Guest writer: Food Blogger Pam Roux’s unique Singita Culinary Experiencein Food
Guest writer: Food Blogger Pam Roux’s unique Singita Culinary Experience
Food blogger Pam Roux has been to over 1,800 restaurants worldwide and shares her adventures on Instagram, which is where we learnt about her passion for culinary infused travel storytelling. As an experienced foodie, we asked her to tell her Singita story after she visited two of our camps in the Serengeti last year during the height of the Great Migration.
Every year, thousands of wildlife enthusiasts travel to the Serengeti to witness one of the most spectacular natural events on the planet: The Great Migration - the movement of over a million wildebeest and zebra in search of greener pastures. As someone who always travels extensively to focus on culinary experiences, I could understand the urge these animals feel on their long journey in search of nutritious food. Joke aside, unlike the wildebeest, I had high expectations. Last year, while I was doing my research and planning my first East African safari, I stumbled upon the exceptional culinary experiences on offer at Singita, which were said to be some of the best you can find on safari. A stay with this renowned luxurious brand was therefore a no-brainer for my trip to Tanzania.
As my safari trip was organized around the end of the loop of the Great Migration journey, to witness the famous river crossings, I strategically chose to stay at both Singita Mara River Tented Camp and Singita Sabora Tented Camp. Upon arrival and during our first conversation with the camp managers, I mentioned that gastronomy was a priority for me. They immediately arranged an introduction with the chef at each of the camps so we could discuss my food preferences. Let’s just start by saying that the chefs, their teams, and the food exceeded my expectations. I was also surprised to see that they had access to such a variety of fresh ingredients even on the plains of the Serengeti.
Our first stop was Singita Mara River Tented Camp. We would wake up at 5:30am each day so that we could start out early to maximise our chances of seeing a river crossing. Each morning, we were greeted by the chef and his staff who were working in an open-air kitchen. The breakfast menu always included freshly squeezed juices, smoothies, an assortment of fresh sliced fruit and homemade pastries. And the lunch menu always included healthy salad options! Stand-out meals were a delicious avocado salad, a homemade tagliatelle dish with a light tomato sauce, a beautiful assortment of fish tempura, a cold summer carrot and ginger soup (gazpacho-like), a chicken salad with crisp green apple, fresh veggie rolls with guacamole, and grilled fish skewers with a sweet mango salsa. Our dinner experience was just as delightful, enjoyed under the stars, below the Milky Way and with the beat of the African savannah. Among such scenery and once the temperatures dropped at night, it was quite amazing to be able to savour a pan-fried tuna steak with a hearty and creamy cauliflower soup.
The very best meal I had at Singita Mara River Camp was a local Swahili dinner that I requested after speaking to the chef. After all, I was in Tanzania and I had traveled all the way from New York to taste East African flavours. This is definitely a unique food experience you cannot miss! Our dinner included 14 different dishes: Mtori, Nyama Mishikaki, Samaki Mishikaki, Kuku Paka (this was outstanding), Mchicha, Choroko, Maharage, Futari, Ugali (my favourite), Chachandu, Kachumbari and lastly some Chapati (another favorite).
I enjoyed this meal so much I ended up buying the Singita cookbook, which includes a few Swahili dishes. I highly recommend getting their cookbook if you are into cooking. It was also wonderful to discover that Singita has their own Singita Community Culinary School where they train local chefs.
Next, we travelled to Singita Sabora Tented Camp. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Vanie, their creative, passionate and incredibly friendly Head Chef. Vanie gave us an introduction to the vision of Singita’s food experience, the focus on wellness, and influences from Middle Eastern and African flavours. This is what I loved the most about this culinary introduction: the importance of wellness through plant-based dishes and local ingredients so that their guests can leave on their long game drives under the African sun feeling as light and healthy as possible. And for between meal times, there is always the guest deli with a plethora of snack options, most of them healthy, but with a few sweet treats too.
Our first lunch at Sabora started with a vibrant tempura green bean dish accompanied by a tamarind chutney (delicious combination), a fresh vegetable salad, tender asparagus with perfectly poached eggs, a velvety aubergine soup and a lean grilled fish. All this was served at a corner table on the wooden deck in the eastern part of the property, opening up on the great plains of the Serengeti and with a view over a nearby watering hole.
After our first game drive that day, I was excited for dinner. Our butler Samora, who took great care of us during our stay, brought a local pumpkin soup, a coconut fish curry with cumin-braised rice and a slow-cooked pulled leg of lamb. Our meal was served with steamed baby corn and carrots, herbed mash and braised Sukuma wiki. We finished off with an apple fritter dessert and a scoop of ice cream.
That evening, the Chef came to our table to ask what we might be craving for breakfast - I mentioned I would love Eggs Benedict. At 6am the next day, I had one of the most outstanding Eggs Benedict I have ever had. Beautifully poached eggs sat on top of freshly baked English muffins, slices of smoked salmon, a layer of cooked spinach and a well-mastered Hollandaise sauce. Chef Vanie also prepared a side dish of perfectly roasted baby potatoes with herbs.
That afternoon, we went for another game drive and our guide took us to a beautiful acacia tree where Samora had prepared an incredible surprise picnic for lunch. It looked like a modern scene from the film Out of Africa: huge cushions scattered on a wide blanket and surrounded by books on African birds and board games. In the middle was a low square table covered in sandwiches, focaccia breads, cold cuts, chutneys and other spreads, cheeses, brownies, dried fruits, small local bananas and our favourite drinks.
Needless to say, we had another wonderful dinner that night, including roasted mushroom soup, grilled calamari with radish salad and preserved lemon butter sauce, parmigiana melanzane, and a Zanzibar spice herb crusted sea bass with curry leaf aioli. The dishes were served with steamed cauliflower and dukka spice, butter tossed tenderstem with savory granola and grilled baby carrots with chickpea hummus.
In the end, Singita Sabora Tented Camp was my favorite camp while on safari, out of the five different lodges I stayed in across Kenya and Tanzania. It exceeded all my expectations in terms of the unique culinary experience it offered, the setting, and the incredible service. I am already planning my next trip where I will be staying at another Singita camp in Africa, with the goal of eventually trying them all! Until next time, I have started cooking some of the dishes from my Singita cookbook at home in New York - but I am missing the ostriches, buffalos and lions in my backyard.
About the author, Pam Roux.
Pam Roux has been to over 1,800 restaurants worldwide and shares her adventures on Instagram, where she has created a food road map of her culinary experiences around the world.
Follow her on Instagram here.