Dec 20, 2012

A Birthday Tea Party to Remember!

When Seher told me she wanted a morning tea party to celebrate her birthday, there was only one place I knew would do justice to the menu, Baker and Spice in Dubai! I spoke with Yael Mejia, culinary mastermind behind this wholesome Dubai concept and we collaborated on the perfect selection of food that was appropriate for the occasion.  There was plenty of food and enough variety to appeal to all palettes, including eggs, muesli, cured tuna, and fresh fruits.  We kept the beverages simple and served cappuccinos and espressos compliments of the Nespresso machine as well as iced citrus tea in mason jars with the colorful striped straws.  
 Pictured below was a special request by the birthday girl, a seasonally inspired corn scone with pulled chicken and cranberry chutney.  The scone was crumbly and soft on the inside, but had a perfectly crunchy exterior that provided that necessary element to balance out this yummy original dish. This was the most popular item on the table and rightly so, as it was aesthetically adorable looking and scrumptious.  
 Taking all things seasonal and fresh and capturing the true essence of a morning treat was this roasted vegetable and poached egg dish topped with a spicy aioli.  The vegetables were beautifully roasted and seasoned. The perfectly poached farm fresh eggs had a yummy runny yolk, which melded harmoniously with the spicy aioli, then coated the vegetables and hit the spot.  We served this dish with home-made bagel chips to give it that crunch factor which balances out the rest of the soft textures. 
This item consists of a couple of new techniques being implemented by the Baker and Spice team.  A house  cured tuna, thinly shaved and delicately placed on a caper and dill infused home-made cream cheese, nestled on top of griddle toasted english muffins made from scratch.  My mouth is watering just writing about it.  A unique taste and a unique twist on the original bagel with lox and cream cheese.  
Pictured below is a hearty and elegant salad with the freshest pears I have ever tasted, sitting on a bed of mixed greens and covered with heaps of creamy goat's cheese, toasted walnuts, all tossed in a lemon Parmesan dressing.  The freshness and seasonality of a salad such as this makes it almost feel like a dessert!
 Now these little beauties were a special request by yours truly!  I am a pumpkin fanatic to say the least. I am not afraid to admit that I am obsessed with the spiced rich developed flavors of this sweet treat which I have grown to LOVE over the past couple of years.  When Yael informed me they had a new pumpkin cupcake on the menu at Baker and Spice, how could I resist. Not only did these cupcakes have a moist and delicate consistency, but they were filled with sweet and creamy center and topped with a spiced frosting that literally melted in your mouth.  Needless to say, there weren't too many leftovers of these little guys.  Perhaps it's a good thing they are only I seasonal item.  If  they were around year round, I would probably turn into a pumpkin as a result of frequent indulgence. 
 It wouldn't be a birthday party with out a cake, and if I know my friend Seher, she is the cake queen!  Notorious for ordering the best cakes in town from New York to Dubai, I had to make this one extra special. Yael and I discussed a couple of different options, and she suggested this chocolate decadence cake  which was layered with chocolate and coffee ganache and a meringue center.  The birthday girl was impressed as were the rest of the ladies,  the presentation alone was whimsical enough for anyone to fall in love.....with chocolate! 

The very happy birthday girl and myself hosted a lovely morning for the ladies of Dubai.  Seher and I love to throw a good party and between the two of us, we have really raised the bar on the food component for gatherings the city.  If anyone ever attends an event at Seher's or mine, whether it's a birthday, BBQ, or Thanksgiving, they know they will be going home with full bellies and big smiles, because that's the motto we stick by! Good food, and plenty of it plus the pleasure of great company including friends and loved ones is the winning combination for an outstanding event.

Dec 19, 2012

Eclectic bites at Rhodes Twenty10

Hmmmmm, where to begin? The meal at Rhodes Twenty10 was highly anticipated.  After meeting with the man, Gary Rhodes several times, and learning about his food philosophy as well as his innovative approach to modern British fair, I had high expectation of this restaurant.  After meeting the head chef Lee Frederick at the International Fine Food Festival in Dubai, the deal was sealed! I made my way down to Le Meridien hotel in Dubai's Marina area and entered another world as I set foot into this funky space.  We enjoyed the ambiance for a bit before sitting down for our meal.  The menu was eclectic, but it all seemed to make sense.  Elegant comfort foods from all over the world, presented in one modern and chic menu.  

We ordered a couple of  starters and the first to arrive at the table were these Crispy Duck Pastillas. A pastilla is a traditional Berber Moroccan dish, along the lines of an elaborate meat pie. The true Moroccan way is with a pigeon stuffing, however chicken is a common substitute. Chef Lee did justice to the Gary Rhodes version with tender and seasoned succulent duck with a mix of sweet and savory spices.  These were the perfect combination of flavors and textures and a warm welcome to our meal at Rhodes Twenty10. 

Next up were these Napoleon like stacks of some of my most favorite ingredients in the world, from Avocado, to Crab, and even Sesame Phyllo, how could you go wrong! The texture of the avocado was light and airy and the taste had a salty citrus hint to it.  The crab underneath was sweet and creamy, and when you took that perfect bite along with the buttery phyllo wafer, its was a wonderful balance of flavors and textures. 
Chef Lee really spoiled us and sent out the Rhodes Twenty10 signature starter, a chicken and prawn satay with a spicy peanut sauce.  The chicken and shrimp were cooked and seasoned perfectly and even along with the peanut sauce, it was a treat to enjoy something so Asian in such a unique setting. 
The star of the show however was this burger.Not just any burger, the Rhodes Twenty10 Burger.  Made with hand cut fillet, on a roasted confit potato with a perfect seared foie gras on top, this goes down as one of the most delicious burgers I've ever tasted.  It could be considered sacrilege to serve a burger without a bun, but once you bite into this juicy piece of meat with the rich foie gras juices infusing into it, you forget all about those silly little carbs, and tuck into something much more magnificent. 

Now after being served such hearty portions of food, it was difficult to even think about dessert, but Chef Lee was not going to let us leave without a taste of all of the signature sweets on offer at the restaurant.  He served us this tasting platter consisting of Sticky Toffee Pudding, Strawberry Shortcake, and Banoffee Cheesecake.  It's giving me a sugar rush just thinking about it.  They were all flavorful and delicious, however, I am partial to sticky toffee puddings, but the banoffee cheesecake and strawberry shortcake were a close second. 
The presentation was sublime and I have to say Chef Lee really did out do himself.  My expectations were very high going into this dinner, and they delivered some seriously good grub.  I look forward to my next visit, and will have to workout intensely for a week prior so I don't feel guilty about indulging in the elegant comfort food prepared with passion by the talented Rhodes Twenty10 team.