Monday, August 27, 2018

Nyama Mama: Restaurant Review

If I had to describe Nyama Mama's ambience, they would be 'fun' and 'comfortable'. It's got an eclectic, colourful, modern-African vibe that also translates to their food and drinks.

A Sunday night dinner location was needed, and we settled upon Nyama Mama. It was also the perfect time for a review - although this one wasn't as in depth, so I do plan to return.

While I do love their cocktails, this particular evening I opted for the fresh mint tea. It was lovely and comforting, and definitely fit the vibe of the night. 

For starters, we decided to share a plate of the ugali fries. At this point, some of y'all's eyes are probably popping out of your heads. UGALI FRIES?? Yes, I can hear your thoughts. However, do give these a try without any prior conceptions of what you may be expecting! They're a nice, crispy starter, soft on the inside, and almost reminiscent of fish fingers (but vegetarian, of course). 

For mains, I decided to go for the buttermilk fried chicken - but instead of mashed potatoes, I asked for their masala chips. I know, I know, I'm breaking the box, but it worked really well! The masala chips were good, although a little drier than usual. The chicken was excellent - the batter was amazing and well coated, the chicken flavour was great, and the whole dish was very homey - think comfort food revamped. 

Family and friends got a variety of dishes, from the halloumi wrap with sukuma wiki (flavourful and an unexpected yet delicious blend) to the slow cooked paneer in tusker with mushroom chapatti parcel (YUM!)

For desserts, we decided to get and share two - the baked oreo cheese cake, with fresh berry coulis crisp tuille and chocolate ice cream, and the pineapple crumble with coffee ice-cream. The crumble was tangy and perfectly crumbly (heh), and the coffee ice-cream was an unexpected, yet lovely complement. 

Let's talk about the oreo cheesecake, shall we? This was absolutely a foodie's DREAM! The perfect explosion of flavour and texture in your mouth, I can see myself ordering this again, and again, and again. Do you know that feeling you get when someone gives you a gift and you're not quite sure what to expect, but you open it and it turns out to be your favourite thing in the world and you're just absolutely delighted? That's this feeling. As a cheesecake.

Overall - a very happy meal indeed! 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Osteria del Chianti: Restaurant Review


Confession time... up until Saturday, the 11th of August, I'd never been to Osteria. However, my sister and I were long overdue a sisters' day out (read: a legitimate reason for a food coma), and so decided to visit Osteria. A few reasons for the choice - its reputation, the fact that she'd tried and liked it before, and its proximity to Keventers  (more on their amazing milkshakes later).

Confession number 2: I've never been to Italy. However, when I walked into Osteria, I immediately imagined myself on a cute street corner in Italy, so seems that they've gotten something right! Again, lovely to sit and while an afternoon away, to paint for a few hours, to share some laughs with family, to enjoy a dinner date. I love that they've managed to create an ambience that's so OPEN while actually not being that open... does that make any sense? Alas, I didn't take general pictures, so you'll have to take my word on this one - or go visit yourself ;)

To start off, we ordered the large (hey, it was a Saturday afternoon!) glasses of house wine. Now, this was definitely a pleasant surprise. Many (if not most restaurants) in Nairobi just add fermented grape juice that has not quality whatsoever into glasses and call it house wine. However, I actually LIKED Osteria's!

Believe me when I say this glass took me from starters all the way till AFTER I'd finished my meal!

The focaccia that they brought us to begin with was amazing, and I had to be careful not to fill myself up on this alone! It was fresh, with a hint of garlic, and some lovely rosemary. The tomatoes complemented it perfectly, as did my requisite green chillies in olive oil. Think of a light, flavourful, happy explosion in your mouth and angels singing.

For starters, we decided to split a soup - the zuppa di pollo e cocco. Fear not, dear ones - I did actually jot down the description this time! This was chicken, coconut, lemongrass and chilli. Now, reading the description, I immediately thought of Thai soup - so was unsure what to expect, but loved what I got! I think the soup and focaccia were easily my favourite parts of the meal, they were THAT good.

