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Shelina Permalloo


Japanese chic

MasterChef Champ

Dale Pinnock

Healthy eating

Jewel in the crown

Culture & cuisines of Jordan

Marcus Wareing

Tammasak Chootong

Michelin Magic

Thai master



Amol Takkekar


Ravioli & Co


Alan Honein

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 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 Feature Correspondent Thomas Williams Editorial Director Arabia Anisa Al Hawaj 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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March 2018 ARRIVALS 7

Arrivals Its that time of year again – Taste of Dubai


News This month we visit the region’s latest places to stay and eat

amphitheatres, Jordan’s eclectic history has created a unique blend of cultures and cuisines






The interview One of the most celebrated and acclaimed chefs in Thailand, Tammasak Chootong, commonly referred to as “Chef Noi”, has taken Phuket Island by storm. Sweet smell of success Alan Honein, Managing Partner, Sugarmoo In recent years this online delivery service has brought, innovation, quality and style to desserts Shelina Permalloo This talented chef has come a long way since winning MasterChef UK in 2012; numerous TV and personal appearances, cook books and her own restaurant, attest to her success The last word Amol Takkekar; Sous Chef at Lava Dining at the Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort, talks about his passion culinary likes and favourite spots


Jewel in the crown Jordan: from its dramatic desert castles and Ottoman architecture to its Bedouin tents and magnificent Roman

On the smell of an oily rag (or almost) Anthea Rowen acts as our London Tour Guide and visits the best places to take your kids without breaking the bank


Top 10 small luxury hotels in the Yorkshire countryside The pull of London is intense for those visiting the UK. To experience the countryside, try one of these many incredible places to stay


Riviera Seafood Grill A Mediterranean Haven in the Heart of JBR at Riviera Seafood Grill Dubai’s own little piece of Mediterranean coastline in the Arabian Gulf


The price is right Ramusake may be priced towards the premium end of the market, but its food delivers the quality you’d expect of a high-end restaurant


Baker & Spice Driven by a commitment to support local farmers and provide high quality home-grown and wholesome dishes, Baker and Spice delivers healthy and delicious all-day-dining





Healing in the Hinterland With its tranquil forest setting, organic home-grown produce and therapeutic treatments, a stay at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat sets the benchmark for wellness.



The pantry This month Clarissa Hyman celebrates spinach – the leafy veg we hate as children is one we can’t live without as adults Picture of health Dale Pinnock shows us how to eat well without sacrificing flavour; apply his principles and try a selection of perfectly balanced, delicious recipes Star quality Comfort food doesn’t have to mean carbohydrates. Marcus Wareing weaves his Michelin magic to create dishes that will keep you full through winter, using the season’s very best produce Recipes This month’s collection of mouth-watering recipes for you to try at home


Ravioli & Co An authentic trattoria that eschews the essence of true Italian homestyle cooking.


Places to eat The quest for new foods and new flavours, the discovery of new places & new friends, the latest restaurants and the finest cooking


Places to stay Exciting destinations, fabulous hotels, serving up the very best the world has to offer FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA




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aste of Dubai has become a firm favourite on the Gulf’s food festival circuit and next month returns to Dubai for its eleventh celebration of food, drink and music. The festival is a veritable fantasy of culinary indulgence for any food-lover; jam packed with the hottest new restaurants, world-class chefs, such as Sanjeev Kapoor, Jenny Morris, Reza Mahammad, Eric Lanlard, and Jun Tanaka. Watch live cooking demonstrations or get hands on and cook along-side our famous chefs, as well as learn some top culinary tips. There is an amazing line-up of music; for one night only the Queens of Disco, and eighties soul legends Sister Sledge will take Media City by storm as they perform live at Taste of Dubai! Visitors looking for a more exclusive Taste experience can enjoy a host of premium benefits with a VIP ticket, which includes: entry to the festival, Sister Sledge Concert, food & drink vouchers, and access to the VIP Bar and Lounge. Taste of Dubai 2018 is located in Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, 8-10 March 2018. For more information visit

