Photos by Josette King
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.
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.
By Elena del Valle
Photos by Gary Cox
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.
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.
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 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.
Photos by Josette King
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 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 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.
By Elena del Valle
Food photos by Gary Cox
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
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, 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.
The grilled baby bok choy with soy glaze
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.
Click to buy The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook
Photos by Josette King
Josette’s tent was a reed and thatch bungalow atop the rocks above the lake
An hour’s motor boat ride off shore from Cape Maclear in Malawi in southern Africa is Mumbo Island Camp. Simple accommodations are available within an unspoiled one square kilometer (250 acres) rock topped by lush miombo woodland and an alluring crescent golden sand beach. In 1996, the National Parks authorities awarded Kayak Africa the exclusive rights to operate tourism accommodations on the unpopulated island for the first time. In an effort to maintain the secluded tropical island’s pristine environment whole the company built Mumbo Island Camp as a back to basics property that follows sustainable tourism principles.
Guest accommodations were perched on a granitic promontory jutting into the lake
The owners set a handful of rustic rooms made of reed and thatch with comfortable beds, bucket showers and ecologically sensitive toilets among the rocks. One of the most notable qualities were views of the country’s famed lake. Staff served wholesome meals in the dining area. A sports gazebo in a corner of the beach catered to those anxious for activities.
There was an inviting hammock on the deck
Light was provided by solar and paraffin lamps and wind up flashlights. Josette King, our contributor, liked the direct contact with nature. The setting reminded her to welcome the sunrise, and snorkel in warm waters so clear she could see the outlines of underwater boulders below as well as bright cichlids (small colorful fish) darting about them. She indulged in kayak rides at sunset and soaked the ambiance and setting, making the most of her visit. What made it special, we asked? That it was there and available for a few souls willing to appreciate it, she responded.