18 Jun2014

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Our first dinner in the resort dining room was just hours after we arrived, enjoyed a three hour game drive, a half hour wine-tasting and the effects of jet lag were kicking in. I didn’t take any photos as the setting was so civilized, I didn’t want to mar it for anyone else. But for the curious amongst you, this is what we ate: appetizers included roast pork salad with fruit and greens, a salad with cheese and a salmon tartare. For our main course we had gnocchi, loin of springbok (antelope) and a pan seared king clip, a white fish that was incredibly delicious.

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On our second evening, after the amazing experience viewing the cheetah, hyenas and lion, we returned to the resort and headed straight to the boma or outdoor enclosure for a braai or barbecue. The setting was gorgeous. Gas lamps hung from trees, candlelight elsewhere, tables covered in red fabric and woven cloths, a central fire, and buffet tables groaning with food and a well-stocked bar.

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I must have been slightly intoxicated from the setting and wine, as I can’t recall everything we had that night… but I know we had carpaccio (possibly of venison), venison with green pepper sauce, game sausages, king clip, salads, couscous and some sirloin steaks. They also had a more native mixture of maize and cabbage with tomatoes. It was all a whirlwind after a long and exciting day but again, an unusual setting with delicious food and drink.

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Notice how our plates seem to have a broad selection of items, but in increasingly small portions as we just couldn’t eat that much anymore…

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…self-restraint was necessary if we were to sleep soundly AND rouse ourselves in the wee hours of the next morning!

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The staff dressed up to regale us with song and dance during dinner…

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…think bayanihan dancers meet the bush.

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The following evening, our last at Singita, the hotel set up a private dinner near the swimming pool. In a little “cave” warmed by candles and a space heater due to the nippy weather, our butler aided by another waiter served up a wonderful meal.

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We started with an eggplant dip with baby vegetables with warm bread and crackers. The sommelier had sent two bottles of wine and we enjoyed both immensely.

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This isn’t a good photo of the setting, but imagine 30-40+ gas lanterns hanging from a tree, reflecting on the surface of the pool. Nearby, our porter remained on call, with a powerful flashlight, to occasionally pan the bushes to ensure there was nothing “lurking” out there. Honestly, at this point, I wouldn’t have screamed if a leopard appeared at the other end of the pool, but I wouldn’t know what to do other than have another glass of red wine…

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Starters included Mrs. MM’s lamb tortellini…

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…while I had a SUPERB deep-fried soft-shell crab set on a bed of citrus noodles with a light mayonnaise sauce. Go figure, right, soft-shell crabs in the middle of the bush, clearly frozen, but tasted spectacular. Could have had a second one if I hadn’t been eating like a fool for the past two days…

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…then I had a perfectly cooked beef fillet, rare. With some roasted potatoes and some mushrooms. Seems like such a simple thing. But when grilled to perfection and barely putting up a fight with the knife, it was the perfect match for the red wine sent our way that evening.

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Our daughter had a hunk of tuna, a bit on the dry side as it’s won’t to be, but she really enjoyed her appetizer of duck breast with puffed boursain balls with a balsamic reduction.

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Mrs. MM had the same dish for her main course. For dessert, we had some berry sorbet with muscatel, a berry bavarois and a quince tart.

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They almost had to roll us back to our villa, but like real troopers, we found a reserve of space and a half hour later sat at the bar testing out several of the unusual beers they had on offer. Fantastic settings, fantastic food, and superb drink. You could easily forget the main reason you were here was to see animals in the wild!

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Zerho says:

    They did have rice! Everthing looked chic and elegant in an african way. Trully blown away with the entire journey. Thank you very much MM and family for sharing and the excellent documentation.

    Jun 18, 2014 | 6:16 pm

     
  2. Connie C says:

    Lovely, lovely, lovely. Food served like you were in a luxury liner in the middle of the wild. Seafood must have come from nearby Mozambique coast where seafood is superb!

    Jun 18, 2014 | 7:59 pm

     
  3. millet says:

    very beautiful plating! MM, didn’t the smell of the barbecue buffet attract animals?

    Jun 18, 2014 | 8:30 pm

     
  4. Kasseopeia says:

    You weren’t kidding when you said they might have rice!

