Sunday, November 19, 2017

Lifestyle

It is no secret in the world of Social Media that I am a huge fan of Alexander McNabb. It is solely down to him that I even have a twitter account let alone know how to use it.  His persistence in assuring me that it "works" made me even more determined to become part of the twitterati and see for myself whether Social Media was as effective as he claimed.  He, of course was correct.

I had known for some time that Alex had written a book which he had not been able to get published, so when I heard that he had self published I nipped straight out to Jashanmal and bought one.  I am not a great reader, more an internet junky so Olives ended up on my bedside cabinet until we had our weekend away at Le Meridien Al Aqah a few weeks back.  It was there, due to enforced relaxation that I started to read Olives ....

I have never read a book ever in my entire life where I actually knew the author in the real world, Alex is real, he is a human being, one who if I am fortunate enough, manage to bump into every so often and have a chat.  I also listen to the show he co-hosts on Dubai Eye every Wednesday from 12 - 2 pm.  Paul Stokes, the lead character in the book for me was actually Alex, his voice was Alex's, it was all quite bizarre as I am reading a book about a fictional character who to me was real, at one point I was actually starting to wonder whether Alex had actually lived as his fictional character, but I know that isn't true.

I am not going to tell you anything about the storyline of the book, suffice to say it kept my attention and interest which when it comes to reading doesn't happen with me that often.  I recommend you grab yourself a copy ASAP, it won't take you long to read, each page leaves you wanting more.  If you enjoy Olives you may well enjoy Alex's other ramblings which can be found on his blogsite here.

Enjoy!

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On a sunny October afternoon in 1969 students returning home from their institutions noticed a board on a Katrik Road pavement. The Board read Cafe Student.  The Founder, a 40 year old man was standing behind this board with a few plates and a tumbler full of aromatic, flavoursome rice that he called biryani. Passerby could not resist trying this unique food item.  This was the beginning of Cafe Student. From a humble start to a trend and and from a trend to an icon Cafe Student has come a long way.  This has of course been possible through extreme hard work, a clear vision and unfailing customer loyalty.

And I only found out about it a couple of months ago!!!!

Today at long last I found Student Biryani in Al Barsha, blink and you will miss it, once you find it stands out like a beacon.  It was totally not what I was expecting, Student Biryani is a chain of Pakistani fast food outlets.  It is a bit like Pakistan's version of KFC, with one essential difference, they serve good food. There are various food options to choose from and I ordered the Chicken Handi meal deal, which came with raita, salad, two naan breads and a soft drink.  The other half ordered the Haleem (mutton) meal deal which came with biryani rice, naan bread, and a soft drink.  Service was quick and the food was brilliant.  My chicken was tender, beautifully spiced, served in a fabulous little pan with piping hot naan breads. The biryani rice was one of the best I have tasted, full of flavour.  I have posted some pictures of our food here.

You can enjoy a dine-in experience or a take-away, they do home deliveries and you can even order online.

Total dining experience came to 54 dhs, you really can't complain at that.

Enjoy!!

 

There are two good reasons to buy Time Out this week. Firstly there is a Twitter article and yours truly gets a mention and secondly there are loads of buy one get one free vouchers in an easy pull out section in the middle.

One particularly good offer is the one that Prime Gourmet Butchers have, it is buy a kilo of ribeye steak, sausage, beefburgers, and get a kilo free.  Prime Gourmet is part of the Butcher's Grill group and we all know how fabulous their steaks are.   Prime Gourmet Butchers are located at the Gold and Diamond Park, right opposite the Metro Station. We were there today and bought 500 dhs of meat and only paid 250 dhs.  From ribeye steaks to wagyu beef sausage and lamb and rosemary sausages, our freezer is now full! The Butchers who work there are really nice guys and I promised them I would give them a shout on here.

If you don't take them up on this offer you must be mad! enjoy!

 

It has been a big week in Casa GA, as some of you may know we celebrated ten years of marriage in style this week kicking off with a fabulous weekend break at Le Meridien al Aqah in Fujeirah, this was followed by Dinner at Jumeirah Beach Hotel on the actual day of our anniversary and then a special private luncheon at Emirates Golf Club for close friends and family.  But could we end it there?  no we couldn't, and I quite promptly contacted Chef David and booked a table for four for Afternoon Tea at Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa yesterday afternoon.

Following a late start to the day, four very tired and fragile (due to the Lunch) people dragged themselves into the Pajero and hit the Al Ain Road to explore the delights of Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa. I have been before so I was able to brag a bit and pretend I knew where everything was.  we were greeted on the terrace by Radi who swiftly directed us to the Bar where Afternoon Tea is served.  A big smile greeted us from Vivek who along with Chef David and Chef Sebby looked after us for the next few hours.

