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Game on: Zambia

La Vinoteca Barcelona

A luxury safari

Iberian style

Sergio Herman

Turks & Caicos

A Dutch Master

Island Festival

Nomad Urban Eatery

Tom Aikens

The Big Breakfast

The interview



Romain van Durmen


Lima Dubai


Richard Raab

Editor Charlie Thompson Associate Editor Ali Ahmed Art Director Rebecca Teece Paye Art Editor Maggie Bonner Review Editor Mona Mohammed Online Editor Husain Khaled Social Media Editor Darcey Gibbs Features Editor Nick Baines Consulting Editor Sarah Price Contributing Editor Adrian Back Contributing Editor Anthea Rowan Editor-at-Large Marie Barbieri Editor-at-Large Kevin Pilley Feature Correspondent Sophie Ibbotson Feature Correspondent Joe Worthington Director of Publishing Francesca Jackson Executive Director Salah Alhaiki Account Director Oliver Davies Editorial Enquiries Sales & Advertising General Enquiries Food and Travel, UK Mark Sansom, editor Food and Travel, Germany Stefanie Will, editor Food and Travel, Mexico Cecilia Núñez, editor Food and Travel, Turkey Mehmet Tel, editor Food and Travel, Italy Marco Sutter, publisher Food and Travel, Portugal Jose Fragoso, publisher

WINNER PPA Independent Publishing Company of the Year

WINNER PPA Publisher of the Year Food and Travel Magazine is published by Green Pea Publishing Ltd, Ingate Place, London, UK. Food and Travel & Food and Travel Arabia are published under license from Turnstart Limited, a UK company. Gulf Publishing Ltd, a UK company and Gulf Digital WLL are the exclusive licensed agents for Food & Travel Arabia in the GCC under copyright of Green Pea Publishing. All rights of the licensed material belong to Turnstart Limited and may not be reproduced whether in whole or in part without its prior written consent. The name “Food and Travel” is the property of Turnstart Limited. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Publisher. Unsolicited manuscripts and photographs are not accepted and will not be returned

Taste the experience

Experience the taste


n the Middle East, we are now amongst the world’s most adventurous travellers and gastronomers. Horizons are broad, tastes eclectic. Every month, Food and Travel Arabia brings these two naturally complementary interests together in a single magazine. Food and Travel Arabia is about adventure, the quest for new foods and new flavours, and the discovery of new places and new friends. Our best travel and food writers have been briefed to search the world for exciting destinations, the latest restaurants and the finest cooking. The result is award winning editorial covering the world’s favourite pastimes food, drink and travel. Every month we get up close and personal with some of the region’s kitchen favourites to talk seasonal produce and personal culinary development, inspiration and of course key interviews. Our expert team seeks out gastronomic gems in some of the world’s most exciting destinations marrying food and travel in beautifully photographed features to whet your appetite. Get the low down on the latest in haute cuisine with expert opinion and insights from some of the world’s most talented award winning and Michelin Starred chefs. Read honest and independent hotel and restaurant reviews from around the region and around the world; Recreate the chefs’ favourite dishes at home from our detailed recipe section and follow the progress of your favourite restaurant, hotel or destination throughout the year in the Food and Travel GCC Awards.

Bon Appétit





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January 2018 ARRIVALS 7



Seven seas of wry Food and Travel columnist Kevin Pilley | visits the Turks & Caicos Conch Festival


Sky-high dining At.mosphere is located on 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa guaranteeing breathtaking views


Going underground A tour of Turkey’s underground cities of Cappadocia



The Rock Gibraltar has seen civilisations come and go leaving behind unique architecture, attractions, and myths

La Vinoteca Barcelona Inspiring cuisine, chic Mediterranean style and an authentic Spanish dining experience


Peruvian chic Lima Dubai offers modern Peruvian cuisine from award-winning chef Virgilio Martinez

News This month we visit the region’s latest places to stay and eat The Food and Travel Awards It’s that time – discover who has made the final expert judging round of the 2018 Awards




The interview Two Michelinstarred Tom Aikens, the youngest British chef to earn two Michelin stars Richard Raab The driving force behind Four Seasons Bahrain Bay Sergio Herman We catch up with the three Michelin-starred Dutch Master in Dubai


Management by Design Meet Sandra Tikal GM of Dubai’s iconic Palazzo Versace


Hotel talk Anne-Marie Dowling talks about hospitality and the Middle East


The last word Romain van Durmen, Chef de Cuisine for The Chefs Palette, Cooking Studio


Game on Discover an exclusive safari lodge, in Zambia’s remote Liuwa Plains National Park awaits the healthy lifestyle-lover.



The pantry We discover tasty festive recipes for Napa cabbage and healthy oats


Simply the best The latest recipes from the kitchens of folly by Nick & Scott

Chef’s Palette Channel your inner-Heston at Fairmont the Palm’s cookery studio


Places to eat Michelin plates on high in Berlin, theatrical American in London’s West End, a bunch of brunches and some Italian cheer


Places to stay A brutal redesign in Phuket, colonial luxe in New Delhi, time to get cosy in the Cotswolds, and dine in the ultimate gourmet escape


A little of what you fancy We find out why just a little of what you fancy, really can do you good


Recipes This month’s collection of mouth-watering recipes for you to try at home


Simply Seychelles Palmfringed white beaches, balmy waters & lush green islands


The big breakfast Nomad Urban Eatery delivers exceptional food and a chic dining experience




When the festive energy of Spain meets the warm spirit of Bahrain, something incredible happens. Welcome to the new La Vinoteca Barcelona, the home of authentic Spanish food & culture in Bahrain. Enjoy our little piece of ‘España’ right in the heart of Adliya.

19 Yousif Ahmed Al-Shirawi Avenue, Block 338, Adliya, Bahrain +973 1700 7808 | | lavinotecabarcelona vinotecabh

The Anandi Hotel & Spa Shanghai he latest edition to the Leading Hotels of the World collection opens in February 2018. This stylish contemporary hotel has been designed to be the ultimate sanctuary in Shanghai. At the core of its offerings is the principle of balancing physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Centrally situated in the Hong Qiao hub, adjoining the Su Zhou River, it is ideally located for the city’s main commercial districts. 277 guest rooms, 48 suites and 8 villas all feature the latest in green technology and enjoy exclusive butler service. The innovative wellness centre provides a new concept of integrated healing, delivering a collection of health and well-being solutions for overall body rejuvenation, mindfulness, and energy balance therapies.


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Arrivals NEWS THE GREAT OUTDOORS UAE The ‘salt of life’ is everywhere when you take a moment to look, celebrating the SALT of life through art, entertainment, and an active lifestyle. SALT sprouted from an airstream trailer at Dubai Kite Beach with the idea that real ingredients taste better. It is more than just a burger place where you eat quickly and go. Salt takes pride in creating its own lifestyle where you are welcomed as part of the Salt family, calling everyone ‘Salters’ and going the extra mile to make sure everyone enjoys the experience. It is meant to be a destination that makes residents feel like tourists and tourists feel like residents. Just like the ingredient that enriches the flavour of a meal, SALT adds life to underserved locations, creating an environment like no other. #FindSALT in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ajman, and Al Ain, doing random pop-ups across other places in the UAE, and now in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, with events such as the Gravity DXB crew who showcased their athletic abilities, while budding artists joined calligrapher and artist Rafa Ayn at SALT Kite Beach.

BAY BRUNCH BAHRAIN Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay towers on the north-eastern waterfront of Manama, capital city of Bahrain. Located in the Lower Lobby of the 68-storey tower this lively indoor-outdoor restaurant has something to suit every taste and features an incredible Friday Winter Brunch; a special dining experience for the whole family. The lavish culinary offerings, including five unique food stations serving Arabic, Western, Indian, Japanese and Chinese delicacies and winter inspired dishes using seasonal ingredients to live the season spirit including stews, BBQ, roasted chestnuts, fondue, Raclette and more. Enjoy special chestnut giveaway after your meal. Shisha is also available on the restaurant terrace during brunch hours. Friday Winter Brunch is served between 12:30pm – 3:30pm every Friday until February 9. Prices start at $80pp incl. soft drinks. For more information call +973 1711 5500 or visit

RAVIOLI & CO DUBAI Dubai’s new pasta hotspot, Ravioli & Co., is now open in Burj Daman, DIFC. This new home-grown interpretation of classic Italian cuisine set in an authentic trattoria. With rustic décor, old flooring, aged wooden tables, exposed ceiling, wire lights, antique accessories and an open kitchen, Whether you dine inside or on the terrace, the restaurant emanates a quaint charm. From Italian breads such as focaccia and grissini baked in-house to fresh handmade pasta, Ravioli and Co. delivers an unpretentious Italian experience; delivering the essence of home-style cuisine for which Italy is known and loved. Head Chef Eros Brambilla, has created a menu that includes freshly made pasta dishes, prepared daily by an in-house sfoglina (pasta lady) such as: Ravioli Al Nero Di Seppia; black ravioli stuffed with cod fish, potato, and lemon zest, Tagliatelle Al Ragu’Di Fassona; tagliatelle with fassona beef ragout, Gnocchi Alle Melanzane; eggplant gnocchi, asiago cheese, cherry tomato sauce, and Filetto Con Porcini; beef fillet with porcini sauce. Seal your meal with a classic Italian dessert, including Tiramisu Con Nutella; a traditional tiramisu with a twist, Torta Paesana; traditional grandma cake with chocolate, raisins and pine nuts, or Bonnet; chocolate cake with amaretto biscuits. Ravioli & Co. is open daily from noon to midnight. For more information call +971 4 2411616 or visit



ANGSANA ZHUHAI CHINA Opening this month Angsana Zhuhai Phoenix Bay with 202 rooms, suites and lofts is located on one of the most beautiful spots in Phoenix Bay, surrounded by mountains and beaches. Explore the beautiful seaside city or take a stroll along the tranquil Lovers’ Road, meandering between green rolling mountains and the sparkling sea. It is the perfect getaway. Located on the coast, this perfect location enjoys easy access to the city centre or the Macau border, a mere 20-minute drive and only an hour away from Zhuhai Jinwan Airport. It is a great getaway destination www.

SOUTH AMERICAN CHIC Colombia Conrad has opened its first hotel in Colombia. The oceanfront oasis on the north side of the iconic Walled City welcomes you to the shores of the Caribbean Sea. Conrad Cartagena has 109 uniquely designed guestrooms and suites, featuring neutral tones, contemporary wood furniture, marble décor, and artwork from Colombian artists, Pedro Ruiz and Kiko Kairuz. Large windows and high ceilings provide natural light and views of the Caribbean Sea or the expertly designed, Jack Nicklaus golf course. Conrad Cartagena’s vibrant dining scene features cuisine from land and sea, alongside craft cocktails; restaurants include Biblioteka – a signature restaurant inspired by Chef Gabriela Gómez’s culinary experiences in Asia, Europe and Latin America, Adesso Tu – changing from day to night, has an expansive kitchen that offers a daily breakfast buffet, becoming a cosy pizzeria for lunch and dinner, Market Café – a Colombian coffee house, and Son y Ron – the beautiful lobby bar which is the architectural anchor of the hotel welcoming you with a rumcentric menu and live music. Other amenities include five swimming pools; an 18-hole Golf Course designed by Jack Nicklaus; and signature Conrad itineraries, which let you immerse yourself into the local culture. Conrad Cartagena is offering special opening rates starting at US$189 per night. For more information visit

FOOD FESTIVAL DUBAI A date for your culinary diary: Dubai’s annual citywide culinary celebration, returns on 22 February – 10 March 2018, offering the foodie in all of us a program of events, activities and promotions. The 5th edition of the Dubai Food Festival brings together the best of Dubai gastronomy, and shines a spotlight on wide range of cuisines available throughout the city, from the fine dining to hidden eateries off the beaten track. Presenting the latest food trends and concepts, where award winning gourmet dining can be enjoyed for an exceptional price, Dubai Food Festival offers a feast of food related events that is sure to whet the appetite of foodies from across the globe. Highlights of the 2018 edition include Dubai Restaurant Week, Beach Canteen, Hidden Gems, and Taste of Dubai and more. Residents and visitors alike will be able to take advantage of exclusive offers by purchasing the DFF Pass on sale in early 2018 offering citywide deals and promotions throughout the DFF period. For more information visit

A TASTE OF INDIA DUBAI Masti is an Indian inspired, passionately different and deliciously new dining destination located on the shores of one of Dubai’s most prestigious new developments, La Mer. Masti infuses modern with tradition, colour with flavour, creating an expression of ‘New India’. Dynamic and daring the restaurant offers a stunning array of inspired plates, that take cues and influence from a variety of global flavours. From the mind of legendary and award-winning chef Hari Nayak, the menu offers a reinterpretation of Indian cuisine, designed to share. From small to large plates, to culinary journeys for two and irresistible side dishes, you will be spoilt for choice. Highlights include, Black Bass Ceviche, a Masti take on a Peruvian classic with lime, jalapeno and crispy Plantain, offering a mouth-watering combination; Bhatti Merguez delivers a heady mix of African and Indian flavours with succulent lamb, caramelized onion and a chili garlic masala; and even the fries offer a flavour surprise, prepared with Togarashi spice and finished with a truffle cream melt. The plush interior is rich with texture and bold colours. The beachfront terrace and lounge is open from day to night offering an idyllic dining location providing an enjoyable laidback experience. The upstairs bar affords panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf; savour tempting bar bites or share a selection of Masti’s exquisite treats, as the resident DJ sets the mood.

BAHARAT Bahrain If you are looking for a great value business lunch at Baharat located in Le Meridien Bahrain City Centre. Enjoy a section of Middle Eastern and Indian fusion cuisine inspired by the restaurant name Baharat (Spices), the food is prepared in open kitchen, and features a tandoor oven & indoor grill. The Business Lunch buffet is priced at $39, The Soup & Salad buffet is $18, and served from 12:30pm – 4pm daily. Try BBQ night; a stylish yet rustic BBQ experience on the Baharat terrace and savour the juicy BBQ ribs and tenderloin steak as you enjoy live music from The Deux Song. The BBQ Buffet is served from 1pm – 11pm every Wednesday evening. Prices start at $65 incl. soft drinks. Or enjoy the delights of Seafood Night, where you can indulge in a wide selection of fresh oysters, prawns, lobster, sushi, clams, fresh fish filleted & Mussels cooked to your taste. The Seafood Buffet is served from 7pm – 11-m every Thursday. Prices start at $65 incl. soft drinks. For more information call +973 17 171 1441 or visit




The Arabian Jewel Fujairah Often referred to as the ‘Arabian Jewel’, beguiling Dibba, Fujairah is now home to the InterContinental Fujairah Resort, an exceptional destination where Arabian hospitality meets luxury. The resort is a beachfront property situated on the shoreline of the exquisite Al Aqah Beach, set against the spectacular backdrop of the Hajar Mountains. The luxury resort consists of a series of low-rise Arabesque villagestyle buildings and combines contemporary design elements with strong Arab influences that reflect the local heritage and culture. Resort amenities include, a gymnasium, O Spa by L’Occitane, offering an extensive menu of signature therapies, as well as four meeting rooms, a boardroom and a ballroom. The hotel boasts two gourmet dining options including Nama, a truly indulgent dining experience with an elaborate selection of international dishes and Drift, a casual style beach bar and grill. Kids of all ages can enjoy a family pool, Kids’ Club and a Teen’s Club designed to entertain the two age groups. A babysitting service ensures that parents are able to relax and unwind while their young ones are being looked after and delighted by the experienced hotel staff.

The Rocco Forte Brown’s Hotel located in the heart of Mayfair, opened its doors in 1837 as the first hotel in London, the same year Queen Victoria ascended to the throne. In the 180 years since it has become regular home to royalty and writers, from Pulitzer Prize and Oscar winners to musicians and scientists, explorers and politicians alike. In celebration of 180 years of Brown’s Hotel, the hotel is offering an unparalleled opportunity to visit the property and bask in the intimate historical setting. Enjoy two nights stay or more, with 20% off the room rate, breakfast every day, a guaranteed upgrade and a complimentary Afternoon Tea for Two in the English Tea Room. Savour a glass of champagne, a cup of English tea, delicious sandwiches and scones by some of the most experienced chefs, as you relax in the warming atmosphere during your delicious afternoon tea. The 180th Anniversary package includes: two-night stay in a Deluxe Room or above, guaranteed upgrade to the next available room type, complimentary Afternoon Tea for two, daily Breakfast, chauffeured Bentley Mulsanne (subject to availability and within 3-mile radius) and use of the hotel spa facilities (excluding treatments). For more information call +44 20 7493 6020 or visit


ARMANI Dubai Learn a new skill or sharpen your existing culinary knowledge with a new season of weekend master classes at Armani/Ristorante led by gourmet guru, Chef Alessandro Salvatico. This January is all about what lies beneath with a seafood inspired oyster, clam and salmon trio of dinner party worthy dishes. Priced at $165pp or $275 per couple, and includes a three-course lunch with beverage pairings, at Armani/Ristorante, Lobby Level, Burj Khalifa. The end of the month sees the arrival of the venetian culinary carnival at Armani/ Ristorante & Armani/Deli; a fixture of Venice’s annual entertainment calendar since the 12th century. Enjoy the flavours of Italy in the heart of Downtown Dubai this January & February with a gastronomic festival that celebrates the region’s classic flavours. Choose from a fourcourse menu at Armani/Ristorante featuring stuffed squid served in a herby bisque and guinea fowl roulade with chicken mousse and goose speck or head to the monochrome chic setting of Armani/Deli for cod carpaccio, risotto, Venetian style veal liver and the hotel’s signature sfera dessert. The Venetian Carnival runs from January 27 to February 13 and is available between 7pm – 11pm. Armani/Ristorante priced at $125pp & Armani/Deli $95pp. For more information call +971 4 888 3666 or visit 10


Originally opened in 1962, The Ocean Club has long been a favourite hideaway for luxury travellers, with its picture-perfect oceanfront setting, immaculate grounds and stellar service. Over the years and through several evolutions, as it earned numerous international awards and accolades. In recent years, The Ocean Club received global attention as the setting for key scenes in the 2006 remake of the James Bond classic Casino Royale. Now managed by Four Seasons, The Ocean Club begins the next chapter in its storied history. The resort offers timeless elegance, luxurious accommodations in several low-rise buildings with sea and garden views. The traditional island-style rooms and suites open to ever-present sea breezes among the palm trees and gentle sounds of ocean waves, while the three villas are each serviced by a personal butler during your stay. Dining is highlighted by Michelin-starred Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s DUNE and the adjacent DUNE Bar, serving French-Asian cuisine with a touch of Caribbean spice, as well as OCEAN for freshly grilled island fare and poolside Versailles Terrace. Although located in its own quiet enclave, The Ocean Club is also just minutes from the dining, shopping and other entertainments offered at Atlantis. You can enjoy tennis and access to the Tom Weiskopf-designed Ocean Club golf course. For younger guests, Kids for All Seasons offers a fully supervised program of creative activities, and babysitting can also be arranged if you want a quiet dinner or a few hours on the golf course or in the Spa.



It’s been two decades since Tom Aikens shot to fame as the youngest British chef to earn two Michelin stars




om Aikens begins our conversation at Pots Pans & Boards, his relaxed, family-friendly restaurant at the top end of The Beach on Dubai’s JBR, with a rather startling statement. “If I had my time again, I’d carry on travelling and training until I was into my early thirties, rather than becoming a head chef.” Fair enough you might think, until you consider who is talking here. Aikens is famed for being the youngest ever British chef to be awarded two Michelin stars; he was just 26 and head chef at London’s Pied à Terre restaurant when in 1996 the accolade was bestowed upon him. Does that mean he’d be prepared to give that experience up, I wonder – and the answer in short, is yes. “It doesn’t mean I’m not incredibly proud of what we achieved, there’s just so much to learn, to see and to eat; I wouldn’t want to miss out. When I was a young chef France was the only country you really travelled to in order to continue learning, but now there’s so much opportunity.”


