May 30, 2012

Rossovivo, artisan pizza has arrived in Dubai!

Rossovivo is not your "typical" pizza joint.  It possess the best Italian characteristics in terms of style, decor, ambiance, and food, and it does so with a very cool and modern approach.  When I first met the owner, Stefano,  I thought to myself, "do we really need another pizza place in Dubai?", but his passion and knowledge of the product has proven that we do!  I introduce to you Dubai's BEST new authentic Neapolitan Pizza, Rossovivo.....
It really does stand apart from the rest in more ways than one.  For starters, the oven has been designed by an artisan pizza chef and the materials such as the bricks come straight from a small producer in Campania. All these fine details make a difference in the production of the pizza. 

Although the menu is simple, each ingredient is specially sourced to add to the quality of the product and you can taste the difference.  The Bresaola and Bufalina below are two of the key ingredients in some of the most popular items on the menu.   
 I went on Stefano's recommendation and tried the Bresaola Salad with Rocket, Parmesan, and light drizzle of Olive Oil and Lemon Juice,  Just a handful of ingredients, but packed full of flavor, this was one of the tastiest salads I've ever had.  It makes the greens easier to enjoy when they are smothered in such a colorful medley of delights.

 Now, it's PIZZA TIME!  I may have admitted it before, and I'm not shy to admit it again and again, but pizza is one of my absolute favorite things to eat.  I understand New York style pizza is very different than the Neapolitan style, but it's the ingredients, proportions, and texture that I can not live without.  I could probably eat pizza everyday for the rest of my life and not get bored of it, but my waist line would suffer the consequences.....enough about my obsession and onto the pizza.

Pictured below is a a close up of the Buffalina, the creamy Buffalo Mozzarella has melded into the tomato sauce demonstrating a harmonious blend of pizza perfection. The base which is made from a special Italian flour and leavened for 12 hours at room temperature is just the right combination of crunchy and chewy.  The slightly charred bits along the edge added a touch more flavor to the already tasty crust. 
The Raffaele made with Mozzarella, Cream, Pistachio, Bresaola, and Basil, is an award winning pizza made by the award winning Rossovivo pizza chef, Raffaele.  This is one of those flavor combinations you think about and crave, days, weeks, even months after you've tried it!  Just writing about it is making my mouth water......The smokey taste of the Bresaola paired with the pistachios and a touch of cream is a "party on a plate". 
I'm ecstatic at the thought of this new gem of an eatery located at Millennium tower in Business Bay.  Although a bulk of their business is delivery, I highly recommend enjoying it in the shop, straight out of the oven. I am looking forward to my next visit, but need to control my urges and cravings, otherwise you will find me perched at the counter night after night!

For more information please check out their website:

May 21, 2012

Let's Pachanga!

Definition-Pachanga: Urban Spanish slang to "party hard" 

I had heard mixed reviews regarding Hilton JBR's Argentinian restaurant, Pachanga, which deterred me from venturing down to the very popular hotel destination to check it out.  However on this particular occasion, I was informed about the new chef, Matias Ayala, Chef de Cuisine, who has done his due diligence and recreated a "real South American" menu which expresses the true tastes of the culture.

Matias has ten years of cooking experience in hotels around the world including South America, New Zealand and the UAE. Originally from Argentina, Matias has practiced his cooking talents on diverse types of world cuisines. 

To begin we were presented with a trio of dipping sauces including sweet chilli mayo, guacamole, and tomato butter all served with this crusty house made olive bread.
The first course was a light but flavorful Ecuadorean Tiger Prawn with sauteed zucchini and caramelized onions salad.  The well balanced taste of this dish still lingers in my mind and really made an impression on me with high hopes for the potential of this budding Argentinian chef.
Duck Terrine with Tomato Salad and light citrus aioli was our second course.  The duck was rendered with dates to enhance the rich sweet texture of the tender duck meat.  It was heavy on the palette,  not my particular favorite, but well executed.  The flavors were rich and developed and the terrine was presented beautifully in a perfect little cylindrical shape.  The fresh tomato salad was necessary to cut some of the richness of this complex dish.
I would have to say this King Crab Salad with Mango and Habanero chillies was hands down my favorite.  Light in texture but heavy on flavor, this dish contained all of my favorite ingredients.  The presentation was also playful in this tiny glass bowl, with a decorative bread stick, which then became a practical tool when we need to push the marinated and well seasoned crab meat out of it's shell.  It sounds more difficult than it was, but the process added to the experience of enjoying this delightful salad. 
Main course was a Braised Beef Short Rib with fluffy potato puree and sauteed sweet breads.  The short ribs were tender and fell apart at the touch of my fork, equally as delicate but with a zingy tomato sauce were the sauteed sweet breads, which I wasn't particularly find of before, but now have grown to really enjoy.  They were reminiscent of a dish I used to eat growing up, with simple flavors of tomato, onion, and chillies. It really didn't need any more than that, because the natural flavors of the sweet breads were able to shine through.  Last but not least the fluffy potato puree, which were mashed through a potato ricer 3 times to obtain that perfect texture. 
 Gorgeous medley of desserts including a rich chocolate cake topped with Dulce De Leche, berries with a spiced crumble, Quince Jam, and vanilla ice cream.  Once I took a bite of this decadent treat, there was nothing holding me back from licking this plate clean.  The texture of the crumble mixed into the gooey Dulce De Leche, finished with the velvety chocolate cake, Heaven on a plate!
Chef Matias has really captured the best of South American Cuisine and has created a special menu that tantalizes and excites the appetite for more to come.  Pachanga can now back up the meaning of it's name, and host a party for the palette from the culinary perspective with it's interesting combination of flavors and well cooked meat.  Other South American restaurant concepts in Dubai now have some serious competition! 

