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Legendary baked ham and English mustard at the Idyll Swan

LAST Thursday night, the streets in Harare North and other parts of England looked eerily quiet, as Lockdown 2.0 came into effect and pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops closed their doors.

Apple crumble and cream at The Idyll Swan

Harare proper, however, named after the Zuzuru chief ‘one who never sleeps’ is constantly crowded with hectic traffic and bustling people, all making up for lost time after the easing of lockdown restrictions. Staying at home no longer seems to be a necessity, and countless foodies and socialites have resumed their favourite pastime of eating out.

Last Sunday, the verandah at the Idyll Swan restaurant at Dandaro retirement village was crowded with shiny, happy people enjoying a Sunday roast, in the most convivial of surroundings. We arrived at 1 pm and were shown to what appeared to be the last available table. Our waiter invited us to join the buffet in the dining room, and although most of the patrons were licking their platters clean, having arrived earlier, the buffet of baked ham and seasonal vegetables still looked pristine.

Sunday roast at The Idyll Swan

Roast potatoes were seriously good, perfectly seasoned, with a crispy exterior and soft and fluffy inside. Roasted butternut with julienned carrots tasted so good, I could have piled my plate up with that alone. Zucchini, cut with precision into rounds and flavoured with thin, half moons of onion, were cooked quickly until just tender. Star of the show was a legendary baked ham, thinly sliced, and with just the right proportion of fat to meat. There was no shortage of English mustard to eat with the ham, and the aroma from a rich brown gravy, for those who insist that ‘everything must be swimming in gravy’ arose from a large tureen.

Dessert was the Idyll Swan’s delicious version of apple crumble, beautifully presented with a generous rosette of whipped cream and a sprinkling of icing sugar. At $10 a head, Sunday lunch at the Idyll Swan represents excellent value, and provides an opportunity for many of us with limited disposable income to eat out well in attractive surroundings.

A sparkling blue lap pool runs parallel to the restaurant, and one or two residents of Dandaro were swimming lazy lengths up and down, or paddling with their grand children in the shallow end. Across the road the duck pond looked cool and attractive, but all the ducks were huddled together beneath shady trees, waiting for things to cool down before taking an evening swim. As always, the gardens looked attractive, with flowering shrubs and well kept lawns.

When we arrived at the entrance to Dandaro, a security attendant took George’s temperature and offered him hand sanitiser, but ignored me in the passenger seat. In general, the public no longer seem overly concerned about wearing face masks,or in social distancing. Although there are fewer cases of Covid-19 in Zimbabwe than in other countries, government continues to warn against complacency and encourages social distancing and the wearing of masks.

If we’re vigilant, we should avoid a second spike, and any further lockdown. In Harare North, Lockdown 2.0 will be lifted on December 2, just in time to do some shopping, source a turkey for Christmas lunch, and prepare for the festive season.  A Matter of Taste with Charlotte Malakoff

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