Category Archives: Cuisine

Art on a Plate: Food Styling at Singita Lebombo Lodge

July 18, 2014 - Cuisine,Experience,Kruger National Park,Singita Lebombo Lodge,Singita Sweni Lodge

Food style and plating at Singita Lebombo Lodge

Archie Maclean is Head Chef at Singita Kruger National Park and is responsible for managing the kitchen team that produces edible delights for our guests on a daily basis. As with all Singita’s lodges and camps, the food and plating style at Singita Lebombo Lodge is designed to reflect the ambience and décor of the fifteen loft-style suites in this boldly dramatic lodge.

Singita Lebombo Lodge

Singita Lebombo Lodge

The main focus at Singita Lebombo Lodge is always on fresh food, interesting flavour combinations and a “contemporary informal” visual element. The ingredients of each dish are also considered in terms of their environmental sustainability, with a strong preference for incorporating local produce. The composition of each dish is a little more modern to reflect the style of the lodge, and this is carried through to the cooking methods employed, such as sous-vide, smoking and curing. These also happen to be very healthy ways to prepare food, and lend an elemental feeling to the menu; sous-vide being water, smoking being fire and curing being earth. This modernity is balanced out with open fire and spit cooking which takes things back to basics, while being quintessentially African.

Food style and plating at Singita Lebombo Lodge

Meal times at Singita Lebombo Lodge should be relaxed and guests are encouraged to eat what they like, to avoid the kitchen being too prescriptive. Formal dinners with suit and tie are not the norm – guests can choose when they eat and what they wear to dinner. The menu is full of healthy options and portions are generous but never excessive. The chef is also very happy to provide plenty of choices for those with special dietary requirements or preferences.

Food style and plating at Singita Lebombo Lodge

The strategy for plating each dish is to remain innovative without being over-the-top, and avoid crowding the plate so that the eye has space in which to rest. This is a classic example of negative space theory which is key to aesthetic composition.

Food style and plating at Singita Lebombo Lodge

The contemporary style of the lodge serves as inspiration for alternative dining experiences, like sharing meals “family style”, where large dishes are placed on the table and passed around by the guests to serve themselves. Tapas and tasting plates are also a popular way for guests to enjoy their food, allowing them to sample a greater variety of menu options.

Food style and plating at Singita Lebombo Lodge

Food will always be an important part of the Singita experience, with guests having seven “official” opportunities to eat throughout the day. We of course encourage them to take advantage of all of these, so main meals are kept at a reasonable size and snacks are fresh and light; just enough to whet your appetite!

The first photo in this post is from the Matador Network, an independent online travel community, whose founders recently visited Singita Kruger National Park. You can see more of their gorgeous photos here and watch a wonderful video of their trip.

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Recipe: Chocolate and Mint Macarons

June 25, 2014 - Cuisine,Kruger National Park

Afternoon tea at Singita Kruger National Park

If you are fortunate enough to have visited Singita Kruger National Park, then you will have enjoyed the wonderful afternoon tea that takes place before every evening game drive. Responsible for this sweet spread is Chef de Partie Christien Schrecker, who has previously shared many of her delectable recipes on our blog, including our personal favourite, giraffe-shaped cinnamon doughnuts!

Today she is showing us how to make a real crowd pleaser; chocolate and mint macarons. These meringue-based confections are sandwiched with an Amarula-spiked ganache to give them some uniquely African flavour but you can substitute this for Irish cream if you prefer. Also, here’s a handy online volume converter if you need help with the metric measurements.