Arrivals NEWS JUST THE TICKET Dubai Majid Al Futtaim has launched an exciting array of innovative gastronomic experiences for visitors of all ages, in celebration of the Dubai Food Festival, until March 10, 2018. Visitors to Mall of the Emirates who dine in any of the mall’s restaurants can take their receipts to the customer service desk and get a FOODIE TICKET. The FOODIE TICKET offers discounted dishes across the mall’s participating restaurants. And for those of you who share your experience on social media, will get a chance to win $275 each day. And shoppers spending $100 or more at the mall will get a chance to win $1,375 each day too, and those who dine at any of the food outlets will have double the chances of winning. Dinning at any of the 95 food outlets at Mall of the Emirates could become a very rewarding experience, as you will be able to participate in exciting digital games. For more information visit

News from the worlds of food and travel

DECKED-OUT WEEKENDS Abu Dhabi Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi is the ideal family destination this March. Every weekend in March the Yas Marina promenade will be transformed into a hub of activity with a street festival atmosphere. Wandering entertainment, street artists, children’s performers, live music, games stalls, market stalls and food stalls. Do as much or as little as you want, as you choose from a selection of active experiences or leisurely pursuits. Or take advantage of the spring weather, and sunny skies on March 30 & 31, at the Once Upon a Springtime Festival at Yas Marina. Alongside a whimsical setting, there will be themed activities, games and live entertainment throughout the weekend, providing a magical experience to remember. The on-site mini amphitheatre will host a fun-packed schedule of puppet shows and storytelling, while adults can visit the quaint Ye Old Market. Enjoy an adventure on the waves with the family on a Wizard Boat Ride, courtesy of Captain Tony’s. No trip to the Springtime Festival would be complete without visiting Aquarium Seafood restaurant where kids can eat for free, with the purchase of every regular adult main course.

BBQ KIT UAE SALT has launched its very own Great Outdoors BBQ Kit! It’s not easy to enjoy great food if you’re camping in the desert or hiking up a mountain, but now with the SALT BBQ Kit, you can take all of our fresh goodness, and prepare it in any place that suits you! The kit contains 10 servings (that’s 20 sliders!) so you and your friends can truly enjoy those great moments together. With everything you need to prepare your very own sliders including; sliced cheese, jalapeños, pickles, lettuce, 3 SALT sauces (fire, BBQ, sriracha & original), wagyu beef patties & fresh buns, you’ll never be far away from the SALT of life on your adventures! You can even order by WhatsApp at +971 55-SALTERS (7258377)! All you need to provide is your name, mobile number, preferred pick-up date and time, and preferred pick up location from either SALT Surf House in La Mer, or SALT’s location in Umm Al Emarat Park, Abu Dhabi. Just place your order one day in advance, pick it up in Dubai or Abu Dhabi and head off into the great outdoors! 8


AFTERNOON TEA Dubai Ninive has launched afternoon tea with a twist! Arabic sweets, Pistachio tartelette, Olives paste and feta cheese mini sandwiches, and fresh Moroccan ‘Taktuka’ salad are some of the heavenly bites that can be found on the perfectly balanced and exquisitely presented sweet and savoury afternoon tea menu accompanying a wide selection of fine teas. Offering guests an oasis of tranquillity with stunning views of the heart of Dubai, Ninive’s afternoon tea is your time to unwind. Afternoon tea includes: saffron choux pastry, pistachio tartelette, a selection of Arabic sweets, dates, caramelized nuts,; sandwiches - maast o khiar deep, zalook, smoked salmon, saffron cream, chicken, tahini, walnut, and much more. Ninive, is located in Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel; afternoon tea is served every day from 4-7pm. For more information visit or call +971 4 326 6105

NOBU Dubai


Nobu, the world-renowned Japanese restaurant at Atlantis, The Palm, is launching its new Friday brunch on Friday 2nd March. ‘The World of Nobu’ brunch will bring together a selection of signature dishes from 10 Nobu restaurants around the world, to deliver a luxurious culinary experience every Friday from 12pm until 3pm. The signature dishes from key Nobu hotspots include: Nobu Malibu’s hit dish egg toban with dry miso. From Nobu West Hollywood, the famous black cod yuzu miso and the fashionable Nobu Milan shares its delectable grill salmon ponzu butter with crispy spinach burrata and tofu dry miso. There is a dash of British flair from London with Nobu’s take on a full- English and the Shoreditch Nobu’s short rib and egg. Additional dishes include Nobu Moscow’s unique salmon and ikura pancake with tofu cream, whilst for those of you with a sweet tooth there is the the green tea pancake with berries sauce from Nobu Cape Town. In addition, Chef de Cuisine Herve Courtot will surprise diners each month with a 1kg tin of caviar which you will be invited to indulge upon. A selection of bubbles, new cocktails and drink will be available; along with music from NOBU’s resident DJ, alongside live entertainment, such as Japanese drummers, a violinist and saxophonist. Prices start at $110pp including nonalcoholic beverages, and three vegetarian brunch packages are available starting from $95pp. For more information visit www. or call + 971 4 426 0800