The soup was amazingly light, yet creamy. The chicken was great and had wonderfully absorbed the marriage of flavours the soup represented, giving a sweet and slightly tangy flavour, with finely diced onions rounding out this perfect blend. I'll DEFINITELY order this one again.

We decided to go halfsies (that's a word, right?) for mains too - this time choosing the tagliatelle pesto and the proscuitto e funghi pizza.

First of all, the pesto. Now, I'm a huge fan of pesto pasta, but somehow this just didn't do it for me! The over-sauciness and bright green colour served to act as a turn off, and I couldn't finish my portion. I wouldn't order this again. However, it may have just been me as my sister did like it, and actually had my leftovers for lunch the next day.

The pizza, on the other hand, was great! Again, light and refreshing (I was left wondering how all this light and refreshing food left me in a food coma so bad...). The crust was amazing, thin, crispy in the right places and soft in others. The flavours were a lovely blend too - I'm personally a huge fan of proscuitto and mushrooms!

Alas, we didn't make it to dessert this time (but I'll happily come with you if you want to go!) as we were planning to try out Keventers' milkshakes, but I'll report back when I do.

Happy eating, nomads!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Urban Eatery High Tea: Restaurant Review


What does high tea remind you of? For me, it's a very specific memory. No posh dressing up, no outdoorsy event - rather, a warm, laughter filled event as family and friends gathered to celebrate whoever's birthday it was at the time, with the smell of lovely samosas in the background and the guarantee of a mouthwatering, homemade black forest cake.

I'm rather pleased that the trend of high tea has caught on in Nairobi - obviously, a very different kind of high tea from the one I encountered in my childhood, but one I can get behind nonetheless. 

When one of my favourite joints in Nairobi, Urban Eatery, rolled out a high tea option and invited me to try the same, I definitely couldn't refuse! You need to call in advance to make sure they have everything ready for you. What I liked about Urban's high tea is that, true to their character, even their high tea consisted of a blend of different cuisines. What would I change? Add even more cuisines! Samosas, anyone? 

To start off, we were given some tea (duh!) but the weird thing is that there was no sugar on the table. Luckily, right now I'm in a no-sugar-in-my-tea stage, but not so for my friend. 

However, when the goodies came out, I soon forgot all about this because the display was absolutely AMAZING! 

The top layer had cupcakes, vanilla and chocolate eclairs, a variety of cookies, nut cake and dark chocolate cake. 

The middle later had scones with whipped cream and homemade strawberry jam.

The bottom later had somakito, Philadelphia rolls, summer rolls, salmon open sandwiches, mayo and cheese sandwiches, and egg sandwiches. 

Top layer

Let's start off with the top layer, shall we? The butterjam cookie was soft and crunchy at the same time! The cookie with icing was a perfect treat - melt in your mouth good! 

The nut cake was very light, almost Snickers-ish. I'm not a Snickers fan (I know, I know), but I actually really liked this! 

The chocolate eclair was perfect and light - however, a little on the sweeter side for me so I couldn't have the whole thing! The vanilla eclair had all the great qualities of its chocolate cousin - but was just better!

What I didn't like about this layer, however, was the dark chocolate cake. It was on the dry side, and slightly bitter - definite room for improvement here! 

Middle layer

While the scones were hard, maybe overbaked - hear me out - I actually really liked them! They were hard on the outside, but a lovely texture, soft and sweet, on the inside, and I could have definitely kept eating them. 

I feel like I need a whole other blog post to wax poetic about the homemade strawberry jam...

OH. MY. GOODNESS. This was absolutely DIVINE. Tart and sweet, heavenly and fresh, I'm sure this will inspire many a love song. Goodness. Even if the rest of the high tea hadn't been wonderful, I would definitely return just for this.

Top layer

Now we get to the savoury layer - I'll admit, I wasn't sure how the transition would go, but I was pleasantly surprised! 

