The Navigator’s Table – Renaissance Hotel
As one of the very few privileged people in the country, MO4 Network invited me on behalf of Renaissance Hotel to attend “The Navigator’s Table”; hosted by celebrity Chef Wesam Masoud. If there’s one thing to wish for in 2018, it would be that all food events I get invited to, become like this one… Or at least try or aspire to deliver something half as impressive.
After checking into the hotel and completely abusing every inch of fun in the room, I headed out to find The Cairo Foodie Couple along with Abbas Fahmy and his lovely wife sipping on some drinks in the swimming pool. Heated swimming pool, that is.
Following a swift change into fancy wardrobe, we seemed to have been teleported into the location where the dinner was to take place. The Navigator’s Table was elaborately dressed in elegance and so were the guests, including MO4 Network’s Queen; Mrs. Amy Mowafi and husband Mr. Yusef Ansary, who graced us with their arrival so that we could finally start gossiping and comparing clothes. The cocktail networking session prior to the meal, resulted in a half-drunken Mido Eats, who was ready to devour the entire venue and barely made it to the safety of his own name tag which was carefully placed at his seat at the table. Yes, sorry.. I hadn’t eaten all day – in full anticipation of this dinner.
Chef Wesam Masoud was playing The Riddler for the night. He presented us with a menu of questions rather than names of dishes. Pretentious?! Yes. Intriguing?! Absolutely!!
“Would you like some tea?” was the first question on the puzzling menu and the waiters passed around with tea kettles, pouring the soup into Arabian style tea cups.. or should I say; tea shot-glasses. It was a Shiitake broth that was packed with umami and the best thing about it was that the tiny tea glasses gave us just the right amount to start the five-course meal. I am not a big fan of soup bowls.. they’re always way too big.. and sloppy.
After the soup, came a pot of mini blanched vegetables and edible flowers in soil.. no, not real soil… just edible stuff that looked like soil.. or at least I hoped it was. This very interesting vegan appetizer consisted of 3 layers. At the very bottom was an eggplant puree followed by a roasted carrot puree and finally topped with black rice and micro-veggies to represent earth.
For our main dish, we met with Kiki and Buba.. I know.. long story.. and I will never be able to explain it the way Chef Wesam did, so I suggest you go ask him if you wish to know more about these two weirdos. Apparently a ‘Kiki’ is something most people describe as sharp, rough and strong, while a ‘Buba’ is often associated with something soft, pillowy and cloud-like.. Too much psychoanalysis for a dish of sous-vide beef with a miso-charred exterior, fried polenta and the rural twist of Tahini-flavored demi-glace.
As I looked at the dessert question; “How was your summer?”, my mind was driven towards summer fruits and bright, sunny flavors. But of course, the riddler in Chef Wesam was not going to make it that easy! The dishes were placed in front of the guests and every one was basically looking at a cold white cube. Balanced on that cube were two crisp circles of Freska chips; Egypt’s signature beach snack! The cube parfait was basically frozen Sobia, which is traditionally a coconut and rice-water street drink. The garnish of angel-hair Halava and Cashew nuts made this dish the highlight of the evening. Such simple Egyptian dessert components were married to create one awesomely delicious and culture-rich dish.
When high creativity, intense taste and innovative technique are combined, the food is guaranteed to win my heart. I hope to see more concepts like these in Egypt, which always help in elevating the general taste and public palates. I always try to cover these revolutionary happenings, because I genuinely feel a great sense of responsibility to expose these rare occasions that open people’s eyes to the limitless culinary wonders, which can take place in our country.
A giant “Thank You” goes out to Renaissance Hotel as well as the MO4 Network team for this unforgettable experience.