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Artisan Heinz
coffee Beck
We spill the beans The interview

Tbilisi Patrick
From Georgia Leano
with love Classic dining

Greg
Melbourne Malouf
The Carême column
Hand-picked hot-spots
VOL 4 ISS 7/8
INDULGENT DISHES FOR YOUR SUMMER SOIRÉES

SUMMER COOL
The Maldives Chisaki Iba Chocolate Nigel Mendham Oman Grand Cayman
Editor’s
letter
W
Editor Anisa Al Hawaj ith Ramadan and Eid al Fitr behind us we look towards the
Associate Editor Ali Ahmed
Art Director Rebecca Teece Paye
Summer months; where to go, where to stay and what to eat.
Art Editor Maggie Bonner Francesca Jackson tells us about the golden beaches, azure
Consulting Editor Sudeshna Ghosh waters and balmy days of the Maldives (p70); Sudeshna Ghosh takes us on a
Review Editor Mona Mohammed
Online Editor Husain Khaled
tour around Melbourne (p34); we enjoy the beauty of Georgia as Louise
Social Media Editor Mary Ann Parungao Quick explores its capital Tbilisi (p76); and Joe Worthington delves deep in
Travel Editor Nick Baines the mountains of the Omani interior to explore the caves and tunnels of the
Director of Publishing Francesca Jackson
Executive Director Salah Alhaiki
Sultanate (p48). Our newest contributors Pachaca del Amo travelled to Kyoto
Publisher Justina Eitzinger to meet with top female Sushi master Chisaki Iba (p42); and Todd Pitock
Managing Editor Fawzi Alshehabi guides us through culinary delights of Grand Cayman (p54); Nigel Mendham,
Account Director Oliver Davies
head chef of GBR at Dukes Hotel, tells us about his love affair with traditional
Editorial Enquiries food (p98); Jesper Jensen visits three Michelin-starred chef Heinz Beck at his
editor@foodandtravelarabia.com newest venture Attimi at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport (p12); Michelin maestro
Sales & Advertising
info@foodandtravelarabia.com
Greg Malouf talks gourmet Middle East cuisine and shares the ethos behind
Distribution Enquiries his new Dubai restaurant Zahira (p68); and Michelin-starred chef Patrick
info@foodandtravelarabia.com Leano of Hong Kong’s famed Mandarin Grill joins Food and Travel with his
Communications & Design
info@foodandtravelarabia.com
debut column (p90). For those of you who are keen to get down to some
serious food we take a look at the world of Artisan Coffee (p20); enjoy some
Email info@foodandtravelarabia.com serious alfresco dining (p62); try some cool dishes just right for the hot
Twitter @foodtravelme
Facebook @FoodTravelME
summer (p26) and if that wasn’t enough we pay homage to indulgent world of
Instagram @foodandtravelarabia chocolate with Maya Chocolaterie (p58). And finally, don’t miss your chance
Web www.foodandtravel.me to see who has made the shortlists for the 2018 Food and Travel Awards (p18).
Food and Travel, UK
Mark Sansom, editor Bon Appétit
mark.sansom@foodandtravel.com Anisa Al Hawaj Editor
Food and Travel, Germany
Contributors

Stefanie Will, editor


stefanie.will@foodandtravel.com
Food and Travel, Mexico
Cecilia Núñez, editor
cecilia.nunez@lyrsa.com.mx
Food and Travel, Turkey
Mehmet Tel, editor
mehmet.tel@foodandtravel.com.tr
Food and Travel, Italy
Marco Sutter, publisher
publisher@foodandtravelitalia.com Justina Eitzinger Blossom Green Sudeshna Ghosh
Food and Travel, Portugal Justina Eitzinger is UK’s editorial Sudeshna
Jose Fragoso, publisher the beating heart manager keeps Ghosh has been
jose.fragoso@foodandtravel.com.pt
of our commercial Food and Travel creating food,
publishing team ticking. Point girl travel and lifestyle
WINNER in the Gulf and to contributors, content for over
PPA Independent Publishing ensures that Food Blossom is also ten years, From
Company of the Year and Travel Arabia our resident hotel judging culinary
WINNER stays on track.
With her in-depth
expert, compiling
some of the
competitions
and prestigious
PPA Publisher of the Year
Food and Travel Magazine is published by Green Pea knowledge derived spot-on design restaurant
Publishing Ltd, Ingate Place, London, UK. Food and from her time in the assessments you awards, to
Travel & Food and Travel Arabia are published under
license from Turnstart Limited, a UK company. Gulf Gulf at the likes read every month. numerous
Publishing Ltd, a UK company and Gulf Digital WLL are of Forbes Middle This issue, she appearances on
the exclusive licensed agents for Food & Travel Arabia
in the GCC under copyright of Green Pea Publishing.
East and other visits The Eagles TV and radio.
All rights of the licensed material belong to Turnstart leading media Palace in Greece In this issue, she
Limited and may not be reproduced whether in whole
or in part without its prior written consent. The name
organisations as she enjoys the takes us on a
“Food and Travel” is the property of Turnstart Limited. Justina brings a golden sands and curated tour of
Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the
Publisher. Unsolicited manuscripts and photographs are
wealth of top flight azure waters of the around Melbourne
not accepted and will not be returned experience. Aegean Sea. (p88) CBD (p34)
June 2017

RECIPE INDEX
STARTS ON PAGE 92
98
26
62

92 Mango and cucumber gazpacho with coconut foam


92 Watermelon pizza with two toppings
93 Lettuce wraps with shrimp, avocado & hoisin sauce
93 Cherry and hibiscus lemonade
93 Refreshing noodle salad with cucumber & mango
93 Mixed fruit platter
93 No bake cheese cake with passion fruit & raspberries
94 Carpaccio with green herb oil & apple capers
95 Coconut cake with passion fruit syrup 70
95 Thyme beef fillet with anchovy dressing & pangrattato 49 42
96 Moroccan tuna with chermoula
96 biza salad with orange, fennel, radish & olive crumb
97 Asparagus, burrata & pistachio salad with vincotto
97 Margarita cheesecakes with salted lime

58 20

68 76

4 FOOD & TRAVEL


90

On the cover

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12 Heinz Beck
20 Artisan coffee

ontent
Artisan Heinz
coffee Beck

26 Summer Cool
We spill the beans The interview

34 Melbourne
Tbilisi
From Georgia
with love
Patrick
Leano
Classic dining
54 Grand Cayman
70 The Maldives
Greg
Melbourne Malouf
The Carême column
Hand-picked hot-spots
VOL 4 ISS 7/8
INDULGENT DISHES FOR YOUR SUMMER SOIRÉES

SUMMER COOL
The Maldives Chisaki Iba Chocolate Nigel Mendham Oman Grand Cayman 90 Patrick Leano

34

INSIDE
ARRIVALS 98 After hours Nigel Mendham,
7 News This month we look at head chef of GBR at London’s
what to do and where to go this Dukes Hotel, tells us about his
summer love affair with traditional food
18 The Food and Travel Awards TRAVEL
Its that time at last - get ready 34 Melbourne must-do’s Hand-
to cast your votes for the 2018 picked hotspots you should
Awards bookmark in Melbourne’s CBD
12
FOOD 48 Underground hideaways Joe
20 Spill the beans We take a look Worthington delves deep in
at the burgeoning world of Artisan the mountains of the Omani
Coffee interior to explore its caves
and tunnels
26 Summer cool These show-
stopping plates are healthy and 54 Caribbean culture A
indulgent in equal measure; a culinary tour of Grand
guaranteed hit for your summer Cayman
soirées 70 Island life We explore the
58 Chocolate chic we pay homage white powdery sand, balmy
to the indulgent world of chocolate waters and warm embrace of
with Maya chocolaterie The Maldives

TALK 76 From Georgia with love


Louise Quick shares the beauty of
12 The interview Heinz Beck talks
Georgia’s capital Tbilisi
about his latest venture at Rome
Airport’s Terminal 3 TRIED AND TASTED
42 Chisaki Iba A female sushi 85 Cuba libre We have a sneak
master is extremely rare within peak at the latest hotel to open
the very traditional sushi culture in Habana
68 The Carême column Greg 86 Restaurants A touch of class in
26 Malouf talks gourmet Middle the UAE, gourmet delights and try
54 East cuisine a touch of something different
Cover by Margaret Stepien

90 Michelin-starred chef 88 Places to stay Greek style,


Patrick Leano of Hong Dubai chic, London Style and we
Kong’s famed Mandarin Grill chill out in Turkey
joins Food and Travel with his
debut column
Arrivals
News and views from the worlds of food and travel

STAYCATION IN STYLE
The JW Marriott Marquis Dubai located in Business Bay has the unique distinction of
not only being the tallest hotel in the world, standing at a little over 355 metres (just
26 metres shy of New York’s Empire State Building) but also the largest 5 Star hotel in
the UAE. Inspired by the ornate detail of a date palm there is no doubting the majestic
presence of the hotel as you approach the towers that house the 1,608 rooms of
this leviathan. The hotel lobby has a vibrant atmosphere generated by the throng
of groups and guests in this busy city hotel, certainly well suited to the high-flying
demands of business travellers and couples looking for a sophisticated city break.
The décor is quiet and understated with accents of colour; the rooms are stylish and
decorated in keeping with the public areas with the use of subtle and natural tones;
enjoying sensational views over the Burj Khalifa and downtown Dubai. The lights
and electronics are controlled via a hi-tech touch-screen tablet, and the bathrooms
are spacious and well-appointed with a large bath and rain shower, setting the ideal
tone for any stay. The hotel is ideally located close to Dubai’s hottest attractions with
Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, Downtown Dubai, Citywalk Dubai, Dubai Opera
and the new Dubai Water Canal extension, just a few minutes’ drive away. Explore
the award-winning signature restaurants and lounges from delicious award-winning
Indian cuisine at Michelin-starred Atul Kochhar’s, Rang Mahal to the mouth-watering
steaks at American steakhouse Prime68 and so much more. The Summer Staycation
packages exclusively for UAE residents is available until August 21, 2017 - with 20%
off regular room rates, daily breakfast at Dubai’s most popular buffet-Kitchen6, as well
as 20% off food and drinks in the hotels 9 award-winning restaurants and 5 bars; and
Staycation guests can take advantage of 50% off all 60 minute massages in the Saray
Spa, from Sundays through Thursdays until August 31.

For terms and conditions or to book – visit www.jwmarriottmarquisdubailife.com


Photo by Jason Chinn

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 7


Arrivals
NEWS
THE CHEFS’ EXPERIENCE IBIZA
COOL DOWN AND CHILL OUT… Dubai One of the hottest hotels on the island luxury-
With the hottest months of the year now upon us, cool down and chill out at lifestyle destination ME Ibiza is the summer
the rooftop pool of La Ville Hotel & Suites City Walk, Dubai; with views destination for music, food and fashion; with
across the incredible Dubai skyline. This stylish boutique hotel is an urban breath-taking views of the coast and world-
haven offering a perfect escape from the heat with its special ‘Daycation’ famous white sandy beaches, in collaboration
package. Relax and refresh throughout the day in a Deluxe hotel room with with lifestyle magazine Ibiza Style, ME Ibiza has
use of all of La Ville’s fabulous facilities; check in at 10am and check out by introduced a series of culinary experiences every
6pm, with the option to extend to an overnight stay at a special rate; Thursday from 7pm. The Chefs’ Experience will
guaranteed sunbed at the rooftop pool, and a delicious artisanal breakfast at see chef Juan Hely invite both Michelin-starred
Chival. Priced at $110 for 2 adults and up to 2 children the Daycation and talented local chefs to create unique tasting
package is available until 31 August. To discover more visit www.livelaville. menus. And ME Ibiza will enjoy live sets from top
com or call +971 4 403 3111 DJ’s that will be live-streamed to a world-wide
audience each week. ME Ibiza will also host ‘The
celebration of ME’ on 8 July, with the grand finale
on 26 August 2017. The parties will feature sets
from top DJs and live music. Located on a
secluded bay near Santa Eulalia on the East
coast of the island, ME Ibiza has minimalist Ibiza-
inspired interiors with spacious design that
complement the stunning sea views. The hotel’s
ambiance is the perfect balance between serene
and vibrant, with guests arriving in style by boat,
zodiac, luxurious ME Range Rovers or the private
Jet ME. ME by Meliá hotels are known for their
rooftop spaces and ME Ibiza is no exception. The
roof terrace is a destination in itself. Soak up the
atmosphere from the restaurant serving top
Mediterranean cuisine, the cocktail bar or lounge
on VIP daybeds, by the infinity pool. ME Ibiza
provides a truly personalised stay. The hotel also
offers a range of exclusive packages, including a
SUMMER ESCAPES DUBAI private ME motor boat for guests to visit
This summer, let the world-renowned hospitality of Raffles Dubai be your escape neighbouring Formentera and private island
from the heat and bustle of city life. Indulge yourself in the luxury Raffles Experience; Tagomago off the East coast of Ibiza. The day
check into one of the opulent rooms and let the expert butlers look after your every trips include a bubbly picnic, as well as a skipper,
need. Enjoy 20% discount on Signature guestrooms including a complimentary is available to guests staying in Suite ME.
breakfast at Azur and a further 20 per cent off at selected restaurants and Raffles The summer season runs until 15 October 2017.
Spa - available until 30 September. If you just want to spend a lazy day why not Rates start from $265 per room in low season.
spend a day relaxing by Raffles swimming pool, as you soak up the sun, take in the For further information on ME Ibiza and to
stunning panorama of the Dubai cityscape or cool off in the waters of the swim-up discover more about the summer events visit:
bar. All-day access to Raffles Pool is just $40pp, and includes two refreshing drinks www.mebymelia.com
from the Pool Bar. Enjoy a leisurely afternoon at Raffles Friday Brunch, and from 1
July you can also get complimentary pool access. Raffles Friday Brunch has a
mouth-watering array of European cuisines including fresh salads, a lavish seafood
selection, delectable desserts and the famous Raffles roast with all the trimmings,
while little ones can spend a creative afternoon in the kitchen, making their own
pizzas and decorate cookies with the Raffles chefs. Friday Brunch is served at Azur
Restaurant, prices start at $90pp incl. soft drinks and is available with
complimentary pool access every Friday until 30 September. For more information
call +971 4 324 8888 or visit raffles.com/dubai

08 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


FAMILY SUMMER STYLE ABU DHABI
Looking for somewhere to amuse the kids this summer,
then the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi has the just what you
are looking for; a unique experience where you can kick-
back and let the kids play. The family-friendly experience
starts from the moment you arrive; the kids check-in
with their own registration cards which entitles them to
special treats during their stay. Enjoy the beautiful breezy
BAKER AND SPICE Bahrain weather at the Latitude family pool, followed by a
Award winning bakery and restaurant chain Baker and Spice have delicious family lunch, full of favourites.
opened their first outlet in Bahrain’s Seef Mall to complement its For that perfect afternoon, you can enjoy the unique
success in Dubai and Kuwait. The chic modern minimalism offers a space, Generation V, which lets you watch your kids as
clean and simple space where the food is the star attraction. In they learn and enjoy themselves for a fun-packed
addition to its much-loved speciality artisan breads and pastries, couple of hours. For kids aged between 4 to 12,
the restaurant also serves its local, organic and homemade and Generation V zone includes sound tubing, wall climbing,
wholesome classic and signature dishes to provide healthy and play stations, play houses and a soft play area and has
fresh options to its customers. Whether you sit inside or dine been designed to allow children to boost their creativity
alfresco on the terrace you can enjoy tasty fresh seasonal dishes by exploring, playing, learning, making friends and most
from the ever-changing menu served from breakfast to dinner. importantly, having fun! And children who visit
www.bakerandspiceme.com Generation V also receive a unique ‘charge card’ which
entitles then to four different treats during their stay
including milkshakes and ice cream. Whilst you kids
play, why not make the most of your 20% discount spa
voucher, redeemable across a selection of signature
treatments performed by expert therapists at ESPA,
allowing for a few hours of serenity before the family fun
continues. To complete your experience, try a one-of-a-
kind ‘glamping’ experience that is sure to thrill the kids.
Mini travellers have their very own tent complete with
soft mattress and fluffy pillows, torch and everything they
need to fire their imagination. With attractions such as
Yas Waterworld and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi on the
doorstep, as well as newly opened Dubai Parks just a
30 minute drive away Yas Viceroy is the perfect place for
a family staycation this summer. Book the Suite Stay
WALDORF ASTORIA RAS AL KHAIMAH and Play package from $275 and receive daily credit of
What strikes you when travelling the short journey (45-60 minutes) from up to $80 to be used on room service, in the
Dubai to the neighbouring emirate of Ras Al Khaimah is the marked restaurants or at ESPA. For Camp Viceroy, a maximum
difference in atmosphere – from the hectic urban sprawl and cityscape of one tent can be used per room. Each tent takes up to
of Dubai to the more relaxed reverence and picturesque landscape of two kids under 8. Prices at $42 in addition to your room
Ras Al Khaimah; as you gently unwind and warm to that true vacation rate. For more information visit
frame-of-mind. You are immediately embraced by the majesty of the www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com
Hajar Mountains, the unspoiled coastlines with their white sandy
beaches, crystal clear azure waters of the Arabian Sea, and rich heritage
that dates back over five millennia. Sitting beside a stunning
championship golf course The Waldorf Astoria is undoubtedly a tribute to
the luxury of by-gone days, an architectural showpiece that reflects the
traditional warmth of its Arabic heritage combined with the classical
grace of European style, creating a hotel of true palatial grandeur and
unabashed opulence; acres of marble, crystal chandeliers and the finest
crafted furnishings are the perfect setting for a veritable array of art from
ancient calligraphy to modern sculptures. Take advantage of the special
packages available until 17 December; receive 20% off the best
available rate, complimentary breakfast and dinner and unlimited access
to the resort’s pristine 350 metre beachfront, pools, spa and children’s
club. Breakfast and dinner are served in Qasr Al Bahar buffet, and prices
start from $335. For more information visit waldorfastoria3.hilton.com or call
+971 7 203 5555