Fairmont The Palm, the five-star family resort on Palm Jumeirah is offering a unique summer half board package for those looking for the ultimate rejuvenating summer vacation. Anyone booking the ‘Ultimate Summer Offer’ will not only enjoy a halfboard dining package, but also access to the fitness classes and meditation workshop by resident wellbeing gurus ‘State of One’. The ‘Be. Your. Best’ offerings adhere to five key pillars; Fitness, Nutrition, Spa, Beauty and Mind, giving you the opportunity to feel your best this summer by enjoying a holistic and fitness integrated program, combined with a perfect relaxing holiday in the sun. Fairmont The Palm’s Ultimate Summer package also offers 10% off on any room type, buffet breakfast and complementary lunch or dinner daily at Flow Kitchen, two hours of play per child at its Fairmont Falcon Kids Club (ages 3-16), access to its four temperature-controlled swimming pools and spa facilities, in addition to one PRAMA by Pavigym class and one State of One meditation workshop per person per stay. Children from three to 16 years of age can participate in a range of cool activities and stay entertained with a jam-packed daily itinerary. If family cooking is your thing, Fairmont The Palm is home to ‘The Chef’s Palette’ an immersive, interactive cooking experience for families seeking to consciously create dishes with wellness in mind, or better yet, visit its ‘Ultimate Family Friday Brunch’, whilst you sit back and enjoy a mouth-watering array of culinary delights. The ‘Ultimate Summer Offer’ is valid for stays until September 30, 2018. For more information visit or call + 971 4 457 3388.

The Residence Zanzibar Hidden amongst towering palm trees and fringed by private shores, the spectacular Residence Zanzibar is set in isolated splendour on the South West coast of the island. Located just 55 minutes from the capital Stone Town, the hotel sits outside village of Kizimkazi, an area famous for its dolphin Safaris. Relax in one of the resort’s luxurious villas, all featuring modern amenities, in-door and out-door showers, as well as a private swimming pools and decks. Designed with contemporary, stylish furniture reminding guests of the island’s African and Omani heritage, each villa offers total privacy accompanied with excellent service. There is plenty to see and do around the resort. The Ila Spa has six pavilions, nestled amongst 2 hectares of beautiful gardens, with each room leading directly onto a private garden with outdoor shower, bath tub and relaxation area. When is comes to dining, there are two delicious options. The Dining Room, with its serene ocean views, offers international cuisine with some Zanzibar twists, whilst the Pavilion Restaurant combines Indian, Arabic and Mediterranean cuisines in a beautiful setting. Book for this Easter and enjoy 35% off the best available rate when you stay a minimum of four nights at The Residence Zanzibar. Prices start from $378. cenizaro. com/theresidence/Zanzibar


GOURMET BREAKFAST Dubai They say “happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast” but at Farzi Café, Dubai, there’s happiness in every meal. From table theatrics and molecular gastronomy to the artistic and innovative presentation of each dish and beverage, there’s no better way to start the morning than with a breakfast at Farzi Café in City Walk, Dubai. Breakfast at Farzi Cafe is a good enough reason to get out of bed on a Friday morning or to take a well-deserved mid-week break. Every day from 10am until 12pm, Farzi Café serves delicious global breakfast delicacies as well as local favourites, such as Baked Egg Shakshuka served in its own pan, or Lemon Quinoa with tempered asparagus. Or savour Sesame Crusted Airy Luqaimat served with Karak Chai ice-cream, Saffron Infused Balaleet Almond Omelette, or French Toast Jenga with Nutella, coffee cream, and fresh berries. It’s not just the mouth-watering dishes on the breakfast menu, but also the drinks that add a refreshing twist to your morning. From specialized and distinctive home-made Karak Chai steeped in local flavours, to signature bantas like Ginger Orange Melody, made of ginger, cumin and mandarin, and the zesty Hara Apple with lime, elderflower & Granny Smith apples.Other extravagant options such as the Irish Haze, which combines vanilla, coffee, and hazelnut for that extra morning boost, or Popcorn Coke ensure dining at Farzi Café can is an enthralling experience at any time of the day. For more information visit or call +971 4 3942556 10


