Category Archives: Dining

Where You Been All My Life??

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I barely got to take a photo, these were soooo good!

I barely got to take a photo, these were soooo good!

Cinnamon Butter Thins.   Oh. My. Goodness.  Have you tried these?   TBG had some at work, and next time we were in a store, he picked up the box and said something about it being a lucky box tonight or some such…. Not exactly certain about what he said.

But, we opened the foil inner pouch containing these little rascals, and ohmygoodness were they good.  Tiny little thin buttery bits of cinnamon goodness, all nestled down into their own little plastic cubbies….. Protecting them, you know.

TBG said “I’ll eat all the cracked ones and save the whole ones for you.”  Um hmmm…. Uh, no.  He’d have slammed that package down on the counter so they were ALL cracked!!!  Twerp.

Tiny little bites of yumminess.

Tiny little bites of yumminess.

Anyhow, they’re called  Zimtbutterkekse, which translates to cinnamonbutterheaven in English.  They remind me of a Paula Deen recipe….. you know – they begin with “melt a stick of butter and we’ll decide what we’re gonna bake.”  They’re thin, light, and quite crispy, but it’s when they’re good and chewed up that the buttery flavor comes into play here – they’re tasty enough you almost don’t wanna swallow them!  Kinda sorta like a super thin gingerbread cookie fried.  Kinda.  Sorta.  But not greasy.

Too bad this one was cracked.... that meant it was TBG's.

Too bad this one was cracked…. that meant it was TBG’s.

You can see, I almost forgot to take any photos of them before they were all gone.  Well, you can see that TBG had a couple left…. <Smile>.  Honest, if you see these, made by a company called Jules Destrooper Biscuiterie since 1886 of Belgium, just get them.  Really.

They came all the way from Belgium.  You know, these were baked by the “purveyor to the Belgian Royal Household”, I’m thinking we’re eating like royalty!

King of Liver

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Now, just so y’all know I don’t make this stuff up…. here’s a photo….

King of Liver.  Yes.  Really.

King of Liver. Yes. Really.

I understand that literal translations are sometimes “off” here…. But really?

 

Yes, I can hear the conversation now….

 

“So, where do you wanna go for supper tonight, honey?”

 

“Oh, I don’t know.  Where do you want to go?”

 

“Well, I’ve really had a hankering for a big ole plate of liver lately…..”

 

“Ah…. Well, no place to go but to the ‘King of Liver’ then – let’s go!”

Brunch and a Polo Match, dahling…..

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Now, those of you that know me know that I am *anything* but upper- crust.  I’m a pretty down-to-earth kinda gal.  But I’d wanted to go to one of these Friday Brunches forever.  They’re pretty pricey,  though, so when my friend Koral came through with a great discount with a Cobone voucher deal (kinda like Groupon) – we jumped on it.  Plus, it was at the Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club, literally *right* across the street from where we live!

Dubai Polo Club

Brunch is from 1 – 3 pm, and after brunch, there’s a polo match to which we were given complimentary admission, and could view from the terrace of the polo club.  I’m thinking “cool – brunch and a polo match, this will be fun!”  And it was!

First off, though, let me fuss a bit.  On the vouchers, there’s a dress code requirement listed “smart casual”… no shorts, Tshirts, flip flops, sneakers, trainers etc.  I’m thinking “OK,  but TBG will wanna wear his sneakers…..”  When the club called me to confirm our reservation and to remind us to make sure we brought our vouchers,  they also mentioned that there was a dress code requirement.  I’m thinking overkill, but it’s all good – we’ll dress smartly casual.

Uh yeah…. Apparently , clothing does not matter a bit.  We saw everything from the shortest of jean shorts with racer-back T-shirts and flip flops to men’s khaki shorts and sneakers.  TBG thought for sure I’d tried to put something over on him just to make him “dress up”….. *sigh*.  Word to the wise – just dress comfortably, I suppose, because it certainly did not seem to matter at all what one wore to this brunch.

OK, on to the foods- and oh my goodness was there food!  Each room had a different course,  and thankfully we were conveniently seated in the ice cream and dessert room <smile>.

