Hot Dates

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Nothing new on the love front unfortunately, I’m only talking about the most typical fruit here (dates) and the weather conditions (hot). I’m playing as a food blogger in this post and sharing a few of the best food-moments I’ve had so far.

– Self-catering

The way I do food most of the time here is self-catering, mainly because of the fortune that would cost eating out every single day for a whole month, but also because we are in the period of Ramadan, which means no cafés nor restaurants open before Iftar (breaking of the fast). I’m trying to get as much local stuff as possible, which has involved tons of Arabic bread, labneh (Greek-like yogurt), tomatoes, cucumbers, hommos, melons, fava beans, chickpeas, za’atar (mix of local spices), almonds, and of course dates. The very last addition to the list was date syrup: imagine something with the same texture as maple syrup, but tasting a bit like chestnut honey. It’s not as sweet as I feared it would be, so spread on toast in the morning is actually quite nice.

– BBQ in the desert

Last weekend Magda invited me to join her and her friends in a two-day trip in up North, in a place called Ras Al Khaimah. After a couple of hours of driving, we got to a rocky desert where we had a barbecue: spicy chicken, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, garlic sauce, and a huge variety of different breads – everything accompanied by rosé wine and some very good white wine. We also enjoyed some shisha, which I knew I wasn’t very good at smoking, but whose vapours I love being surrounded by (a bit like my passion for pipes and my total inability to smoke them). On the same weekend I also tried elderflower cider, which I had meant to try for a long time, but never managed to find in the UK (even though it’s actually produced there!). One good thing about Dubai is that whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it.

– The Dubai Mall

This was days back, when I went to Dubai Mall for the first time. At around lunch-time I was pretty hungry, and I wanted to have my sandwich somewhere quiet, though knowing that in Ramadan you are not allowed to eat in public. I thought the best place to eat was in the antechamber of the toilets (I know right). It was one of the weirdest experiences ever. Especially because a few minutes later, wandering around the mall, I found out that even during Ramadan there is a huge Food Court, a dedicated area where food is sold and consumed normally. I suppose that’s part of the things you learn on the way.

– Mercato

After the Dubai Mall experience I assumed every big shopping mall had its own Food Court, but unfortunately this wasn’t the case. When I went and see the Italian-(vaguely)-inspired shopping Mall called Mercato, I happened to be there at lunch-time again, and I thought that this time I could have somewhat of a more dignified meal. It turned out that there were only two places open, McDonald’s and an unknown burger chain. I decided to trust globalisation this time, and I got my first McDonald’s ever: a McArabia, an awful lot of chips, and a Fanta. The best part was when I actually wanted to eat my lunch. The security guy led me to the remotest area of the mall, and shut me in a 4×4 square metre room, where I consumed my meal with other Filipinos, two French-speaking tourists, and a family which spoke English but probably was from Asia. The whole experience was pretty surreal. Sadly, there was more to it, as the meal made me feel pretty sick for the whole of the following day, in which I had to limit myself to tea, crackers, and a sandwich and apple in the evening. So, my first McDonald’s experience was a not-so-Happy Meal, but again, you try something, you learn something.

– The Stables & Eataly

I went to this pub-looking restaurant on a Saturday night, at around 8.30pm, so after Iftar. I was taken there by my friend’s cousin who lives and works in Dubai, and we had a nice chat about the city, the people, the general feel of the city, and what to do/buy/eat during my stay. The menu of The Stables had a rather wide range of options, and I went for beef fajitas, as I hadn’t had meat in a while. The waitress brought me a sizzling dish (a whole dish) of beef and vegetables, accompanied by a tray with three pieces of flat bread and three different sauces. #DIYfajitas. The meat was very nice though, and I also had some Kopparberg with it, my favourite cider. After dinner we went once again to Dubai Mall, which is basically the navel of the world, and had pudding at Eataly: I went for a little ricotta cake with a few blueberries on top, accompanied by a lemon-flavoured San Pellegrino. I must say I hadn’t eaten that much in a long time, but it was nice to have a ‘luxury’ dining experience.

Ramadan finishes this weekend, with a great feast called Eid al-Fitr, so hopefully life should be easier after that, and I should be able to try more exciting stuff. Kebabs, for example.

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