THE CHEF’S TABLE, A SEVEN COURSE FOOD AND WINE PAIRING DINNER.

Nom nom

I love food, I love wine and I have an infinite love for fine dining 🙂 and as someone in the hospitality industry with dreams that send chills down my spine, I am constantly seeking to learn more beyond what I already know, just to find out how things are done out there in the restaurant world. Nothing fascinates me in this industry the way fine dining does, nothing.

In the last two years I’ve found myself developing an interest in wine and as a result I’ve attended two wine tasting events and a wine tasting master class, the latter was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’ve also attended a detailed cheese and wine pairing class but what I hadn’t crossed off the list was a food and wine pairing class. So this had me going for a chef’s table fine dining 7 course food and wine pairing dinner on Tuesday and I lack words. I lack words to write this in the best way possible because the whole experience was so heavenly and worth it.

Dessert



I’ve cooked alongside head chefs in the industry before, a head chef has come to my table before to talk about his menu and explain the food or ask how his food was but I’ve not sat in a restaurant’s kitchen before watching the chef prepare my meal as I enjoy the food with her/him making trips to our table and interacting with us. That’s what chef’s table dinner is about, it should be an intimate dinner of a small group of diners hosted in the kitchen by the chef, but it can also be held near the kitchen on a special table away from the usual guests eating area. In Nairobi it has been happening mostly in the big name hotels.

So when I found out The Wine Shop Kenya; a wine bar and cafe, was hosting a 7 course chef’s table food and wine pairing dinner, I booked myself in. I used to be a regular at The Wine Shop when they were still at Piedmont plaza on Ngong road, but a few months ago they moved to Loresho to an even bigger and beautiful location, so this was also a chance for me to see their new space.

Patiently waiting


The dinner was to start at 7.30pm and I was there at 7.15pm. You can’t be late for dinner, especially when you are given a specific time to work with. On arrival the welcoming drink was a tall sexy glass of champagne which you could have as much as you wanted and we sipped away as we waited for the rest of the diners to arrive. It was an intimate dinner of 14 guests only and you had to book in advance.

Every part of the menu was palatable and enjoyable, I do not remember at any point where I didn’t clear the food I’d served on my plate. My most favorite part though  was the main course; a lemon and herbs roast chicken, homemade linguine pesto, Swahili style fish curry with sides of perfectly done mouthwatering roast potatoes and rice and even though I am not big on dessert, I devoured all the two types that were served.

Being a very intimate dinner, our table had only 6 of us and the 2nd table had 8. It’s true what they say, that good food and wine do bring people together because the conversations we had on that table! SCRUMPTIOUS. Those are the kind of conversations I want to have for the rest of my life; a table of travelers, food and wine lovers. It was a superb night.

Overall, the entire 7 course meal was a divine combination of flavors, well prepared, plated and presented in the most enticing ways and paired well with the different wines that we had for pairing. Definitely the chef outdid himself and the sommelier was knowledgeable, answered all our questions and yes, he was generous with the wine too. The host dined with us as well and was very helpful and hospitable.

Lovely



I got value for my money, I felt relaxed and pampered and I cannot wait to go back for such a dinner or just for the usual dining at The Wine Shop. They have also done a splendid job with the space, I loved the decor and the few employees I interacted with were also very helpful.

If you have been looking for recommendations on places to dine alone or with your loved ones, I will be bringing a series on this every often, based only on restaurants I have personally dined in. Stay tuned as I mix travel with food in the most enticing and helpful ways.

I hope you enjoyed the read and as usual I’ll be waiting for your thoughts in the comments section.

Thank you.

eve j, the traveling mom

Take me back
The dinner setup right next to the kitchen

CHEESE & WINE PAIRING, FACTORY AND FARM TOUR AT BROWN’S CHEESE FARM IN LIMURU.


I’m actually craving cheese right now.

Happy new month everyone! WOW. November 2019 already? Who would have thought that we would be celebrating Christmas again so soon? lol.. Just the other day we were making New Year resolutions! Huh. But I am excited, mostly because I am a Christmas lover and two things I look forward to and celebrate for a whole month are my birthday and Christmas. This festive season if you will be looking for activities to do or places to take your loved ones, Brown’s cheese farm is that place. It is located in Limuru, a short drive of less than an hour from Nairobi.

