Sunday, September 24, 2017

Taste Buds

 

I wrote about Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa and what it has to offer its residents earlier, you can find a link here if you missed it. This article a separate one purely on the food that we enjoyed at the Resort, which is down to Executive Chef David Miras and Senior Sous Chef Peter Sebby and the rest of their amazing team.

After a quick and speedy check-in into Al Maha we headed straight down to the Al Diwaan Restaurant and nabbed ourselves a nice table on the terrace in the shade. The views are amazing, straight out into sand dunes as far as the eye can see, spotted with Oryx and Gazelle, with birds coming and going all the time. The tranquillity of the setting is breathless.  We were immediately offered water and a menu, I knew what I was having, yes seafood, seafood and more seafood.  So off we started on our culinary tour of Al Maha.

I ordered from the Ala Carte Menu a starter of Crumbed Crab and Scallion Cake served on Seasonal Leaves with Lemon Hollandaise Sauce, whilst my husband opted for Chilled Vichyssoisse Soup with White Truffle Espuma, the presentation of both dishes when they arrived was truly spectacular. I will post a link later of photographs for all the dishes we experienced at Al Maha.  We followed this with main courses of Jumbo Prawns with Bearnaise Sauce and Buttered Root Vegetables for me and Dorado Fillet with Spicy Chilli Sauce and French Fries for him, outstanding, the King Prawns were fit a King and cooked to perfection!  The Dorado was very tasty though I don't go too much on chilli if I am honest, unlike my spicy husband who has everything hot!  It was at lunch that we were telling Chef Sebby that we thought a Chilli Chocolate Creme Brulee might be a nice addition to the menu, he seemed rather impressed, not as impressed as my husband was as he had thought of the dish and now had himself down as some famous celebrity Chef!   For desserts we had the Vanilla Creme Brulee with Lemon Shortbreads, and the Baked Chocolate Torte with Orange Sorbet, divine!!

We spent the rest of the day exploring the resort but just managed to pop into the bar for a few little nibbles from the Afternoon Tea, my husband still claims the scones are the best he has ever tasted, I am rather partial to the mini onion quiches it has to be said. I am definitely more a savoury than sweet person, except when it comes to Creme Brulee.  We both agreed that the chicken on curry bread was a definite winner all round.

After sundowners we popped back to our Suite to freshen up and then headed to Al Diwaan for Dinner, my first Dinner ever at Al Maha, I was not to be disappointed.  I started of with (surprise surprise) Lobster Raviolo which was served with Granny Smith Beurre Blanc, my husband opted for the Asian Beef Remoulade with hints of Chilli, Bell Pepper, Fresh Tomato, Ginger and Oyster Sauce, we both said we could eat them again as they were that good. However we went on to order the Sauteed Monkfish Fillet with Coriander Risotto, Purple Sprouting Brocolli and Champagne Butter Sauce for myself and Wagyu Beef Saltimbocca topped with Sage and Pork Bacon with Wild Mushroom Risotto and Shallots Veal Jus.  There was alot of discussion about the "7 hours" Braised Shank of Lamb, but we came to our decision in the end, and we were truly not disappointed.  I adore Monkfish but has been a long time since I had Monkfish that tasted so fresh and flavoursome.  Desserts, yes we did and I honestly don't know how we managed it but I had the Al Maha Raspberry Ripple with Vanilla Greek Yoghurt Cream, Fresh Raspberries and Merinque, and my husband opted for the Lemon Tart with Strawberry Sherbet, fit for Kings is all I can say!

It was when our desserts were being presented that Chef Sebby appeared and presented, yes you guessed it, Chilli Chocolate Creme Brulee!! That is what I love about Al Maha so much, they listen to their guests, Chef David told me that at least ten tables wouldn't be ordering from the regular menu and it wasn't a problem for the kitchen, ever.  Needless to say the Creme Brulee was perfect and we hope to see it on the menu regularly.

Obviously we slept rather well that night and the next morning we headed back to Al Diwaan for Breakfast, I honestly couldn't eat another thing but did just manage half a portion of Eggs Benedict which was Organic Poached Eggs on Pork Ham with Hollandaise Sauce, whilst my other half satisfied his taste for spice and went for the Burghee which is Indian Style Scrambled eggs with lots of spice! there was an extensive breakfast that accompanied the Al Maha Breakfast Menu, the next time I visit I am not going to eat for a few days before I get there!

