Saturday, June 4, 2011

Menu Moans At The Movenpick

Dilly Tartar Sauce
My famous food forays found me at Movenpick for lunch today. I ordered the grilled tuna with spicy pineapple and tomato salsa with a side of steamed rice and veggies.

As I waited I looked upon the beautiful green expanse of grass and found myself relaxing and unwinding after all the stress and head aches caused by the crazy management of Coral Rock Hotel in Zanzibar recently. A light rain accompanied the general feeling of well being and I looked forward to a delicious meal to round off the perfect afternoon.

My meal arrived in good time and the tuna looked inviting and tempting. It had been grilled to perfection and there was a generous portion on the plate. It was one of the better plates of grilled fish I have had in Tanzania. I looked around for the pineapple and tomato salsa.... Was it playing hide and seek under the tuna? Or had it been misplaced under the slices of dry grilled eggplant?

Nope, the pineapple and tomato salsa was nowhere to be found. There was a small portion of a tomato, onion and green pepper mix on the tuna, which I had taken for additional topping. The ball now dropped! This was the promised spicy salsa! Hmmm.... A small portion of a bland mix of vegetables with salt and lemon?

Well naturally this would never do! I asked for the menu and invited the very kind food and beverage manager to come over and read the description of my promised meal in the menu. I explained that I had been looking forward to the salsa as the sweetness of the pineapple and the spiciness of the chilli would have balanced out the grilled fish beautifully and given it the freshness and oomph it was clearly lacking. The addition of fresh herbs such as cilantro and mint would also have been greatly welcomed!

Furthermore, the plate was accompanied by a side of tartar sauce which added nothing whatsoever to the overall completeness of the meal. Food lovers are normally aware that tartar sauce is an accompaniment to fried sea food dishes certainly not grilled ones.

What is not that well known is that the tartar sauce was originally developed by the French as a sauce for 'steak tartare', a famous French dish with thinly chopped raw steak, and at some point the name was changed to 'tartar'. In any case, tartar sauce appears to date to the 1800s, although similar sauces have been made as far back as the 1600s. A sauce with such a proud history would certainly not appreciate being treated in this manner!

As I mentioned before, the tuna was very good, but the balance of the dish was sadly missing. The veggies consisted of two slices of grilled courgette and two slices of dried out eggplant. The rice which is a popular accompaniment to grilled fish was also too bland and dry. It is interesting to see how one missing component of a dish throws the rest of the plate out of balance.

To give my afternoon a sweet ending, I decided to order a dessert and after some thought settled on the warm apple tart tatin with homemade vanilla icecream. It was not to be so! The restaurant was out of that dessert and nothing else really caught my fancy. Just out of curiosity, I asked whether the ice cream was really home made of whether it was the store bought kind.

Little surprise when I was informed that it was good ole Azam ice cream! The manager explained that the shipment of the famous trademark Movenpick ice cream had not yet arrived from Switzerland. I clearly recall that the last time I had that delicious chocolate belgian Movenpick ice cream was about two years ago. Every visit following that memorable one, I have been informed that the hotel only has Azam ice cream (though at the same exorbitant prices!). Those shipments take pretty long to get to Tanzania........

Try and make your own tartar sauce (only for fried seafood!):

If you want to make your own sweet ending, here is a recipe for apple tart tatin:

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