The Singita Blog

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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The Story of Peter Andrew

July 16, 2014 - Conservation, People of Singita, Singita Faru Faru Lodge, Singita Grumeti, Sustainable Conservation, The Grumeti Fund

The Story of Peter Andrew | Singita Stories

The Story of Peter Andrew | Singita Stories

Sitting poolside at Singita Faru Faru Lodge at tea time, in the dappled shade of the acacia trees, our guests are treated to a feast of sweet and savoury delights before their afternoon game drive. It is a wonderfully indulgent spread; all manner of cakes, candies and confections are on offer, all washed down with homemade lemonade, iced coffee and exotic teas. It might be very hard to imagine that the hands of the pastry chef responsible for these heavenly morsels were also once those of a poacher.

The Story of Peter Andrew | Singita Stories

The Story of Peter Andrew | Singita Stories

Peter Andrew was born in a small village on the outskirts of Singita Grumeti in Tanzania. At the age of 15, with no apparent employment alternatives available to him, he started poaching. He was a skilled huntsman and extremely fast on his feet, which made it easier to escape from conservation officers. This deadly combination made Peter a force to be reckoned with but it wasn’t an easy or ethical way to make a living.

The Story of Peter Andrew | Singita Stories

The Story of Peter Andrew | Singita Stories

In 2003, Peter was approached by Brian Harris, former Wildlife and Community Development Manager of Singita Grumeti, who wanted him to stop poaching in exchange for a job at one of the lodges. He was hesitant initially due to his lack of education, but after further prompting from his grandmother, Peter was eventually persuaded and started off helping with the construction of Singita Sasakwa Lodge. The following year, he was accepted as an apprentice in the kitchen at Singita Sabora Tented Camp, where he excelled in his position. Peter also took it upon himself to specialise in pastry and learn English so that he could improve his situation further. He developed so quickly in fact, that in 2005, Peter was promoted to Commis Chef and then moved to Singita Faru Faru Lodge in 2011 as a full-time Pastry Chef, where he remains a vital part of the kitchen team.

The Story of Peter Andrew | Singita Stories

Food at Singita Faru Faru Lodge

Peter’s achievements are numerous: he turned his back on poaching, found himself a wonderful new profession, worked hard to overcome his circumstances and changed his life for the better. He is rightly proud of himself, as we are proud of him, and the determination and strength of character that make him an invaluable member of the Singita family.

The Story of Peter Andrew | Singita Stories

This is the third in a series of short films profiling the people of Singita, many of whom come from challenging circumstances to become artisans and professionals in their chosen field. These #singitastories share a common thread; of people from humble beginnings who choose to effect positive change in their lives, and the lives of those around them. Read more about the anti-poaching unit at Singita Grumeti and subscribe to the blog to make sure you catch the next video in the series. 

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Singita Boulders Lodge: A Sustainable Solution

July 11, 2014 - Accommodation, Conservation, Environment, Sabi Sand, Singita Boulders Lodge

As the first guests start to experience the newly refurbished Singita Boulders Lodge, we celebrate the achievements of the talented people behind the stunning new look. Responsible for the vision, creative direction, interior architecture and design is Boyd Ferguson and his team from Cécile & Boyd. Drawing inspiration from the natural setting and environment and responsible for recreating the lodge’s physical spaces is architect Sally Tsiliyiannis from GAPP Architects & Urban Designers. Every effort has been made to reuse and recycle all the building materials, as Sally explained in a recent report from the site while the work was under way:

Singita Boulders Lodge | Photo by Peter Browne, Conde Nast Traveller

“Every door broken out has been repositioned somewhere else. Nearly all the new balustrading is actually just sections of the old balustrade removed from elsewhere and re-used.

Singita Boulders Lodge | Photo by Peter Browne, Conde Nast Traveller

By this time next week, literally 100% of the stones from demolished walls will have been reused. Natural features that were previously covered up have been uncovered and new decking has been carefully shaped around these so they are now main features within the design. Superfluous areas of decking have been cut back to make way for more foliage and where decks have been lowered the views of the river are less obstructed. Nearly all the building rubble is being used as backfill for the new gabion walls to minimise waste.”