Christien Schrecker's chocolate and mint macarons | Singita Kruger National Park

Ingredients – what you will need:

MACARONS:
100g egg whites
150g caster sugar
50ml water
150g ground almonds (weigh after being sifted twice)
150g icing sugar

FILLING:
150g dark chocolate
180ml Amarula
2 drops peppermint essence

Method – what to do:

MACARONS:
1. Preheat the oven to 135˚C.
2. Combine the ground almonds with the icing sugar, but mix only briefly so that the almonds do not exude their oil.
3. Place half the egg whites (50g) in the bowl of a free-standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
4. To prepare the Italian meringue, cook the caster sugar with the water to 110˚C. While the mixture is heating, start whisking the egg whites to soft peaks. When the syrup has reached the right temperature, pour it gradually over the whisked egg whites, whisking as you do so.
5. Continue beating until the mixture cools to 45˚C. Then pour in the other half of the egg whites (50g), add the colouring if using, and the ground almonds combined with the icing sugar.
6. Whisk until the batter is liquid and forms a ribbon when drizzled on the surface.
7. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe it out onto the baking sheet or mat.
8. Bake for 20 minutes, depending on the size of your macarons. They are done when you can lift them of the sheet without any batter staying behind. Leave to cool at room temperature.

FILLING & ASSEMBLY:
1. Bring the Amarula cream to a boil.
2. Pour over the chopped chocolate, and the essence. Whisk to combine, finish with a hand blender.
3. Spoon into a piping bag and leave to cool in the fridge for 20 minutes.
4. Pipe onto macarons and sandwich together
5. Place macarons in the fridge for 20 minutes to set the filling before serving.

Share your homemade macarons with us on Instagram by tagging @Singita_ and follow Christien for more mouth-watering photos from the kitchen at Singita Kruger National Park. You can also find more great recipe ideas here.

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Breakfast in the Bush: A recipe for Strawberry Jam

January 17, 2014 - Cuisine,Singita Lebombo Lodge

Homemade strawberry jam | Singita Lebombo Lodge

Summer is in full swing here in Southern Africa, which means the kitchen gardens are bursting with sun-ripened fruit. Our berry crop this year is especially good, as the plants are laden with juicy-looking blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. One of the best ways to preserve ripe fruit for use throughout the year is to make homemade jam, which Christien van der Westhuizen, the pastry chef at Singita Lebombo Lodge, serves with freshly-baked bread and cold farm butter. Guests can enjoy this simple but delicious breakfast with a steaming cup of fresh coffee on early morning game drives:

Freshly baked bread | Singita Lebombo Lodge

Ingredients – what you need:
1kg strawberries
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 cups sugar

Method – what to do:
1. Combine the sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice in a medium-sized pot and cook over very low heat, until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Add the strawberries and continue to cook over very low heat for 20 minutes, until the strawberries release some of their juices and the mixture boils slowly.
3. Cook until a small amount of the juice gels on a very cold plate (you can pop the plate in the freezer for this).
4. Pour carefully into your preferred canning jar(s) and either hermetically seal to store at room temperature or keep refrigerated if you plan to use it straight away.

Don’t forget to wash and sterilise jars and lids (find out how) and follow these handy tips for storing homemade preserves. You can find plenty more recipes from our creative kitchen teams in the Cuisine section of the blog.

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Giving Thanks

November 28, 2013 - Cuisine,General,Kruger National Park,Singita Lebombo Lodge

Earlier this year we brought you the story of Joyful Nghala, a trainee chef at the Singita School of Cooking (SSC) at Singita Kruger National Park. We are delighted to report that Joyful recently graduated from SSC along with six other students after successfully completing a challenging 18-month stint in the school’s kitchens. She is now employed at Singita Lebombo Lodge and is poised to become an extremely valuable member of our team.

People like Joyful make us all the more grateful for the special communities of which Singita is a part, and today we give thanks for all of our staff members, guests and special friends that work with us to make a tangible difference in the lives of those living and working in and around our lodges. We wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving, from our family to yours this holiday season.

Learn more about Joyful’s story in this short video celebrating her graduation last month:

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Al Fresco Dining: Chocolate Macadamia Cheesecake

September 19, 2013 - Cuisine,Experience,Kruger National Park,Singita Lebombo Lodge

Eating Al Fresco | Singita Lebombo Lodge

Eating Al Fresco | Singita Lebombo Lodge

Singita Kruger National Park is found on the south eastern reaches of the Kruger National Park, on South Africa’s border with Mozambique. Situated on 33 000 acres, this exclusive concession is one of the most incredible territories in the park and is home to exquisite selections of flora and fauna in four different eco-zones. This is where you will find Singita Lebombo Lodge.