Afternoon Tea at Al Maha is not a grand affair of over filled cake stands dripping in cream and manicured sandwiches, on no it's better than that, there are no sandwiches but a selection of tiny hors dóeuvres that melt in your mouth.  Chef David (infact all the Chef's at Al Maha know) that we enjoy a good creme brulee, so they made us five, yes five different ones to try!!  Raspberry, Pistachio, coffee, pink grapefruit and saffron. Now you are going to want to know which one was the best, well I can't tell you, I ate all five and each one has its own unique surprise.  Vivek very kindly made us some fruit cocktails of Mango, Mint and Tabasco, now they really are something different! after working our way through the creme brulees we tried everything else on the display, the tiny scones were so light they crumbled on your tongue, and who would ever have thought that rhubarb jam with clotted cream would be a winner!  that is where Maha is different from everywhere else, they DO think outside the box, they do go that extra mile to make it different. There is a selection of teas and coffees available with the Afternoon Tea too.

Chef Sebby (I want to insert a heart at this point) very kindly showed us around the resort, which was a great treat for my guests.  We visited the Timeless Spa and met the lovely therapists who made us more than welcome.   After that we headed down to the kitchens for a catch up with all my old *colleagues*, it was so good to see everyone again, I am getting a bit worried that Al Maha is starting to feel like home, not as worried as my husband is though.

In the bar on the wall there was a huge picture of a leopard resting in a tree, I admired it the first time I was there, much to my delight I was able to buy the print which pleased GM Patrick as I am pretty sure he thought that I would end up taking the original from the wall!!

Anyway it's a fabulous way to spend a very very relaxing afternoon, and nice to get away from the hussle and bussle of Dubai itself, and at just 120 Dhs a head, it's worth every single dirham.  I took some photos which you can find here.  The heart at the bottom is for Team Al Maha.

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I can't start to tell you how excited I was to be invited to Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa to spend some quality time in their famous kitchen.  I have always wanted to visit the resort but never had the opportunity to do so, so yesterday was a big day for me. I was out of bed early and headed up the Al Ain Road looking forward to the rest of the day.  I was not disappointed ....

Arriving at The Resort for the first time is so exciting, once you come off the Al Ain Road it is a good 20 minute run to the actual Resort, which quite literally is in the "middle of the desert".  We arrived and were greeted by our host for the day Chef Sebby, a lovely lovely Kenyan man with a huge heart which he wears lovingly on his sleeve. We headed off to the kitchen and were kitted up in fabulous aprons and hats. After a quick explanation about how the compact, yet functional kitchen runs we headed into the cold kitchen to whip up some crab fishcakes. Chef David knows I have tried to make these in the past and failed, I know how to make them now! Chef Thaya lovingly showed us how with some very simple ingredients and a bit of patience you can make the perfect crab cake.  Preparing good food is not about the quantity of ingredients, but quality and freshness of simple ingredients. 

From the cold kitchen we were ushered into the hot one where we met the lovely Chef Nipu.  He showed us how to make the perfect risotto, a dish I have never been overly keen on but I am definitely going to make it at home as I really enjoyed it.  We then went onto how to cook Fish and King Prawns perfectly, yet again it is not about how many ingredients were used, just straight forward simple food. Chef Nipu had created a marination from mainly coriander and a few other spices which was painted onto the Sea Bream before the fish was gently fried.  The King Prawns were expertly cut into a butterfly shape, the marination painted on they were shallow fried before being popped into the oven for a further 5 minutes. Plain, simple, perfect.  Needless to say they were eaten!!

You can't visit a kitchen and not check out the Dessert Kitchen, we weren't disappointed to find Chef Anas preparing Creme Brulee with Pink Grapefruit, one of my favourites, it was turning out to be a better day than I could ever have anticipated!!!  With the aroma of vanilla pods and shortbread biscuits in the oven!   Chef Anas talked us through how to make a perfect Brulee, and how to whip up tasty shortbread in just five minutes. Whilst the brulee's were cooking we took a look outside and checked out the restaurant with Chef Sebby. Chef Sebby also gave me a quick peep at one of the Bedouin "Tents" where guests stay, but I am going to tell you more about that when I stay at Al Maha.  By then the brulee's were ready, the BEST brulee I have had in a long long time, smooth, rich, creamy, just delicious.

Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa truly is a little slice of heaven in the middle of a Desert, the views from the terraces are spectacular. I can only imagine what it must be like to spend a sunset sat on that terrace watching the natural beauty of the desert turn into darkness. I have taken alot of photographs of the day which you can find by clicking here

All it takes now is for me to thank all of The Team up at Al Maha for just the most amazing morning ever, I didn't want it to end but sadly reality called and I had to head back to Dubai and return to being a Mum, but thank you for making me feel like a Chef for just one day. I will be back with my apron soon!

You can find Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa on Facebook and Twitter.  You can also find my Facebook page here.

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