Saturday, February 14, 2015

Iced watermelon soup and a case of rape. Valentines at Pamuzinda.

For those who read my last blog (you can see old posts at the top right of this page) you will recall me mentioning our signature dish for our Valentines Dinner was going to be an Iced Watermelon & Orange Soup. The trick is to make sure it has enough body to it, because otherwise you are simply serving a bowl of fruit juice.

I also put in a small drop (well, maybe a large drop) of vodka, just to give it that 'there's something I can taste' factor.

I think we nailed it!

The starters were 'Mushroom & Bacon on Bruschetta', cooked with white wine and cream and visible on the right and background below, and a Smoked Salmon Pate - the pink blobby bits on the other plates. I made a bit of a mistake with the Pate as I put in a little too much Greek Yogurt when blending it, and it came out a little loose - maybe more a mousse than a pate, but it tasted really yummy. Very smokey flavor, with a hint of lemon in the background.

In my last blog I mentioned that I was a little worried that we didn't have enough fresh spinach to use for stuffing the chicken breasts, and as it turned out, we didn't manage to find any.

I told one of the cooks - Smart, that we would have to use rape for Valentines Day, and I think he misunderstood me, because his smile was a wonder to behold! Ear-to-ear stuff. When I explained it was the vegetable rape that we were going to use, he still carried on smiling, though somewhat bashfully . . .

And how did the 'Chicken Breast stuffed with Rape & Feta' turn out? Not too bad, actually. We served it with a yogurt sauce, and my only concern was the color as the rape tended to bleach a little in the cooking. But it tasted yummy - and way more African in flavor than spinach, I think.

Quite often there is a temptation to 'overkill' the decor for a special meal - and we didn't. No need to worry about putting too much stuff on the table when you have a backdrop like this, is there? This photo was taken during the afternoon table lay-up. A nice clean and uncluttered table.

This was the dining room, locked, loaded and ready for shooting bears. In the end we catered for around 50 folk, and pushed a few beads of sweat in the kitchen.

And what was the most beautiful sight in the whole Lodge? Well the chocolates and wine in the rooms looked good, the dining room looked good, the food looked good, but without doubt the most appealing sight was  . . . .

Yup - the ladies toilet, with fresh white roses. Looking really snappy! Maybe next year I'll think about serving the dinner in there instead?

(You can see where the bush babies - also called 'night apes', or 'pookies', come in during the night. They have dislodged some of the thatching where they come in and out. I think they come for fresh water).

I hope you had a fantastic Valentines, and spent time with the special folk in your life.

Have a great day.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Kissing a whole bunch of frogs to find your prince! Or . . your toad?

So tomorrow is Valentines Day, and as it is unlikely that I will have time to post a blog with all my running around - here ya go.

For most people, this special day is one for love and romance, chocs and flowers, and fire-side snuggles if you are in the Northern hemisphere - poolside cuddles in the Southern one. And the guys on the equator don't see any difference and just carry on - same old, same old.

But for those of us in the hospitality game, it tends to be a time of sweaty kitchens, fingers shredded by rose thorns and lots of rush; this year at Pamuzinda will be, I am sure, much of that. We have 70 booked for lunch, and then a special dinner for about 40 in the evening.

So here is a sneak preview of my day tomorrow, and the plans we have in place . . . .

First off, the menu. All planned - though I am still to find fresh spinach for the chicken breast, and may have to make a last-minute adjustment. Maybe lemon, garlic & herbs? Or bacon & cheddar cheese?

Dunno - we'll see.

And the signature dish off this menu?

Well, believe it or not, it is the Watermelon and Orange Soup - something that not many people have ever had . . . . unless they have been to Pamuzinda! And I bet you won't find it on any Valentines menu anywhere in the world this year - except here. It is just watermelon and fresh orange grated through a coarse cheese grater, and then placed in the freezer until small ice shards form.

Yum! Especially on a warm and balmy African night in a dining room overlooking the Serui River.

