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New Serengeti, Ngorongoro bird book published

April 14th, 2014 · No Comments

Birds of the Serengeti

Birds of the Serengeti

A good bird field guide is a superb addition to a safari. Many game viewing destinations offer optimum bird viewing. While the feathered creatures are often overlooked by first time visitors to Africa who are preoccupied with the ever popular search for the Big Five, bird viewing presents its own worthy challenges and rewards worth exploring. 

Travelers to Tanzania interested in bird viewing may want to have a copy of Birds of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area (Princeton University Press, $20.93) by Adam Scott Kennedy. The 224-page softcover book published last month features 480 color photos, many of them by the author, of 264 species of birds. Images include breeding and non breeding plumage.

The book is divided into: Birds of the Plains; Birds of the Marsh and Water; Birds of Woodland, Scrub and Garden; Birds of Acacia Scrub; Village Birds; Forest and Crater Highlands Birds; Birds of the Air; Night Birds; and Lake Victoria Specials. Some of the sections, such as Village Birds, feature only two types of birds.

Kennedy and his wife, Vicki Kennedy, are private wildlife and photography safari guides. Prior to that they were managers of remote luxury safari camps in Tanzania and Kenya. They are coauthors of Animals of the Masai Mara (see New Masai Mara bird book available).

Birds of the Serengeti

Click to buy Birds of the Serengeti

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Safari property within restored southern Malawi reserve off beaten path

March 31st, 2014 · 2 Comments

Photos by Josette King

The lodge was reached via a suspension footbridge over the Mkulumadzi River

The lodge was reached via a suspension footbridge over the Mkulumadzi River

The recently restored Majete Wildlife Reserve in southern Malawi remains mostly undiscovered by tourists. Mkulumadzi offered accommodations within a 7,000 hectare (27 square mile) private concession with exclusive tourism rights in one the most spectacular areas of the repopulated wilderness area.

My chalet featured a well appointed pantry

Josette’s room featured a well appointed pantry

Designed to minimize its impact on the environment while offering high levels of creature comforts, the property also focused on serving healthful, refined international dishes with a pan African accent. Beyond game viewing our contributor especially appreciated Mkulumadzi’s responsible tourism practices and guest centered service.

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Famed management company, promising new chef lead well known luxury Paris hotel restaurant

March 24th, 2014 · No Comments

By Elena del Valle
Photos by Gary Cox

Our table at Restaurant le Meurice

A table at Restaurant le Meurice Alain Ducasse

The previous time we had dined at restaurant Le Meurice, in 2011, a different chef was in charge. On our return at the end of 2013, subtle decorative changes in the beautiful dining room of the restaurant of the Hotel Le Meurice on the famed Rue de Rivoli in Paris, France reminded me that food industry icon Alain Ducasse had assumed control of the hotel kitchens. Among them were new Baccarat crystal pieces and an elaborately made panel near the entrance which itself was next to the revolving doors of the hotel entrance, discreetly behind the greeter's stand.

Attentive and precise service with each course

The service was attentive and precise

The staff members were helpful and attentive with a healthy amount of reserve. The new menu at le Meurice focused on produce, the producers themselves and the seasons. Langoustines, a spokesperson explained, will only appear on the menu if they can be delivered alive. The olive oil from Sicily is exclusive to the restaurant.

The appetizer highlighted vegetables

We had a steamed vegetables appetizer

Our meal was well prepared and served. We particularly enjoyed the steamed vegetable appetizer and the meat dishes. For example, the venison (chevreuil) was cooked just right and served with a peppercorn sauce that brought out the game meat flavor without overwhelming it. The chicken with white truffles was fragrant and tender. The sauces in both cases were outstanding.

The cheese cart

The cheese cart

The wine specialists were notable for their selections and customer centered service. We especially liked the wine pairings with the meal. We look forward to a return visit to Restaurant le Meurice Alain Ducasse under its new management and chef.

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Pumulani on Lake Malawi offered luxury comforts, enviable setting

March 17th, 2014 · No Comments

Photos by Josette King

1.The sitting room opened onto a secluded side deck

Our contributor's sitting room opened onto a secluded side deck

At Pumulani, a lake shore property in Malawi, a landlocked country in Southern Africa, part of the experience was the location. The country itself is among the less trekked destinations in the region, making it particularly attractive for exploration oriented travelers.

The pool was located just below the lodge

The pool was just below the lodge

When our contributor wasn't soaking in the ambiance she took advantage of the activities on offer including sunset cruises, in a dhow and a motor boat; a visit to the village; and star gazing. She rose early to swim in the pool at dawn. The swims and the setting combined were a treat unlike anything she had experienced anywhere in Africa. There was also an outstanding beach.

The traditional dhou sailed around the lake

The traditional dhow sailed around the lake

There were many aspects of her stay at Pumulani she liked. The property setting was stellar. It seemed ideal for someone, who like her, was willing to travel the distance to Malawi and wanted to enjoy first world creature comforts, and guest centered service in a property that followed responsible tourism practices.

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Exploring leafy greens recipe book

March 10th, 2014 · 3 Comments

By Elena del Valle
Food photos by Gary Cox

The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook

The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook*

According to many reputable sources, leafy greens such as collard greens, kale, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard and their kin are at the heart of a healthy and nutritious regime. For us, purchasing, identifying and eating greens has proved challenging at times. Becoming familiar with the different varieties and how to buy them was a first step. Next, knowing how to eat them to their best advantage requires additional effort and knowledge. Sometimes they are bitter, chewy or tough in their raw state. Other times they're boring. Some leafy greens need preparation to become palatable. We turned to The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook 67 Leafy Greens & 250 Recipes (Robert Rose, $27.95), a newly published cookbook by Susan Sampson, for information and recipe ideas. 

Kale leaves cleaned and ready to make crisps

Kale leaves cleaned and ready to make crisps

Kale crisps with sesame seeds

We made kale crisps with sesame seeds following a recipe in the book

The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook is a softcover 480-page book filled with nutritional information, easy to read recipes and color photos. The leafy greens we wanted to learn more about were collard greens, baby bok choy and kale.

Susan Sampson

Susan Sampson, author, The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook*

For example, we had been eating kale crisps for a while when we first came across the Cookbook. Its kale crisps recipe was similar to the one we were using. One of the options suggested in the book was to add sesame seeds. We tried it and liked it. The sesame seeds add a crunchy nutty flavor to the crisps and a twist to the everyday plain crisps.

Grilled bok choy and soy glaze

The grilled baby bok choy with soy glaze

Collard greens cooked in beef broth

The collard greens cooked in beef broth while not pretty were delicious

We also sampled the Kaleslaw recipe. It required relatively little time and offered yet another way to supplement our diet with nutritious kale. The Old School Collard Greens were delicious (we used beef broth). Next, we tried the Baby Bok Choy with Soy Glaze recipe which required Shaoxing cooking wine. We grilled the baby bok choy on the barbeque grill instead of cooking it in a bowl as the recipe indicated. It was quite nice although the leaves were a bit chewy. Next time, we'll slice the large ones into quarters instead of halves. The soy glaze seems promising to use in other dishes to add a dash of flavor. Although we excluded pepper, chili paste and spicy hot condiments from the recipes we prepared we liked them. They were all worth repeating.

*Photos: robertorse.ca

The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook

Click to buy The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook

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