Category Archives: Cuisine

Graduation Almost Here!

February 16, 2012 - Community Development,Cuisine,Events,Kruger National Park

The long-awaited graduation day at the Singita School of Cooking is now just around the corner.  After an arduous 18-month-long-programme, 6 students are currently completing assignments and going through the assessment process in order to qualify.  Excitement for graduation at the end of March, is mounting.

The team at Singita Kruger National Park is already starting to prepare for the next programme – in the next 2 weeks Oriel Mbowane (Singita Kruger National Park Chef Skills Developer) will be finalising details with the educational assessors.  April is the planned start date for the new intake and we are delighted that this will be the 5th intake of students at the cooking school since its inception in 2007.

Scroll through the photos and some of the memories from the year – well done to students, Oriel Mbowane, and visiting chefs.  It has been a great year.

For more information about the programme at the Singita School of Cooking, take a look at Singita’s website or feel free to contact us for a brochure or further details – SLReceptionmanager@singita.com (General Manager at Singita Kruger National Park).

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Changing Threat into Opportunity

January 13, 2012 - Community Development,Cuisine,Singita Faru Faru Lodge

The next time you bite into a  decadently chocolate-filled brownie at Singita Faru Faru Lodge, you may be surprised to know that the Pastry Chef in the kitchen who makes these creations, has a very interesting past.

(Peter is standing with the bow.)

Peter Andrew was born in 1979 in Fort Ikoma village on the outskirts of Singita Grumeti Reserves. Peter’s mother died when he was 16 years old; his Dad remarried and thus Peter was forced to leave his home and village to fend for himself.  At the time he had no options for employment but poaching. He learnt hunting and tracking skills from a man much older than him, named Matere Muita, a father figure who taught him everything he needed to know about the skills of the hunt. They hunted together on foot day and night to harvest bush meat, tusks from elephants and skins from Colobus monkeys.  Peter remembers that they took pride in never being caught – “You were not a skilled poacher if a Wildlife Officer caught you”.

However everything turned a corner in 2003 when Peter learnt that a good-hearted man named Mr. Harris, was offering jobs to poachers in neighbouring villages.  This was Peter’s chance to change his life and earn an honest wage without fear of being locked in jail or eaten by lion. So Peter started work at Singita Sasakwa Lodge as a temporary employee helping with construction. He was interested in cooking and in 2004 took the opportunity to become the staff cook at Singita Sabora Tented Camp. He excelled in this position and developed quickly, so much so that in 2005 Peter became a Commis Chef at Singita Sabora and then further moved to Singita Faru Faru in 2011 as a full-time Pastry Chef where he currently works.

Stories like that of Peter Andrew continue to provide encouragement for the investment made by Singita in valuable conservation efforts.

With  over 500 000 acres of land under management, Singita offers luxury safari, tourism opportunities whilst pursuing a  core vision: the protection of vast wilderness areas that are home to magnificent wildlife populations and sensitive landscapes, for future generations.

Controlling poaching in the area has been a key priority facing Singita Grumeti Reserves since 2002.  This illegal industry threatened the dynamics and  balance of the eco-system and undermined the potential of the commercial tourism venture, required to ensure the long-term sustainability of the area.  With the establishment of an effective anti-poaching unit consisting of 120 game scouts and thanks to the support of the Tanzanian Wildlife Division, Singita Grumeti Reserves has to date been able to achieve an increase of game populations by up to 600% in some species.  Now Singita Grumeti employs close to 600 members of staff (a large proportion from local villages) in its effort to conserve the enormous tract of land in its care, and to support special Singita-style service to the guests that visit Singita Grumeti Reserves.

To read more about Singita’s community development and conservation projects in four regions around Africa, please take a look at Singita’s website.

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Summertime in the Bushveld

January 06, 2012 - Cuisine,Sabi Sand

Warmer weather goes hand in hand with lighter styled food at Singita Boulders Lodge this season, such as salads and chilled soups.