“Aikens admits that he was consumed by the pursuit of both Michelin stars and perfection” Back in those days Aikens had a reputation for being extremely focused and intensely driven but also rather hot-headed and prone to the occasional outburst too. He admits that he was consumed by the pursuit of both Michelin stars and perfection (the two rather go hand in hand) and says that now projects such as Pots Pans & Boards and his successful chain of Tom’s Kitchen brasseries provide a certain sense of relief from all that. “The casual concepts do demand a more accessible approach and as a result the food naturally becomes simpler and more relaxed,” he explains. “It is nice to be able to think about more informal dishes and serve classics like proper British fish and chips or a simple but really great smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. That said, there is something about being in a high-pressure kitchen, surrounded by the best ingredients in the world and producing really high-quality food that




I just find satisfying. You have to be at the top of your game and there’s no room for error.” Thanks to the long hours demanded of chefs, particularly in the era in which Aikens earned his stripes (or his stars, if you will), this consumed his entire life. “We worked long days, sometimes 20 hours, with only a very short break and perhaps one day off a week. When I was training you looked after yourself in order to first survive and then succeed,” he says. Despite all this, Aikens says that a different career path was never an option and that he knew from a young age that the kitchen was where he was meant to be: “I have always been incredibly competitive and driven; I’d be the first one to arrive in the morning and the last one out at night. I was constantly striving to improve, looking around to see whose job I could do faster and better. It’s a good thing I’ve never needed a lot of sleep to function,” he adds wryly. For the outsider looking in, particularly from the working world that many of us exist in today – one governed by company initiatives and HR rules – this all sounds rather extreme. Thankfully Aikens say that things have improved since he was a young commis chef eager to make his mark: “Working hours are definitely more carefully monitored now. There’s far greater emphasis placed on mentoring young chefs these days: spotting talent and really nurturing it and bringing people along, which is a good thing.” Spurred on by the fact that he doesn’t consider himself to have had a mentor, he really looks after the young chefs he thinks have the potential to flourish. “Within five minutes of meeting a trainee I can tell if they’ve got what it takes. You can see the people with 14


This spread, clockwise: Classic Ceasar salad; Seabass; Tom Aiken at Pots, Pans & Boards; Interior views of Pots, Pans & Boards.

drive, with a desire to succeed: they arrive early, work hard, take pride in what they do and are constantly pushing themselves,” he states. His standards must be rather exacting, I venture and he agrees: “If you show someone something, you want them to do it that way every time and it’s amazing how many people just don’t get that. It sounds basic, but it’s such a simple, important thing.” While Aikens has enjoyed phenomenal career success, there have also been some well-documented low points as well, which makes you wonder what advice he gives to those he mentors. “Besides telling them to put their heads down and work as hard as they possibly can – which is obvious really – I tell them they need a game plan,” he explains. “There’s no point just grafting relentlessly for years without knowing what you want to get out of it. Figure out the end goal – whether that’s being a head chef, having a string of restaurants, whatever – and then work out the steps you need to take and the things you need to do to get there. Time goes so fast and you’re not young forever, you need a plan.” Even just chatting to him for a relatively short time it’s clear that although he may well have mellowed over the years, Tom Aikens’ life is still exhausting. His eyes dart about, his leg taps, his fizzes with energy: this is not a man who switches off easily. When asked about relaxation, downtime and work-life balance he laughs as he answers. “I’ve always said that I don’t really know how to relax, but as time goes on I think I’m getting a bit better at it. I do still find it really hard to switch off, even when I’m on holiday. I can’t just lie on the beach and do nothing. Nowadays it’s not just being in the kitchen, it’s managing all

“Although he may well have mellowed over the years, Tom Aikens’ life is still exhausting”




This page: Tom Aikens; Truffle chips & Steak tartare.

the other projects I’m involved in too. My mind is constantly buzzing, but I don’t think that’s ever going to change.” The difference these days though is that he recognises that for his own health and sanity sometimes he needs to force himself to zone out or walk away, both literally and metaphorically. “One thing I’ve learnt is that I have to exercise. Wherever I am in the world, I make sure I spend an hour training everyday without fail. I go to the gym if I can, but if that’s not possible I’ll run or something like that – it’s very important for me not just physically but mentally too.” Aikens has two young daughters who help – or indeed coerce – him into relaxing from time to time too. When he’s not at work they can all often be found in the family kitchen baking up a storm (no finicky food here though, cocoa powder and cake sprinkles are the order of the day). It’s perhaps not surprising that they’ve shown a natural aptitude for cooking, which makes me wonder how he’d react if one of them wanted to become a chef. “I’d support them 16


completely. Obviously the kitchen is an extremely tough place to be, particularly for women, which isn’t right but that is changing,” he replies passionately. “I’d be very proud and I’d do everything I could to support them. A career as a chef can offer a lot: you can be both creative and practical, you’re able to travel and develop your skill set and because of that there are a vast number of opportunities open to you.” Unsurprisingly Aikens is full of plans for the future and his schedule, both immediate and for the next year or so is tightly packed. A much-anticipated collaboration with his twin brother Robert who is also a chef is very much on the cards and is likely to happen in the US. Back in the UK, Aikens says that there’s the distinct possibility of a return to real high-end cooking in a fine dining set up, which given that he’s been away from that particular scene for a few years, he’s very excited about – and so should we be.

Words: Sarah Price

“A career as a chef can offer a lot: you can be both creative and practical, you’re able to travel and develop your skill set and because of that there are a vast number of opportunities open to you.”




You have truly made your voice heard this year with almost two million votes cast across the Gulf for this year’s GCC Food and Travel Awards - now discover who has made the finals!

ast month we announced the finalists for 2018 GCC Food & Travel Awards Over the last few months almost two million of you inundated us with votes for your favourite hotels, restaurants, chefs, and airlines in the GCC Food and Travel Awards and you have truly made you voices heard. See if your favourite hotel or restaurant has made the finals to be judged by the expert panel. The winners will announced at the Awards Gala Ceremony in March 2018. A big thanks to you all for your votes and valuable feedback



to discover who has made the finals in each category



Pantry THE




Napa Cabbage KEY ING REDI EN T:


h January. A month synonymous with abstinence, thrift and the reigning in of both appetites and budgets after the indulgence of the festive season. This is a time for healthy eating, for turning over a new leaf (while simultaneously consuming plenty of salad leaves) and yet who wants to start the new year in parsimonious fashion? Instead why not kick off 2018’s eating as you mean to go on: with delicious, wholesome food that tastes fantastic and does you good too. If that appeals – and why wouldn’t it – let


us introduce you to one of our hero ingredients of the month: the Napa cabbage or Chinese cabbage as it’s sometimes known. Light, crisp and clean tasting, this particular vegetable (a member of the brassica family) is something of a heavyweight in the nutrition department and is high in fibre, folic acid and vitamins C, K and B, as low in calories. Perfect January fodder indeed. To avoid disappointment when selecting your cabbage look out for those that feel on the heavy side for their size and have thick,

bright white ribs and healthy-looking green blades – tired, limp leaves do not a tasty cabbage make. From salads to slaws, barbecued dishes to slow braises, there’s a whole lot you can do with this leafy vegetable. Top of that list though should be putting it to good use and making punchy, pungent kimchi. This fermented cabbage concoction is the condiment on everyone’s lips, not least because gut or digestive health is big news at the moment and fermented food is being touted key to helping with all that. FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA




Now before we go any further, let’s make one thing clear: we’re not claiming the kimchi recipe that follows is entirely authentic, nor does it go all the way down the lacto-fermented route. Real kimchi, the funky stuff that bubbles slightly when you open the jar is days, sometimes even weeks, in the making. This version is quick to prepare, full of crunch and it has a pleasing fire to it that’s just the right side of eye watering. Serve it as a side dish, use it to take a toasted cheese sandwich to the next level, employ as a marinade for meat or fish or fold a tablespoon or two through stir-fried rice. 22


he debate is still ongoing as to whether Goldilocks would approve, but there’s no denying it: savoury porridge is officially a thing. If the thought of drizzling anything but honey or syrup over your morning bowl of oats is cause for consternation, do give the idea a whirl before retreating to the safety offered by sweetness. Real Scottish traditionalists will of course maintain that porridge should be made from just oats, water and salt, giving it a savoury (and rather austere) edge by default. Let’s be honest though, that’s not the kind of breakfast to ease the pain of getting up


early. This new ilk of savoury porridges, though? Well they might just do that and more. Once you realise that the cooked oats are simply a healthy, thrifty, filling base just begging to be customised with all manner of toppings, this is an easy idea to get on board with. As well as our recipe for jammy eggs and Asian greens, try sautéed mushrooms, wilted spinach and a dusting of parmesan, honeyed pears with gorgonzola or roasted aubergine with tahini dressing and a spoonful of yogurt. The great thing about all this is that if you begin your day with a bowl of porridge you









really have started it the right way for your body. Oats are a good source of magnesium, which is known to help with heart health, and evidence also suggests that consuming magnesium-rich food reduces the risk of type-2 diabetes. The soluble fibre in oats gives digestive systems a much-needed boost, can lower cholesterol levels and also slows the absorption of carbohydrates into the blood 24


stream thus preventing spikes in blood sugar levels. Not only that, they’re high in protein, contain zinc, potassium and iron and will keep you feeling full for far longer than sugary cereal will. Whether sweet or savoury, the texture of your porridge is of the utmost importance: you want the end result to be creamy and rich rather than tacky or gluey and the oats should retain a little bite. Success lies in

achieving the correct ratio of liquid to oats and stirring the mixture frequently as it cooks. Of course, oats have culinary uses far beyond porridge. Use them to coat meat or fish instead of breadcrumbs, add a handful to a smoothie for bulk, sprinkle them over gratins or crumbles before baking, make your own granola bars or try our really rather moreish nut and seed-packed homemade rosemary oat cakes.

This spread, left to right: Labriz aerial view Silouhette Island Coast; Labriz Beachfront villa; Labriz Private Pool

Simply Seychelles The Seychelles; palm-fringed white beaches, balmy waters, lush green islands and the warm embrace of a golden sun!

SILHOUETTE ISLAND We arrived at Mahé airport, and despite the long flight we were given a tonic by the big-hearted hospitality and genuinely friendly welcome from our driver, who smoothly whisked us through a twenty minutes journey along a zigzag of narrow country roads to the Bel Ombre Jetty, where we were greeted by the reception team from Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort & Spa, ready for our short 45-minute voyage to Silhouette Island which is located just 20 km northwest of Mahé. We knew that we had arrived at our own little piece of paradise; Hilton Seychelles Labriz, a picturesque resort carved out of the lush tropical mountains that reaches down to the balmy clear waters of the Indian Ocean, that sparkle with hints of azure and aquamarine, gently lapping against the powdery white sand of the picture-perfect 26


postcard beach. The resort is perched in front of a shallow lagoon enjoying amazing views towards North Island and Mahé. Most of the island is a national park, offering unspoilt walking trails, and the waters surrounding Silhouette are a marine reserve. The stunning villas have a distinct character. The spacious rooms, with their spectacular ocean views, are tastefully furnished, deep soft sofas set by the large picture window, the bathrooms have a separate bathtub, walk-in shower and open up onto a private garden, complete with private outdoor rain-showers, and of course king-size comfortable beds, all complemented by the light hues from a palette of natural colours offering a light airy atmosphere. Each villa is equipped with every modern convenience including Wi-Fi, flat screen TVs and DVD players. The Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort truly offers a glimpse of a


“Your own little piece of paradise; Hilton Seychelles Labriz, a picturesque resort carved out of the lush tropical mountains”.




“The resort boasts seven restaurants, including a pizzeria and Grann Kaz, which is set in an old plantation house” peaceful life that warmly envelops you in an almost hypnotic sense of well-being, only to find that you have basked most of the day away; lying lazily by the beach, reading a book, swimming in the ocean, or just sipping on a cool drink while soaking up the sun. There is plenty to choose from for those feeling more energetic; take a hike through the rainforest or set out on a kayaking or diving adventure. The expansive public areas feature acres of polished marble and tropical hardwood decking, water features and a natural freshwater lagoon crossed by an arched pedestrian bridge. The staff are warm and willing to help, but the service is not especially dynamic; hotel facilities include a well-equipped gym, a PADI five-star diving centre as well as tennis courts, a large pool, and spa that offers a wide range of treatments and massages. We decided to go snorkelling, and once the safety procedures were covered Once we were given the green light and our underwater adventure began. The waters were teeming with life; green sea and hawksbill turtles, stingrays, jellyfish, white tip sharks, and variety of tropical fish, including - Butterflyfish, Queen Angelfish, Hump-head Parrotfish, Regal Tang, Clownfish, Zebrafish, and Napoleon Wrasses to name but a few After the exertions of snorkelling we opted to try the Creole cooking class and lunch. To start we made - mango and smoked Marlin salad which was an explosion of flavours; we were quite surprised to see so many unusual ingredients working so well together. The fish was delectable, so much so that we’ll be trying this dish at home! For the mains, we made Octopus curry; a native Seychelles’ dish, and I would highly recommend this to anyone looking to try something different. For dessert we made Banana Ladob, which was sweet, thick, creamy and rich in flavour. All the ingredients complemented each other perfectly, particularly the cocoa nut milk - really yummy! The resort boasts seven restaurants, including a pizzeria and Grann Kaz, which is set in an old plantation house, Japanese at 28


the Teppanyaki as well as Italian fine dining at Portobello restaurant. Breakfast is served at Café Dauban, offering a lavish selection of international dishes from dim sum and noodles to cereals and fresh fruits. Grann Kaz is set in a historic plantation house located within its own private enclave in Village La Passe, just a short stroll away. Once home to the Dauban family, the former owners of the island, the building has been restored with an homage to the island’s rich English and French heritage, and to reflect modern Seychellois chic, creating an intimate restaurant Enjoy modern Italian cuisine amidst the contemporary elegant chic décor at Portobello as you enjoy stunning views of Mount Dauban. Dine in air conditioned comfort, or eat al fresco on the terrace beside the tranquil lake. Our meal offered mixed-blessings, but on the whole was an enjoyable experience; the starter of Carpaccio di Manzo - beef carpaccio, aged Parmesan and white truffle oil was disappointing, the meat lacked flavour and texture, and was cut too thick; whilst the Prosciutto, Caprino e Pesca - Parma ham, goat’s cheese and roast peach salad, was OK, although the goat’s cheese caprine was golden with the right amount of crispy crumb on the outside was totally devoid of any goats cheese on the inside. To follow we had Costolette di Agnello - grilled lamb chops, aubergine caponata, rosemary potatoes. The meat was served, as requested, medium with just right amount of pink in the centre, unfortunately the rosemary potatoes hard and the vegetables were swimming in oil. Conversely the Spaghetti Bolognese, ordered off-menu; the fresh cooked beef ragout and golden spaghetti was a delight. To complete our meal, we both decided to try the Tiramisu Quasi Classico – a traditional tiramisu, with vanilla ice cream, which was lovely and creamy with a slight crunchiness and a coating of powdered chocolate. A definite must have!

Opposite page, left to right: Olive’s scallop; Todd in the kitchen; Bellagio restaurant Olive’s bar

MAHÉ Having sampled the delights of Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort we changed location to the peaceful couples retreat of The Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort & Spa which is located on the west coast of Mahé, and overlooks Beau Vallon Bay. The hotel is a quiet, secluded couples retreat, and the beach has the feel of a hidden desert island cove, set in a lush tropical paradise. The al fresco restaurants and lobby have high wooden ceilings in the classic Seychellois style. The palette of brown hues and marble are highlighted with turquoise accents lending an airy feel that lends itself to a relaxing stay far from the urban bustle of city life. This romantic atmosphere tends to draw couples, and children under 12 are not allowed. The Hilton Seychelles Northolme consists of large, private villas, which all enjoy sea views and have private decks. The Beach Villas are closer to reception and the resort’s restaurants, whilst the Hillside Villas are quieter and more secluded; but whatever you pick, you won’t go wrong. The décor is contemporary chic with swathes of natural woods, cane and four-poster canopy beds, draped with white curtains for that romantic touch. The walls are adorned with vibrant art, the balconies are spacious, and the amenities plentiful, from flat-screen TVs and DVD players to espresso makers and mini-bars. The natural bathrooms have free-standing tubs and open showers and fabulous ocean views. Nestling beside a strip of white-sand the hotel’s freeform infinity pool appears to flow into the Indian Ocean; and there are ample sun beds and beach umbrellas for poolside lounging. If you are looking for something a little less busy there’s also a free shuttle to nearby Beau Vallon Beach. On-site activities include free kayaking and snorkelling, a 24-hour fitness centre loaded with state-of-the-art cardio and weight equipment, with a private sun terrace for a postworkout break. Try the yoga pavilion or on-site. Duniye Spa which offers spa and beauty treatments, including Balinese, Thai, and Swedish massage along with Reiki energy work. And the hotel’s gift shop sells clothing, handicrafts, souvenirs, and the usual holiday necessities such as sunscreen. There are three restaurants at the resort, Les Cocotiers is a finedining restaurant serving Creole cuisine. The Hilltop Restaurant serves buffet-style meals, and The Ocean-view Bar and Restaurant serves snacks, signature cocktails, and fresh fruit juices and often features live music performances. with 24-hour room service for those who would rather dine in their villas. The Hilltop Restaurant enjoy stunning panoramic views. Relax in the casual, dining room and savour the delights of local and international buffet menus for breakfast and dinner. Watch the expert chefs prepare your meal at the live cooking stations and don’t miss the exciting Creole evening on Mondays with authentic Creole food and local entertainment. Les Cocotiers Restaurant offers fine dining under the stars. Eat al fresco restaurant and enjoy spectacular ocean views as you choose from the à la carte menu that features a range of Creole-international fusion dishes. And unwind in the stylish interiors of the Ocean View Bar or on the decked balcony for views of ocean coves and starlit nights. Sip on the finest international cocktails and freshly squeezed juices, as the strains of live music make for the perfect accompaniment to any sunset. We dined at Les Cocotiers, to start I had the Coconut Crusted Shrimp with passion fruit and chilli, the dish was elegantly plated and the portion size was just right; the coconut crust providing the perfect foil to each mouthful of moist shrimp with every bite. The vegetables garnish was just the correct amount of sweet and coated ever so FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


WORLD TRAVELLER This page: Northolme Hilltop restaurant; Little Ben; Hindu Temple in Mahé.

Mahé Day Trip pleasingly with a light dressing, the perfect appetizer! For our mains, we ordered - rib eye and fillet. The Rib eye was served on a slab of slate, which whilst looking attractive, just isn’t how fine food should be served. The portion sizes were generous, although upon reflection there was far too much fat left on the steak. The meat was juicy, flavourful and perfectly cooked. The peppercorn sauce seasoned this dish beautifully, but was a little on the watery side. Pleasingly the sides of baked potato wedges and crispy onion rings were just right. The fillet was lean, tender, it was just a shame there wasn’t more of it. The steak was cooked as requested, and the peppercorn sauce gave it the little kick it needed. To top of the meal we ordered Island mess local tropical fruit mini meringues vanilla cream rum and chocolate sauce and Pineapple, tartan vanilla ice cream. Both desserts were pleasant but just too much, even for my sweet tooth.

“The flavour of the snapper was delightful, and the meat flaked effortlessly from the bone ” Having caught the bug earlier in the week we decided to take the Cooking Class At Hilltop. For our starters we had - Tuna tartare, Pan Seared Scallop and Salmon Roe. The presentation of this dish was sublime, it was minimal, elegant, and pleasing to the eye. The fresh tuna steak, seared for a minute each side, the buttered seasoned scallops bounced off the other ingredients on the plate well and the Salmon Roe had a subtle, mild flavour, both plates were cleared and our mains then brought over. For our mains we tried – slow cooked snapper, buttered vegetables, green mussels, crusted potato served with confit pumpkin puree and café au lait. The Red Snapper was sweet and had a lean, firm moist texture, served over golden-crusted potatoes, and mussels. The flavours of the snapper were delightful, and the meat flaked effortlessly from the fish. The crunch of the potatoes balanced the flavour and texture beautifully. The mussels were soft, and added a touch of salt, and the pumpkin puree was thick and creamy. Dessert was a mouth-watering fruit platter that consisted of; passion fruit, pineapple, kiwi, melon, orange, banana, strawberry, pomegranate, and star fruit. 30


If you have the time (or inclination) it’s worth taking a visit around Mahé. We took a tour a spacious, comfortable airconditioned car. Visit the Mission Lodge Heritage site, to see the foundations of Venn’s town ruins that had mostly been covered due to dense forest vegetation. Go to the viewing platform, where you can read about the historical events, and admire the numerous valleys and coastline. See the Seychelles Little Ben clock tower monument, situated in the centre of a busy, small roundabout in Victoria, and then on to on to St Paul’s cathedral where you can admire the beautiful stain glass windows and architecture of the Arul Mihu Navasakthi Vinayagar (Hindu) Temple, which is quite deceptive, looking small from the outside yet spacious inside. The Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market offers as a wide variety of arts and crafts, fish, fruits, flowers, spices, and clothes. Tucked away at the end of the high street away from all the hustle and bustle is the News Café; worth a stop for a short break, to escape the hot and humid market. Try coconut and vanilla ice cream accompanied by two bottles of Seybrew (the local hops). The coconut ice cream is refreshing, milky and the small chunks of coconut are heavenly. The botanical garden is a must for nature enthusiasts and offers a 30-minute tour around the exotic and unique flora of Mahé.

Simply T H E B E ST


There is no sincerer love than the love of food GEORGE BERNARD SHAW



hen Nick Alvis and Scott Price came up with the concept for the food at Folly by Nick & Scott, the award-winning restaurant that they run in Madinat Jumeirah, they did so with a view to doing something a bit different. Moving away from the now ubiquitous sharing plates concept they instead created a menu made up of small plates (starters are smaller than average, as are mains and the prices reflect this) which essentially frees you from the rigors of a traditional three course meal and encourages diners to put together their own tasting menu. As you can imagine, an almost complete revamp of the entire

menu like the one they implemented at the tail end of 2017, is months in the making. Following the initial conception of a dish, which might come from a few notes jotted on a piece of paper or a hastily drawn sketch, followed by weeks of recipe testing, tweaking and development. The different elements are reworked, ingredients experimented with and changes made until both chefs are happy that the dish deserves a place on the Folly menu. Here Nick and Scott have given Food and Travel readers exclusive access to the recipes for some of those new dishes and also shared their favourite meals when cooking at home.




DID YOU KNOW /INSIDER INFO Job’s tears might just be the next big thing in the culinary world. This naturally gluten-free grain has a chewy, vaguely sweet, earthy taste and can also be added to soups and broths, served in salads or offered in place of rice or cous cous.

