Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Taste of Dubai

At the end of the last post I said that I was going to have something special for you. Never one to fail my readers, I’ve quested in the search for the most exciting, splendiferous entry possible and I found it at….. Taste of Dubai.

The finest restaurants from around the city gathered together for a foodie mélange in the Media City Ampitheatre. It was heaven – not least because one of my favourite (and arguably the cutest) chef was in town – James Martin.

Word on the street was that James was going to be doing cookery classes in the cookery school area on the Wednesday and Thursday nights. I won’t expose myself by telling you how excited I was about the prospect of one on one contact with Mr. Martin but suffice to say, 6pm had myself and Monica hurrying out of work and over to Taste of Dubai.

The first thing we did when we got there was sign our names on the list for the class – that in hand we set off to discover the treats in store in the rest of the festival.
We’d walked about three seconds when we were confronted by this beautiful vision:

You’d have to be blind not to have noticed the artily-designed, larger than life cupcake revolution that’s been taking the cities of the world one by one. First I heard tell of a coup in New York, then murmurings of a fully-fledged takeover in London and now finally, it’s made it to Dubai. The ones above are from Sprinklez – a one-woman show working from home baking little bites of happiness to spread over the emirate.(

Round the corner Sugar Daddy’s was courting storm of popularity with it’s gargantuan creations – no wonder why, these Oreo cupcakes are good enough to, well, eat…..

And then it was on to the hot stuff. For those of you that are in the know, Zuma, Victoria Beckham’s London eatery of choice (she eats?!) has recently opened doors in the maze of DIFC. I heard that Beckham deigned to go and sniff edamame (sniffing is as good as eating I’m told) in the Dubai restaurant on her trip over a few months ago.

As I’m fairly skeptical about the sniffing school of thought, I tucked into a dish of Chilli Fried Squid with Lime while Monica tried their Barley miso marinated chicken lets on cedar wood. The squid was superb – crunchy, spicy and tender – the chef, Colin Clague, obviously knows a thing or two about Japanese food.

So engrossed were we in our plates, that we missed the beginning of the James Martin class. I still maintain that we got there at 7.30 on the dot but alas, it was no cooking for us. Still, we got to stand in on the class and watch as he whipped up Balsamic strawberry cheesecake, whilst cracking jokes and making fun of some of the less successful attempts by some of his pupils. I was still a little sulky, but got some nice pictures to make up for it.

Then, it was our turn – the next class was making Tom Yam Goong soup with chef Naruemol Poolkan of Benjarong in the Dusit Dubai. It was a revelation how simple it is to make this deliciously piquant, hot and sour soup –

We boiled…

photo courtesy of Antonie Robertson


photo courtesy of Antonie Robertson


photo courtesy of Antonie Robertson

Then consumed…

photo courtesy of Antonie Robertson
And it was worth every second of it I’m glad to say.

Here’s the recipe – whip some up for a quick treat for the tastebuds. Go easy on the chilli if you’re not a fan of the hot stuff and keep some tissues on hand to mop up the chilli nose runs.

Tom Yam Goong Soup

8 oz (250 g) shrimp/prawns, shelled and deveined
3 cups (24 fl oz/750 ml) fish stock
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 kaffir lime leaves
3 thin slices fresh or dried galangal
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) fish sauce
2 stalks lemongrass
2 shallots, sliced
1/2 cup sliced straw mushrooms
5 green Thai chili peppers optional
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro/coriander leaves

Bring the fish stock to the boil. Turn down the heat to simmer gently, add the kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, galangal, fish sauce, garlic, lemongrass, shallots and cook gently for a minute.
Add the mushrooms and chillies and cook for a further minute
Add the prawns. Cook for one minute, remove from the heat, garnish with coriander and serve.


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