Announcing: KAT’S KITCHEN – “Tastes From Around the World”

Travel has been my dream as a child, it’s  been my life for over 37 years and now travel remains so  uncertain. In all my travels all over the world; I’ve amassed a great number of recipes from most corners of the world.  For the last 4 months I’ve reposted almost 100 blogs taking you to revisit those wonderful places which no doubt have held special memories for you.  I have now decided to merge my passion for travel with my love for cooking and in making palates and tummies feel happy.
This is just a preview of what KAT’S KITCHEN is all about.

I will be offering “small plates”, something different  on one day of each week.. There   will be:  Vietnamese Spicy Garlic & Green Onion Crab,  Jamaican Style  Oxtails, Jamaican Brown Stew Chicken,  South African Baked Salmon, Brazilian Moqueca (fish stew), Chinese Sweet and Sour Pork Chops, Kat’s Seafood Louie to name a few and of course from time to time Kat’s Homemade Caesar,  my notorious Spicy Shrimp Dip and a few other menu items.  On Deck  for starters , we’ll travel to Vietnam for that crab. along with some shrimp fried rice.   There are a few orders left.  Do you  remember how some of my tours would sell out before the paperwork was published?  Well it seems this may also be the case.   There will be a designated drop off and pick up location.  Payment by Zelle or PayPal confirms your order prior to delivery.   Interested parties not in the local area, unfortunately  you will miss out on this  but let me know ahead of time if you ever plan to come out west.
Interested parties,  TEXT ME at  510-499-5909 to get the weekly menu.

Take care until next time,

Kat

The Time Has Come To Say Goodbye

For me, This morning’s breakfast was in the Spice Market Restaurant. Man I missed the Jetty. I love that intimate place.  Today,  everybody  was doing their own optional activities.   Some went on the Spice tour, others were planning the sunset cruise and some like Vera Brown and Sonya Fife were doing both.  In between times some went to GABI BEACH to hang out or to have lunch. I used my down time to rest and enjoy my suite.

This all inclusive resort in Zanzibar, the city beginning with a “Z” was the perfect ending to an idyllic vacation.  Each of our 3 properties have included breakfast, lunch and dinner – Awesome Sauce!    and I might add that the meals have all been on point and truly a foodie’s delight.  The MELIA sits on expansive acreage.  There is even a private beach (Gabi)  a mile away, accessible by golf carts driven by staff.  This morning I was invited to THE LEVEL for dinner so after the sunset cruise, my family ((Katrina and Phil) and myself were driven to THE LEVEL.  We dined on lobster tails, fish, lamb chops, and chicken perfectly grilled by a Chef from Nepal and entertained by a group getting down with sounds of  Kool and the Gang, Stevie and others.

The sunset cruise was as Deborah Berhel pointed out, “different but nice”. I tell you it was no repeat of my yachts and catamarans in Mykonos and Negril but this is Zanzibar.

In the morning, one last breakfast for me at the Jetty and then we roll out of here at noon for our charter flight to Dar Es Salaam where we will all have a day room at the 5 Star Serena Dar Es Salaam to relax and then have dinner until our late night flight to Amsterdam.  Earlier today I messaged the hotel to book a final spa treatment upon my arrival there.  With my grueling schedule, my body needs all that goodness for my well-being.  I will be home less than a week then it’s back in the air and off for 3 weeks in Morocco and Marseille with 2 groups.

My friends, I hope you have enjoyed reading about this awesome Kattrax adventure as much as I have enjoyed bringing it to you.  It’s been a grand experience.

Photo credits: Katrina Peoples, Sonya Fife, Paula Smith & Alton James

Chillin’ At The Beach to Chilling Slavery Thoughts in Stone Town

This morning I was determined to have breakfast at the Jetty. So I  set my alarm for 8am and made my way.   It’s located at the tip end of the Jetty.   It’s quaint, very intimate and yes, it is the Kat’s Meow.  Yes, serve me.  I detest buffets.   I practically had the place to myself until Katrina and Phil joined me.  It was such a beautiful setting and there was no rush to leave.  I’m sure we were there a couple of hours; just chillin’.

