew what “Positioning statement” and “brand architecture” was. My lower lip throbbed harder. I wanted to remove my Glenmorangie from the luggage compartment and swig the whole of it down to numb his commentary, but then it was in a sealed bag and I wouldn’t be allowed with it in the connecting flight in Doha. It’s probably the only time I craved an alcoholic drink in all my years flying. I see people who crack open a beer

just after the seatbelt sign has been switched off and they don’t stop until touchdown and I’m impressed at that talent. Then those who are a nuisance when they are drunk. They laugh loudly at the movie they are watching. They nap and snore so loudly it’s worse than going through turbulence. Then those who want to talk to you when high. I have also wondered who uses those sick bags in the plane. I once saw one person who had had too much wine use one. It was worse than altitude sickness. When we landed in Doha he was a mess. He spoke from the corner of lips. He had tucked in his t-shirt. His girlfriend, sober as a monk, grinned apologetically. “Happy birthday Biko,” she said as we parted to our connecting flight and them to the blistering Doha. She then added, “and don’t write about this.” But how can I not?

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SOCIAL BUTTERFLY

WINE NOSTALGIA How do we rid ourselves of the bitter memories that can become intertwined with delicious things we eat and drink, asks Patricia Kihoro as she makes the peace with her favourite drink red wine. Navigating the world of dating in Nairobi, and the rest of the world I presume, can either be surprisingly simple or devastatingly daunting. This of course depends on what your previous experiences have been and in just how many pieces your heart exists. My heart is currently sitting on a tray, its pieces too many to count, all mixed up with the endless memories of dalliances past. That said, judging by the size of them, the pieces are not too many or too entangled that they can’t be picked out, sorted and melded back together into a beautiful Japanese kinstugi-esque golden masterpiece. Yes, when it comes to love, I am the proverbial optimist. Suffice to say, I now do proceed with immense caution while treading the volatile dating waters of the world. You would think that as I grow older I would be casting a wider net, traversing the Nairobi social hot

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spots with a little more frequency and not holding on to certain traits of potential partners I deemed unworthy in the past. Turns out, I actually prefer using a single fishing line now. It’s better to take my time, be specific and if the fish doesn’t fit the bill, I can always cast it back out (or let it slither free) and patiently wait to reel another more suitable one in, all the while reading a book, and sipping on a cauldron of wine to pass the time. Speaking of memories, am I the only one whose memories of past lovers attach themselves to things, places, food and other people? My mind has learnt to do this thing where little snippets of my time with someone will attach themselves to the things we engaged in the most while we were together. If for example, we both shared a love for pasta dishes, then their face will forever be emblazoned on everything

pasta. I still haven’t returned to Lamu, five years after a brief getaway with a significant other, for fear of finding its narrow streets haunted with ghosts of our love. Eventually I will go back and reclaim it for myself though, Lamu is too beautiful to be ruined by the memory of a love lost! One of the most peculiar things for me, however, is drinks. If, while I was with someone, we imbibed mostly, say, whisky, then for the rest of my life, anytime I indulge in some whiskey, memories of them will most certainly come forth. The hardest one for me, however, has been wine. Specifically red wine. While sampling different restaurants around Nairobi, said Lamu lad and I would partake in the consumption of gallons upon gallons of red wine. After our painful parting, I couldn’t stand to even look at red wine let alone drink it, so I avoided it like the

plague, blaming its tannins for my aversion when really it just tasted like bleeding hearts. Eventually, however, after my heart had bled dry, I couldn’t stay away from my beloved wine. Happy to be reunited with my tipple without any attachment to that familiar pain, my love for red wine intensified. This however translated into a harsh judgement of any potential suitor who didn’t know their way around it. Determined to protect the sanctity of my revered red wines, I would find myself scoffing at any man who would order for a “Malotte” or a “Kabanette SaviGnon”. I’m now learning to soften my stance however, and to let the occasional “Pinotte Noy” slip, because, well, I realised I wasn’t perfect when I was scanning the white wine list the other day and was duly humbled by my attempt to pronounce “Gewürztraminer”.


COCKTAILS

THE ORIGINAL APERITIF Italians love their wine but their pre-dinner ”aperitivo” meant to whet a diner’s appetite, comes a close second. Vermouth, an Italian style of fortified wine, is one of the most traditional ingredients to feature on their pre-dining drinks menu Vermouth was initially intended to be a medicine: a medicine infused with woodworm, quinine, gentian or coca leaves. It was intended to treat malaria, intestinal worms and indigestion. By the late 19th century, it had become a respectable drink and a favourite cocktail ingredient for bartenders.