TIP Remove the piping bag with the goats’ cheese from the fridge 30 minutes before serving. This allows the flavour to really develop and means that it can easily be piped onto the plate as well.

NICK: This recipe is deliberately a vegan one. We always try to have one or two completely vegan dishes on our menus, as well as a few others that can be made vegan if necessary – that way we know we’re still offering guests with dietary requirements plenty of choice. I really wanted to use Marmite here as it provides a huge flavour hit in the same way that a concentrated meat reduction does. The jasmine rice mousse brings lightness to the dish, the courgettes provide a clean burst of flavour and the crispy job’s tears add an integral chewy-crunchy texture.

SCOTT: This is a really good example of the way we put our dishes together so that the textures and flavours complement each other on the plate: smooth, rich goats’ cheese, tangy-sharp tamarind and then the crispy coriander-infused crouton that’s almost like a piece of fried bread. The quantities for the tamarind chutney will yield more than you need, but that’s a good thing; it will keep in the fridge in a sealed jar or container for a couple of weeks and tastes fantastic with a piece of aged cheddar.





NICK: This recipe is of course based on a classic steak tartare, we simply use roe deer shoulder to make it a little bit different. The dish features all the traditional tartare elements – egg yolk, cornichons, Worcestershire sauce, shallots – but




these are given a bit of a twist and prepared using modern techniques. It’s well worth making extra of the cornichons – they’re great added to a cheeseboard and keep for several weeks in a sealed jar too. If you can’t get hold of roe deer a lean, tender cut such as veal sirloin or beef tenderloin will work well too.



NICK: I’ve always loved snails and whenever I eat in a French brasserie I order them. For me the best bit is dipping the crusty baguette into the pool of garlic butter at the end, so I wanted to try and recreate that with this dish in a slightly more unorthodox way, which is where the idea for the snail doughnuts came from. This recipe is a time-consuming one so I’d recommend breaking down the process over three or four days. Start by making the brioche dough, then cook the snails in the emulsion and finally wrap them. It sounds like a lot of effort, but when you bite into a piping hot mini doughnut filled with garlicky butter it will be worth it.





NICK: We wanted to put a gingerbread dish on the menu for ages, but couldn’t quite agree on what to do. After much experimentation, this is the result and we really pleased with it. The crispy wafers have all the classic spicy-sweet flavour that you associate with gingerbread, the parfait is rich and creamy without being overwhelming and the infused sorbet balances both element and provides a nice cleanness. If you want you could make this dessert simpler by serving the gingerbread parfait topped with crumbled ginger biscuits. TIP Scoop the sorbet well ahead of serving it and refreeze it on a baking tray. That way you don’t have to worry about it melting as you plate the dish up.






SCOTT: This is a really clean, simple dessert that’s indulgent without being overwhelming and also acts as a bit of a palette cleanser thank to the green apple sorbet. If you prefer, rather

than cutting the cheesecake into individual slices you could bring it to the table whole and portion it up from there. We like to make our own digestive biscuits, but to save time you could always buy them readymade and skip straight to step three in this recipe.









SCOTT: I’m a big fan of quinoa; it’s filling, healthy, versatile and absorbs other flavours nicely too. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t cook a huge amount at home, but I do often make a big batch of quinoa on my day off so that it’s ready and waiting in the fridge for the nights when I get home from work feeling ravenous. I like serving the grain with crispy chickpeas, halloumi and grilled chicken, but this recipe is probably my favourite and the one I make the most often. The creamy feta, tangy dressing and brightness from the pomegranate seeds works well together and the charred spring onions make a great final addition.


NICK: Several members of my family were born in India, so I grew up eating Indian food and this is my go-to chicken curry recipe. I started cooking it when I was a young chef working in Versailles, just outside of Paris. As you can imagine, I didn’t have much money at the time (I was being paid very little and our rent was high), and this was a cost-effective, filling meal that reminded me of home. Chicken legs are often neglected in favour of the more expensive breast meat, but legs have a much better flavour and cooking them on the bone means the meat stays really moist too.





This page, clockwise: Aerial view of Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain; A suite at the Four Seasons; The staircase at CUT; Richard Raab.



Swedish born Richard Raab, initially wanted to become the captain of an ocean liner, fortunately for us the loss to the Cruise Ship industry was a big win for us land-lubbers. t is clear to anyone who speaks with Richard Raab that he exudes pride in his work, his personal ethos of excellence is reflected in his every action. After almost two decades with Four Seasons, one of the finest hotel chains in the world today, Raab is now GM of the iconic Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay. Having gained valuable experience over the years, across the Four Seasons chain, from St Petersburg and Dubai to Beverley Hills and Nevis, his depth of knowledge and skill sets have been finely honed, making Raab the ideal person to lead the team at this unique urban resort. Before settling on becoming a hotelier Raab hankered after a career on the high seas? “I used to spend my summers visiting my grandparents in Geiranger, a picturesque village in the west of Norway, which attracted many cruise ships and I worked as a tour guide to the passengers.” he stated. “Who wouldn’t want the chance to captain a cruise ship; a crisp uniform, greeting guests and hosting the captain’s table? I realised a cruise ship was really a floating hotel and that’s what I wanted to do.” he added. We asked what kept Raab with the company for almost 20 years? “I think that the underlying company ethos that brought me to Four Seasons, is one of the main aspects that is still as important today.” he started. “Treat everybody the way you would want to be treated yourself! This echoed with me – so I went to London and applied for a job and started as a waiter” Which led to Raab eventually joining Four Seasons in 1998 as the Assistant Restaurant Manager and Banquet


Manager at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills; the result being the journey that has brought him to Bahrain today. “As a company, we encourage our people to excel, and I find mentoring people to reach their dreams extremely rewarding; I was mentored during my career and I know how valuable it can be.” offered Raab. “After all we work in a service culture – and I encourage staff to interact with our guests and show their own character, and more importantly to be proud of, and showcase their own crafts and skills. Whether they be a barman creating exceptional cocktails, a spa therapist providing soothing treatments or a chef cooking extraordinary culinary dishes.” he concluded. Raab firmly believes the essence of excellent customer service to be “Emotional Intelligence” the need to be able to read the guest and anticipate their needs. Something that is different with each guest and can even be different for same guest on different occasions. For example, the same guest may be visiting on a business trip, with its particular set of requirements and next time they may be over for a family weekend, and as such have an entirely different set of priorities. When asked what he felt personified his unique approach to the industry? Raab commented “At the end of the day being a hotelier is a challenging job. But we are all responsible for our own day, from the moment we wake up each morning; and sometimes things don’t go as planned. Therefor it is important to learn from setbacks and grow from them!” he added. FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA



This page, clockwise: Four Seasons Lobby lounge; CUT dining room; Bahrain Bay Kitchen Chef; Richard Raab, General Manager; CUT staircase.

Moving on to the changes brought about by the world of technology, Raab points out that although it is clearly playing a bigger and growing role within the industry, Four Seasons will always be a people business; but a business that recognises its benefits. Four Seasons is now enlisting technology as a valuable tool to enhance the guest experience, by launching a new chat function for its Global App. “The Four Seasons Chat is a new digital service that lets guests send and receive instant messages with the hotel team before, during and after their stay, using technology to get more personal, delivering our legendary Four Seasons service at their fingertips at any time, from anywhere.Technological innovation delivered with a distinctly human touch.” says Raab. “One of the best features is that it is a multi-lingual tool. So, a guest can order a service or make a booking in Arabic, and the message is translated into the preferred language of the receiving party, who can then reply, for example in English, and the guest receives his response in Arabic.” Clearly a great boon to customer care in this hi-tech age, where almost everyone seems to live their life via their smart phone. Raab is clearly a fan of Bahrain, a kingdom steeped in history, rich in culture and a passion for food. “I love Bahrain, it is open and the people are very friendly and approachable.” He says adding “Bahrain has a vibrant local culinary scene with a string of international brands located at hotels such as the Four Seasons or stand-alone.” The local market is important to Raab. “I love to visit local restaurants, and try new things. There are home-grown and international treasures to be found; a traditional Bahraini Breakfast 42


Images: Four Seasons

at Saffron, the hidden gem that is Villa Mama’s and the wonderfully authentic Mexican cuisine at Cantina Kahlo.” The knowledge garnered from his forays around the island are soon found inspiring new initiatives at the Four Seasons, such as an evening at re Asian with guest chef, and Bahrain stalwart, Michael Sang-Kyu Lee, the Executive Chef and driving force behind Bahrain’s Meisei and Brian Becher, Executive Chef of re Asian Cuisine and CUT by Wolfgang Puck. On discussing the trends and expectations for 2018 at the Four Seasons Bahrain Bay, Raab is enthusiastic. “The CUT Bar and Lounge has now firmly established itself as a popular venue; it is no longer a bar you visit pre-dinner at CUT but a destination in its own right – we have a fabulous new menu for the Blue Moon Lounge, and our unpolished diamond, our Shisha Lounge where you can relax beside the infinity pool and see the wonderful Bahrain skyline.” Other initiatives include a Water Taxi service across the bay to the new waterfront shopping experience at the Avenues; a steal at only one dinar; offering easy access to the mall for hotel guests and hasslefree access to the hotel’s fabulous facilities to Avenue shoppers too. Raab relishes the challenges of running a hotel in Bahrain. “The Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay is a unique and iconic building, the architecture and interior design are exceptional, the product is second to none and this hotel would be at home in London’s Park Lane, the Champs-Élysées in Paris or New York City’s 5th Avenue. - I am extremely proud of the hotel and my team!” he concluded. FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


GAME ON Sophie Ibbotson discovers an exclusive safari lodge, in Zambia’s remote Liuwa Plains National Park.


ourneying to the King Lewanika Lodge is not for the faint-hearted. A light aircraft drops you on the airstrip at Kalabo on the edge of the Liuwa Plains, but there’s as yet no bridge to get across the river into the national park. We drove with painstaking care onto the metal pontoon, our Land Cruiser taking up the bulk of the space on-board. A few colourfully attired ladies, their equally bright umbrellas up to protect them from the rain, squatted alongside as our driver and the ferryman pulled hand over hand on the metal cable.



We inched our way across and disembarked onto the sandy track which serves as a road in the dry season. When it rains and the track disappears beneath the water, the only way to reach the lodge is by helicopter. At this point there is still a two-hour drive through the park to go, but as the Land Cruiser bumps and bounces along the track there’s plenty to see on the way. First and foremost are the villages. The Liuwa Plains is one of the oldest protected areas in Africa — a royal hunting ground since the 1880s —


“The villages thin out and the plains stretch as far as the eye can see, with scarcely a solitary tree to disturb the horizon”

and the king still designates specific areas for each family to use. Children ran out to greet us on the road, waving enthusiastically. Tourists are, it seems, still quite a novelty here. But then the villages thin out and the plains stretch as far as the eye can see, with scarcely a thicket or solitary tree to disturb the horizon. You won’t spot the King Lewanika Lodge until you’re almost on top of it: architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens’ magnificent creation is low rise, built predominantly of natural materials, and the swathe of golden

thatch covering the roof is exactly the same colour as the surrounding grasslands. We looped around and approached the lodge from the rear, looking out for a lion lurking in the shadows of the trees. A reception committee awaited us, welcome drinks in hand, but as we drove in there was a message on the radio: two cheetahs had been spotted nearby. It was a split-second decision to skip the formalities and tour of our rooms, but the chance of a cheetah sighting is not something you’d want to miss.




The sun was now sinking, turning the sky a glorious pink. Eagle-eyed guide Innocent scanned the dusky horizon for any rapid movement of zebra or wildebeest which might suggest there was a cheetah in hot pursuit. But in fact all was remarkably peaceful, and what he ultimately spied was a single head in silhouette, poking up above the grass. We had long left the sand track behind, but the vehicle was comfortable enough off road and at this speed the engine noise was little more than a loud cat’s purr. We came closer, and closer still. The cheetah, though aware of our presence, was completely unconcerned, focusing instead into the distance in case a hare or other small animal was unlucky enough to pass by. We stepped down from the Land Cruiser and Innocent laid out a table of drinks and snacks. In the half-light we drank a toast, excitable as children at what we had just been privileged enough to see. It was not until the following morning that I fully explored the lodge. Its arching frame is like the ribcage of a whale or other giant beast, but as the areas between the beams and struts are completely open, you hardly realise they are there. No glass obscures your views of the plains, and the breeze which blows through is most welcome, especially in the mid-day heat. The Time +Tide lodge is open plan, and the restaurant area 46


This spread, clockwise: A lion pride in Liuwa Plains National Park; Zebra on the plains; Time + Tide King Lewanika; Cheetah at sunset; Hyena in the grass; Dinner at Time + Tide King Lewanika; Lounge area of the King Lewanika suites.

“You get a front row seat as vast numbers of wildebeest and zebra come here to calf.” segues naturally into the bar and thence to the lounge and wide wooden deck. It is half tempting to sit and read the scattering of magazines and coffee table books, but then you glance up and remember where you are: the plains are just too enticing. I sat, or rather dangled, in a hammock seat strung from the beams, my legs swaying gently. I was transfixed by the swishing of the grasses, and the wildebeest with their young wandering by. Each morning starts with a coffee at first light, then a drive out into the park. Staying here, you get a front row seat on Africa’s second largest wildlife migration, as vast numbers of wildebeest and zebra come here to calf. The size of the herds is impressive, for sure, but it is the carnivores which are the real draw. Following in the wildebeests’ wake are not only the cheetah, but clans of hyena up to 95 strong, and plenty of lions, too. I saw five lions in a single morning: a dominant male, a female, and their three cubs of differing ages. A decade ago there was just one lion here, a lioness by the name of Lady Liuwa, but under the management of African Parks the population is slowly recovering. The Zambian Carnivore Programme has its research station adjacent to the lodge, and they keep a close watch on the lions. We sat in the Land Cruiser, eyes wide open in awe, as the lion lounged in the sunshine, drank from the pans, and played. One of the older cubs was teaching his little brother to hunt, stalking imaginary prey through the grass. Zebras, sensibly, kept their distance, safe at least for now. Return to the lodge mid-morning, invariably heralds brunch, and by this time the day is already becoming warm. We joined staff and fellow guests at a long wooden dining table which would not look out of place in a medieval hall. You can of course dine alone, enjoying a romantic meal for two, but with such a small community — the lodge accommodates a maximum of 15 guests — it is far



WORLD TRAVELLER This page clockwise: The view from the lodge; Family villa; The rain showers at King Lewanika

Get away from the noise and the bustle of everyday life and find peace in the unspoilt wilderness surrounding the King Lewanika Lodge. This stunningly designed haven really does make the most of its natural location, and the charming staff go to great lengths to ensure you get the most extraordinary wildlife encounters. Safari drives may be hot and dusty, but the lodge itself is a calm, cool oasis, an unmatched retreat which will make you fall in love with Africa’s landscapes, its wildlife, and its sunsets time and time again. A four-night stay with Africa Exclusive at the King Lewanika Lodge, including return flights from Lusaka to Kalabo, starts from $7,449 per person. For more information visit or +44 1604 628979

Images: Sophie Ibbotson; Norman Carr; Ben Tavener

more fun to trade stories of nearly-too-close wildlife encounters and to share photography tips. In spite of the distance from civilisation, every meal here is a succulent feast. Grilled aubergine with honey sticks sweetly on the tongue and contrasts starkly with the crunchiness of red cabbage and the tang of citrus segments. The soft, warm bread is always homemade, and one evening we were treated to an indoor barbecue (the weather having turned somewhat stormy), drawing a collective gasp, at the number and variety of dishes, each one somehow more delicious than the last. Now I haven’t yet told you about the rooms: I’ve been saving the best until last. Technically I suppose they are tents, but that word hardly does justice to the design. Each huge canvas-clad suite stretches out atop an extensive wooden deck, the sides rolling up to unveil the great outdoors. More than one afternoon I lay back on the king size bed for an hour or more just staring at the natural world before me. A bathroom is typically an enclosed space, but not so at King Lewanika. The two rain showers — one indoors, the other outside — are divided by nothing more than a removable canvas wall. The outdoor option is open to the sky but screened in such a way that no one else can see you. Standing in the heat of the sun, feeling its heat on your skin, whilst looking up into the trees or out across the grasslands is nothing short of magical, and possible only in a place such as this where other people are so few and far between. And that more than anything is the draw of this lodge: it’s an incredibly exclusive affair. With so few guests at King Lewanika, and no other lodge in the park, the focus is completely on you and what you want to see and do. The lion and cheetah are unperturbed by people and vehicles because they’re rare and cause them no harm. You know when you approach a wildebeest herd, or draw up beside a flock of birds, that they won’t take fright. No one else will obstruct your view.





The exquisite space and casual atmosphere set the stage for a sophisticated and luxurious experience tart your day in style with a leisurely breakfast with Nomad Urban Eatery, the All Day Casual Dining choice for all the right reasons, delivering a chic dining experience. You will find this culinary pearl at The Courtyard, located in Bahrain’s Al Seef District. The restaurant pays meticulous attention to detail, displaying flair and its own unique signature style; the exquisite space and casual atmosphere set the stage for a sophisticated and luxurious experience; but it isn’t just the fine food and décor that impresses at Nomad, the enticing menu and attentive knowledgeable service


from the Nomad team, expertly led by Alberto Pardo, who brings a wealth of experience from his time with Jamie Oliver and the late Antonio Carluccio, and chef Steve McGowan whose experience includes Murano with Gordon Ramsey & Angela Hartnett, and Bibendum, which set it apart from the pack. If you like to start your day with a healthy breakfast then try the Peanut Butter Acai Bowl, a delightful mixture of fresh strawberries, banana, almond milk, granola, peanut butter and cocoa nibs, or perhaps spoil yourself with the rich flavours of White Chocolate and

Above: Vibrant interior; Below: Matcha Chai Coffee; Dining area; Shakshouka



GOURMET TRAVELLER This page, clockwise: Acai bowl; Main dining area; Eggs royale; Breakfast bao.

“The array of mouth-watering dishes and cuisines is provocatively tempting.” Matcha French Toast, served with berries, whipped vanilla cream, and blueberry syrup; an indulgent take on this breakfast classic that simply oozes flavour, ensuring your taste buds are in for a rare treat. The Truffle Bao, offers a light savoury alternative, two soft white buns filled a fluffy scrambled egg, topped with wild mushrooms and truffle; a simple yet delicious dish. If you are looking for something altogether more substantial then the aptly named Eggs Royale is a welcome treat. House-smoked salmon, wilted spinach, perfectly cooked poached eggs, served on a lightly toasted English muffin, covered with a generous helping of smooth and delightfully unctuous hollandaise sauce. A new arrival on the Nomad breakfast menu is a thin crispy breakfast pizza, this epicurean breakfast treat is topped with tomato, crispy beef bacon and quail eggs. For those looking for more local-style breakfast fare, then Middle East staple Shakshouka is your ideal choice. This appealing sharing dish, is served in a cast iron skillet, and consists of eggs nestled on top of a delicious rich combination of tomato, and peppers, that is lightly spiced, and served with two quenelles of lightly smoked labneh and a generous side of toasted homemade rye sourdough bread. Nomad certainly lives up to our expectations; The array of mouthwatering dishes and cuisines is provocatively tempting. Whether you choose to dine for breakfast, a quick business lunch, a delicious dinner, late-night fare or just coffee Nomad has something for every taste. And if that isn’t enough look out for Nomad’s imaginative loyalty program. +973 1700 0330 @nomadeaterybh FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


SERGIO HERMAN A DUTCH MASTER I was so focused on winning Michelin stars; and it was fantastic when I received them!

here is a general consensus among chefs that to excel inside the kitchen you need a certain mentality. Coping with long hours in a stressful and heated environment is not for the faint hearted, nor is the near constant striving for perfection. Therefore, you need to be a little bit crazy. And Sergio Herman, well, he is a little crazier than most. The famed Dutch chef shocked the culinary world back in 2013 when he decided to close the doors of his renowned restaurant Oud Sluis. Having worked for decades to put it on the map, gained three Michelin stars and a place on the San Pellegrino’s prestigious World 50 Best Restaurants list, Herman suddenly decided that a change was needed. “No one could talk me out of it,” he exclaims. “I was working for 25 years in Oud Sluis and I had reached everything. I had the three stars and the recognition but it was a combination of a small space and too many people. “I didn’t feel the growth




anymore and I knew that I needed more free time for myself in order to discover the world. I didn’t see life outside of the kitchen. “I was so focused on winning the stars and it was fantastic when I received them. That is not part of my life anymore, I am free of it. Also, I don’t have the ego anymore to want it again. I am happier now than I was before because working for that long in that small kitchen brought me nothing. “Yes, it brought me more as a chef and I was able to grow and work to perfection, but it brought me nothing else in my life. I missed a lot in those 25 years.” Now Herman finds himself in Dubai preparing an eight-course menu at At.mosphere, the restaurant located on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa. It is the type of project he can now undertake thanks to the freedom that came with closing Oud Sluis. Yet the 47-year-old is far from content. He believes he moved too quickly in opening The Jane, his contemporary restaurant in Antwerp.


This spread, left to right; Sergio Herman; The Jane restaurant in Antwerp, Belgium; Jane dessert; Sergio Herman.

