This elegant Chocolate Cherry Banana Bread is moist and delicious and sure to impress with juicy cherries, bits of chocolate, and a honey chocolate glaze.
Take a good look at those fancy Prada sunglasses I’m wearing because it will be the last time you see them without bite marks and scratches.
Those were my brand spanking new sunglasses. . .barely a week old when this photo was snapped. You can imagine how precious they were because getting your hands on even basic necessities in Kenya was difficult enough and usually were acquired via long weekend trips to Europe or South Africa.
These sunglasses were a splurge during a quick jaunt to Switzerland and, after months of depriving myself of any sort of fashionable niceties, you can see why I would be anxious to wear them at each and every opportunity that presented itself…even if that opportunity was a short trip to the slopes of Mount Kenya where playful monkeys danced from tree to tree all the while curious about any shiny new trinket that caught their eye.
From the constant threat of terrorist attacks to horrendous traffic jams that transformed a 15 minute commute into a 6 hour nightmare, to the never ending worry of potential car jackings, living in Nairobi had it’s fair share of trials and tribulations. But in the end these were all just minor inconveniences when you considered that the magnificent Rift Valley could all be yours after just a 1 hour car ride and a quick rendezevous to the Masai Mara was just one bush plane away.
To get away from the hustle and bustle, the Mr. and I found ourselves frequently visiting the Mount Kenya Safari Club (you can find it HERE) as it was just a few hours drive from Nairobi. Sure, it’s an award winning resort with magnificently manicured lawns, stunning views of Mount Kenya – the second highest mountain in Africa, and the sweet sounds of lions beckoning you from a distance; but perhaps my favorite part of sneaking away to this once upon a time playground to movie stars and prime ministers was spending an afternoon at the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy and Animal Orphanage (you can visit them virtually HERE and HERE).
The animal orphanage is a neat little place tucked quietly beside the Mount Kenya Safari Club. Their mission is to provide orphaned, injured, neglected, or abused animals with the care they need to ultimately be released back into the wild. This conservancy also has a breeding for release program for the endangered Bongos, a type of antelope with a striking reddish-brown coat. As a matter of fact, during one of my visits I had the pleasure of seeing a baby Bongo nursing peacefully on the conservancy’s grounds.
Any visit to the animal orphanage is a guarantee that you will see various animals such as baby buffalo, caracals, wild cats, pygmy hippos, ostrich, and even a tortoise named Speedy up close and personal.
While some of the animals are safely recovering in enclosures, many of them, such as the bongo and ostrich, roam the grounds freely. The keepers that lovingly care for the animals will proudly give you a tour of the sanctuary and even ask you to help feed the animals if you so happen to wander through during meal time. On my last visit I was lucky enough to bottle feed a baby cape buffalo who tragically had lost her mother. As sad as her story was, it was very comforting to know that she had been spared an equally tragic fate and would soon enough be reintroduced into the wild.
As you meander your way through the orphanage, giggling at the playful antics of the wildcat kittens, admiring the beauty of the caracals, and wondering how in the world a llama ended up at a conservancy in Nanyuki, you ultimately find yourself in an open area that houses the sanctuary’s monkeys. Most of the monkeys are in protective enclosures; however, there always are a couple of Sykes and Colobus monkeys roaming freely and on the ready to entertain visitors.
As these monkeys jump up on your head and shoulders and clamber about, it’s easy to get wrapped up in all their cuteness and not even notice that they are eyeing up your fancy camera and sparkly new sunglasses. Don’t let their charm fool you. This is all in their plan to distract you so that they can effortlessly pull off the greatest heists in monkey history.
And wouldn’t you know it. . .I fell for it hook, line and sinker.
Remember those pristine sunglasses I was wearing? Yeah. . .
With an ear-to-ear grin plastered across my face, I was in my joyful bliss as I fed the Colobus and Sykes monkeys little bits of bananas. One of the Sykes monkeys noticed I was heavily distracted and jumped up on my shoulders, making his way to the top of my head. He was playfully rummaging through my hair as monkeys do. . .when, with the blink of my eye, I found that my world had suddenly became a little bit brighter. Wouldn’t you know? That little booger had grabbed my brand new Prada sunnies and excitedly darted up the tree at a speed that would give any cheetah a run for its money.
The keeper looked on in horror as the monkey gleefully played with his new treasure. All I could do was look up and witness the monkey displaying the exact same joy that I had felt when I had purchased those sunglasses. I almost felt bad when the keeper finally was able to coax the monkey into dropping my sunnies, now artfully decorated with bites and scratches.
In remembrance of these cherished days spent at the animal orphanage, feeding monkeys bits of banana, I made you a Chocolate Cherry Banana Bread that is surrounded with an indulgent cloak of chocolate lightly sweetened with honey. And if that weren’t sexy enough, I decided to bejewel this loaf with a crown of ruby colored cherries.
While this loaf looks quite fancy, I can assure you that it is very easy to make. And as tough as it may be, I recommend that you allow the loaf to sit for 24 hours before slicing into it because it becomes moister, and more delicious, with age.
In addition I recommend that you make sure that you use bananas that are at their prime squishiness as this will insure your loaf is as sweet and irresistible as can be. In the event that your baking schedule and your bananas achieving prime squishiness do not align, you can learn how to speed up the ripening process HERE.
Here’s to building up the will power to never wear designer sunglasses around ever curious monkeys.