- Spinners Web in Nairobi was created by Jacqui and her two friends, Betti Mburu and Jean O’Meara 35 years ago to promote handmade products, especially hand-spun wool and cotton.
Before you get to Jacqui Resley’s grandmother’s holiday lunch, you will pass through a fascinating gallery space.
Spinners Web in Nairobi was created by Jacqui and her two friends, Betti Mburu and Jean O’Meara 35 years ago to promote handmade products, especially hand-spun wool and cotton.
“From the very beginning, we were committed to promoting products that were Kenya-made,” says Jacqui who took over the business in 2009.
But that was not before the troika of women reached out to local handicraft workshops, self-help groups, and individuals creating products out of indigenous fibers.
They first came to the original Kijabe Street shop; then to Viking House. But as the interest grew, the shop moved again to Peponi Road where it remained for several years.
In the early days, Spinners Web focused on natural fibers, everything from handspun yarns and hand-knit sweaters to hand-woven carpets, curtains, and capes.
It was only after Jacqui took over the business that the gallery branched out into a wider array of arts, crafts, and gourmet foods, including a café.
It was in the outdoor café that we found grandma’s Christmas lunch that friends had raved about. The lunch is a traditional holiday meal, complete with baked ham, scalloped potatoes, coleslaw, baked beans, and a side dish of savoury homemade bread and butter pickles.
What makes the meal so special is the granny’s recipes, especially the tangy, sweet-and-sour baked beans.
The ham is also amazing, having been glazed in honey. The scalloped potatoes are blended with a special mix of sweet butter and Kenyan cheese, mashed, and then baked in a pie pan and served as pizza-like slices.
Then, adding to the total ‘tangy-sweet’ taste are the pickles which had been marinated in another magic mix.
Jacqui offered her favourite New York City hot dog served especially as a holiday treat. The hot dog buns are made by an award-winning German baker.
But as per the original New York City style (which Jacqui learned to love while working in the Big Apple three years before coming to Kenya in 1971), Jacqui adds sauerkraut and mustard as well as other condiments to tantalise.
But the coup de force of the meal (for me) is the dessert. Jacqui had travelled to India years ago where she had tasted carrot pie and realised that it was as sweet as or sweeter than the traditional pumpkin pie.
The carrot pie is served with fresh whipped cream and coffee or tea. But just in case, friends had informed you that Jacqui’s fresh carrot cake is ‘to die for’, one can have that instead.
“We didn’t do so much take away service until we started getting orders for our carrot cake," said Jacqui who insisted we try both the carrot cake and carrot pie.
In case you have a bit of extra time after lunch, visit the rooms (which were once Jacqui’s home) where artistic crafts and home décor can be found.
They have everything from furniture (some of which is Jacqui’s design), leather goods, and finely-spun fabrics made into fashionable garments to jewellery and other accessories created by nearly 500 artists, artisans, and designers.
At Spinners Web, the line between what is the art and what is craft is so blurred, one finds their one common denominator is high quality. Nearly everything is Kenya-made apart from a few beaded masks and sculptures coming from West Africa.
Otherwise, artists Evans Ngure, Nani Croze, and Jacqui herself (who designs elegant tapestries for her Weaverbird section of the shop) create works of art that blend in easily with artistically made crafts.