Containers for soy sauce weren't provided here, but this was easily rectified. 

The egg salad sandwiches' bread was a little dry - as it is, egg salad is far from my favourite, so I didn't eat much of this. However, my friend loved it, especially how creamy it was!

The summer roll was very refreshing, healthy, and perfectly complemented the sweet chilli sauce (which was great!). 

The Philadephia roll was good - not as great as the summer roll though! 

The sushi in general was amazing, I'd love this again! 

I finished this plate off with the mayo and cheese sandwich - however, I didn't see much cheese or mayo... On the other hand, the sandwich did have mango, black pepper and cucumber - and they went together really well! The bread on this was also softer.

For a grand finale, we went back to the top layer for the cupcakes. These were lovely and dainty and oh-so-good! Please oh please Urban, add these to your regular menu. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Zen Garden Bamboo: Restaurant Review

You may or may not already know that Zen Garden (especially Bamboo) is one of my favourite restaurants in Nairobi. I definitely visit more often than I should, and I also realise that this is one of the top places I choose to visit whenever I know someone is visiting from abroad. However, I realise for a place that's in my top 5 for Nairobi, I definitely haven't done enough official reviews here - so that's where this review is coming from!

Their ambience is amazing, well suited for anything from a corporate dinner to a best friends' day out to a date.

For wine (of course), I decided to go for a bottle of Domaine de la Baume's Cabernet Sauvignon. I've never had this one before, but was pleasantly surprised. It had a hint of licorice and red berries - and mint! If you've never heard me rant about my experience with this menthol-tinged wine a few years back, please do ask me the next time you see me. Anyway, this had put me off trying ANY wine that claimed to have mint flavour, but this particular cab sav had more subtle hints of mint that weren't super aggressive. If I had to rate this wine, I'd give it about a 7.5/10.

For starters, the salt and pepper vegetables and the prawn cigars were chosen. The salt and pepper veggies were perfectly crisp and fresh - and my surprise of the day was that I actually LIKED the onions in this! I'm not a huge fan of onions that are not all the way done, but this was a definite exception - so much so that I actually saved the onions and had them with the prawn cigars too! This dish also had a lovely tinge of spice - not overwhelming, but definitely a good kick.

Also - look how lovely it looks! That's another reason Zen Garden is always a winner for me - their presentation is always effortlessly flawless.

The prawn cigars were really yummy too! The flavours in this one were definitely simpler on the palate - prawn, batter, and some chillies. This blended together to give a lovely picture that's a perfect complement for a wide variety of drinks, from wine to cocktails I'd say.

For mains, instead of my usual red or green curry, I decided to try the chicken in red chilli and crisp thai basil. EXCELLENT CHOICE! The flavours blended together PERFECTLY, and there were also varying levels of complexity - the sweet, the tangy, the spicy. The texture of this dish was also great, and I loved that the chicken itself had great flavour (disappointingly, not always the case at some restaurants). This dish was

A friend ordered the crispy pork - while the flavours were great, it was a little dry for me.

The only thing I found lacking on that day - which is actually the first time I've had this experience at Zen btw - was that the service was not as attentive as usual.

If you haven't yet been - please do go, and let me know what you think!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Eulogy: Shiri Uncle

It's been almost 3 months since we lost our uncle... crazy how time flies, and crazy how it still shocks me. We had some prayers at the Gurudwara a few weeks ago where friends and family came together to remember him, and I gave a short speech. Not easy to do (I haven't yet gotten around to watching the video yet...) but I managed. Thought to share it here for those who weren't able to attend. <3 p="">


They say a man dies twice... the first is when he takes his last breath. The second is when his name is uttered for the last time. 

All those of you who knew Shiri Uncle even a little bit can attest to the fact his name will live on for a VERY long time to come. As my brother-in-law so aptly put it - his grandkids will be in some remote location 20 years from now, and when people find out that they're Kohli's grandkids, they'll definitely get some special treatment! 

