I, for one of many, forecast a poor turnout for the recent Friday night event, given the long drive on atrociously “maintained” Enterprise Road. Dodging potholes on a night on which torrential rain threatened, driving in one direction while scores of over-crowded crabbed-suspension buses, the rejects of a dozen countries, drive towards you with –– at best — single headlight on blindingly full beam is not my idea of fun!
But I made it and so did another 200 or so guests, most of whom stayed a great dealer longer than me.
Mahobohobo, owned by the Ballantynes of Richard Rennie Art Gallery, Belgravia, was –– very briefly –– one of Zimbabwe’s most spectacularly successful restaurants and event venues.
Junoesque Jorika Mhende (now cooking in the Turks and Caicos Islands) was as near Zimbabwe had to a genuine celebrity chef. Her creations were fabulous, even if the Afrikaner of German-Russian descent would swear lustily in a dozen different languages and dialects as she worked.
Set in rolling verdant acres with spectacular views over much of Mashonaland East, the former restaurant –– which fell victim to Zimbabwe’s cash crises and shortages of fuel –– is now back in business, but purely for special events worthy of the setting.
Wedding receptions, company launches, re-brandings etc, spring to mind.
Judy Ballantyne takes a back seat this time. Well-experienced travel and tourism organiser Shirley Wilson is overall convener, calling on many specialists to put the whole act together.
At the re-launch, Lauren Pyle of Green Bean Coffee House at Judy’s art gallery ran the bar: a demanding task which had her finishing at after 2am, with Green Bean breakfasts being cooked by 7am!
Dave Curtis and Tracey Wallace of Stable Wineries laid on a wine tasting of Cape vintages along with exquisite cheeses.
Rene from “The Band” played, sang and ran the disco in a highly impressive marquee, provided, furnished and daintily lit by Rooneys.
Mandy Keith, Bridget Henderson and Judy Woodhouse of Occasional Flowers laid on breathtaking floral arrangements and Elza Mellet did the photographs.
Taryn Fernandes, of White Chile (like the country) Catering excelled even her own high standards, offering smoked salmon cucumber croute with lemon dill fraiche and spicy lamb koftas with lime-and-garlic aioli.
Crunchy sesame coated chicken bites were served on porcelain Chinese spoons and there was a magnificent baked Roydon camembert with hot, saucy red onion marmalade, served on crunchy French loaves.
Italian Roma tomato bruschetta with fresh baby basil and balsamic glaze came alongside beef fillet carpaccio with rocket, shaved Grand Padano cheese, drizzled with caper pesto.
Before trays circulated, cocktail tables boasted sesame and poppy seed puff pastry straws with Spanish olive tapenade and cumin, celery and rosemary roasted nuts. Home-made sesame crisps accompanied a trio of dips: chunky guacamole, roasted red pepper pate and sesame-white-bean hummus.
Cherry bell peppers were stuffed with chives-and-herbed cream cheese and drizzled in olive oil and the piece de resistance — as far as I was concerned –– was a delicious presentation of marinated olives (Kalamatas and green). Taryn won’t reveal her secret recipe, but it involved lemon, chilies and lime.
Sadly I’d had a speaking engagement at lunch that day and Puppy Dog Syndrome (full belly, tired eyes!) meant I was off the premises and battling my way home way before 10. I hear the joint jumped joyfully until the wee hours.