It is seriously such a relief to know that we have escaped the horrid desert summer in the nick of time. When I say the word “horrid”, do I really, really, really mean it is HORRID. For those of you back in Manila, who are complaining about the heat waves, you guys ain’t felt nothing yet. There is NOTHING in the world like the horrible Dubai desert summer.
There was nothing great about Panorama Hotel in Bur Dubai, a hotel plucked right out of a bygone era: the dim, flickering lights that signaled dodgy activities, the musty fragrance of damp carpets and the elevators that climb at the speed of sloth. Once I entered The Palm Court restaurant, I was greeted by stifled smiles of waitresses draped in traditional Sri Lankan garb and the most lifeless live band that ever set foot on stage. The dinner buffet spread was generously peppered with what else…chili peppers and other heat inducing spices, of course.
But there was one dish that struck me.
Okay, technically, Al Mukhtar isn’t really in Dubai. It’s located at the edge of Dubai and a bit into Sharjah. Well, it is in Sharjah. But who cares? Al Mukhtar Bakery is an institution and was not missed as part of my Dubai Last Suppers, which was oh-so cleverly and strategically planned with a certain work related meeting in a Sharjah location. So, of course, Al Mukhtar was a must stop before we trekked back into Dubai.
If there is one thing that the Middle East can do extremely well, it is grilling meats. And it was just fitting to have our official last supper in Dubai at Cabrito Mandi in Umm Suquiem, Al Barsha (our former neighborhood). [Read more...]
One can easily get lost living in the city of Dubai, which does seem a growing and evolving mutant blob, sometimes sure and yet still unsure of how it wants to take shape. Buildings are torn down and, at the same time, pop up like mushrooms. One is never too sure on government laws and processes. Highways and byways expand and contract, change names and even direction from left to right, over and under, even round and round.
I am a simple girl with simple foodie dreams. Aside from transforming the beginner cook in me into an amazing home cook, I dream of packing my pink suitcase with a thick wad of cash just basking in the different cultures through food.
There are days when I go green with envy as I browse through my favorite food blogs or my friends’ social network photo albums as I see them country hop and eat local delicacies to their tummies’ content. But after a few minutes, I snap back into reality and remember my short and medium term goals that I need to focus my energies and resources into. My travels can wait, and so for now, easily accessible food escapes in the glossed over food destination in the desert would do…
The problem with productivity junkies like myself is the addiction to do more (not compromising on quality) in the 24-hours of each day that God has given us. So lately, I’ve been sucked into the teeny weeny yet cosmos consuming black hole called real life: chores, work, and more chores await. Both seems like they never end. Gone are the days when I could make MORE time for blogging. I make time, but it doesn’t seem enough anymore.
But today is the kick-off of another weekend (Again???), so today I dedicated some time to just stop and smell…not roses, but camels. I don’t mean that a camel popped up in our urban desert neighborhood and I stopped to pet it AND take in the smell of sand, damp pelt and dung.
Thursday is simply camel meat day.
Upon our practiced Dubai tourist entertainer gut feel (and as suggested by some readers and trusted Dubai foodie friends), we took The Husband’s visitors to Al Tawasol, the now favorite Mandi-han (Mandi restaurant), for a taste of the real Dubai. The Husband and his friends were famished from an afternoon of high speed twist and turns at Ferrari World. Naturally, they were hungry as hell and so ready to dive into a platter of Mandi…or maybe something slightly different.
I was craving for one of my favorite Japanese rices bowls of all time, the Katsudon: tender yet crispy panko breaded pork cutlet drowning in a mixture of sweet dashi-soy-mirin sauce, runny barely scrambled egg, translucent onion slivers and green peas atop a cup of pristine rice. And having passed Umami a number of times, it was a sign from the heavens that I have submit to the Katsudon craving. I knew that Umami at Ibn Battuta mall’s food court had a lot of promise of being an authentic Japanese fast food stall with its brightly lit glass display of life-like plastic food bowls.
But as I was hungrily looking through each plastic food display, my eyes did a double take on one dish. The sign read “Chicken cutlet katsu don”, but the rice bowl wasn’t katsudon at all…
I did not grow up eating in hoity-toity, fancy schamancy restaurants and hotels that required you don your Sunday’s best garb and behavior. Our family (perhaps because of the sheer number of hungry mouths to be fed) frequented places with more affordable yet still equally scrumdiddlyumptious food. It’s not that I do not appreciate the beauty of fine dining. I just grew up believing that good food was not directly proportional to the tag price. Even if I started to actually have the money to afford frequenting fine dining places, I still couldn’t find myself thoroughly enjoying fine dining…it just didn’t feel right.
And so ladies-who-brunch at BICE Mare, Italian seafood restaurant at Souk Al Bahar was still intimidating for me (even though I did win the brunch from Foodiva’s Italian lunch competition). Except that…