Friends and family, first of all, I wanted to thank you for taking the time to be with us today. Shiri Uncle's loss has hit us incredibly hard, and your support during this time has been invaluable. 

Though I'm sure that no words will ever be able to do him justice, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn't at least try. As Shiri Uncle would say to me - "You can do this, baby!" 

All those of you who know us know that the Walia clan is full of a multitude of different personalities - personalities that can be a bit overwhelming if you don't know us - but personalities that Shiri uncle managed to navigate and balance just fine. I remember growing up and being around this jolly, tall man who always had a smile on his face and a joke to tell, and was never afraid to be a kid himself if that's what it took! He always had an abundance of love and joy and kindness to give ANYONE and EVERYONE. 

I remember, when I was around 14 or 15, I had to write an autobiography for an English project in school. One of the chapters I was to turn in was about 'a special person'. Was there really ever any speculation over who that person would be? I'll read a few snippets from this chapter, as I stand wholeheartedly behind what I wrote then. My writing style may have changed, but my sentiments certainly haven't..

"Jolly, kind and a general favourite are the words every nine people out of ten would use to describe him. He hardly ever loses his temper, and even if he does, he hardly shows it.
As a child, he was a fun loving person with many friends, and he changed very little as he grew. He was a bright university student who would actually walk out of his final exam because he knew all the answers and so found it boring (and I'm not kidding, he actually did this!)
Even now, he still hasn't lost his humorous side, and is a person who knows how to get on the good side of children, never having forgotten, as most adultss have, that he too was once a kid. He can bring a smile to anyone's face at the most dismal times, and has a way of making the worst situations possible seem hilarious.
He is like a brother to my father, and like a second father to my sisters and I. Indeed, he is very special, and everyone who knows him can testify to this, and wish there were more of him in this world."

What a man, indeed. I remember sending him this and him telling me that it moved him to tears.

One of my younger cousins shared with me some of his memories of Shiri Uncle that definitely resonate strongly: 

"Masarji was like a second father to me, no hyperbole in that at all. He gave me my first taste of beer when I was really young - a vivid memory especially because of how foul I thought it was, and how we both laughed about it afterwards. He bought me my first shaver and taught me how to use it, something I've often remembered as I go to shave in the past few years. He was that rare kind of person that treated people with an almost inhuman fairness - never making me and Rohan feel like kids the way so many other elders did. I know he would be proud of the legacy he has left behind in Sim and Nikku, and in the many ways he touched the lives of so many others, myself included. Although the times I got to spend with him were few, I miss them, and him, dearly. I know he would have wanted us to celebrate his life, and that's what I will try to do, by embodying the wonderful qualities he possessed of humour, kindness and selflessness among the stars."

A few words from his daughters: 

"Since I was a little girl, having grown up with a dad like mine - I can only describe my childhood as one big, happy party. My dad's magnetic personality always meant that we were constantly surrounded by friends and family as everyone wanted to be around him. He just had this aura about him. He has made me laugh so much, I would nearly cry.
Have you ever been invited by friends and are told...bring your dad? It happened to me all the time.... and sometimes I wondered whether they would have bothered whether or not I turned long as my dad was there.
You taught us to be independent, to be loving, to be generous. You taught us to always live life in the present, to grab opportunities when you see them.  When I came 2nd in school and went and told him...he said coming first is very simply get everything right. But coming that needs to be carefully executed...and it made me feel so much better."

Man, can I relate! I remember when I was younger, always being so excited when going to seee Shiri uncle because it always did feel like a party! He always spoke to me and never brushed me off the way that many adults seem to do to kids. I remember telling a friend of mine a few weeks ago - when my uncle gets better and he next visits Kenya, I'm going to bring him along on one of our nights out! While that reality didn't pan out, Shiri uncle, you can rest assured that we definitely will have a big party when I next see you! 

From his other daughter, Simi: 

"People tell us their facebook feed will never be the same. most folks started and ended their day reading a joke he posted...thank you Pa for shiri piri piri.
He was so open minded...sometimes more so than us... he welcomed change . So many people are amazed at how he moved to a different continent so much later in life...but still embraced the lifestyle and made the most of everything."

