The iconic Half Moon Hotel hosted guest chef Bashir Munye during Heroes’ Weekend for an Afro-Italian, nomadic culinary journey. Munye, a culinary professor at George Brown College in Canada, served up inspirations in his nomadic comfort food style; incorporating inspirations from his birth home Somalia and Italy, where he was raised.
The award-winning Delmare restaurant, nestled inside Eclipse at Half Moon, is very regarded for its Italian seafood experience and experimental menus. Coupled with its luxe setting it made the right pairing for guests to indulge.
The farm-to-dinner experience had each course expertly created by Munye, prepared with ingredients cultivated through sustainable agricultural practices, enhanced by Jamaican and Somalian spices and exquisitely paired with wines.
The journey began with a kitfo for the amuse-bouche. A kitfo is an Ethiopian traditional dish consisting of minced raw beef, marinated in mitmita (a chilli powder-based spice mix) and niter kibbeh (a butter infused with herbs and spices). Chef Munye’s take utilised beetroot as a substitute of beef, berbere, orange, fennel pollen and funky butter served on injera crisp for a chilly canapé.
Breaking Bread Together formed the second course, dubbed Carta Di Musica. This consisted of bread, honey, ricotta, an Italian whey cheese, and dukkah, an Egyptian spice mix combination of fragrant roasted nuts and seeds. Each the amuse-bouche and carta di musica were paired with Mionetto, an Italian prosecco.
Sharable appetisers followed with banana flower (blossom) served with coconut cloud, cassava nectar and roasted peanuts. Frittura Mista made with local grouper fish, a sustainable fish option, prepared with breadfruit and served with a sumac aioli sauce. Grilled djaaja, chicken grilled with Ras el Hanout (mix of several spices), sugarcane and served with a lemon and parsley dip. The sugarcane providing a sweet counter to the spices. All paired with the KWV Chenin Blanc from South Africa.
Entrées for the journey included a chermoula with local snapper and Moroccan orange salad paired with a Santa Christina Cipresseto Rosato from Italy. Lobster tagine in saffron broth served with sides of cassava couscous, and coconut pondu (Munye’s inspiration for a coconut callaloo rundown), paired with a Banfi La Pettegola, Vermentino wine, also from Italy. Abbacchio Al Forno, a Maroon-style jerk lamb nicely paired with a Stellenbosch Mentors Pinotage from South Africa.
Dessert accomplished the journey culminating with a soursop and pistachio cassata. This being a conventional cake from Sicily, Italy consisting of round sponge cake moistened with fruit juices or liqueur and layered with ricotta cheese and candied fruit, a filling also used with cannoli. Speak about leaving the doldrums and taking the cannoli!
Chef Munye spoke with Thursday Food on the inspiration behind the dishes and his goal for the evening.
“This evening’s inspiration had much to do with my heritage as Somalians are nomads. And from my extensive research on multi-ethnic African cuisines, I desired to not only bring my love of African cuisine but Italian as well, because I grew up there, and to showcase that Jamaica has numerous beautiful ingredients. We used the banana and okra flower as individuals should not aware that botanically 80 per cent of plants will be eaten. The goal for the evening was to convey my very own personal story, my love of food, making my guests feel wonderful, while making environmentally sustainable food decisions,” Munye explained.
Claudio Facchinetti, sous-chef, Delmare, spoke with Thursday Food on the move to ask Chef Munye and the Afro-Italian infusion.
“We had a combination of African and Italian cuisine tonight, which I might say is analogous in some parts and since everyone has in common food being an element of life, joy and happiness. The enjoyment that we’re making tonight is a visit from Africa to Italy and it showcases why we’re advocating for sustainability in food. We’re appreciative of Chef Munye joining us to spotlight that, as that is the direction that Delmare goes,” Facchinetti stated.
— Text & photos by Aceion Cunningham