It’s a must-experience event for sports fans all over the world. From the on-field sporting prowess to the crazy costumes and the carnival-like atmosphere off the pitch, the Cathay Pacific/ HSBC Hong Kong Sevens is a unique spectacle on the global sporting calendar. The Hong Kong Sevens hosts 28 international rugby teams and is the premier tournament on the World Rugby Sevens Series circuit. Cathay Pacific, the tournament’s Official Airline and Title Sponsor, is offering UAE and Bahrain rugby fans the opportunity to travel to the heart of the action and experience the electric and heart-pounding atmosphere of the upcoming Hong Kong Sevens with special packages. Packages, including return flights and a three-day event ticket to the tournament which takes place between 6-8 April 2018, start from $975 in Economy Class and $2,520 in Business Class for individuals travelling from Dubai. Individual packages are also available for travel from Bahrain, starting from $1,395 for Economy Class and $2,745 for Business Class. An additional companion travel package, providing added value for family and friends travelling from Dubai, is available from $910pp when two or more passengers travel together. The companion travel packages also include three-day event tickets. Visit www. for more information, packages available until 20 March 2018.

This spread: Chef Noi; Charcoal Grilled Marlin Fillet Salad Thai Style





ne of the most celebrated and acclaimed chefs in Thailand, Tammasak Chootong, commonly referred to as “Chef Noi”, has taken Phuket Island by storm. Chef Noi has pioneered a Euro-Thai fusion that utilises the finest and freshest locally-sourced ingredients and European cooking and presentation methods. Educated in Europe, he worked in several Michelin-starred restaurants across Europe, on board the Queen Elizabeth II cruise liner, and as a senior chef for the JW Marriott and Banyan Tree resorts in Phuket. Since returning to his hometown, Chef Noi has established the acclaimed SUAY restaurants brand and the Positive Kitchen culinary school and catering company.


SUAY RESTAURANTS Chef Noi established the successful SUAY restaurants brand in 2010, fulfilling his lifelong dream to establish his own restaurant. The flagship SUAY restaurant is in Phuket Town and this is where Chef Noi puts his culinary ideas to the test. The restaurant combines fine dark leathers, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a lawn and stone statuettes, and a cosy wooden balcony for those hot Phuket evenings. In October 2017, Chef Noi opened the second SUAY restaurant in his portfolio, SUAY Cherngtalay, a relaxed and stylish establishment with brown suede chairs, heavy wooden tables, tiled flooring, and an outdoor patio and bar overlooking a courtyard and private BBQ terrace for those more intimate occasions.

POSITIVE KITCHEN Chef Noi’s talents don’t stop at cooking for hungry diners, he has also established a catering, food consultancy, and cookery school in his own Permsap Villa near Cherngtalay. Not only do guests at Positive Kitchen learn how to cook the dishes that have both locals and tourists alike flocking to the two SUAY restaurants, groups can also organise grape tasting sessions, intimate home-cooked dining on the 12-seater dining terrace and relax in comfortable surroundings. Food and Travel asked Chef Noi about his culinary inspirations, his Phuket roots, and found out what makes him tick. Where do you find your inspiration for the menus at your SUAY restaurants?

“Chef Noi’s also has a cookery school in his own Permsap Villa near Cherngtalay”




I love Thai cuisine, especially the complex flavours and stimulating textures of our dishes. As a Thai, I personally enjoy local ingredients that make me feel a sense of home as I savour their tastes, and this has been my inspiration. When I set out to design a menu or a particular dish for my SUAY Restaurants, I always keep in mind how best to stay true to basic and traditional components of a dish and showcase the “Thai-ness” of it, while enhancing flavours and incorporating lighter and more refined ingredients that appeal to a western palate. Why did you choose to open your flagship restaurant in Phuket as opposed to any other city? ]I spent time in Europe training in a Michelin-star restaurant and heading the kitchen on board an exclusive passenger cruise liner. But I always knew that I was going to return to my home and do what I love here. I came to Phuket to work with leading luxury resorts on the island, and through that time I have come to love this paradise island that is not only beautiful but also rich in culinary history. Inspired by this, I decided to settle down here with my family and open my flagship Restaurant SUAY in Phuket. Why do you think visitors to Phuket should choose to dine at SUAY Phuket Old Town? When guests enter SUAY Phuket Old Town, they often feel like they are stepping into a cosy and welcoming home. We offer a sophisticated yet palate-friendly Thai cuisine, and the ambience of 14