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 09


Arrivals
NEWS

DISNEY SUMMER Orlando


Visit Disney World in style this summer at the 26-acre Four Seasons
Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort. Not only located within
Disney World you can enjoy the resorts own on-site five-acre
Explorer Island water park, which includes a winding lazy river
SUMMER BY DESIGN Dubai complete with a rapids section, two water slides, an interactive
Giorgio Armani’s eponymous hotel resides inside the world’s tallest splash zone with water cannons, and much more. Other activities
building, Burj Khalifa; and boasts incomparable views of the city include table tennis, bocce ball, beach volleyball, a rock climbing
including a tourist favourite, the Dubai fountain. Armani’s signature wall, and more. The Hideout at Explorer Island is a separate facility
designs are reflected in every object within the hotel, whether it is the offering the latest gaming systems, billiards and The Mansion at is
decor or fabric. Each piece personally selected by the designer home to the ‘Kids for all Seasons’ program; a complimentary kids
himself. Its six in-house dining options offer a variety of cuisines from camp for children ages 4 to 12 open every day. Take advantage of
Italian and Indian to Mediterranean and Japanese. This summer the the Disney Gift Card Offer - ideal for shorter stays, providing a $200
Armani Dubai has an exciting range of offers certain to make your visit Disney gift card for every two or three night stay in a guest room, and
that something special. a $500 Disney gift card for every two or three night stay in a suite.
Try the ‘Bambini dine for free’ offer; available until 30 September and The Disney gift card can be used across Walt Disney World property,
introduce the next generation of foodies to the award-winning cuisine at such as theme park or water park tickets, dining and souvenirs. The
Armani Hotel Dubai. Book a family table and children under 10 eat for Disney Gift Card package is available until September 30, 2017. Or
free at Armani/Ristorante (dinner), regional Indian specialities at Armani/ try the ‘Stay Longer - Fourth Night Free’ package - stay longer and
Amal (dinner), coast-to-coast favourites at Armani/Mediterraneo (dinner) experience all the award-winning resort has to offer. Get a
and contemporary European classics at Armani/Deli (lunch/dinner). The complimentary fourth night with every three paid nights until
offer is valid for a maximum of two children, per full paying adult, and the September 28, 2017. Rates start at $479 per night after the fourth
lowest priced items will be waived off the bill. night free is applied. Guests of Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt
Enjoy the chic European vibe, stylish monochrome interiors of Disney World Resort enjoy great access to Walt Disney World,
Armani/Deli, as you savour Friday Brunch. Served every Friday from including complimentary transportation to Magic Kingdom Park,
12 noon till 9pm – prices start at $79pp incl. soft drinks. Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park and Disney’s
Take afternoon tea with an Italian twist at Armani/Lounge, where the Hollywood Studios. The Resort also offers a Disney Planning Centre.
new afternoon tea menu blends signature English flavours with Italian This full-service Disney concierge assists guests with all Disney
inspiration. Available from 3pm till 6pm each day the Armani afternoon needs, including theme park tickets, dining reservations, planning
tea features a contemporary selection of light sandwiches, indulgent FastPass+ reservations, and even purchasing a Magic Band and
dolce and signature cakes, and of course the requisite assortment of coordinating a guest’s full Disney itinerary. Additionally, a character
scones served with homemade jams, and a choice of tea or coffee. breakfast, The Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy & His Pals, is
Priced at $47pp or $82 per couple. offered on Thursdays, Saturdays and select Tuesdays at Ravello
To discover more visit dubai. armanihotels.com or call restaurant. For more information visit www.fourseasons.com/orlando
+97148883666 or call +1 800 267 3046

Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort Fujairah


With only 180 rooms and suites the Fairmont Fujairah offers an intimate luxury
escape. This art inspired resort showcases art from around the globe; its interior
design a juxtaposition of modern bohemian meets art-deco infused with a touch
of arabesque flair; the interior design is continued throughout the hotel. With five
dining options ranging from Italian cuisine to the freshest of seafood your palate
is in for a treat. Take advantage of the special summer rates which are available
until 30 September and include: 20% off the best available rate; daily buffet
breakfast at Canvas, the all-day-dining restaurant; 20% dining discount at
Arteasan, Café Pronto and The Copper Lobster; complimentary access to the
Kids’ Club, gym, steam and sauna facilities; and free daily shuttle service to a
nearby private beach. For more information visit www.fairmont.com/fujairah or
call +971 9 204 1111

10 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


For ose at now here e day il take em
and or ose ho eave t p to chance.

BAR & GRILL

LAUNCHED ON PEARL JUMEIRA

With a charming beachfront setting, here is where you will find


the perfect trinity of cuisines; Floridian, Caribbean & Latin flavors.
Opening early with a tradition to celebrate sundowners and aperitivo hour.

Open daily from 5pm – 1am with indoor and outdoor seating

NIKKI BEACH RESORT & SPA DUBAI | Pearl Jumeira, P.O. Box 8286 Dubai, United Arab Emirates | T: +971 4 376 6000
12 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA
THE INTERVIEW
HEINZ BECK

Opposite page: Heinz Beck. This page,


top to bottom: Rome’s Fiumicino Airport;
Attimi by Heinz Beck sign; Departure
board in Fiumicino Airport.
time to fly
Three Michelin-starred chef Heinz With three different menus based upon
Beck has opened a new restaurant three different time frames his goal is
in Rome’s Fiumicino Airport. to make quality food, which goes way
beyond the usual level of airport fare.
Food and Travel went to Fiumicino
armed with passport and notepad to
find out if the project is set to fly.
ne can say a lot about airport food and the food generally

O served on airplanes – but probably not that the quality is sky


high. At airports, you are mostly exposed to grills, all kinds
of kebabs and fast food in any shade, and in general you should
consider yourself lucky if you manage to find a sandwich, which you
can label with the word “quality”.
But that’s how it is, we know that. For airports are not, and have
never been, gourmet destinations, but merely a kind of trampoline,
which throws us in the direction of new experiences and adventures,
including our gastronomic dreams.
The chapter about airline food is often more depressing. I must
admit that I don’t know what is served on Business and First Class,
but the heated everything-on-one-tray-food, which is typically
served on long-haul flights, usually - when it is at its best - just
manages to avoid failing grades.
I was therefore quite curious when I received an invitation to try
out 3 Michelin star Heinz Beck’s new restaurant, Attimi (Moments)
at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, Terminal 3 (for international flights). Yes,
I was actually so curious that only one week later I found myself on
my way to Fiumicino Airport complete with passport, note pad and
fairly high expectations.

A GASTRONOMIC OCTOPUS
Those who are familiar with Rome’s culinary scene - especially the
more sophisticated part of it - will know that when you are invited to a
tasting by Beck, it is by no means utopia to have high expectations.
For many years, this talented German chef, who radiates charisma
has belonged to the absolute top echelon of Italian fine dining. Over
time, he has developed into a gastronomic octopus with a wide
range of gastro-activities. His gastronomic flower in the buttonhole
is still the Pergola restaurant at Rome Cavalieri, Waldorf Astoria
Hotel, which has held three Michelin stars for many years and is
generally regarded as one of the Italy’s Top Five best restaurants.
Apart from la Pergola, Beck also has a wide range of other culinary
activities, not only in Italy where he has restaurants in Pescara and
Castello di Fighine (Tuscany), but also abroad, e.g. Gusto in Algarve,
Social by Heinz Beck and Taste of Italy, both in Dubai, Sensi by Heinz
Beck in Tokyo, and soon he will also open in Monte Carlo. In other
words, we’re talking about a top chef who could easily add the title of
businessman to his list of achievements just like some of his colleagues,
such as Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver, to mention just two.

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 13


THE INTERVIEW
HEINZ BECK Opposite page: Attimi entrance. This page, clockwise: Food at
Attimi; Filet; ravioli, Heinz Beck in Attimi kitchen.

For several years Beck has been the primus motor in the annual WITH APRON AND SWEAT ON THE BROW
Roman event, Taste of Rome, where he - together with a number Beck clearly feels comfortable in the spotlight. He was all smiles and
of other top Roman chefs - prepares gourmet treats at low prices seemed to be in a good mood, so I allowed myself to ask a slightly
during three days in mid-September. light-hearted question, enquiring if he, with his many widespread
It’s quite clear that Beck’s long-standing flirtation with Italy has gastronomic activities, was indeed able to find time to cook for busy
evolved into a love story. His previously strong German accent has airport visitors? “Oh yes, for sure. Here, at Attimi, I’ve not limited
softened considerably over the years, when he speaks Italian. The myself simply to hand out recipes to my younger chefs. I’ll show up
German precision has transformed into bright smiles and quick once or twice a week, and maybe even three times, and you’ll see
remarks, and when he talks to the press, he is relaxed, laid back me with an apron behind the pots and with sweat on my forehead”,
and at home. he said laughing.
But how is it actually possible to combine high-quality servings We reached the fourth dish, consisting of finely chopped lamb with
with airport stress, I asked Beck. caramelized edges, pieces of fennel and small pearls of goat cheese,
“Only through the right organization”, he said promptly. “Our after which the taste party ended with a delicious cheese cake.
project here at Attimi rotates around the concept of ‘time’. We have Throughout the whole meal there were so many flavours, and
made menus of 30, 45 and 60 minutes’ duration. On all tables even after five courses that were not sparse, I rose from the table
there is an hourglass, so that our guests can easily keep track of with a surprising sense of ease.
time and departures. The 30-minute menu is of course shorter and “That’s what it’s all about ... ease, lightness and digestion,
faster than the other two. But all three menus are bound to a time because the traveller simply cannot get on the plane with a sense
concept. However, if our guests prefer something else, they can of of heaviness. I travel a lot myself, and like all other air passengers I
course also choose from our larger à la carte menu.” really appreciate having a sense of ease”, he said.
That day in Fiumicino, I was presented with a five-course menu I asked Beck if he had had no second thoughts before accepting
with different parts coming from the three time-menus. I started a project where time sets the limits for the enjoyment of a meal.
with a seafood salad with Borlotti beans, green celery and Sorrento “No, not at all. I had previously contacted AdR. [The company
lemons and continued with cous cous decorated with pepperoni that manages Rome’s airports, ed.] to hear about the possibility of
and crayfish followed by one of Beck’s signature dishes - ravioli entering one of Rome’s airports. But at the time there was no space.
stuffed with burrata cheese, light pesto and toasted pine nuts, So, when they contacted me later, I had already made some plans.
which is so delicious that the dish has to be eaten with a spoon. I primarily considered the time aspect as a challenge. But bear in
I must say that all these dishes have undoubtedly the two classic mind, that time also plays an important role in regular restaurants.
Beck characteristics: an intense taste and lightness. The guests cannot sit and wait too long between the dishes”.

14 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 15
THE INTERVIEW
HEINZ BECK
Top to bottom: Tempura prawn; steak tartare; souvenirs in Fiumicino Airport

PERGOLA’S LITTLE BROTHER?


As already mentioned, in Rome Beck is renowned for la Pergola.
And after he had finished cooking that day, he had to rush back to
La Pergola and Rome, since to prepare dinner for Donald Trump,
and members of the Italian government.
But is Attimi in Fiumicino a kind of mini-version of La Pergola, a
kind of Pergola’s little brother?
“I would say that Attimi is less fine dining, and that’s only natural,
because we are in an airport. It is a more casual format but still with
great focus on quality ... and quality only. We do not get anything
ready-made from the outside, nothing frozen just to be thrown into
the oven. Everything is made from scratch”, said Beck.
And you fully believe him when you take a look at the kitchen,
Words and images by Jesper Storgaard Jensen

where a small army of a dozen or so black-and-white attired young


chefs rush back and forth in a kitchen that measures something like
seven by seven metres.
The kitchen is swarming with chefs, the airport is swarming
with travellers and from Attimi’s tables you have a free view over the
airport’s runways where planes are getting ready to take-off. It’s all
a matter of ... moments.
On the cover of the Attimi’s menu you will find a reference
to moments as a psychological-literary concept - a quote by
the famous Italian author Cesare Pavese: “It is not the days we
remember, it is the fleeting moments”.
And the gastronomic moments that Beck creates at Attmi are
worth remembering. Light and bubbly and tasteful.
Just a shame that my trip, after our lunch, only went back to
Rome instead of to Caracas or Rio or Cairo or ...

16 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


18 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA
FOOD & TRAVEL
AWARDS 2018

It’s here! The shortlists for the 2018 Food and Travel Awards. Be sure to have your
say, by voting for your food and travel favourites at foodandtravel.com

HOW TO
ver the past two months, we’ve been asking you
VOTE
O to nominate your favourites in the world of food
and travel – and boy, did you deliver! From literally
thousands of entries our expert panel has compiled
Voting is open from
the voting shortlist for the main categories for the 2018 14 JULY 2017
Awards, which will shortly be announced on our website,
foodandtravel.me. Now comes the really fun part – voting
to decide the finalists for the categories mentioned (the
TO
other categories will be decided by the expert panel from
amongst the finalists you choose)
30 SEPTEMBER 2017
Now it’s the voting round to decide who will go through to
the final rounds to be judged by the expert panel. Once the You may vote for one candidate
shortlists are announced on 14 July 2017 - simply go online in each category for each country
and choose your favourites from the shortlisted candidates.
So whether it’s the tour operator that’s given you the
experience of a lifetime, a hotel that’s gone the extra mile www.foodandtravel.me
to make your stay special, or an unforgettable meal from
that exciting new restaurant, visit foodandtravel.me and get
voting – because it’s you who decides their fate.
The country winners will be announced in February 2018
and the overall GCC Winners will announced at a Gala
Dinner in March 2018
So whether it is your favourite restaurant, hotel or café –
you can vote in as many or as few categories as you wish
– make sure you register your vote.
A big thanks for your initial nominations. And don’t forget,
even if you didn’t get involved first time around, you can still
make your voice heard, by helping to pick the finalists.

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 19


GOURMET TRAVELLER

SPI L L
THE Whether you like yours strong and by
the shot, in a large takeaway cup on the

BE A NS
morning commute or prefer mulling over
an aromatic cup with friends, there’s no
mistaking it, coffee is everywhere.

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 20


GOURMET TRAVELLER

D
rip by drip, the caffeinated nectar has filtered Coffee snobs
into all of our lives and is now the world’s second We live in an age of coffee snobbery. Known as the third
most-traded commodity, trumped only by oil. wave of coffee, this surge of independent and artisan
While Americans drink more than three cups on average coffee shops was a reaction to the Starbucks frenzy of
a day, it’s actually Scandinavia that boasts the biggest the early 2000s.
caffeine highs: the Finnish reportedly consume nine While big name coffee giants flooded our high streets
cups daily. and malls – coffee shops shot up from 525 to 17,400
Since the powerful beans were discovered centuries between 1992 and 2003 in the US – the growing demand
ago, every culture has mastered its own unique variation for quality coffee drove the caffeine-loving community to
of the drink – from milky lattes to Turkish coffee – and take business into their own hands, literally.
with them their own ideas of how to make the best. It’s “Coffee is now much more about the science,”
a big caffeinated world out there and everyone’s a critic. explains Laura Bratti, Head of Training at London’s
Navigating this world is tough, especially for the many Artisan Coffee School. “It’s more about the chemistry
of us who like to judge the standard of coffee on the and what’s actually going on inside.”
quality of its ‘latte art’. Here we’ll lift the foam, put our Coffee, however, is a delicate business. Between
nose to the grind and find out to recognise a decent cup picking, sorting, roasting and shipping, the coffee has
of joe. undertaken a massive journey before reaching our lips,

21 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


Opposite page: Ethiopian red coffee cherries. This page, top to
bottom: Artisan Coffee School; Artisan Coffee School students; Espresso-based coffee
Pouring a Raw Coffee chemex.

should have a beautiful,


meaning there are plenty of moments where it could full-bodied and complex
go wrong.
Most local coffee places serve espresso-based
coffee which, Laura tells me, should have “a beautiful,
flavour and the crema
full-bodied and complex flavour” and the crema,
(that’s the espresso’s creamy top layer), should be should be syrupy and velvety
“syrupy, velvety and not too messy”.
One marker of a bad coffee is that all-too-common
bitter, almost burnt taste. In fact, Ric Rhinehart,
Executive Director of the Speciality Coffee Association
(SCA), reveals that one of the biggest misconceptions
about coffee is that it’s meant to be bitter; “It should
be a sweet and balanced beverage, easy to enjoy.”
That unsavoury burnt taste could mean all kinds of
mistakes: a lazy barista, the wrong grind, bad brewing
or over-roasting.
“It’s like cooking a chicken,” simplifies Laura. “If you
cook it for too long, it’s going to burn and introduce
char-y flavours.”
If you the idea of roast-chicken coffee leaves you with
a bad taste in your mouth, then you certainly won’t
want to know that one of the most common reasons
for the burnt taste is dirty equipment.
“You can do everything absolutely perfectly with
care and attention,” she says. “But if you don’t
regularly clean the parts of your machine that come
into contact with the coffee you will introduce burnt,
stale and unpleasant flavours.”

