28 July 2012

Iftar at Almaz by Momo

Inside Harvey Nichols in Mall Of The Emirates you'll find Almaz by Momo. It's a warm, cozy Moroccan bubble inside the busy mall. I and C was here a few month ago and we found it very good so I thought I should try their Iftar.

A warm greeting and then I was shown to my table. I got a seat in the middle of the restaurant which is a bit elevated from the rest of the dining room. The nice, warm atmopshere really made me happy.

After the traditional start with dates it was time to grab some food. I got a big smile on my face when I saw the buffet. Everything looked so mouthwatering. I had three plates of various flavors.

Plate 1:
cauliflower salad
zaalouk (aubergine and tomato salad)
beetroot salad
fried marrow salad
foul mangoub (fava bean salad)
beetroot mutabal
grilled halloumi
baba ganoush
olives flavored with anise

Plate 2:
green beans with chick peas and olive oil
sautéed mushrooms
sourki cheese salad

Plate 3:
lamb tagine with pear and date
berber tagine
moughrabiya chicken

After the feast I had a sample of a few desserts. Arabic pastries has never been my favorite and I find them being a bit too sweet but everything thing was nicely presented.

Moroccan tea rounded of the meal before I went back out to the hectic mall.
I hope I'll be back soon so I can try the dishes I had to pass today.

26 July 2012

Iftar at Al Diwan, Jumeirah Beach Hotel

Living in Dubai during Ramadan it's almost an obligation to go and eat Iftar in one of the many hotels. Iftar is the evening meal when the Muslims break their fast after sunset. I have experienced three Ramadan month in UAE but still haven't been to an Iftar so I thought is was about time. I was recommended to go to Asateer in Atlantis but when they were full so I reserved a table for two at Jumeirah Beach hotel and their Al Diwan tent.
It was a three minutes outside walk from the actually hotel to the tent next to the beach. We were a bit dressed up so what seemed to be a short walk felt very long in the heat and the massive humidity. When we entered the tent, a bit soaked, we both got a bit disappointed with the ambience. It felt more like a conference hall then a dining room. Our table was placed next to the big windows so we, at least, had an amazing view over the iconic Burj Al Arab hotel which lit us up in all the colors of the rainbow.

19.10 the sun went down and we started with some fat, sweet dates that were already placed on our table.

Then we went to the buffet. Both I and C started with some classical middle east meze. I had hommous,  baba ganoush, mutabal, wine leaf dolma, fattoush, tabbouleh and various pickles. Everything tasty. In my glass I had laban, a yogurt drink that taste like a liquid goat cheese. Pretty good actually.

We continued with kebabs, falafel, lamb with mint and many other hot dishes. Also good but nothing that stood out.

A big selection of fruit tarts, panna cotta, cakes, dates and the super-sweet baklava were served in the end. I also tried Jalab, a drink made of dates and rose water. Tasted like drinking a perfume shop, not my favorite.

All the food at Al Diwan was good but nothing special. The staff were friendly but the un-cozy atmosphere really dragged down the experience, especially considering that it is one of the more expensive Iftar in town.

17 July 2012

Long Weekend in Malmö

A few days in Malmö with my good friend O and his wife S was on the menu. Good food and great company was expected but the main purpose of the trip was the christening of their daughter and I was about to become the godfather. Her middle name was due to be Amoureuse after the 1:er cru vineyard "Les Amoureuses" in Chambolle-Musigny, Burgundy. ...I Like.

 My flight was to Copenhagen but the tight schedule made it impossible to stay in the Danish capital and visit any of their many famous restaurants. Instead I took the train over the almost 8 km long Öresundsbron that glues together the Danish island with the southern end of Sweden. My friends lives in a very picturesque village called Jakriborg between Malmö and Lund. The pointy roof tops, the colorful buildings and the cobblestone streets makes it look more like a pre-industrial village from Netherlands or Germany than a residential area in Sweden. It's surrounded with yellow and green fields which doesn't make the area less stunning.

30+ guests were invited for the christening a couple of days later and a big buffet was planned. As soon as I met O he told me "you're in charge of a pork dish of your choice" the rest was taken care of by his mother M who is a cookbook author and a true foodie, just like me and her son.  At the local butcher I found a beautiful piece of pork belly which made me think of making something "Chinese style". Well back to the flat in Jakriborg I started to slowly cook the belly.  Ingredients I used in the stock were; carrots, onion, garlic, ginger, star anise, cloves, cinnamon and black pepper. 3-4 hours later the big chunks of pork were ready for the next phase. Over heavy press i put the belly in the fridge over night to give the original shape back. I made a glaze of the above mentioned spices blended with soy, orange, honey, chili and sesame oil which I used as a marinade. While the pork slowly was marinating in the fridge we were ready for dinner. Apart from the pork belly we also bought some rib-eye at the butcher. O started to prepare some oven-roasted potatoes and I dogged in the cupboard to see if I could find anything to make a starter of? A tin of high quality sardine roughly mixed with sour cream, finely diced shallots, lemon and cornichons was used to make a simple "rillette" that was spread on toasted bread. Simple but a nice start with a couple of cold lagers.