This is also so ideal for the foodies and cheese lovers. I love food and I love my cheese just as much, if I have only two food options to eat for the rest of my life, definitely cheese would be one of the two. I’m always stocking lots and lots of cheese in my fridge and I think we eat cheese once or twice a week over here.

Cheeeeeeese!

Well, so last week I got an opportunity to visit Brown’s cheese farm in Limuru and had a cheese and wine pairing class as well as a detailed tour of the cheese factory and the farm. We learned a lot and also had an amazing time. I’ll keep this really short even though I noted so much down.

It all started with them asking me to be at the farm by 12pm last week on Thursday. What I didn’t know was that the entire thing would take four hours! But I did I know I was going to have lots of wine, so I asked my driver to accompany me for the short drive.

Those rosemary crackers!!!

We left Nairobi at about 10.30am arriving at the farm in an hour or less. I had to wait for another 30 minutes for the other people we were to do the tour and tasting with to arrive. At exactly 12pm we started off.

Brown’s cheese factory has been operating for the last 30 years and has about 150 employees in the entire farm. I was surprised at the variety of cheese they produce. They make over 40 different kinds of cheese! I honestly wasn’t aware that there are so many kinds of cheese out there. I think before going to Brown’s I could only name about 10 different cheeses confidently.

This was fun

They not only make cheese, but they also make fresh homemade crackers of different kinds, ice cream and a lot more food stuff.

It was now time to start the tour and first was the tour of the cheese processing section and we saw how different cheeses are made and preserved till they mature and are ready for the market. Next we went to see how they make their ice creams, unfortunately we didn’t get to see how they make them because they had been made earlier that same morning and they only make a few in a day. We however got to see how they make their crackers and some bread as well.

After we were done with the factory tour, we then proceeded to the cheese tasting section. I had the pleasure of tasting 8 different cheeses, which we paired with wine. This was the most fun part because cheese and wine together is just an out of this world experience in the mouth. The selection of the cheese we had were also delicious and paired fairly well with the different wines we had (you do know that some cheese can be very bitter).

Cheese and wine pairing

After the cheese and wine pairing it was now time to have lunch. I must mention that the cheese and wine was quite filling and so the lunch we started with a very delicious soup which we had with the tasty fresh breads. Next were salads, pizzas and a lot other bitings. I also thoroughly devoured their fresh homemade rosemary crackers and wow, they were more than yummy and so fresh. For dessert we sampled their freshly made ice cream which was so good, rich and creamy.

After the heavy delicious lunch it was now time to have a nap (I kid!). There was no nap time, after lunch we immediately went to have a tour of the farm. Brown’s food company depends solely on their produce and in the farm they have lots and lots of vegetables and herbs as well.

In the farm

Lastly we went to the animals section; they also do have lots of animals in the farm such as cows, pigs and poultry. The fun part for children I think was milking the cows. I think that’s such a good experience for anyone who has never done it before.

Vitutamu everywhere

The whole event lasted 4 hours. We started at 12pm and finished at 4pm.

Charges:

If you want to do the whole process of factory and farm tour, lunch, cheese and wine pairing it costs KSH 4000 per person.

Everything else minus the wine is KSH 3000.

Points to note:

•Keep time, if you are not there by 12pm they will start without you.

•They are open for the class and tour only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and Saturday is always busiest and mostly booked way in advance.

Lunch was served

•You still have to book Thursday and Friday in advance as well though they are the most chilled out days if you don’t like crowds.

•They encourage you go in groups but if you want to go alone book either Thursday or Friday or call them for advice.

•You can pay via Mpesa to book a slot.

•For contacts kindly check their website.

www.brownsfoodco.com

I hope you enjoyed this read and found it useful. Let me know.

Thank

eve j, the traveling mom.

How do I manage to travel so often? One question I get asked the most| Thetravelingmom.


The question I get asked the most is how I afford to travel so often. I love traveling but I don’t get to travel that much because in real life money is not paper like our brothers from the Lakeside city have made us believe. I’m not always even on the road like most travel bloggers I know, but still I’ve been asked “how do you do it?” I know it’s never asked with bad intentions and most people with travel as their hobby ask to learn but sometimes when it’s asked it always almost sounds like “tag your sponsor” 🙂

Apart from cooking, travel is my other hobby and as a result, I run a travel blog. My local travel goal is to visit at least ten different Kenyan counties every year until the day I will have traveled to all the 47 of them and this year I have been able to travel to eight counties so far. Two more to go though I am in no hurry to break any record so I’m always doing it in my own pace. It’s just satisfying and fulfilling for me.