Eating Al Fresco | Singita Lebombo Lodge

Eating Al Fresco | Singita Lebombo Lodge

Like a collection of eagles’ nests perched along the rugged cliff faces above the N’wanetsi River, Singita Lebombo Lodge looks out regally across the landscape. This boldly dramatic lodge, home to fifteen loft-style suites, set beneath endless African skies. Imaginative wood, steel and organic interiors, all encased in glass, create a stylishly contemporary feel in the suites and make the most of the astonishing views overlooking the river.

Eating Al Fresco | Singita Lebombo Lodge

Eating Al Fresco | Singita Lebombo Lodge

The pastry team at Singita Lebombo Lodge is headed up by Christien Van Der Westhuizen, whose delectable recipes you will have seen before in our Sweet Tooth blog series. Today she shares her recipe for an indulgent chocolate macadamia cheesecake, which is best enjoyed with a cup of tea on the shaded deck, overlooking the swimming pool with the N’wanetsi River beyond.

Eating Al Fresco | Singita Lebombo Lodge

Singita Lebombo Lodge | Chocolate and Macadamia Cheesecake

CHOCOLATE MACADAMIA CHEESECAKE RECIPE

Ingredients – what you need:
800g cream cheese
200g mascarpone
200g dark chocolate, melted
6 eggs
1tsp vanilla essence
200g toasted macadamia nuts

Method – what to do:
Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese and mascarpone until smooth.
Add the eggs and vanilla essence, scraping the side of the bowl to ensure everything is mixed.
Mix the macadamia nuts through the cheesecake mixture.
Divide the mixture in half and add the chocolate to one of them.
Pour the vanilla micture into a greased cake ring.
Spoon the chocolate mixture over and marble the two using a teaspoon.
Bake the cheesecake at 130˚C for 30-40 minutes or until the cheesecake has a firm wobble.
Allow to cool completely before serving at room temperature.

Have you seen our other “al fresco” recipes? Find out how to make a delicious banana and date loaf and sundried tomato & peppadew dip. If you need to adjust the metric measurements, here’s a handy online volume converter.

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Al Fresco Dining: Sundried Tomato & Peppadew Dip

September 12, 2013 - Cuisine,Experience,Kruger National Park,Singita Lebombo Lodge,Singita Sweni Lodge

Dining Al Fresco | Singita Kruger National Park

Dining Al Fresco | Singita Kruger National Park

Singita Lebombo and Sweni Lodges lie in the southeastern reaches of the Kruger National Park, on South Africa’s border with Mozambique. Situated on 33 000 acres, Singita’s private concession is an isolated piece of pristine wilderness where a unique wildlife population thrives across four distinct ecological-zones. This area is especially well-known for the remarkable concentration of the ‘Big 5’ and a number of particularly formidable prides of lion.

Dining Al Fresco | Singita Kruger National Park

Dining Al Fresco | Singita Kruger National Park

Daily game drives with professional guides and trackers provide the perfect opportunity to get up close to Africa’s incredible animals, and the late afternoon bush stops in particular are a wonderful opportunity to spot a great variety of wildlife while sipping a sundowner. To accompany a cold drink or crisp glass of wine, our kitchen teams prepare a delicious snack-time spread. Items on the menu can include crisp fried tortilla with sundried tomato and peppadew dip and creamy guacamole, a selection of local and international cheeses, fruit and preserves, smoked crocodile and springbok carpaccio, homemade breads, watercress salad and smoked salmon trout from the Franschhoek Valley.