Housed in a former chapel of a military hospital, it has already been awarded two Michelin stars and delivers mind-blowing flavours that are both simple and sophisticated. But Herman appears to once again be ready for a major change. “I closed Oud Sluis and I went immediately into The Jane, and I missed my family during that period,” he says. “I went immediately 200 kilometres an hour into the next project and that wasn’t good. “I have only realised now that is wasn’t a good thing and that I should have just taken a breath and had six months or a year where I could just wake up a little bit. “Now I want to go back to a very small restaurant, something very special

hard and keep my two feet on the ground,” says Herman. “I think he saw I had potential very quickly but he never told me to my face. He was very strict, but at the same time he was great to work with and we never fought in the kitchen. “My dad taught me all the basics and he is definitely me mentor. But he had a hard life and I saw my parents work extremely hard so I wasn’t always sure I would follow in his footsteps. “But I had a moment of clarity when working at a two Michelin star restaurant in Holland. They were very happy with me and in that moment I realised I wanted to go for it.” It is now close to 30 years since Herman chose to become a chef

“Housed in a former chapel of a military hospital, The Jane delivers mind-blowing flavours that are both simple and sophisticated.” where I cook a couple of days a week. I want to do a minimum of covers with a small team. So something with spirit and 100 per cent Sergio. “I have something in mind and I want to do something close to nature and nearby where I live. You need to have a dream and you need something new, always. Yes, I think I will go for it.” Clearly Herman is extremely head strong, but the closure of Oud Sluis still had a major effect on him. The restaurant had been almost all he knew, having grown up in the kitchen while his dad worked as head chef and his mother looked after the front of house. So many of his memories are tied into his former restaurant and even today he is driven by the words of his father. “He always told me to work

and still now he believes he has much to learn. While previously he would travel and almost exclusively dine in the finest restaurants, now he enjoys nothing more than sampling street food and discovering locations rich with character. A recent trip to Mexico saw him fall in love with food from street vendors and while in Dubai he has vowed to discover ‘real Arabic food’. “For sure I have changed a lot because if you are older you cook less for show and focus more on the product and the taste,” he declares. “My focus was always on fine dining but I am a little bit over that now. “Of course when I travel I know a lot of chefs and I will always visit them, but only maybe one time. The rest I go more for street food and find restaurants with a FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


“I always say that I am extremely lucky that I didn’t have the signature of another chef. I always cook my own style” nice vibe. “I do think classic food will always be a winner but you have to refresh it a little bit and give it a special touch. It’s now less important to show off and instead focus on producing something that is pure and very special.” Fortunately, throughout his career Herman has been able to produce dishes that are unique and original. Despite training in restaurants across the Netherlands and working so closely with his father, he has been able carve out his own niche. It is something that Herman is extremely proud of, but at the same time he worries that those entering the culinary business will struggle to fully understand the importance of being unique. “I always say that I am extremely lucky that I didn’t have the signature of another chef. I was always cooking my own style,” says Herman. “In those days you didn’t have television programmes with food or social media. You had books and you went to restaurants, that was it. “I had to search things out and learn from my experiences. And I was lucky that my parents would take me to the top restaurants in France and Belgium so food was always in my DNA. “But the most important thing for a chef is to do their own thing. They must put their telephones away and not focus so much on Instagram You see all these young chefs, a lot of them are making things just for pictures. But taste is the most important thing.” Passing on his knowledge to the next generation of chefs is vitally important to Herman and it was one of the reasons he agreed to let a film crew follow him for close to two years following his decision to close Oud Sluis. The documentary was promoted as a ‘revealing story about perfection, ambition and sacrifices’, but Herman also believes it can serve as inspiration for young chefs who have a goal 54


and are determined to achieve them. “I enjoyed the documentary as it was very natural, they just followed me and everything was real,” he says. “But I do think it is good for young chefs to see as it shows that if you believe in something and truly focus yourself, then you will be paid back in full.” Herman also has another life lesson for those just starting out in the kitchen, and that is to find the right balance between work and family. While at Oud Sluis he rarely disconnected from the restaurant, with any spare time spent dreaming up new dishes and doing all he could to achieve three Michelin stars. He never truly felt relaxed in his own house and could not dedicate enough time to his four children. A fact that has only hit home in recent years. “It is necessary to realise that you have another life outside of the kitchen. And I am enjoying that much more now but it took me a couple of years to realise that home is a place that can be enjoyed,” he admits. “Sitting there now it is a little unreal as previously I would always have had an anxious feeling as I would be thinking about the restaurant or a certain dish. Now I am more relaxed and I enjoy cooking for the kids on the weekends. “I think my youngest is even showing an interest in cooking, he has the character of a chef already. He is only six but he is eating everything and loves his food. It is very special.”

GOURMET TRAVELLER This spread, clockwise: The Jane restaurant in Antwerp; Sergio Herman; Jane Dessert; Sergio Herman; Eggplant feta spread; At.mosphere dining room

It is clear from the way that Herman speaks that moving on from his beloved Oud Sluis was the correct decision. He talks with great pride about his family and clearly enjoys being able to watch his oldest son play football. Now he can even join in the conversation with the fellow proud parents as his mind is no longer constantly occupied by thoughts of his restaurant. Yet it seems the story of Sergio Herman is not yet complete and as he sits more than 500 metres above downtown Dubai it is clear he is anxious to start another new chapter. The Jane may be bringing yet more recognition and providing the Dutch master chef with the chance to spend more time with his family, but there is a part of Herman that craves a new challenge. And it seems a new project could soon be selected. “I have the feeling that there is an opportunity to start something special in another city,” he adds. “I am looking for a venue that reflects my character. I am not a bling bling guy and I prefer more pureness and a more raw style of architecture. “The building has to give me the right feeling and I have to be able to find the right staff. But as always, I will follow my gut. I know no other way.”



Sky-high DINING Adrian Back visits At.mosphere Dubai

t is now more than six years since At.mosphere was opened on the 122nd floor of the Burj Khalifa to a great deal of fanfare. Billing itself as the highest restaurant in the world and guaranteeing breath-taking views of virtually the entire city, it certainly had a unique selling point. Yet I struggled to find a friend, colleague or even acquaintance who had dined 442 metres above downtown Dubai. Perhaps the restaurant’s promise of delivering far more than just an exceptional view had not been met. Or perhaps the controversial minimum charge when first opened had proved off putting. Still, I made my way to the restaurant without any preconceptions and was looking forward to sampling high-quality food that would match the jaw-dropping views. Certainly there is little doubt that anyone arriving will not be impressed after zooming up the high-speed lift and being greeted by floor-to-ceiling windows that provide a unique view of the ever-evolving city. The restaurant itself is on the small side and is somewhat monotone, with mahogany and plush red hues dominating the space. There are also a limited number of tables by the window, with these tending to accommodate smaller groups. Unlike the lounge which featured a live violinist, the music in the restaurant is very much ambient and there is no doubt that this is a fine-dining restaurant with the vast majority of patrons having




dressed up for the occasion. Once seated the staff are friendly and knowledgeable, helping guide you through the menu and very quickly bring out a signature cocktail and small but flavourful amuse bouche to start your experience. The menu itself has a wide variety of dishes but does cater for those with deep pockets, especially when it comes to those who prefer seafood and steaks. The 11+ Japanese wagyu sirloin is inordinately priced at $250, while the cold and warm seafood platters will set you back $260 should you choose to accompany it with grilled blue lobster tail. Even without the lobster be prepared to pay $210 for crab legs, scallops, oysters and salmon when opting for the cold seafood tower. However, there is an a la carte menu and it is here that you will find dishes that do provide more value for your money. I decided to ask for the opinion of my waiter who was more than happy to recommend several dishes and eventually settled upon the blue lobster. Beautifully presented, the smoked beetroot and carrot still retained a crunch, as did the small caraway crackers. A light horseradish quenelle added some much-needed spice to the salad, but the portion of lobster was somewhat of a let-down. Expecting that wonderful meaty texture and subtle shellfish flavour, instead I was greeted by a stringy and tough first bite that clearly

GOURMET TRAVELLER Clockwise: At.mosphere dining; Chocolate dessert; Edible flowers; Burj Khalifa; At.mosphere interior; Salmon

“The pumpkin mousse was wonderfully light with a subtle taste” showed the tail had been overcooked. This was disappointing given the small size of the dish and the $75 price tag. Fortunately the main course more than made up for the anti-climactic starter and having been warned about the lengthy cooking time, it was certainly worth the wait. The star of the dish was very much the substantial portion of dry aged beef loin. Both succulent and tender, the full density of flavour was enhanced thanks to the well-matched soubise and Barolo sauce. Everything the starter lacked, the main had in abundance. The meat was perfectly cooked, with a hint of red in the middle, and the portion was on the larger side. The crispy potato stack was well seasoned, while the tongue and tail housed in a watercress crust did not overpower the beef which was rightfully the main focus of the dish. So far my experienced was mixed and I hoped that by ordering the pumpkin dessert I would be able to finish on a high. Once it FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA



This page: entrance at Burj Khalifa; Restaurant interior

arrived the presentation was stunning and I couldn’t wait to see if the various elements of the dish would work together. The pumpkin mousse was wonderfully light and had a subtle taste that was lifted thanks to the cassis base. This intense blackcurrant character was enhanced thanks to several purée dots of cassis also situated around the plate. Similarly the brown butter ice cream brought a delicate taste that matched well with the pumpkin and the hint of cinnamon that ran through the small crumble that sat alongside the mousse. Lunch was then completed in the form of the complimentary dessert that came served in a wooden box. Once opened it reveals cold smoke that is hiding two small chocolates with a flavour-filled sorbet interior that left a smile on my face. It was certainly enough to make me forget about the disappointment of the starter, but did make me wonder if the entire experience lived up to the rather full price tag. At.mosphere definitely has dishes full of finesse and flavour, and the amazing views are a sight to behold. But given the premium pricing, that puts alongside some of the very best restaurants in the UAE, At.mosphere still needs a little more consistency. However, those seeking a unique experience and with deep pockets will be attracted to the location and it is perhaps no surprise that it is a favourite among UAE visitors. 58


Words by Adrian Back. Photos by: At.mosphere

“Given the unique location it is perhaps no surprise that At.mosphere is a favourite among UAE visitors.”

GOURMET TRAVELLER This spread, left to right: Patatas Bravas; Joan Gomez; Vinoteca table; Vinoteca oil and vinegar table; Petit fours; Paella.


BAHRAIN Inspiring cuisine and chic Mediterranean style; La Vinoteca Barcelona offers an authentic Spanish dining experience 60


f you are looking for that somewhere special to enjoy a romantic meal, a sophisticated business lunch, or a family brunch with that added touch of European flair, then the chic classic style of La Vinoteca Barcelona is for you; not only a designer ambiance but gourmet cuisine too. The casual yet elegant charm of La Vinoteca Barcelona offers a rare Spanish gastronomic treat; distinctive tapas and plates of classic and modern Spanish favourites provide an unforgettable experience. The stylish and relaxed restaurant celebrates the passionate culture and gastronomy of Spain, delivering a selection of Mediterranean tapas and signature dishes prepared from quality produce by Spanish chefs. Led by the unbridled culinary talents of chef Joan Gomez and his gifted kitchen brigade, La Vinoteca Barcelona stands out as one of Bahrain’s fine dining destinations, located in the heart of Bahrain’s Block 338. The new menu features both traditional and modern inspired interpretations of Spanish plates such as tantalising tapas and pintxos, patatas bravas, croquetas and mojama; and signature dishes such as a classic paella, evoking the distinct flavours of Iberia.

La Vinoteca powerhouse Joan, started cooking at the tender age of 14 at his family’s hotel in Barcelona. He has worked alongside Michelin-starred chefs such as legendary three-starred Ferran Adria of Il Bulli, Carlos Gaig and Joan Roca, in some of the world’s finest kitchens, developing a distinct style and infectious enthusiasm which he has brought to Bahrain. Dining in La Vinoteca Barcelona is a special experience; the

create the perfect canvas for chef Joan’s culinary art to play out. To complement the inspired cuisine and to elevate your dining experience, sample a glass of something special from the large selection of fine grape from Bodega Torres. There is no doubting the tempting array of dishes makes for quite a challenge, as you wrestle over just what to select. Every meal is a special occasion, savour patatas bravas stuffed

“The casual yet elegant charm of La Vinoteca Barcelona offers a rare Spanish gastronomic treat” sleek new décor, of natural hues and textures, provides a warm welcome, with large windows providing natural light by day and discreet lighting by night, which brings out the earthy tones of the rich autumn colours to provide a sociable atmosphere and a stylish space. The friendly and attentive staff show just the right level of service without being obtrusive, which conveys a sense of comfort that instantly makes you feel at home, coming together to

with a spicy chili sauce and olive oil mayo, accompanied by Pa amb tomàquet, a crisp toasted olive bread spread with ripe tomato, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, followed by a melange of calamari stuffed with minced beef and prawns, cooked in a seafood and Romesco sauce; and Croquetas de morcilla, Spanish black pudding croquetas topped with fire roasted red peppers and parsley, which provide the perfect balance of fresh flavours to awaken your tasteFOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


buds for the main event. Try a traditional Spanish paella. If you haven’t savoured the delights and complex flavours of a genuine paella before then you are in for a gastronomic experience. Paella is perhaps a fitting dish to bring back to the Middle East with its origins steeped in the Moorish heritage of Valencia in Spain, where casseroles of rice, fish and spices have been served on special occasions for centuries. Savour a traditional paella made with fresh fish, calamari, mussels, prawns and lobster; a combination of textures and tastes, combined with rich aromas that will entertain your palate as layers 62


of flavours delicately unfold. Another Spanish culinary treasure is Salt Baked Fish, a whole fish baked in a salt crust and served with butter sauce, fresh steamed vegetables and a crispy fennel salad. This is probably one of the best ways to cook white fish, and is perfect for hammour. The flesh stays moist drawing just a little of that sea salt, making for the perfect fresh flavour. The desserts remain true to Spanish cuisine with Chocolate Buñuelos, a sort of Spanish light fluffy chocolate filled doughnut, dusted with sugar and served with cinnamon ice-cream, a simple yet tasty treat. For the true dessert-lover La Vinoteca Barcelona



Words: Nick Baines. Images: La Vinoteca Barcelona; Food and Travel

This spread, left to right: La Vinoteca Barcelona bar; Vinoteca Croquetas; Cardamon ice cream; Guitarist; Beef moullete; Joan Gomez; Interior.

“For a true Iberian experience enjoy the complex flavours of traditional Spanish paella” offers its own indulgent Mango Soufflé, served with Pistachio Sablés, which provide a perfect harmony for the delicate tropical overtones of the soufflé; and an absolutely delicious cardamom icecream. And to complete your meal why not enjoy coffee and petit fours al fresco in the elegant secluded garden The restaurant has distinct personas depending upon what time of day you visit, eat inside or dine alfresco; delivering twice the experience, but the same delectable food, a real treat for gourmands and casual diners alike. La Vinoteca Barcelona is a must have experience on any visit to Bahrain. FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


This spread, left to right: Exterior; Executive suite; Sandra Tikal.

Management by Design Sandra Tikal, GM Palazzo Versace Dubai Francesca Jackson discovered what it takes to hold the tiller of Dubai’s most iconic luxury destination from Chief Operating Officer of ENSHAA Hospitality Division & General Manager Palazzo Versace Dubai, Sandra Tikal legant, charming and deeply passionate about her work, Sandra Tikal brings a wealth of experience and drive to Palazzo Versace. Sandra knows the luxury brand well, having been GM of both Palazzo Versace Gold Coast Australia and now Palazzo Versace Dubai.


Running a restaurant is hard work at the best of times, running a hotel more so; did you always want to be work in the hospitality industry? And how did you fall upon a career in hospitality? I fell into the hospitality industry – I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, I was 21 when I came into hotels. I had previously worked in restaurants as second jobs and that’s where my love for hospitality came from; I enjoyed being surrounded by people. I enjoy the diversity of hotels, it’s a multi-skilled operation, you have to know about everything from engineering to housekeeping and food & beverage to sales & marketing. It’s an amazingly interesting business and I have had the privilege to work in almost every department in hotels. So I became hooked, and in fact I tried to leave the industry twice, because it as an all-consuming career, and I am a person who is driven by my passion, but I could never stay away! What was your first job, and what did you learn from it? My first job was actually working for Safeways, a supermarket chain in Australia, working at the checkout, but by the time I left I was 64


their youngest Deli Manageress. It was a fabulous education and an excellent introduction in how to behave in service. Please share some leadership tips you feel are essential to your job. I feel that working with a team and being able to help them grow, and to mentor them is not only important but also rewarding. I have benefited so much from being on the receiving end. I prefer an informal approach, a people culture, which I brought with me from Australia; which I think is even more important here in Dubai with the rich social diversity and so many different nationalities and cultures. What led you to join / re-join Palazzo Versace / ENSHAA? I actually joined ENSHAA in Dubai on the proviso I was not going to be the General Manager of Palazzo Versace Dubai, but I really wanted to see the project finished; I was responsible for development, design and branding on the project – and whilst I was doing that I was also CEO of the Signature Clubs division for two years. During that time I opened the Capital Club East Africa in Nairobi; but as the opening of Palazzo Versace Dubai neared I didn’t have time for both roles, focusing on the hotel until 2010 when I moved on. However, I was tempted back by the CEO of ENSHAA, Raza Jafar, just a couple of years later; I have the DNA of the brand from the very beginning (back in 2000) as an operator in Australia, and I think that he felt that the property needed to have the passion and


“I feel that at Palazzo Versace we deliver a boutique experience” understanding that I bring, and inject it into the team. And for me it has been a terrific journey. Palazzo Versace is a unique property in the region, with only one other property in Australia and although the brand is synonymous with style and glamour, how does this reflect to product recognition and operational success? Versace was the first fashion brand to enter the hotel market, with the Gold Coast property in Australia, which although a little smaller than Palazzo Versace Dubai is very similar. And at the time Versace were the only brand that had the complete package, including home furnishings, accessories and furniture, the complete package; making the proposition truly unique; it’s not just a brand name in front of the building. One of the signature elements of the Versace brand is that everything is designed with warmth, and inspired from history. What are the challenges managing such a unique property? It is certainly different running Palazzo Versace Dubai, its part fashion brand and part hotel. Fashion brands tend to be seasonal with new collections every few months, whereas a hotel is here to stay. Hotel designs needs to live for two or three years, whereas a fashion range just needs to live until the next collection. So you need to find the happy medium in between. For example, if we are using photography that includes people, then the fashion element may be only be available for use for a year. It’s important to stay true to the brand, and sometimes at to the detriment of the bottom line – I am not saying that the bottom line is not important but the brand is a key element in the fabric of the property. You have to find the best outcome, whilst staying true to the high-quality nature of the brand. The design process for every item is meticulous and cannot be compromised, even if the items are unbranded, as they reflect upon the whole quality experience. Even the

flowers in the hotel are grown specially for us. The purpose is to feel as they you are entering someone’s home – a fabulous villa on Lake Como. Detail is everything, no matter how small. What trends do you see for the hospitality sector in the coming years? As more and more brands are being bought up under one umbrella, I think that people will look for more unique experiences, not just in hotels but on the high street too; people want something different. I feel that at Palazzo Versace we deliver a boutique experience, despite being a large property, providing something iconic & unique. What do you consider to be the essentials of exceptional customer service? The need to create an environment with a sincere team spirit; we don’t have a separation of management, we all work together. I try to lead by example, and I will prioritise anything that is important for the team, at the expense of my personal time, in order to support the team. For example, unless I am entertaining for business, we all eat in the same staff canteen. I have an open-door policy and believe that it is important to not only listen to our staff, but also act upon their contributions, and include our entire team in everything that we do. There is stiff competition from other luxury properties in Dubai and the region. Beyond the Versace brand what makes Palazzo Versace stand out? Whilst we have to create an awareness of the brand and hotel – people do come here for the brand, but it’s not necessarily to everyone’s taste. But I believe in our own product and if we stay true to our brand and maintain the high-quality of service and standards throughout the property, our success will grow. FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA



Lima Dubai is a casual restaurant that offers modern Peruvian cuisine from awardwinning chef Virgilio Martinez; his Central restaurant in Lima, Peru is rated as the No.1 restaurant in Latin America, and No.5 on the ’World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ global list; and Lima London has already garnered a Michelin Star. he menu is global Peruvian cuisine, served in a casual way. According to Martinez “Lima is designed to be Peruvian food with tradition, with some innovation to become part of the city it is in, but it can be anywhere in the world. - I think it’s because when you go to a Peruvian restaurant, it’s a whole experience – you find a whole new world of seeing ingredients, serving food, and sharing ideas.” The Martinez ethos is reflected in the warm welcome and friendly service; and the restaurant is an interior designer’s dream. The vibrant contemporary space enjoys an abundance of natural light during the day that sets off the eclectic décor; an ideal venue for a family brunch, dinner or just after-work drinks. The ‘Peruvian Expedition Brunch’ is a set 5-course sharing menu; setting it aside from the usual melee of Friday buffet brunches. The menu could be more balanced; an ample selection of starters, but you can only select one dish between two from the mains. There is a great emphasis on the starters and a limited selection for desserts, which is a great shame if you’ve got a sweet tooth, but a chocolate box is available if you ask. If you aren’t a fan of fish then you could be in trouble, as it features strongly on the menu. I probably should mention the service at this point; as highlighted earlier, the service is friendly enough but when the server ran through the menu descriptions, they were rattled off with the speed of a




Gatling gun; the words blurred into one-another. Information overload that left us as un-informed at the end as when we started. The food soon started to arrive (which, at the beginning was fine, as we’d had a light breakfast). Although too many dishes were served far too quickly, not only overwhelming the table and but our appetites too, giving us a feeling that we were being hurried out the door. Another problem of the rushed service is that many of the dishes have gone cold before you can get around to tasting them; and then, without warning, and not necessarily before we had finished, the plates were cleared and more food arrived. Too much, too quick. Having mentioned some misgivings on the service, for the most part the food was delightful and the dishes on the brunch menu (save for the eagerness of delivery) were well presented and full of flavour.