Vermouth Cocktail

The name origin of Vermouth was of German descent, “Vermut” and it means wormwood which used to be the key ingredient of Absinthe. Later, during the 17th century, Northern Italians decided to apply the Vermouth treatment to wine which they then fortified with brandy, and it is here that the drink really began to take off.

Method Mix the red and white Vermouth, pour it into a cocktail glass with ice. Top with soda water then garnish with an orange wedge or lemon peel

Ingredients 30ml of dry white Vermouth 30ml of sweet red Vermouth Soda water (optional) Orange wedge or Lemon peel

Throughout the centuries, Vermouth has always been drunk as an aperitif. In France and Italy aperitifs are alcoholic drinks that are consumed before a meal to whet one’s appetite. On its own, it can be drunk on ice with a squeeze of lemon but as a cocktail there are countless concoctions that are greatly enhanced by its presence. Vermouth comes in different types: Dry: that is more of a bitter type alcohol Rosso: a sweet variant that does not owe its colour to the use of red wine but to an extra ingredient, caramel Bianco (White): equivalent to red Vermouth with a similar soft taste

Brooklyn Cocktail Ingredients 45ml of rye 15ml of dry vermouth 10ml of maraschino liqueur 2 lemon wedges 1 maraschino cherry Method Shake to mix all the ingredients together except the cherry with ice. Pour into a cocktail glass and garnish with the cherry.

Blood and Sand Ingredients 30ml of scotch whiskey 30ml of freshly squeezed orange juice 20ml of red vermouth 20ml of cherry heering Method Shake the mixture of cherry heering, whiskey and vermouth with ice. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass and top with orange juice.

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I like to have a martini Two at the very most Three will send me under the table Four under the host


CULINARY ESCAPE YUMMY

TEXT KARANJA NZISA

MELTING POT A fortuitous encounter in the Jerusalem souk, leads Karanja Nzisa to a culinary discovery and the excuse to indulge in some local wine. When recently, through the tremendous support of my loved ones, I managed to win free airline tickets to Tel Aviv, Israel, I was chuffed. The kind of joy that soon made me a source of great irritation for the very people who got me there in the first place. Because I am obsessed with Levantine cooking, I knew that if nothing else, the trip was going to be the culinary adventure to end all adventures. The Levant is a transcontinental area East of the Mediterranean Sea which is a cultural melting pot of North African, West Asian and Mediterranean cultures. This, together with the Zionist principle of Aliyah which encourages Jewish people in the diaspora, including Ashkenazis (from East and Central Europe) and Ethiopians, to return, makes Israel’s foodscape quite the colourful one. Eggplants, tomatoes, chickpeas dips, breads are all characteristic of

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Israel’s cuisine; chicken is the most popular meat choice and one would be forgiven for thinking wheat is taxfree because of how ubiquitous bread is. In keeping with kosher traditions, pork and shellfish are not often found in restaurants but are easily available in the stores. Markets in many cities are something to behold: stalls brimming with grapefruits, pomegranates and oranges the size of my head, are flanked by all manner of dates and olives. It is in one such Jerusalem souk that the most unexpected thing happened. My mother – self appointed travel companion - and I, were browsing over a baked goods stall, when from the corner of my eye I saw this tall woman bearing down on us. In a sea of white faces, hers was the only black one besides ours, and I recognised her as a recent Facebook acquaintance. A tower of positively African conviviality, she gave us bear

hugs and in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, we were breaking bread together. Manou ba Shouk is a family run, hole-in-the-wall Lebanese restaurant smack-dab in the centre of Jerusalem’s famous Machane Yehuda market. After consulting with the proprietor, I became sold on the stuffed eggplant. It arrived steaming from a traditional wood-fired clay oven called a taboon, the hollowedout cavity of the eggplant serving as a vessel for a rich garlicky beef and pine nut mixture topped in lashings of rich tahini sauce. After lunch, our now inseparable trio went to a store to grab a few bottles of Yarden Syrah, a wine from the Golan Heights Winery, to the North East of the country. While located in one of the oldest wine regions on the planet, the region’s wine production industry never achieved the same international recognition as its Mediterranean

counterparts. Left underdeveloped for centuries, the wine production business was only rejuvenated in the 1880s with the arrival of the first Jewish settlers in the area and by one Baron Edmond de Rothschild, owner of the famous Château Lafite winery in France. This intervention, however, did little for the reputation of Israeli wine, which for decades was consumed by Jewish communities in the diaspora. This began to change around 30 years ago and Israeli wine today is big business. Many of my nights in Israel were spent throwing back glasses of the sumptuous red grape varieties from the ‘Holy Land’. I am hard-pressed to remember a time I had so much fun discovering the tastes of a country I have visited. My hope is that the Israelis continue to spread the goodness of their kitchen magic, an act of culinary diplomacy to inspire more people across the globe to enjoy and appreciate the food of their lands and of the many cultures that lie therein.