Utilizing the wonderful fresh produce from our new herb garden, we have tossed some vegetables together to make a delightful creation:

Easy root vegetable recipe

1 bunch beetroot

1 bunch parsnip

1 punnet baby carrots

1 sweet potato sliced

Basil pesto for dressing

Goat’s cheese (optional)

Rocket leaves

Trim the roots and leaves off the vegetables, keeping the skin on for extra nutritional value.
Dress the vegetables with olive oil, pepper and salt.  Roast the vegetables for 8-10 minutes at 180°C
Deep fry the sweet potato chips until crispy while vegetables are roasting.
Arrange the vegetables on a plate, dress with basil pesto and garnish with sweet potato crisps, leaves and goat’s cheese

Chef’s tip – by Loraine Pienaar:  Roast the different kinds of vegetables separately because cooking times may vary and the beetroot will colour the rest of the vegetables.


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100% South African

December 30, 2011 - Cuisine

As the Singita kitchens are gearing up for memorable New Year’s celebrations this weekend, Kyle Ralph, Sous Chef at Singita Boulders Lodge, shares insights into the delicacies behind the menu.

At Singita we try our utmost to use the best South African products that are available to us. The beef we source is from one of Africa’s best beef suppliers who has been producing top quality since 1974.  Along with all of the other local suppliers we have sourced we are only too pleased to showcase the best of South Africa.

In the recipe shown below we use Karan beef, blue cheese from the Cape and butternut from local Belfast farmers.

Ingredients:

4 x 200g per portion Beef fillet

2 x large butternut or pumpkin

20-30 marjoram leaves- picked

250g blue cheese

200g green beans or asparagus

2 TBSP butter

salt and pepper to taste

The vegetables:

Peel and seed the butternut, cutting one butternut into medium-sized pieces.  Place in a tray and season with salt and pepper, oil and some thyme leaves.  Roast for 8-10 min until tender, and then set aside in the refrigerator.

With the second butternut, roast whole in the oven for about 20-30minutes until soft.  If the skin becomes a bit burnt, don’t worry; what we are after is inside.

Cut the cooked butternut in half and discard the seeds.  Scoop out the flesh of the butternut into a blender, add butter and blend.  If the puree is too thick just add some water until you achieve the right consistency.

Crumble the blue cheese into medium-sized pieces.

Cook green beans in boiling water for 1-2 minutes and then run under cold water and keep aside until needed.

For the sauce:

1 liter beef stock (store bought is fine)

500ml red wine

1x large carrot

1x onion

1x leek

1 stick celery

2 cloves garlic

3 sprigs of rosemary

50ml sherry vinegar

2TBS of dark brown sugar

Making the sauce:

Cut onion, celery, carrot and leek into small rough cubes and sauté with 1 tsp of oil till softened, and then add garlic and rosemary

Add sugar and caramelize for depth of flavor (the sugar should just melt and form a light brown color) then de-glaze with sherry vinegar and reduce by about half.

Add red wine and reduce by half.

Add the beef stock and reduce by ¾; it should have a shiny and slightly thick

Putting it all together:

Pre-heat a heavy base pan; season the beef fillet with salt and pepper.

Place about 2TBSP of vegetable oil in the pan and put your beef in the hot pan; don’t move the beef around for about 3-4minutes, it should form a beautiful crust before you turn it.  Once turned, cook for another 3-4 minutes on the other side.

Then place a little bit of blue cheese on top of the beef and place into a 180˚C  oven for 2 minutes.  Take out and let the meat rest for another 2 minutes.  This should give you a perfect medium rare fillet.

To plate, place a bit of the butter puree on the plate (this is were your creativity comes in).  Lightly mix the blue cheese and butternut cubes with the fresh marjoram leaves, and place on top of the puree.

Put the rested beef fillet on the plate and pour over some red wine sauce.

Enjoy!  And warmest wishes for a wonderful 2012.

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Pulling Out All the Stops

October 31, 2011 - Cuisine,Experience,Singita Grumeti

At Singita Grumeti Reserves we delight in creating feasts and occasions that will live with our guests forever.  Nothing is more thrilling than a surprise venue and menu for dinner.  Imagine dining under a lamp-lit acacia or beneath the boughs of a large ‘Sausage’ tree (Kigelia africana) or around the campfire with star-lit skies.

Tonight at Singita Sasakwa Lodge, we’re pulling out all the stops.  Grilling lobster from Dar es Salaam, chilling champagne, and setting up a dance spectacle that is certain to enthrall – all as the sun sets.  It doesn’t get better than this – we’ll let the pictures tell the story.

