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Buffet at The Pavilion a riot of tastes, colours and textures.

IMAGINE a well-run multi-functional farm focusing on re-forestation, landscaping, the prevention of soil erosion, plant and animal diversity, care farming (promoting mental and physical health through farming activity) and on the production of local high-quality foods linked to the territory. Such a place of beauty and sustenance, to visit time and again, would benefit society at every level.

Cream puffs and chocolate gateau at The Pavilion buffet

Chef Bosco de Govera of Meikles Hotel believes that a successful buffet that allows you to sample a variety of colourful and delectable foods, returning for second and third helpings, can be compared to visiting such a farm. You just want to keep going back! Last week I joined a group of foodies for an evening sortie on the buffet at the Pavilion at Meikles Hotel. Newly-decorated, the Pavilion is a great place for families to relax and enjoy themselves; smaller groups, couples and singles will also feel at home.

To say that the buffet was a riot of tastes, colours, textures and varieties is an understatement. Chef Bosco and his team surpassed themselves with an artistically-presented feast of different cuisines, designed to satisfy vegetarians and meat lovers alike.

Piping hot tomato soup, on an evening when guti and drizzle were shrouding the city, was a perfect starter. Green salads, cherry tomatoes with feta cheese and black olives, spicy beetroot, butternut salad, boiled peanuts, chopped cucumber and flat breads, were a repast in themselves, but there was more to come.

Fragrant lamb and chicken curries with an artful blend of spices simmered in bains maries, alongside saffron-coloured rice pilaf, steamed with plump raisins. A platter of succulent chicken livers garnished with yellow peppers and red tomatoes stood alongside side dishes of crisp-fried kapenta and three bean salad.

For foreign visitors to the buffet, or the uninitiated, the cauldron of mazondos (cow heels) might be the last frontier in adventurous eating, or a dish to feature in the Netflix series Ugly Delicious. If you aren’t familiar with this slow-cooked traditional dish of flavoursome gelatins, soft tendons, cartilage, skin and bone, you might give it a miss. But eaten at the Pavilion, with a spoon of steaming white sadza, a heap of mufushwa (dried kale and pumpkin leaves) simmered in tomato and onion, with a sprinkling of sauteed kapenta, it could become a favourite food.

When Chef Bosco began his six year cooking odyssey to Nigeria, he was unprepared for the many-layered flavours of West African cuisine, where dried fish is added to beef stew, and okra (derere) is cooked with crayfish. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the Nigerian love of the red hot chilli pepper, referred to as ‘pepper’, and featuring in almost every dish. The Yoruba saying ‘The soul that does not eat pepper is a dead soul’ could be based on the health benefits of eating chillis. Said to burn fat, combat hypertension and to reduce cholestrol, the hot chilli is known to release feel-good endorphins.

Colourful buffet at The Pavilion, Meikles Hotel.

Returning to Zimbabwe, Chef Bosco is busy developing a very special brand of Zimbabwean cuisine. He told me that ‘people want new tastes and different cuisines’, and that he’s continuously looking at trends and products to enhance his skills. While you won’t find an over-abundance of Jalapeno chilli in any of the buffet dishes, an occasional hit of Habanero or a suggestion of Scotch Bonnet may enhance your experience when you least expect it.

Don’t expect to find any Nigerian desserts such as coconut balls, semo puff puffs or shredded coconut and cassava root. Classic favourites such as crisp eclairs stuffed with whipped cream and coated with dark chocolate, luscious chocolate cake decorated with fresh strawberries, and chocolate mousse await you at the final stage of the buffet, so be sure to save some space for dessert.

The cost of the buffet is based on USD24, calculated in ZWD according to the rate of the day.  A Matter of Taste Charlotte Malakoff

The Pavilion
Meikles Hotel
Tel: 0242 707712
Comments to: cmalakoff@gmail.com