Red flags
Fortunately, there are red flags to watch out for that
will save you from the disappointment of a bad cup
of coffee.
Kim Thompson, Owner of the UAE’s Raw Coffee
Company, tells us it’s important to check the beans
in the grinder – “if the beans look oily or black, don’t
go there” – secondly, make sure the coffee is ground
fresh to order, as “the flavour diminishes as quickly as
two minutes after grinding”.
Lastly she advises scoping out the equipment.
“If the milk wand has scum and build up on the tip
it isn’t being cleaned properly,” adding that, “A loud
screeching sound when they’re heating the milk
means they’re not doing it correctly.”
However, without hopping the counter and carrying
out a full inspection every time you want a cappuccino,
how can you ensure you’re getting quality? Turns out
the easiest way is to simply ask the barista.
While it’s true that the barista’s coffee-wielding
abilities are the last step in the beans’ long journey,
any good coffee shop will be able to tell you about the
whole process. Plus, a passion for what they’re doing
is a good indicator of a barista’s coffee-making skills.
“Ask them about the coffee,” Kim advises. “Any
barista that’s been trained and cares about what they
do will love sharing this information.”
They should be able to tell you where the beans are
farmed, processed, their key flavours and whether it’s

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 22


GOURMET TRAVELLER

‘speciality coffee’ – beans are graded out of 100 and


only those that reach 85 per cent of more qualify as
speciality.

Origins
The term ‘single origin’ is bandied around coffee shops,
often heralded as a marker of a superior cup. However, it
turns out that’s not necessarily true. Single-origin simply
means the beans are sourced from one farming area and
it seems their biggest selling point is more to do with the
idea than the taste itself.
As Laura says, “It’s nice to be able to taste where the
coffee comes from and you can talk about the flavour a
lot more.”
Agreeing, Kim, who sources Raw’s coffee from
Addis, Ethiopia, explains, “I like to have that emotional
connection of knowing where the coffee comes from,
visualising the farm and the people who farm the coffee.”
Connoisseurs often see single origin as a purer way
to enjoy coffee, which is why it tends to be reserved for
black coffees. While a blend, which combines different
beans and complementary flavours, are often reserved
for milkier concoctions.
It would be a mistake to discount a good blend
though, claims Laura: “We have a blend from four South
American countries and they give chocolatey, nutty,
caramel flavours that work really well together.”

Back to the roots


You’ll find the beans growing anywhere with a suitable
climate and while Brazil is the largest producer of the
crop, coffee is actually rooted some 10,000km away in
Ethiopia.
The 1000-year-old legend tells of a young shepherd
called Kaldi, who noticed that his flock of goats had a real
kick in their step after eating some unknown berries. Trying
them himself, he experienced the first caffeine buzz.
From there the stories vary, but the beans were
roasted, boiled in water and the brew was adopted by
Yemen’s Sufi where it became qahwa, or Arabic coffee.
By the 16th century coffee houses were popular in
Istanbul, the centre of the Ottoman Empire and from
there it quickly swept across Europe – it is said that
Pope Clement VIII was a big – and the globe.
So when looking for the truest form of coffee, the

The surge of independent


and artisan coffee shops is
a reaction to the Starbucks
frenzy of the early 2000s.

23 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


Opposite page, top to bottom: Coffee extraction; Turkish coffee
being poured; Turkish coffee process. This page, below: Raw coffee.

Every country in the Middle East


seems to have its own unique spin
on coffee, utilising different blends,
spices and techniques

Arabian peninsula is a good place to start. Small, black is an important aspect of hospitality in Arab societies,”
and often flavoured with cardamom and other spices, Kathikeyan tells me. In fact, traditional Turkish style
Arabic coffee is almost unrecognisable to espresso brews still makes up 60 per cent of the coffee market in
drinkers. Jordan.
“Every country in the Middle East seems to have Not that this has stopped more ‘western’ style
their own unique spin of coffee, utilising different roast espressos making their mark. In the UAE, Kim is
Images: Kathikeyan Rajendran

profiles, spices and techniques,” explains Kathikeyan confident they “have the ability to ‘lure’ some of those
Rajendran, the three-time UAE Cezve/Ibrik Champion. traditional coffee drinkers to the new wave of speciality
Words by Louise Quick

He says that Arabic coffee, for example, tends to be coffee”.


boiled for much longer than its Turkish cousin, resulting While there are ways to recognise a quality espresso,
in a darker, more bitter brew. Regardless of method, it’s with the smorgasbord of coffees out there, it’s impossible
an ancient craft, using special copper pots (ibriks or to confidently define a perfect cup of joe. So next time
cezves) heated over hot plates or hot sand, and as such you’re rushing to work, coffee clasped reassuringly
coffee is deeply rooted in Arabic culture. in hand, give a little thought to the journey those little
“Arabic coffee served from a dallah [a traditional pot] beans have taken before they fuel your day.

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 24


FOOD FOCUS
PHOTOGRAPHY
AND PROP STYLING:
MARGARET STEPIEN
RECIPES AND FOOD
STYLING: YORINDE
SLEEGERS

MIXED FRUIT
PLATTER

COOL
Summer… These show-stopping plates are healthy and indulgent
in equal measure; a guaranteed hit for your summer soirées
FOOD FOCUS
CARPACCIO WITH GREEN
HERB OIL AND APPLE
CAPERS
RECIPES START ON PAGE 92

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 27


FOOD FOCUS

CHERRY AND HIBISCUS


LEMONADE
RECIPES START ON PAGE 92
FOOD FOCUS

LETTUCE WRAPS
WITH SHRIMP,
AVOCADO AND
HOISIN SAUCE

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 29


FOOD FOCUS

WATERMELON PIZZA WITH


TWO TOPPINGS
RECIPES START ON PAGE 92
FOOD FOCUS

MANGO AND
CUCUMBER
GAZPACHO WITH
COCONUT FOAM

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 31


FOOD FOCUS

NO-BAKE CHEESE CAKE


WITH PASSION FRUIT
AND RASPBERRIES
RECIPES START ON PAGE 92
FOOD FOCUS
REFRESHING NOODLE
SALAD WITH CUCUMBER
AND MANGO

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 33


MELBOURNE
M U S T- D O s
Food and Travel hand-picks some of the best hotspots you should
bookmark in Melbourne’s CBD.

34 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


GOURMET TRAVELLER

ydney may have its beaches and impossibly photogenic comedy and food festivals – so finding seasonal things to do here

S vistas, but Melbourne is easily Australia’s buzzing, vibrant


cultural capital. (Don’t get me wrong, I adore Sydney).
Melbourne, though, with its rich heritage and neo-
classical architecture, with its sense of insouciance and effortlessly
cool vibe is the sort of city where you you’ll always find yourself
is easy.
As is finding great coffee. Coffee is like a religion here, and there
are so many places dedicated to the ultimate ‘long black’ or ‘flat
white’ that I won’t get into that here (another time, perhaps). But
what I will do is tell you where you should be going to eat, sleep,
returning from, inspired and enriched. and sightsee on your next trip to the Victorian capital. The best
A busy calendar of events means there’s always something bit is, it’s all within a few kilometres’ radius, in the heart of the city.
going on here – including some of Australia’s most prestigious Because this is the sort of city where you want to feel like a
events, from the annual horseracing shindig the Melbourne Cup local, so follow my insider guide to not stick out like a touristy sore
that becomes a nationwide event, to acclaimed events such as thumb!

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 35


Where to stay
Hotel Lindrum
To make the most of a Melbourne visit, basing yourself in the Central Business
District (CBD), is key. And Hotel Lindrum is positioned right within the beating
heart of the city. This M Gallery by Sofitel property (part of the Accor Group)
perfectly marries boutique chic with chain-hotel standards.
Steeped in history, the Romanesque Revival-style building has formerly
housed a tea shop, a printing press, and most recently a snooker hall – which
is what it owes it nomenclature to, the record-breaking billiards player Walter
Lindrum.
The hotel’s design pays homage to its legacy in various subtle ways, including
the billiards table that takes pride of place in the cosy library bar, and the naming
of its sunlight-drenched breakfast room and restaurant, Felt (worth visiting for the
Smashed avocado alone!). In the rooms, it is all contemporary classic elegance,
with neutral colours and sumptuous beds providing the ideal haven to retreat into
after a long day of culture vulture-ing.
www.hotellindrum.com.au

Adelphi Hotel
Probably Melbourne’s most celebrated boutique hotel – and its only Design
Hotel – the Adelphi, as it is affectionately known, oozes a stylish, sexy vibe that
fits right in with its location within spitting distance of all the shopping, dining and
cultural allures of the CBD.
Even though the building, a former warehouse, dates back to 1938, and
the hotel itself has had a chequered history, its design, masterminded by Fady
Hachem, is thoroughly bold and modern. With just 34 rooms, this is intimate
luxury at its best. Luxe materials, striking art, and quirky touches come together to
create a unique hotel experience – from the oversized wireframe horse greeting
you at reception, to the free in-room snack bar.
The hotel is also home to Om Nom Kitchen & Dessert bar (see Where to eat) but
its piece de resistance has to be its architecturally intriguing rooftop pool – part
of it is cantilevered to float ‘mid-air’ over Flinders Lane.
www.adelphi.com.au

36 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


GOURMET TRAVELLER
Opposite page, clockwise: Hotel Lindrum exterior; interior of Adelphi room; Hotel Lindrum back
bar pool table; Adelphi hotel pool. This page, clockwise: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal interiors;
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal decor; Chef Heston Blumenthal.

Where to eat
Dinner by Heston the sources of origin of each dish, dated between the 1300s to the 1800s,
Melbourne’s rich, varied and innovative food scene has garnered gushing praise explained on the reverse.
around the world, which is probably why it should come as no surprise that one A dish such as the Salamagundy, for instance (succulent chicken oysters with
of the world’s greatest chefs and food scientists should make this city a second braised radish, flavour-rich marrow bone, and horseradish cream providing a
home, and the spot for his first restaurant outside the UK. The world’s second subtle kick), owes its origin to a cookery book from 1720. The Rice and flesh, on
Dinner by Heston is grounded in the same historic inspiration as the London the other hand, features curried kangaroo tail, alongside saffron and amaranth,
venue, but also draws upon Anglo-Australian heritage for its innovative menu. as a nod to Dinner’s Australian locale.
Tucked away in an unlikely corner of the Crown Resorts complex – the Fat Not to be missed are his iconic dishes such as Meat fruit (inspired by a 15th
Duck pop-up was located here too – the restaurant provides an elegant escape century dish), a signature Heston creation where chicken liver parfait is conjured
from the hustle and bustle outside, with views of the Yarra river to take your into something that looks exactly like a glossy mandarin picked straight from the
breath away as soon as you walk in through its dark wood doors. Inside too, tree, complete with stem and leaves – mopped up with their homemade bread, it
clean, classical rich wood and leather interiors reference old-school gentility, is mouthwatering – and Tipsy cake, where the humble pineapple is spit-roasted,
with smooth, refined service to match. Heritage meets hi-tech here, with glass and served with a fluffy yet syrupy brioche.
panels affording clear views of the working kitchen where, alongside new- Each dish, in fact, is a revelation of both history and flavours, with layer upon
age equipment and a well-oiled machine of a team, vintage pulley-operated layer of intricate detail unraveling an artistry that can only come from a mind as
spit roasts take centrestage; a mechanical moving art piece, a tribute to the creative as Heston’s – ably assisted by his executive chef Ashley Palmer-Watts
watchmakers of Greenwich who created these spit roasts for the Royal Court, of course.
set right by the kitchen proves a mesmerising distraction. Wash it all down with some bespoke cocktails that match the food step for
Dining here is an interactive experience, and the staff is great at providing step in creativity, and you’ll leave with a memorable meal that you can dine out
menu recommendations to suit individual preferences, and explaining the on (pun intended) for a long time.
dishes – just as well, as the menu can read like an obscure history book, with www.dinnerbyheston.com.au

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 37


Om Nom Dessert Kitchen & Bar
Housed in the trendy Adelphi Hotel, this slice of paradise for sweet-philes takes desserts
to the next level. Acclaimed pastry chef Joanne Ward creates molecular gastronomy
concoctions with unexpected flavours and a healthy dose of whimsy – think Omnom
Chocnut bomb, with peanut butter parfait, chocolate coated rice bubbles (yes, really!),
raspberry fluid gel, dehydrated chocolate mousse; and Granny Smith’s pannacotta
party, in which a wobbly vanilla pannacotta pairs perfectly with green apple jelly, sorbet,
compressed green apple, lime and green tea meringue, and white chocolate aero.
While the quirky mind-bending desserts are definitely the highlight – where else can
you indulge in a dessert degustation? – Om Nom also offers a delicious savoury menu,
with lots of little bites ideal for grazing over some of their inspired cocktails.
www.omnom.kitchen

Supernormal
Also located in Flinders Lane is this achingly hip Asian-inspired eatery from respected
Melbourne restaurateur Andrew McConnell. The restaurant ticks all the trend boxes –
slick, minimalist canteen-style décor with communal seating options alongside booths;
open kitchen; and yes, hipster wait staff. There’s even a Japanese snack vending machine
and a karaoke room downstairs for those inclined! Traditional Asian dishes and ingredients
– mainly Japanese, Korean, with a hint of Chinese – are made unmistakably modern, with
big, punchy flavours and a sharing-style concept. Clearly, it’s in its superlative food that
Supernormal really lives up to its name.
www.supernormal.net.au

38 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


GOURMET TRAVELLER
Clock wise: Om Nom White Peach Injection; Melbourne by night;
Supernormal Melbourne; City Circle Tram Melbourne; Stain Alley
Melbourne CBD; National of Gallery of Victoria; Om Nom Choc Nut
Bomb 2.0; Interior view of Om Nom Melbourne.

Where to go
Citycircle tram
One of the easiest ways of getting around Melbourne’s main attractions is an
experience in and of itself – the vintage Citycircle tram, which runs in a loop
around the city centre and nearby areas (including City museum, Princess
theatre, the Docklands, and the Etihad stadium). These well-preserved historic
trams come with audio commentary on the main sights and landmarks, as well
as full-of-character guides on-board, and best of all – it’s absolutely free to ride
on its hop-on-hop-off network. Which is probably why, while clearly aimed at
visitors, you are just as likely to bump into a newspaper-reading local as you are
a camera-toting tourist on board. If you only hop off at any one destination,
make it the historic Queen Victoria Market to discover fresh produce, food halls,
and flea market finds.

Street art in the CBD


Melbourne’s CBD, with its convenient grid-like structure, is designed for walking
around in, soaking up the vibe, exploring its many riches – from galleries and
cafes to boutiques and ateliers, it’s all here. A good place to anchor yourself from
is the bustling Federation Square – if there was ever a true heart of the city, this
must be it – which plays host to a regular roster of cultural events and activations.
From here, start your explorations, taking in the varied historic architecture
to discover another attraction in the city’s narrow, atmospheric laneways - awe-
inspiring street art. Hosier Lane is now established as graffiti central, where a
constantly changing colourful canvas now draws tour groups even. While it is
definitely worth checking out, make an effort to walk around some of the quieter
back streets to stumble upon new discoveries and ever more quirky art.

National Gallery of Victoria


The creative arts are a well-entrenched part of the fabric of this city. A movement
rooted in the 1850s when the wealthy southern state attracted European artists
in the droves, enhanced by support from a government with cultural ambitions,
has bloomed into a city throbbing in culture today. While you’re never too far
from getting an art fix in Melbourne, a visit to the NGV’s Ian Potter Centre in
central Federation Square is essential. This, the younger sibling of the main NGV,
located on St Kilda Road, is a striking modernist building that stands out as one
of the city’s well-recognised landmarks. Here, not only can you discover the rich
legacy of Australian art, including the vibrant indigenous art, but also an enviable
collection of international artists and travelling exhibitions. Art lovers should also
not miss the main NGV museum, which houses permanent as well as pop-up
exhibits of leading international artists.

