The real Ethiopia (or what Bob Geldof does and does not tell you in concert)

This week is 25 years since a bunch of bouffant-haired pop stars staged the most ambitious concerts of all time to help millions of starving people who had never heard of them.

Thus begins a superb Reuters piece on all the wonderful things Bob Geldof never told you about Ethiopia. Hat tip to @owenbarder.

Yesterday, after a rather grueling run at Addis Ababa’s 3000m, Owen and I retreated to Castelli’s, the Italian restaurant that, according to Bono and Bob Geldof, is the best in Africa.

How do Bono and Geldof fare as food critics? Well, the antipasti bar is excellent and, in my continental experience so far, unique. One does miss braised greens, roasted tomatoes, and parma ham when abroad. The pasta, though, was merely ordinary. I’ve had its equal (or better) in Kampala, and surely Egypt or South Africa have a first class Italian spot. But you won’t get high-end foreign food in most African capitals for Castelli’s prices (about $8 for a main). So I lend cautious support to our musical advocates.

Their development policy, however, is another matter entirely…

7 thoughts on “The real Ethiopia (or what Bob Geldof does and does not tell you in concert)

  1. I have yet to have a meal at Castelli’s, but I bet they don’t beat the home made ravioli from La Dolce Vita restaurant in Hawassa.
    And as someone whose family has Italian background and having also lived in the UK for a while, I never trust English, Welsh, Irish or Scottish on Italian food, even if they are Bono and Geldof.
    Would like to hear what an average Italian tourist coming to Addis thinks of Castellis.

  2. On the subject of African restaurants, I found Haandi in Kampala to be first-rate. I think we ought exclude hotel restaurants (or those that cater solely to tourists), South Africa, and those north of the Sahara, since otherwise there are some truly first-rate choices (the Serena in Kigali serves a surprisingly good prix fixe!).

  3. Not been to an Italian restaurant in Ethiopia, but as for the friendliest London “greasy spoon”, there’s no better place to tuck into an English breakfast than an Ethiopian run café in Camberwell!

  4. Castelli’s is a touch of class restaurant for pizza express prices. Kampala Haandi fine but not great. Select in Kigali not bad. The best – the sushi bar at the Phoenician Lebanese Restaurant in Nairboi, phenomenally good.

  5. To add to my previous comment, I would argue that some of the best restaurands in SubSaharan Africa are found in Ouagadougou (for example pizza at Le Verdoyant, any meal at Le coq bleu or at Le Vert Galant). And the best Italian restaurant in Africa should be LePilier in Niamey (there used to be one also in Ouaga, and their tagliatelle du pape were to die for).
    But I promise to go to Castelli’s as soon as I settle in Addis, so I will be able to compare it with these other places I am smitten with

  6. Castelli’s is great some of the best non-Ethiopian food in Addis is at Rainbow, the Korean restaurant on Japanese Embassy Road.

  7. Have any of you guys tried Hotel Amsterdam on Bole road-close, to the airport? As for Castelli’s, that place might have been on the A-list in the 80’s but I’m not so sure it is right now.

    One Love !!!