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Don’t you just love those tiny little one-bite servings of dessert?  In six or seven bites, you can sample chocolate mousse, cheesecake, custards, carrot cake, an arabian sweet called halwa (and there’s an excellent youtube video here on exactly how to make this morsel!), just an awesome assortment of yummies.

Then there was a salad room,  with both cold and room temp salads, a bread and sushi room, a side dishes and cheese room, and the entrees were outdoors.

I’ve taken a photo of a couple platefuls so I could remember what all was offered.

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Salads were plentiful and tasty – mozzarella and tomato was my favorite, followed by a krab and cucumber….. sad, I know, but I love that whitefish krab stuff with the red dye.  <smile>

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Now, the entrees were outdoors, there was a shawarma and fajita station, cooked to order.

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And the gent that was offering up various curries, and some awesome butter chicken – so very kind, offering descriptions of what all was in each dish, level of spiciness, etc. of each.  I asked if I might photograph him, and he proudly smiled and nodded “yes”.

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Now, there was also a man at a huge grill that I photographed from the back, but I stood in front of him – literally *right* in front of him facing me for over two minutes, and he never acknowledged me.  I started to walk off as TBG walked up and the grilling man said “madame, madame, may I help you??”  Uh yeah, sure…. When TBG comes you wanna pay attention to me, right?  Sheesh.  Anyhow, TBG got some awesome rib roast, roasted corn and potatoes there.  Me?  Nada.  Twerp.

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Oh, and in the Sushi/Dim Sum/Seafood room, there was a bread cupboard!  Now, I’d never seen bread displayed and served from a cupboard, and I thought it was pretty dang cool and innovative.

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Closeby, there were the cold soups in a cupboard as well, gazpacho and something green that I forget, perhaps we’ll be able to see the tag when I add the photo.  But they were served in stemmed glasses, and looked very appetizing!  The cheese plate was kinda small, but a good-tasting collection.  The cold cuts and shrimp got my attention…. I’m a big boiled shrimp fan!

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Desserts were pretty amazing – tiny bites of carrot cake, brownies, chocolate mousse, mango or strawberry parfaits, an apple crumble with warm vanilla sauce (this was GOOD!), some tiny little fried bits of something that were totally addictive.  I only put two on my plate, and could honestly have eaten the ENTIRE platter of them.  Honest.  They were sweet, slightly crunchy, tasted buttery somehow, and perhaps a bit of cardamom??  Shaped like tiny little peanuts, they were awesome.  There was an icecream case with a big variety of commercial frozen goodies, as well as a gent making crepes and filling them with any of an assortment of goodies for you.  Oh, and a chocolate fountain with fruits and marshmallows to plunge.

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We tried valiantly to get our server to bring us beverages.  She was cute as can be.  But  bless her heart, she would bring one cup of coffee at a time, when we’d ordered three.  Twice.  When I said “But, honey, we need two more, a rose wine, and a diet coke with ice.”  She said “oh, I bring one, tray is so small.”  I said “you’re bringing one drink at a time because your TRAY is too small?”  She said “yes madame”.  Wellallrightythen.  We’re gonna be thirsty.  But we’ll be someone else’s thirsty customers, cause it’s time for POLO!

Ah – Polo, the Sport of Kings.  Now, I’ve never been to a polo match before.  The closest I’ve ever come to seeing a match was watching the Julia Roberts-Richard Gere movie “Pretty Woman”   And I’m betting that TBG thought I would likely act just like this…..

I thought of it as some rich playboy kinda sport, requiring a ton of money and time.  I think I’m right.  But we were seated on the terrace, in the shade, on cushy sofas with a guy to bring you whatever your heart desires.  We felt like some kinda celebs or something.  <smile>  My friend Koral sure looks like she’s engrossed in the play, doesn’t she?

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But, it was fun to watch, even if I didn’t understand the subtle nuances of the game…. I did remember  (from that movie) that at the end of the second “chukker”….. all the audience got up and went down on the field to stomp the horse-divots back down, perhaps to keep the horses from tripping??  I honestly don’t know why, but it was surely fun!  Someone *could* have mentioned to me that it’s bad form to take your drink out onto the field with you…. sheesh!