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 39


GOURMET TRAVELLER

Top to bottom: Melbourne CBD; National Gallery of Victoria Display;


Melbourne by day

How to get there


Etihad Airways offers twice daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Melbourne,
with convenient timing options.
Living up to its five-star reputation, the premium class cabins ensure the
ultimate luxury on the long-haul route, with fully flat-bed seats (with plenty of

Words: Sudeshna Ghosh Images: Tourism Australia, Food & Travel


room to stash away your things and feel right at home), on demand entertainment
includes the latest movies, and gourmet dining. The layout is designed so that
most seats afford complete privacy and direct aisle access.
Etihad’s thoughtful ‘Dine anytime’ menu allows guests to tailor their mealtimes
according to their individual preferences – whether it’s fuelling up at the start
of the flight for a work marathon, or waking up after a restful sleep to a hearty
meal. The four-course a la carte menu can include chef-worthy delicacies like
beef tenderloin with fondant potato, asparagus, tomatoes, peppercorn sauce;
pappardelle pasta with tomatoes, basil, olive tapenade and Parmesan; as well as
regional specialties such as Gulf prawn biryani, to cater to all tastes, rounded off
with a cheese board, and desserts such as Black Forest tart with micro sponge
and caramel cigar; then again, it is up to you how much or how little you want
to eat.
A delicious selection of all-day bites –perfect for a pre-landing breakfast – can
range from a spread such as chive omelette with beef Cumberland sausage,
tomato and hash brown, to a quick steak sandwich or a fruit smoothie. Washed
down with a well-curated drinks list and gourmet teas and coffees, it’s the sort of
in-flight food that you actually look forward to!
Ticket prices start at approximately $5,100 for business class & $1,375 for
economy www.etihad.com.

40 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


Shokunin Becoming a sushi chef, a shokunin, is considered a
great honour, and a female sushi chef is extremely rare!
Mizuki at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Kyoto is led by female
shokunin Chisaki Iba

42 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


THE INTERVIEW
CHISAKI IBA

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 43


THE INTERVIEW
CHISAKI IBA

s you enter Mizuki Sushi in Kyoto, the first thing that catches few weeks and then covered by seaweed until it fermented. In the

A your attention, is not the beautiful motifs created by local


Kyoto artisans, or the Zen Rock karesansui garden with its
refined waterfall, but the elegant silhouette, skillfully working behind
14th century, they started eating this rice with the fish. By the 18th
century people were adding vinegar to the rice, shortening the sushi
curating process. Then in 1828 chef Yohei Hanaya decided to pass
the sushi bar. on the fermentation process completely and serve what is known
Mizuki, is to be found at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Kyoto, and is led as Edo style sushi, the sushi we are all familiar with today.
by Chisaki Iba; a woman sushi master is extremely rare in traditional Japanese regard sushi an art form; its appearance, its taste,
sushi culture. and the creative process, are equally important. To fully enjoy the
Becoming a sushi chef, a shokunin, is considered a great honor. sushi experience, you need to watch the sushi chef at work; admire
The male trainees are carefully selected before being able to take the dexterity in which a master chef manipulates their tools. For a
part in this ancient craft, taught generation, after generation, by male shokunin his knives are his more precious possessions; Japanese
masters through the apprentice system. Until very recently, women knives are made of carbon steel, laser sharp with a single beveled
couldn’t become sushi masters. There are many myths explain as edge for that precision cut, a different knife for each specific cut.
to why female chefs were banned from the sushi kitchen; the most Full of expectations, and eager to watch our chef slice, smoke
common being their warm hands affected the quality of the raw fish, and style our food we sit at the sushi counter, an eleven-meter
or that their hands were too small to master the craft, or even, that counter of traditional Wajima lacquer.
their perfume would distort their sense of smell. Chisaki Iba is shy, yet vibrant, displaying a sense of hospitality;
Sushi originated as a way of preserving raw fish; cleaned fish this charismatic sushi chef speaks perfect English; composed and
was pressed between layers of rice and salt by a heavy stone for a efficient, she is in complete control, as she converses with her clients.

44 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


Until very recently,
women couldn’t
become sushi masters

The Japanese have a word to describe the way sushi masters


handle their clients. They call it Inase, which means ‘chic’ or ‘with it’;
it’s not arrogance, on the contrary, it underlines an accommodating
attitude, seasoned with a little bit of good-natured banter and most
importantly, the will teach you about sushi.
We order omakase style, the word means “to trust”, leaving our
meal entirely up to the chefs’ discretion. Letting down our guard, we
are ready to be guided by Chisaki Iba through our sushi feast.
The meal starts with a succession of -tsumami- appetizers;
bamboo shoots, spring green vegie, and rare firefly squid, hotaru-
ik, miniature squid that light up like a firefly during the mating
season; a seasonal delicacy, only available from early to late
spring, in Japan´s Toyama Bay. Chisaki prepares the squid with
a special miso sauce, that develops the brininess of the squid
texture. Eaten in one bite, the unique and intense flavors explode
in your mouth.
After the tempting start to our meal comes the house specialty,
Rosy Sea Bass, served with a touch of mascarpone cheese,
and seared in front of us, a technique that Iba learned from her

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 45


THE INTERVIEW
CHISAKI IBA

Japanese regard sushi an art form; its


appearance, taste, and the creative
process, are all equally important
Words by Pachaca del Amo Images by Luis Davilla

46 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


master. The fatty-tuna, otoro, is superb, probably the best we
have tasted; it literally melts in your mouth. Chef discourages us
from using chopsticks and advises us to eat with our fingers, the
Japanese way to eat sushi.
To follow is a sashimi cherry tree; fish blossoming from an
ice sculpture that looks almost to good to eat; a dish that pays
homage to the cherry blossoms, sakura, a cultural icon in Japan.
Fresh from the cold waters of Hokkaido, the sea urchin is pure
bliss, sweet, creamy yellow delight.
Iba explains each dish as she effortlessly hones the freshest of
ingredients into one spectacular creation after another.
We asked her about being a woman in a profession dominated
by men, something she says is not a problem at all. She says
she was lucky to be mentored by open minded male chefs who
were only concerned about her sushi skills. Adding “As a matter
of fact, they came to appreciate the rarity of mentoring a woman
chef”.
Her enthusiasm is evident, as stressing that today there are
more women working in Japanese restaurant kitchens, a positive
step for the future of female sushi chefs. Although there are still
only a few female sushi chefs working at the counter, the number
is steadily increasing; but more female apprentices are being
trained by sushi masters across Japan.
“Their time is coming”, she tells us: “Nowadays nobody
says that women have warmer hands than men. Half of of the
population are ladies, why not female sushi chefs?”
Our shokunin is a seasoned traveler. The more she travelled,
the more she tasted Japanese fusion food, and the more she
appreciated the uniqueness of the traditional sushi culture; a
tradition, she is keen to share with international visitors.
Mizuki Sushi is a delight, we were exposed to sensational
cuisine; a taste of traditional Japanese culture in a modern
cosmopolitan refined setting. And watching Chisaki Iba crafting
each dish is a reminder of this culinary experience.
Mizuki Sushi, The Ritz Carlton Kyoto
www.ritzcarlton.com

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 47


UNDERGROUND
HIDEAWAYS
Deep in the mountains of the Omani interior there are
caves and tunnels hiding treasures of the Sultanate
that have been undiscovered for thousands of years.

48 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


UNDERGROUND HIDEAWAYS
OMAN

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 49


UNDERGROUND HIDEAWAYS
OMAN

Caving is becoming increasingly popular in Oman, both for locals spiders, scorpions, and beetles scuttle up the walls as you pass by.
and visitors alike. Muscat is the bustling heart of the country, and Deeper into Al Hoota is perhaps the most famous natural rock formation
Salalah is the natural gem, but you can experience cities in Dubai or in this part of the country, a lion’s head. Look out for the flowing mane,
Abu Dhabi; people are coming to Oman for something completely triangular nose, and cat-shaped head staring at you from the distance
different, something a little more unusual. as you head towards the dripping sounds in the distance.
Down a series of metal staircases stands the central pool of the
AL HOOTA CAVE cave, home to a rare species of fish that cannot be found anywhere
Deep in the mountains surrounding Al Hamra, and at the foot of else in the world, and which were only discovered by accident by a
Jabal Shams, stands the Al Hoota Cave, the first and only show goat herder less than 100 years ago. The small ghost-white fish, all
cave on the Arabian Peninsula. The 4.5-kilometre-long cave, of of which are blind, dart across the pond, reacting to the sounds of
which 500 metres is open to the public, is home to some of the dripping water and footsteps shaking the ground. The official name
rarest wildlife in the world. of these fish is Garra Barreimiae, but the locals refer to them as Bu
Over 2 million years, the natural acid in the little rain that falls in Naseh and his friends. Some people like to dip their feet into the
Oman dug away 10mm of rock every 100 years. Tiny holes in the chilly pond water, but others prefer to just stand and admire the
limestone rock gradually allow drops of water into the cave, creating beautiful surroundings.
all manner of rock formations, ice structures, and pools of fresh
oxygenated water. MUQAL CAVE
To get to the cave visitors have to take a short monorail ride The Al Hoota Cave has been set-up for tourists, but for something a
through the vast mountain range in this part of the country, with little more natural and authentic, visitors should head to Muqal Cave
towering sand-covered cliffs and grey caverns for as far as the eye in Wadi Bani Khalid, next to the famous Muqal water pools. There
can see. The monorail journey offers visitors to Al Hoota a glimpse are no metal steps or monorails here, so wearing hiking boots is
of what is to come in the cave. highly recommended for the unsteady ground.
When you start the descent down the steep stone steps the When you first enter the huge cavernous opening in the rocks
natural daylight quickly starts to fade, being replaced by a low-level you will be immediately hit by the thundering roar of water crashing
white glow from the motion sensitive lights on the ground, which through the channels deeper in the cave, and the water spray
light up when people walk past and turn off when they walk away; hitting your face. There are no lights in Muqal Cave, so bring a torch
this is to ensure that light pollution doesn’t disturb the wildlife and so that you can see the critters crawling around, and the unusual
algae in the caves. cracks and crevices in the cave walls. Look out for the narrow
As you head deeper into the cave, as the temperature drops sections, you may need to duck down!
further and the air gets harder to breathe, naturally-occurring Follow the sound of the flowing streams inside the cave and
stalagmites and stalactites of all shapes and sizes rise from the floor venture deeper into the darkness. Turn off your torch and stand
and drop from the cave roof, casting eerie shadows all around. On still on the spot. Feel the vibrations under your feet as the water
the one side, emerging from the darkness between lights, a natural crashes through the rocks, and the spray hitting your skin. Listen to
rock formation in the shape of a Chinese cat with its hand in a the screeches and squeaks of the creatures around you, and take
waving position seemingly appears from nowhere. some time for yourself. Forget about the outside world for a few
Bats screech and flap overhead in the darkness, and crickets, seconds and enjoy the tranquillity.

50 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


Opposite page, left to right: Frankincense farm in Salalah Oman;
Signage; Al Hoota Cave stalagmites and stalactites; Wahiba sands
Oman; Al Hoota Cave’s lion head natural rock formation.

Wadi Bani Khalid


Deep in the Hajar Mountains, in the northeast of
Oman bordering Ras Al Khaimah, is Wadi Bani Khalid.
The tranquil turquoise streams and lakes in this
part of the country are well worth the effort needed
to get here, but the hidden cave systems are even
more spectacular. The vast pure water lakes of Ain
Hamouda, Ain al Sarooj, and Ain Dawwa have allowed
lush foliage to grow across Wadi Bani Khalid, but they
have also permeated through thick rocks, leaving
behind millennia-old tunnels.
The caves here were once used by local bandits who
needed somewhere to hide their loot, and before that
tribal rulers and kings were thought to hide out in the
tunnel systems awaiting attacks from rivals. Between
the caves are hidden oases of tepid water, offering a
refreshing release from the hot and dusty air outside.
The landscape in the Hajars in simply out of this
world; grey limstrone crags, cliffs topped with grass
and bushes, and neat rows of trees following the paths
of streams as they trickle down the mountainsides.

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 51


UNDERGROUND HIDEAWAYS
OMAN

MAJLIS AL JINN
The largest caves in Oman are well worth saving to the end,
and they don’t get much bigger than at Majlis Al Jinn. Arabian
legend has it that mythical creatures called the Jinn, or genies
in English, met in these caves in ancient times, and the central
chamber called “the Cathedral” because of its 120-metre depth
Words by Joe Worthington. Images by Food & Travel Arabia & Oman Tourism

and domed roof is where they are supposed to have convened.


Entry to the cave is not for the faint hearted, you have to
descend through one of the two entrances. The first entrance,
called Asterisk (Khoshilat Beya Al Hiyool), is 136.9 metres
deep. The second, First Drop (Khoshilat Maqandeli) is 118
metres deep. Whereas most caves around the world are small,
cramped chamber, the ones at Majlis Al Jinn are bigger than
most people’s houses – they really are huge!
When narrow beams of light shine through holes in the top
of the caves, and the glistening water droplets shine on the
speleothems on the cave floors, there is nowhere better on
earth to spend the day. The Cathedral cave and beams of light
from above are like a sign from God that this is a haven of
peace and tranquillity in the Omani wilderness.
Caving in the Sultanate’s secret caves is a much-needed
retreat for visitors to the edge of the Arabian Peninsula. The
only sounds in the caves of Oman are flowing streams and
scuttling creatures. The temperatures are much lower and
more bearable than outside. And the sights of natural stone
creatures and bright beams of sunlight shining onto the cave
floor are unlike anything else in the Gulf. The caves of Oman are
relatively undiscovered by tourists, and that’s why they really are
the Sultan’s underground hideaways.

52 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


Clockwise: Grand Cayman from above; Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman;
Grand Cayman’s unspoilt beaches

Caribbean
culture
Todd Pitock takes us on a gastronomic tour of
Grand Cayman - the culinary capital of the Caribbean

54 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


GOURMET TRAVELLER

W
hen I arrived in Grand Cayman in January, I had one
thing in mind: food. These islands — three dollops of
land just south of Cuba and west of Jamaica — may be
best known to the outside world as a haven for offshore wealth,
but to food lovers, it is the culinary capital of the Caribbean. Of
course, food and money aren’t entirely separate things. It’s hard
to make one without the other, and Caymanians, with a living
standard on par with Switzerland, can afford to important the raw
ingredients and hire the talent to transform them.
Grand Cayman — the largest island, measuring all of 76 square
miles — has more than 250 restaurants, many of them splendid
spaces. Now, though they continue to import most food from the
United States, the trend is to use what the soil will grow, and work
with Caribbean bounty like breadfruit or coconut, or sour sop,
a tropical fruit that tastes like a combination of pineapple and
mango, or to fashion cocktails with fruits like sea-grapes.
My weekend coincided with 9th annual Cayman Cookout Food
Festival, a 4-day food event of a rarefied culinary level, settings
and imagination. Its first event was a get-away on a private jet to

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 55


GOURMET TRAVELLER

Le Soleil d’Or Resort in the Cayman Brac, one of the two smaller were stuck in the sand, and Andres pulled them with the look of a
islands, with Chef Eric Ripert, of New York’s acclaimed Le Bernadin good-humoured lunatic, held one up, and handed the other to a
Restaurant, and New Zealand winery Craggy Range owner Terry woman who requested a picture together.
Peabody. My personal opener was Friday evening, where, on a Ripert is partly why Cayman is the Caribbean’s culinary centre.
slash of beach, barefooted enthusiasts moved between food stalls The island had a fairly robust food scene going back even to the
manned by some of the planet’s great chefs, among them Ripert, 1960s, the same period as its financial services industry took off.
Anthony Bourdain, the chef and CNN star, and Jose Andres, the But in 2005, Ripert opened Blue by Eric Ripert at the Ritz-Carlton,
Spanish-American chef who often gets credit for bringing the “small Grand Cayman, raising the bar of contemporary haute cuisine. And
plates format,” a.k.a. tapas from Spain. A fanning breeze fanned in 2008 Ripert hosted the inaugural Cayman Cookout, roping in his
grill flames as kitchen teams sliced, diced and plated. Here brisket friends Bourdain and Andres, and rotating in other A-list chefs. Now,
and tongue mixture on a Vietnamese banh; there a surf and turf of there are many more fine restaurants than one could reasonably
scallop with strips of cured Spanish meat; a kielbasa with American visit on a long stay. And I was there for just a short one.
cheese, jam, and chicharones. The key to these things is, of course, pacing yourself, in food
The celebrity brought as much panache as the food. Bourdain, as in drink, and not to fill up too quickly nor so completely that you
pinching a bottle of beer between his thumb and index finger, wake the next morning, or in the middle of the night, asking yourself
acceded to requests for photos but seemed not quite prepared to what you have done.
go so far as to pretend to like it. José Andrés visited a colleague’s They should run public service announcements: Eat Responsibly.
massive grill where great hunks of beef blackened above raging But then again, who ever does that?
flames. It was how a pack of maniacs would cook, roasting whole The next morning a strong wind from the northwest battered both
dismembered parts rather than cuts of beef, and yet his crew cut it surf and turf, washed through palm trees, whipping up the sea,
into bit-size pieces that were uniformly perfect and exquisitely tender cancelling plans of snorkelling to the island’s stingrays. It blew out
and delicious. And Andres was loving it. Heavy swords, the kind of the candle I held for golf. It had no effect, however, on my desire to
weapon pirates who once raided the island would have carried, explore, or on my appetite, so I rented a car and drove along the

