29 August 2012
Nairobi: Gracia Gardens
Gracia Gardens is a fabulous hotel in a really nice part of Nairobi. So nice a neighborhood, in fact, that I went for a run by myself and didn't once fear for my safety! It might have been because I was just so happy to be in Kenya with my peeps that I was mouthing the words to my music as I ran. Aaand dancing a little. And grinning like an idiot.
I mean who would abduct somebody looking THAT crazy? God, I'm awesome.
Denis Pritt Rd
We had lunch here on my last day in Kenya just because it was convenient. I never imagined I would get such a well-balanced vegan meal out of the buffet. I mean just LOOK at that beautiful plate!*
The green mashed potatoes above the biryani were pretty good. While I didn't have the chance to ask a chef what was in them, Turner and I carefully determined they contain no dairy. There are bits of maize and they taste like there's pureed peas and/or leafy greens mixed in with the potatoes. Better than the biryani, but not the best thing on the plate.
The spinach in the center? Lovely! It was simple and good, with some onion to flavor things up. Turner felt it was a little overblanched; I defer to his expertise. But it was still delish.
The lentils on the bottom right were FAB. They were flavored with cumin and were cohesive enough for us to know they hadn't been overcooked. There were bits of other veggies in there, too, and it tasted especially good mixed with the spinach.
Lastly, the chapati or paratha at the top of the plate. The very height of Kenyan cuisine features pan-fried unleavened Indian breads. Not that I've been to India, but I wouldn't be surprised if this stuff is better in Kenya than in its home country. Gracia's is so thin and firm, and so tastefully oily, that I couldn't get enough of it. Turner pointed out that it's slightly undercooked, and while I agreed, I couldn't bring myself to care. I just ate more of it instead. I'd probably eat the freakin' dough if that was all I could get my hands on.
At this juncture, allow me to point out that all the food I've mentioned in Kenya thus far has been devoid of fresh tap water. If it has tap water in it, the water's been boiled. I'm sure you know you can't have salad here because it'll have been washed in water. Gracia wins even more points for having so many safe food options for muzungus.
Speaking of tap water, my first morning in Kenya I accidentally rinsed my toothbrush off in tap water. I had to douse it in hand sanitizer before I could use it again. The taste wasn't TOO awful. Just mostly awful. Oh, first world problems! I didn't even care!
* I like to call this the Mark Bittman style of food photography. One day Mark Bittman will read my blog and shed a tear at how beautiful these photographs are, just as I have done on his website roughly one million times.