Dining Al Fresco | Singita Kruger National Park

If the sound of that makes you hungry, here is the recipe for the wonderful sundried tomato and peppadew dip for you to make at home, from head chef at Singita Kruger National Park, Archie Maclean:

SUNDRIED TOMATO AND PEPPADEW DIP RECIPE

Ingredients – you will need:
400g sundried tomato, chopped
100g peppadews, chopped (if you can’t find peppadews, substitute with any pickled peppers or capsicum)
1 small onion, chopped
150ml vegetable stock
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Method – what to do:
Put a deep frying pan on a medium heat and add a little olive oil
Sweat off the onion in the olive oil until it begins to soften
Add the tomato and peppadew, and cook gently for 2-3 minutes
Add the stock and boil until it is reduced by half
Remove from the heat and then blend together until smooth (use a stick blender or food processor)
Season with salt and pepper, then allow to cool and serve

We’re giving you a taste of the eating al fresco in the African bush in our current blog series – read the first article from Singita Sabora Tented Camp! If you need to adjust the metric measurements, here’s a handy online volume converter.

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Al Fresco Dining: Banana and Date Loaf

August 22, 2013 - Cuisine,Experience,Singita Grumeti,Singita Sabora Tented Camp

Dining Al Fresco at Singita Grumeti | Singita Sabora Tented Camp

The Serengeti is a vast and precious wilderness, spanning 12 000 square miles of seemingly endless grassland. The Great Migration makes its way across these plains, passing through Singita Grumeti, a private wildlife reserve established to protect the indigenous biodiversity of this important ecosystem.

Dining Al Fresco at Singita Grumeti | Singita Sabora Tented Camp

Singita Sabora Tented Camp is one of five Singita properties in the reserve and is designed as a nostalgic, 1920s-style explorer’s camp. The accommodation is full of character, offering a surprisingly luxurious and enchanting safari in the rugged terrain of the surrounding savannah. The elegant simplicity and laid-back romance of the camp is apparent in every moment of our guest’s experience, including meal times which often take place in the open.

Dining Al Fresco at Singita Grumeti | Singita Sabora Tented Camp

It’s difficult to describe the feeling of being seated at a dining table in the shade of an acacia tree in the middle of the Serengeti. The whir of nearby grasshoppers vibrates in the air as the sun rises through the African sky, and you’re handed a cooling glass of homemade iced tea while a herd of zebra casually graze in the distance. Executive Chef, Frank Louw, and his team help to make such moments at Singita Grumeti possible and here he shares a popular recipe for banana and date loaf.

Dining Al Fresco at Singita Grumeti | Singita Sabora Tented Camp

Dining Al Fresco at Singita Grumeti | Singita Sabora Tented Camp

BANANA AND DATE LOAF RECIPE

Ingredients – what you’ll need:
2 cups (300g) self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125g pitted dates, chopped (substitute with dark chocolate if you like)
1/2 cup (115g) caster sugar
1 cup (250ml) milk
2 eggs
1 cup mashed banana (about 2 large, or three small)
80g cinnamon sugar (optional)
Butter, to serve (optional)

Method – what to do:
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 24 x 13.5cm loaf pan with non-stick baking paper.
Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and nutmeg into a large bowl.
Stir through the dates and sugar.
Combine the milk, eggs and banana in a separate bowl.
Fold into the date mixture until well combined and pour into the loaf pan.
Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean.
Cool for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Slice and serve with butter if desired.

Check back soon for more snapshots of al fresco dining at Singita’s lodges and camps. If you need to adjust the metric measurements, here’s a handy online volume converter.

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The People of Singita: Michael Matera

August 01, 2013 - Cuisine,Experience,Singita Grumeti,Singita Sasakwa Lodge

Michael Matera, sous chef at Singita Sasakwa Lodge

Michael Matera, sous chef at Singita Sasakwa Lodge

You would be correct in assuming that some of the most memorable experiences for guests visiting Singita involve exhilarating wildlife sightings on early morning game drives, the spectacular local cuisine put together by our talented kitchen teams and the breathtaking landscapes in which our lodges and camps are situated. While this is certainly true, what guests remark on most often is the warm and attentive manner of our friendly staff members. The people of Singita are its most valuable asset, as they quietly go about ensuring that each of our visitors experience the most sophisticated luxury safari experience on earth.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing the stories of some of Singita’s most interesting characters, from field guides and trackers to lodge managers and chefs, many of whom have overcome enormous personal challenges along the way. First up is Michael Matera, who is now a chef at Singita Grumeti:

Michael Matera and Frank Louw

Michael Matera and Frank Louw

How did you get started at Singita?
As the oldest son, it was always very important to have a career in order to support the rest of the family. I was working at VIP Safari Club when I applied for work at Singita Sabora Tented Camp, where I was accepted as a grounds attendant. Every day I would clean the pool, look after the camp grounds, fill kerosene lanterns and fulfil any other small duties the manager would give me.

