I clearly couldn’t wait for my five-and-a-half week working holiday, which was to start in England (then on to Scotland) three days later, because it was off to The Codfather — a newish fish speciality restaurant in green, leafy Chisipite — for a grand open-air breakfast, starring imported kippers on the Sunday before jetting out.
Kippers (because not all readers are familiar with international culinary terms) are whole herrings: a small oily fish, mainly caught in the North and Irish Seas, which are split from head to tail, gutted, salted or pickled and cold-smoked.
Out of favour for many years, possibly because of their tendency to “repeat” (make you belch…and second hand smoky-salty fish is not something you want to be downwind of!), kippers have made a huge comeback in Europe (especially the UK). Although traditionally served as a breakfast fish, they often comprise the principal ingredient in high tea.
Wherever I travel, I always look for kippers on breakfast menus, but often without luck in dear old Zim. I did enjoy them at Nesbitt Castle in Bulawayo in June and they are always on the menu at Miller’s (no relation) Grill, Borrowdale, sometimes at Spring Fever in Rowland Square.
The Codfather menu says they are served with “an” egg of your choice, grilled tomatoes, toast, butter and jam/marmalade and, if that description were correct, it would be good value in anyone’s money at just US$8.
But despite the singular egg mentioned on the tariff, despite telling the always amiable Timothy (a former waiter at Libby’s Newlands, now closed since indigenisation) I wasn’t desperately hungry and one egg was all I wanted, two were served.
And as they were the freshest, largest, tastiest eggs: cooked exactly as ordered: poached and very soft, their runny buttercup yellow yolks mingled with the smoky fish and was dipped into by hot buttery toast, and there wasn’t a smear left on the plate!
Other breakfast fish is haddock Mornay, which comes on a bed of Popeye’s favourite spinach with a great cheese sauce at US$10. Breakfast is only served at The Codfather on a Sunday, when they also do lunch. They also open for lunch and supper Wednesday to Saturday.
Whimsically named, The Codfather, sits on 8,5 acres of rolling msasa woodland slopes at Chisipite and this northern suburb of Ha-ha-ha-rare (Africa’s fun capital) really is leafy!
Leafy? More like a forest! Turn off Dacomb Drive (at the side of Chisipite Senior School) at No 15 and drive perhaps 100 metres on an unmade bush road and voila! a cozy, comfortable former colonial dwelling welcomes you to a fine feast of fish or seafood.
The Codfather is run by the Deeres (Jacquie and “Nibs”) and has traded since October, 2011. For many years they’ve operated their major business: Sealife Seafoods, wholesaling and retailing fish, shellfish and other seafood at Rolf Valley.
Jacquie told me: “Opening a restaurant serving the sort of produce we import from all over the world seemed to make sense.”
Indeed it did!
Haddock’s back on the menu again. It’s been grossly overfished; there are consequentially major global shortages and was unavailable on my previous visit.
Otherwise you’re spoiled for choice. Ask for humble fish and chips and it’s battered hake with lovely golden chips (or…perish the thought…rice) at US$10…calamari rings and chips: same price.
On a budget? Seafood pasta is US$10 and prawn, smoked salmon or cheese omelettes with “starch” at US$9.
I initially found the simple A4 computer-printed laminated menu a bit confusing. There’s a starter platter of four different appetisers aimed at two people for US$18. You can have any one item at US$6. But must ask what daily specials are.
Candidly, I’d never heard of “brandade”, but ordered it on an earlier lunch visit, having been assured it was white fish pate. I haven’t — yet — got one of those fancy smart phones nasty folk use to cheat at pub quizzes, otherwise Wikipedia would have immediately said classical brandade is an emulsion of salt cod (bacalhau) and olive oil, eaten with bread or potatoes in Spain, Portugal, the south of France and Latin America.
This was a pate of rather bland (I thought Timothy said “blandage”!) white fish, substantially perked up by a liberal dollop of tangy garlic, totally enhanced by a zingy salad of mixed crisp leaves, baby cherry tomatoes, bean sprouts and sharp gherkins with a moreish dressing, Melba toast and excellent butter.
Dr Yahoo or Prof Google would have explained “brandade” is the past participle of the Catalonian verb “brandada”, which means “to whip with oscillating movements”. It has strong sexual connotations!
Ooh… there’s cheeky for you!
For mains last time, I chose posh fish and chips of the day at US$15, which was totally delicious, whole Namibian sole, the subtly rich flesh of which lifted cleanly off the bones in two swift movements per side.
The fish, overlapping an oval platter both ends, was cooked faultlessly; smallish chips were piping hot, floury within, crisp, golden exteriors and were exemplary.
As a leading member of Soupaholics Unanimous, I’m pleased fish potage du jour at US$6 with bread now includes Bouillabaisse, from Provence (really more of a fish stew).
A liquor licence application is in; but, in the meantime, BYOB: no corkage. There’s a wide range of cool drinks and non-alcoholic Malawi and club shandies available. I had a splendid cafetiere of strong filter breakfast coffee at US$2 and then, still thirsty, had a chilled Sprite lemonade at the same price.
The Codfather, 15 Dacomb Drive, Chisipite. Tel 498021/3; fax 498022; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com. Open Wednesday-to-Satur-
day lunch and supper; Sunday breakfast and lunch; fish braai available Sundays. Booking recommended weekdays, vital weekends.