56 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


Clockwise: Kimpton Sea Fire & Spa; Anthony Bourdain; Grand
Cayman Stingray; Kimpton Seafire Hotel Room; Kimpton
Seafire Resort Food; Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman; Chef Eric
Ripert; Cayman Cookout

Moreover, it announced Avecita as a heavyweight contender


in the Caymans. At Cayman Cookout, executive chef Massimo
De Francesca and signature chef Remy Lefevbre had set up the
evening’s only all-vegetarian (nay, vegan!) stall, highlighting locally
grown bounty into spectacular bites, charred baby eggplant with
burnt eggplant-saga sauce, whole grilled baby marrow with smoked
romesco and roasted butternut squash with pumpkin-seed pesto.
We were far from the beach now, though, under the high ceilings,
at a high table on high chairs with a few of the wood-fired oven and
exhibition kitchen the restaurant was built to feature. Avecita’s focus
is progressive, contemporary Spanish, including Mediterranean
Spain, and culinary techniques de rigeur in Spain with Mexican
influences.
Now, the evening began with amuses bouche. A cube of lamb
tartar, the loin diced and lightly folded into a classic tartar dressing
with egg yolk emulsion, shallots, brandy, cilantro, then kicked up with
espelette pepper, a pulverized and aromatic red South American
chili. A quail egg slowly cooked and seasoned with dried basil and
raspberry flaked on top, soft to touch and bite, the yolk like cream.
Two fishes: a queen snapper tartar diced with citrus, olive oil and
fresh herbs, then battered with tempura and flash fried; and smoked
salmon with tarragon vinaigrette served on a saffron cracker.
The first dish was Spanish cod: salted and reconstituted in
water, lightly blanched and poached in almond milk, served on a
chilled black plate with the petals of a caramelized white onion and
sprinkled with dehydrated olives and salt flakes on a liquid base
with a red bell pepper infusion from peppers that were roasted and
infused with anchovy. For me, the real essence of the meal began

“In 2008 chef Eric Ripert hosted the inaugural


Cayman Cookout, roping in his friends Bourdain and
Andres, and rotating in other A-list chefs.”
highway that bends along the island’s perimeter looking for another with the second course, a hen and truffle cannelloni with Manchego
kind of food experience. Half of Cayman’s population comes from cheese on a delectable and delicate broth of smoked, roasted
135 other countries, which is really a remarkable statistic, and yet lobster shells with saffron and fresh herbs. The layering of pure and
there are things of the place, including food. Traditional Caymanian clear flavours, which were discernible and yet worked together like
dishes include cow foot, turtle and iguana, whose taste can be instruments in a song, was marvellous.
inferred by its local name — tree chicken. And yet, the featured dish, the piece de resistance — it seems
I passed fish fry stalls and barbecue stands before pulling into mandatory to introduce the moment in menu French — was still to
Over the Edge, in Old Man Bay on the north side of Grand Cayman come: Squab, a popular Spanish bird, tender and tiny, here slow-
that looked anonymous enough, a bar and a dining room with a cooked at a low temperature, or souveed, then finished on the
fine sea view, where I contemplated goat curry and jerk chicken plancha to crisp up the skin on both sides, and served in a shallow
before settling on the conch steak, a hearty mollusc whose former bowl over a molé, Mexico’s answer to India’s curry, a base of cocoa
residence, a marvellous shell large enough to hold in two hands, with nuts, seeds and chilies, and in this case the cocoa was teamed
I’d seen for sale by roadside vendors. The meat came pounded, with a veal stock-based demi-glace with seeds, without nuts, and
breaded and fried, a Caribbean schnitzel, and managed to be roasted chilies, the outer part of the plate drizzled with a hibiscus
both typical and exotic, in that everything breaded and fried tastes jam reduced into a coulis, the plate a flavour wheel, the bird a bulls-
similar, but still, it was a large conch eye whose only drawback, and it was a serious drawback, was that
I ate nothing more in preparation for my weekend’s main event, there weren’t two or three, or maybe even six or eight, of them, and
a pairing dinner at Avecita, the signature restaurant at the Kimpton with just one, and even with dessert still to come, as the almost-
Seafire Resort & Spa, a 266-room hotel that opened in November. clean plate was removed from the table, I was left feeling teased,
The dinner was a kind of joint debut, pairing the grape of Dominique even a little mournful. Either from lack of courage or enough good
Lafon, the Burgundian grape-maker, and Larry Stone, the master taste, I did not carry my plate to the kitchen and beg for more.
sommelier and owner of Lingua Franca, the much-anticipated I consoled myself with the remains of Lingua Franca’s bold and
Willamette Valley, Oregon, which has created variations of Burgundy lovely Mimi’s Mind, and considered whether I’d just have to come
style Chardonnays and Pinot Noir. back next year.

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 57


I SHOULD

C O C O A…
Small-scale farmers are feeding the world’s
cravings for premium chocolate.
Michael Raffael sees how it’s done

58 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


GOURMET TRAVELLER
Left to right: Cocoa plants in the forest; Cocoa pods; Fresh beans; Dried
beans ready for shipping

f the world’s almost four million-tonne cacao crop, 73 per pole’s reach. One man gathers pods from the bough. A second

O cent is grown in Africa; the rest is a product of the Americas


and parts of Asia and Oceania. Rather than attracting the
mass-market conglomerates such as Nestlé and Mars, however,
splits them with a mallet to reveal neat rows of beans coated in a
sweetish, creamy, mucilaginous fruit. Their size and aroma (citrus,
grassy, floral or almond-like) provide a clue as to how the cacao will
the cocoa beans from the small estate of Loma Sotavento fetch a taste as chocolate. A third shuttles them to the fermentation rooms.
premium. They may even end up in the chocolates and cakes of Speed matters: the beans deteriorate fast.
world-famous patissiers like Pierre Hermé or Paco Torreblanca. A day more or less influences the ultimate character of finished
A tiny fraction of the world’s cacao crop is set aside in this way, chocolate. The harvesters transfer fresh beans to ‘sweat boxes’,
for treatment as a luxury. Companies which produce designer-label turning them until natural yeasts in the fruit convert the sugars to
bars or the ‘couverture’ used by artisan chocolatiers and patissiers, alcohol and then acetic acid. Chemical changes occur inside the
approach chocolate- making like wine producers do their grapes. beans themselves. Tannin levels reduce. Enzymes contributing to
They monitor the process from the soils and the root-stocks used flavour are released.
for planting trees, up to the slim-line grands crus and vintage ingots Before shipping, the beans are sun-dried. This has its own set
that can cost as much as a bottle of pinot noir. of protocols. Done too quickly, they shrivel or develop too much
An important plank of the ‘Bean to Bar’ manufacturers’ story is acidity; too little and spoilage moulds start to form. If they are too dry
their selection of cacao types. Experts believed until recently that the bran will be brittle. Before packing they are ‘polished’ to enhance
there were three main ones. Criollo, they said, was the toughest to their appearance, though this has little effect on the taste.
grow, but tasted best. Forastero was hardy and grew well all over The cacao exported is not yet chocolate. Its transformation starts
the world. Trinitario, they thought, was a kind of hybrid originally from with roasting. As with coffee, it’s a step that puts down a marker.

“Cacao is a curious tropical species. Left to nature, trees produce up


[VÅV^LYZZWYV\[PUNKPYLJ[S`MYVT[OLIYHUJOLZI\[VUS`WVKZ
[OH[`PLSKHIV\[HRPSVVMILHUZ¹
Trinidad. Genetic science is undermining this classification. Criollo According to Costet: ‘It’s a sensual experience. You can sense the
still stands, but there may be ten or more sub-species of forastero, moisture evaporating, the acidity escaping, the aromas being created.’
with trinitario being one of these. Before this vegetal caterpillar changes into an endorphin-
Cacao is a curious tropical species. Left to nature, trees produce triggering butterfly, it’s ground and milled to a paste; chocolatiers
up to 1,000 flowers sprouting directly from the branches, but only call it a liquor. This is when the maker decides whether to route
40 pods, that yield about a kilo of beans (for the high-grade product a batch into a single origin bar or into a blend. It’s also when they
here). Left untouched, they compete with the jungle around them, add sugar and, depending on manufacturer, the emulsifier, lecithin.
growing up to 20m high. Many small-scale farmers leave them alone ‘Conching’ this still grainy chocolate couscous brings it to its final
and harvest what they can. To the untrained eye, Loma Sotavento texture. Warmed and stirred for up to three days (maybe with added
mimics the rainforest eco-system blanketing the north of the island. cocoa butter) the granules melt. Aromatic compounds coalesce.
Trees companion-planted alongside coconut palms and bananas Cosy up to the under-wraps world of Chocolaterie, and the
cover its steep slopes. Watching pickers at work in a tropical fret, buzz- word is couverture. For pros it’s their raw material, unfinished
though, you soon pick up the differences. chocolate that they may conch themselves and then temper to
Agronomists use eyes and experience to decide when the obtain the glossy finish they want for moulding and dipping. It’s
torpedo-shaped husks are ripe. Green ones are ready when they what chefs use for their desserts and truffles. A dedicated artisan
turn yellow, red ones when orange. Each low-slung tree is pruned may stock a dozen types of couverture, ranging from white to the
so the pods hanging from its branches are within a hand or a darkest, most bitter chocolate he can find.

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 59


GOURMET TRAVELLER

Clockwise: Maya Sacher;


Maya Fondue; Maya Cafe
Seef Mall; A selection box of
Maya chocolates

MAYA
L A C H O C O L AT E R I E
or the true connoisseur of chocolate, luxury confectioner take home for a naughty treat, or looking for that immediate

F Maya La Chocolaterie has established itself as one of the


regions leaders in the art of fine chocolates and sweet treats,
skilfully crafted in to a cacophony of rich yet subtle flavours are the
chocolate high Maya has that chocolate-something-special; so its
not hard to imagine how it has established such a loyal following.
Treat yourself at one the Maya outlets to an indulgent chocolate
hallmark of this fine emporium fondue – as you dip bananas, strawberries, marshmallows, and
Bahrain-based Maya embodies the elegance and passion of mini cup-cakes into a veritable river of the thickest tastiest smooth
the region; making the finest hand-crafted artisan chocolates, chocolate you ever tasted. www.maya-la-chocolaterie.com
and renowned for its distinctive signature style; a unique brand
that combines Belgian classics and distinctive opulent ingredients
from the Middle East, Maya seamlessly blends two cultures with its How to taste chocolate
outstanding innovative designs and premium quality. Chocolatier- Tasting chocolate is more tactile than tasting grape. It
in-Chief Sonya Janahi has lovingly created a designer-selection also makes its own demands. The snap when breaking
of hand-crafted chocolates; with flavours that range from exotic a square off a bar is a pointer – a brittle texture reflects
combinations such as saffron, Pistachio & Rosewater and Orange a smooth mouth-feel. So is the gloss: shiny chocolate
and Coriander to Earl Grey and Pink Peppercorn or more traditional has been properly tempered. The smell before it goes
classics such as Fruit & Nut and Dark Ganache to Cookie Crumble in your mouth gives little away. Only when a piece is
and Coffee. The entire Maya team are passionate about chocolate melting on your tongue does it start to release its
and use only the finest ingredients, importing 3 tonnes of the finest potential. The first note that surfaces is the acidity.
raw Belgian chocolate every month, to Maya’s state-of-the-art facility Breathing out through your nose channels the complex
in the Kingdom of Bahrain, producing over 90 different flavours and aromas – roasted, spicy, floral, fruity, woody. Bitterness
types of chocolate, that are exported across the region. hits the palate last, but is persistent and moreish
Whether you are buying chocolate to give as that special gift,

60 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


MOROCCAN TUNA
WITH CHERMOULA
Laced with heady spices
and drizzled with a punchy
citrus sauce, this loin
steak is made for grilling
on the barbecue.

Make the most of long, hot afternoons and usher your guests

The
GREAT
into the garden for plates bursting with summer flavours

outdoors RECIPES, FOOD AND PROP STYLING: LOUISE PICKFORD.


PHOTOGRAPHY: IAN WALLACE
RECIPES START ON PAGE 92

62 FOOD & TRAVEL


IN SEASON
ENTERTAINING

IBIZA SALAD WITH ORANGE,


FENNEL, RADISH AND OLIVE CRUMB
Not your average potato salad, this is
fresh and light with a delightful zesty
and fruity dressing.
RECIPES START ON PAGE 92

ASPARAGUS, BURRATA
AND PISTACHIO SALAD
WITH VINCOTTO
Take the best produce of the
summer and elevate it with
creamy Italian cheese, nuts
and sweet wine

64 FOOD & TRAVEL


THYME BEEF FILLET WITH
ANCHOVY DRESSING AND
PANGRATTATO
It doesn’t get much better
than succulent roast beef on
a sunny afternoon. Finish it
with a crunchy topping and
anchovy-laced dressing.
ENTERTAINING
CHEESECAKE
WITH SALTED LIME
Don’t be surprised
when your guests
try and polish off
more than one of
these desserts.
RECIPES START ON PAGE 92

COCONUT CAKE WITH


PASSION FRUIT SYRUP
Enjoy a taste of the
tropics from the comfort
of your garden with this
sticky, sweet cake that
rounds off any meal.

66 FOOD & TRAVEL


IN SEASON

FOOD & TRAVEL 67


“I did it my way!”

68 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


THE CARÊME COLUMN
GREG MALOUF

It’s now been more than thirty years since I embarked upon my professional
career, with the dream of introducing a greater range – and a different style – of
Middle Eastern food to diners.

Opposite page: Greg Malouf. This page, left to right: pigeon bisteeya; cocktail at Zahira; salad shirazi; entrance to Zahira

s the son of Lebanese immigrants in Australia, I grew up in a some who find my way borders on the heretical! With very few

A household where things like yoghurt, cheese, and flower waters


and rice-stuffed vegetables and sticky nut pastries were the norm.
But, I struggled to reconcile the amazing dishes of my childhood with
exceptions, these countries are very conservative in the way they
treat their own cuisine, so the greatest measure of success is how
expertly a particular technique is re-created, or how close to an
the paucity of offerings in local Middle Eastern restaurants. Back then, ‘original’ it is (regional variations notwithstanding).
for most Aussies, Lebanese food was about hummus and tabbouleh or This approach is, of course, quite contrarian with European
a post-pub felafel. Thankfully that’s now changed dramatically in many and Asian cuisines, where contemporary interpretations, culinary
western countries, Australia in particular. evolution and even - that dreaded word - ‘fusion’ have been the
It wasn’t just about sharing the flavours and dishes that I grew norm for decades.
up with; I also wanted to translate the classics to a modern dining But I would argue strongly that there is also a place for innovation
experience. I set out to cook food that was less constrained by in the more conservative countries of the Middle East. I would even
tradition, which was lighter, more layered and contemporary, and go as far as to suggest that some of the very earliest experimental
luckily, people seemed to love it! cooking emerged from the Topkapi kitchens of the Ottoman Empire,
I think a lot of my success was to do with the fact that Australia where palace chefs vied to create the most original, complex and
has always been receptive to new food cultures. You’d be hard- innovative food. In those fluid, unrestrained days, there was a wealth
pushed to find a more vibrant, eclectic and dynamic food scene of ingredients pouring into their larders as a result of the empire’s
anywhere in the world, and it was this environment that gave me the expansion, and cooking techniques and ingredients were spread
confidence to do things ‘my way’. widely. Are there not parallels with ‘borderless’ cooking of the 21st
Since then, I’ve had the great privilege of traveling extensively century? And with the fearless experimentation of the likes of Ferran
across other countries make up what is loosely referred to as the Adrià or Heston Blumenthal?
Middle East – from my home turf Lebanon and Syria, to Jordan, I’m sure that the various Middle Eastern cuisines lend themselves
Egypt, North Africa and Moorish Spain, Iran, and Turkey – to as well as any in the world to playfulness and invention, and you
research my books. shouldn’t have to go to Australia, for instance, to find great refined
I’ve learnt something of the way the cuisines of these various and contemporary versions of this food.
countries are interconnected; similar ideas crop up time and again, Here in Dubai, diners seem very willing to embrace the new,
and I find the common threads fascinating. It’s to do with the ancient and countless international chefs have found a platform here for
spice routes and centuries of trading, and with the spread of Islam, their own style of food. It’s slow going for us Middle Eastern cooks,
the movement of peoples and empires. More fundamentally, they however; truly local Emirati food isn’t easy to find in a restaurant
are united by a philosophy of sharing and generosity and this is setting here, and Arab restaurants remains pretty uniform. But I do
absolutely key to the way I cook. sense that the barriers are slowly crumbling.
Even though I feel very much at home here in Dubai – and I love And I hope that in my new venture, Zahira Restauranti, I can help
the opportunities I have for exploring the food of the region in even that cause along by doing what I do best - which is to encourage
greater depth – there are still challenges. There’s no doubt that my diners to be a little less bound by tradition, and to realise that you
interpretive, contemporary way of cooking is hugely at odds with can modernise dishes without destroying their authenticity.
the way food is treated here in the Middle East – and there are www.zahira.ae +971 4 501 8606 hello@zahira.ae

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 69


ISLAND LIFE The Maldives; white powdery sand, balmy waters and
the warm embrace of a golden sun

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FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 71


Clockwise: Male Maldives; Cheval Blanc Randheli diving; Cheval Blanc Randheli Garden Villa;
Coco Collection water villas from above; Cheval Blanc Randheli Turquoise Sea; Four Seasons
Private Island Maldives

When to go?
The Maldives has a year-round temperature between 26C – 30C; it is best
to avoid monsoon season which runs from November to mid-December,
although the rain tends to be limited to short showers in the afternoon. The
peak season stretches from the end of November to April, with Christmas
and New Year being the most expensive time to visit. The best months are
January thru March when the sky is the perfect azure blue and the seas so
calm they take on an almost glass-like appearance. The prices in April are
lower and May sees the start of the low season when the weather can be a
tad more inclement but not so much as you would really notice.