If there is one thing this Resort do well it is too look after their guests, they know they have alot of returning guests who go back year after year, I think I know why, not only is the location amazing, the staff outstanding, but the two Chef's in charge are amazingly talented passionate men who have a love affair with food that goes way further than just cooking it, I have always believed you are born to be a Chef, these two and the rest of their team truly were.  That leaves me just to say thank you for an amazing culinary experience and I hope to see you all again soon!! oh and here are the photographs of the food we had to eat during our stay at Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa.

Al Maha can be found on Facebook and Twitter

GA

 

 

If you are from the UK and love food you will have heard of Atul Kochhar, the Two Star Michelin Award Winning Chef.  Atul has appeared in many food related television programmes from Great British Menu to Masterchef, and many others inbetween.   He started his career at the Oberai Hotel in New Delhi and fast rose to the top of his game, moving to London in 1994 to open Tamarind  and later opening two successful restaurants; Benares in London and Ananda just outside of Dublin.

Last year I heard that the Landmark Group had opened Zafran at Mirdif City Centre and we went over for lunch one day.  I was really impressed and spread the word to my friends to get them to check it out. Mirdif City Centre isn't exactly on our doorstep so you can imagine how happy I was to find out that Zafran has spread its wings to Marina Mall.  The very next day The Geordie One and I were there to check it out.  Personally I think that the Marina Mall branch has the edge when it comes to location, as it has a beautiful outdoor terrace which looks onto the Marina.   Lovely ambience.

They have a three course Lunch Express menu and that is what we opted for, I started with the Amritsari Fish Fingers, followed with the Butter Chicken, with Dal Bukahri, Sade Chawal (steamed basmati), and Naan Bread, followed by a dessert of Gulab Jamun. I really have to say I couldn't fault it one bit, it was absolutely perfect, the presentation was beautiful.  I was that impressed I went back the following Saturday!!   The lunch menu is just 65 Dhs a head and there is a good variety of choices, including a vegetarian option.

I have a copy of the menu here with me, and it clearly states on the bottom that Lunch Express is available from Saturday to Thursday, that however isn't correct,  it is actually available Sunday to Thursday, so someone needs to check that out at Zafran.   Regardless Zafran is well worth a visit, especially if you like me, enjoy Indian food. The Butter Chicken was the best I have had in a long long time.  I have take some photos which you can find here.

Enjoy!

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Last weekend we got our passports out and headed over to Le Meridien Dubai (the one near the airport), living in new Dubai means I very rarely head over Garhoud Bridge, in all fairness we have everything on our doorsteps here, but we don't have M's Seafood Bistro ...

M's Seafood Bistro only opened last month in the location that some of you might remember as Cafe Chic at Le Meridien.  The weather that day was sunny which makes a change at the moment, so we decided to dine inside.  The restaurant is small and tastefully decorated though I have to say I don't quite get the branding of the dated supermodel and the fish, however you don't judge a restaurant on its decor you judge it on the food which I have to say was really good. I did however absolutely adore the plates on all the tables, especially the ones that had the menu's on them.  You can find some photographs here.

As it was lunchtime we didn't opt for starters and went straight onto mains, though Chef did bring us a complimentary seafood chowder which was absolutely delicious, Mitten wasn't impressed (sorry Chef it appears 7 year olds and seafood don't mix). We were also presented with beautiful fresh bread and pressed butter, Mitten loved the salt bread.

For my main course I chose the Sea Bream with Crushed Potatoes and Anchovy Juice whilst my husband opted for the Marinated Black Cod Loin, Brandade with Light Herb Dressing.  Mitten had the childrens Beef Burger which whilst it was on the children's menu it was more suited to a teenager than a 7 year old, I have to say it looked fabulous though, with lovely big chips!!   My Sea Bream was perfect, beautifully cooked and presented as was the Black Cod Loin, I have posted some pictures here.

In true GA fashion we had to try the Creme Brulee, very very good but Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa are still the current title holders of Best Creme Brulee in the UAE.  We had a great time at M's and I would like to thank all the staff who were so attentive, the Chef who made our dining experience special and most of all Le Meridien Dubai for inviting us along for lunch in the first place. Well done team Le Meridien Dubai.