Here are some of the measures that happen on the background before I travel anywhere:

1) Planning:
My big solo travels are always planned out and sometimes affordable ones like camping could be impromptu or random but I try to plan and space them out. Our family travels are always all planned and saved for.

2)  Budget:
After drawing up a plan, next is to come up with a budget. This includes air ticket or bus cost, accommodation, food, visa fee, partying, shopping, drinks, excursions, activities and any other stuff that will involve spending money.

Somewhere in Manda Island, traveling solo.

3) Saving:
Because I am self-employed, saving is what will always determine whether I’m going for a trip or not. I am so poor at saving and so standing orders always work best for me but for my travels I have a table banking chama, the chama is not a travel chama but the money I contribute there as Eve every month is to fund my travels. I can then always take a loan there if need be or top up from my pocket when I have a serious travel coming up. I have other savings and other chamas but this is always only for my travels. I chose the table banking chama because of the huge interests we get from it.

For family travels, my husband and I have a joint travel savings account. We each contribute there every month. Then we try as much as we can to stay within that budget. In the budget we put in literally everything we know we will do or need during the traveling.

For example; if you know you will be sipping cocktails or popping champagne on a beach somewhere in Vanuatu or Diani or whichever island you’ll find yourself in, including them in your budget and planning and saving for them before your travel will prevent you from feeling any dents in your pocket.



4) Booking everything early:
Never wait until the month of travel to start booking flights or hotels; When you have saved enough to pay the hotel deposit do so, then save again till it’s enough to book your flights or bus then what’s left will be to clear hotel balance before or on arrival, for your stay, transfers and any other things you had planned for. We always book our flights and hotel way early then the rest fall into place as the months go by. (if you didn’t clear your hotel balance before you travel make sure to do so immediately you arrive), that will prevent you from spending money that doesn’t belong to you.

5) Finding affordable deals:
Knowing the time when to travel, for example, I had plans of going to Côte d’Ivoire September last year, I postponed it to December 2018, but when I checked for flight costs I thought it was too high and I decided to postpone my travel again and ended up traveling early this year, the price had gone down by KSH 15,000/- which was such a win.

Also there are travel apps I have on my phone that I use to find the deals, you compare the different apps and most times I even call the hotel directly to compare with the apps. For flights I/we always book directly with the airline.

6) Booking direct with hotels and airlines:
My husband and I have always done our own travel itineraries, maybe once we have used a travel agency but we learned long ago that booking direct is always better sometimes. Booking with travel agencies can however save you from a lot of hustle but they can also mess you up big time.

Somewhere in Kisumu city.



7) Road trip if you can:
By this I mean driving down yourself, the last getaway we went to as a family to Samburu, we wanted to use a travel company because we felt Samburu is far away(6 hours with a bad road and alleged banditry). The quote they gave us  by road and by air, I didn’t even respond to those emails because I was shocked. We decided to drive down ourselves and we successfully stayed within our budget, I can safely say we saved ourselves 60-100k.

Beach life with camels



8) Staying within budget:
My husband is so good in saving and investing, so over time I’ve learned much from him and taught myself to always work with what I have and stay within the budget. If you didn’t put it in the original plan and budget, don’t do it, unless you have some money left to spend that you won’t regret or feel guilty about later. Most times I never even have any money left though, the only time I’ve ever come back with money was when I traveled to China 4 years ago.

9) Comparing deals:
Even after finding affordable deals, always compare them against each other before booking or making any payment. The goal is not to find the cheapest but to find a meaningful one. For example, we’ve come to love full board or half board hotels especially when we family travel to Mombasa rather than bed and breakfast or Airbnb. Sometimes we will even go to a hotel that offers half board rather than one that’s on full board, there is a lot to it, just compare depending on what you are looking for as long as it’s within your budget.