This spread, clockwise: Chef Noi outside Suay; Pomelo Salad with Grilled Scallops; Suay Restaurant dining area; Laab Tuna tartar; Positive Kitchen; Suay Restaurant interior.

the restaurant lets you relax amidst the bustling town centre. In this corner of Phuket Old Town, SUAY is a part of the local experience and an extension of the culinary culture. How has your time training and working abroad influenced your cooking? In addition to the skills of managing a large and meticulous kitchen during my time abroad, I came to appreciate advanced and simplified cooking techniques aimed to enhance or preserve tastes, textures, and the healthfulness of ingredients. Many times, these essences can be diminished in Thai food through stir-frying and other methods. I tend to use modern cooking techniques to better preserve flavours and the quality of the ingredients to create a lighter and healthier dish. I have seen that you have a number of signature dishes at your restaurants. Which is your personal favourite? And why? Northern Thai cuisine is very special to me and I always enjoyed the combination of sweet, sour, and savoury tastes that are characteristic of that region. And as a chef and restaurant owner, it is very rare that I get to sit down and enjoy a complete meal as I navigate both the kitchen and the floor each evening. So, my personal preference is the Thai Royal Leaf Wrap with Foie

“Northern Thai cuisine is very special to me and I have always enjoyed the combination of sweet, sour, and savoury tastes that are characteristic of the region.”




This page: Chef Noi; Foie Gras in Betal Leaf Wrap; Positive Kitchen Cooking Class

“I always stay true to the traditional components of a dish and showcase its “Thai-ness”, while enhancing flavours with lighter and more refined ingredients.”

Why did you decide to open up your home to both professionals and amateurs for cooking classes through Positive Kitchen? It all comes back to a sense of home to me. As a chef, I enjoy cooking food for people, no matter where. And when people can appreciate not just the food but the creativity, skills and effort that go into a meal, then I am excited to share what I know with them. I have always felt that my home at Positive Kitchen is a place that is inviting and very much conducive to culinary entertainment. So, we worked hard to create a welcoming kitchen studio that inspires creativity and joy for cuisines. It is a wonderful place for hosting small group cooking classes, 16


private dinners where I serve up a special meal in a friendly setting, or even intimate product launches and dinner parties How do you source the ingredients for your dishes? Are they local? The first part of my day is always to go to the local markets to select ingredients for the day. I prefer to see and select fresh produce myself, so I can be assured of the quality of the ingredients, keep on top of seasonal and local selections, be inspired by the variety available, and connect with local vendors. Although we rely on importing some key ingredients for signature dishes, as much as possible I try to source locally. Chef Noi is inspiring a new generation of Thai chefs through his appearance on Iron Chef Thailand, and his many cooking demonstrations and shows on Thai television.

Words: Joe Worthington Images: SUAY

Gras and Tamarind Sauce because this bite-sized savoury dish is not only flavourful with the herbs, roasted coconut flakes, and Wild Betel leaf, but also very easy to eat on the go.

Pantry THE






Spinach t a certain point in most people’s lives, a magical transformation occurs. That blind, unreasoning hatred of spinach – you’ve never tasted it, but you just know you loathe it – is transformed, like a pumpkin at midnight, into a vision of joy and beauty. Okay, that might be overstating things, but it does seem that spinach is for grown-ups – whatever Mr Popeye has to say. Perhaps the widespread childhood revulsion is due to the brutal treatment so much spinach has suffered at the hands of


careless cooks over the years. A slimy mound of battle-dress green on the plate is never going to tempt youthful tastebuds – especially when promoted with the dreaded tag line: ‘And, it’s good for you.’ Yeah, right... Yet once you get hooked on a mound of buttery green leaves, there’s no turning back – even to the point of loving it raw, when the crisp leaves have a fresh flavour and a pleasantly astringent aftertaste. Spinach is believed to have originated in Asia, probably Persia; it was not known to