Another typically African menu, no?

For the tables we will have candles - not just any old candles, but curly-whirly red ones with
rose-scented wax.


Dunno - but that's what we got!

We have roses for the tables as well - red ones for our dinning room tables, and white for the toilets. Because red is the color of love, and white is the color of toilet paper.


Then we have chocolates for the couples staying in the lodge.  Because we always give chocolate on this most romantic of days.

In little boxes.

With red ribbon.

And paper with hearts on it.

You know?

Finally we have the wines which we will place in the Guest Rooms for the folk staying with us on the 14th. They can bring their bottles to dinner, or take them home to enjoy at a later date.

This year - in a stunningly crafty and thoughtful move, I have carefully selected the wine to ensure that the ladies will think of their escorts the moment they see the bottle!

How much attention to detail is that?

Splattered Toad.

Could we give away any other wine on Valentines day?

The question is this - how many frogs did the beautiful lady in your family have to kiss before she found her prince . . . .  only to discover later on that it wasn't a frog or a prince after all, but a truly splattered toad???

Yup - we got Valentines nailed this year!

Have a great (Valentines) day!

(BTW - if you have enjoyed reading this blog - please click on the facebook item just below, and 'share' for me. And if you are new to the blog, you can click on 'View my complete profile' at the top of this page - and then page down to see all previous posts. There are now 190 posts, and I have had over 423,000 hits on the blog to date. How cool is that? Some are really funny like 'The day Jenifer ate a worm', 'Brain drain', and 'Can YOU spot the mistake?', and some are poignant like 'La Rochelle is closing down'. But all good reading.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

My way - the Zim way!

Time for another blog, and what better than a quick sneak-peek behind the curtains of Zim, what with surfing, dancing and floor-cleaning presidents dominating the internet as I write?

Tumble. Or not. Depending on your perspective.

I guess what I am saying is that we sure do things differently, even if they are exactly the same things you do in your world. So here are a few pics of stuff we see as perfectly normal, but which may seem a little odd to the outsider . . .

First off - our cat beds. At Pamuzinda we have a fine specimen of a cat who has, somewhat oddly, been photographed by day-trippers almost as much as Jasmine, our tame giraffe. I think in the West, they have cat beds made of stuffing, foam rubber, and fancy cloth coverings. Ergonomically-designed ones.

Here we use a cardboard tray that used to hold beer cans, and that seems to work just fine!

Sleeping with bugs is something of a natural hazard in my new home, and so I was given a 'bug-killer' for Christmas. I am sure you have the same thing in your part of the world - only I don't think you will harvest quite as many bugs as I do of a night. Here is the result of 8 hours run-time:

Come morning I have a fine selection of roasty-toasty freshly-crisped protein packs, just perfect for sprinkling onto my cornflakes!

I like the little green ones best.

When travelling around on my motorbike, I frequently have to yield to cross traffic. However, unlike in Paris, London and Rome, the easiest way to do this is to turn the engine off, kick back, wait for the road to clear a little . . . .

THAT'S the way to deal with a traffic jam!

So what do you do if you are building, and you create a window by placing a reinforced lintel over a large hole - and then you figure the window needs to be slightly larger, and higher, than you have made it? Well simple really - you just jack the lintel up on alternate sides, cementing in new bricks as you go, until you have a large, and high, enough new window! A car jack works perfectly well:

Problem? Solution!

Finally the one field in which we Zimbos have adapted and mangled standards as set by the rest of the world is sign-writing. Many previous blogs have featured fine specimens of signs as thought up by earnest and determined marketeers. And few have had as much effort put into them as this particular sign advertising - well, you tell me . . . .

Yup - advertising works! And I love the way this fellow decided it would probably be better to sell more than one flower at a time, but couldn't be bothered to completely re-write his sign!

So the lesson here is . . . . .if you think we trip up sometimes - we don't.


We just do things the Zim way. Our way.

Have a great day.