Brunching off at 360 Degrees


I get wildly excited by the prospect of going to brunch because very little effort is required on my part. All I have to do is eat; people watch, give and receive gossip.  I’ve called a friend to join me and she’s obliged without much persuasion. Folks, you need a sidekick like that, one who doesn’t need cajoling to do things with you. Her only requirement is that the restaurant serves mimosas. I think we can manage that. You want to be like the cool cats and girls who brunch, wearing oversized sunglasses, socially conscious tees that say things like “Hands off our Elephants” or “Free Tibet” even though you don’t know who or where Tibet is, flirty sundresses with sandled feet showing French manicured toe nails or jeans.

We are meeting at 360 Degrees Pizza and I’m a little early. The brunch thing is recent for them, about three weeks old and I’m stoked to try it out. It’s a beautiful place to eat, the decor my kind of thing, part industrial part modern. There’s the wall gallery of intriguing photos of steering wheels and blueprints in black and white and sepia.  The light fixtures look like they are powered with gas not electricity. It’s hard to miss the behemoth that’s the wood burning oven. I walk up to the guy who’s working on it, feeding it wood and pizza dough. His name is Gilbert and he’s the pizza don here. He knows all there is to know about pizza and I’m surprised that there’s quite a bit to know. He calls me around to where he is and tells me about the month he spent in Italy learning his craft. The difference between good pizza and shit pizza is the flour, and the variety he uses, Caputo, has been named by some as the ‘godfather of flour”. Gilbert loves it because it is finely ground and has the consistency of baby powder, things I’ve never cared about when eating a pizza but I now feel compelled to because of Gilbert’s enthusiasm in describing it. I almost want to dab some flour under my armpits to feel its baby powder consistency. The end result of course is a nice, thin, crackly crust that’s crispy on the edges and chewy where it needs to be.

But wait, there’s more, the tomatoes too are special. Also imported from Italy, they are grown in the volcanic ash that is spewed from Mt. Vesuvius. A claim to fame that’s hard to compete with. You can say anything and add Mt. Vesuvius to it and you win hands down.

-I flew over Mt. Vesuvius

-I proposed to my girlfriend at the base of Mt. Vesuvius

-I took a dump on Mt. Vesuvius

You get the drift, it’s an important place.

So these tomatoes are tangy and acidic, deeply red in colour and possibly blessed by the Vatican and make the delicious pizza base. And the cheese rounding up the assembly is made from buffalo milk. How do you even begin to milk a buffalo?! Where do you find it? I think National Geographic needs to pay me to do a show on that very subject. It’s in this trinity of ingredients and other toppings that Gilbert wants you to say with every bite of his pizza, “f**k, this is the best pizza”. My friend arrives in time to pry me away from Gilbert and his increasingly hot oven.

Air kisses and compliments follow suit. We pick a strategic table inside so we can maximize on the people watching. Our waitress comes by with the menu as we prattle on. Our eyes quickly zero in on the cocktail section, drinking at 10am is an acceptable almost required part of brunch culture, one that we are loath to change.  We order the mimosas and I wonder to myself if they serve them in doubles, you know like when you order a Tusker Lite, the waiter brings you two bottles because of how quickly he assumes you’ll drink them. This assumption should be applied to mimosas too. There’s something seductive about drinking mimosas, it’s either the champagne flutes they are served in or the bubbles rising hypnotically in the glass and exploding in your mouth. It’s difficult to be in a bad mood while drinking mimosas.

Our waitress slithers away to get those while we mull over what we shall eat.  We chat importantly about everything and nothing. Like what we did for the holidays. She spent part of hers in Nanyuki at Mt. Kenya Safari club, the nights were chilly and bonfires were lit and what a wonderful place it is over there. I spent mine in Kigali, attending a wedding conducted in languages I didn’t understand, but was epically beautiful all the same. On spouses, she left hers watching their kid, I left mine wondering how soon I’d be back with some food because there was only a dried out lemon in the fridge this morning. Being a new year we are also committed to a diet and fitness regime that will finally exorcise the cellulite on our thighs that is diminishing our market value.

