Wednesday, 9 July 2014


After hitting my 100 posts mark, I have felt the need to move my blog to a .com site. The good news is that I'll transfer all my posts there. The other good news is that I have added a new HEALTH category. The new website is . Click here
Same fresh content in a new site.
Keep it here...

Monday, 7 July 2014


I was having a busy week doing restaurant reviews and attending meetings. It has been a while since I interviewed someone. Lucky for me, The Wine and Food Review had an interview with the Director of Operations Fairmont, The Norfolk.  My photographer Bundi accompanied me and we got there at 10.30am. My interview took place at the Cin Cin bar and Priyan got there at around 10.32am.

He looked rather sharp with his well pressed suit.  He is very friendly and affable. This was my chance to know how he does it and what it mean to be a director of operations of such a reputable brand. 

Here is the Q&A.
Tell me about yourself
 I’m the Director of Operations, Fairmont The Norfolk. I am very passionate about the hospitality industry.
How did you get into the hospitality industry?
I wanted to be a pilot but later on, a relative pitched the idea to me that I could be great in the food, wine and hospitality industry. I thought I could give it a shot. I developed a penchant for this industry and I have never looked back
How has your career journey been like?
It has not been easy and I didn’t get to a leadership position overnight. I have had to work very hard. In fact, by the age of 15 years I was washing plates in a restaurant. I have also worked as a bartender and later a sommelier in Dubai. I have also learned about cigars and I even went to Cuba for a cigar competition.  It has always been a great experience for me and I take the time to learn as much as I can in whatever position I am. I won the best bartender award in 2004 and later I got to be the Food and Beverage Manager in Fairmont Dubai. I’ve made significant career moves over the years.  I received a call from my manager that I should report to Kenya to fill the Director of Operations slot and here I am. I came to Kenya in 2012.
What are your thoughts on the Kenyan Food & Wine scene?
The Kenya food and wine scene is growing and it is great that I have been able to witness this tremendous growth in my own establishment as well.  The local talent has great potential if encouraged or given the right support.  This evident from our own bartender, who I helped nurtured and is now one of the Best Mixologist in Kenya with Awards to reinforce. His exceptional skills which he learnt on the job training have taken him as far as South Africa for further refinement.  

 Describe your typical work week.
It’s rather hectic being the director of operations. It is my job to make sure that the hotel is running smoothly and that the guests and clients get quality food and service. I get to the office not later than 7.30am every day. I do my rounds in the restaurant and I check that everything is in order. At 8.30 I talk to clients and I ensure that they are well taken care of. At 9-11am I have a daily sales meeting with my team. From 11am I catch up on emails and any work and then continue the rest of the day making sure that all operations are in check.
 Being in such a challenging position, how do you make it work?
I love working in the Hospitality industry. Work has its challenges but I have great experience and I always take the time to make sure that the clients are happy and that we maintain the Fairmont Brand standards. In my post there’s very little time for rest or relaxation. It must come from the heart and one has to have passion and drive. I love what I do.
Have you organized many events in Kenya?
Yes I have organized very many events because I believe that is one way to elevate the scene in Kenya. I have organized food & Wine Pairing Dinners, Wine and Cheese events, Skyy Vodka Night and Babes and Bubbles among others. I love food and wine dinners and I love it when I invite a sommelier /winemaker to talk to people as opposed to just having a simple dinner. I also ensure that the food and wine list is carefully crafted. If I am having a dinner, I craft the food and wine list weeks prior to the event to to ensure guest are offered the best food pairing experience.
Tell me about Babes and Bubbles event?
This is an event for the professional young lady who is looking for a sophisticated and relaxed environment to unwind and catch up with her girlfriends. The night features flowing Champagne Taittinger Nocturne and accompanied by delectable hors d'oeuvres, with a DJ on board playing Café Del Mar fusions. Served at the sleek Taittinger Champagne Bar
How do you unwind?
I love to cook. I even bought a Jua Kali jiko. I love Kenyan cuisine. I enjoy eating Nyama Choma and Ugali. I also love dining in other restaurants and watching the food network. It entertains as well as relaxes me.
How has your overall experience with the Kenyan people been like?
I love Kenya. I have enjoyed my stay here because Kenyans are very warm at heart. My staff also get the job done and they give genuine service by greeting people with a smile and they understand the client needs. Kenyan people are also motivated.
What would you tell anyone aspiring to be like you?
I would tell people not to second guess themselves and once you know what you want. Go for it, set goals and make sure you achieve them.

