Food on a winter night with good company and a warm ambiance in July in Zimbabwe is certainly a recipe for an enjoyable night. As Secret Dinners continue to grow, each event has grown and offered something different to Harare foodies. This time around with the theme, “On A Soul Food Tip” for a unique soul food experience with an afro-fusion twiset. The night had a warm vibe with some interesting dishes and an overall good vibe complimented by the artwork supplied by Axel Kooh and vibrant décor from ISU.
The third edition of Secret Dinners was hosted at Palm Estate and one of my favourite attractions of Secret Dinners are the different venues at each event. The seating layout also proved to be perfect and intimate with one long table running down the Palm Estate terrace complimented by cosy lighting and candles. Soul Food on a winter’s night was certainly all kinds of comfort and happiness.
The first course of the night was simply titled “Sweet Harvest of mine” prepared by Chef Charlie, this dish was made of sweet potato and coconut milk infused chowder with crunchy croutons. Complimented by a spicy Thai drizzle with homemade bread. It doesn’t get more soul food than that! A memorable element of this dish was the fresh and surprising flavours which stimulate your taste buds. The dish was well paired and a surprising fusion of flavours perfect for a winter’s night.
One of the difficulties of having food events is ensuring all the food comes out at the same time for everyone. Unfortunately for me, I tend to be one of the people who gets their food last not just on one course but all courses . Luckily for me I am quite the talker ( on a good day ) so chatting is a good way to make up for the wait. However, for the hungry dinner, their patience might be tested.
A highlight of secret dinners besides the unique dishes are the guests and ambiance. These nights are attended by food lovers and general life appreciators from the around the city. Every event has been a great opportunity to mingle with new faces and interesting people. From pilots to yoga instructors to fashion designers. The ambiance and company is certainly a big attraction for me!
The main course was an afro-fusion dish with the title “Soul Kountry” prepared by De AnkarrA Chef. The dish consisted of traditional style roast (some guests wanted the meat to have more of a heartbeat), buttery red wine jus (yum), pumpkin leaves which was fresh and crunchy accompanied by nutmeg nhopi ( pumpkin) and a very interesting take on mac and cheese. True to his afro-fusion style instead of using pasta in his mac and cheese, he went local with samp. Now, I normally am not a fan of samp but it was an interesting texture and addition to the dish.
Also, quite enjoyable are the interactive elements of the Secret Dinners where chefs at the end of each course share their processes and ingredients behind their dishes and where guests can ask the Chef questions and share their feedback. For me this can be quite an interesting interaction because it shows the variety in the guest’s palettes. What may be a highlight for one person, might be another’s least favourite element.
The night ended on sweet note with a dish named “Nutty about Marula”. I initially thought this included pecans, however this dish was based on a local rendition of pecan pie replacing the pecans with locally grown Murula nuts which was accompanied with an orange infused creme anglaise. The murula nuts were certainly tasty and quite an interesting element even thought I initially thought they were pecans lol
For a winter night, soul food was definitely well received and worth the wait. This time, I was also happier with portions. in true Zim style, I like my portions and hearty meals :). The atmosphere and company together with the culinary experience makes Secret Dinners special for local food lovers. The main areas that require some improving are ensuring the waits are shorter and that not the same people are waiting for each course. It is certainly a good vibe and with each event offering something new. I am looking forward to the return of summer too for the next secret dinner !