Singita Boulders Lodge | Photo by Peter Browne, Conde Nast Traveller

This environmentally sensitive approach is an extension of Singita’s dedication to ecotourism and “touching the earth lightly”. Environmentally conscious hospitality, sustainable conservation and the empowerment of local communities is the guiding light for everything we do. You can find out more about our sustainable practices on the website, as well as a recent success story in Tanzania, where Singita Mara River Tented Camp has become our first “off the grid” property, setting a benchmark for responsible but luxurious travel.

Singita Boulders Lodge | Photo by Peter Browne, Conde Nast Traveller

Photos by Peter Browne, Associate Editor of Condé Nast Traveller who was lucky enough to get a sneak peek before the lodge formally reopened. You can see more photos of the newly refurbished lodge in our latest blog post and follow us on Instagram for more.

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The Newly Refurbished Singita Boulders Lodge

July 08, 2014 - Accommodation, Lodges and Camps, Sabi Sand, Singita Boulders Lodge

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

Seventeen years after opening, Singita Boulders Lodge in the Sabi Sand has been thoughtfully reconfigured and redecorated to reveal its essential character and define its unique sense of place on the boulder-strewn banks of the Sand River.

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

The original inspiration for the lodge came from the geometry of these ancient, weathered boulders and the natural curve of the river bed. This time around, interior designer Boyd Ferguson has taken further cues from nature, incorporating the colours, textures and elements of the surrounding landscape. Guest areas have been opened up, lowered, and brought closer to the river, allowing full engagement with the magnificent setting beneath the ebony and weeping boer bean trees. Characterised by handcrafted design with the integrity of authentic African provenance, the lodge merges seamlessly with the shifting light, shapes and moods of the environment, providing a soothing sanctuary for world-weary travellers craving a connection with nature.

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

Throughout the lodge, pared-down interiors in a palette of charcoal, chalk, bone, rust, copper and ochre bring out the original colours of Singita Boulders Lodge, and reflect the four elements of earth, fire, air and water. Dramatic sculptural shapes, abstract art, and carefully curated collections of crystals, seed pods, bones and other found objects articulate a deeper connection with the wild. There is a sense that everything has been derived from the earth.

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

Rustic and worn, woven and carved, furnishings include iconic pieces fashioned from fossilised tree stumps, slabs of solid stone, artisanal wrought iron and leather, each element designed to reveal its intrinsic beauty. Awe-inspiring original contemporary paintings, sculptures and soft, sensual textures – a sheep-skin rug to step onto when you get out of bed, the feel of natural flax bed linen on your skin – add subtle layers of luxury.

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

Open to the elements or separated from the outdoors by glass walls, the lodge provides a continuous connection with the prolific wildlife and birdlife for which the Sabi Sand is so well known. Cleverly designed communal spaces, such as the new sociable Copper Bar serving freshly pressed fruit juices, espressos and cocktails, provide new opportunities for guests to connect with their surroundings and with each other.

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

One of the most spectacular vantage points above the Sand River is the chosen site of a new, outdoor dining pavilion with a series of matted, nest-like ceilings suspended at different heights to resemble the branches of a tree. Raw timber decks of varying sizes are suspended above the ground, creating intimate spaces for private dining and relaxation close to the pool. Light comes from clusters of nest-shaped woven lampshades, a central fireplace creates an inviting, focal point and cascading water adds a reflective, cooling quality. Sandblasted driftwood tables are strung out along the river bank to make the most of the views. Copper vases hold simple, found collections of twigs, wild blooms and grasses. Hand beaten cutlery, wonky pottery plates and rustic linen napkins complete the rustic, casual elegance.

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

The 12 privately spaced suites, two of which are designed exclusively for families, blend soulful, sensual Africa with high design to instil a sense of tranquillity and ease guests into the rhythm of safari life. It’s as if the very soul of Singita Boulders Lodge has been fine tuned and stripped back down to the basics, freeing up guests to experience and explore nature like never before.

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

The luxurious creature comforts and attention to detail, for which Singita Boulders Lodge has always been known, have been creatively woven into every aspect of the safari experience so that at every turn there is something new to delight the eye and quieten the soul. Boyd Ferguson explains that in a world where everything at a certain level has become inherently generic, and therefore bland, the eye easily becomes bored – especially when over-exposed to beautiful, aesthetically pleasing surroundings.