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On a sunny October afternoon in 1969 students returning home from their institutions noticed a board on a Katrik Road pavement. The Board read Cafe Student.  The Founder, a 40 year old man was standing behind this board with a few plates and a tumbler full of aromatic, flavoursome rice that he called biryani. Passerby could not resist trying this unique food item.  This was the beginning of Cafe Student. From a humble start to a trend and and from a trend to an icon Cafe Student has come a long way.  This has of course been possible through extreme hard work, a clear vision and unfailing customer loyalty.

And I only found out about it a couple of months ago!!!!

Today at long last I found Student Biryani in Al Barsha, blink and you will miss it, once you find it stands out like a beacon.  It was totally not what I was expecting, Student Biryani is a chain of Pakistani fast food outlets.  It is a bit like Pakistan's version of KFC, with one essential difference, they serve good food. There are various food options to choose from and I ordered the Chicken Handi meal deal, which came with raita, salad, two naan breads and a soft drink.  The other half ordered the Haleem (mutton) meal deal which came with biryani rice, naan bread, and a soft drink.  Service was quick and the food was brilliant.  My chicken was tender, beautifully spiced, served in a fabulous little pan with piping hot naan breads. The biryani rice was one of the best I have tasted, full of flavour.  I have posted some pictures of our food here.

You can enjoy a dine-in experience or a take-away, they do home deliveries and you can even order online.

Total dining experience came to 54 dhs, you really can't complain at that.

Enjoy!!

 

I can't start to tell you how excited I was to be invited to Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa to spend some quality time in their famous kitchen.  I have always wanted to visit the resort but never had the opportunity to do so, so yesterday was a big day for me. I was out of bed early and headed up the Al Ain Road looking forward to the rest of the day.  I was not disappointed ....

Arriving at The Resort for the first time is so exciting, once you come off the Al Ain Road it is a good 20 minute run to the actual Resort, which quite literally is in the "middle of the desert".  We arrived and were greeted by our host for the day Chef Sebby, a lovely lovely Kenyan man with a huge heart which he wears lovingly on his sleeve. We headed off to the kitchen and were kitted up in fabulous aprons and hats. After a quick explanation about how the compact, yet functional kitchen runs we headed into the cold kitchen to whip up some crab fishcakes. Chef David knows I have tried to make these in the past and failed, I know how to make them now! Chef Thaya lovingly showed us how with some very simple ingredients and a bit of patience you can make the perfect crab cake.  Preparing good food is not about the quantity of ingredients, but quality and freshness of simple ingredients. 

From the cold kitchen we were ushered into the hot one where we met the lovely Chef Nipu.  He showed us how to make the perfect risotto, a dish I have never been overly keen on but I am definitely going to make it at home as I really enjoyed it.  We then went onto how to cook Fish and King Prawns perfectly, yet again it is not about how many ingredients were used, just straight forward simple food. Chef Nipu had created a marination from mainly coriander and a few other spices which was painted onto the Sea Bream before the fish was gently fried.  The King Prawns were expertly cut into a butterfly shape, the marination painted on they were shallow fried before being popped into the oven for a further 5 minutes. Plain, simple, perfect.  Needless to say they were eaten!!

You can't visit a kitchen and not check out the Dessert Kitchen, we weren't disappointed to find Chef Anas preparing Creme Brulee with Pink Grapefruit, one of my favourites, it was turning out to be a better day than I could ever have anticipated!!!  With the aroma of vanilla pods and shortbread biscuits in the oven!   Chef Anas talked us through how to make a perfect Brulee, and how to whip up tasty shortbread in just five minutes. Whilst the brulee's were cooking we took a look outside and checked out the restaurant with Chef Sebby. Chef Sebby also gave me a quick peep at one of the Bedouin "Tents" where guests stay, but I am going to tell you more about that when I stay at Al Maha.  By then the brulee's were ready, the BEST brulee I have had in a long long time, smooth, rich, creamy, just delicious.

Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa truly is a little slice of heaven in the middle of a Desert, the views from the terraces are spectacular. I can only imagine what it must be like to spend a sunset sat on that terrace watching the natural beauty of the desert turn into darkness. I have taken alot of photographs of the day which you can find by clicking here

All it takes now is for me to thank all of The Team up at Al Maha for just the most amazing morning ever, I didn't want it to end but sadly reality called and I had to head back to Dubai and return to being a Mum, but thank you for making me feel like a Chef for just one day. I will be back with my apron soon!

You can find Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa on Facebook and Twitter.  You can also find my Facebook page here.

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