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Working with Local Farms

October 20, 2011 - Cuisine,Sabi Sand

One of the benefits of working in remote areas like Singita Sabi Sand is the abundance of local farming communities around the reserve.  I was fortunate enough to have found one, Saringwa farm that is only a few kilometers down the road in the town of Belfast.

They have a wide variety of freshly picked vegetables on offer, and with such fresh produce available it’s a sin not to utilize them when they are at nature’s best.

I could not wait to get hold of the sun- ripened tomatoes that were on offer and make one of my all time favorites:  tomato and chili jam with local tomatoes and chilis out of the herb garden that we started behind the Boulders’ kitchen.  You’ll want to store this recipe deep in your recipe chest because it is an absolute winner – and something to pass down the generations.

Enjoy!

Peter Liese – Sous Chef, Singita Boulders Lodge

Tomato and Chili Jam

Ingredients

500g plum tomatoes

100g golden sugar

100 ml white wine vinegar

2 red chilis

4 cloves garlic

1 red onion

Making the Jam

Wash the tomatoes, chili and peel the garlic and red onion.  Place in a food processor and puree until liquid.  Pour into a heavy bottomed pot and add the vinegar and golden sugar.  Bring to a simmer on a gentle heat and cook for about 40 to 80 minutes.  Occasionally stir the pot to ensure the mixture will not burn.  Place two suitably sized jars into rapidly boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes to sterilize.  Fill the jars with the hot jam and seal immediately.

Pair the jam with crispy tempura vegetables, calamari or cheese for some delectable flavors.

Tips:  If you would like less bite to the jam feel free to take the seeds out of the chilis first.

For more texture to the jam you may also chop a third of the tomatoes roughly and add them to the liquid when you begin to cook it.

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Singita Premier Wine’s Winter Escapades

August 17, 2011 - Cuisine,Events,Experience,Sabi Sand

Singita is recognised as one of South Africa’s most influential buyers of wine, with an extensive cellar showcasing a premium selection of wines, including some of the country’s most sought-after private reserves and limited release wines.  François Rautenbach heads up Singita Premier Wine, managing the selection, purchase, storage, and service of the wines at Singita lodges, in addition to managing Singita Premier Wine Direct which allows guests to order wines to be shipped home at the end of their safari.  As a buyer of premiers wines Francois spends time at some of South Africa’s finest wine estates – we’ve asked him to share some of his experiences as he scouts out the best labels for Singita’s cellars.

(Singita Premier Wine Boutique – Singita Sabi Sand)

Deep into mid-winter in Southern Africa there is a dramatic change in the bush colouring from verdant dense greens to the straw-browns of the dry season.  Extended animal movements abound as they search for the last vestiges of green fodder and the elusive pools of fresh water.

Having been requested to speak at the inaugural Winebiz Conference on wine marketing and sales, I travelled once again to the wintery Winelands.   A great time to be hosting such an event in the Cape as the winemakers use the cooler wet days to finalise their blends and bottle those vintage wines that have been slumbering, developing magnificently in barrel.  The wine marketers grab onto these new and exciting developments and releases to enhance the attraction of their portfolios.

In this regard it may seem odd that a ‘bush wine specialist’ was requested to speak on the topic ‘Put your best foot forward – optimising cellar door experiences’.  However with the many years of hosting thought-provoking and informative wine tastings in the Singita Cellars not to mention the wonderful success of the Premier Wine Boutique as an added-value home of wine, information and passion, it suddenly seemed quite possible that we could add real value and insight into the Wine Farm’s visitor experience.

On a cool, bright and sunny day the conference turned out to be both stimulating and informative and well worth attending even as a delegate let alone as a speaker.

Further to the conference I received an impromptu invitation to Ken Forrester Vineyards nestled in the foothills of the Stellenbosch – Helderberg Ridge mountains for a vertical presentation of the now 10 year production of the famed single-vineyard ‘FMC’.  Now that sounded like an absolutely rare and unique opportunity.  An exciting prospect as I departed for the farm enthralled by a magnificent sunset of pink and orange hues.