10) Keeping to my lane:
There are people out here who can travel to far and exotic places every month from their own pockets, there are those crisscrossing the country or traveling abroad every week because of the nature of their work, there are those who can do six to ten small trips a year, there are those who prefer to do one very big overseas trip once a year, there are those who only travel to another country, there are those who only do local traveling, there are those who only do camping every weekend and there are those who only do one local trip per year. Whichever category you fall in, sticking to your lane will keep you disciplined.

Can we drink to this travel life

11) Traveling as a group: In most cases, traveling with other people (your friends) can be much cheaper as compared to traveling alone. This is because you will get to share costs amongst yourselves. We however all know the dynamics of group travel.


12) Life after travel:
Remember you will always come back home from that trip, you don’t have to blow every coin you saved. If you didn’t spend it all save what is left for when you come back home or for the next trip.

13) Source of income: To be able to do all these, it would work best also if you have a source of income. Those in love with travel are toiling, working smart , working extra hours, late nights and saving up in order to afford their travels.


So ladies and gentlemen, that is “how I do it” I hope you found a point or two that could be helpful. Let me know.

Thank you,

eve j, the traveling mom.











Traveling solo or with friends as a married woman.

Sometime back I listened to a travel podcast to which the topic of discussion was solo travel. And solo traveling as a married woman or man was discussed. It was interesting and fun mostly because it was hosted by one like me 😊

As a wife who is sometimes solo traveling or traveling with friends, on this post I decided to focus on ‘solo traveling as a married woman’.

Depending on your school of thought, solo travel as a married woman can be a very heated topic and that’s why I thought to write about it because I know that like me there are moms and wives out there who love traveling, long to travel, can afford it but are afraid to travel solo or with the girls because what will people say or think.

When you are married and with children you are supposed to take care of your husband and your family’s needs, right? Go to work, take care of your children, right? And maybe wash some dishes in between….

A lot of times I hear or read comments like “I wish I traveled before I got married” , “I wish I traveled before I got children or when I get married I’ll stop doing this or that…” and it’s ok because every one of us is different.

“Your husband doesn’t mind you traveling alone?” I know he understands that I love to travel (so much that we made sure to include family travel in our budget), and they have since caught the bug too. So traveling alone or with my friends has never been an issue just the same way traveling with family is ok.

He is always helping me out e.g. he drops me to catch my bus or flight, makes sure I don’t miss my flights by always checking me in on time, calls to find out my program for the day etc

Allow me to digress a bit. You see, as a little girl, my dad worked and moved from one town to another in Nyanza province (then). That meant us always moving with him to wherever he was posted to next. I looked forward and we always moved from one small town to another but when we finally landed in Kisumu, we set base there and the family travel from one town to another stopped though dad still traveled for his work.

Before marriage, I had also traveled and lived in Nakuru, lived in Eldoret, lived in Mombasa, lived in Uganda and also lived in Nairobi. That meant always traveling and even living alone.

In marriage, a week after our wedding, in a long distance marriage, I moved and lived in the United States for greener pastures. So for me traveling is something that has always been present, as well as solo travel, and maybe that’s why it could be an easy thing for me to do.

But because this post is not entirely about me, here is a list of a few tips that I could say have also enabled or made it easy for me to travel alone as a ‘married woman’ that maybe someone else could also find useful.

•Financing my own travels.

•Staying true to myself at all times.

•I feel that my husband is an enlightened person and that kinda makes it easy for him to understand.

•I always inform him early enough about my scheduled travel.

•If I’m traveling with my friends I let him know who I’ll be traveling with.

•If I’m traveling alone he is always fully aware the flight I’m using or means of transport, the hotel I’ll be staying at and the duration of my stay as well as the date I’m traveling back so that he can check me in on time again 🙂

•As a mom, I always make sure I plan my solo travel when my husband is not on travel. That way at least one parent is around.

•I think it also helps that we have always had our separate lives and also have our life together as a team. He can be out there with his friends watching Manchester United being beaten like a burukenge while I can be at Koroga festival hanging out with my friends and the next day we shall all be hanging out together and enjoying our family time. We’ve always not felt that it’s a must we do everything together, and same applies to travel.

•I always say what I want, I’ve never been afraid to say “babe, my friends and I are planning a trip to” or “I can’t wait to travel to”. Let your thoughts be known.

•Lastly, he is aware of the dreams I have for my travel blog.