DUCK BAO BUNS Pulled Duck, pickles and spice rocoto sauce. The presentation reminded me of having fish and chips in newspaper at Côte Brasserie; beautifully presented in wooden bowl, and tasted amazing. There were different textures. The spicy sauce was smooth and rich, with a great balance of sweet and sour, that was certainly not short on flavour and is definitely a dish that will tantalise your tastebuds. The duck was moist and tender and worked well with the salad leaves, and well complemented by the light and fluffy buns.

This spread, clockwise: roe; Lima Dubai Lounge; risotto; lounge; Virgilio Martinez






This spread, clockwise: staircase; dining space; Bao; Virgilio Martinez; Ceviche

“The ‘Peruvian Expedition Brunch’ is a set 5-course sharing menu” and the oriental flavours took us on a culinary a trip around Asia. Simple but delicious!


CATCH OF THE DAY The fresh meaty morsels of salty seabass were flavoursome, and perfectly balanced by the red onions and Cancha corn, which added a welcome crunch to the dish and gave it a nice earthy finish. If you are looking for something a bit different do try this! CEVICHE SALMON Fresh Salmon, Yellow tiger milk, Beetroot and Asparagus Tempura. Not the best of dishes, the flesh was opaque, firm and slightly chewy and overpowered by the tangy, citrusy, yellow tiger milk sauce - which was extremely hot; having lost its battle with the fryer- the over-battered asparagus showed scant resemblance to this most noble of vegetables. TRADITIONAL CHICKEN CAUSA Yellow Potato, Chicken Breast, Peruvian olives. Again the presentation of this dish was exquisitely executed; the attention to detail evident. The first thing to hit your taste-buds is a citrusy kick from the sauce. The textures are soft and creamy and the aftertaste quite sharp – which seemed to overpower the chicken. PRAWNS ANTICUCHO Marinated with the traditional Inka Panka Chilli, corn cake. The mouth-watering aromas were reflected beautifully in the marinated sauce. You could taste the freshness of the prawns followed by a delightful smoky barbecue aftertaste. VEGETARIAN CHIFA RICE Chinese style rice, Mushrooms, Spring Onion, Asparagus and Broccoli. The rice was fluffy light and sticky,

LAMB SECO Slow-cooked lamb, Pumpkin two ways, Kiwicha, Coriander marinade. The lamb was unctuous and tender; and the pumpkin cream made the dish, with its layers of rich and sumptuous flavours. Hats off to the chef! CHICKEN BREAST PACHAMANCA Sautéed potatoes, Corn brûlée, Pachamanca sauce. The chicken had a hint of mint which was unusual yet inviting at the same time, and the sautéed potatoes were buttery and melted on your tongue. Possibly not to everyone’s palette but definitely a dish to try, if just to experience the unique blend of textures and flavours that will leave you thinking.


CREME BRÛLÉE The indulgent delicate creamy overtones of the brûlée was simply delicious! CHOCOLATE BOX Aesthetically pleasing strawberry lollies dipped in dark chocolate - They were sensational - the flavours were in harmony and resurrected many happy childhood memories! Thank-you! CHOCOLATE MOUSSE An absolutely perfect dark chocolate fondant heaven! Definitely one for all the chocoholics out there! Although there were a few issues, and a couple of the dishes were perhaps wanting, it was an overall enjoyable experience and I look forward to my next a visit to experience the main menu – and If you are looking for a chic destination with a memorable atmosphere, then you should certainly pay a visit to Lima Dubai. Lima Dubai is located in The Square, City Walk; The Peruvian Expedition Brunch set 5-course sharing menu is served every Friday from 12 noon till 4pm, with prices starting at $90pp for the non-alcoholic brunch and $125pp for the alcoholic option. For more information contact:, +971 56 500 4571 or visit FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA




Seven seas Of Wry Food and Travel columnist Kevin Pilley visits the Turks and Caicos’ Conch Festival

he ambient music was fusion. Mainly steelpan, ripsaw and the Atlantic Ocean. But there was also a lot of calypso, spouge, scratch, ska, soca, rocksteady, and maybe some junkanoo too. But very little chutney. The drink was various, predominantly “Turk’s Head” hops, vintage grain punch and frozen mojitos. But everyone at the “Three Queens Bar” was on the trumpets. There isn’t much else to do on the Turks and Caicos Islands than put a trumpet to your mouth and swallow it. Whole. Several times. On Providenciales, the largest of the 40-island archipelago and British Overseas Territory south-east of the Bahamas, everyone conches it up. There is a popular folk myth that if you hold a conch shell to your ear you can hear the turquoise sea. And a 11-point serrated carpenter’s handsaw. At the end of November, the Three Queen’s in Blue Hills near Five Cays hosts the annual “Conch Festival”, a showcase of local culture featuring a conch fritter eating contest, a conch knocking contest, and a conch peeling competition. There used to be a conch blowing tournament. The winner of this prestigious event had to produce a recognizable tune rather than a plumbing anomaly. And not infarct. On some islands fishermen still announce they have fish for sale by sounding a conch sell. At the Turks conch festival contestants in the conch blowing section often announce they are just about to suffer a prolapse. Cookery categories at the festival include Best Conch Salad, Best Conch Chowder and Best Speciality Conch, as well as Best in Show. Leeward Settlement boasts the world’s first commercial conch farm. Naturally, you can go on a conch mari-culture tour beside the 65 acres of sub -sea pasture, see the pens and learn about Queen Conch and environmentally-conscious sources of low-cost protein. And that conch is now listed as a commercially endangered species due to pollution and over-fishing. Ninety per cent of seafood




consumed in the US are imported. Conch harvesting is prohibited in Florida and adjacent Federal states. Many Caribbean islands are forbidden to export conch. After two days, I was well and truly conched out. The Turks proves it is possible to be stalked by a large shell. Everywhere serves conch. “Coco Bistro” offers conch ravioli with sweet pepper and rose sauce. “The Bay Bistro” serves conch crepes (Best in Fest 2009). “The Beach House” serves a conch salad with heirloom tomatoes wrapped in rice paper. “The Infiniti” at the Grace Bay Club (Dress code: resort elegant) boasts barely grilled conch with Japanese cucumber, green zebra tomatoes and smoked Habanero dressing.” The Green Island Café” at Sandy Point Marina on North Caicos serves cracked conch with waffles. “Hemingway’s” offers conch fingers. “Bugaloo’s” in Five Cays, next to the Sunrise Fish Plant” scorches, sautés and blackens its conch. Says top TCI chef Clive Whent, originally from London : “Conch is a super food, one of the ocean’s greatest gifts, it’s low in cholesterol and high in protein. Conch is unique There’s no end to how to serve it.  And if you’re really lucky, you might be gifted with a conch pearl inside the shell, Blue Hills Road off the Leeward Highway has conch shacks like Mark Clayton’s “Da Conch Shack” – home of the Hump and Bump Party”- where you “eat” rather than “dine”. And are liberal with the local “PeppaJoy” handmade gourmet hot sauce. Menus include conch sautéed in rum and butter sauce. Your waiter will even wade out to sea and select a conch for you. You can’t get away from the white-meated “Strombus Giga”. Having eaten conch in its cracked (fried), frittered, sweet ‘n’ sour, smoked and even at the Sibonne Beach Resort in its pecanencrusted form, I had developed many attributes of the celebrated Caribbean gastropod. I didn’t move very far. Or very quickly. I hit the mojitos and “Shark Bite” cocktails and mellowed out to the

This spread, clockwise: The view at Grace Bay, Bugaloo; Da Conch Shack; Conch shells, Conch salad

local ripsaw music. And got into the rake and scrape. Bracing the saw on his thigh, handle side up, a dude in dreadlocks and a snood scraped a knife along his 11-point edge. A friend called Dezzie jammed along, using a screwdriver as his plectrum and making a big play of his teeth. They bent and wobbled together. Ripsaw music originated in the Middle and North Caicos and found its way to the Bahamas. The saw is the national instrument of the island as the conch is its official marine animal. Along with the spiny lobster and the flamingo, the conch has pride of place on the islands’ coat of arms. It must be the world’s only heraldic mollusc. Columbus discovered conch on the Turks & Caicos islands in 1492. He described the shells as “the size of a calf head”. Provo has the world’s only commercial conch farm and you can go on a tour and learn all you ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask about edible trumpets. Like all parts are edible. Except the shell. The conch is called “Titan’s Trumpet”. It is reputed to be the instruments most favoured by mermaids and mermen. Provo, 550 miles from Florida, is becoming increasingly known for its realty, its marina townhouses and its “new paradigms of home ownership”. And its “private enclaves of luxurious condominium residences.” Accommodation ranges from plush sprawling five-star, all-inclusive stalags with well-rehearsed super-casual staff and asmuch-as-you-can-heap-on-one-plate buffets to marvellous B&B establishments. The up-market package hotels boast “exclusive bathroom amenities” (free shampoo), foyer boutiques and market themselves as “hideaways for romantic exclusionists”. Provo is developing fast. It saw its first car in 1964. The locals

or “belongers” are descendants of African slaves brought over by loyalists from Georgia and South Carolina to grow cotton and sisal. It’s their cultural heritage which is celebrated at the islands’ annual conch jamboree. Terry Morris from Grand Turk won the prestigious conch knocking or shucking title, opening thirteen humanely and without significant mutilation in the allotted five minutes. A half-hour flight away from Provo is seven-mile long by one wide Grand Turk is the administrative capital of the British Dependent Territory. Cockburn Town is a charmingly sleepy place where a tailback means two bicyclists stopping to talk to each other down Front Street. Pillory Beach is where Columbus made his landfall. As did the late astronaut John Glenn. In 1962. The National Museum possesses the hull and rigging of the Molasses Reef”, the oldest shipwreck in the New World. The 150-year-old lighthouse was made in Britain and transported over. The only bright lights you will see will be on a glow worm cruise. Goatskin drums announced the headline act, hipster saw hero Wenty Rigby. The “Caicos Slings”, Dirty Bananas” and “Fuzzy Buccaneers” kept on coming. Trumpets build up a thirst. Soon we were all “wined-up” and dancing the local dance,” The Wine”. There is “The Conch” too. Which involves a lot of swaying and hooking your foot behind your ankle. Which drinking mojitos does too. FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA




Anthea Rowan tells us why just a little of what you fancy, really can do you good

y grandmother lived by the adage ‘a little of what you fancy does you good’; a slice of excellent bread (not the whole loaf); a nip of good brandy (not the bottle); a few squares of the best chocolate (never the bar). The phrase was made famous by a risqué music hall performer, Marie Lloyd, towards the end of Queen Victoria’s reign. She sang: I always hold in having it if you fancy it. If you fancy it that’s understood. And suppose it makes you fat? I don’t worry over that ‘Cos a little of what you fancy does you good!’ The little, then, the operative word. Though the ‘fancy’ is pretty key too; I don’t know about you, but I never fancied a bowl of broccoli? And a lot of foods that get bad rap especially in these days of lean ‘clean’ zero carbs eating, are actually imperative to good, wholesome, happy health. So this piece is a small celebration of the six apparently deadly foods that are good for you in moderation, remember, always in polite (I’ll just have the one ...) moderation though not so polite you’re reduced to the paper thin slice of cake that Kristin Scott Thomas’s Alette Naylor, insisted upon ‘un petit peu, un peu plus petit’ in Confessions of a Shopaholic: you must at least taste the stuff.


BREAD Gluten is deemed the social pariah of food now: everybody’s on a Gluten Free diet. But not all flours are grown, or ground, equal. Dozens of studies demonstrate that glutencontaining foods wholewheat, rye and barley are essential for good health and for the 72



This spread, left to right: Artisan bread; Homemade Nutella; Poached eggs; Butter; Portion of chips; Filet wedge.

98% of people (yup, that many of us don’t need to avoid the stuff) that don’t have gluten issues, those same whole grains—which do contain gluten (did I mention that?) — are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer and here’s why: gluten helps boost immune function. After less than a week on added gluten protein, volunteers of one study showed increased natural killer cell activity, which could help us fight cancer and viral infections. Another study found that high gluten bread improved triglyceride levels more effectively than regular bread. And yet another study see what I mean: dozens of them found that a month on a glutenfree diet may reduce (our natural, healthy, important) gut flora and immune function, potentially setting those on glutenfree diets up for an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in their intestines. Why? Because the very components wheat sensitive people have problems with, like FODMAP and fructans, may act as probiotics and feed our good bacteria. So, there you are. Have a piece of that delicious, freshly baked bread, hot out of the oven, infusing the kitchen with its warm lifeaffirming scent. And slather it with butter. Yup. Really: butter, not some sweaty yellow goo in a tub masquerading as the Real Thing.

BUTTER Butter is the ultimate in unhealthy: the shameful fat face of obesity and rampant appetites, blamed for everything from heart disease to high cholesterol. But butter’s reputation is undeserved. Sure, it’s high in fat but that’s not altogether a bad thing. Fat means fat soluble vitamins which means A, E and K2. K2 is a fairly hard vitamin to find, butter is a primary and valuable source of K2 which has health benefits. It is involved in calcium metabolism and a low intake has

been associated with many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis. Dairy from grass-fed cows is particularly rich in vitamin K2 so in the end, happy cows mean happy health. Additionally, butter contains short and medium chain fats which are metabolized differently from other fats. They lead to improved satiety (that is, you’ll feel fuller, longer) and ironically increased fat burning. And replacing butter with margarine compounds the loss of ‘good’ fats that come with butter especially the stuff that comes from those contented grass-fed cows: margarine is highly processed and chock full of harmful trans fats; in one study, scientists examined the effects of butter and margarine on cardiovascular disease Margarine significantly increased the risk of cardiovascular disease, while butter had no effect. Butter also contains butyrate. Science suggests butyrate prevents weight gain on an unhealthy diet by increasing energy expenditure and reducing food intake (see: there’s that satiety and fat burning thing again) and lends an anti-inflammatory component. Grass fed butter, is a great source of a fatty acid called Conjugated Linoleic Acid which has a positive effect on metabolism and is actually sold ironies abound as a weight loss supplement. So whilst it is not advisable to wait for your toast to cool and then top it with butter cut to cheese slice thickness (as my father did), it’s perfectly OK recommended even to spread it on warm bread so its richness sinks deep in and is evident in your first bite.

EGGS Egg white omelettes. Ever eaten one? Ever heard of anything so insipidly patently pointless? FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA



Persecuted by the persistent myth that dietary cholesterol should be avoided, egg yolks have had bad press since the seventies. For years we’ve been warned to discard the yolks. However, the reality is that by discarding the yolk, you’re denying yourself the most nutrient dense part of this incredible food. There is little to no evidence that links egg yolks with heart disease, if anything, they protect against it. A single egg packs 6g of protein for the cost of just 80 calories and provides 13 essential nutrients, all in the yolk; a whole egg is a rich source of protein, providing a complete range of amino acids, omega3 fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin A, selenium, and magnesium. Eggs, far from being the demons of the breakfast table, are actually a mean, lean protein packed machine, delivered in an incredibly clever totally bio degradable capsule designed by Mother Nature herself. That, surely, has got to prove they’re a good thing.

CHIPS Ok. Not Chips exactly, but Potatoes. Another innocent staple banished needlessly from the supper table by those No and Low Carb zealots. But potatoes are a wonderful food: humble, generous. The ultimate in warm, floury comfort eating. It’s the way we cook them that’s key: chuck them into a deep fryer with week old fat and you’re not doing to do them or yourself much good but bake them with their skins on, split them open and add a knob of butter, see above, and you are transported to some safe, soulrestoring place where everything in the world



is soft and kind. And potatoes, for their unassuming modesty are a powerful food, low on phytic acid they are easily digested but simultaneously jam-packed with vitamins and minerals, you’d be hard pressed to find so economically packaged a food at the same price. One of the nutritional benefits of eating potatoes is their vitamin B6, content. B6 helps your body produce neurotransmitters which afford communication between nerve cells, as well as between nerves and muscles. Eating a large potato provides your body with 98% of your body’s recommended daily intake of this important vitamin. They’re also rich in Vitamin C, the same potato will give you a quarter of your daily requirement of Vitamin C which helps protect you from cancer and strokes. As to the other nutrients, potatoes contain manganese which supports metabolism and bone health and potassium which is imperative for muscle function and a healthy nervous system. Recent studies suggest that potatoes may be an especially important food given our highly stressed contemporary lives. Scientists at the UKs Institute for Food Research have identified blood pressure lowering compounds, kukoamines, in potatoes. Avoid the deep fat fryer, instead mash them with low fat Greek yogurt, top a baked spud with broccoli (we can’t avoid it altogether) and sea salt or dress a potato salad with roasted garlic and olive oil.

A (QUALITY) FATTY CUT OF MEAT The myth remains that all fatty meat is bad and we ought only eat

This spread, left to right: Beef Nehari; Lobster Benedict; Steak; Chocolate bar assortment; Truffles; Maya Fondue.

lean meat that means no crispy bacon, no gloriously marbled beef, no browned, salted pork crackling. But in truth both are important in our diet. For years, we have been warned to focus on muscle meats chicken breasts and lean cuts of beef but avoiding the odd cuts of meat (moderation, remember) is completely unnecessary. Chicken legs, thighs, wings and even skin are whole foods that can be incorporated into a healthy diet, as well as rich cuts of beef brisket, shanks, ribs, lamb shoulder, even bacon. Think about it, traditional cultures (pre-the contemporary low carb, gluten free, fat free, clean eating, green juicing brigade) did not have the option read time or luxury to pick and choose what cuts of meat they wanted to eat, they used the whole animal. The benefit of these richer sources of meat is that they contain higher amounts of fatsoluble vitamins A, D, E and K2, as well as glycine (from skin, bones, cartilage) which is an important amino acid that plays a role in nearly every part of the body. We don’t get all these goodies from smugger, leaner cuts of meat. But when it comes to fatty cuts of meat, do consider the quality of the cut: conventional sources might not contain a wellbalanced omega 3 to 6 ratio, so do like Butter and opt for happy grassfed animals. And whilst you do that, whilst you’re in your local butcher’s considering a rolled sirloin for your Sunday Roast, admiring the dense flesh, ribboned with white fat, whilst trying not to salivate guiltily, remember that we’ve been trying to reduce animal fats in our diets for thirty years but we’re not healthier, we’re just heavier.

AND, SAVING THE BEST TILL LAST ... CHOCOLATE. Chocolate is rich in fat and sugar so that’s not it must be said altogether a good thing but, and it’s a big BUT, there are loads of

good reasons to eat it in mindful moderation chocolate contains flavonoids, substances known to have anti-inflammatory effects and antioxidant properties that help mop up disease prompting agents in the body. It’s also full of the amino acid tryptophan, which is an essential ingredient in the production of the happy hormone, the neurotransmitter serotonin. As well as tryptophan, chocolate contains phenyl ethylamine which the body converts to dopamine, which helps us experience pleasure. Dark chocolate is especially good for us so good in fact that four squares a day are virtually prescribed. Researchers in Switzerland and one must assume they know their stuff report that eating dark chocolate every day for two weeks reduces stress hormones, including cortisol, even in super anxious people. There is an abundance of global research that proclaims chocolate is a sound dietary choice (not one of our five or is it seven a day admittedly, but almost): the Swedes established that eating 45g a week reduced stroke risk, the boffins at Cambridge seem to agree; a team of Italian scientists found that eating small amounts increases insulin sensitivity which reduces the diabetes risk; German scientists believe that the flavanols in dark chocolate could protect women’s skin from the sun’s UV rays and British psychologists found that those same flavanols can render a person more numerical but as one who has never been able to add up despite a lifetime of nightly chocolate, I’m not sure I agree with this one. The last word must go to French woman Jeanne Louise Calment who was born in 1875 long before people conceived of green, clean, lectin/lactose/gluten/fat/funfree food who apparently ate a kilo of dark chocolate every week and lived to be 122. I bet she ate baguettes in abundance, enjoyed butter, steak, cream and cheese in happy-go-lucky pre-animal fat anxiety days and slugged Bordeaux regularly too. FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


GOING UNDERGROUND This month we visit Turkey and Food and Travel’s Joe Worthington takes us on a tour of the underground cities of Cappadocia

he Central Anatolian region of Cappadocia is worldrenowned for its extensive tunnel and cave systems that date back centuries, but while many tourists often only head to the region to stay in one of several unique cave hotels or to take a hot air balloon ride over the caves, there are whole underground cities in Cappadocia just waiting to be discovered. Throughout Cappadocia, in the town of Göreme and right across Monks Valley, there are hundreds of distinctive “fairy chimneys” that were once home to Bronze Age troglodyte cave settlers and early Christian refugees escaping from persecution under the Ancient Romans. The many settlers that have called Cappadocia’s caves home over centuries have left their marks, with underground churches, bedrooms carved into cliffs, and abandoned shops lining pathways between the cave settlements. The underground cities of Cappadocia are a spectacular sight and unlike anywhere else in the region. The whole region of Cappadocia is covered in a lunar-like white powdery sand, the towering pointed mountains are littered with holes big enough for a fully-grown person, and at sunset eerie shadows are cast all around, following you like a ghost trying to drag you deeper into the caves. It’s easy to mistake the cave and tunnel system of Cappadocia as the set from a Star Wars movie, especially at night when candle lights flicker inside the caves and locals venture out in cloaks to keep warm. Underneath these natural towers and caves there is a subterranean world quite unlike anywhere else in the world. As




many as 20,000 residents called the town of Derinkuyu home, a settlement built completely underground for locals to hide away from potential foreign invaders. And in the 21st century, these underground tunnel systems have found a new life, with entrepreneurial locals using them to grow fruit and vegetables in the nutrient-rich soils and away from the hot midday sun. Cappadocia’s underground cities are once again proving their worth to the region of Central Anatolia.