The chef there at the time was called Andy Clay, he noticed my hard work and determination and soon I started helping in the kitchen. Initially I was responsible for cooking the staff meals, as I could not speak English and had limited cooking skills. Andy noticed that I would always work in the kitchen after hours and was very keen to learn, so he very kindly sent me to English classes in Arusha. I gave the short two-week course my all, and on my return was told that I could start working in the main guest kitchen. I was so happy and that is how my cheffing career began.

Michael Matera tending the kitchen garden

Michael Matera tending the kitchen garden

What inspired you to be a chef?
I was intrigued with all the interesting produce that use to come into the kitchen. I had never seen things like lobster, prawns and other exotic seafood before and I found their shapes, smells and flavours fascinating. That is what inspired me to learn more.

What would be the highlight of your career so far?
Definitely being awarded the title of Tanzanian Chef of the Year last year. Nothing can replace that feeling!

Michael Matera tending the kitchen garden

Who is your favourite chef and why?
Gordon Ramsay. He is a very strict chef so when you see him on the TV you know you should always be careful in the kitchen.

What country would you love to travel to for cooking inspiration?
Italy! I love pasta and pizza and all the other Italian food.

The cuisine at Singita Sasakwa Lodge

The cuisine at Singita Sasakwa Lodge

What is your favourite ingredient to cook with?
Coriander, you either love it or hate it. I LOVE it.

What do you love about Singita?
I love Singita for so many different reasons but I think I love it the most because it made me the person I am today. The training, teaching, opportunities, development and love for the staff is hard to find in any other company.

Michael currently works as Senior Sous Chef at Singita Sasakwa Lodge under Executive Chef, Frank Louw. Frank says: “It’s amazing how you can learn so much from someone you are supposed to be mentor to. Michael has the wonderful talent of making every task seem effortless while still achieving extraordinary results. His calm demeanor and ability to listen has taught me a side of humanity that every person should embrace and carry with them. He has proven to not only be a phenomenal chef, student, teacher and friend but an inspiration to so many other young Tanzanians wanting to make a change in their lives.”

Catch up on all food-related posts by reading through the Cuisine category on the blog, including some delicious locally-inspired recipes!

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The Singita School of Cooking

February 20, 2013 - Community Development,Cuisine,Experience,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps

Joyful and her classmates at the Singita School of Cooking Joyful and her classmates at the Singita School of Cooking

Life at Singita is a constant exercise in gratitude for the environment and the people that make the lodges so incredibly unique. Singita is the custodian of over half a million acres of natural bush in Africa and works actively to protect and maintain this land and its wildlife in their original state.  We partner with the people who live on the outskirts of the reserves to understand the intrinsic value of these pristine areas and experience the benefit of preserving the land for future generations.  Singita and the people from local communities are working symbiotically to provide a better experience for the eco-traveler, whilst ensuring a better future for the land, the wildlife and communities within each region.

 

This story is the first in a series which will offer some insight into the genuine upliftment, improvements, restoration, heart-warming successes and joy brought about by caring and the daily miracles that keep unfolding to transform lives, largely thanks to the people who visit our lodges and are committed to making a difference.

Joyful Nghala, like all intelligent and aspirant young girls, matriculated from high school with dreams of a golden future. The realities of living in a part of South Africa with rampant unemployment soon hit home however, and she was forced to find work that didn’t promise much prospect. Despite her having to work in less than inspiring jobs, Joyful never lost the wonderful spirit for which she is so appropriately named.