This afternoon the group was set for the Stone Town tour.  Stone Town is the older part of Zanzibar City. One of the highlights but quite sobering and chilling is the site of the former slave market which where later the Anglican Cathedral of Christ Church was built. Built on the location of the whipping post from the island’s largest slave market.  The Church was built by the third Bishop of Zanzibar and famous abolitionist, Edward Steere. Steere is buried behind the main altar, as he died a few weeks prior to its completion.  The grounds also hosts one of the most famous Slave Monuments in the entire world.

Zanzibar was one of the largest Slave ports in the vast Indian Ocean Slave trade, which was dominated by Arab slave traders.  Although best known today as an island paradise, there are many reminders of Zanzibar’s dark history in the slave trade around Stone Town and across the island.

The slaves were shipped here in boats from the mainland, crammed so tightly that many fell ill and died or were thrown overboard.  Dozens of slaves including women and children were imprisoned for days in crowded cellars with little air, no food or toilets.

We walked through the maze of alleyways, seeing the sights, smelling the scents of the  market; and soaking up the local color while  enjoying the education but now most were ready to make our way to JAFFERJI HOUSE ROOFTOP RESTAURANT.  Our guide cautioned us it was 4 flights of stairs.  Well I don’t know about his counting but it was more like 9 flights. Heck, he had already walked us 5 miles through the town; another extra few  flights of stairs wasn’t going to make a difference.

The Island of Zanzibar

We said goodbye to Serena and the Serengeti today.  One final game drive en route to the airstrip for our flight to Zanzibar.  It was a 2 hour flight to the tiny island 50 km off the coast of the mainland. It’s a Muslim country,  in the Indian Ocean.  We flew over the Ngorongoro Crater on our way.  What an awesome sight to behold from the air.  After arriving, once situated with our ground handlers, we had an hour drive to the MELIA ZANZIBAR.  Once Goldie got management straight and everyone settled in their rooms; it was all good.

The Melia is an all inclusive luxury resort on an amazing beach of white sands. Its 5 restaurants serve local and international specialties.  Our first night, some dined at the pool bar while others dined at the Spice Market Restaurant. In a word, the dining experience was amazing as was the Entertainment that followed with the Masai warriors doing their thing.  I anxiously anticipate what’s in store for us tomorrow on our STONE TOWN TOUR. Stone Town is the old part of Zanzibar City, the main city of Zanzibar in Tanzania.  Stay tuned!

Serena, You are Wonderful!

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Serengeti Serena Lodge… I should have known with a name like “SERENA” it had to be a winner. From the moment we set foot on this property, we have been shown nothing but LOVE, pure and unadulterated LOVE.  This being my 13th visit to a Game Lodge, in Africa, I tend to pass on the drives even though each drive is special in its own right.  The knowledge and expertise of the Ranger has a lot to do with the success and we had it with the 3 brothers assigned to our group.

While the others spent their time enjoying the 2 drives a day and in some cases all day; my time was spent getting rejuvenated at the Spa, resting, reflecting and preparing for upcoming international tours.  At lunch yesterday, enjoying with Ms Sonia Epps, mother of Tedra Scott; the server asked me, what? no game drive?  I said,   No.  and about that time there were about 8 zebras sipping water at the pool and out of nowhere, 2 huge buffalo appeared.  I said, “See the drives come to me”.  It was spectacular.

We were all told to meet at the bar before dinner.  The staff had a surprise in store for us.  We were led to a very private area that was set up just for us.  There were 3 beautifully set tables and a bonfire  for our group and our 3 Rangers, a complete buffet with the Chef and his Sous Chefs grilling fish, lamb and sausages, a total spread down to desserts.  As we made our entrance the group was served flutes of champagne.  We even had the drummers and dancers….all for the Kattrax Group.   The spokesman told us, we were the largest ever African American group they have had and he’s been here 20 years.  They were so honored to have us in their presence.  Dessie AJ and Tedra had words of appreciation for the staff and our Rangers.