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

“Eventually, what happens is that one stops seeing at all. My role in redesigning and repositioning key aspects of the Boulders experience was to enable guests to engage with the lodge from the moment they arrive and throughout their stay. There is a sense of authenticity, earthiness and primal beauty, so that they start seeing things again with a fresh perspective – perhaps even rediscovering aspects of themselves from which they may have been cut off.” This subtle shift in thinking has become a defining moment in Singita’s journey, providing a catalyst for change within the company as a whole.

Singita Boulders Lodge, Singita Sabi Sand

Explore Singita Boulders Lodge further on our website, and contact our Reservations team for more information about the lodge.

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Update: The Great Migration 2014

July 04, 2014 - Experience, Safari, Singita Grumeti, Wildlife

The Great Migration 2014 at Singita Grumeti

This time of year at Singita Grumeti is always very exciting for guests and staff alike, as millions of wildebeest and other plains game move through the Serengeti on their annual migration. The low rumble of hooves started very early this year, beginning in early May; six weeks before it was expected. Field Guide Elizabeth Hamrick reports from Tanzania:

The Great Migration 2014 at Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 at Singita Grumeti

“The 2014 ‘long rains’ saw little precipitation at Singita Grumeti, but while our location in the Northwestern Serengeti had very little rain, the central Serengeti saw almost none. The result of the extreme lack of rain was a lack of suitable grasses so when the wildebeest left Ndutu in the southern Serengeti at the end of March, the 80km trip through to Singita Grumeti (which usually takes about three months) only took one month. By the first of the month, the Ikorongo Game Reserve was full of at least 50,000 wildebeest. Within the next two days, wildebeest in the multiple hundreds of thousands engulfed Singita Grumeti; the Great Migration had arrived.

The Great Migration 2014 at Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 at Singita Grumeti

By the end of the month the herds started forming long lines, marching eastwards out of the reserve and by about the 5th of June only the weak and the wounded remained.

The Great Migration 2014 at Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 at Singita Grumeti

There are currently herds scattered about 1.5km south of Singita Mara River Tented Camp in the Lamai Triangle, and we have also received reports that a big chunk of the migration has turned south again, and are hanging out in the central Serengeti. 2014 continues to prove how unpredictable this phenomenon can be, and we wait in anticipation to see what happens next.”

The Great Migration 2014 at Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 at Singita Grumeti

Guests at Singita Mara River Tented Camp were also lucky enough to witness the first crossing this week from start to finish. It occurred a short way from the camp near the Kogatende airstrip and lasted close to an hour!

The Great Migration 2014 at Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Elizabeth compiles a monthly Wildlife Report from Singita Grumeti, which is situated adjacent to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. You san see Instagram photos from our guests who visit the region with the hashtag #singitagrumeti and follow us on Instagram here.

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Travel+Leisure World’s Best Hotels 2014

July 03, 2014 - Awards, Kruger National Park, Sabi Sand, Singita

Singita Lebombo Lodge, Singita Kruger National Park | Travel+Leisure World's Best Hotels 2014

Singita Sabi Sand | Travel+Leisure World's Best Hotels 2014

Singita Sweni Lodge, Singita Kruger National Park | Travel+Leisure World's Best Hotels 2014

We are delighted to share with you yesterday’s announcement of the Travel+Leisure World’s Best Hotels 2014, in which Singita Sabi Sand placed 7th and Singita Kruger National Park at no. 19! We are thrilled that Singita Sabi Sand was also voted Best Safari Location in the world.

Singita Lebombo Lodge, Singita Kruger National Park | Travel+Leisure World's Best Hotels 2014

Singita Lebombo Lodge, Singita Kruger National Park | Travel+Leisure World's Best Hotels 2014

Singita Lebombo Lodge, Singita Kruger National Park | Travel+Leisure World's Best Hotels 2014

Singita has always performed consistently well in these awards, determined by T+L readers who vote for their favourite hotels and resorts, evaluating them in categories such as value, food, service, rooms and location. We are extremely proud of this result and extend our congratulations to the rest of the Top 50. Our heartfelt thanks to the lodge and head office teams for their hard work and dedication to Singita’s mission, which is to share a unique part of the world, while maintaining respect for the natural environment and challenging accepted notions of luxury.