YUMMY

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KAMPALAN MISSIVE

FOOD DOCTORS Filmmaker David Cecil sings the praise of a team of Rasta Caterers intent on showing Ugandans that vegetarian foods do not have to be bland and boring. The so-called ‘catering’ team was failing hard. To please some of the Europeans on our film shoot in rural Uganda we had asked for vegetarian food. So, every day, every meal, it was ugali and beans with nothing more than an artificial flavouring cube to make it palatable – which it never was. Our feature film was on the point of collapse and it was our poor diet that was chiefly to blame. In a fit of righteous rage, I sacked the cook and called the only people who could come to our rescue: Rasta Kitchen. Rasta Kitchen is a Ugandan catering company with a deeply-felt, almost mystical commitment to enlightened eating. “What most people don’t realise is that food is medicine,” says co-founder Ife Piankhi. “Pharmacies offer a quick fix to medical problems, while food is an investment in your health, with no side effects.” Kaya Sanaa Mwakalobo, the other half of the duo, elaborates: “There are the magic ingredients – like garlic, onion and lemon - but these are not just for flavour. You put them in fresh at just the right time and in the right quantities and they become the most powerful immune boosters.”

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Another ‘magic ingredient’ in Kaya’s arsenal is tsombi (cassava leaves). He was surprised to find that they are virtually unknown in Uganda. “They give immunity against malaria and help with the processing of your foods. You just look at your urine and whatever comes out of you after eating and you will see the magic working. Kaya grew up in Dar-es-Salaam and Bagamoyo, where the spices are rich and plentiful. This coincides nicely with Ife’s Jamaican heritage, but can alarm conservative Ugandans. “Most people here use fake flavour enhancers instead of spices. They eat too much fried food, junk food or just the same thing every day - a ‘monodiet’. This brings obesity, diabetes, ulcers and so on. But now some people are starting to get it. Juice bars are opening up everywhere. Women are understanding that fresh fruit can help with skin problems and fertility. We want to show that you can eat healthy, tasty food on an affordable budget.” One of the Rasta Kitchen’s signature dishes is a spicy, coastal version of that humble peasant ingredient, mukene (omena), the tiny

silver fishes that have a nauseating aroma of unwashed knickers. Using coconut and creamy vegetables, Kaya and Ife render them into a subtly pungent, protein-packed curry that is delicious and invigorating. Kaya laughingly shrugs off my opinion that there are some people who will never eat these stinky little fish: “They have never tried it the way we cook it.” Despite their self-assurance, Rasta Kitchen are pragmatic and adaptable. They have to be, for they are the catering equivalent of the A-Team: tackling missions that most sensible chefs would run from in terror. At Nyege Nyege Music Festival (Uganda) they were responsible for feeding hundreds of local crew and international artists over several days. “Everyone wanted different things, which just wasn’t possible on the budget we were given. There were complaints at first, but performers told us how energised they were on stage after our meals. What you eat affects your temperament and behaviour. In pressurised situations you need the positive energy that good food brings.” There’s another unique aspect of

Rasta Kitchen: they are also musicians and creatives themselves. They see their culinary mission as enmeshed with the culture they love and support. There is always sweet roots reggae playing as the Rastas serve up their fare. “After a long day of film shooting or performing, people are stressed. Music and food transports you to a place of calm,” says Kaya. But not just any reggae, Ife stresses: “It has to be 1970s roots reggae. The music of that era spoke of struggle and empowerment. Inspiration. That’s what Rasta Kitchen is all about – inspiration, peace and harmony.” I can personally confirm that the gospel of Rasta Kitchen is not just blind faith. Fresh ingredients and a judicious use of spices make their meals nourishing and empowering without being heavy or overly rich. When they came to the rescue of our rain-sodden film shoot in rural Uganda, there was a palpable change of mood after every meal. The fact that these magical Rasta chefs loved what they were doing – and appreciated what we were doing added a unique quality to every dish.


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Yummy Vol 37: Uncorked  

Are latitude wines the next big thing and how is global warming affecting wine production worldwide? This month in Yummy we look into this a...