What's Cooking at The Beach
On Monday the 14th of September I received this beautiful delivery, just the kind of package you need in the morning for a great start to your day - not just a tin filled with incredibly fresh and aromatic spices by House of Curry, but also an invite to a specially curated food tour of The Beach. It's safe to say I was incredibly excited! We had no idea what the lineup would be, that was only revealed to us on the evening itself, we were just told to meet at Almaz by Momo at 7.30pm - how mysterious! And definitely one of the most innovative invitations I've received to date, it was a great touch indeed.
When I reached the first stop, Almaz by Momo, I saw some familiar faces of fellow bloggers and a lot of new ones as well, all in all, it was a great group of foodies to spend the evening with - the blogger community in Dubai is definitely large, but everyone is so supportive and encouraging, one of the things I love most about this incredible community. Then... We received the program for the evening - 5 restaurants in 5 hours, phew, we had to pace ourselves! They had planned a culinary journey through some of the best restaurants on The Beach, from Morrocan, to Mexican, Italian, French and Emirati. We not only got to sample, watch and help create the food at each restaurant, but we got to experience the culture of each as well
We then ventured upstairs and took over the whole shisha lounge at Almaz by Momo, this dimly lit upper deck had the potential to be quite romantic had it been filled with couples as opposed to 30 boisterous, excited and hungry foodies! There was live Moroccan music at the perfect volume, so you didn't have to shout over one another and the whole atmosphere gave a true taste of North Africa. An innovative blend between the modern and the traditional, a mixed marriage of Moroccan style with a contemporary interpretation.
As we all settled down we got a masterclass in how to make the perfect pot of Moroccan tea, something I didn't realize was so complicated! Crafting the perfect cup of Moroccan tea is a special process, one that cannot be rushed. Start by adding the loose tea into your Moroccan tea pot, on the side make sure you have boiling water ready - Pour one cup of water into your Moroccan teapot. Let the tea steep for about 30 seconds and then empty the tea into a teacup. Set this aside for later. The first cup is very important, as it contains the essence of the tea flavor. Next, add another cup of boiling water into your Moroccan teapot and this time, swirl it around in a circular motion, then pour into another tea cup (this tea will not be used and can be discarded). This cleanses the tea, and helps remove any strong bitter flavor. Then add the mint and sugar to your moroccan tea pot and also add the first cup of tea that you set aside. This will strengthen the tea and add flavor. Lastly, you’ll want to fill your Moroccan teapot with water and let it simmer for a few minutes to build the tea's distinct flavor and caramelize the sugar. Actually on second thought I lied, that wasn't the last step, you’re not quite ready to drink it yet! Remove from the heat and pour a glass of tea... Then pour it back into the teapot (nope I'm not joking). This is done to help mix everything together and cool the tea a bit before drinking. Repeat this step two or three times. NOW Finally, you’re ready to serve your tea, however, the way you pour the tea is very important. Start by pouring the tea normally into the glass, but as you continue to pour, raise the teapot higher and higher above the glass (as high as you can go without it splattering all over everyone and everything!) This helps the tea become nice and frothy and helps spread the aroma, another distinctive trait of Moroccan mint tea. And phew, you're done! And it's amaaazing! We then got to sample some of Almaz by Momo's pastries, they also packed some up for us to take home. *Drool*
We then said goodbye to Almaz by Momo and rushed to our next stop - Poco Loco, a Latin American restaurant on Mexico's national Day - Perfectly timed! The restaurant was beautifully furnished with piñatas hanging on every corner and we were welcomed with some gorgeous looking drinks.
We were then invited into the kitchen to learn how to make fresh tacos from scratch with Head Chef Pablo. Did I mention I love being a blogger??
The shipped in tortilla slicer and shaper was pretty captivating to watch and the corn dough was surprisingly fast to cook on the grill, Chef Pablo then stuffed them with different fillings, my favorite being the grilled skirt steak with the most beautiful habanero onions, finished off with some feta and a wedge of lime. De-Licious.
We also got to sample the most amazing and fragrant oak smoked peruvian adobo fish - YUM! After stuffing our faces we proceeded to wear moustaches and sombreros while we posed at the photo booth before smashing the piñatas and collecting the candy off the floor and heading to our next stop! Sapori Di Bice - a casual italian family dining restaurant with a sharing concept and a very warm and cozy setting.
Here, Head Chef Luca Zanchetti taught us the do's and don'ts of Gnocchi making (he was also kind enough to give us his personal favorite gnocchi recipe), we all got our hands dirty rolling and cutting the dough before it was boiled and finished off in a light tomato sauce.
Here's the recipe:
After we all sat and devoured that. We proceeded to our next venue, Ladurée. Now, we all assumed we'd be binging on macarons and fancy french pastries while we were there, but much to our surprise, Chef walked us past the incredibly chic dining area and into the kitchen to show us how to make the perfect vol-au-vent! From the homemade puff pastry shell, to the mushroom duxelle (tapenade) lining the inside of the shell, to the creamy chicken mushroom sauce with wild mushrooms filling (and oozing out of) the shell - it was as buttery, creamy and indulgent a vol-au-vent as I would expect to find in France. The savory items often get overshadowed at Ladurée, they have some incredibly talented chefs in that kitchen and I would definitely recommend going in for a meal next time you're craving some french cuisine!
As we headed to our final destination, I was beyond stuffed! When we walked into Seven Sands we were so warmly greeted with canapés and drinks (my favorites were the baby shark sambousahs and incredibly moist lamb meatballs). I have to say it was the warmest welcome we had received all evening, everyone was so attentive and incredibly kind, not to mention the staff knew exceptional details about the food they were serving, which is refreshing and not so easy to find in Dubai. The general manager, Amina, was especially informative.
Seven Sands is named after the United Arab Emirates' seven regions, each with a variation in culture, tradition and cuisine. Seven Sands is a celebration of all the seven Emirates and the rich heritage and values that unite the nation as a whole. Serving authentic Emirati cuisine with a modern flair, this restaurant has the development of UAE's infrastructure literally engraved on the walls, as you walk upstairs you can see the progression from the Burj Al Arab to the Palm Jumeirah and Burj Khalifa, a very nice touch indeed. When we all reached upstairs (at this point I'm not even sure how we were walking let alone climbing stairs), they had organized an entire spread on a large table, from drinks and starters, to main course, to dessert. A sampling table, if you will!
There was Kibeh Al Bizaar, Jisheed, Thereed, Maleh Korse, Fouga, Aish Al Lahm and so, so much more.
At the end of the night we all needed a crane to air lift us back home! As we rolled to our respective cars, we were each given a goody bag with some amazing vouchers and gifts from each outlet we visited. I couldn't help but be amazed at the plethora of dining options at The Beach. We had just experienced 5 of them, out of the 43 that are open thus far! It was such an incredible night and we are so grateful to the hardworking PR agents at APCO that organized this wonderful evening! If I had to chose, my favorite destination was Poco Loco, however it's a tough choice, they were all so different and had their own specialities and niches going for them. Can't wait until someone organizes a similar event for Box Park. Until then, and as always, thanks for reading foodies xo