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The Story of Saitoti Ole Kuwai

June 27, 2014 - Experience, People of Singita, Singita Grumeti

Saitoti Ole Kuwai - Field guide at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

If you have been an avid reader of our blog and monthly Wildlife Reports, then the name Saitoti Ole Kuwai won’t be new to you. He is a regular contributor to the bush ranger diaries from Singita Grumeti, where he works as a field guide, and his photographs often feature in our Highlights posts.

Zebra at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

Saitoti Ole Kuwai - Field guide at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

Saitoti is a proud Masai and grew up in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area of Tanzania, where he took his first steps towards his future profession by learning how to track animals from other tribesmen. He was inspired to follow a career in wildlife conservation after seeing the effects of poaching first hand, and pursued his formal training before joining Singita in 2005.

Saitoti Ole Kuwai - Field guide at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

Leopard at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

He describes his work in the Serengeti as “an honour and a big privilege” and is completely dedicated to the protection and conservation of African wildlife for future generations. “My day starts in the dark; I always wake up at 4 o’clock. It’s early in the morning but you can still hear things like hyena and jackal calling and that tells me that the bush is awake.”

Cheetah at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

To Saitoti, game drives are like fishing, where the vast plains are an endless sea and you never know what you’re going to catch. He says: “What’s needed for you is the passion, the passion to wait.”

Saitoti Ole Kuwai - Field guide at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania

“I love to tell guests about the traditions, culture, customs and lifestyle of my tribe. The best thing about my job is being involved in ensuring the health and growth of the area’s wildlife. Living in close harmony with animals is important because through them we learn so much.” Watch the video to learn more about this dedicated conservationist:

This is the second in our #singitastories series, introducing you to some of Singita’s team members. We previously featured Time Mutema, a field guide at Singita Pamsushana Lodge in Zimbabwe. Browse our Vimeo channel for more about the people of Singita, interesting wildlife sightings and to see the inspiration behind all our lodges and camps.

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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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The Story of Time Mutema

June 17, 2014 - Experience, Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, People of Singita, Singita Pamushana Lodge

The lives of the people who work at Singita are inevitably entwined with the unspoiled wilderness in which our 12 lodges and camps can be found. Their stories weave through forests, over endless landscapes, and along flowing rivers, touching the lives of our guests and travellers along the way.

Time Mutema, Field Guide at Singita Pamushana Lodge

In this series of #singitastories, we’ll introduce you to some of Singita’s team members; people who dedicate their lives to sharing their passion for Africa. Each tell their story through film – bringing their experiences to life. Follow as we unfold these #singitastories over the next few months and we hope your hearts will be captured as much as ours.

Singita Pamushana Lodge

First is this series is Time Mutema, a fully certified, professional field guide working at Singita Pamushana Lodge in Zimbabwe. He grew up fishing and birding with his friends, and knew from a very young age that he belonged outdoors. He has a lifelong devotion to the bush and all that it inspires. Watch this short film to learn more about Time:

For more of our film and video clips, browse our Vimeo channel for inspiration. You can also stay up-to-date with the latest #singitastories by subscribing to our newsletter using the short form on the right.

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Say Hello to the Butamtam Lion Cubs!

June 13, 2014 - Conservation, Experience, Safari, Singita Grumeti, Wildlife

These pictures hardly need a caption – we would be surprised if you could tear your eyes away from their little furry faces long enough to read it! If you are interested however, you may like to know that these gorgeous young lions are offspring of the Butamtam pride at Singita Grumeti in Tanzania. These lions are healthy breeders; over the past two years one of the major prides got so big that it split into two, and two of the other prides seem to be heading in the same direction. In addition, all of their cubs have higher than usual survival rates which is wonderful to hear.

The Butamtam lion cubs at Singita Grumeti by Ryan Schmitt

The Butamtam lion cubs at Singita Grumeti by Ryan Schmitt

butamtam_cubs_3

Photos by Field Guide Ryan Schmitt. Ryan regularly posts snapshots from his adventures in the bush on our Facebook and Instagram feeds so follow us there to see more!

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