Why go?
It’s incredible to believe that the Maldives have only been a holiday
destination since the 1970’s. This most beautiful island nation consists
of over 1,000 islands within 26 coral atolls that stretch down across
the equator in the middle of the Indian Ocean; today home to over 100
resorts that take advantage of the stunning natural beauty – crystal
clear turquoise lagoons, pristine powder white sands that bask below
the golden disc set against the backdrop of the clear blue skies. And
don’t be taken aback by the unbridled beauty, and wonder if the holiday
experience will live up to the sheer majesty of the natural splendour.
Driven by strong competition The Maldives is probably one of the
most sophisticated and luxurious destinations on the planet today; with
the veritable bevvy of lavish personalised resorts and private island
destinations offering the some of the world’s finest culinary delights,
alongside underwater restaurants, night-clubs, the best in water-sports or
just the perfect location for that idyllic getaway.

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Where to stay
WHERE TO STAY
“Welcome to paradise!” The Maldives couldn’t be described better. It truly is a shell and exposed stone provide a sophisticated ambience that would be at home
paradise on Earth: crystal clear waters in myriad shades of blue, vibrant marine life, on the pages of Vogue. Whether you are snorkelling, jet-surfing, getting expert ATP
colourful coral reefs and powdery white sand. Everywhere you look is a sight worthy tennis coaching or just relaxing by your own infinity pool, get your own personal
of a travel postcard. An archipelago of islands, the Maldives truly offers a glimpse of major domo to arrange dinner at one of the Cheval Blanc’s incredible eateries, from
the peaceful island life that evokes images of lying lazily by the beach, reading a book casual relaxed dining at Deelini to a fine-dining experience at Le 1947, where you
whilst gently swaying in a hammock, swimming in the ocean, and sipping on a cool can indulge yourself on a French gastronomic feast to match anywhere in the world.
drink while soaking in the sun. With the hope of fulfilling this fantasy, there is a myriad www.chevalblanc.com
of resorts to choose from:
FOUR SEASONS PRIVATE ISLAND MALDIVES AT VOAVAH
CHEVAL BLANC RANDHELI Four Seasons has now opened its first exclusive use hideaway, on Baa Atoll a private
Luxury retreat, Cheval Blanc has become a fashionable destination. Set on the island that pairs Four Seasons legendary levels of service with the idyllic beauty and
unspoiled Noonu Atoll, just 40 minutes by seaplane from the Maldives capital of tranquillity you would expect to find in a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve set in the
Malé, this idyllic resort offers a sanctuary from life in the fast lane. Sweeping palm Maldives. This secluded two-hectare piece of paradise surpasses every private island
trees, tropical flowers, white powder sand, and inviting turquoise waters teeming with experience and is “entirely yours” from the moment you book; seven bedrooms, a
a dazzlingly array of exotic fish and the serene dignity of sea turtles are matched Beach House, dive school and an 18.9 metre yacht extend the oceanic reach of the
by the grace and style of the warm tones and welcoming embrace of the individual Maldives’ for up to 22 guests.
accommodation. Thatched villas, teak, cinnamon wood, coconut www.fourseasons.com/maldivesvoavah

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 73


Where to stay
THE SUN SIYAM IRU FUSHI COCO COLLECTION
There are few resorts either as beautifully finished, well-staffed or with as much Just a few hours flight from the Middle East, this picture-perfect destination is ideal
sense of relaxation as the five-star Maldives resort The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi. This is for a short break; Coco Bodu Hithi is a boutique luxury retreat that offers unrivalled
in part because the rooms are all perfectly private – carefully designed so that your 5-star luxury, Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu is an eco-oriented luxury resort situated within
space is out of sight of anyone else’s. The resort is also spread out just enough a UNESCO biosphere reserve, and if you are feeling particularly extravagant then
so that you rarely feel your experience is ever infringed upon by another guest. It hire Coco Privé Private Island, Kuda Hithi, one of the world’s most exclusive islands.
makes for a sense of idyllic isolation. Nestled amid the lush vegetation on the Eastern shores of Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu
Our pick of the accommodation options are the beachside villas. The more are 27 Deluxe Villas providing ultimate exclusivity, the spacious villas enhance the
expensive water villas are the marquee option – all set on stilts, with glass floors rustic romantic feel of the island with a four-poster bed, sunken bath in an open-air
to watch the sharks (these ones don’t bite) and fish. But they’re far smaller, with bathroom and a private fresh-water plunge pool on the outdoor terrace. Wake up
interiors more akin to a hotel than a Maldivian resort. The villas have soaring conical to the gentle sound of the waves brushing against the shore and just a few steps
roofs, up to 130 square metres in size, with outdoor bathroom facilities, Jacuzzi further along your own pathway canopied with lush greenery, awaits the soft white
baths and both rain and power showers. All lead to your private track of beach, with sandy beach lit up with the rays of the rising sun. The recipe for dining at Dhuni
a canopied sun-lounger area at the end of a manicured garden. Kolhu is as simple as it is sublime; discover a world of tastes at Cowrie Restaurant
Ten restaurants are available, all offering different grades of cuisine type and styles with its live cooking stations or sample genuine island delicacies and barbecued fish
of dining. You’ll be surprised by the overall price. Once you’ve got to grips with the with a hint of Thai inspired flavour at the Cornus Restaurant. As the night unfolds,
flight spend to Malé and then the seaplane, the per-night cost is excellent value. the stylish Conch Bar serves creative cocktails, hops, grape and delicious light bites
thesunsiyam.com and snacks into the small hours. www.cococollection.com
Words by Francesca Jackson

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Clock wise: Food platter; Azimut Yacht; Seaplane; Coco beach view
Collection; The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi pool villa; The Sun Siyam Iru
Fushi ocean view; The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi ariel view

Getting there
FLIGHTS
The main airport is Malé International Airport which occupies the whole of Hulhule
Island, just a short distance from the capital island, Malé.

THE MAIN AIRLINES FLY TO MALÉ:


Emirates fly direct from Dubai emirates.com
Oman Air flies direct from Muscat omanair.com
Sri Lankan fly direct from Colombo srilanken.com
British Airways flies direct from London ba.com

Flying time from Dubai is only 4¼ hours and a free 30-day visitors’ visa is issued on
arrival.

TRANSFERS
When we first visited the Maldives transfers between islands used be by traditional dhoni
but with the growth of the resorts across the entire archipelago you are more likely to
travel by speedboat or seaplane; however, before you get to kick-back and bask in
the relaxing sunshine be prepared for long queues at immigration and your transfer.
Our recommendation is once you get to where you are going – stay put! The transfers
waste a great deal of your time and money not to mention trying your patience.

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 75


FROM GEORGIA
with love

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Louise Quick takes us on a tour of the Georgian capital Tbilisi


with these ten experiences to see, do and, most importantly, eat
eorgia is quickly rising in the ranks as a must-visit destination forces, creative revolutionaries, and a true passion for national dishes.

G for travellers of all kinds. Connecting Europe and Asia, this


small country is packed with impressive historic sites,
quality winter skiing and more delicious national delicacies than you
Built on the Mtkvari River, which carves its way through Georgia’s
ragged mountains, Tbilisi is a patchwork of grand facades and
crumbling balconied buildings leaning precariously over pot-holed
can shake a khachapuri at, (more on those later). roads. Its old quarters are dotted with churches, forts and ruins,
While the whole country is worth exploring, a perfect weekend while walls everywhere are adorned with graffiti.
getaway can be found in Tbilisi, Georgia’s charming, ancient and It is a city with endless stories to tell and a passion to share them.
captivating capital. The city runs deep with a history of invading But, just in case, here are ten experiences not to miss.

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 77


Clockwise: Georgian ountryside; Mother Georgia; Metekhi Church; Anchiskhati
Basilica; Tbilisi Narikala View; Narikala Fortress by night

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VISIT METEKHI
On an outcrop overlooking the river, Metekhi is where Tbilisi all From Rike Park, a modern patch of green on the opposite side of
began, which conveniently makes it a great spot to start exploring the river, a nifty cable car sends visitors flying into the air above the
the city. In the fifth century, King Vakhtang Gorgasali chose this spot city at an angle that has some gripping their seats, before dropping
for his city, a decision that’s marked today with a modern statue of them directly outside the fort. Alternatively, if you can handle the
the warrior king triumphantly purveying his city. burn, the quirky residential streets and steep stairways beneath the
The historic district used to house a mighty royal fort, but today fort lead up the hillside.
only Metekhi Church remains standing. Built in the 13th century on St Nicholas Church is one building that remains intact, but is
the grounds of its predecessor, the tall boxy structure has had many actually little more than 20 years old, built as a replica following an
incarnations, including Soviet barracks. explosion that saw the original destroyed. More worthwhile are the
Its long and tumultuous history can be seen its varied brickwork sweeping city views that are to be gained from clambering atop
while, inside, the air is thick with incense and the walls are decked Narikala’s rocky walls.
in elaborate golden murals, which tell tales of great battles and
religious figures. MEET MOTHER GEORGIA
A short stroll from Narikala Fortress takes in stalls selling souvenirs
CLIMB NARIKALA FORTRESS and local painters’ handiwork before reaching Mother Georgia, or
The Tbilisi history field trip continues across the Metekhi Bridge Kartlis Deda. The gleaming aluminium statue of a matriarch standing
and up the hillside to Narikala Fortress. Originally built as a Persian tall over the city skyline juxtaposes, almost jarringly, the ancient
fortress, sadly only its shell remains, which juts out of the hillside stone walls of its neighbouring ruins.
protectively over Tbilisi’s old town. Locals appear to have mixed feelings about the domineering

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 79


Clock wise: Architecture features of Tbilisi sulphur baths; Meat
counter at the Bazaar; Khinkali; Local seller at Tbilisi Market; Exhibit
at Georgia Musuem; Rose Square Garden

figure, built in 1958 under the occupying Soviet forces to


commemorate Tbilisi’s 1500th anniversary. It’s hard, however, not
to be endeared by the powerful female, who stands with a cup
of wine in one hand and a sword in the other. She makes the
perfect metaphor for Georgia: proudly welcoming guests while also
passionately defending its land.

MUSEUM OF GEORGIA
Rustaveli Avenue is the mighty central artery running through the city.
Its wide pavements are lined with trees and dotted with makeshift
stalls peddling keepsakes, snacks and vintage books while locals
play the odd game of chess in the small parks nearby.
The avenue is also home the city’s grand-fronted buildings,
including the Museum of Georgia. The lofty space is often quiet in
the mornings, allowing visitors to make the most of the fascinating,
and sometimes obscure, exhibitions that cover a variety – from
recently unearthed ancient Georgian archaeology to medieval
Middle Eastern fine art.
However, if there’s one exhibition every visitor must make a bee-
line for, it’s the Soviet Occupation exhibit. Georgia only gained
independence in 1991 after seven decades of occupation. While
the country’s history tends to get lost in the loud buzz of the Cold
War, this display hammers home what, for many Georgians, is a
very recent, relevant and important period.

THE NATIONAL GALLERY


Allow a good hour to absorb the regional artwork on display at The
National Gallery, also found along Rustaveli Avenue. Some of the art
hails from as far back as the fourth century and it’s an opportunity
to learn of some highly regarded Georgian artists and creative
revolutionaries.
The gallery’s permanent collection paints a picture of Georgia’s
past that we might otherwise never discover. This includes the
work of famous primitivism painter Niko Pirosmani. His scenes of
Georgian people, animals and feasts highlight the everyday life of
rural Georgia at the turn of the 19th century.
Pirosmani shares gallery space with other Georgian creatives,
such as the bright and beautiful landscapes of modernist artist
David Kakabadze, the quirky characters of painter Lado Gudiashvili
and sculptures by Iakob Nikoladze.

CLIMB MOUNT MTATSMINDA


Tbilisi is full of surprises and great views. For both, head to the
peak of Mount Mtatsminda via its funicular. With glimpses of the city
peeking through the trees, the cliff railway crawls up the hillside at
an unnervingly steep angle for 500 metres.
Literary fans hop off at its halfway point in order to visit the
Pantheon of Writers and Public Figures of Georgia. As the title
reveals, this noble necropolis holds the graves of the country’s
finest writers, including the famous poets Nikoloz Baratashvili and
Galaktion Tabidze.
Continue to the top and, alongside panoramic views, there is a
surprisingly large and unexpected amusement park. Complete with
Ferris Wheel, roller coaster, haunted house and log fume ride, the
landscaped park and shady tree-lined avenues are home to teens
whiling away an afternoon and picnicking families. It’s not exactly
what you’d expect atop a mountain in central Tbilisi, but adds to its
charm nonetheless.

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TAKE A BATH
Legends say that King Vakhtang Gorgasali chose his city or, rather,
his hunting falcon inadvertently did after it fought with a pheasant
and both plummeted into a natural hot spring. The same hot spring
still runs today in Tbilisi’s Abanotubani district where, nearby, stands
a small statue dedicated to those ill-fated birds.
The word Tbilisi actually comes from the old Georgian for ‘warm’
and its natural spring has played a vital role in its long history. The
therapeutic waters were popular with traders passing along the Silk
Road and in the 13th century there were said to be 63 baths here.
Today, only a handful of bath houses remain open to the public.
Old brick domes rise out of the ground and, inside, light streams in
through mosaic walls and ceilings, but these bath houses are far
from five-star luxury and instead offer tried-and-tested experiences.

EAT KHINKALI
Georgia is a fiercely patriotic country with a true passion for its own
food and drink. As such, its capital has a surprisingly superior food
scene, serving up a colourful plate-load of delicious dishes, packed
with plenty of veg thanks to the numerous meat-free fasting days in
the orthodox Georgian calendar.
Every visitor should wander the city’s markets and cafes, exploring
the morsels on offer and using locals’ plates as inspiration. But
there are two delicacies that are essential on any visit to Georgia.
The first: khinkali.
There’s a reason these chunky parcels resemble far-east
dumplings. Khinkali are said to have become a Georgian staple
following invading Mongol forces in the 13th century. Originally
adopted by shepherds in the surrounding mountain regions, the
dumplings are commonly filled with a herby beef mince broth.
Nowadays there’s a whole host of fillings, including cheese,
mushrooms and mashed potato.
Do as the locals do by ordering plenty, using the top knot of
dough as a handy grip and, once finished, discarding them on the
plates so the waiters can keep count.

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 81


Left: The Bridge of Peace. Below, top-to-bottom: Tbilisi Oldtown
Church; Adjarian khachapuri; Cable car over town

EAT KHACHAPURI
Health-conscious eaters should look away now. The classic adjarian
khachapuri is essentially a fluffy bread ‘boat’ filled with a generous
helping of cheese, butter and topped with fried eggs.
Dipping the torn bread into the gooey middle, khachapuri is
undeniably delicious, well worth the inevitable guilty greasy feelings
and makes perfect fuel for exploring the streets of old town.
Tbilisi’s passion for local produce extends to its drinks and both
these national favourites are improved with a glass of Georgia’s
finest, made from the vineyards in the surrounding countryside.

TAKE A WALK
Tbilisi is somewhere to be enjoyed on foot and, with a city-load of
residents passionate about their capital, it makes sense that visitors
have several free walking tours to choose from.
For a history-packed stroll book a private walk with Kartveli Tours.
It takes in Tbilisi’s old town, starting at Metekhi church, where you
meet your Georgian guide, before exploring Narikala Fortress, the

Words: Louise Quick Images: Louise Quick, iStock, Food and Travel Arabia
bath houses and Freedom Square, where stands the gleaming
golden monument to St George.
Alternatively, tag along on one with Tbilisi Free Walking Tour. The
company promises to run from Freedom Square at midday and
5pm, rain or shine, and over three hours the stroll takes in the old –
the bath houses and old city wall – to the city’s more modern side.