KAYMAKLI UNDERGROUND CITY The settlement of Kaymakli dates back to the Hittite period, around 1600 BC, and was developed over the following centuries both as a retreat from marauding tribes looking to capture Anatolia, but


This spread, clockwise: Rocky homes in the Cliff face of Nevsehir; Yunak Evleri Cappadocia Hotel; Cappadocia scenery; Derinkuyu underground city; Hotel cave room interior; Cappadocia suites.

also as somewhere for locals to live away from the unbearable summer temperatures. Kaymakli’s underground town in the most expansive in the region, spanning over 8 floors, with uniquely designed ventilation shafts, and even places of worship. Kaymakli really was a complete underground settlement. The first floor of Kaymakli’s underground caves was used for stables, where locals who lived in the tunnels would keep their livestock. Each floor was connected to the next by steps carved from the rock, and intricate archways were carved between rooms. Remains of uniquely shaped wooden doors can still be seen today. On the third floor, perhaps the most important communal area in the underground city, were the wineries and kitchens. As the

subterranean tunnels were used extensively throughout the Bronze Age, there is extensive use of rocks and metal smelting to create copper pans for use in cooking over large open fires. A block of andesite rock with several holes can be seen in Kaymakli, into which residents would have poured molten copper to create pots, pans, cutlery, and plates. On the fourth floor there is a number of inter-connected rooms that would have been used as bedrooms and communal living areas for the thousands of settlers who once called Kaymakli home. Although only 4 of the 8 floors have been excavated and opened to the public, the Bronze Age settlers of Kaymakli pioneered the system of tower block living that we know today.

DERINKUYU UNDERGROUND CITY Derinkuyu is the deepest underground tunnel and cave system in Cappadocia, and potentially the whole world. There are some 600 doorways hidden away in the gardens of houses leading deep underground to a depth of 85 metres in some places. Just like in Kaymakli, there were rooms dedicated to animal husbandry, cooking, wine production, sleeping, education and worship. Derinkuyu is located around 30 minutes outside of Göreme, the most famous “fairy chimney” town in Turkey. Quite unique for Derinkuyu, the ground floor of the underground city houses FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA



excavation machinery, were able to dig these caves and tunnels and make them last for future generations to discover. Cavernous rooms, some as tall as two fully-grown adults, would most certainly have been difficult to create, and this is what makes Derinkuyu underground city one of the world’s most spectacular sights.


a cruciform plan church and a missionary school with individual rooms set aside for lessons. Nearby there were also rooms for holding the dead and discarded food and broken pottery until they could be taken to the surface when conditions were safer. There is also a huge bathhouse complete with towering ceilings to allow steam to rise, and a system of shafts and false doors that could be moved whenever necessary to trick invaders skilled enough to find their way into Turkey’s subterranean world. It is impossible to know whether these ancient tricks worked, but they are impressive nonetheless. Derinkuyu would have been a vast and impressive city above ground, but underground it is more so. When you take the steep steps down to the first floor of the hidden city, the first thing that comes to mind is questions about how ancient Anatolians, without modern 78


In the town of NevĒehir, archaeologists have discovered one of the world’s largest and best preserved underground churches. The archaeologists working on the regeneration of NevĒehir Castle were not expecting to discover a 360,000-square metre church deep underneath, and most importantly, did not expect to find preserved frescoes and wall paintings that shed some light on Orthodox Christianity in the Anatolia region in the 5th century AD. The cavernous ceiling and intricately carved walls of the church have been painted with frescoes of the crucifixion of Jesus, the Ascension to Heaven, and showing the faces of saints that have long been forgotten. These paintings are some of the oldest Christian paintings in the world, perhaps some of the oldest displaying the key parts of Christian faith. NevĒehir’s underground church shows that the settlers of Cappadocia’s subterranean cities had everything that they needed to lead their lives deep underneath the modern-day cities that we know today.

*(77(+6*0(»: <5+,9.96<5+ *0;0,: ;6+(@ Unlike most places in the world, Turkey has not abandoned its Bronze Age settlements completely, with the extensive underground tunnel systems coming to life with the entrepreneurial endeavours of locals living in the region. The tunnel systems rarely get above 13 degrees Celsius, so they are great for keeping fruit and vegetables fresh. In underground

;OPZZWYLHKSLM[[VYPNO[!*HWWHKVJPH^PU[LYIHSSVVU[V\Y"5L]ȴLOPY underground church; Yunak Evleri Cappadocia hotel exterior; Yunak Evleri Cappadocia hotel pool.

tunnels near Ortahisar, more than 6 metres of crates filled with fresh lemons line the floor, being transported from Turkey’s Mediterranean coast and stored for up to 4 weeks until they are transported to markets in Europe, Russia, and further afield. Cappadocia’s modern uses of the underground passageways do not stop at lemon storage – thousands of tonnes of apples, oranges, pears, potatoes, cabbages and cauliflowers are also hidden right underground the feet of the thousands of locals and visitors venturing to the region every year.

YUNAK EVLERI CAPPADOCIA Tourists visiting Cappadocia who want to experience what it is like living in the caves and tunnels of the region should really stay in the Yunak Evleri Cappadocia hotel. The hotel truly is a magical

experience, with 7 full caves houses and 40 rooms carved into the side of the mountains in the village of Urgup. Some of the carved rooms date back to the 5th century AD, and the main building was a 19th century Greek mansion. Flickering lights illuminate roughly carved walkways between the low carved bedroom doors, and natural shapes in the mountains allow strips of light to flow through at sunrise and sunset, creating heavenly glows right across the hotel compound. There is even a heated outdoor swimming pool carved between the rocks. The bedrooms are all uniquely decorated, some standard rooms, some larger family rooms, and others full cave houses available to rent. Naturally coloured walls, complete with striped patterns that have emerged over centuries. There are marble floors in each room, marble bathroom fittings, handcrafted lace curtains, antique cupboards and tables, traditional bed coverings, antique lights, and impressive kilim carpets. There is nowhere quite like Yunak Evleri hotel, and there is nowhere else in the region where you can live like locals once lived millennia ago. Cappadocia is a special place to experience at any time of the year. Underground tunnels offer a glimpse into a subterranean life that has largely disappeared. Miles of tunnels link cities tens of metres under the feet of modern Anatolia, connecting rooms that were once filled to the top with wine and food, families eating together around open fires, and people getting on with their lives as wars were fought above ground. The underground cities of Cappadocia may only be a tourist attraction and place for storing food today, but the region has many hidden and impressive secrets just waiting to be discovered. FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


HOTEL TALK Anna-Marie Dowling

Dowling brings over 25 years of experience and first-hand knowledge to The Westin and Le Méridien Bahrain City Centre Hotels. ahrain’s only female General Manager of a five-star hotel and winner of a much-coveted Marriott Global Leadership Award, brings over 25 years of experience and first-hand knowledge to The Westin and Le Méridien Bahrain City Centre Hotels. “I came into the international market a little later in my career.” said Dowling. “I already had over 16 years as a General Manager at 5 star hotels in the UK, and I thought that it was about time that I faced a new challenge. I am delighted to have landed in Bahrain; it’s a great first post for the Middle East – Bahrain is inclusive and friendly – people reach out to you. I am loving my time here.” she concluded. Dowling was always destined for the hospitality industry. “I was not particularly academic and not taken with my studies. I was working part-time as a waitress whilst I was studying for my A Levels, and I discovered that I loved the work, and decided go to Catering College and take a B-Tech in Diploma in Catering.” she recalled. “I suppose I fell into the industry through my part time job; I but I saw a clear route forward and I enjoyed the challenged, in fact I still do!” added Dowling. Clearly not someone who shies away from hard work, Dowling started in housekeeping, working as a chamber maid for Holiday Inn at Slough (near to Heathrow Airport in the UK) “I cleaned 15 rooms a day for 9 months.” she notes. “And from there I joined the Holiday Inn Management Training program.” Something that occupied Dowling’s next 2½ years, working in every department from the Front Desk and Concierge to Finance and Food and Beverage. “I gained invaluable experience at the coal-face of the industry; an experience to draw upon even today – so I have an empathy for housekeeping and all the departments. I look back on this as a very




This spread, clockwise: Aerial view of the pool at Le Meridien, Bahrain; The Hub at Le Meridien, Bahrain City Centre; The lobby at the Westin, Bahrain City Centre; Anne-Marie Dowling

Words: Francesca Jackson Images: Marriott; Food & Travel

happy time.” she observed. Over the coming years Dowling worked tirelessly learning her trade, with time at Holiday Inn, Scandic, and Metropole Hotels, leading to her first role as GM at the iconic five-star London Marriott County Hall. “At that time, there was nothing else in the area – the London Eye was just opening – but I had a marvellous few years watching the metamorphosis of the area.” said Dowling. Her success was noticed and Dowling became GM at another two iconic London properties, the Meriden Piccadilly and Café Royale. After 5 years with Meridien, Dowling decided for a change of pace and went to Jersey, in the Channel Islands to join a small private 5-star hotel – The Grand, on the Esplanade in St Helier. “I spent two wonderful years there, but the owners decided to sell the property and I felt it was probably time for a change.” commented Dowling. After a 2-year stint as GM of Royal Horseguards Hotels in London Dowling took a 10-month career break to re-charge her batteries


walks around the mall.” offered Dowling. “The market in Bahrain is tough – the hotel business in London is more transactional, whereas here it very much about relationship management, making the personal touch even more important” she stated. “There are some differences compared to the UK; the market-cycles are shorter here, tending to change every 12-18 month, as consumers seek new concepts. There is a strong appetite for eating out – and new openings are definitely well patronised, at the weekend at least.” Whilst technology is starting to play a larger part in the industry and smart phones becoming more prevalent in our daily live, guests can become less reliant on talking to people. “We try and track people’s preferences – and deliver some little wow factors. Little things like folding a towel into the shape of a shirt and laying their tie on it. A nice touch that adds that little extra care for our guests.” observes Dowling.

“Genuine customer service comes from the heart of our associates wanting to do a good job” before taking up the intense challenge of running an airport hotel – as GM at Sofitel Heathrow. “Running a hotel is full-on, more so for one directly connected to an airport terminal. Its non-stop 24 hours a day.” she observed. “I knew after my 3rd year, I wanted something different and decided to move to an International position – I initially considered Asia but the Middle East had a greater appeal, as it is easily accessible by air and just a few hours’ time difference from the UK.” There are different challenges in the Middle East “Here you are responsible for the total welfare of all your staff, from where they live, what they eat, and how they get work – in addition to the time when they are at work. Quite different from London. However, the Marriott Total Welfare program for our staff ensures that we look after every aspect of their well-being. We run programs such as Breast Cancer awareness, Step-up Challenge, getting people to exercise –with

However, a successful hotel is driven by its team, and great customer care. “Genuine customer service comes from the heart of our associates wanting to do a good job.” Dowling begins. “When things go wrong – which can happen – you need to fix them quickly. People are quite forgiving if you take the initiative. We achieve this by good training and encouraging our associates to take responsibility and act appropriately to provide the guest with a solution. This has never been more important since the advent of Social Media, bloggers and sites such as Trip Advisor.” she concluded. “The Middle East market is a little more demanding than some, but the expectations of the clients remain the same – they expect value for what they are paying.” noted Dowling. There is no doubt that Le Meriden and Westin guests are in good hands. FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


The Rock Gibraltar has seen civilisations come and go for tens of thousands of years, leaving behind unique architecture, attractions, and myths unlike anywhere else. The territory truly is where history meets.

he pint-sized British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, located at the most southerly tip of Europe, has a heritage quite unlike anywhere else in the world. The strategic position of the territory, directly opposite the Moroccan port of Tangier, has meant that Gibraltar has been hotly contested for almost 120,000 years. The first Neanderthal skull ever was discovered in Gibraltar, as were Ancient Greek coins, Phoenician, Carthaginian, Roman, Spanish, Moorish, and Dutch ruins and ships, and now British architecture. Today, Gibraltar is a tourist hotspot for travellers from every corner of the world, visiting the myriad of historic attractions that each tell their own tales of how they contributed to the development of this southern European port settlement. Around every corner, down the main street, along the harbour, up the winding streets around the




towering rock of Gibraltar, and on the road that crosses the airport runway, the ghosts of history roam. Colourful and exciting ceremonies take place like they have for centuries, Moorish bathhouses stand in the spots where they were built more than 600 years ago, and caves line the shoreline that once sheltered weary Phoenician and Carthaginian sailors worried that if they travelled any further they would fall off the edge of the earth. Although small, Gibraltar has played an important role in the history of Europe and the Arab world. Also look out for the typically British red telephone boxes and post boxes, and read the street signs that tell the stories of why they got the names they have. For example, ‘Main Street’ was given this name because it is the main street that passes through Gibraltar, ‘Lynch’s Lane’ commemorates an 18th century merchant called Peter Lynch, who had several businesses in Gibraltar, and ‘Engineer Lane’ because the Commander of the Royal Engineers regiment once lived on this street.

GIBRALTAR’S MOORISH ROOTS Perhaps one of the most evident legacies of all civilisations who once called Gibraltar home, the Moorish history and myths are the most intriguing. Over 1,300 years ago, Berber ruler Tarik ibn Zeyad crossed the Strait of Gibraltar with his heavily armed ships and conquered a sparsely populated rock that he named JebelTarik (translated into English as Tarik’s Mountain). It was from this point that the strategic importance of the rock of Gibraltar became known, and the Moors have left behind countless architectural gems just waiting to be discovered. The Muslim conquest of Spain started in Gibraltar, and over


Getting to Gibraltar Winston Churchill Avenue, one of the main roads that connects the sea front to the north of the territory, is a unique phenomenon in Europe. The road crosses Gibraltar Airport’s runway, so you can get a front seat view of flights taking off and landing when you stop at the road barrier. Gibraltar International Airport is a relatively small airport, mainly connecting to British airports, with British Airways flights to London Heathrow and easyJet flights to London Gatwick, Manchester and Bristol. There are also several flights each week to Tangier and Casablanca in Morocco with Royal Air Maroc Express. As a coastal town, Gibraltar is heavily reliant on its port, with several cruise ships calling at the Port of Gibraltar every week. There is also a marina with regular trips out to sea and visits by some of the world’s most luxurious yachts. Gibraltar is a haven of history, telling the story of centuries of European history. Its natural sights, historical attractions, and furry residents make this a unique and unforgettable destination. Gibraltar is Britain in the sun.

This spread, left to right: Gibraltar; Mosque; Wildlife; The Great Seige tunnels.

400 years, despite several skirmishes between Muslim and Christian armies, the territory was turned into a grand fortress that many thought could never be infiltrated. One of the most striking attractions, with some of the most spectacular views in southern Europe, is the Moorish Castle compound, a medieval fortification comprising several buildings, gates, towers, and heavily fortified walls. The domineering white and yellow sand coloured Tower of Homage is the tallest Islamic tower in Europe and the Kasbah building is the largest in the area. Not only is the tower an important factor in Moorish Europe, it also offers views right across Gibraltar,

best-preserved Moorish bathhouses in Europe. The Romanesque baths was built in the 14th century as a place for Islamic settlers to cleanse themselves, but today is no less impressive than it once would have been. The central chamber, with its 16-sided vaulted roof, is impressive, and the dimly lit archways and columns cast shadows that could easily be mistaken as the ghosts of Moorish warriors bathing away their sorrows.

BRITAIN IN THE SUN As Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory, and has been since 1704 when a joint Anglo-Dutch naval force liberated the town, there are

“There are impressions dented into the soft stone walls that were made by the cannonballs of invading forces trying to push the Moors and then the British out of the territory.” out to the port and busy sea lanes, and into Spain in the north. Defences and batteries line the top of the castle, with heavy metal cannons facing out to sea in preparation for invasions, and legendary Macaque monkeys can be seen climbing and swinging on the walls. There are impressions dented into the soft stone walls that were made by the cannonballs of invading forces trying to push the Moors out of the territory. Just off the main street, opposite the Cathedral of St. Mary the Crowned, the basement of Gibraltar Museum is home to one of the

many typically English traditions that take place throughout the year, and some of Gibraltar’s most famous landmarks could easily be mistaken for those on a street in central London. The Convent building, located at the southern end of Main Street, has been home to the British Governor of the territory since 1728, before which it was a convent for Franciscan Friars since 1531. The palatial terracotta-orange building, complete with a grand covered entrance and large sash windows is an impressive sight. A few days a week a guard mount ceremony takes place, with soldiers FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


Where to stay The Rock Hotel is as synonymous with Gibraltar as its namesake, the rock of Gibraltar. The hotel is situated at the foothills of the rock of Gibraltar, offering spectacular views over the territory, out to sea, and further afield to Spain in the north. The hotel was built in 1932 and has welcomed world famous politicians and celebrities throughout its history, including former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, actors Errol Flynn, Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery, as well as Beatles singer John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono. The hotel offers a typical English afternoon tea, which is another link to its British roots. In the Lounge Bar guests can choose to drink Earl Grey, Darjeeling, or fruit and herbal teas from Ahmad Teas of London, and savour a selection of sandwiches, cakes and home-made scones with jam and cream.

of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment in their red coats and white helmets standing guard at the front of the building. Several times a year, a typically British military ceremony takes place outside of The Convent building. The changing of the guard ceremony sees soldiers marching in unison along Main Street, accompanied by trumpets and drums. There are few places in the world where you can witness a British changing of the guard ceremony and be guaranteed warm and sunny weather – but in Gibraltar that is just what you will find! Next to The Convent building is King’s Chapel, a white square Church of England chapel that was once badly damaged by an explosion of a munitions ship in the late 18th century. Today, the semi-domed cavernous ceiling glows from the chandelier lights and the reflection from the sun shining though the large arched windows. The Convent building is believed by some to be haunted by the ghost of a nun known as “Lady in Grey”. The ghost is said to wander the corridor outside of the guest room, where visiting dignitaries sleep, where she was walled in centuries ago. Legend suggests that the daughter of a wealthy Spanish nobleman married against her father’s wishes, so he forced her to join the Convent of Santa Clara, whose building can be seen on Main Street. The woman’s husband joined the Franciscan Order, based in The Convent building, to be close to her and to plan their escape. The woman tried to escape one 84


night but was captured, and as a punishment, she was walled up alive inside the guest room, where she died. Several Governors have reported seeing the ghostly figure of a woman walking the corridors and disappearing.

TUNNELS OF GIBRALTAR Under the streets of Gibraltar and inside its famous rock, there is a warren of hidden tunnels that were excavated by the British between the 18th and 20th centuries. Tunnelling first began in 1782 during the Great Siege to provide somewhere for British soldiers to hide from attack, and somewhere to store food, munitions, and to provide easy access for secret communications between messengers watching the Strait of Gibraltar for enemy ships and the military headquarters further inland. Another legend that has been disproven, but many still believe is true, is the existence of a tunnel deep under the Strait of Gibraltar, connecting Gibraltar to Cap Spartel near Tangier in Morocco. Roman god and hero Hercules supposedly stayed in the Caves of Hercules on the north Moroccan coast and built a bottomless tunnel to Gibraltar, coming out at St. Michael’s Cave, a 300-metretall multi-coloured cave that is visited by more than 1 million visitors every year. The cave is just one of 150 inside the rock of Gibraltar. Today, visitors can go on guided tours deep into the rock of

Words by: Joe Worthington. Photos by: iStock; Gibraltar Tourism; F&T

“St. Michael’s Cave is a 300-metre high multi-coloured cavern that is visited by more than 1 million visitors every year.”


This spread, left to right: Airport main highway; Cable car; The Rock Hotel; World War 2 Tunnels; Moorish Castle.

Gibraltar, following in the footsteps of the thousands of British soldiers who once spent days at a time hiding and living inside. At the start of the Second World War, the civilian population was evacuated, and the tunnels were expanded to house troops escaping from aerial bombardment. You need to book in advance for tunnel tours, but clambering through the dimly lit underground hideaways, which are large enough to house 16,000 soldiers and 16 months of food, a bakery, a hospital, a vehicle maintenance workshop, communications room, and water distillation plant, is an experience unlike any other.

