30km west of Abidjan
Commissioned by Malcolm Eggs
Back in December, the writer David Varela devised a project in which he would write "whatever people want, live, on webcam, for 100 hours straight, to raise money for Arvon's work with children's literacy and writing projects". Struck by this opportunity to generate new breakfast content, I made a donation and requested a review of "an imaginary breakfast in an imaginary cafe in an imaginary town". Exactly a month ago to this day, after over thirty hours of constant writing, David responded with the following:
The Ivory Coast's continuing drive for tourists has now reached the high-end market. Raoul's Guesthouse, with its private beach and distinctive lighthouse, is offering secure luxury accommodation for a Western clientele, with a heavy emphasis on pure cotton linen, white driftwood and a sumptuous dining experience.
Having arrived late on the Friday night, my first opportunity to see the layout was at breakfast on Saturday morning. Descending from my guesthouse lighthouse penthouse by fireman's pole, I was greeted on the ground floor by Raoul himself, who showed me to the slide which would carry me to the breakfast room.
Swirled gently around like a delicate wine, I arrived in the breakfast room to find the architect had opted for a subaquatic design. The reinforced glass dome, located some 75m out to sea, afforded ocean views from floor level in every direction. My table was on the beach side, giving me a clear vista of coral and white sand, with colourful fish whisking by in schools or stopping to pucker up against the glass.
The breakfast menu had a similarly pescatarian feel, focusing on salmon dishes (for the European palate) and local catches fresh from the guesthouse's own nets. At lunch, the waiter informed me, Raoul himself would catch the Fish of the Day with a sharpened stick.
I chose the 'Croc, Monsieur,' Raoul's personal adaptation of a traditional Abidjan dish, combining smoked crocodile, kelp, goatfish, bigeye, moony, bubu and electric catfish.
While I waited, the table team acquainted me with the desalination system which allowed me to process and evaporate the seawater at my seat, producing delightfully fresh flakes of salt.
When the dish arrived, the salt turned out to be redundant. Perfectly seasoned and cooked, the solidity of the crocodile was balanced by the moony, which simply fell apart, and the smoother texture of the goatfish and bigeye. The catfish, lightly seared, added an extra crispness. The bubu, however, was a disappointment.
After a rubdown by the breakfast masseuse, I returned to my winch and wound my way back to the penthouse, eager to see what Raoul would be skewering us for lunch.
Original review and much more here