Gourmet Inspiration

Rue Kothari has fine dining down to an art
Thursday , 06 September 2012
New Country Roses Mixed Vintage three-tier cake stand
New Country Roses Mixed Vintage three-tier cake stand

One lump or two?
After Eid, you can enjoy happily nesting indoors to escape the heat, while dallying with a bit of low-key entertaining. My favourite is an afternoon tea with fluffy homemade scones (a secret recipe coerced from a friend’s grandmother), some peppery strawberry jam I bought back from a Provençale market, fresh whipped cream and a big pot of Sencha green tea. For the kids of course there are little finger sandwiches, mini cupcakes and my best treat to share – strawberries dipped in white chocolate. Naturally, no afternoon tea is complete without the correct tableware, which means a proper tablecloth; think fresh white linen or summery stripes (Zara Home, Pottery Barn) and an exquisite China tea set. I’m currently coveting the pretty pastels of Wedgewood, available at Bloomingdale’s Home. And don’t forget the napkins – mix and match different sorbet shades and tie them with simple coloured ribbon, or pinch with costume jewelled-clip-on earrings. Last, but certainly not least, your guests: make it good friends only and their little ankle-biters, for tea is to be enjoyed without worrying about how much of it you spill on the floor or get on your chin. Enjoy.
INFO: Zara Home has several branches including Deira City Centre, 04 295 2092; The Walk, JBR, 04 438 0650 and Marina Mall Abu Dhabi, 02 681 5560, www.zarahome.com. Pottery Barn, The Dubai Mall, 04 325 3706; Mirdif City Centre, 04 606 2610, www.potterybarn.com. Bloomingdale’s Home, The Dubai Mall, 04 350 5333, www.bloomingdales.com

Ooh la la!
My trip last month to the Provençale region of Luberon unearthed a rather wonderful culinary revelation. My poor old sense of taste, blunted by years of eating homogenised food and all kinds of hormone-injected, genetically modified things, had simply forgotten the real flavour of fresh food. Just one sprawling, informal al fresco lunch later, and I was reawakened. Tangy tapenade dripping with rich olive oil, soft mellow goat’s cheese, homemade pastries hiding sweet peaches and plums, great hunks of rustic farmhouse bread, and warm, meaty lentil salads with chicken that, well, tastes like chicken. The good news is, you don’t have to jet all the way to the south of France to eat healthy food – try Ripe’s new Farm Shop in Jumeirah for fabulous organic produce to serve your guests, and reintroduce them, Provençale style, to the real taste of a tomato.
INFO: Ripe, Jumeirah, 050 258 9962, www.ripeme.com.

Top Tip
Provençale cooking is all about letting the flavours shine. Keep your food combinations simple and classic, your sauces and seasoning to the minimum, and serve food in basic earthenware dishes that let it be the star of the show.

Five Easy Ways To Be The Perfect Hostess
1. Only invite as many as you can comfortably seat. No one wants to eat dinner perched on a wheelie office chair.
2. Ask for preferences. It’s much better to discover your guest’s nut allergy before you send them into anaphylactic shock with your pecan pie.
3. Greet your guests at the door. There’s nothing that will put them at ease more than a warm, genuine welcome.
4. Factor in time for drinks before dinner. Mocktails in the garden with light tapas is the perfect way to ease everyone into the evening.
5. Pay attention to your guests: leave clearing up until later, don’t forget to top up drinks and plates, and absolutely never agree to a guest doing the washing up!