A chance stroll to the local post office gave Joyful the lucky break she had been longing for. It was there that she spotted the advertisement encouraging interested parties to apply for places at the Singita School of Cooking (SSC). Joyful duly applied and successfully navigated two tough interviews and a cook-off to receive an invitation to attend the school, where she began classes in May last year.

Joyful at work in the SSC kitchen

There has been no looking back for Joyful since she was given the opportunity to learn all the relevant cooking skills under the expert tutelage of the Singita School of Cooking staff. All areas of professional cooking are explored in the school and students learn by doing. The aspirant chefs prepare food for the staff at Singita in a dedicated kitchen and are given opportunities to learn from the highly trained and skilled chefs who produce the Relais & Châteaux-standard food on a daily basis.

Joyful at work in the Singita kitchen

Joyful continues her education at the SSC where she receives many compliments both from her enthusiastic teachers and those with whom she works in the school kitchen. She is reported to have a healthy competitive attitude and a particular flair for culinary language, with her newly-acquired French vocabulary featuring regularly in her menus. She is already an asset to the Singita family and is on track to become a great chef, probably working in our very own kitchens one day. The Singita School of Cooking would not exist were it not for the generous support of our guests, some of whom have given abundantly to ensure that the futures of Joyful, and many others like her, are indeed golden.

Haute cuisine at Singita Kruger National Park

The Singita School of Cooking is located on site at the staff village that serves Singita Kruger National Park, the home of Singita Lebombo Lodge and Singita Sweni Lodge.  It was established with the aim of encouraging the development of culinary skills amongst local youth from neighbouring communities.  Each year, 8 to 10 students are selected – based upon clear criteria including showing a real interest in cooking – to participate in an 18 month long training programme. You can also find out more about the Singita School of Cooking here.

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Sweet Tooth: Giraffe Cinnamon Doughnuts

February 08, 2013 - Cuisine,Experience,Lodges and Camps,Sabi Sand,Singita Ebony Lodge

Giraffe cinnamon doughnuts

Late afternoon at Singita Ebony Lodge

There is something magical about the experience of taking what would otherwise be a formal event, such as afternoon tea, and giving it a fresh twist with an African-inspired menu and a unique setting. Tea at Singita Ebony Lodge is a very special occasion, not least of all because it is often served on the vast wooden deck overlooking the Sand River, where it’s not uncommon to see elephant, buffalo and antelope grazing only metres away. The lodge itself has the feeling of a congenial family home, filled with sumptuous coziness that tempts you into relaxation and reflection.

Every day our unique team of pastry chefs lay on a delectable spread of the finest hand-crafted cakes, sandwiches, tarts and scones, along with homemade lemonade and iced coffee. These sweet and savoury snacks are also served with a selection of exotic teas from all over the world, including Japanese TWG Emperor Sencha, Moroccan mint leaf, Bourbon vanilla black and French Earl Grey. One of Singita Ebony Lodge’s signature teatime treats is “giraffe” cinnamon doughnuts, the recipe for which chef Christien has kindly shared below.

Ingredients – what you’ll need:
2 cups cake flour
1 packet dried yeast
1/8 cup sugar
1 egg
70g butter
pinch of salt
¾ cup warm milk
cinnamon sugar, for dusting

Method – what to do:
Place all of the ingredients (except the cinnamon sugar) in a freestanding mixer with a paddle attachment. On a medium speed, allow the machine to work the mixture until the dough forms a ball around the paddle and starts to slap the sides of the bowl.
Wrap the bowl and leave to rise until double in size.
Sprinkle your work surface with some flour and scrape the dough out. Fold the dough in half and press down lightly, then fold again.
Roll the dough out to a thickness of 0.8cm and cut into desired shapes.
Fry them in small batches in hot oil (170°C) until golden brown on both sides.
Place on paper towel to cool down.
Once cool to touch, roll the doughnuts in cinnamon sugar and serve.

Have you tried any of Christien’s other recipes? Please let us know if you have and send us your photos – we would love to see! Here’s a handy online volume converter if you need to adjust the metric measurements.

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