This diet is going to have to start after today though because the first of the brunch spread has come out. Eggs Benedict served on a bed of English muffin and potatoes, with ham and hollandaise sauce. The perfect hollandaise sauce is an emulsion of butter, egg yolks and water, whisked together into a perfect almost satin-like creamy sauce that you might want to do two things with. One: apply on yourself and have someone lick it off, you know like foodie foreplay. Two: drink it straight out of a shot glass. Unconventional applications, true, but who’s judging you? Then there’s the vegetable frittata, a triangular and pillowy wedge of spinach and eggs that trembles when you move it or touch it, now that’s a good frittata. There are so many variables to consider when making a frittata and it’s tricky but the person who prepared this one is a wizard who has made me forget about Gilbert and his pizza. We taste and chew and as we take in the flavours, it’s silent like a graveyard between funerals. Delicious is an understatement.  The manager comes by to see if we are doing alright, we nod and at the same time point at our empty mimosa glasses, he knows what to do with them.

In between bites, I tell her the tantalizing tale of the week I have had at work. I got a visit from a couple, a baby and an older woman for a routine paternity test. The man meticulously dressed was sweaty and fidgety. The baby sucked generously on his mother’s tit while she chewed absent-mindedly on her gum. The older lady with her wig hat slightly askew was the mother’s aunt. They sat there staring at me like I had the keys to the kingdom. I had met the man prior to this visit where he explained in exquisite detail the dilemma he was in. He was engaged to be married, to someone else not the baby mama. He had gone through the rigmarole of visits and dowry payments and his wedding was 3 months away. Then baby mama and her brothers turned up, demanding that he do right by her and he wasn’t even sure that the baby was his because he’d only been with this chic that one time, or maybe two but the times were few. I told him the only way to know for sure was to do the paternity test. The test results that they came to pick up this week, revealed that he was the daddy. The guy was in a furu furu condition as the colour drained from his face and suit.  The aunt and her wig hat each thanked a deity, the baby mama lolled internally. Hectic!

This story is proof positive that as humans we willingly invite suffering into our lives, just like the one we are about to experience from the caramelized banana crepes that our waitress has just brought. Forget all the glorious things I didn’t say about the frittata and eggs, these lacy, nutella filled ensembles are the truth. If you ever find yourself on death row, like the meticulously dressed baby daddy who might have to kill one of the women in his life to hide the truth, then these crepes should be your last meal. You’ll have this silly smile about you like you’ve just been laid, making for a painless execution.

We also ordered a calzone, a stuffed pizza which is baked in the wood burning oven which I have nicknamed Lucille… (the mimosas have made their way to my brain). Our calzone is stuffed with bacon, eggs onions, chilli flakes and cheese. I think we would have enjoyed if more if we weren’t already stuffed from everything else we had eaten. We basically toyed with this one and didn’t give it the proper reception that it deserved. I was also comparing this calzone with one I had had several years ago. The latter was saucier, more cheese and sauce and one meat. I liked that version better.

It’s about 2pm when we slowly peel ourselves off the seats, the first time we are moving since we sat. Our waitress is trying to get us to stay a little while longer by offering their homemade gelato with caramel sauce. Tempting but we decline, we will simply have to come back to try it. That won’t be difficult to do, there’s more on this menu that’s on my to-try list, food pics to take and post on FB or IG and make friends jealous at all the new money I seem to be spending on mimosas and gelatos. Like Arnold, I’ll be back.

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  1. LOL……”Buffalo milk” and “like when you order a Tusker Lite, the waiter brings you two bottles because of how quickly he assumes you’ll drink them.
    About the content of your fridge Biko….it is Njaanuary so I understand.

          1. Rereading this as I wait for today’s post. N couldn’t help but chuckle at the thought of Biko, “doing air kisses. “”

  2. … The feeling I got after jumping through paragraphs.
    U have nothing against the writer, I guess most of us come here to laugh and it’s not even slightly funny.. Am sorry

  3. I have no idea what any of that was..except the mimosa and pizza. May be you should send my virgin palate there then they can get an unbiased review…

    1. Did you have to read it? This is a personal blog for crying out loud and not a compulsory set book you have to sit exams for at the end of the term. Sigh

  4. Is this the event that had the big bosses and your two ladies hated the article you wrote?? Cuz I’m feeling totally ripped off.

  5. A good read but don’t talk of taking a dump and food those two though their fate is intertwined should not come to mind when doing the other.

  6. After reading this piece am officially hungry!
    “I almost want to dab some flour under my armpits to feel its baby powder consistency. ” Who does that? Hehe.