Then the rib-eye, cooked to perfect medium-rare temperature and served with O's potatoes. The meat wasn't the most tender meat I had but packed with rich flavor from the long aging. The dish was paired with a bottle of 2005 Ombrone from Cupano. Me and O visited this producer in Montalcino, Tuscany a couple of years ago so we thought it would be a great choice for this evening. Ombrone is named after the river that runs through the famous Italian wine region. Cupano is a tiny, biodynamic producer of Brunello di Montalcino and Umbrone is their "super Tuscan", with a minimal yearly production of 1.800 bottles. It is normally a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese. The 05 though was only made by the the two Bordeaux grapes, no Sangiovese. The nose gave a young, fruit driven, modern style of dark berries and cedar and in the mouth the wine was medium bodied and silky. Great wine and obviously an easy match to our simple dish.

To finish of the evening; fresh grind coffee and Glenlivet Archive single malt 21y.  What a great first day in Sweden.

Second night we had a dinner at Oskar's mom and dads house at Arlöv closer to Malmö.  M had bought some pike perch and I volunteered to do the cooking, while O was in charge of the wines. I used the pork broth from the belly stock to make a last minute starter with rice noodles and spring onions. My second starter was more of an Japanese character; tartar of salmon with a touch of garlic, olive oil and spring onions served with seaweed and diced cucumber seasoned with sesame oil and shichimi. Finally a home made ponzu to give a salty and acidic touch to the dish.

Both the broth and tartar was paired with 2006 Goldtröpfchen Spätlese from Reinhold Haart in Mosel, Germany. The medium sweet style wasn't the best combination with the light, aromatic broth but was almost perfect with the salmon. A slightly dryer and lighter kabinett would have been even better I guess but it still balanced very well with the acidity from the ponzu.

Main course was the pike perch that was floured and then fried in a lot of butter with help from O's dad P. Condiments was cauliflower; as a silky purée and the florets, crispy fried with flaked almonds.

The dish screamed for white burgundy so O pulled out a 2005 Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru Vieilles Vignes from Domaine Vincent et François Jouard. 

The wine had matured badly despite the young vintage and Grand Cru soil. Slightly oxidized and with a unbalanced acidity it was far from an amazing wine. O, more disappointed than me, headed back to the cellar for a replacement. 2005 Pouilly-Vinzelles "Les Quarts" from La Soufrandière (Bret Brothers) was pear and apricot fruity and marked by a nice freshness and minerality but maybe a bit too light for the dish. A more oaked and rich Chardonnay would have been better.

We rounded of with sweet, ripe Swedish strawberries and vanilla ice cream. Can't go wrong.

Back in Jakriborg, I, O and S shared a bottle of 2010 Saint-Aubin 1:er Cru Murgers des Dents de Chien from Jean Chartron. Light and fresh it was a nice Pinot Noir to end the day with.

On the third day more guests for the christening arrived from different parts of Sweden, UK and Brazil. To get to know each other a bit better we agreed to meet up in the local restaurant in Jakriborg for some paella and beer. The great night resulted in a few beers too much in the bar opposite the restaurant where an un-groovy band played rock classic from the 80s and 90s.

On the Sunday it was finally time for O's daughter to be baptized. After the ceremony we continued to the parents house for a party in the garden. We started of with kir-royal and as a snack I made potato chips with sour creme, fish eggs, chives and dehydrated lemon zest. Perfect.

After that, M's lovely smorrebrod of salmon and eggs. This was continued with a buffet of smoked lamb, fennel baked salmon, various salads and sour dough bread. A wide selection of wines and beers was added to complete the meal.

After that sweets and classic Swedish princess cake. A rather heavy cake made of marzipan, cream and vanilla custard. A few hours later all the guests started to feel a bit hungry again so it was time for my pork belly which I served with steamed buns, hoisin sauce and spring onions it was a hit together with a couple of cold Tuborg straight from the can.
As a "vickning" (late Swedish supper) we had grilled sausage with bread, ketchup and mustard. Classic. The following morning after a massive breakfast we headed back to Kastrup and a flight back to the desert and the heat.

Thank you for this time my wonderful home country and see you soon.

08 July 2012

Java Padang Cafe Dubai

After a long afternoon in Deira Gold Souk in extreme heat searching for a gift for my future goddaughter, I and C started to get hungry. We decided to got to Java Padang Cafe, an Indonesian restaurant in Karama. One Abra boat trip and a taxi ride later we arrived. This tiny Indonesian restaurant only have around 20 seats (I'm being generous) and it's really not more than a hole in the wall. The ugliest chairs in the world and the walls covered with un-sharp pictures of previous guests and menus in Indonesian adds to the charm. Alcohol isn't served here so we had to stick to water to hydrate our thirsty bodies.

We started off with deep fried tofu filled with vegetables. 
A simple snack that was perfect to kill the worst hunger.

Second dish was a coconut soup with tripe and noodles. 
Lovely mild, sweet taste of coconut milk with a touch of chili in the background, great!

Next up, Nasi Goreng, this classic Indonesian fried rice dish is so simple but superb if its made right. The ingredients for Nasi Goreng can vary a lot, ours contained of chicken and egg.

Soup and rice was eaten with krupuk, crackers made from 
starch that comes in various shapes and flavors.

To round of the meal we had fried bananas.

Java Padang Cafe is a great little place that I recommend if you're in the Karama area.
Especially when the bill is less than 80aed for two.