Ken a renowned, lifelong restaurateur realised his dream of wine making when he purchased a small run-down farm with his family. Realising that not only was Chenin Blanc the wine style that offered South Africa it’s greatest potential for renown but that this newly acquired farm hosted one of the unique ‘heritage’ blocks of old dry-land bush vine Chenin planted in 1967 (Mmm, my own lifelong wine endeavours – sharing the same birth date!).  Ken set about a tireless journey to revitalise the vineyard and image of this historical grape.

Roping in Martin Meinert, winemaker and blender extraordinaire and long time restaurant partner into this new project they tackled the 1998 & ’99 vintages with gusto but with little success.  Even greater care and attention ensued with each bush vine pruned back to one bud which captured the entire root system’s energy into a couple of bunches but resulted in a yield of less than 1 ton of grapes per acre.  Wow – the resulting first release 2000 vintage showed ground-breaking concentration yet remained balanced and enthralling!

With a single long, farm-style table at centre stage in the tasting room sandwiched between small and jam-packed barrel maturation and fermentation rooms the tableau of ten spaces set with five large glasses each raised the expectations even further for an individual experience. Personally pouring each vintage Ken held us enraptured with tales of the wine’s development, the original description of the FMC’s acronym (now know in political correctness as the Forrester-Meinert Chenin) and the attention given to each of the multiple hand harvests completed through the vineyard to ensure perfectly even ripeness throughout the bunches of grapes used to fill each individual 400 litre Loire Valley French oak barrels.

Presented with the youthful, distinctly green tinged 2009 vintage redolent with stewed apple and ruby grapefruit on the nose we set off on a journey through the last decade.  What concentration displayed by this emerging teenage wine with promise of supreme pleasure in years to come.

Quickly followed on by an enticingly approachable 2008, a deep yellow in colour, bouquet and stone fruit inspired palate already offering tremendous pleasure.

Next the powerful 2007 with a deep golden yellow hue fit for an artist’s brush. An entry of delicate herbal ‘Garrigue’ or Cape Floral notes underpinned by distinctive almond and marzipan leading to a riveting flavour demanding rich food or further maturation time.

Just when we thought we had seen the spectrum, the 2006 emerged to enthral with dainty intensity, freshness and elegance.  The lightest coloured and most superbly balanced – what difficulty to not consume in one draft.

Finally the 2001 flowed into it’s receptacle to offer complete integration with the richness of matured marmalade upfront and the tight and lengthy finish to follow – supreme now yet with a portent to further years of pleasure to come.

As the ‘Cape Doctor’ South-Easter started blowing, rattling doors and windows we could ruminate over the first decade of a now internationally iconic wine as we savoured giant tempura prawns dipped in hoisin sauce, crisp pork belly and artisinal cheeses subtly proving that the food matching versatility of Chenin Blanc is unsurpassed.

Nodding off to sleep some time later I looked forward to the development of Singita Premier Wine’s own stocks in maturation and to the next decade of a developing heritage.

Find out more information about Singita Premier Wine on Singita’s website – or contact us directly at premierwine@singita.com.

Happy imbibing,

François

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Getting Fraiche with Prawns

July 21, 2011 - Cuisine,Sabi Sand

Relax in warm winter sunshine on the deck overlooking the Sand River with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.  Chef Loraine Pienaar at Singita Boulders Lodge has created a zingy starter for you to try at home, while reminiscing about your stay at Singita Sabi Sand.

CHERMOULA PRAWNS WITH PAPAYA DRESSING AND POTATO SALAD

12 prawns cleaned and deveined

CHERMOULA

Chermoula is a traditional Moroccan dipping sauce that originally would have been made using a mortar and pestle. It is quite acceptable to use a food processor these days.

1 bunch fresh coriander (cilantro)
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp coarse sea salt
2–3 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
½ roasted red pepper (fresh is best but canned also works)
juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

- Blend all ingredients in a food processor
- Marinate the prawns in the Chermoula for at least 2 hours

    POTATO SALAD

    2 Large potatoes (+-650g)

    3 Sprigs spring onion sliced finely

    2 ½ tbs Crème fraiche

    - Peel the potatoes and dice into even small blocks
    - Blanch in salted water until al dente and cooled
    - When potatoes have cooled, add crème friache and spring onion, mix well.

