There’s no experience that beats having a barbecue in the breathtaking Masai Mara over a beer

Thursday, October 21st, 2021 00:00 | By
Chef Stephanie Khafafa prepares the mouth-watering meat delicacies. PD/FAITH KYOUMUKAMA

This year, my hodophile batteries are only 10 per cent used up, and that is thanks to a bush trip I took recently at the Masai Mara.

The last time I was at the Mara was five years ago, as surprising as it looks for a hodophile (one who loves to travel), I like to take bush breaks (pun intended), especially because my preferred destination of choice is the beach.

I was recently at Fairmont the Mara, and one of our bush dinners featured a specially brewed barbecue. 

The lady behind the culinary skills was Stephanie Khafafa, a chef chosen by the Kenya Breweries Ltd for the ‘Flavour by Fire’ barbeque concept of pairing food with Guinness Hop House 13 beer.

Compared to the Guinness stout, the Hop House lager is lighter and more palatable when it comes to matters grilling.

Allow me to digress just for a minute. You see, Fairmont is a classy case of glamping.

Glamping is a form of camping, likely to satisfy any city slicker seeking a little refuge in nature without foregoing any of life’s luxuries. While glamping, the routine is simple; just check into the hotel and relax.

Searching for the flavours

Now, back to the dinner, the chef freshly prepared the marinade, hours before the rub and the actual roasting session.

During the process of preparing the marinade, she says, she adds a healthy dose of Hop House lager resulting in a deep brew flavour.

After a thorough rub, the meat is then placed in the fridge for hours, recommending that the tougher cuts should be given approximately 24 hours to marinate.

The experts tell me that beer’s flavour compared to other flavours is much less acidic, but is still packed with plenty of unique tastes.

Because of the alcohol content, beer also tenderises the meat and breaks down tough fatty and non-fat tissues.

On the grill was chicken with thin cuts of lamb and beef. For the side starches, there were lyonnaise potatoes and veggies.

The starter was soup accompanied by freshly baked bread. Usually, when it’s a buffet affair, I skip soup, but there is something about soup and bread that just brings joy to my taste buds.

The meat is served sizzling straight from the jiko, plated on wooden serving boards topped with a secret ingredient sauce.

Both the beef fillet and the chicken had a nice smoky taste from the grilling. Full of flavour borrowed from the basting and the marinade.

The alcohol effect

The beer gives the meat a nice sweet taste and when it is cooking, the alcohol evaporates, so that the meat is safe for everyone to eat.

Chef says the best way to grill is to use fresh ingredients in the marinade; you could opt for fresh thyme instead of the dried one.

The best of the cuts had to be the lamb; it was worth every bite. Instead of dessert, I opted for a second serving, it was lip-smacking good.

Since it was a beer affair, we paired the meals with a shandy, a beer cocktail usually made of equal parts beer and lime soda.

At the rim of the glass was cinnamon, adding more flavour to the beer cocktails.

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