At the back end of Village Market’s robust shopping and recreation centre are some rare treats, baked in a special section of Tribe. The hotel’s architectural design is jaw dropping, just like the perfect pastries that spill forth from its kitchen, which houses 11 chefs, eight of them women.
Now based in Kenya, her seventh destination, Canadian chef Sara Woods leads the rest of her crew in creating a tasty assortment of treats, including ugali cookies and a la carte desserts. From the small, state-of the- art kitchen, always kept at a favourable temperature of 18 degrees (the best for chocolate), comes so many little dishes to relish.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Raw calamari and squid. I actually had to eat it alive. I could actually feel it moving down my throat! I worked in China for 15 years before relocating to Kenya. Raw or even alive sea food
is a popular dish there. That’s my explanation for why I ate it.
Where do you celebrate your birthday?
I am usually at work. So I always try to have tomato pasta or pizza, my favourites.
What do you cook when no one’s looking?
I love vegetarian soup or butternut squash soup (some type of malenge) because these are easy. My husband is also a chef so he’s always checking what I am cooking. The soups are
easy to make. I am sure I can never go wrong.
What are you famous for?
Together with the other pastry chefs, we make an array of pastries like croissants, spreads, chocolate, bread sticks, all types of cakes and cookies. But what I really love is chocolate! I
am best known for making chocolate pastries, and basically anything made from chocolate. Over Easter, I made a special actual-size cockerel, entirely of chocolate. There are a million
chocolate flavours, so every day is usually a chance for a new invention.
What’s the best time to have pastry?
Anytime, as long as you have an appetite! Some people eat them between meals or even as snacks. Our kitchen functions 24 hours a day. Some of our most-wanted specials are the
freshly-brewed tiramisu that comes in various flavours, including Masala chai.
If you were on Death Row, what would be your last meal?
If you’re going to die, it’s only fair that you enjoy the last meal. I would have apples, foie gras and some nice red wine, because they make a great combination, something you don’t get to eat every day.
By Anyiko Owoko
In the heart of Westlands lies Havana, a Cuban-style bar/ restaurant renowned for kicking off what has become known as Electric Avenue. The whole of Woodvale Grove has burst upon the nighttime scene, much like a pumping carnival. This was all triggered by Havana’s Latino heart and soul, where Thursday-night parties overflowed from the bar and coursed down the street. A scattering of new places for food and drink have popped up all around Havana, jumping on the bandwagon of its success.
So what has made Havana such an institution? DJ Zelalem has been the master of Thursday-night ceremonies for over six years. To him, the formula is a simple one: “It’s the vibe,” he says. “Great tunes and a great vibe.” However, the vibe is not all this hangout has to offer. With its bright red interior, funky local art and curtains of fairy lights, Havana oozes atmosphere. With a view to the front, you would think you were in Europe—the outside awning, tables and chairs—while the low-lit interior exudes Latin-American cool. But despite these international contrasts, Havana is pure Nairobi.
“We took over from the original Cuban owner six years ago,” Mohamed, the manager, explains, “and we kept his Cuban theme with Latin food.” Havana is a real drinking person’s bar. Wines are available by the bottle or glass. Cocktails, penned on the wall over the bar, include world-famous drinks, such as the Kenyan dawa, as well as the more international daiquiri, mojito and a signature margarita. Shooters, with names to make the fainthearted blush, include Leg Spreader, Blow Job and Climax.
Zelalem, however, focuses on the food. “It’s most surprising,” he confides, “both for its variety and its flavour.” Thanks to skillful Chef Kimani, Havana dishes up such inviting classics as fajitas, tostadas and quesadillas. At he same time, the menu bursts with Asian and continental flare: seared tuna steak, spicy sautéed calamari, spinach and ricotta ravioli, Thai chicken soup and Parma ham-wrapped goat’s cheese. The fajitas, which arrive on a sizzling platter, are surrounded by a cluster of super-fresh condiments, including guacamole, salsa, cheese and sour cream. Piled into the tortilla, the diverse flavours complement each other and the whole melange melts in your mouth.
Perfectly sated, the new cigar lounge upstairs is a terrific post dinner destination, clearly popular every night with local pub-goers. And what could be more appropriate than Cuban cigars in Havana? “We haven’t officially opened,” Mohamed explains. “We just had a soft opening last week.” The lounge, with its leather sofas, leafy plants, vivid artwork and discreet lighting, is the perfect perch to lose oneself in what Zelalem calls “the vibe”.
At Havana, it’s easy to feel cool.
By Alma Salma