    1. It is BikoZulu alright, not Biko the man (the man as in the human being, not the man like in the ‘Total Man’), but the page is BikoZulu only that he has allowed someone to use it incognito (I do not know what this word means).

      1. I think someone has hacked into Biko Zulu’s page. Probably those 2 chicks Shiko & the other one.
        We should find them & kick them out.

    1. This don’t ‘feel’ you. You don’t think we’re familiar with what your feel is by now? That’s not your article. That’s just not your article sweetheart

  7. wait. so your spouse, at 2pm as still stuck with the dried lemon in the fridge as you experienced variety? this world is not our home

  8. Two-faced Article…Definitely not Biko.
    One face looks like the Author was Marketing the place or something.
    Second face sounds like a foodie expressing love for Mimosa

  9. The writing is good and mature. Or maybe I’m older, I don’t know. I’ve read almost all of Biko’s writings and I find them super. I like today’s mix and a slight move away from the usual flow. Maybe the followers have become a bit attached to the emotional writing styles? I don’t know. But I love it.

  10. You did the social experiment piece on Java and my guess is,their customer base shot a notch higher…so the sister restaurant called you impromptu( Read midnight) and told you to market them like there is no tomorrow.Ok piece considering…

  11. I am a voracious reader and I must applaud the writer of this article. Ignore any comment on it’s not Biko so we are disappointed blah blah if it’s a critique on your writing style or content then perhaps weigh but otherwise be judged on the merit of your work rather than the expectation of what has always been done. I was hooked and I will try the restaurant because you made it come alive. Kudos

  12. I only had to read the second sentence to know that this is not Biko’s work. I could t read it past the second sentence #stillIwait

  13. I have learned a bit about good food and googled about various drink… Mimisa, I must try 🙂 ….your picture there!! I could eat the plate too 🙂

  14. Feel like the story could be longer. Too many left gaps. No flow to it. Like this comment. Otherwise it has potential

  15. I literally skipped through the paragraphs on this one for once. A bit boring and sort of not Biko-like maybe. The picture is totally cool thou…

  16. This is actually a pretty good article..and of course its not Biko..who is probably still flows and is on point..well done Sophie.

  17. A piece with a superfluous flow of “food for thought” quite literally…! I find satiation and true love in food and people who find the idea less entertaining have no respect for Food!

  18. To all those grumbling children here crying for Biko, just chill till tuesdays and get your fix. Just dont come whining on someone else’s article on how it’s not Biko, dah! You must be a genius to have noticed that, it is uncouth. Before you poise those itchy and vitriol filled fingers over your gadget, please take time to READ the byline and save us from pointing out the obvious. Thanks in advance.

    1. It’s quite juvenile to complain about how other writers are not up to your standards, even Biko started from somewhere. If you don’t like an article you don’t have to comment negatively, there’s objective critique & there’s this Self-righteous pseudo editor reviews of how you couldn’t read past the third sentence or this can’t be biko. Truth of the matter is eventually Biko will dedicate less time to this blog and these emerging crop of writers are the ones who will keep it going. You can either read or close tab it’s never that serious.

    2. Very well said Esquire..I for one was getting tired of the whining and articles r not Biko’s get over it already gang.different days different guest writers that’s how its been. I totally enjoyed this piece.very well written

  19. Hahahaha I see you do not have too many foodies among the following, huh? I love food, you should see the bump I carry from my escapades with food….. I hope 360 is featuring on Nairobi Restaurant Week coz I definitely want brunch…..

  20. Im i the only one who has a sense of criticism when reading these articles that i know haven’t been written by Biko? Lol i feel like a primary school teacher marking a composition. Anyway not so bad,would have been better if i opened the link to fing an article actually written by Biko though.

  21. Wonderful read. I have just had a meal of Ugali, sukuma wiki and nyama but this story has created a vacuum. Since nature abhors vacuums, I am off to do the needful. I wonder what happened to baby daddy.

  22. Thits i believe is the article vicky and ciku dismissed as lacking bikozuluism in yesterdays ‘hollow’…name dropping without much coherence.I find it so.

  23. Biko please don’t play us. Which man worries about cellulite thighs and since when were you involved with DNA tests….. eish! Had to point out the inconsistency. Can the real Biko please show up….

    1. Clearly you ain’t a real gang because if you were you would have known there is a foodie resident called liz gitonga. Those people yupping and making a lot of noise asking for biko are not even the real gang.