Photos- Bundi Anassi Photography

Saturday, 5 July 2014


I have a collection of winebottles in my house. I wanted to make some DIY craft thing or just store them in a cellar but I think this is clutter. I found the perfect way to get rid of them without throwing them witrh my trash. I will start a better collection soon. This is an initiative by Nakumatt chain of supermarkets.

This is a great initiative.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014


If you are new to wine there are some facts that you need to know. Wines have two names. One is the winemaker’s brand name while the other is the grape variety. That’s why you have seen the following names on more than one wine Chardonnay, Beaujolais, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti, Pinot Grigio / Pinot Gris, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc Merlot, Pinot Noir and zinfandel. These names represent the grape varieties. Let me show you with this Angels Tears that I was sipping over the weekend. The label says it all in terms of the varieties, the year and the region.

Winemakers also mix more than one variety of grapes but they always give the ratio. For example a wine may have 50% cabernet sauvignon and 50% Merlot. There are two types of grapes; black and white grapes. Black grapes are not necessarily black but they have blue, deep red and purplish hue.

 White grapes are those with lighter shades like yellow, green and pale yellow. Contrary to popular belief, any grape can make any wine. It is not true that white grapes make white wine and black/red grapes make red wine. What gives the wine its characteristic colour are the components of the wine. As I had said in this post, the skins are left for longer in the winemaking process for the red wines. The red wines are Beaujolais, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel while the white wines are Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio / Pinot Gris, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. Winemakers can make white wine with red grapes because the juice is clear.
There are differences in the two. Red wines have tannins which come from the grape skins. The tannins go into the wine during the winemaking process. Tannins provide a dry, puckery sensation in the mouth and in the back of the throat. Thy preserve wines and this is why red wines can stay for longer. Do you notice sometimes when you sip wine that there is a dry taste and aftertaste especially as you swallow. Well those are the tannic tastes.

Friday, 27 June 2014


Often times, people don't talk enthusiastically about rose wine. Its like that friend you are indifferent to.You don't know whether to be happy or sad to see them. For most people, it is either white or red wine. People think of rose and they automatically think Sunday afternoon picnics and family days. Or those uneventful weekends with cousins or friends.

This is a wine that is stereotyped and sidelined and almost ignored. I have also been that person who had no regard for it. I thought that it was the wine for girls in frocks running through fields and meadows. I don't know where I got that impression. Probably from an old movie or book. This wine hovers in limbo between red and white. In hindsight, red wine is wine that has been left with the grape skins on. Theses skins are responsible for the wine colour. The more wine stays with the skins the deeper the colour. Red wine is the best because it has a lot of antioxidants.White wines have no skins included in the wine making process. Rose wine on the other hand, is wine that has had the grape skins for a few hours. I recently changed my opinion on rose wine when I tasted the Abeso Rose Frizante. I loved this wine. It tasted of pomegranates and it reminded me of the fruit.
We had a pomegranate fence when I was growing up but we never did anything with the fruits. I regret not knowing that I could have made fruit salads or grenadine. Grenadine is a common bar syrup made with pomegranate fruit and it is used to make cocktails.
 The wine was made by exposing the skins of the grapes for 5 days. It had a slightly pink colour and it was so fruity. This was a great wine and it went well with pork. I have learned to do away with the misconception that rose wine is somewhat inferior.Next time you go wine-shopping, show some love for this wine.