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Notice the cars on the other side of the field?  They’re kind of like the equivalent of US tailgaters – they pay some money for the privilege of having a front-row seat, picnic and visit….. and they’re up close and personal with the riders, too.  But when those horses are thundering past and you can hear them and feel them and there’s dirt flying up and you can smell them it’s a pretty intense feeling!

I did learn that the horses get changed out and walked around to cool off or warm up, and that the teams have “people” to do that.   While the players were riding their ponies, there was always a couple of people riding their other ponies…. One cooling the previous horse down, the other warming up the next horse to play.  It really was an interesting process to watch.   It was an interesting day, and on the way out, we stopped to see where some of the “companion” critters were hanging out while their friends were out playing polo.

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So, brunch and a polo match….. would I go to another one?  Perhaps.   But honestly?  I’m more a “watch NASCAR on TV while inside on the sofa in the air conditioning” kinda gal…… <grin>

Asian Tea at the Burj al Arab – a review

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What a meal.  I know, they call it a tea… but lemme tell you – it’s a MEAL.  Remember, my friend Koral and I’d gone to the Burj Al Arab for the afternoon tea at the Junsui restaurant.  I’d described our entering and looking around the resort earlier here  and I promised that I’d get to the tea later…..well, it’s later!

When we approached the elevators, they were just spectacular.  Really.  I mean, I’m not one to take photos of elevator doors (well, OK, from time to time maybe) but these were unusual.

Gorgeous elevator doors.  Really!

Gorgeous elevator doors. Really!

Then, when we stepped inside, they were just as lovely inside as they were from the outside!  Dunno how they’re kept so “un-fingerprinty”.

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They quietly swooshed us right down to the mezzanine level and the doors opened into the lobby of the Junsui restaurant.

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Walking through the entry was almost EXACTLY like the Tower of Terror experience juuuuust before all the glass breaks…. See the tiny little starlights??

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And of course I had to pose in front of them.

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Through the starlights, we approached the podium and the most lovely hostess received us, welcoming us warmly, and asking if we’d like to look around a bit before we were seated….. I think it was the cameras dangling from our wrists that tipped her off!  <smile>  We looked at the lounge area,

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then in the bar area….

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Then, I visited the ladies room and whoa lawsa mercy, was it amazing!  Most ladies’ rooms in Dubai come with their own person, and this one was no different.  When she skedaddled for just a second, and I was the only one in there, I snapped a few photos – I was gonna hang on to them for my “toilets of the middle east” post, but these are some awesome photos.

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OK, so freshened up, washed, dried, lotioned and sanitized, we went out to be seated by our hostess who wore the most lovely costume and posed for us

Our lovely hostess, isn't her costume beautiful?

Our lovely hostess, isn’t her costume beautiful?

– and we were shown to a window table!  I was thrilled, and since we had made our reservations on the spur of the moment, we weren’t expecting to be able to sit at a window table, they’re very limited in number and highly-coveted.  I was truly shocked.  But then again, I *am* the luckiest person I know!  But, now, this isn’t just a window seat, it’s a window-wall seat!  See how nice my friend Koral looks sitting in front of it?  She was kind to let me face it and gawk at the view.

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As you can see, we weren’t up too high, just high enough that we could still see the grounds, the sunbathing area, the windsurfers….. and the beach.  Just lovely!!

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And the tablescapes were beautiful….. very soothing and un-fussy.  Functional but elegantly done.

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Oh, even the floor was interesting….see how the mosaics shimmer like a dragonfly’s wing??

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One of my most memorable tiny moments from this experience was the presentation of the warm, damp jasmine-scented hand cloths to freshen up with prior to our meal beginning…. A comfortable, relaxing way to begin our tea experience.

So, we ordered our first drinks, and sampled them – simply delicious!  Teas and fresh fruit juices – just right on a warm spring afternoon.

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Now, we awaited the first of our SEVEN (yes 7!) courses……. Which arrived promptly.  We asked our server to please explain what each item was as it was presented, and what was in it.  He graciously did so, silly us thought we’d remember all of them!  So, I’ve copied their menu here, and will try to match them up with my photos and memory.

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See these chips and the four dips?  They’re dusted in crack cocaine, I swear.  They were crispy, fresh, and such an awesome palate-cleanser between courses that we *may* have overindulged.  Just a bit.  Is requesting THREE refills after we ate the initial bowl excessive???