In closing, the entire staff paraded through singing, dancing and with a cake.  They even got me up to dance.  It was a beautiful farewell.  Who knows? Maybe we will return some day.   Tomorrow we fly to the island of ZANZIBAR.   I’m excited!

San Francisco Sause, It’s The Sauciest

Greetings my friends!
A lot of us have been spending a good deal of time in the kitchen since we’ve been locked down, shut in and sheltering in place.  90% of my time is spent in the kitchen.   I’ve gone through tons of Dungeness crab; trying different recipes as my “crab” partners in crime have done.  My spicy shrimp dip aka crack dip, my delectable chicken deviled eggs,  smooth chicken salad,  seafood louies filled with the most, my Jamaican style oxtails, and gumbo have all gone to another level.  Some of my favorite people that live alone, or just don’t cook have been treated to some of the above.  Which brings me to tell you about this SF SAUSE.  It is all that and then some.  It is especially good for those that want a gourmet taste but just not the energy to do a lot of prepping in the kitchen.   I highly recommend San Francisco Sause.  It will make ANYTHING TASTE GOOD.    A variety pack of 4 gives you the opportunity to taste all 4 flavors: Regular, Spicy, BBQ GRILL, and Hot AF (as eff***).   Don’t let the name fool you.  It’s not unbearable.   Website:    SFSause.com   Bon appetit!

 

 

The Serengeti…

Yet another name from my childhood that I thought was fictional only to grow up and discover it was a real destination.  Words mainly garnered from my beloved Amos “N” Andy episodes, like The Zambezi River and Lake Titicaca.  At any rate, here I am on the Serengeti  and enjoying my pleasant surroundings.

We had an 8am  flight from the Arusha airstrip which was a mere 5 mins from our Lodge.  Now we were faced with the moment of truth.  Would we all weigh in with our luggage being less than 33 lbs?  Yaay!  We made it and these guys were serious about weighing each bag.  They split us up into 2 groups with 13 on one charter and 6 on the other. This flight would only be 60 minutes and I was fast asleep shortly after take off.

After arriving at the Seronera Airstrip,  our 3 vehicles and Rangers were waiting for us.  The Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge was 27 km away and the plan was to do a game drive en route.  Nice!  By the time we reached the Lodge, they had already  seen 3 of the BIG FIVE – Elephant, Lion, and the very elusive Leopard.  Upon arrival at the Lodge we were greeted by drummers, dancers and flutes of champagne and glasses of orange juice and refreshing cold towels.

There would be another drive before dinner.  I passed on the game drive and made my way to the massage tent and enjoyed the African Footprint Ceremony.  This is just what Dr. Kat ordered for her tired legs and feet.  What a special treatment to soften, cool and hydrate.  The masseuse did her thing so well I scheduled the same treatment for the next 2 days.

It’s dinner time now.  I can hear the drummers beating  and the dancers making their calls.  Until next time…

Tanzania, The Serengeti & The Island of Zanzibar …..Here We Come

We are a cool group of 19 with only 3 new to the Kattrax Family.  As usual, we have a reunion of sorts.  Geralyn, Tedra and mom Sonia flew in from DC, Carol from Pittsburgh, AJ from Texas and the rest of us from Cali.  We flew 10 hours  into Amsterdam changed planes and then another 8 into Kilimanjaro airport. Man, were we tired.  We were faced with challenges from the gate with the advisory that our luggage restriction was 33 lbs in soft sided luggage with specific dimensions.  We all thought 44 lbs on the aircraft into Kruger was bad.  Well, most were kicking and screaming but all came through with flying colors.  I think Dessie gets the prize; weighing in at 14 unfreakinbelievable pounds.  My power couple, Phil and Katrina who travel with 3 ginormous suitcases each to Paris, Egypt, Dubai, Vietnam, and South Africa; actually surprised the heck out of themselves each with a 21” carry on.  I’m still shaking my head on everybody being so  in compliance.