Getting there
TRAVEL
The local currency is the Georgian Lari, Tbilisi is GMT +4 hours (same time
as UAE). Flying time from Dubai to Tbilisi is about 3½ hours

flydubai offers between 2 & 3 direct flights from Dubai to Tbilisi Airport
each day flydubai.com

TOP TIP
Don’t stop at Tbilisi – there’s loads to see in Georgia, from intriguing cave
villages and the natural beauty of the Black Sea coast.

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&
Tasted
Tried

Cuba libre
he first true luxury hotel has opened in Cuba, the Gran first European-style shopping centre in Cuba and later housed

T Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana, located in the


heart of old Havana. The hotel rooms enjoy extra high
ceilings and French windows that open out onto the old city with
government offices and several schools on the upper floors.
Enjoy breakfast at Confluencias in the morning; take afternoon
tea with freshly baked pastries at El Arsenal’s intimate lounge;
views of the Capitol and the Great Theatre of Havana. The hotel the Evocación Tobacco Lounge offers an authentic Cuban
offers six restaurants and bars, a world-class spa and wellness experience with a selection of the finest rums, cigars and spirits,
facility, as well as panoramic views of the historic city centre and whilst the Constante Bar is perfect spot for a refreshing daiquiri
of course a cigar lounge. The hotel is located close to many of with views overlooking the famous El Floridita bar. Savour the
Havana’s historical sites, parks and rich local culture, the new delights of fresh seafood with a Latin touch at the San Cristóbal
hotel has returned Manzana de Gómez to its former glory as the Panoramic Restaurant, with its beautiful embroidery chairs and
place to be in Cuba. Today the hotel occupies the former floor-to-ceiling windows. For that perfect end to your evening
Manzana de Gómez building, dating back over a century. soak up one of the best views of Old Havana at El Surtidor Pool
Construction on the original building began in 1890, but took 28 Terrace and Bar with Hispanic-inspired tapas and local cocktails.
years to reach its current six floors. Manzana de Gómez was the www.kempinski.com

COOKERY COURSES RESTAURANTS DELIS APPS HOTELS


FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 85
Where to
Tried&Tasted

Eat
EAT

This month, we try fine dining Mexican


style, enjoy a classic Italian brunch, visit
a chic Japanese outpost and savour a
French Michelin masterpiece on the banks
of the Arno river

Mexican magic Dubai


Forget any preconceived notions you might have had about were both dishes displaying an admirable restraint and perfectly
Mexican – Peyote takes this vibrant cuisine that doesn’t naturally balanced flavours.
lend itself to refinement, but manages to effortlessly refine it Our waitress highly recommended we also try one of their
nonetheless. signature salads, the Nopales – chargrilled and cured cactus with
Occupying the former Marco Pierre White branded Wheeler’s oregano vinaigrette – and it opened up a whole new dimension
home in DIFC, this London import keeps things urbane through and to the cuisine for us. The cubed cactus - sans the spikes,
through. Sleek, slick design whispers contemporary sophistication, don’t worry! - is smooth, almost slimy (think okra or molokhiya),
with very subtle nods to its Mexican lineage, and not a hint of with a mild sweetish-bitter aftertaste. With its light dressing,
Cantina kitsch. The menu is suitably concise, a curated selection of complementing sweetness of cherry tomatoes, and drizzle of white
some of Mexico’s best flavours and authentic ingredients, if you will, cheese, it makes for a very interesting dish.
and the wait staff, smart and knowledgeable to match. Washed down with their creative cocktails – this is one of the
A selection of four salsas with varying levels of heat was served few Dubai restaurants where I’ve found mezcal – the menu lends
on the table with some tostadas as a starting point. We also itself perfectly to this sort of grazing. We were too full to do justice
ordered that Holy Grail of Mexican food – guacamole – which to full-on main courses, but tried the grilled jumbo tiger prawns
in this case, paired with their homemade corn tostadas, was from the seafood section, served with a spicy salsa tequiera, and
absolutely on point. didn’t regret that decision one bit – the fresh, sweet, succulent
The menu features an average of four-six specialties under prawn needed very little done with it, and just a hint of spiciness
Mexican essentials such as tacos and quesadillas – all made with was all it took to make for some moreish morsels.
authentic corn, none of that Tex-Mex white flour stuff here – and Soldiering on in the name of research, for dessert we opted
of course, ceviches. I chose the diver scallop option, paired with to share the Arroz con leche – a traditional rice pudding given a
coconut milk aguachile and dotted with cilantro oil – a classic localised makeover with fig compote and date ice cream, with
example of how well modernisation of a rustic dish can work – in biscuit crumb and a tuille adding textural interest – which, again
which the sweetness of the fresh scallop was nicely offset by the with a well-balanced flavour profile, provided the perfect sweet
coconut milk sauce, even if its tanginess threatened to overpower ending to the meal.
the delicate seafood ever so slightly; small quibble though for an There are a few more dishes on the menu that caught my
otherwise enjoyable dish. eye – not least the patatas bravas, which I often benchmark Latin
The roasted chicken adobo taco with pineapple pico de gallo American and Spanish restaurants with – that I am now convinced
lime, and the quesadilla stuffed with sautéed mushroom, quesillo, I return for. And so should you! SG
and salsa de molcajete – an indulgent, cheesy fried affair! – www.peyoterestaurant.com/dubai

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Tried & Tasted
From left-to-right: BiCE Ristorante dining area; BiCE mint risotto; Katsuya
& Starck Wagyu Tobanyaki with sizzling wild mushrooms
Eat
Katsuya by
Starck Dubai
Located at new Jumeirah
Al Naseem Hotel with
stunning sea views of Dubai’s
iconic skyline, Katsuya by
Starck is a long-awaited addition to
Dubai’s exciting dining scene. The stylish
TIMELESS CLASSIC Japanese restaurant features the dynamic pairing
of Master Chef Katsuya Uechi and design guru Philippe
A taste of summer UAE Starck. This full-service, upscale casual restaurant, boasts
BiCE has a fresh contemporary look, a stunning outdoor terrace and an authentic Italian an extraordinary Japanese dining experience, distinguished
menu with a modern twist. Throughout the summer, you can enjoy several fabulous treats. by a team of highly creative chefs and premier mixologists
who pride themselves in delivering a unique experience
BiCE’s new Head Chef Davide Gardini has introduced crisp flavours and innovative Italian
each time. Embark on a culinary journey with Katsuya’s
flair to his new four-course ‘Taste of Summer’ menu featuring an array of tempting plates
impeccable offering, from its 4 master kitchens: the Sushi
such as a light pearl barley salad with buffalo mozzarella & tomatoes, a virgin mojito risotto Kitchen, the Hot Kitchen, the Robata Grill, and the Liquid
(risotto with mint & lime), followed by baked sea bream fillet with red orange sauce & Kitchen (Bar). Try the popular signature dishes including
fresh dill potatoes and to end your experience a mouth-watering watermelon sorbet with Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna, Yellowtail Sashimi with
chocolate seeds. The menu is available with a grape pairing and dishes can be enjoyed Jalapeno, Miso-marinated Black Cod, or Wagyu Filet with
separately as well. Or try the BiCE brunch served every Friday from 12.30pm to 4pm; Foie Gras. You can choose to dine alfresco, beside the
enjoy an authentic Italian brunch. Soak up the vibrant atmosphere and enjoy the a la carte one-of-a-kind Turtle Lagoon, indoors at the sushi bar, or in
offering, including succulent-shared starters, pasta and mains with live cooking stations and the ultra-modern bar and restaurant. The interior décor is
sophisticated yet comfortable, featuring a large, family-style
a dedicated dessert station. Ideal for all the BiCE brunch offers the best in Italian flavours.
dining area with white tables and warm cosy couches.
The Taste Of Summer Menu is available daily throughout the summer with prices
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing drink or an elaborate
for the four-course menu starting at $77pp, with dishes available individually. Brunch at dining experience, Katsuya by Starck will deliver an
BiCE is served Friday from 12.30pm to 4pm and priced at $82pp including soft drinks, unforgettable experience! Open every day from 12 noon to
children (aged 6 to 12 years) eat for $38each. For more information, visit www.hilton.com 1 AM www.katsuyarestaurant.com +971 4 419 0676
or email bicerest.jumeirah@hilton.com +971 4 318 2520

Global Gourmet
La Bottega Florence
La Dolce Vita in three acts – that’s what awaits you in this
restaurant beautifully located on the banks of the Arno river. Start
your evening by taking a seat in the cosy wine lounge with its
open fire before heading over to the main dining area. Its elegant
shades of grey, stone walls in subtle pastels and dark wooden
floor make for an inviting, warm atmosphere as Michelin-starred
chef Antonello Sardi works his magic in the open kitchen.
Championing a farm-to-table concept, he uses seasonal
produce from the restaurant’s own farm and combines it with
best meat from local butchers and fish fresh from the
Mediterranean Sea to create Tuscan classics of the highest
culinary level. Don’t miss the signature dish of homemade
cappelletti with pigeon, butter and thyme that Sardi is famed for
throughout the region and which earned him the Michelin star.
Locals flock here at lunchtime just to have a massive plate filled
with the delicate pieces of pasta art. After your meal, the outdoor
terrace is the place to be. Watch people saunter past while you
enjoy a cup of buon caffé – it’s stylish Italian lifestyle at its very
best. SW. + 39 055 55 35 677 borgointhecity.com

Clockwise: Restaurant interior; Chef Antonello Sardi; Intricately


plated pasta at La Bottega

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 87


Places to
Stay
This month we get Eco Friendly in Bodrum,
relax by the Aegean Sea, enjoy a dash of
Mediterranean style and visit the Eternal City
for some serious self-indulgence

Eagles Palace Greece


Expect long, easy days at this resort. Lapped by the Aegean Sea, it perches
on the Athos peninsula close to Halkidiki. The drive from Thessoloniki airport
will take in vineyards and pine forests. Fresh interiors will catch your glance on
arrival: crisp whites against ikat fabric and artworks. Later, explore the saltwater
pool with its swim-up bar, and the stretch of golden beach. The bungalows are
our pick of its 170 residences for the privacy they afford. Sitting slightly above
the hotel, surrounded by palms and fragrant frangipani, they provide balconies
overlooking the ocean. In terms of food, ingredients are sourced from local
farms and growers. On the beach, Armyra is a dreamy lunchtime spot: order
specialities such as fried feta with sweet tomato sauce, souvlaki, fresh-as-
can-be Greek salads and grilled seafood. Fine-dining Kamares has an outdoor
Clockwise: Watersports at Eagles area for romantic evenings. Save a day to experience a speedboat trip, taking
Palace; Dining area; Eagles in a neighbouring island for a picnic. BG. Doubles from $325. + 30 23770
Palace Suite lounge area; Beach 31070, eaglespalace.gr
dining; Eagles Palace spa

88 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


Tried & Tasted
Sleep

Left-to-right: Caresse Night Vista;


Caresse King Villa Bedroom; Sunrise at
Caresse Below: A view of Monte-Carlo Bay
and Hotel Hermitage; Rome Cavalieri
La Pergola Restaurant; Chef Heinz Beck

LUXURY ECO RESORT TURKEY heart of rustic chic, with pared down palettes, lush greenery and finishes of
Over recent years we have all become more aware of the importance of fine woodgrain and stone, yet still retaining the epitome of lavish comfort.
sustainability; the United Nations has designated 2017 as the International The boutique destination is home to 67 stylish rooms, 9 spacious suites
Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, highlighting the important and a stately Caresse King Villa; each with its own private terrace and
part the industry needs play in global sustainable development. Nestled in bespoke furnishings designed by world-renowned, Turkish architect Onur
the heart of the Turkish Riviera, Caresse Bodrum is located on a secluded Ozgul. Caresse has its own private beach, a magnificent infinity pool, a
peninsula in an area of outstanding natural beauty; enjoying captivating flotilla of private yachts, a luxury spa and two diverse culinary experiences;
views overlooking the Aegean Sea; and just a stone’s throw away from seasonal activities include hiking, local crafts, sailing and line-caught
Bodrum’s historical monuments and buzzing city centre. A world away from fishing – a leading boutique eco resort. An unrivalled, year-round travel
the urban steel and glass edifices of the 1970s, Caresse Bodrum has a destination. www.caresse.com

MONTE CARLO OR BUST MONACO WHEN IN ROME ITALY


This summer why not visit the very epitome of European elegance Why note escape the soaring temperatures this Summer and enjoy the
and stay at one of Monte-Carlo’s Société des Bains de Mer’s Mediterranean climate and visit the culture, architecture and treasure that
world-renowned hotels. For a more intimate atmosphere, look is Rome. Unwind in unbridled luxury at the award-winning Rome Cavalieri.
no further than the prestigious Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo and
Sitting majestically at the top of Monte Mario, the hotel enjoys a stunning
soak up the opulent Belle Époque style, or relax at the Monte-
panorama of the Eternal City; not to mention an array of dining options
Carlo Beach, a haven of peace and tranquillity. This summer, take
advantage of the special three-night stay with a VIP welcome that including Rome’s ultimate restaurant,
includes sparkling beverages and sweets, and a 100 Euro gift La Pergola, the signature restaurant of celebrated three Michelin-star
voucher valid within the Monte-Carlo SBM Resort - stay at The Chef Heinz Beck. This July Rome Cavalieri is offering an exclusive Fashion
Hotel Hermitage, The Monte-Carlo Beach or the Monte-Carlo Bay. and Destination package, that includes a discount card to use at key retail
The summer also sees the return of the Summer Sporting Festival, destinations, skincare and after sun packs and a night tour via Vespa of
from 28 June to 20 August 2017. Since its inception, the Festival Rome for $225, or an upgrade to include a private inroom luxury retail
has earned the reputation for attracting the biggest stars to its fitting or luxury boutique shopping experience. Prices start from $475 for
stage. Backed by more than 150 years of Monte-Carlo history,
two adults per night.
the festival continues to put Monaco, the Salle des Etoiles, and
The Rome Cavalieri Hotel is part of the prestigious Waldorf Astoria Hotels
for the first time, the Opéra Garnier Monte-Carlo, at the top of
the summer calendar. Stars already confirmed for 2017 include: chain; to discover more visit waldorfastoria3.hilton.com
Joss Stone, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Andrea Bocelli.
montecarlosbm.com
90 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA
Patrick Leano
MANDARIN GRILL + BAR, HONG KONG
Chef de Cuisine at the legendary Mandarin Grill + Bar at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong,
Patrick Leano is continuing the great tradition of this Michelin star restaurant. Classically trained
Leano worked under the tutelage of Anthony Demetre at Searcy’s at the Barbican, at Michelin
starred Arbutus and as Head Chef at Michelin starred Wild Honey. Hailing from the Philippines
via way of Canada this multi-faceted and talented chef joins the Food and Travel team with his
debut column

I
t is not often that I get the opportunity to talk directly with my what season do I play with – when its Autumn in Japan and
guests, so I am pleased to be able to share my vision for the Australia it’s Spring in Europe.
Mandarin Grill + Bar in my first column for Food and Travel Arabia. Another challenge is trying to keep the classics without going to
The Mandarin Grill is as much a part of the fabric of Hong Kong the modern trend for molecular cooking – but using the old-school
as the Mandarin Oriental itself and as the new face of this iconic skills – modern chefs tend to be very good at the complicated
restaurant I see it as my role to continue the culinary evolution of modern techniques but not quite as adept at the traditional skills –
the Mandarin Grill under my custodianship. My vision is to offer such as how to make a sauce béarnaise – for me it is gratifying to
classic favourites with a contemporary touch, regularly changing be able to pass along my knowledge.
menus with the seasons, using the best and freshest produce We are shortly launching what I call my “As you like it” section –
and ingredients. I want to add an approachable style to the for example Dover Sole, where you can choose how you would like
menu, staying true to my belief that ‘less is more’. I believe that it prepared, from grilled or pan fried to meunière or Veronique. I also
the Mandarin Grill should be a grill restaurant – and that’s what I always include some of my favourite signature dishes: Tomahawk
want to get back to, with a more contemporary spin to dining chops with truffle béarnaise, a staple of my menu; and I will always
favourites. I like to speak with our guests to see what they like have my toasted rice soufflé with Horlicks ice cream – If you only
and what they want and the message that I get is; they want the eat one dish this is it.
classics done right. I want to keep the opulence and fine dining at the Mandarin Grill,
The restaurant trade, like many other industries, is like a wheel – not silver service, but something that is elegant and relaxed –
returning to tradition. For example, the Gavroche in London was somewhere you don’t have to spend 2½ hours for meal; you can
considered for a while to be a little old-fashioned, but today its just have one or two courses and be out in an hour if you wish.
classic dishes are back in style. I want to take the Grill back to What I want to do is ensure my guests have a great meal!
where the food is the star on plate – back to tradition but still with For me the world’s best restaurants are the ones you can visit all
a 21st century touch – a classic dining room experience. the time; restaurants that offer an extraordinary gastronomic dining
So much today is about deconstruction or taking off-cuts and experience, are of course amazing, but not somewhere you would
making them great; but we have fabulous cuts of meat and I want want to necessarily eat every day. I look forward to welcoming you
to showcase the quality of our produce – I source our meat from to the Mandarin Grill + Bar soon.
Japan, the US and Ireland. It is the same for our fish, for example
we get the best fish fresh from France, such as Dover Sole, Turbot, The Mandarin Grill + Bar is located at the Mandarin Oriental Hong
Sea Bass and Britany lobster. However, my biggest challenge is Kong www.mandarinoriental.com

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 91


THE
COLLECTION
For better-tasting food and your own peace of mind, use sustainably and locally produced ingredients if possible. Eggs should always be free-range.
1 teaspoon is 5ml; 1 tablespoon is 15ml

Summer Cool
pages 26-33

Watermelon pizza with two Topping 2: Carpaccio,


toppings rucola and yoghurt
Mango and cucumber For the gazpacho, puree all MAKES 2 PIZZAS Few slices of carpaccio
gazpacho with coconut ingredients together, add a bit of 1 cup rucola leaves
foam water if it’s too thick. Season to Topping 1: Feta, olives and ½ shallot, thinly sliced
SERVES 6 taste with salt and pepper and mint ½ cup yoghurt
store in the fridge for at least 4 1 slice watermelon 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
Gazpacho hours until cold. ½ cup feta cheese, 1 tsp honey
2 ripe mangos, peeled and cut Put the coconut milk, lime juice, crumbled Cilantro flowers and cress
2 cucumbers, peeled and cut yoghurt and egg white in a bender, ½ cup black olives, pitted
1 shallot, peeled and cut and blend until foamy. Cut the and halved Mix the yoghurt, vinegar and honey
1 clove garlic avocado in small cubes. Small bunch of mint together and season with salt
2 el sherry vinegar To serve, pour the gazpacho Grated peel and juice of 1 and pepper. Top the pizza with
2 el honey in glasses, top with the foam and lemon the toppings and pour over the
decorate with the avocado, cress 2 tbsp. olive oil dressing.
Decoration and flowers. ½ tsp curry powder
1 can full fat coconut milk Chive flowers
Juice of 1 lime
½ cup yoghurt Mix the lemon juice and peel, olive
1 egg white oil and curry powder together and
1 tsp vanilla extract season with salt and pepper. Top
1 avocado the pizza with the toppings and
Pea cress and chive flowers pour over the dressing.