GUARDIANS OF THE ROCK Perhaps the most peculiar attraction in Gibraltar is the large 300-strong colony of wild Barbary Macaque monkeys. It is thought that the cheeky monkeys first arrived in Gibraltar during the Moorish period, and they have thrived in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, at the top of Gibraltar’s famous 426 metre rock at the centre of the territory.

A popular legend that has existed for more than a century holds that if the monkeys leave the rock, then British rule in Gibraltar will end. During the Second World War, when the monkey population fell to just seven monkeys, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered that more monkeys be taken from Morocco and Algeria to replenish the numbers on the rock. Whether this legend is true or not, locals take it seriously and take good care of their monkeys.

BIRD’S EYE VIEW The views from across Gibraltar are spectacular, but from 412 metres above ground on the cable car they are simply unforgettable. The cable car takes just six minutes to travel from the ground station at the southern end of Main Street to the Top Station on the rock of Gibraltar. From the cable cars you can see two continents, Europe and Africa, three countries, and two bodies of water. The Top Station is the perfect launching point for exploring the nature reserve, St. Michael’s Cave, the Great Siege Tunnels, and the Moorish Castle. Most of Gibraltar’s famous monkeys also live at the top of the rock, so you are never more than six minutes away from meeting the territory’s most famous residents – just be careful as they can be unpredictable, and are expert pickpockets! FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA




CHEF’S PALETTE DUBAI will be the first to admit that my skills in the kitchen leave a lot to be desired. So the thought of attending a cookery class with a chef who has trained in multiple Michelin star restaurants was a little daunting. Nevertheless, I made my way to Fairmont The Palm with the hope I could channel my inner Heston for just one evening at least. I was immediately put at ease by chef Romain van Durmen. The 30-year-old may have cut his teeth in some of the finest restaurants and toughest kitchens in Belgium, but he is more than at home in his role as host and teacher. He was quick to make us feel comfortable as he delivered a brief introduction to our evening. Throughout the next three hours we would be cooking a main course and a dessert, while Romain would also make a small starter as we attempted to recreate his dishes. This was all taking place in the superbly designed studio in which Chef’s Palette takes place; housed next door to Flow Kitchen. There are four spacious work stations with all the equipment you could ever need, a long wooden table that seats up to 12 people; and it is here you get to sample the fruits of your labour. Then at the front there is a cooking station where Romain showcases his skills, which can also be viewed on a big screen hanging from the ceiling. Once the introductions were out of the way, it was down to the task of cooking. First up was learning how to make classic Italian tiramisu. While Romain took us through the process, which he of course made look very simple, all of the ingredients and every kitchen aid we needed were set up by the Chef’s Palette team. Even though the starter is largely prepared by the chef, there is a chance to be hands on for those who want to learn a bit more. While a cream of mushroom soup had already been

Words: Adrian Back Images: Fairmont


made, I was tasked with searing the scallops. With the expert eye of Romain watching over, these were then plated by the class and we sat down to enjoy the first course. The dish was expertly balanced with the creamy scallops pairing perfectly with the zesty tomato and flavourful mushroom. After a round of drinks and enjoyable conversation it was onto the main, which meant making our own pasta and learning how to take apart a cooked lobster. Again, Romain delivered an expert presentation and broke the process down to simple steps. Next, we weighed our ingredients for the pasta. By this point my apron was covered in flour and my confidence was growing. Romain was again on hand with words of advice and encouragement and before too long I had made several portions of tagliatelle. After de-shelling the lobster and cooking the pasta, both were covered in a creamy bisque and saffron nage that had been made by the chef. Then it was once again time to sit down and enjoy our creations. The lobster simply melted in my mouth. By the time the evening had come to a close I not only had a better appreciation for how food is prepared in a top kitchen, but I was genuinely interested in testing out what I had learnt back at home. This was in no short measure down to the chef’s love of cooking, which is infectious, but also the informal atmosphere that has been created at Chef’s Palette. As a novice it was a great introduction to cooking and the fact that the class can be tailored to a group or individual’s level makes it even more appealing. So whether you want to be hands on or simply watch a top chef in action, there is something for everyone to enjoy.




Where to

Tried&Tasted EAT

This month we find Michelin plates on high in Berlin, theatrical American in London’s West End, a bunch of brunches and some Italian cheer

The ultimate family brunch Dubai our weekend in Dubai isn’t complete without the perfect brunch getaway. The ‘Ultimate Family Friday Brunch’ at Fairmont the Palm’s Flow Kitchen is the ideal place for a relaxing family meal. Chill out while the kids enjoy a special package that includes a brunch with a selection of healthy treats and two hours of interactive activities including the chance to take a picture with their favourite cartoon character, face painting, balloon twisting and arts & crafts. Or enjoy the VIP Brunch experience at The Chef’s Palette. A dedicated personal chef and steward will provide you with specialty cocktails and additional signature dishes such as pan seared foie gras, fresh oysters with caviar and smoked wagyu short ribs. Brunch is served at the Beach Level, from 12:30pm – 3:30pm every Friday. Prices start at $85pp for the ‘Ultimate Family Friday Brunch’ and $165pp for the VIP Brunch experience at The Chef’s Palette. For more information and bookings call +971 4 457 3457 or visit





Joe Allen Covent Garden London As the ‘West End’s Canteen’ raises the curtain on a new era, we find out that it’s worthy of an encore. There was outcry from regulars when it was revealed that Theatreland institution Joe Allen was to be uprooted from its Exeter Street home to make way for Robert De Niro’s new boutique hotel, The Wellington. Since 1977 the beloved American brasserie has been drawing in luvvies, who came for diner classics done with panache and stayed for the air kisses that followed. This was the place to see and be seen in the Eighties and Nineties and as curtains fell across town, jobbing thesps and A-listers alike skipped off to its convivial dining room for post-show libations and an excellent Caesar salad. Its nickname, the West End’s Canteen, since stuck. It all started in 1965, when the eponymous Mr Allen launched the original site on New York’s 46th Street. Rip-roaring good times were a given and Allen recreated this vibe in the West End. Pianist Jimmy Hardwick tinkled the ivories and raised spirits while guests raised their glasses. Many of the London staff have been in situ for more than 20 years – and they’re not all out-of-work actors – both Jeremy King (of The Wolseley) and Polpo’s Russell Norman cut their teeth here. Unperturbed by the need to relocate, current owners Tim Healy and Lawrence Hartley embarked upon a brick-by-brick replica of the dining room a stone’s throw away. The new Joe’s made its debut in September; while it’s no longer a basement haunt, the red brick, paparazzi-snaps and theatre paraphernalia – even the rickety chairs – stand as they always have. But did it take its soul with it? Our visit falls on a chilly Tuesday night, and as the curtain lifts expectations are high. The menu is a roll call of classic Americana. Things you really want to eat: steaks, lobster rolls, hot dogs with hickory mustard, and glazed ribs. Chicken parmigiana transports us to Little Italy, but it’s the off-menu JA burger that we are most keen to try. Known only to those who know, the stalwart of American dining was left off the original menu to limit any association with the first McDonald’s that hit Britain just before Joe’s. It is succulent, savoury goodness made with high-grade beef. When dessert is served alongside one of its classic cocktails and the atmosphere cranks up, it’s clear one of London’s oldest chums is still breaking a leg. BG. +44 20 7836 0651,


Tried & Tasted

G lobal Gourmet

SkyKitchen BERLIN

On the 13th floor of the stylish Vienna House Andel’s Berlin hotel, towering high above the rooftops of the German capital, the city’s youngest Michelin-starred chef Alexander Koppe creates ultramodern interpretations of classic European dishes. A master of his craft, his ethos is to spice up quality local ingredients with a pinch of international influence to create a culinary journey around the globe. Expect to explore many facets of flavour over Koppe’s 11-course menu. Scallops with aloe vera, cucumber and nori enliven your taste buds and lead on to tender beef dressed with caviar, black radish and shiso plum.

Midway, peanut- and curry-infused Ibérico hock is as succulent as it is tasty. ‘Fruit of the Gods’ – blood orange, pomelo and kumquat cleanses the palate, preparing it for gutsy venison with rowan berries. When it comes to dessert, apple strudel features contemporary notes of hay for a twist on a local favourite. Afterwards, a digestif should be quaffed at Skybar on the 14th floor where the drinks list shines as brightly as the city below. SW. +49 30 453 053 2620,

7ELEPHANTS Dubai DIFC’s newest brunch takes you on a culinary voyage of discovery with 7Elephants Friday Brunch. Enjoy the signature plates from the 7 traders: Indian, Balinese, Arabic, British, Italian, Spanish and Mexican. It’s an east meets west explosion of flavours from different nations covering some of the biggest culinary capitals of the world. From the iconic tapas platter and signature Middle Eastern dishes, to the sultry character of classic tacos topped off with sinful sweets. Dubai is a melting pot of different nations and the kitchen team headed by Chef Mahmoud Turkmani complimented by the highly skilled bartenders behind the 35M long bar are ready to give you an equally diverse brunch experience best enjoyed with friends, families, and even the little ones. Take the opportunity to relax in the more temperate seasonal weather on their terrace as you savour delicious food paired with specialty cocktails and premium bubblies. As the sun goes down, spend a little more time on the market floor with the After Brunch Unlimited drinks from 4pm-7pm. Whether you choose to sit comfortably on the cosy terrace couch or at the trendy dining table set-up, favour one cuisine or drink choice over the other, there is something for every discerning palate. Brunch is served from 12 noon – 4pm; prices start from $55pp incl. soft drinks; kids 8-15 $35pp and kids under 8 eat for free. For more information contact +971 435 44354 or

Brunch at the Palace Abu Dhabi There are a few things you simply must do in Abu Dhabi, and Brunch at the Palace is one of them. Brunch begins with a vast selection of appetisers. Once your taste-buds has been piqued, visit the vast array of live cooking stations, the BBQ grill, pasta counter, traditional tandoori and shawarma stations followed by a delicious selection of sweet treats. Add to that an exclusive caviar-tasting happy hour from 1pm-2pm, live entertainment, and kids’ zone, and you have the makings for a perfect afternoon. Aside from the fabulous food, the setting is ideal for chilling out, catching up and soaking in the sun with friends and family. Brunch is served in Las Brisa, every Friday from 12:30pm – 4pm. Prices start at $99pp Kids under 10 dine for free and kids between 10-12 at $49pp. Pool and beach access is not included. For more information +971 2 690 7999 email restaurants@ or visit



Places to


This month, we check out a redesign in Phuket, go colonial luxe in New Delhi, get cosy in the Cotswolds, and dine in the ultimate gourmet escape ULTIMATE GOURMET BOLTHOLE

Mandarin Oriental HONG KONG

That Hong Kong has a style of its own is indisputable; a city that has its own chic-style that demands reverence for not only the magnificent architecture of the myriad of soaring steel and glass edifices that give Hong Kong its recognisable skyline but the unbridled passion and dedication that permeates throughout the very ether that is an integral part of the heritage and underlying essence that is Hong Kong.What better way to experience one of the greatest cities in the world than to stay at one of its greatest hotels – The Mandarin Oriental, renowned for unabashed luxury, outstanding service, attention to detail and a dedication to gastronomy, this award-winning legend has become a Hong Kong institution in its own right; the beating heart of the City for over half a century. Located in Hong Kong’s Central district the Mandarin Oriental provides access to the territory’s finest shopping, entertainment, restaurants and cultural spots; and is conveniently connected to Central’s premier addresses via a series of air-conditioned walkways.



The elegant style of the Mandarin Oriental perfectly balances the Yin and Yang of sumptuous traditional Asian inspired décor with a contemporary essence that embraces the latest in materials and technology. The use of natural wood, marble and stone, mosaics, soft fabrics, comfortable beds, duck-down pillows and deep plush furniture, set to a warm natural palette, provide a luxury home-from-home. The Mandarin Oriental offers a truly spectacular array of dining experiences, with not one but three Michelin-starred restaurants amongst its ten bars and restaurants; from the delights of all-day dining at Café Causette in the Clipper Lounge and traditional English fare at The Chinnery to the gourmand Michelin experiences of superlative French cuisine at Pierre, classic Cantonese delicacies at Man Wah and modern grill classics at Mandarin Grill + Bar. Whether you are visiting for a business trip, a shopping safari or a romantic week-end the Mandarin Oriental provides for your every need; sophisticated restaurants, casual dining, lively bars, a relaxing spa, and above all else that legendary Mandarin Oriental style and first-class service. Doubles from $495.


Tried & Tasted

THE LYGON ARMS WORCESTERSHIRE There are few things better than a restorative countryside escape, and few better places to get ensconced than this historic hotel in the Cotswolds. Fresh off the back of a revamp, the 16th-century inn is every bit a British affair – previous guests include King Charles I,

Oliver Cromwell and Evelyn Waugh – though the modern- luxe design brings it up to date. Low-slung original beams frame labyrinthine snugs filled with log fires and plush velvet sofas made for soothing afternoons over the weekend’s papers. MS. Doubles from $310.



Don’t panic if you let out a little gasp as you enter this imposing hotel. Designed to replicate Edwin Lutyens’ colonial India, it is opulence on the grandest scale. Think huge chandeliers, lavish furniture, precious metals adorning every table and an astonishing 14,000 fresh flowers delivered every day. However, it’s not a case of waste not, want not. The blooms are donated to an NGO and used to make dye for the annual Holi festival. There are 254 palatial guest rooms and suites, all with opulent decor. Suites come with butler service, access to the exclusive Royal Club Lounge and larger suites with private plunge pools. Once you’ve picked your jaw up, take a dip in the rooftop infinity pool, a welcome reprieve from the steamy city. Located in the upmarket Chanakyapuri district near the park-filled neighbourhood known as Diplomatic Enclave, it’s full of well-heeled holidayers and businessmen. Its five dining options play perfectly to its clientele. There are outposts of New York’s Le Cirque and Megu, plus its signature restaurant Jamavar also has a Michelin-starred outpost in London. Savour dishes such as gosht ki nihari (Awadhi lamb delicacy lightly flavoured with saffron) and daal Jamavar (lentils with tomatoes and cream). After dinner, retire to The Library bar, with its extensive whisky menu and Indian-spiced cocktails such as a chicory marsala martini. AD. Doubles from $285.

Like a grain of sand’s transformation into a thing of beauty at the bottom of the ocean, the Na-Ranong family-owned recently refurbished and renamed hotel The Slate (formally Indigo Pearl) has evolved from a slightly ugly duckling into a swan. The design-led hotel tastefully recalls the area’s tin-mining past with all manner of defunct machinery adorning its reception area, as well as making appearances throughout the hotel’s grounds. It’s miles away from the bland international feel of so many resort hotels and is great fun for the kids, but some of the more brutalist bedrooms with their brushed-concrete finish would benefit from being given a slightly softer touch. It’s a sizeable hotel with 177 rooms and certain pools are reserved for adults only, but the real star attraction is the signature restaurant Black Ginger, run by talented Chef Piak, which makes this hotel worth the stay alone. Reaching this domain is via a rope-pulled raft across a softly lit lagoon, adding to the theatre of the experience. The traditional Thai cuisine draws from different regions of the country but with an emphasis on Chef Piak’s southern Thai roots. Dishes such as gaeng poo bai cha ploo (southern style crab curry), som tam (green papaya salad) and poh pia sod (roll-your-own riceflour pancakes) are elevated from their street food roots into Michelin-grade plates. GR. Doubles from $380.

JANUARY For better-tasting food and your own peace of mind, use sustainably and locally produced ingredients if possible. Eggs should always be free-range. 1 teaspoon is 5ml; 1 tablespoon is 15ml


Rosemary and parmesan seeded oatcakes with rosemary-infused olive oil SERVES 4-6

200ml olive oil 8 rosemary sprigs 120g rolled oats 65g pumpkin seeds 95g walnuts 70g sunflower seeds 30g parmesan, finely grated ½ tsp baking powder 1 egg, beaten 2 tbsp. water Labneh or mozzarella, to serve

Pour the olive oil into a small saucepan and add 5 rosemary sprigs. Set the pan over a low heat and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely then transfer to a bottle and keep in the fridge until needed. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line 92


a baking tray with baking paper. Pick the leaves from the remaining rosemary sprigs and finely chop. Tip the oats into a large bowl. Put the pumpkin seeds, walnuts and sunflower seeds in a blender and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add to the bowl with the oats. Season the mixture generously and add the parmesan, rosemary, baking powder, beaten egg and water. Stir to bring the mixture together, adding a little more water if necessary. Transfer to the lined baking tray, then place another sheet of baking paper on top. Use a rolling pin to flatten the mixture to approximately 0.5cm thick. Remove the top piece of baking paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes until crisp and golden. Leave to cool completely, then break into shards. Serve with the rosemary-infused oil and labneh or mozzarella.

Kimchi chicken kebabs with Napa cabbage salad and ginger dressing SERVES 4

3 skinless chicken breasts 4 tbsp. kimchi (homemade or store-bought) 4 cm piece ginger, finely chopped ½ garlic clove, crushed 1 tbsp. lemon juice ½ tsp caster sugar 1 tbsp. rice vinegar 2 tbsp. olive oil 1 tbsp. sesame oil 150g Napa cabbage, shredded 100g red cabbage, shredded 4 breakfast radishes, thinly sliced 4 spring onions, thinly sliced 1 green apple, thinly sliced ½ bunch coriander, leaves picked and chopped ½ tbsp. black sesame seeds ½ tbsp. white sesame seeds

Dice the chicken into bite-sized

pieces and put in bowl. Add the kimchi and mix well to coat. Leave to marinate in the fridge for 3-4 hours. Put the ginger, garlic, lemon juice, caster sugar and rice vinegar in a small bowl and stir together. Gradually whisk in the olive and sesame oil. Season and set aside. Put the Napa and red cabbage in a bowl. Add the radish, spring onion, apple and coriander and mix well. Pour over half the dressing and turn to coat. Thread the chicken pieces onto metal skewers. Set a griddle pan with 1 tbsp. olive oil over a high heat. Add the skewers to the pan and cook, in batches if necessary, for 3-4 minutes on each side until lightly charred and cooked through. Serve the chicken skewers with the Napa cabbage salad and the extra dressing on the side.


50g caster sugar 5g fine salt 5g ascorbic acid 500g courgettes

Savoury porridge with soy and honey-braised bok choy and jammy boiled eggs SERVES 4

Quick kimchi MAKES A 1 LITRE JAR

1 medium Napa cabbage, outer leaves removed 1 ½ tbsp. caster sugar 3 cm piece ginger, crushed 3 garlic cloves, crushed 3 tbsp. rice vinegar 1 tbsp. fish sauce 3 tbsp. sriracha sauce 1 carrot, sliced 1 daikon or white radish, sliced 4 spring onions, finely chopped

Shred the cabbage into thin strips and transfer to a large bowl. Sprinkle generously with salt, add half the sugar and mix really well. Set aside for at least 1 hour. Meanwhile put the ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, fish sauce, sriracha and remaining sugar in a blender and blitz. Squeeze any excess water from the salted cabbage and transfer to a clean bowl. Add the carrot, white radish and spring onions, then stir in the sriracha paste. Mix really well to coat. Serve immediately or transfer to a sterilised jar and keep in the fridge for up to two weeks

4 eggs 2 tbsp. olive oil 1 shallot, finely chopped 220g porridge oats 350ml milk 100ml water 2 heads bok choy, split in half lengthways 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced 2 tbsp. soy sauce 1 tbsp. honey 1 tbsp. black sesame seeds 1 red chill, finely sliced

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, add the eggs and boil for 6 ½ minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of iced water. Leave to cool until just warm then carefully peel the eggs. Set aside. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the chopped shallot and cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Tip in the oats, stirring to coat. Pour in the milk and season with salt. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring often to prevent the mixture from catching. Set a frying pan over a high heat. Put the bok choy and garlic in a bowl and drizzle with the remaining oil, soy sauce and honey. When you can feel a strong heat rising from the pan add the bok choy and cook for 3-4 minutes until tender. Drizzle with any of the honey-soy mixture left in the bowl. Divide the porridge between serving bowls and top with the braised boy choy. Add a soft-boiled egg to each bowl and scatter with the sesame seeds and chilli.

Jasmine rice, marmite and courgette

Put the vinegar, caster sugar, salt and ascorbic acid in a saucepan over a high heat and bring to the boil. Leave to cool completely. Slice the courgettes lengthways into long 1mm thick strips – a mandolin is the easiest way to do this. Lay the courgette strips over the base of a large shallow dish. Pour over the cooled liquid, making sure the courgette strips are completely covered. Leave to marinate for three hours in the fridge.


