'Rainbow Cuisine' comes to town

HAVING LIVED in South Africa for some better part of my life, though a native of Kenya, in East Africa, the invitation to attend South African Food and Wine festival could not be simply turned down.

By Joyce Njeri (Staff Writer)

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Published: Sat 28 Apr 2007, 10:58 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 8:39 PM

The beach Hotel is currently hosting the South African Food and Wine festival and it's launch on Wednesday night could only be described in one word: Heavenly. The festivities started with a cocktail reception on the hotel lawns with the sound of live African drums in the background.

Welcome speeches by Sheraton Jumeirah’s General Manager, Sascha Bartz and the Consul General of South Africa, Agnes Nyamande-Pitseo were followed by pulsating performances by Zulu and Pantsula dancers flown in from South Africa, especially for the festival.

Invited Guests were treated to delicious South African specialities prepared by guest chefs from the Arabella Sheraton in Cape Town and the real 'Madiba country' was re-enacted with artistic works that showcased art and handicrafts from the country.

The objective of the event was to popularise local SA culinary delights here in the UAE, as well as the fine wines produced there. A similar event was held last week at the Le Meridien Dubai Hotel, but it was more of a celebration of South African culture there.

The three-day event sponsored by the South African Mission in the UAE, was also launched by SA Consul General Agnes Nyamande-Pitso. Guests enjoyed a feast of richly diverse flavours synonymous with the South African cuisine. The evening’s menu included the careful preparation of delicious meat such as yoghurt marinated kudu, ostrich fillet, springbok and dried fruit kebabs.

For those who preferred a less carnivorous diet, there was grilled smoked snoek, marinated shark, as well as pineapple and carrot salad, barley salad, sweet potato and orange salad, and a deliciously flavoursome lobster bisque to name a few tempting options.

For adventurous diners, the option to indulge in mouthfuls of mopane worms was on offer, and it wouldn’t have been a true South African menu if there wasn’t good old ‘mielie pap’ or maize meal, served with chakalaka sauce.

Walking down any busy street in major cities in South Africa, you can find Italian restaurants, some varieties of Chinese cookery, Japanese, Moroccan, French, Portuguese and Indian food. Not far away are Congolese restaurants, Greek, even Brazilian and Korean establishments, and, everywhere, fusion, displaying the fantasies of creative chefs.

There's also the Vietnamese and Swiss cuisines. For the more daring diner, the country offers culinary challenges from crocodile sirloins to fried caterpillars to sheep heads. All three are reputed to be delicious.

For the not-quite so brave, there are myriad indigenous delicacies such as dried, salted meat, shepherd's pie and the common boerewors, which is hand-made farm sausages, grilled on an open flame, known as braai in SA.

Nevertheless, most eateries offer a familiar global menu, anything from hamburgers to sushi and spaghetti bolognaise. Game menu is also on offer in some hotels. You could easily get crocodile and kudu, impala, zebra, ostrich and even warthog meat.

The festival at the Sheraton Jumeirah, which runs until May 4 offers diners not just the best in South African food, drink and entertainment, but also an up close and personal glimpse at South African art and handicrafts, which are on sale during the festival.

In addition, diners also have the opportunity to partake in a draw with enticing raffle prizes, including the grand prize of two tickets to South African on Qatar Airways.

The ten day event was sponsored by the South African Consulate, South African Business Council, MMI, Qatar Airways, San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna.

Photos: Muhammed Mustafa Khan

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