Monday, July 30, 2012

Le food numero dos

The saga continue with what was a legitimate attempt of a shorter post, but was delayed too much and turned into another I-love-talking-about-food-at-any-time-of-the-day epic.

Art Café

Art Café is possibly my favorite places in Nairobi. Nicely set overlooking the Village Market, this little jewel gets high expat and local traffic. Whether it’s the freshly baked pastries, the variety of cocktails or the amazing food, I don’t know and little do I care as far as I can get seated on the terrace. Art Café must have the best cappuccino I’ve tried, served with a little flower inscribed into the foam. 

Me, myself and I, together with my Kindle spend a lot of time there going through A Song of Fire and Ice (yeah, Game of Thrones in its entirety). As my obsession with the book grows, so does my frequenting Art Café. Few things are as relaxing as a Campari One and a high quality book.

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Me and “Game of Thrones”        Myself and “A Clash of Kings”

Me, my colleague and I also like eating desserts there. Ranking what I’ve tried so far: Tricolad Cake, Tiramisu, Carrot Cake, Cherry Vanilla Danish, Cheesecake. Been eyeing the lava cakes for quite some time. I gotta make a move on them in the next week or two.

Café Habibi

“White people love this place” – my cabby’s words when he dropped me off. Well, I’m white I said. And love it I did. Disregarded the fact that the only customers there at the time were white women, as I was too excited that the place actually exited directly into the street. Whoohoo, we are not in a compound! You could see people walking by, cars pulling over; you could hear traffic noise and people yelling – nothing too much, it’s not a main road. But still more than you can hope for in Nairobi.

Hostess was a woman in a hijab, hard to tell which country she was from. Someone at our table betted on Oman, but seriously, out of all the Middle Eastern countries you had to pick Oman? Seems random to me. And unverifiable.

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Moroccan tea with a mint leaf. Hoped for pine nuts, but oh well, mint leaves had to do. Large mezze platter to share and try as many things as possible. I give them the hummus, tabouli and babaganoush: all well made. The rest of the mezzes were a little too out of my range of Middle Eastern food. Or maybe I’m just not used to African style Lebanese and Moroccan cuisine . Who knows. But samosas don’t qualify as Mediterranean, as far as I am concerned.

Tamambo Tapas

So far from real tapas, I don’t even know where to begin. Could have easily been the dish I ordered. Yet, even so, tapas is really not the word for what I had. Two types of bruschetta (one regular, one with haloumi), amazing cheese samosa and a collection of steamed vegetables wrapped in doughy thing is what made up the veggie sampler.

My choice of drink was a little out of the ordinary too as I went for Savannah, a South African cider. Honestly, the alcoholic content is not even worth a critique. It was non-existent. I expected a little more from RSA.

However, the extremely friendly staff and their weekend jazz gigs make up for the inappropriate name and somewhat strange food. Ohhh but they serve the dressing on the side in a muscle shell. So cool.

Zapata

Afro-Mex Fusion? This as positive as my feedback can get. If you want good Mexican, this is not the place to be. But, if you want the African version of Mexican food, you came to the right place.

Dinner started with a taco appetizer, unfortunately packed with potatoes.

Zapata 1

Mmm let me backtrack a little bit to the chips. Real good. With decent salsa, which shouldn’t be surprising since kachumbari is basically the same thing. Not too hot, so I ventured a couple of bites. Got a chips refill, which must have been included in one price or another, but not alone on the bill. Now, back to the tacos: hard shell, pretty looking, but definitely not filled with the correct ingredients.

Moving on to the main dish, empanadas and gorditas. Neither one seemed right. What’s funny about it, is that half the time I was thinking that the filling is all wrong, but I couldn’t quite place what should be in those. I am too much of a quesadilla person to pay attention to what else goes into Mexican food.

Also hoping for pitchers of margaritas meant placing my expectations a little to high and unreachable for Kenya. The Zapata margarita could have worked out had it been at a more affordable price.

Furusato

Superb. As usual, it always helps to have a Korean in the group when eating at a Japanese-Korean place. My one previous experience with Korean food left me with lots of delicious memories, some pictures and no food names. While my ultimate Japanese food experience at Nobu in NYC left me with a lingering taste of cod and lobster years after I went. Point is: with only good Japanese/Korean food tried, the bar was set high.

Small salad with my all-time favorite peanut sauce. Dumplings. Dumplings. Yep, correct, two kinds. Don’t remember the fills: veggie and pork enough of a description? Then, bulgogi to share, which was real good. Others ordered bi bim bap – this is more about me trying to remember what all the Korean food is called, than actually elaborating on the taste or quality.

I went for the oyako udon? Or did I? Of all the food that night, it’s the one I ate that I cannot remember the name of. Seriously, brain? But think fat udon noodles with mainly pork in them and some sautéed spinach style green stuff. With miso soup on the side. Soup was mediocre and totally did not deserve my attention as there was too much meat on the table.

Only problem: … ran out of kimchi….

Note to self: the really good Asian ice-cream wrapped in doughy stuff is Mochi.

Acacia Cafeteria

It’s a little strange having anything in Kenya called acacia. Doubt they even have acacias here…. Google proves me wrong as usual. First described in Africa by a Swedish botanist. Who would have thought? (I know some people probably did, but I thought of acacias as indigenous to home) The whole Wiki article is novel to me and kinda blowing my mind right now. They have fruit? Whaaatt?? White? I could swear I’ve seen purple acacia, no? Luckily for this post, the article takes us back to food – acacia honey… yummmm Now that’s something worth trying!

Oh right, Acacia Cafeteria is the cafeteria at work. Why it’s worth mentioning? It really isn’t. I’ve just tried some African food there that may be interesting to share. Someone else can be the judge of how African this food is.

- Ugali – the white mixture (also comes in yellow and brown depending on the flour) made of water and flower. Great side substitute of rice for a little bit. And then you are like: oh noo, not ugali, again.

- Ethiopian kidneys in some sauce – okay, so this was really bothering me for a while. What was so strange about these kidneys? Probably the fact that I thought I was eating liver. Which makes a lot more sense, because back home, fried liver or the sautéed liver with onions, aka drobcheta po selski, are amazing. If it wasn’t for the high cholesterol content in liver, I’d be downing those weekly. Maybe even daily. Meateater for life!

- The green pumpkin leaves, corn, potato thing… help Google help! Irio? Not very helpful, Google.

Observation on Kenyan food: spicewise  – bland. But why ruin meat with anything but salt and pepper? Level of cookedness :) – what most Americans will find overdone (let’s not even start with the French) I call well done (notice words spelled separately, indicating adverb and verb, not adjective :P). That’s how meat is supposed to be cooked. Yay for nyama choma!

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