This is journalist Richard Brown’s latest diary entry about his culinary journey at Sava Dunes beach lodge in Mozambique. Sava prides itself on the local cuisine, prepared with creativity and flair.
One of the many highlights of a stay at Sava Dunes near Tofo in Mozambique, is the food. Keenan Houareau, a qualified chef and co-manager of Sava, oversees the kitchen and prepares dishes so delectable and fresh that they might as well have swum straight from the ocean onto your table. In fact, Keenan sources every night’s fare each morning, either by spearing or catching it off the reef right in front of Sava, or buying it straight off the boat at either Barra or Tofo.
‘Chicken or lobster for you this evening?’ he inquired on the day I arrived. Of course, I didn’t have to think very long on that choice. Naturally I opted for the lobster. Who wouldn’t in this tropical paradise, with the ocean lapping at the lodge’s doorstep and the smell of a fresh sea breeze drifting through the open sliding doors? If you’re going to have lobster anywhere, it’s here. It didn’t disappoint, either. The meat, although firm, practically fell out of the shell at the slightest encouragement, and – with an accompanying lemongrass and butter sauce that I’d kill to learn the recipe of – it melted in the mouth.
The mind-blowing lobster had set the standard for the week and, unbelievably, the plates drifting from the kitchen to my table every night only got better. Expertly prepared, and with subtleties and nuances one could expect from the finest fine-dining establishments (complete with sorbet palate cleansers between courses), guests at Sava eat like kings and queens.
‘I think I might experiment with a dessert recipe tonight,’ Keenan confided. ‘Chocolate salami,’ he said. Slightly dubious at that combination, but confident in Keenan’s instincts, I didn’t offer much of a reply.
Dinner started off with magnificent butterflied prawns with a delightful coconut crumb, which, when dipped in the partnered garlic-butter sauce, will have atheists believing in multiple gods. After the starter, and the obligatory palate cleanser, of course, came expertly prepared barracuda served on a bed of whole-grain mustard mash and a side of Greek salad. Finally, it was time for Keenan’s experiment – the chocolate and salami (mis?) creation.
What arrived at the table was a salami-like chocolate tube cut into delicate slices, with cashew nuts and biscuit bits visible in its centre. Also on the plate was a delicious tart pineapple ice cream (made with coconut milk – no dairy). I was still searching the plate for salami, when it dawned that he had meant ‘chocolate salami’, and not ‘chocolate and salami’. Relieved, I tucked in, and had rarely in my life tasted something so mouthwatering and moreish. The salt of the nuts complemented the sweet of the chocolate, which was then sliced through with the tart pineapple ice cream. Genius.
So, when you book your stay at Sava, you can not only expect breathtaking sea views, ocean adventures of all sorts, and chilling at the lodge’s epic swim-up bar; the food alone is worth coming here for.