Jasmine rice puree 100g jasmine rice 1 litre mineral water 2 x gelatine sheets 100g Marmite 15 agar-agar 2g fine salt 2 x N20 Cream Whipper Chargers

Wash the rice, drain and put in a large saucepan. Cover with 1 litre mineral water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, until the grains are starting to break up. Drain well. Soak the gelatine leaves in iced water for 5 minutes until soft. Remove and squeeze to get rid of the excess water. Put the rice, marmite, salt and gelatine leaves in a blender and blitz until smooth. Pour into a shallow tray or dish and leave to cool. Once cool, whisk in the agaragar and pour into a deep saucepan. Set the saucepan over a high heat and bring almost to the boil, stirring constantly to prevent catching. Return the mixture to the blender and blend for 30 seconds. Cool completely, then blend again. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve and pour into a cream whipper canister. Add two gas chargers, shake well and set aside for 30 minutes. Pickled courgettes 100g white grape vinegar

Marmite job’s tears 50g job’s tears (also known as coix seed or Chinese pearl barley) 50g marmite vegetable oil, for deep-frying

Wash the seeds then tip into a saucepan and cover with 1 litre water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook for 45 -50 minutes, until softened. Drain well. Heat the oven to 75°C. Spread the drained seeds out on a baking tray. Transfer to the oven and leave to dry out for 24 hours, until fully dehydrated. Put the Marmite in a large saucepan with 50g water, mix well and warm through over a low heat. Fill a deep, heavy-based saucepan three-quarters full with oil and heat to 220°C. Carefully add the seeds to the oil and fry for 15 seconds until they puff up. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to the Marmite mixture. Stir well to coat. Spread the seeds out on a baking tray and return to the 75°C oven for 60 minutes, until the Marmite has dried out and is no longer sticky. To serve Roll seven courgette strips per portion into cylinder shapes and arrange on plates. Add a few job’s tears to the base of each one, then fill with the jasmine rice puree. Scatter with more job’s tears and serve.




Snails, garlic shoots and parsley SERVES 6-8

Snails and garlic butter 500g snail meat 60g fine salt 500ml white grape vinegar 1 litre mineral water 1 head fennel, cut into 2cm dice 2 carrots, cut into 2cm dice 1 onion, cut into 2cm dice 2 celery sticks, cut into 2cm dice 2 bay leaves, cut into 2cm dice 200g unsalted butter 40g garlic, crushed 100g parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped

Put the snail meat in a shallow dish, cover with 50g salt, turn to coat and leave for 30 minutes. Rinse the snail meat well to remove the salt. Place in a saucepan and cover with the white grape vinegar. Set aside for 1 hour. Put the snail meat in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Drain, leave to cool and repeat this process twice more. Add the remaining salt, vegetables and bay leaves to the snail cooking water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely, then strain. 94


Combine the cooking water and snails and pack into a vac-pac bag. Cook in a water bath at 75°C for six hours. Drain, reserving the liquid and snails. Put the liquid in a saucepan set over a high heat. Reduce to 250ml. Add the butter to make a soft emulsion, then transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature – the consistency should be soft and spreadable. Stir in the garlic and parsley and season. Stir in the cooled snails and divide into portions (working on a basis of two snails and a spoonful of emulsion per portion). Arrange on a baking tray and chill in the fridge. Once chilled, roll into ball shapes and freeze. Brioche dough 10g yeast 55g caster sugar 80g full fat milk, warmed 570g strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting 13g salt 90g unsalted butter, softened 5 whole medium-sized eggs

Mix the yeast, sugar and milk and set aside for 5 minutes to come to room temperature. Put the flour and salt in an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the milk and yeast mixture and beat for 3-4

minutes, then gradually add the butter. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly between each addition. Continue to mix until the dough is smooth, glossy and elastic. Tip out onto a floured work surface and roll (don’t knead) into a cylindrical loaf shape. Wrap in cling film and chill for 12 hours. Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and divide into 15g pieces. Form the pieces into flat disks with the palm of your hand and chill once again. Working one disk at a time, with lightly floured hands wrap a piece of dough around each frozen snail as evenly as possible – try not to let the dough soften too much or the emulsion will leak out. Pinch the edges of the dough together to seal and remove any excess dough with scissors. Roll into an even spherical shape and place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Repeat with the remaining dough and snails and then freeze until needed. Garlic shoot emulsion 50g egg white 5g fine salt 20g white grape vinegar 300g rapeseed oil 50g spinach puree 50g garlic shoot juice

Put the egg white, salt and vinegar in a bowl and blitz with a hand blender until foamy. Gradually add the egg white until emulsified. Pour into a bowl and fold in the and egg white, blend until foamy then very gradually add the rapeseed oil until emulsified. In a bowl fold the emulsion together with the spinach puree and garlic shoot juice. Transfer to a squeezy bottle and set aside. To serve Fill a deep, heavy-based saucepan three-quarters full with oil and heat to 180°C. Fry the snail doughnuts for two minutes, then transfer to an oven preheated to 180°C for 4 minutes. Put the same number of dots of garlic shoot emulsion as you are serving snail doughnuts on serving plates. Place the snails on top and serve.

Goats cheese, tamarind and coriander seeds SERVES 6

Whipped goats cheese 300g soft goats’ cheese (rind removed) 30g whipping cream 20g white grape vinegar

Break the goats’ cheese into rough pieces and put in a food processor with the double cream and white grape vinegar. Blend until smooth, then transfer to a piping bag. Tamarind chutney (must be prepared in advance) 800g tamarind 800ml mineral water 1 tbsp. vegetable oil 150g onion, diced 60g ginger grated 250g jaggery 250g malt vinegar

Bring 800ml water to the boil and add the tamarind. Leave to soak for 30 minutes. Strain and pick through the mixture to remove the seeds – you will be left with a paste-like mixture. Set a saucepan with 1 tbsp. oil over a medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook for 6-8 minutes, until softened. Add the ginger and jaggery, increase the heat slightly and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the jaggery caramelises. Pour over the malt vinegar and cook until reduced to a syrup, then stir in the tamarind. Once thickened remove the pan from the heat and pass the mixture through a fine sieve. Store in the fridge until needed.

dice the cucumber into 1cm cubes and serve 5-7 pieces per portion.

Coriander sponge crouton 100g toasted coriander seeds, blitzed to a powder, plus extra to garnish 80g isomalt 50g plain flour 7g fine salt 175g egg yolk 240g egg white 2 x NO2 Cream Whipper Chargers Vegetable oil, for deep frying Coriander shoots, to serve

Put the coriander seeds, isomalt, flour and salt in a blender and blitz. Add the egg yolks and whites and blend again. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve and pour into a cream whipper canister. Add two gas chargers and shake well. Pipe the mixture into small plastic containers and microwave for 1 minute on full power. Remove and break into 2-3cm pieces. When you’re ready to serve, fill a deep, heavy-based saucepan three-quarters full with oil and heat to 180°C. Fry the sponge for 30 seconds, until slightly crisp, then transfer to a 180°C oven for a 3 minutes. Drain on kitchen paper. To serve Pipe three large dots of goats’ cheese onto each plate and sprinkle with the reserved toasted coriander seeds. Pipe smaller dots of the tamarind chutney around the cheese. Garnish with the sponge croutons and finish by adding the coriander shoots.

Shallot rings 2 medium banana shallots, sliced into 1mm thick rings 50g plain flour Fine salt Vegetable oil, for deep frying

Fill a deep, heavy-based saucepan three-quarters full with oil and heat to 125°C or heat a deep fat fryer to 125°C. Lightly coat the shallot rings in the flour, shaking to remove any excess. Carefully drop the shallot rings into the hot oil, making sure they don’t stick together. Fry for 2 minutes, until golden. Drain on kitchen paper. Sprinkle with salt while still warm, then leave to dry out in a warm place.

Roe deer tartare, charcoal and Worcestershire sauce SERVES 6

Curing salt 600g roe deer shoulder 500g fine salt 500g caster sugar 70g Chinese five-spice

Remove all the sinew from the roe deer shoulder and place in a shallow dish or baking tray. Mix the salt, sugar and five-spice together and cover the meat completely. Chill in the fridge for four hours. Scrape off the salt sure and rinse the meat in iced water. Place on a wire rack and chill in the fridge for four more hours. Cut the meat into 0.5cm cubes, allocating 50g meat per portion. Place in a bowl and keep in the fridge until needed. Worcestershire sauce gel 650g Worcestershire sauce 350g mineral water 15g agar-agar

Put the Worcestershire sauce, water and agar-agar in a saucepan set over a high heat. Bring to the boil, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and blitz well with a hand blender. Pour into a shallow tray and leave to set to a firm jelly

in the fridge. Once set, break into pieces and blend again, being careful not to over process the mixture. Pass through a fine sieve and transfer to a squeezy bottle. Egg yolk confit 15 egg yolks 2g fine salt

Place the egg yolks in a vac pac bag, seal and cook in a 75°C water bath for 17 minutes. Mix the salt and egg yolks together and pass through a fine sieve. Transfer to a piping bag and chill in the fridge. Cornichons 500g cucumbers 130g fine salt 450g mineral water 3 cloves 2 bay leaves 1 clove garlic 1 onion, sliced 20 black peppercorns

Put all the ingredients apart from the cucumbers in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Put the cucumbers in a full sealable container, pour over the pickling liquor and leave to marinate in the fridge for four weeks. To serve,

Charcoal vinaigrette 250g pomace charcoal oil (pomace olive infused with hot charcoal) 50g white grape vinegar

Blend the oil and vinegar together to emulsify. Transfer to a squeezy bottle, leaving a 3cm gap at the top as you will need to shake the bottle to re-emulsify the mix just before serving. To serve: 40g chopped shallots, rinsed in cold water baby rocket cress

Mix the diced roe shoulder with the chopped shallots. Drizzle with the charcoal dressing and mix again, then taste to check the seasoning. Put a stainless steel ring or cutter in the middle of six plates and spoon equal amounts of the roe deer shoulder into the rings, pressing down lightly. Remove the rings and add five dots each of both Worcestershire sauce gel and egg yolk confit around the circle of roe deer. Arrange the diced cornichons in the gaps and garnish with the crispy shallot rings and baby rocket cress.




80g egg yolks 50g caster sugar 40g water 60g egg whites 300g whipping cream

Gingerbread and lemon thyme SERVES 6-8

Gingerbread and wafers 400g unsalted butter 300g caster sugar 3 eggs 450g full fat milk 450g maple syrup 3 tsp baking soda 840g plain flour 8 tsp ground ginger 8 tsp ground cinnamon

In a dough mixer fitted with a whisk attachment cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the eggs, milk and syrup. Mix well. Fold in the baking soda, flour, ginger and cinnamon by hand. Divide the mixture between two loaf tins lined with baking parchment. Cook in an oven preheated to 170°C for 30 minutes. Leave to cool completely, then remove from the tins and chill in the fridge for 12 hours. Very finely slice one of the gingerbread loaves into 1.5mm thick wafers. Arrange the wafers on a baking tray lined with baking paper and then place another tray on top to flatten. Set the other loaf aside and use to make the parfait. Bake in a 180°C oven for 7-10 minutes until crisp and dry. Gingerbread parfait 8g gelatine leaves 200g gingerbread (see above) 200g whipping cream



Soak the gelatine leaves in iced water for 5 minutes until soft. Remove and squeeze to get rid of the excess water. Blitz the gingerbread to fine crumbs in a food processor. Put the gingerbread crumbs in a saucepan with 200g whipping cream and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and blitz with a hand blender to make a smooth puree. Whisk the egg yolks in a kitchen stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until pale and thick. At the same time, put the sugar and water in a saucepan and simmer until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat until the mixture reaches 121°C on sugar thermometer (soft ball stage). Leave to cool slightly. Reduce the speed on the mixer to the lowest setting and carefully add the liquid sugar. Increase the speed to medium and continue to whisk until the base of the mixing bowl has cooled. Transfer to a new bowl. Clean and dry the bowl of the kitchen stand mixer. Add the egg whites and whip on full power until light and fluffy. Meanwhile whisk the remaining cream until it is half whipped (ribbon stage). Carefully add the whipped egg yolks to the gingerbread puree, followed by the egg whites, then slowly fold in the cream, being careful not to over over-whisk as this will knock the air out. Pour into 2 loaf tins lined with cling film and freeze for 12 hours. Remove the parfait from the tin and cut into 5mm slices. Arrange on a tray and return to the freezer. Lemon thyme sorbet 250g lemon juice 12g lemon thyme 150g sugar 35g glucose 300g mineral water 400g water 80g egg yolks

Put the lemon juice, lemon thyme, 100g sugar, the glucose and water

in a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Whisk the eggs and 50g water together in a bowl suspended over a saucepan of barely simmering water. At the same time, put the sugar and water in a saucepan and simmer until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat until the mixture reaches 121°C on a sugar thermometer (soft ball stage). Leave to cool slightly. Once the eggs are light and fluffy, gradually pour in the liquid sugar. Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to whisk until cool. Gently fold in the lemon syrup you made earlier and transfer to a Paco Jet container. Freeze for 12 hours. Just before serving, churn the sorbet using a Paco Jet machine, then return to the freezer. Crystallised ginger 100g ginger 120g caster sugar

Peel the ginger and cut in to 3mm thick batons. Put in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Drain and repeat this process three more times using. Cut the ginger into dice and put in a saucepan with the sugar. Heat until sugar melts and reaches 120C. Remove the ginger pieces with a fork and transfer to a tray lined with baking parchment. Leave to dry out at room temperature for six hours To serve Layer the gingerbread slices and parfait pieces together, starting with the gingerbread, so that you use four gingerbread slices and three slices of parfait per portion. Decorate with the crystallized ginger. Add a scoop of sorbet to each plate and garnish with lemon thyme leaves and a little more crystallized ginger.

Quinoa salad with feta, pomegranates and charred spring onions SERVES 4-6

200g quinoa, rinsed 300ml chicken or vegetable stock 5 tbsp. olive oil 1 bunch spring onions, trimmed Juice and zest of ½ lemon 2 tsp sumac 2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses 1 tbsp. honey 150g feta, crumbled Seeds from 1 pomegranate ½ bunch mint, leaves picked ½ bunch coriander, leaves picked

Put the quinoa in a pan and pour over the chicken or vegetable stock. Set over a high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes until cooked – the quinoa should absorb all the liquid. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid and leave for 5 minutes more, then tip into a bowl. Drizzle with 1 tbsp. olive oil and fluff up with a fork. Put the spring onions in a bowl, drizzle with 1 tbsp. olive oil and add the lemon juice and zest and 1 tsp sumac. Season and mix well to coat. Set a griddle pan over a high heat. When you can feel a strong heat rising from the pan and the spring onions and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until lightly charred. Whisk together the remaining olive oil, sumac, pomegranate molasses and honey. Season. Stir the crumbled feta, pomegranate seeds and herbs into the quinoa. Drizzle over the dressing, mix well and arrange the charred spring onions on top.

Elderflower and apple cheesecake SERVES 6 -8

Digestive biscuit base 120g wholemeal flour 120g oat flour 5g salt 25g sugar 50g milk 10g malt vinegar 100g butter, softened 75g butter, melted

To make the digestive biscuits blend all the dry ingredients together in a food processor, then add the milk and vinegar followed by 100g softened butter. Tip onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and spread out to a thickness off 5mm. Bake in a 180°C oven for 12-15 minutes until dry. Leave to cool completely. Put digestive biscuit base in a blender and blitz to fine crumbs. Mix in the melted butter. Press evenly over the base of a large rectangular dish lined with baking parchment to a thickness of 5mm. Flatten the surface with the back of a spoon and chill in the fridge. Cheesecake mix 3 gelatine leaves 100g caster sugar 200g whipping cream 300g cream cheese 100g crème fraiche 110g elderflower syrup 20g lemon juice

Soak the gelatine leaves in iced water for 5 minutes until soft. Remove and squeeze to get rid of the excess water. Put in a saucepan with the sugar and 100g cream and warm through gently to melt the gelatine. Set aside. Whip the remaining cream until half whipped (ribbon stage). In a mixing bowl beat the cream cheese, elderflower syrup and lemon juice together until soft. Gradually add the cream cheese mix to the half-whipped cream, then fold in the gelatine mix you set aside earlier. Pour over the chilled biscuit base and return to the fridge to set for 5 hours. Green apple sorbet 10 green apple skins

300g stock syrup 200g green apple juice 400g green apple puree 120g egg yolk 60g caster sugar 30g mineral water

Freeze the green apple skins completely. Blend in a Paco Jet machine, then refreeze. Put the stock syrup, apple puree and apple juice in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Leave to cool completely. Whisk the eggs and 50g water together in a bowl suspended over a saucepan of barely simmering water. At the same time, put the sugar and water in a saucepan and simmer until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat until the mixture reaches 121°C on a sugar thermometer (soft ball stage). Leave to cool slightly. Once the eggs are light and fluffy, gradually pour in the liquid sugar. Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to whisk until cool. Add the apple stock you made earlier and transfer to Paco Jet beakers, leaving a bit of space at the top of each container. Freeze. Once frozen, add the apple skins to the containers, blend again and refreeze. Green apple gel 300g green apple juice 400g green apple puree 10g agar-agar Small drop green food colouring

Put all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and blend with a hand blender for 10 seconds, then pour into a tray and transfer to the fridge to set. Once firm remove the jelly from the fridge and blend again until smooth, being careful not to over blend. Strain through a fine sieve them transfer to a squeezy bottle and keep in the fridge until needed. To serve Remove the cheesecake from the fridge and slice into individual portions. Arrange the slices on serving plates and decorate with dots of the apple gel and the edible flowers, if using. Add a scoop of sorbet and serve. Edible flowers (optional)

Nick’s chicken curry SERVES 6-8

Curry 2 litres water 8 chicken legs 100ml vegetable oil 1 large onion, finely diced 2 cloves garlic, crushed 1 thumb-size piece ginger, finely chopped 1 tablespoon garam masala 1 tablespoon turmeric 1 tablespoon curry powder 800ml coconut milk 200g crème fraiche ½ bunch mint, leaves picked and chopped ½ bunch coriander, leaves picked and chopped 2 tbsp. chopped peanuts or pine nuts Basmati rice 800g basmati rice (soaked in water for 15 minutes) 1 tbsp. vegetable oil 2 red onions, sliced 2 bay leaves 5 cloves ½ cinnamon stick 7 cardamom pods

Put the chicken legs in a saucepan and cover completely with at least 1 litre water. Add a little salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Test to check if the chicken is cooked by removing one of the legs and

twisting it – if the bone pops out the meat is ready. Remove the remaining legs with a slotted spoon and leave to cool. Strain the cooking water into another pan – this now becomes the stock for the rice. Once cool enough to handle pick the meat from chicken, discarding the skin and bones. Place in a bowl and cover tightly with cling film. Set a large pan with the vegetable oil over a low heat and add the onion, ginger and garlic. Cook until the onions have softened but not coloured, then stir in the spices and a pinch of salt. Cook for five minutes, stirring often, then pour in 500ml chicken stock and reduce to around 100ml. Add the coconut milk, bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes more until thickened. Whisk in the crème fraiche and set aside. To cook the rice, bring 800ml of the chicken stock that you made earlier to the boil. In a separate large saucepan heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over a medium heat. Add the red onion, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaf and cook for 3-4 minutes. Tip the soaked rice into the pan and stir well to coat. Carefully pour in the hot chicken stock and simmer for 15 -20 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the rice is cooked. Drain well. Just before you’re ready to serve add the chicken to the pan with the curry sauce and reheat. Serve the chicken curry and rice garnished with the chopped herbs.




Romain van Durmen

Chef de Cuisine for The Chefs Palette, Cooking Studio, Fairmont The Palm All my early memories are of being in the kitchen as my father was a chef and I was always with him, learning everything I could from a very young age. My grandfather was also a chef and every Christmas he would bake lots of bread for everybody to enjoy, so cooking is a real family tradition. My father never made it easy for me though and even in my first restaurant when I was 14, he told the chef not to pay me and to really push me. But it was this that inspired me to become a chef as I loved it right away. I was working 12 hour days as a teenager but it was never hard because I liked it so much. When I was 17, I started working in a two star Michelin restaurant in Belgium called Le Château Du Mylord and I would work 16 or 18 hour days. There was a lot of pressure and I was always tired. It is something that I will never forget as there was stress, you had big fights with colleagues. But at the same time, I loved every minute of it because I was passionate about food. It was almost like being in a relationship, it required a lot of passion. I have always loved to travel and was lucky enough to work in Vietnam where I was training local chefs. It was amazing as food throughout the country is great. It is here I developed a love of street food and that was all I ate when traveling around Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Spain is also a favourite of mine as my brother lives in Madrid which is just a perfect city for eating together and having big meals at amazing little cafes and bistros. When I’m in Dubai I love to eat at the restaurants that serve the classics. Le Petite Maison is great as the menu is simple but everything is made perfectly. It is why when I go back home to Belgium I seek out traditional Belgian cuisine as it holds such rich memories for me. And yes, the stereotype is true, we do very much love our potatoes, our chocolate and our hops. I still cook at home every night as well, though I like to keep it simple. For me there is nothing better than a nice rustic chicken soup or a nice piece of freshly baked bread with some pâté. It is so important to have that taste of home and to eat something traditional. I try to get back to Belgium as much as possible and always try to get back to nature as I love to relax in the forest or up in the mountains. Working in a hotel in a big city, it is nice to get away from it all and I often visit my cousin’s farm and simply go fishing. But my next big trip will hopefully be to Japan as I am desperate to visit that country. And for sure I will eat all day long as even the street vendors do amazing food. Going ahead I have no idea what the future holds and I am only 30, but I can never leave a job without being successful. I spent three years at Café Belge and when I left the restaurant had never been as successful. Now I want to make Chef’s Palette a success.

Words: Adrian Back Images: Fairmont; Food & Travel: iStock

Food arabia anz travel  

Explore the humid culture of Arabia, explore the tourist attractions famous, explore the unique cuisine, interesting. Useful information Anz...

Food arabia anz travel  

Explore the humid culture of Arabia, explore the tourist attractions famous, explore the unique cuisine, interesting. Useful information Anz...