92 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


RECIPES

Lettuce wraps with Refreshing noodle salad


shrimp, avocado and with cucumber and mango
hoisin sauce SERVES 2
MAKES 8 WRAPS
200 gr rice noodles
3 small heads of lettuce 1 cucumber
500 gr cooked shrimp 1 mango, not too ripe
2 avocados, halved and 1 bunch radishes
thinly sliced ½ bunch cilantro
½ cucumber, in thin slices ½ bunch mint
2 spring onions, thinly 2 tbsp. roasted peanuts,
sliced lengthwise chopped
Radish cress
4 tbsp. hoisin sauce Dressing
1 tbsp. soy sauce 1 tbsp. peanut butter
1 tsp honey 1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp. coconut sugar (or
Cut the biggest leaves of the other type)
lettuce and store them in ice water 1 tsp olive oil
to keep them crisp. Was hand dry Soak the noodles according to
the shrimp. For the sauce, mix the instructions on packet. Drain
hoisin, soy, honey and fish sauce and mix with a little oil to keep
together. Cherry and hibiscus through a fine mesh strainer. from sticking. With a spiralizer or
Assemble the wraps by layering lemonade Combine with the hibiscus tea. mandolin, cut the cucumber and
avocado, cucumber, spring onion SERVES 8 Decorate glasses with ice mango into ribbons. Thinly slice
and shrimp on each lettuce leave. cubes, more cherry halves and the radishes and store in ice water
Top with the sauce and radish apple blossoms. Pour over the to keep crisp.
cress. 5 tbsp. dried hibiscus lemonade and serve with extra Mix all ingredients for the
leaves honey to add to taste. dressing together and set aside.
6 cups boiling water Combine noodles, mango,
½ cup honey cucumber and radish together, top
2 cups cherries, halve and with cilantro, mint and peanuts,
pitted and pour over the dressing.
Ice cubes
Apple blossom or flowers
to decorate

Steep the hibiscus leaved in hot


water for 15 minutes. Strain and
pour into a jug with ice cubes.
Puree 1 cup of the cherries
together with the honey and pass

FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA 93


IN SEASON

The great outdoors


pages 62-67

Mixed fruit platter

Mix of fresh fruits, such as:


½ mango
¼ watermelon
½ melon
1 peach
2 kiwi’s Carpaccio with green herb
1 orange oil and apple capers
½ pomegranate SERVES 2
1 passion fruit
1 cup cherries
1 cup strawberries 200gr carpaccio
1 cup blueberries Bunch of mixed herbs (Parsley,
½ cup green grapes basil, cilantro, for example)
1 lime 4 cl olive oil
Small bunch of mint Grated peel and juice of 1 lime
Edible flowers 50gr apple capers
Shiso purple cress (or another
Cut the mango half crosswise and type)
carefully flip inside out. Cut half of No bake cheese cake and beat together until thick
the watermelon into slices, and with passion fruit and and creamy. Pour on top of the
scoop balls out of the other half. raspberries prepared bottom and smooth the Divide the carpaccio over 2 plates.
Cut balls from the other type of SERVES 6 top. Finely chop the herbs and mix
melon. Cut the orange in half and Mix the passion fruit pulp with them with the oil, lime juice, salt
cut one half in slices. Carve one of 1½ cups biscuits, crumbled the other cup of powdered sugar. and pepper. Sprinkle over the
the kiwi’s and thinly slice the other ¼ cup butter, melted Take the cheese cake out of the carpaccio. Grate the peel of the
one. Open the pomegranate and 2 cups cream cheese spring-form and place on a plate. lime on top, and decorate with
discard the white. Thinly slice the 1½ cups cream cheese Pour over the sauce and decorate the apple capers and cress. Top
peach. Halve the passionfruit and 1 tsp vanilla extract with the raspberries. with some more salt and pepper
the lime, and cut half of the lime 2 cups powdered sugar to taste.
into parts. Halve all the berries and ½ cup Greek yoghurt
grapes. ½ cup heavy whipping cream
Arrange all the fruits on a platter, Pulp of 6 passion fruits
and decorate with mint and ½ cup raspberries
flowers.
Stir the biscuit crumbs and butter
together and press into the bottom
of a spring-form pan. Refrigerate
while you make the filling.
Mix the cream cheese, vanilla,
and one cup of powdered sugar
together until smooth. Mix in
yoghurt and whipping cream

94 FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


RECIPES

Thyme beef fillet with Heat a frying pan on high and


anchovy dressing and sear the beef for about 4 minutes,
pangrattato turning to brown evenly. Transfer
Coconut cake with passion at a time until combined (don’t SERVES 6 to a roasting tin and place in the
fruit syrup worry if the mixture appears oven to cook for 20 minutes.
SERVES 8-10 curdled). Fold in the desiccated 1.25kg beef fillet Remove from the pan and set
coconut and flour until smooth and 2tbsp olive oil, plus extra for aside to cool.
180g butter, softened spoon into the prepared tin. serving Meanwhile, to make the
250g caster sugar Transfer to the oven and bake dried thyme pangrattato, heat the olive oil in a
6 eggs for 45-50 minutes, covering loosely 2tbsp fresh thyme, chopped frying pan and gently fry the garlic
225g desiccated coconut with foil if the cake begins to for 3-4 minutes over a low heat
225g self-raising flour brown. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes For the pangrattato until lightly golden. Discard the
and then transfer to a wire tray and 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil garlic clove, increase the heat,
For the passion fruit syrup poke holes all over the cake. 1 large garlic clove, bashed add the breadcrumbs and stir-
150g caster sugar To make the passion fruit syrup, 100g day-old bread, made into fry for 3-4 minutes until evenly
100ml passion fruit pulp (from place the sugar and 150ml water rough crumbs browned. Drain on kitchen paper.
around 6 large passion fruit) in a saucepan and heat gently ½ small red onion, chopped Combine the onion with the
to dissolve the sugar. Add the 1tbsp red wine vinegar vinegar and set aside to soften for
To serve passion fruit pulp and bring to the 25g pine nuts, toasted 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
250g crème fraîche or Greek boil. Allow to simmer gently for 2tbsp salted capers, rinsed To make the dressing, place the
yoghurt 8-10 minutes until slightly reduced 2tbsp chopped fresh parsley aïoli, anchovies, lemon juice and a
300g raspberries and thickened. Spoon all but a few pinch of pepper in a blender and
tablespoons over the cake and For the anchovy dressing purée until smooth. Set aside.
23cm loose-bottomed cake tin allow to infuse until cold. 125g aïoli To serve, place the fried
Serve the cake with the crème 3 anchovy fillets, drained and breadcrumbs, onion, pine nuts,
Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/ fraîche, raspberries and a drizzle of rinsed capers and parsley in a bowl and
Gas 3. Oil and line the cake tin the remaining syrup. 1tbsp lemon juice stir well. Cut the beef into thin
with baking paper. Cream the slices (it should be lovely and pink
butter and half the sugar together Preheat oven to 190C/375F/Gas in the middle) and top with some
until smooth then beat in the 5. Rub the beef fillet with oil and of the pangrattato, the anchovy
remaining sugar and eggs, a little dust with thyme, salt and pepper. dressing and a drizzle of oil.

FOOD & TRAVEL 95


Ibiza salad with orange, Peel the oranges and thinly
fennel, radish and olive slice them over a bowl to catch
crumb any juices. Arrange the slices on a
SERVES 6 platter. Collect the peel and ends
of the oranges and squeeze all the
50g pitted black olives juice into the bowl. Whisk in the oil,
Moroccan tuna with using, with salt and pepper and 300g baby new potatoes vinegar, honey and mustard then
chermoula press all over the tuna. Set aside. 3 oranges season with salt and pepper.
SERVES 6 To make the chermoula, mix 3tbsp fruity extra virgin olive oil Finely slice the fennel and
the coriander, chilli, garlic, saffron, 2tsp white wine vinegar radishes and arrange on top of the
6 x 180g tuna loin steaks lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch 1tsp honey sliced orange with the potatoes.
2tsp smoked paprika of salt and pepper in a mini food 1tsp wholegrain mustard Scatter over the chopped chervil
2tsp ground cinnamon processor and blitz until smooth. 1 head fennel, trimmed and olive crumbs then drizzle with
2tbsp chopped fennel fronds Sear the tuna on a hot 8 large radishes, trimmed the fruity dressing.
(optional) barbecue or griddle pan for 1 small bunch chervil, chopped
minute each side and then rest
For the chermoula for 2-3 minutes. Slice thickly and Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/
1 bunch coriander serve with the chermoula and Gas 1. To make the olive crumb,
1 large red chilli, chopped lemon wedges. place the olives on an oven tray
1 garlic clove, chopped lined with baking paper and cook
pinch saffron the olives for 1½ hours until dried
juice ½ lemon out. Leave to cool and then chop
4tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus until they resemble fine crumbs.
extra for drizzling Meanwhile, cook the potatoes
lemon wedges, to serve for 10-12 minutes until just tender.
Drain, refresh under cold water
Brush the tuna steaks with a and drain again. Pat dry and allow
little oil. Combine the paprika, to cool. Cut larger potatoes in half.
cinnamon and fennel fronds, if

96 FOOD & TRAVEL


RECIPES

Margarita cheesecakes to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the


with salted lime boil and then remove from the
MAKES 8 heat. Leave to cool completely.
Melt the remaining chocolate
200g white chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of gently
50g butter simmering water (do not let the
175g digestive biscuits, crushed base of the bowl touch the water).
juice and zest 3 limes Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
100ml tequila Place the cream cheese in a
250g caster sugar food processor with the tequila
Asparagus, burrata and pan for 3-4 minutes, turning half 600g cream cheese lime mixture and blitz until smooth.
pistachio salad with way through until lightly charred. 250ml double cream Stir in the melted chocolate and
vincotto Transfer to a platter and set aside. 1tsp sea salt cream and blend again. Using
SERVES 6 To make the dressing, whisk a piping bag with a large plain
all the ingredients together in a piping bag nozzle, divide the mixture between
1kg asparagus spears bowl. Tear the burrata into pieces 8 martini glasses the glasses. Place back in the
2tsp olive oil and arrange over the asparagus fridge and chill for at least 2 hours.
200g burrata with the tomatoes, rocket and Finely grate 50g of the white To make the lime caramel, line
300g vine-ripened cherry pistachios. Drizzle over the chocolate into a shallow bowl. Take an oven tray with baking paper.
tomatoes, halved dressing and serve scattered with 8 martini or margarita glasses, dip Combine the remaining sugar with
50g rocket leaves the parmesan shavings. the rims into cold water and then 2 tablespoons water in a small
25g shelled pistachio nuts, dip them into the grated chocolate saucepan and heat very gently,
chopped to coat. Set aside for stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
15g parmesan shavings 5 minutes. Bring to the boil and cook without
Melt the butter in a small stirring for a further 5-6 minutes
For the dressing saucepan and pour into a bowl. until the liquid turns golden brown.
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil Add the digestives and stir well Pour on to the lined oven tray and
1tbsp vincotto or aged balsamic until evenly coated. Divide between allow to cool completely.
2tsp white wine vinegar the glasses, pressing them down Roughly beak up the praline
lightly using the end of a rolling pin. and place in a food processor
Trim the asparagus stalks and Place in the fridge until required. with the lime zest and salt and blitz
place on an oven tray, drizzle with Combine the lime juice, tequila to make a slightly chunky crumb
the oil and season with salt and and half the sugar in a small mixture. Spoon on to the set
pepper. Cook on a hot griddle saucepan and heat gently, stirring creams and serve immediately.

FOOD & TRAVEL 97


AFTER HOURS

NigelMendham
The head chef of GBR at Dukes Hotel tells us about how he developed his love of traditional
food, where he eats in London and how his signature dish has evolved

What’s your earliest food memory? My mum always used to


make boiled meat with cabbage and potatoes – it doesn’t sound
like much but it’s delicious. It’s a real one-pot wonder done in a
pressure cooker and I always ask her to cook it for me when I’m
home. My aunt used to make lots of old-school puddings like
spotted dick and jam roly-poly. They’re the ones that stick with
you; ones that are made in a muslin cloth.
Where do you travel to eat? I really like France and Spain
so I head to the Pyrenees area in southern France with all its
markets along the Basque border. You get the best of both
worlds. Give me bread, charcuterie and cheese and I’m happy.
There’s a lot of sheep’s cheeses that you don’t get here, as
well as some excellent duck and wild boar salamis.
What are your go-to London spots? I like Smokestak in
Shoreditch, which has an indoor barbecue. It’s rustic but has
really good flavours. I also like Burger & Lobster and a local pub
for beers after work like The Blue Post or The Clarence.
Do you have a favourite bit of kitchen kit? My Thermomix, it’s
an investment for any kitchen. I have one at home and work.
What ingredients do you like best? I follow the seasons really.
At this time of year it’s asparagus. My mum and dad used to
grow it and I grew up with it. It’s a completely different ball game
when you pick it straight from the garden and cook it.
Which dish are you most proud of? I like the variation I do on

Words by Lizzie Frianier Photos by Carol Sachs; Angela Dukes; Christian Trampeanu
goat’s cheese and beetroot. I’m proud of how it’s evolved and
you could call it my signature. When I look at pictures of when I
Clockwise from left: asparagus; first made it I see how much it’s grown and how it’s changed
Mendham in GBR; Smokestak’s with me. I use three different types of heritage beetroot – purple,
salads; Burger & Lobster; David golden, candy – and do them with all different techniques like
Carter, Smokestak’s chef; its
water bathed, salt-baked and carpaccio (pickled raw).
dining room; South Lodge
Hotel’s facade; a classic burger Where’s your favourite place in the UK for produce? Before
moving to London, everywhere I worked was a country house
so I was lucky enough to experience different areas of the
country. Stapleford Park in Leicestershire is bang in the middle
of the country, so there was lots of great fruit and vegetables. At
South Lodge Hotel in Horsham we got South Downs lamb as
well as top fish, as it’s only 20 minutes from Brighton. At The
Samling in the Lake District there was the best of everything.
Where do you eat in the Lake District? I still have a cottage
in the Lakes and go up every now and again. It’s a close-knit
community of chefs: we all know each other. I go back to the
restaurants at the Gilpin Hotel & Lake House and Holbeck Ghyll.
They’re the same concept, so they’re quite good to benchmark
yourself against. There are four or five Michelin stars in an 8km
radius, it’s quite the foodie hot spot.

GBR is the new name for Thirty Six at Dukes Hotel. To book a
table, call +44 20 7491 4840 or visit gbrrestaurantslondon.com
JW MARRIOT T® MARQUIS DUBAI

Stay Longer and Save


at the world’s tallest hotel.
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MARRIOTT REWARDS MEMBERS SAVE 30% ON


ACCOMMODATION AND PARTICIPATING RESTAURANTS,
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