Thursday, 26 June 2014


Here's a great way to chill wine. Put green grapes in the fridge. then put them in a glass when serving wine. it is a great way to present wine especially when you have friends over plus the wine remains cold.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014


This is so basic. It is like learning the alphabet once more. The screwdriver is a very easy drink to make. It is interestingly uncomplicated. It’s probably the first cocktail recipe I ever learned. It also has a very interesting name. People who worked in oil rigs in the Middle East would open cans of OJ(Orange Juice) with a screw driver. They would take cans and cans to cool off from the hot sun. If you are looking for that burst of vitamin C, this is the drink to go for. 
Yesterday I was feeling under the weather. Do you have those days when you are feeling lethargic, lazy and demotivated? Work seems to take a toll on you and you need a break? I was having such a day. I have learnt never to ignore that feeling. Sometimes, your body sends you a message that it is low on electrolytes and you need to recharge your batteries. I decided to fix a tall drink with a lot of freshly squeezed orange juice. Oranges have a lot of ascorbic acid and they smell fresh. This will definitely change your mood.
To make the screw driver you need
  • Absolut Vodka
  • Fresh Orange juice
  • Orange wedge for garnish

slice the orange and cut in half to get a wedge for garnish

  • In a mixing glass pour the vodka and juice.
  • Stir with a bar spoon
  • Fill a highball glass with ice.
  • Add the mixture
  • Garnish with orange wedge

I have not written what amount of vodka to use because it depends with the individuals preferences. I put an ounce of vodka because I did not want a potent drink plus it was a weekday and some work needed to get done.

I definitely felt better and this drink gave me the motivation to finish a project I have been working on for weeks. Try it.


Sunday is the countdown to reality. A few hours and we are back to the hustle and bustle of the week day job. I always love to do exciting and motivating things on Sunday because they determine the note at which my week will commence. I decided to attend a winetasting at Michael Joseph Centre in Westlands, Nairobi. The event was organized by Marie Pierre. The companies that participated in displaying their wine were El Vino and The Wineshop.
Sommelier Juan Ignacio Cambil was at the El Vino station and sommelier Geoffrey Kariuki was at the Wineshop station. What made the tasting interesting is the fact that Juan and Geoffrey were personal friends and they liaised with each other to facilitate the tasting. They displayed their wine knowledge and they collaborated in answering the myriads of questions from the throng of people in attendance.

The once lifeless wine scene is Kenya is burgeoning at an alarming rate and people are interested in knowing about the brands of wine that they consume. They want to know what wine goes with our traditional food.  When I started this blog late last year, I got like 3 views and no comments everyday but this is not the case. People are interested to know more. Someone pointed out that very few people have done a food and wine pairing for Kenyan food and this is one of the reasons very few people in Kenya appreciate wine. Well I tried to do an authentic food and wine pairing here.
Juan Cambil is a respected Somellier and an expert in his field. He displayed his mastery of wine by taking us through a detailed tasting. We tasted five exceptional wines and I will review the tasting notes in subsequent posts. I even got a new favorite wine. The wines we tasted were
  • Eresma Semiduce
  • Abeso White Frizante
  • Abeso Rose Frizante
  • Abeso Red Frizante
  • Carvida Tempranillo

The most exciting thing is that El Vino had not stocked this wine before and it had just been shipped for the tasting. Even the Sommelier confessed that he had not had time to do small tasting earlier on. They were selling the wine at a slightly lower price than the price that it would retail for at Chandarana Supermarket and Caribana Restaurant in Lenana Road. These are the two places that you can find the brands. The Carvisda tempranillo was the best wine I have tasted in a long time and it is definitely something I am storing away for a special occasion like an anniversary, family Christmas or my birthday. It had these undertones with an aroma of molasses. It reminded me of some sweets we had while we were younger, that were made out of brown sugar.
Geoffrey  Kariuki is our very own Kenyan Somellier. I even managed to sneak a small interview with him. Keep reading the blog for his amazing story. He has a relaxed demeanor and he talks with a certain mastery and confidence that keeps people interested in the wines. He works at the Wineshop at Piedmont plaza in Ngong Road. I had done a post on the Wineshop here. We were tasting the hardy VR collection of wine. This included:
  • Hardys VR chardonnay 2011
  • Hardy VR Shiraz 2011
  • Hardys VR Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

