Around the world classic feasts in the Mara wild

By Harriet James
Thursday, September 9th, 2021 00:00 | 4 mins read
Head Chef Edison Kimani presents a meal. Photo/PD/HARRIET JAMES

Food tops the list of things that makes me fall in love with places I vacation in. But saying it out loud that I love food doesn’t mean that I’m foodie though.

I still take hours before finishing my meals, but there is still part of me that enjoys walking into a restaurant filled with aroma of well-cooked foods.

So recently, I experienced this at Mahali Mzuri, in Masaai Mara, after I flew in with Safari Link. 

I checked in at exactly lunchtime, just on time to satiate my appetite. Their meals are a la carte with social distancing as per the Covid-19 protocols.

Lunch is normally served on the main deck with individual tables and you can order from the menu.

You can also opt to eat by the pool or on the private deck if you like. I opted for the deck where I could have a clear view of wildlife just in case the great wildebeest crossing found me eating.

At a time of the migration as this, choosing camps with a view of the crossing routes is a plus.

On the menu, the starter was challah bread with either chilled organic root vegetable soup or weight watchers salad. 

Being that there is no part of me watching my weight, I opted for the chilled organic root vegetable, to cool off the hot afternoon heat.

The general manager of the camp, Wilson Odhiambo, who also ordered the same, joined me. In the next course, I had an option of roasted marinated king prawns served with French fries, coleslaw salad and optional tartar sauce and spaghetti bolognaises complimented with parmigiano or quintent of spring vegetable cottage pie with chef’s salad.

Marinated king prawns served with french fries, coleslaw salad. Photo/PD/HARRIET JAMES/COURTESY

I’m not a fan of cheese, but I learnt that parmigiano reggiano is one of the best known and most commonly used cheese in Italy.

It is a hard cheese made from cow’s milk bred in provinces of Reggio, Parma, Modena and parts of Bologna and Mantua. 

Vantage viewpoint 

A true parmigiano-reggiano cheese has a sharp, complex fruity/nutty taste with a strong savoury flavour and a slightly gritty texture. An inferior version would impart a bitter taste.

I went for the queen prawns served with French fries, as both are my favourite. 

As we continue with our meal, Wilson lets me know that there are Kenyans who fly in to the restaurant just to have their lunch experience. The ambience, the view of wildlife, the service is just enough to attract such high end clients. 

By wildlife here I mean that sometimes the crossing can happen right in front of you as you enjoy your meals.

They have every type of cuisine designed make you feel at home whether Indian, Chinese, creole, sea food or authentic Kenyan dishes.

Speaking of an authentic Kenyan dish, in another lunch experience, after having an extensive game drive around Olmotorogi conservancy, I found grilled lamb chops with homemade barbecue sauce, ugali and organic spinach. 

Though they called it corn meal cake, it was a breathe of fresh air and I felt a sense of being at home just enjoying the meal, forgetting that I had many other options, such as mini burgers served with fries or even tilapia served with crispy oriental  sweetheart coleslaw and side salad.

Our writer enjoys a drink and a view. Photo/PD/HARRIET JAMES

“A Kenyan taste is always a hit and before the pandemic, we used to have an African night.

Nowadays, we single out one traditional meal and put it on our menu,” says the head chef Edison Kimani. 

Osso bucco delicacy

At night, under the glistening stars on the deck and a hearty conversation, I had a taste of braised ranch fed beef osso  bucco alla gremolada with trio of glazed vegetables and thyme, which went well with mashed potatoes.

Osso bucco is a dish that originated from Lombardy region in North Italy and literally translated, it means a bone with a hole because it’s a cut across the shin beef.

“The bone marrow has to be there, intact.  It’s supposed to be served alla gremolata, which means it is garnished with a mixture of garlic, lemon zest and parsley that cuts through the fat,” explains Chef Eddy as he hands me my dish. 

With a wealth of 23 years and determined to never stop learning, he endeavours to give guests who stay at the camp a memorable experience when it comes to their stomach.

He adds that alla gremolata cuts through the fat and makes it more digestible.

Another great news that I think all wine and alcohol lovers will be happy about is the fact that drinks are included in your stay, so you can partake all the alcohol and the finest champagne anytime you desire.

Also should you have any special dietary needs, one can let the camp known prior and it will be catered for.

During my stay, I also noticed another thing about their food. The presentation was top notch and according to chef Eddy, that takes creativity.

“If you want your food to be presented well, create height,” he tells me. 

Depending with the number of guests, he tells me that it takes about 10 minutes to make an impressive presentation for five guests. 

He also has a kitchen garden where he picks veggies and spices for the meals. 

Harriet James