  24. IMO,Great post.Dissapointing how majority of the comments are about Biko vs Sophie Gitonga.Should we instead focus on her ideas rather than attacking the person presenting the ideas.:-)

  25. If it this from.Biko, then we are gradually drifting away. We know bills must be paid but naaah. Don’t throw away the creativity and well crafted sentences we are used to for a few dollars.

  26. Sophie there were typos and the flow and turn of phrase was unlike your other pieces. Something was a miss today,but keep at it.

    I am a foodie but i dunno why my palate just never seems to agree with yours…it’s my problem though,not yours.

  27. I think the gang has gone bonkers, if you did not like the piece why not wait for Bikozulu article next week. Its not rocket science noting that Biko doesn’t do paternity tests so why drag down budding writers with negative comments?

  28. The food jargon made me confused. Read it half way. The flow was not just there. More interesting,the Biko we are used to cannot be felt through the reading. I mean the typical you, the humor, the frank you could not be felt.

  29. Good article. I look forward to reading from Sophie (you topped it with that Luwombo story though…still hungry since I read it and will be till I get to Champara). Now Biko where is our fitness muse the lovely Ms. Chero? Please ask her to come back, nay beg her to come back to writing.

  30. Whether the article has been written by Biko or not doesn’t matter. Yes, the article apparently lacks the Biko element; however, it’s very good and I wish I had time to re-read it despite the fact that it sounds like Biko, alas, landed a marketing gig.

  31. If you have written before(besides thumbing a text), you would know better to positively criticize. It’s food. Sophie can make mahindi choma sound like lasagna. Food needs time. Sophie needs time.

  32. It’s a good article, but not for the general population. I didn’t understand a thing. But it’s better writing it than telling your boyfriend who would probably count all the imaginary spiders in the house before you’re through. go girl.

  33. ” If you ever find yourself on death row, like the meticulously dressed baby daddy who might have to kill one of the women in his life to hide the truth, then these crepes should be your last meal. You’ll have this silly smile about you like you’ve just been laid, making for a painless execution.” hehehe…
    Talking of baby daddies…well, I simply don’t sympathize..had a harrowing tale myself..maybe this forlorn looking chap at least will take responsibility..the dead beat I had in my life…well lets just say…is plain irresponsible…didn’t give two hoots or even one dime to support his own…I think there was a time, I just imagined him to be a sperm donor…because he surely acted worse than one..anywho, this ain’t the time or place for such ramblings…life goes on..and my daughter is the loveliest little person I know..somedays I wish she came as twins!!

  34. You try to do a commercial for a food house and fail. You wonder whether you did a good job, going by the comments here. It surely is not Biko. Someone acquired his persona. Forcefully or otherwise. The baby mama part clicked.Just. Biko needs to pacify the angry fandom.Soon!

  35. Kenyans!! how we love crisis!! hata kama hakuna we create one… Biko this one is a good article. I learnt stuff. The day you’ll stop learning is the day you’ll be no more!!

    1. IKR? I feel like le gang should take up a PR 101 class. If you can’t say something nice or constructive then just let it be.

      These other writers,they are human you know,like flesh and blood emotional humans much like you,yes you the always negative,this-is-not-Biko-hence-a-waste-of-our-time.

      Be nice guys,last i checked it doesn’t cost a thing

  36. Yanick had Biko come out.. now he worries about cellulite…oh my..heheh…

    Pardon the cheap jab though. We all know this is Sophie. Not all may love you but you’ve got something. A little tweak here and there for the flow and you are good to go. keep at it Sophie

  37. I think its not fair to come to someones blog and pretend to be the one to approve or disapprove a story. come on guys, almost every comment i read here is about whether a story is good for the blog or not. I know Biko welcomes feed back but surely, let us not pretend we know better than the blog owner himself. Just read the story and if you don’t like it then you can move along!!!

  38. That pic has me totally salivating. You’ve made me want to try out mimosa.

    Chero,where did you go? How much do you weigh now? Did your knee get better? How is your little boy doing? And your mummy? Oh, Chero, I miss you.

  39. This would be better if the writer chose to use either the 1st or 3rd person instead of mixing them up. The use of analogies and imagery is wanting too. The author comes across as trying too hard to describe simple things/moments.

  40. As a person fond of food and varieties, this article is definitely worth a read. Hoping that you will put more articles exploring more of the food in all the top hotels and lodges in Kenya and the varieties available there. Cheers!