This post only had in mind a mother and/or wife who has always wanted to travel with her friends or take a solo travel trip in vain.

I hope you found a tip or two that’s useful and always remember every marriage is different.

Next week we talk about how I afford my travels. Stay tuned.


Thank you.

eve j, the traveling mom.

Samburu National Reserve getaway/Thetravelingmom.

Isn’t she lovely? Source: Internet

Traveling to Samburu had been on my mind since 2018. Being the planner I am I fixed it for mid-2019 (the same way I have my 2020 travel calendar already planned out) for little traveler’s birthday weekend because there was no way I was traveling there alone from some of the stories I’d read.

Samburu is a county in the former Rift Valley Province in Nothern Kenya where the Samburu, Turkana and some other tribes live and it’s in the South of Lake Turkana.

Before traveling to a new place always do an extensive research about the place, so some of the reasons I’d heard or read that instilled some fear in me included the state of the road. I think back then the road that led to the hotel we intended to book was bad and there was a possibility that you could get stuck if it was the rainy season. I also read that once you arrived at the gate of the park, during security check you are supposed to ask for police escort just in case you could get attacked by bandits.

Loving our rooom


Due to those reasons, we had weighed the options of going by flight or using the services of a travel agent and their travel vans because they would be familiar with the road and how to deal with the insecurities if a need would arise. They ended up being too expensive though and way out of our budget. For that reason we decided that we would drive down and we made payments a month in advance.

May being a rainy season in Samburu, we were mostly concerned about the state of the road in case they experienced the heavy rains, so we kept in touch with the camp and they would always update us on how it was. They also assured us that we would be safe and that the banditry cases had since reduced.

The distance from Nairobi to our hotel; Samburu Intrepids took us six hours. We left early morning arriving at the hotel almost at 1pm. You always need to start your journey early, especially if you are going to a place you know nothing about.



Samburu National Reserve:
It is a game reserve on the banks of river Ewaso Ng’iro in Samburu County which is the main source of water for the wild animals here.
‘Elsa the lionesses of the book “Born Free” was also raised at Samburu National Reserve by George and Joy Adamson.
It was also the home of the lioness ‘Kumanyak’ who was famous for having adopted 6 Oryx calves.
The big five of Samburu are easily spotted here, namely: Reticulated giraffe, Somali ostrich, Grevy’s zebra, Beisa Oryx and Gerenuk.
Other animals that are found here include: Elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs and several birds.
The park is managed by the County council of Samburu.

When we arrived



Where we stayed:

Samburu Intrepids Tented Camp.
Located within Samburu National Reserve, Samburu Intrepids is a tented camp that’s perfect for that weekend getaway if you want to hide in the bush. We did enjoy our stay.

Loved our room


Cosy, very cosy.



Costs incurred:
Park fees: KSH1200 for adults and KSH600 for children.
We fueled full tank on our way @ KSH6000 but we had to fuel again in Nanyuki on our way back and the cost would definitely depend on the car you have.
Game drive offered by the camp was KSH5000 per adult.
You can also do a self-game drive.
Being a low season, the camp wasn’t any busy and I still remember we were less than 10 guests in the camp that weekend, I know because I asked. They charged KSH26,000 per night on full board basis.

Verdict:
We loved our hotel, food was delicious at all times and the presentation was always enticing . We looked forward to breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Food was always so delicious and presented in an enticing manner.



Overall service was amazing as well. No complaints at all because we were well taken care of.

The tented room was not big enough but very cosy. They provided us with a baby bed for little miss traveler, so if you happen to book them you can request for one.

The camp is within a bush but very safe, quite tranquil and perfect for a short getaway for bush getaway lovers. At night you hear all the animals making noise around but the tents are very safe and well secured.

Overall I can say we enjoyed our stay. I miss the monkeys stealing our snacks at the swimming pool area and us chasing them away with a catapult. Sadly I can,t find most pics from this trip, not sure what happened.



Also it’s said to be a luxury tented camp but if I compare it to all the luxury tented camps we have been to, I would give it a 6 out of 10. That does not mean it was bad, it was really good and we had an exciting and adventurous weekend but my comparison is of it against the other luxury tented camps.


I hope you found this post helpful. Feel free to contact me if you need any more information.

eve j, the traveling mom.