Gourmet July Trends

Foodie and restaurant guru Samantha Wood has her finger on the pulse of the UAE culinary scene – never miss a beat with her monthly guide for gourmands
Monday , 09 July 2012
Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa
Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa

A Gourmand For A Day
Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa has always been an overnight retreat, or treat I should say, but luckily for our wallets, the resort is now open for us to experience as a day guest whether you fancy lunch, afternoon tea or dinner (or all three!) under the watchful eye of Chef David Miras. I can vouch for the lunch at Dhs240 per person for three courses from a small à la carte menu, Wagyu beef included, as well as soft beverages. Or else an afternoon tea spread for Dhs120 will entice with the fluffy, crumbly scones alone. If you fancy splashing out, a five-course gastronomic dinner will set you back Dhs490 – just remember to book Safer Driver!
INFO: Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, 04 832 9900; www.al-maha.com; prior reservations are required and it’s a one-hour drive from Dubai towards Al Ain. 

Iftar Or Suhoor?
With Ramadan starting later this month, every hotel and restaurant in Dubai entices with iftar feasts, but we don’t often hear about suhoor. Jordanian TV celeb chef Sudqi Naddaf of the Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates explains the difference, “During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. They break their fast with iftar when the sun has set for the day. Suhoor is the meal taken before dawn and before the fast starts.” However nowadays, you can enjoy the tradition of suhoor from as early as the evening before at most restaurants. Be sure to ask for the suhoor à la carte menu.

What’s in Season?
Despite the end of the local harvesting season, Ripe has expanded its farmers markets with a new shop in Umm Suqeim. The store supplies local organic fruit and veg, as well as eggs, honey, meat, cheese, bread, olive oils and gluten-free delights. This month, expect to fill your shopping basket with seasonal tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, kale, watermelon, papaya and grapes.
INFO: Ripe Farm Shop, by the mosque on Street 11, off Street 8A, Al Manara, Dubai, 04 379 0441; for opening hours go to www.ripeme.com/farm-shop.

If you’re after imported supermarket produce, which sadly we have to rely on in this hot climate, look out for all kinds of beans, beetroot, carrot, celery, courgette, lettuce, peas and spinach. As for fruit, it’s berries galore from blackberry, blackcurrant and blueberry to gooseberry, raspberry, strawberry and cherry.

Get to Know Your Bun From Your Pho
Vietnamese cuisine is gaining popularity globally, but in the UAE, apart from the likes of the fab but pricey French-Vietnamese Voi at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray and Hoi An at Shangri-La, we’ve not had many authentic Vietnamese options until now... The answer to our calls is Hanoi and the opening of not one but three of its stand-alone hidden gems in Dubai, Al Reem Island and Abu Dhabi. Admired for its fresh ingredients, minimal use of oil and reliance on herbs, Vietnamese food is one of the healthiest in the world. Expect dishes with bun, a rice vermicelli noodle, or pho, a thicker rice noodle. Or get the addictive green papaya salad with lightly fried anchovies, which is a personal favourite.
INFO: Hanoi, Gold Crest Executive building, Sector C, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai; Al Reem Island; Khalifa Street, Abu Dhabi; call 050 570 3359 or visitwww.hanoi-cafe.com for more details.

Samantha Wood is the founder of UAE-based restaurant review and foodie resource www.foodiva.net voted No2 Best Blog in Dubai!

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