    I would say, with an experience like this, I’d forego 3-4 mediocre annual trips and save up for this one. One-time, big-time in the best way.

    After that, the lions can have me. :P

    Jun 18, 2014 | 9:01 pm

     
  5. Marketman says:

    kasseopeia, dozens of friends, business associates, relatives, etc. have approached me after reading posts in this South African series, and I tell them the same thing. Give up 2-3 big vacations for one of these… Looked at another way, if you put away $100 a month for say 4-5 years, with interest, you would have a pretty darned good time in Africa and be able to check off that bucket list item… millet, good grief, I never thought about the smells from the barbecue… yipes, maybe the nearby deer or antelope knew their cousins were being grilled. Connie, yes, the idea of this type of food in the middle of the bush is what blows the mind. Zerho, you and all the others who seem to have enjoyed this series so far are most welcome. Still to come, wine country and Cape Town!

    Jun 18, 2014 | 9:08 pm

     
  6. Connie C says:

    I felt the same too , MM. But considering that Maputo, Mozambique’s capital and one of Africa’s most fashionable and cosmopolitan cities in its heyday is in the coast and just an hour drive away from KNP and those planes and helicopters that ferry guests like you keep the supplies coming and make fine dining possible in the middle of the “bush”. It just feels strange because one feels so remote being in the wild.

    Jun 18, 2014 | 9:54 pm

     
  7. Footloose says:

    Nothing as enjoyable as first-hand adventure narrated by knowledgeable people you actually know and trust. Or literature as immediate as that written against oppression by truly vile villains. Up to just recently, I only knew South Africa through its great writers: Alan Payton, Nadine Gordimer, Mary Renault, J. M. Coetzee, etc.

    @Connie C, You are right in that seafood may be logistically easier to transport from the Mozambique coast to the Kruger reserves although elsewhere, South Africa itself has a very long coastline that is rich fishing ground to all sorts of marine life including humans. The pelagic panorama of the annual sardine feeding frenzy is perhaps matched only in its awesomeness by the thundering great wildebeest migration in the Serengeti plane.

    Jun 18, 2014 | 9:55 pm

     
  8. Connie C says:

    After all , South Africa is a very rich country with well developed infrastructure and services. I might add that the cruel policies of apartheid was a big setback for the blacks and “coloreds” but thankfully things are changing. It was a big surprise albeit a pleasant one to see Soweto now with beautiful homes compared to the slum it was before as we saw on TV when it was a hotbed for the revolution when the South Africans were fighting for social change.

    Jun 18, 2014 | 10:21 pm

     
  9. Thel from Florida says:

    Very impressive dishes and vivid pictures. Also, learned two words today: boma and braai–appreciate all your posts very much.
    We have travelled to a dozen European countries and enjoyed it tremendously. We went full time RVing (2006-2009) to whole of mainland USA and eastern Canada.
    I am satisfied watching “Planet Earth” and never thought of going on a safari. After reading your great trip, I am considering going (funds already available for 4 people) but right now I am the caregiver to my 90 year old mother who is on the early stage of dementia. So I guess I have to wait as I will never entrust my beloved mom to any other caregiver.

    Jun 18, 2014 | 10:21 pm

     
  10. Ed B. says:

    Awesome name for a beer! :D

    Jun 19, 2014 | 12:26 pm

     
  11. Khew says:

    Boursain balls…hmmm…that sounds scrumptious.

    Jun 19, 2014 | 1:35 pm

     
  12. Marketman says:

    Ed, if I am not mistaken “Bone Crusher” is a reference to a hyena that crunches down on even the skulls of prey… And when you witness the feeding, you literally hear the crunch of the bones!! :)

    Jun 19, 2014 | 1:49 pm

     
  13. Betchay says:

    Fine dining in the middle of the jungle!!! Awesome!

    Jun 19, 2014 | 5:23 pm

     
  14. Richard says:

    MM, agree with you completely on the experience. My family dreams of Okovango and Namibia.

    Jun 21, 2014 | 1:52 am

     
  15. cheetah girl says:

    Had embarked on what will be a long love affair with Africa, and I think I will go broke =)

    Jul 5, 2014 | 9:09 pm

     

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