Shiri uncle's facebook! I was reading through the multitude of messages we have received after his passing, and there were so many thanking him for his good humour and his constant jokes on facebook! You may be surprised - then again, maybe not - at the amount of friends of his whom I got in touch with who he'd never met in person, but who were his friends because of his jokes!

As I mentioned before, Shiri uncle was much beloved by everyone. He had many friends spread across multiple geographies, and he loved them to bits - I see many of you in the audience today, and I hope you knew how much he cherished you! In return, they loved him and gave him their loyalty, which in this day and age, is a testament to the kind of man my uncle was - and always will be. 

Friends, many near and far have wonderful memories of Shiri uncle - even people who only met him for a few hours! A dear friend of mine attended my sister's wedding and wrote me when she heard the news about how impactful her meeting her had been. If I were to stand here and recount everyone's memories, rest assured, we'd be here for decades to come - but I'd like you to know that I am planning to collect many more and put these together, so please keep them coming! 

Shiri uncle, our world will never be the same without you. As I've told a few others in the previous month, I'd never thought as much about my future as I have in these few weeks - because the unconscious vision I had for that future has now changed. When I think of any important upcoming milestone, you would have been one of the first people to know, and the person cheering and dancing the most! You may not be with us to do this physically anymore, but rest assured, I'll do my best to give you MANY more reasons to cheer and be proud of us and have a celebratory drink wherever you are. Thank you for being you. Thank you for teaching me all that you have. Thank you for being the inspiration that you have been - and that you continue to be, no matter where you are. 

A few lines most of you will recognise that I thought seemed fitting for someone like Shiri uncle:

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sun on ripened grain.
I am the gentle Autumn rain.
When you awake in the morning hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Thursday, April 19, 2018

12 Questions with the Kenyan Nomad

I'm a huge fan of getting beneath the surface, of getting to know people beyond what they present to the rest of the world. Given my recent challenge-to-self of being more vulnerable and stepping out of my comfort zone, I thought it only fair to give others the opportunity too! I hunted around the Internet for a few questions, but I'm open to taking yours too (within reason ;) ).

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
Well, this is a tough one. Do I have to choose between having J.R.R. Tolkein over to tell me stories about middle earth, or a random person from a random period in life who could tell me all about how they lived? Since the choice is hard, I'll take the easy route and say - my best friend.

2. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
Oh, mind, definitely, provided that it retained the ability to grow and learn.

3. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
The various relationships and opportunities in my life that have come my way.

4. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
TELEPORTATION! It would solve so many of my problems. Within reason? I'd love to be a polygot.

5. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
So much! At the end of my life, what are the regrets I would have? How long will it take to discover life on other planets? Where will I be professionally (without giving too much away) in 10 years? In 20? Where will I be personally (again, exec summary) in the same time period? What happened to Roanoke? Who are the top 10 people I speak to the most over the decades?

I feel like this question could be a post of its own... maybe the things I want to know are pointing me in a certain direction, and I probably need to reflect on that!

6. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
There is - and I'm working on it :)

7. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
Another tough one! I'd say one of the things I'm really glad about is the fact that the number of close friends I've known more than 7 years (you know why) is quite a good number - we're willing and able to put in the time and effort to keep these relationships alive.

8. What do you value most in a friendship?
Long version or short? If it's the latter, then trust, emotional intelligence and the willingness to grow.

9. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
Well, crap. I'd hope not - I'd like to think that I may be at a stage in my life where I'm making good choices - but hey, see question 5, and feel free to advise ;)

10. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
Amazing, grateful, inspired, blessed - I really could go on forever.

11. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
Within the past month, actually, for both. See exhibit A: being vulnerable is not a bad thing and B: I believe that having a good cry once in a while is actually healthy.

12. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
Is my desk or my bookshelf an option? That would count as one item, right? More realistically, it would have to be something tied to memories, and knowing me, words. So whether this is letters, all my birthday cards ever (I'm quite organised) or things I've written, I guess they'd all be fair game!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Fonda Nairobi: Restaurant Review

You may remember a series of posts I did last year about the top dishes, drinks and desserts one must try in Nairobi - well, I'd mentioned a Mexican restaurant, Fonda, and decided it was finally time to go do a full tasting! I'm incredibly nostalgic about Mexican food (#MiCasa #YSR), and so any experience that gives me a chance to recreate those memories is welcome.

I'd been in touch with the managing director, so I grabbed a good friend, told them we were coming, and off we went!

(In retrospect, maybe we should have gone unannounced - we got to try the tasting menu and couldn't move once we finished!) 

I honestly have to say that this may be the best Mexican I've had in a LONG time. Fonda has definitely moved up into my top 10 restaurants in Nairobi. We had an AMAZING time. Great company + great food + great ambience + great location = always a win, right?

Fonda is located in the Rosslyn Riviera mall - a little removed from my usual Westlands haunts, but I liked where it was - and I don't think there was any construction in sight! 

To start off, we got a salsa platter (with 6 different signature salsas!), guacamole, and tortilla chips. The salsas all had varying levels of spice - and let me tell you, they varied from good-for-a-5-year-old to make-you-cry-like-a-maniac! Salsa has been around for thousands of years, being used as a condiment to give different foods more flavour. You can find out more about the history of salsa here.

I apologise in advance for forgetting the names, but I'm sure if you take this picture to anyone who works there, they'll tell you which salsa is which! My favourites would have to be the two darker red ones - but don't let my tastes influence yours! The thing I loved about these salsas - apart from the fact that they're made with ingredients grown by the restaurant! - was that there was such complexity of flavour and multidimensionality! Try the roasted pineapple habanero, and try tell me that you're not in love. I can easily see a world where I go to Fonda for an evening of margaritas, tortilla chips and these salsas.

The guacamole was good, too, but as you can tell, I was so excited about the salsa that I forgot to have as much of this!

From Fonda:

Guacamole was originally made by the Aztecs as early as 15th century. Traditionally, it was prepared by mashing ripe avocados with the use of a molcajete, sprinkled with salt and some hot peppers for finishing touches. This ancient avocado-based dip was a prized delicacy not just of the commoners in the Aztec empire, but reportedly a favourite of Emperor Montezuma.
The Aztecs originally called the now famous Guacamole “ahuacamolli” or “ahuaca-mulli”, which literally means avocado sauce. The name was a combination of two Nahuatl words, āhuacatl which means avocado and molli, which means sauce.
When the Spaniards came to Mexico, they too fell in love with this beautiful dip and brought it back to Spain modifying the the original recipe by introducing onions, cilantro and lime juice and calling it Guacamole.

Speaking of margaritas - over the course of the evening, we tried five different ones, and I loved them all! These were the margarita clasico (original), tamarindo (tamarind paste - not something that I would have thought would go in a margarita, but it was a perfect marriage), maracuya (passion fruit variation of the original), hibiscus, and mango y habanero (yes, it was spicy). It'd be hard to choose a favourite, as they were all amazing! Maybe these could come in a 'tasting' size too? ;)

Fun fact - no one really knows who invented the Margarita, and whether it truly is Mexican or not! There are multiple stories about its origin, with the most common claiming that it was a "happy accident" resulting from a Tijuana bartender named Henry Madden grabbing the tequila instead of gin to make a "Daisy" which coincidentally is Margarita in Spanish.

Margarita Maracuya
Tell me these don't tempt you?!

Margarita Tamarindo
Next up, we had the uchepo (tamale), which was served with two salsas (salsa verde and salsa rojo). I really enjoyed this, as it had a comfort food feel - and the salsa verde would have to be a winner for me! Uchepos are a regional tamale from Michoacan made with fresh, rather than dried, corn and served bathed with cream or as an accompaniment to stews. At Fonda, these classics are served with red/green salsa and crema. But the history of tamales is a long one and actually related to war - read more about it here.