Looking at the menu to keep track of them…..

Korean Bulgogi

Korean Bulgogi

Sesame Tofu with Asian Vegetable Salad 

Soft Bean Curd, Sesame Paste, Bean Sprout, Spring Onion, Carrot, Spinach, Soya Sauce

Nope – what we were served was a fairly traditional Korean Bulgogi dish…. Attractively served on a lovely plate.  The plate you see above?  That was for one person…. we each got our own!  Tasty, and we knew we were in for an international mixture of flavors.

Salmon Sushi with Roe

Salmon Sushi with Roe

Salmon Sushi with Roe

Salmon Sushi with Roe

Salmon Sushi with Roe

Salmon Sushi with Roe

Crispy Tempura Roll

Prawn, Sushi Rice, Seaweed, Wasabi, Mayonnaise, Tobiko

Odd – I’m guessing that their menu is “subject to change” because we were served some truly awesome Salmon sushi, topped with big fat sparkly roe – they were so pretty I almost didn’t  want to eat them, but I’d never eaten salmon roe before, so down the hatch they went.  Slightly salty with an odd “pop” to them when you bit them, sort of like a big ole tapioca pearl does?  Yummy.  And the cute little wasabi “leaf” beside them on the plate was just the right condiment.  I’m not a pickled ginger fan, but it was fresh and attractively served alongside.

 

Asian Chicken Bite in Puff Pastry

Asian Chicken Bite in Puff Pastry

 

 Asian Chicken Satay with Pickled Vegetables and Rice Cake

Chicken, Cucumber, Carrot, Shallot, Rice Cake

Nuh uh.  Not at all what we had…. This was an Asian Chicken bite, served in a richly-browned puff pastry, and served on a bit of a banana leaf.  Quite yummy and all that we sent back to the kitchen were crumbs from the pastry.  Really.  (Oh, and see the silverware in the background?  We got a set of it for every single course served.  7 sets of flatware.  Two of us.  14 sets of flatware for one meal…. so happy I wasn’t the dishwasher!)

Dim Sum Collection

Dim Sum Collection

Dim Sum Collection

Dim Sum Collection

Selection of Dim Sum -Har Gao, Siew Mai, Chaw Siew Bun, Vegetable Dumpling

I have never met Dim Sum I didn’t like.  Even the overcooked ones on a Chinese buffet in a strip-mall in the US, you know?  But this stuff was really good…. Well-prepared, attractive, and the flavors of each were wonderfully distinctive.  Steamed to perfection, they each left me wishing there were actually more of them in the little basket.   A treat!

 

Oh look!

Oh look!

There's a guy paddleboarding!

There’s a guy paddleboarding!

(oh, look outside!  There’s a guy paddleboarding…..)

 

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Thai Fish Cake served with Tom Yam Goong

Tom Yum Soup, White Fish, Red Chili, Egg, Sweet Chili Sauce, Peanut Oil, Coriander

 

Now, of all the things we ate there, (and there were a LOT) this was the only one that neither of us truly loved….. something was odd about the dried fish, made both of us cough.  Yes, cough.  And, we noticed others around us doing the same thing!  As I recall, the scrambled egg was on a (McDonald’s hash-brown-shaped) shredded radish patty of some sort – but it didn’t taste of any radish that I’ve ever eaten…..…kind of interesting, but not a favorite.  The dark colored strips are dried fish…. They made us all hack for some strange reason.  *shrug*

 

Fried Green Tea Ice Cream

Fried Green Tea Ice Cream

Ice Kacang with Sesame Ball

 Shaved Ice, Corn, Peanut, Lychee, Assorted Jelly, Grenadine, Sago, Condensed Milk, Sesame

Hmmmm…. Nope,  another swing and a miss.  If I am remembering this correctly, we had a deep fried serving of green tea ice cream….. kind of interesting flavor – when it first hit your tongue, nothing.  Just cold and creamy.  But as it melted, that subtle green tea flavor wandered right in and sat down on your tongue…. Made me happy.  And, anything that you add shaved creamy milk chocolate to is my friend…

So. Pretty much, you can see that what’s on their menu is not what we actually ate, right?  Not that it mattered, because we’d not researched the menu before we got there, had no clue what to expect.  Plus, there was very little that we didn’t really enjoy food-wise.  We just knew that we were going for a 7-course Asian Tea, and it sounded cool as hell.  And it was.