      PAPAYA COULIS

      ½ medium sized papaya

      ½ red chilli chopped finely

      1 tbs sugar

      100 ml white wine

      2 cm cinnamon stick

      - Boil all the ingredients together until the papaya turns into pulp
      - Puree in a food processor and strain through a fine sieve

        Putting it all together

        - Pan-fry the prawns in olive oil until pink and season with salt, pepper and lemon juice

        - Arrange the potato salad onto 4 plates and stack the prawns on top

        - Dress with papaya coulis, garnish with fennel (optional)

          Bon Appetit from the kitchen at Singita Boulders Lodge.

          (For more Singita recipes, take a look at the Singita Facebook page where there is something for everyone.)

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          What’s on the Menu at Singita Explore

          June 08, 2011 - Cuisine,Experience

          Catherine Garden, Sous Chef at Singita Grumeti Reserves, talks about the menu that she has created for Singita Explore, and about how much fun they are having cooking over an open campfire.


          Singita Explore like all Singita locations has its own unique bush signature with elements that echo the feel and structure of the camp.  The simple yet comfortable is replicated within the cuisine.  Food is slightly more interactive as chefs cook eggs to order in front of guests, meals are prepared on the coals, and wood scented fires are very much a part of the camp ethos.  The kitchen creates the backdrop to camp life.  There are camping staples like potjies, barbecues, pot breads and the full cooked breakfast with the focus on unprocessed, wholesome food.

          For lunch we love to spread out a tantalising smorgasbord of cold meats, cheeses served with pickled red onion and cucumber, raw beetroot relish, sesame bread sticks, rustic olive loaf, and a fresh, green salad.  A special hot item would be traditional pilau with kachumbari (local salad made of sliced tomato, onion, lemon juice and chilli) and Greek yoghurt.  We opt for delicious and light for our dessert selections – one of our favourites is roasted pineapple and strawberries with Almond praline cream.

          For high tea at the camp we are creating simple but mouthwatering delights, such as a banana walnut loaf served with raspberry jam and butter.

          After evening game drives, guests love to position themselves around the roaring campfire.  Nothing is more comforting as the evening settles in, than Stok brood (bread cooked over the fire by the guests themselves) dipped into chilli dipping sauce and savoured under the stars.

          Then follows a full dinner feast of pork chops, lamb mishkaki (skewers), potato bake (creamy garlic potato), butternut chakalaka, and a garden salad.  There is always a little room leftover  for warmed apple crumble with vanilla custard.  Is your mouth watering yet?

          Some of the menu items that are gaining the greatest rave reviews – oxtail potjie, chicken apricot sosaties and our famous chocolate Malva pudding.  We will have to share some recipes in the next blog articles, so keep watching this space.

          For more information about our introductory offer at Singita Explore follow this link to read more.

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          Quintessentially Caesar

          April 15, 2011 - Cuisine,Singita Grumeti

          Something easy and special from the Singita Grumeti Kitchen.

          Roast Chicken Caesar Salad

          Serves 4

          Everyone’s favourite classic Caesar with delicious roast chicken turns it into the perfect main course.

          1 Lemon and herb roast chicken

          4 boiled eggs (8 minutes), peeled and cut into quarters

          3 slices white bread, crusts cut off and cubed

          Fresh Parmesan

          Lettuce greens (classic uses Cos lettuce but mix it up according to preference)

          Caesar dressing

          Olive oil

          Seasoning

          Drizzle bread with olive oil and bake in a moderate oven until golden. Cool and then put into a mixing bowl with chicken, lettuce,  tablespoon finely grated parmesan, a  little dressing and drizzle of olive oil; lightly toss. Place on a platter or in individual bowls followed by the boiled egg with extra dollops of dressing.  Using a peeler make Parmesan shavings and place on top. Serve.

          Caesar dressing

          ½ cup Homemade mayonnaise

          1 large clove garlic, minced

          1 teaspoon Capers, chopped fine

          40 ml Parmesan, finely grated

          Juice of one lemon

          3 Anchovy fillets

          Combine all ingredients – for smoother consistency, blend.  Refrigerate until needed.  Should last up to a week.

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