We also had a tostada pescado, with fresh shrimp marinated in chillies and lime, served with tomatoes, onions, capsicum, coriander and avocado salsa. I loved the flavour in this! The different ingredients blended together really well, and I may have to declare this my favourite dish of the night. From Fonda, about the birth of the dish:

Almost 2000 years ago, somewhere in Mexico, someone decided that they needed to extend the shelf-life of a tortilla. And so was born the "Tostada". Tostada literally means toasted in Spanish - and is generally a day old tortilla fried to crispy brown. You can sometimes get baked or roasted options, but mostly these fried tortillas are then loaded with a bean puree and other meat or vegetable toppings.

One thing I really love about Mexican food - if you're expecting to make do with a fork and knife, you may have to adjust your expectations a little bit! It really does engage ALL your senses, and having to use your hands only makes the experience better. 

The queso fundido was essentially a plate of melted cheese (my mouth is watering again...) topped with sauteed mushrooms, onions and coriander, served with tortillas and a salsa (the salsa de morito). Another amazing attention to detail here - the cheeses are created specially for Fonda at Brown's cheese in Tigoni (another must visit if you haven't yet been!) Who doesn't love cheese?!

By this point, we were starting to get full, but bravely soldiered through. Next up, we had a plate of three tacos, all with different fillings - one with pescado a la baja (beer battered fish served on  a bed of radish-lettuce salad with chipotle mayonnaise), hongos y quelites (wild earthy mushrooms sauteed with fresh leafy greens topped with queso fresco) and the conchinita pibil (shredded pork marinated in oranges, annatto paste and spices). 

While I liked all three, the hongos y quelites was a definite favourite, followed by the pescado a la baja. The next time I try this one, I may try another filling instead of the pork. The hongos y queltes was a perfectly earthy blend - the leafy greens really brought out the flavours of the mushrooms, and the queso was a delightful complement to the whole thing! 

Can you tell that by this point, even my picture taking was affected?? For the main course (yes, we hadn't even made it there yet...), we had the mole poblano (also known as Mexico's national food dish) with chicken. This is an extremely complex dish, made with more than 30 ingredients, and it was served with rice, beans and tortillas. More about its history here. Did you know that one version of the legend about its origin says that it was inspired by an angel?

To be absolutely honest, this dish wasn't my favourite, and I may not give it another try. I feel that it lacked multidimensionality, and the complexity didn't come through very well. 

Now, it was FINALLY time for dessert! We did ask for a meanwhile in between, which thankfully was taken into consideration. Dessert for us that day included the pastel de tres leches - the traditional tres leches cake, but with a chocolate twist - and the coffee flan. Tres leches has a fascinating history - read more here

I think these two were the perfect ending to a great evening, with the tres leches being my personal favourite. 

To finish off, we got these delicious tamarind sweets - if you love sweet and sour (emphasis) on the sour, you need to try these! But do NOT eat them in one bite. You'll have goosebumps on your scalp!

If you haven't checked out Fonda yet, I have NO idea what you're waiting for! Aside from superb food and amazing service, their ambience is great and well thought out, with amazing attention to detail, and most things being locally made or sourced. Stepping into Fonda, it may be easy to forget that you're in Kenya (or even Africa), as the decor has been thoughtfully done to make one feel as though they could be in a marketplace, a veranda, or a cultural centre somewhere in Mexico. 

Every piece has a story, every space has a feeling, and every nook and corner has a touch of a cultural experience that you'll be sure to enjoy. The ambience has a strange way of making you feel like you've come home after a while - not sure I can do the feeling justice in words, so I'll let the pictures do the talking here!

Liked this post? Do make sure to let us know - and if you visit Fonda, I'd love to hear about your experience!

Special thanks to Fonda for some of the pics and the history behind the dishes, and to my co-reviewer for the night!

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