Food enthusiasts will go out of their way to get their hands (and teeth) on some of the most extravagant, exotic or rare dishes in the world, and will happily cough out a small fortune to satisfy their palates. Some of the most luxurious and often expensive food items around the world include donkey cheese, matsutake mushrooms, beluga caviar, saffron, Italian white alba truffles, fugu (pufferfish), kobe beef and bird’s nest, some of which you can find at top fine dining establishments around Nairobi.
“When we have specials, sometimes we will use saffron, especially for rice dishes,” says Archie Athanasius, Executive Chef at Hemingways Nairobi. “It is one of the most expensive spices by weight in the world and the threads are carefully handpicked from the specific flower (crocus sativus) then dried. We use very little in rice and that turns the dish yellow.”
Worldwide, one kilogramme can go for between $800 (Sh82,474) and $1,600 (Sh164,948). Despite the attempts at using machines it is still handpicked and it requires about 150,000 flowers (or 300kg) to get five kilogrammes of fresh stigmas from which you can harvest about one kilo of the dried bright orange spice. The top producers in the world are Spain, India and Iran.
“We mostly use it sparingly when we do special rice- based dishes or seafood paella,” adds Blaine Wilkinson, Executive Chef at Sankara Nairobi.