I hate to disappoint you but last year, my New Year’s eve was anything but foodie. Truth be told, I hardly remember eating any food at all, although a fair amount of alcohol did pass through my lips. This was because I attended one very fun bash by the sea in Kilifi and so my priorities were elsewhere. This year, I intend to make up for it by hosting a small but well-stocked party at a house we are planning to rent by the sea in Watamu. Have you ever been to Kitengela Glass Watamu before? If you have not, now may be the time to do so. At the risk of giving this amazing house some well-deserved but unpaid publicity (not sure what the procedure is here, if I let them know I wrote this do you think they’ll give me a discount?) I will cast out a little nugget on the house and then get back to my narrative.
At Kitengela House Watamu, they have a thing called a star bed. The star bed is situated on the third floor of a surreal-looking tower and is fitted on two metal tracks that extend over the trees. In the evening, you can push the bed out and hang, suspended in midair, while you stargaze.
It’s quite a rush, especially if someone pushes the bed out, while you lie on your stomach and pretend you are flying. I’m sure many a child has been conceived on that very spot and that their parents proudly inform them of this on every visit. Although from the perspective of the child, this might be a bit of a turn-off but whatever, you catch my drift. So yes, we have the perfect spot and the ideal company.
Now, how to make the dinner that little bit more special? What are the essential ingredients you should always pack when headed down for a getaway at the coast? In my mind this is really a no-brainer. I make sure I pack my Bloody Mary mix (that would be worcestershire, habanero and horseradish sauce), Angostura bitters for rum punches (get a madafu coconut, open it up, stick rum and bitters directly inside and voilà!) and then soy sauce, my own chilli-infused olive oil and my favourite Marigold Swiss vegetable stock (which you can buy at great expense at Healthy U). To be fair, most of these ingredients can be picked up at either Nakumatt Nyali or Ukunda (if that’s where your final destination lies).
However if, like me, you are headed North, remember that the supermarkets there are not well-stocked and it pays to come prepared. Fundamentally it’s very difficult to eat badly when you have fishermen knocking on your door first thing in the morning, laden with the catch of the day. The important thing, however, is to remember not to overcook the fish. Whether said fish is being barbecued, roasted or cooked in a pan to make pasta sauce, it is incredibly easy to overcook it. When you overcook fish, it loses all of its delicious moisture and becomes dry and flaky. You’d be surprised how many times this happens, even when the person cooking actually lives by the sea. So make sure you watch over your chef like a hawk or, better still, do it yourself! Whether you eat fish with pasta, rice, potatoes or turn it into sushi, you can always eat it guilt-free by the sea. Remember, you are helping the local economy and doing your body a favour by giving it a rest from all that nyama you devour during the year.