For more information on Pachanga please check out the Hilton JBR web-site:

May 15, 2012

18 Degrees to a Foodie Haven

When Mariam first told me about her new favorite restaurant 18 Degrees, I was a bit skeptical.   Abu Dhabi hasn't had the best reputation when it comes to culinary delicacies.  I experienced this first hand when I was part of the judging panel for the Gourmet Abu Dhabi Star Awards this past February.   I was in charge of reviewing and ranking several different food outlets in the area, and sadly had to report my disappointment.  There were a few good ones, but my expectations were much higher.  Since the awards ceremony, this new restaurant came onto the scene, and I haven't stopped hearing about the impression that it's left on people all around town.
The name is most intriguing, 18º, which refers to the building it's located in, which also happens to be tilting at an 18º angle (the Hyatt Capital Gate Hotel in the ADNEC building).   The view from the restaurant is spectacular, and really makes you feel like your enjoying this phenomenal meal in a heavenly cloud on top of Abu Dhabi.
 As we sat down at our table with a view, we were served a rich olive duo consisting of kalamata and pimiento stuffed green olives.  Already off to a good start, these olives were some of the best I've tasted, and have set the bar very high for the rest of the meal to come. 

Next up, we enjoyed this  tender, and flavorful Octopus Carpaccio.  The thin layers of octopus lay gently covered with EVOO, fresh basil, and olives.  The gorgeous Mediterranean medley suited my palette and hit the mark for the an appetizing but not filling starter.
The char-grilled Beef Kabaobs with a cheesy eggplant puree, smoky tomato sauce and vegetables seemed like a "must have" item, and indeed it was!  The beautifully cooked and seasoned meat paired well with the flavors and textures of the eggplant puree, and to complete the dish, the smoky tomato sauce really brought it all together.  My tolerance for spice is high, so I rather enjoyed the beautiful chilli sitting on top of the meat, the perfect condiment for this hearty combination of flavors. 
To balance the the kabob dish, we opted for something on the lighter side, and the Sumac Roasted Tiger Prawns seemed like the correct choice.  Grilled to perfection with a tangy tomato and onion salad, this captured the essence of modern Middle Eastern cuisine.Delicately cooked prawns were so juicy and tasty, Mariam and I had to fight about who would have the last one.....I won!
I'm going to have to skip right to dessert because this is something that I had been waiting for.  Mariam informed me prior to our meal, for dessert we would be enjoying a date creme brulee.  The unique combination of one of my favorite custardy treats infused with dates, or what I like to call them, Middle Eastern "nature's candy".  The flavors were well balanced, the texture was velvety, and the sweetness was just right.  The chef admitted she didn't actually add any sugar to the custard, just a little on top for the brulee.  Now does that count as low fat?  Well, in my book it does! This was a perfect dessert for a perfect meal.
18º  really hit it out of the park, and its just a matter of time until they become the "IT" food destination in town.  This restaurant will inevitably elevate the standard of restaurants in Abu Dhabi.  I look forward to my return, and trying even more of the fabulous items on their eclectic Mediterranean menu. 

For more information click on the link below:

Whether you are in the area or not, this restaurant requires a special trip, and make sure you bring your appetite!

Tapeo, the Spanish Tapas Experience at Lafayette Gourmet

When I first received the invite for the launch of Tapeo, I admit, I had butterflies in my stomach.  The evening was described as the full on Spanish experience with Flamenco dancers, authentic cuisine, and a head chef  recruited from Alicante Spain, the home of Paella!

The dancers were completely clad with traditional attire as they swirled and twirled in the center of the dining room at Lafayette Gourmet.  The curious on lookers enjoyed the entertainment as much as the eclectic cuisine awaiting at the tapas counter in the shop.

 We were first greeted with a mix of starters including the Salmoreja a Cordoban style fresh tomato and garlic dip.  It was a velvety combination of tomato and spices along with a punch of garlic and herbs. Also amongst the mix were the tortilla de patatas and gambas al ajillo. 
 A Spanish night wouldn't be complete without a healthy serving of Paella! With several different combinations including vegetable, chicken, beef, seafood, and black rice, this paella made with calasparra rice, a short-grain rice indigenous to the mountains of Spanish, was cooked to just the right texture.  The rice was full of flavor and the chicken was tenderly perfect, this is one dish I will definitely be returning for.  

 Next up, the patatas brava picantes, these delicious morsels of tender potatoes lightly seasoned with paprika served with a light aioli were tasty and filling.  The potatoes could have been a little crispier, but the flavors were well balanced. 

 Spanish desserts are one area of gastronomy I am not completely diverse with.  The few sweets I know are the standard, flan, tres leches, and dulce de leche, and reminiscent of my Spanish classes in high school, the infamous churros con chocolate.

However, the dessert below, Torrija is one of the tastiest Spanish desserts I have ever head. It's  grilled creamy pudding with a touch of cinnamon much like a french toast or bread pudding, but a gorgeous texture of creamy. crispy, and crunchy.

Tapeo at Lafayette Gourmet is a wonderful addition to the already tasty mix of eats at this foodie destination. It's the perfect place to grab a snack or meal while hanging out in the mall or passing through downtown Dubai.  You can also pick up some of their packaged goods if you would like to prepare some of this delicious cuisine at home.

Lafayette Gourmet is located on the top level of Galeries Lafayette at the Dubai Mall.  Make sure you stop by to check it out!