The shop stocks a variety of wines from different parts of the world including Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, France, Chile, Italy and South Africa.
Kevin, Geoffrey and Sanjey from the Wineshop
Also in attendance was Kamal Kaur who was the MC for the event.
 I attended the event with a friend of mine who was indifferent about wine. I had hoped that by the end of the evening she would have changed her mind about wine and I have to say I succeeded in that. Sommelier Juan Cambil said that if you are new to wine it is probably a good idea to start with white wine because the reds have potent tastes and complex intricate aromas.
My friend Kendi- new winelover

Below are photos of the guests.

Here were the bitings that accompanied the wine. Cheers!!

Photos by Akili Black and The Wine and Food Review

Thursday, 19 June 2014


I love South Africa and I love South African wine. They have the best vineyards in Africa. I went for an evening of wine indulgence hosted by Brown Biashara Limited and sponsored by Dasani Water, Browns Cheese and The Hilton. Brown Biashara Limited (BBL), a company registered in the Republic of Kenya, is a specialist importer and distributor of wines and neutral alcohol for the East and Central African markets.BBL supports the Elimu Foundation which was also part of the event.

This was the VIP wine and cheese tasting for hotel directors, embassy staff and supermarket heads and the formal unveiling of the Kenya Wine Club. The winetasting was at the Hilton in Nairobi on Wednesday, 18th June 2014. The air was electric and thick with love. Love for wine. You could tell that the attendees had a penchant for wine as people moved though the room scouting for great tastes. I was accompanied by one of my friends, Julianne from Afrikan Mbiu and we decided to learn all we could about wine. The Kenya Wine Club is designed to expose, and give East Africans access to, rare and exclusive wines which can only be acquired through the club. There are two membership options: Gold Club (9,500 kshs per month) and Platinum Club (14,800 kshs per month), both of which come with additional benefits. Originally, the gold club was 14, 400 kshs while the platinum was 18200 kshs. The prices went down after a special announcement by the organizers. They thought that this was a fair deal and I’m sure many people will sign up. Members of the Kenya Wine Club also have access to additional orders at special discounted rates. They have 37 South African vineyards and over 120 boutique and award winning wines under their umbrella. The wines are delivered from SA.

There were many guests including hotel executives, hotel representatives and people from different organizations around the world. In attendance were two sommeliers, Juan Cambil and Lisa Gorde .Some of the hotel luminaries present were from Panari, Sankara, Crowne Plaza and Ole Sereni among other award winning hotels.

There were about 12 large wine tables in the ballroom and two extra-large cheese tables. I don’t like cheese but I have to say, Browns cheese is very great. They have a wide array of cheese and crackers and I kept going back to the table for more. I was surprised that I am beginning to like cheese. 

 The open plan setting allowed for guests to move round the room discovering different wines and learning about the History and Science of the wine. There were 129 different bottles. I have never been to a tasting with this many brands. I loved moving from table to table trying the reds, whites, roses and sparklings. There was a projector with wine notes so that people could learn more as they moved. I even had the pleasure of meeting a wine maker, David John Bate, who had flown all the way from south Africa.  I will do a post on his wines and his two brands Leopard Frog and Frisky Zebra.

It was a great evening and we all enjoyed ourselves.

Joanne, Peter and I

Ms. Moureen Oloo from Crowne Plaza and I

Gentlemen having a light moment

Bernard  and Joanne from BBL

Peter Brown Owner BBL

You can find out more about the club, including the specifics of the Gold and Platinum Club memberships, here. There is a link to the membership application form (non-committal) on this page should you wish to sign-up.
Special thanks to Brown Biashara Limited, Dasani Water, Browns Cheese, Elimu Foundation and to the Hilton hotel.
Photos by The Wine and Food review and Bundi Anasi Photography