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Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch: Crouching Lion, Hidden Bakery

5 February 2012

On safari, on safari, on sa-fa-ri! All you can think about is going on safari! Lions and rhinos and ostrich eggs, oh my! Gotta see 'em all' so little time so much to do, we better get on a Safari Jeep stat. Like a cheetah you zoom through the monumental heavy wooden gates of Africa, over the bridge, and through the maze of guests in the bustling little African village of Harambe, getting closer and closer to the bulging baobab tree in the rear of the village. Here the great tree marks the gateway to one of the wildest adventures in the Animal Kingdom and as you arrive, right on cue you hear a mighty roar! A lion? A gorilla? No'it's your stomach. But you have no time for a sit down buffet at the Tusker House. We've got to keep moving! No time for snacks!

The local villagers needed to paint signs like this to attract guests to dine in the village before their adventure

Hold your zebras, jungle explorer! You can't go on safari on an empty belly, there's plenty to choose from in the village of Harambe. In the mad dash for the attraction at the end, the excited, yet unobservant guest will often overlook the little shops that make this area of the park a village. Tamu Tamu Refreshments, serving burgers and smoothies may be easy to spot as it is the cornerstone for the East side of the village. The Harambe fruit market is rather obvious with its thatched roof and colorful selection of goodies. These two quick service food stands are easily accessible, though many will miss the little bakery on the West side of the village street. I speak from experience; Animal Kingdom is my favorite park and in my earliest visits to the park, I've tended to overlook and not notice this little sweet shop in my excitement to get on the safari.

The Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery is simply a walk up window attached to the Tusker House restaurant. It is easy to miss because it blends so well with the rest of the building and not particularly extravagant in grabbing attention of passerby. It is also quite non-traditional when one thinks of a bakery. It's more akin to a drive through window. Though to help solve this issue, the register for this bakery was placed several feet in front of the pick-up window. While the Main Street Bakery and the Board Walk Bakery have the advantage of having a large refrigerated display or counter of some sort, Kusafiri gets a little more resourceful, and artificial with a small glass display case of what treats are served.

Left to right: Zebra Cupcake, Brownie Paw, Cotton Top Tamarin Cupcake, cookies, brownie, danishes, croissant, bagels, muffins

The cookies, danishes, muffins, and breakfast breads look to be fresh and brought out every day for the display. At Board Walk, we did the same, having such items stored on our back shelves with a display of each item in the display case. Unfortunately, the hot sun and limited shade takes a beating on Kusafiri's display, so their specialty desserts are represented by some not so fabulous fakes. The artificial, unappetizing look of the display is misleading, because I've come to discover that their specialty desserts are quite delicious and unique! In addition to coffee and espresso drinks, the Coffee Shop and Bakery offers some unique cupcakes and brownies with some wild names and designs inspired by the menagerie of African animals in the nearby Harambe Wildlife Preserve.

Before dining at this bakery for the first time and for this article, I knew all I wanted was the White Chocolate Elephant Cupcake. Hidden Mickey Monday Alex M was visiting, and prior to her arrival, we made plans to devour ' I mean sample ' this cupcake after reading about it in an article by our friends over at the Disney Food Blog. We were a bit distressed to see it was not on display with the other fakes, but relieved it was still on the menu.

While waiting for our cupcake, we found just beyond the window was a little alley and clay hut with some high tables for those who need a quick stop to enjoy their coffee and treat.

Described as 'a rich chocolate cake filled with chocolate cream, topped with a light Buttercream and Toasted Coconut,' the White Chocolate Elephant Cupcake arrived piled high with all the delicious things discussed in the menu. I noticed, this cupcake is actually quite similar to the popular German Chocolate cake, which features a creamy coconut pecan filling. Though, I know what you're thinking, this is Africa, why are they serving German cake? Fun fact time! German Chocolate Cake is actually named after the man who created the type of chocolate used in it: Sam German.

In seconds flat, Alex and I enjoyed almost every last bite of that cupcake. The only disappointment was the cupcakes namesake: the white chocolate elephant. If you like a bit of white chocolate with your sugar, then you'd love the elephant. Though beautiful and incredibly detailed, the white chocolate elephant was not so good. Still that didn't ruin the experience of the moist and delicious chocolate cake. The buttercream added a nice balance to the richness of the chocolate while the toasty coconut help bring out the sweetness of all the ingredients.

We nibbled on the Elephant ears at least

The Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery is the little gem of Harambe Village and should not be missed on your next trip. It operates out of the Tusker House's bakery and while that buffet offers some incredible desserts, only the specialty cupcakes can be found at Kusafiri. 'Kusafiri' means 'to travel' or 'traveling' in Swahili, so one can interpret that this little shop actually is just a window attached to a restaurant. It's a traveling bakery that sets up wherever it can find space. This time, it's here to supply hungry explorers with some sweet treats to fuel up before their invigorating journey at the nearby Kilimanjaro Safari.

(Image courtesy of Alex M)


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