We all had to get Visas and yes, that’s always a headache but through it all; we made it and came through Tanzania’s Immigration In record time.  The Arusha Coffee Lodge is an hour drive from the Kilimanjaro International airport.  Our check in was smooth and were we delighted the Bistro was open as late as it was.  We were all starving like Marvin. The Bistro stays open 24 hours. How nice!

The Lodge is gorgeous, the grounds beautiful and the service is impeccable. This would be our home for 2 nights with full board. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner).  Our first day would be the tour of the town, the coffee tour and shopping at the Cultural Heritage Center.  My shopaholics had their hands tied with the weight restrictions for the upcoming Charter flights. I know it was killing them to use serious restraints but they managed.    We will have 2 charter planes for 3 flights as each only holds 14 passengers.

After our 2 nights we will fly to the Serengeti National Park where we will have at least 6 game drives and of course, full board.  After 3 nights, we fly to the island of Zanzibar.  I am so looking forward to Chillin on the beach at the Melia.   Today was Ms Vera Brown’s 75th Birthday and we celebrated with her after dinner.  She was overcome with joy and happiness.  She is a real sweetheart and quite a Kattrax trooper.

I can’t say enough about the cuisine served  here.  It is truly a foodies delight.  Imagine a Lodge, so all inclusive, one orders from a full menu.  For breakfast I had grilled red snapper on a bed of the best sautéed spinach ever.  A popular starter for dinner last night was a spicy prawn and mango salad.  Being the non drinker, non shopper that I am; the spa has become my best friend.  Today’s full body massage with emphasis on my feet was heavenly. No beyond heavenly and I look forward to the spas at the next 2 lodges.  Lucille Johnson and  Cousin Darryl Smith; your ears must be ringing because so many have asked about you.  You are truly missed on this adventure .  My no shopping self picked up something for you both and I’m sure you’re going to love it. Stay tuned for The Serengeti!

Photography courtesy of: Katrina Peoples

 

A Day In The Life In Cachoeira

Today, after breakfast, we boarded our comfortable, WiFi enabled  motorcoach for a 2 hr drive for a full day tour of Cachoeira (cash o way da), a UNESCO World Heritage Site and protected by the Brazilian National Monuments Commission. It’s home to a cultural output grounded in African traditions and also home to the Sisterhood of the Boa Morte, a sorority which traces its origins back to the time of slavery and have a huge festival every August. En route, our very knowledgeable guide, Josuel, continued to share historical facts along the way. We first stopped in the town of Santo Amaro, where they did a short walk through. It was established as a center of sugarcane production in years gone by.

We enjoyed a lovely lunch at Fazenda Santa Cruz. The food as well as the hospitality of the management was second to none. There we were at the very  top with a magnificent view of the town and the slow-moving river as we dined on well seasoned  grilled chicken, steak, fish, salad, avocado, brown beans, rice, and pumpkin.  On the walk thru town, a few picked up some bottles of “homemade hootch” and yes, it was flowing as it was being passed around the table. They were having too much fun.  Belinda Walker’s Dennis and his brother, Clinton kept me laughing with their brotherly antics.

After lunch, we visited the Danneman Cigar Company, where we learned the history of cigar making. The lovely sisters in their color coordinated skirts, blouses with matching head wraps expertly roll and produce these world-class cigars.  My cigar aficionados are waiting for me to bring home a few souvenirs.  I went 1 better and was actually coached rolling a Robusto cigar.  Let me tell you, cigar rolling is some hard work and getting the proper rhythm as you work the foot pedals and roll simultaneously is no easy task.  My hat goes off to these beautiful sisters here making cigars, making a living.  The group had a very informative visit learning this art and fun making their purchases to take home.

Upon our return to the hotel, Debra Taylor Johnson and I headed to Mistura Restaurant  a few minutes away, where we enjoyed a fabulous dinner. I had fried soft shell crab for an  appetizer and the traditional  Moqueca (a fish stew with fish and shrimp) as a main.

This was our last day in Brazil and its  been a marvelous week in this beautiful country.  Will I return? Well, you know how it goes with me …… if there is enough interest; I probably will.  Tchau, tchau (ciao, ciao)  for now.