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09.26.07

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Twiga at Safari

Wild animal enclosure hosts a special dinner to help name their new baby giraffe.

By Carey Sweet


I haven't eaten a really good Tunisian brick since I toured northern Africa in the late 1990s. And when was the last time any of us enjoyed a truly tasty Tanzanian bottotie, straight from the Serengeti?

We'll get our chance at the Twiga at Twilight fundraiser, coming up Oct. 6 at Santa Rosa's Safari West. The menu for the evening is all about Africa, starting from the reception with its Moroccan-style chicken sticks, to the dessert of fresh berries, pineapple and papaya spiked with star anise and spun sugar.

The event, at $150 per person, benefits the nonprofit educational foundation of the 400-acre wildlife preserve tucked in the Petrified Forest between Santa Rosa and Calistoga. In typical fashion, it includes live entertainment, silent and live auctions, and plenty of wine. In an untypical twist, however, guests will start the evening (promptly at 5:30pm, please) with authentic Sundowners (serious whiskey and gin-based drinks, mixed with malaria-protective quinine tonic water and scurvy-fighting lime juice, thank you). No ho-hum canapés here, either: African-costumed servers will ply guests with peri-peri (fiery Red Devil pepper) prawns slathered in mango-macadamia chutney, banana chips topped with chicken hash and "authentic African maize bowls" (corn dough rolled into little balls and dipped in savory relish).

Dinner will be a three-course feast beginning with cucumber-feta and watermelon-pineapple salads, artichoke-basil-cauliflower flatbreads and those delectable bricks (samosas, actually, as in the popular African street snacks of crispy pastry purses stuffed with raisins, onions, potato and lemon peel; the brick Twiga's menu refers to is the phyllo-like dough).

Guests are encouraged to dress safari-chic, for gathering around family-style entrées including roasted harissa-rubbed game hen, cumin orange duck legs, saffron couscous with grilled vegetables, green apple roasted potatoes and that delicious bottotie (a traditional casserole of curried ground beef and dried fruits topped with baked custard, bay leaves and lemon). Wrapping things up: spiked fruit, chocolate banana bread pudding and chocolate-rum mini flans.

It gets even better. During the festivities, guests will be set loose to explore the rolling, tree-covered preserve, bidding g'day to the gazelles, offering salutations to the scimitar-horned Oryx and greeting the park's newest baby giraffe.

Be sure to bring your wallet—the highest bidder at the auction will get the chance to name the cute critter. If Twiga is already taken (an obvious choice, it's Swahili for giraffe), I vote for "Little Baby Bottotie."

Twiga at Twilight is slated for Saturday, Oct. 6, at Safari West, 3115 Porter Creek Road, Santa Rosa. 5:30pm to 9pm. $150 per person with optional overnight accommodations available. 707.579.2551 or www.safariwest.com.

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