Chocolates

Chocolates

Asian Flavor Petit Four

We actually got an assortment of chocolates, instead – they were on the prettiest serving stand, though – I was sooo full, I couldn’t even eat a chocolate!

Listen, I was thinking after initially seeing these tiny little portions, we were gonna have to stop somewhere on the way home and grab a shawarma so we weren’t starving… but holy cow, we were literally stuffed by the time we left there.  I think that a bit of it had to do with those amazing rice cracker things that were dusted with that addictive crack-like substance….they were *amazing*.  Fresh, crisp, and so very tasty with a bit of the sauces on them – now that we’re no longer there, I can tell you with a slight bit of embarrassment that we ate FOUR BOWLS of them!  Can you imagine the guys in the kitchen??  “Man, crazy American women with all this high-class food and they’re pigging out on RICE CRACKERS?  Crazy”.  Yeah, you know they said it.

The cost for all this deliciousness, and awesome atmospher?  AED 275 per person

So – just shy of $75 bucks each.  Yeah, it was a tad bit steep, but a LOT less than the high tea there, and we had such a good time, wandered around the lobby of the hotel and enjoyed such excellent service, it was truly fun.  Not stuffy at all, just a fun experience with a good friend in a nice place.  What more can you ask for?? Put it on your list of “must dos” in Dubai.

Sarcasm nor Humor Translate

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TBG is a huge fan of truly bad puns, quips, sarcasm, and innuendo.  He’s mastered all of these and refined them to a true art form.  Ya gotta have some special qualities to appreciate the depth of his ability in these areas.

However.

When you’re living in a place that is 85% foreigners, and made up of about a brazillion different nationalities, none of those attributes translate well.  Not a bit.  Example – When the server asks at a restaurant if he’d like to try their new chicken supreme pasta  – he’ll ask “Can I get it with just the regular chicken??”  And he’s truly just passing the time, making conversation until he finishes reading the menu and makes a decision.  But the poor server has no clue.  Looks baffled.  Looks around for someone with better English skills.

Or the perfume-sprayers.  I dunno what you call them, the demonstrator people that stand around with bottles of perfume and cologne and want to spritz you with the scent they’re promoting.  “Spray, sir, spray for you??”  they’ll ask in a sing-song cadence.   Frankly, the look on their face is priceless when he pops off something like “Can I get it to go?  Takeaway?”.  No clue.

And, it’s important to confirm things.  Example – we ate at The Cheesecake Factory in Mall of the Emirates – it’s the largest one in the world (of course) and had just recently opened – New Year’s Eve.  When we ordered, TBG asked about the Red Velvet Cheesecake – asked was it good, had the server tried it?  The server said yes he’d tried it and he liked it.  TBG closed his menu and said “great!”  I ordered the Lemon Raspberry Cream cheesecake…….The server asked if I wanted two pieces.  Thinking the question a bit odd, I said “No, thanks though”.

Only one came.  Mine.  No cheesecake for TBG.  I suggested that maybe it would be along shortly.  It wasn’t.  Asked the server “Where is his cheesecake?”  With a shocked look, he said “Madame, I am so sorry!  I asked if you wanted two pieces, and when you said “No” – I assumed you would share.  My apologies.  I will get another immediately!”    It was another “literal” conversation…..(remember when I asked the clerk “So, what brought you here?”  and she led off with “Well, madame, I come from a very small village with no buses, so my uncle who has a car took me to the next town…..”??)   TBG asked if the Red Velvet Cheesecake was good and had the server tried it.  The server answered.  Apparently “great” does not an order indicate…..lol…..We specified to bring a Red Velvet not another Lemon Raspberry (though it was sooo good!).

Yes, I’ve told him that he’s wasting his time, and all that *amazingly* entertaining humor <snort> on folks that simply won’t get it.  He’s convinced he’s providing a public service – Humor Police or something.  Gotta love TheBigGuy and the lack of translation!