the Romans, but was probably introduced to Europe by the Arabs or Crusaders, if not both. According to the 12th-century Arab writer Ibn al-Awam, it was the ‘prince of vegetables’. Its name in English derives, via Arabic, from an old Persian name, ‘aspanakh’. Spinach first came to England and France in the 14th century, and quickly became popular as a vegetable and salad green when it appeared in early spring, at a time when other vegetables were scarce and Lent restricted dietary choice. Spinach FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA




is mentioned in the first-known English cookbook, The Forme of Cury (1390), where it is called ‘spinnedge’. When Catherine de Medici, born in Florence, became queen of France in 1533, she so loved spinach she insisted it be served at every meal. This is recalled in the classic French culinary term ‘Florentine’ given to dishes made with spinach (though this is not its meaning in Italy; the term fiorentina means a style of cooking from Florence). Spinach is easy to cultivate and, homegrown, ensures you’re not getting it after it has been sprayed with an excess of chemicals. Most varieties are at their best in 20


spring and autumn, although ‘Giant Winter’ is particularly hardy and can crop during very cold months. ‘Trinidad’ is slower to bolt in the summer. Kitchen gardeners have a wider choice of varieties, including ‘Bordeaux Red’ with striking red stems and star-shaped leaves, ‘Mediana’ with a pleasant, earthy flavour, and ‘Scenic’ which has a soft, melt-in-the-mouth texture and slightly bitter flavour. The gardener’s choice, perhaps, is ‘Dominant’, favoured in Raymond Blanc’s vegetable garden at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons for its superb texture and taste, and resistance against mildew and other diseases. Despite its

name, ‘Perpetual’ spinach is a leaf beet, with large, thick, rather coarse leaves. Good farm shops will sell freshly picked spinach immersed in a bucket of water, and the leaves should look morning-bright. If buying it in a pillow pack, make sure the leaves do not look bruised or tired, and if not already pre-washed, wash in several changes of water, allowing the leaves to soak each time so that dirt and grit sink to the bottom of the bowl. Remove the leaves from the water rather than draining it off, dry in a salad spinner, then blot on paper towels. It cooks very quickly and, as it is mainly composed of water, reduces to a







tiny, glossy puddle. There are thousands of spinach recipes. It’s an ideal vegetable for a desert island choice, marrying with just about anything. It can be eaten raw with nuts, cheese, oranges, fennel and the like, but also appears in tarts, curries, soups, pasta, dumplings, omelettes and more egg dishes than you can count. Dairy products somehow seem to moderate any residual sharpness so spinach melds beautifully with butter and cream, and never fails as an accompaniment to fish. Spinach takes well to sea salt, freshly 22


ground pepper, nutmeg, dried chilli flakes and grated lemon zest, as well as olive oil in the classic Italian manner. The Moorish roots of spinach are reflected in a lovely dish of chickpeas and spinach by Sam and Sam Clark of Moro restaurant in London that is also flavoured with garlic, cumin, oregano, chilli, red-wine vinegar, saffron and sweet smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton). Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has created a sustaining and homely one-pot supper or ‘spoufflé’, as he calls it, with spinach, penne, eggs and cheese; Mark Hix, on the other hand, suggests creamed

spinach, lavishly enriched with double cream, as a luxurious, spoiling accompaniment to grilled meat or fish. Finally, to let you into a little secret: although spinach is an excellent source of vitamin A and folic acid, according to Tom Stobart (author of The Cook’s Encyclopaedia) the iron it contains is cancelled out by the oxalic acid content, meaning that we cannot absorb the minerals effectively before they are excreted. Following the contrary laws of childhood, if parents were to tell their children spinach is not actually that good for them, then a lot more of it might be eaten.



Jordan: from its dramatic desert castles and Ottoman architecture to its Bedouin tents and magnificent Roman amphitheatres, Jordan’s eclectic history has created a unique blend of cultures and cuisines. Rosemary Barron takes a closer look at this spectacular and most liberal of Middle Eastern kingdoms he Bedouin – proud desert nomads whose way of life has captured our imaginations for generations – are certainly at one with their environment. Their waterproof, woven goat-hair tents allow the slightest breeze to enter so they can adapt their daily culinary tasks to the relentless summer heat. For celebrations, Bedouins prepare mansaf, a glorious dish made with a whole lamb and ingredients that are easily transported – rice, spices, nuts, dried laban (yoghurt), and flour. If lucky enough to be invited into their company, you’d join everyone sitting on the floor, their magnificent platters of food displayed almost ceremoniously in the centre. Mansaf is a feast that’s made to share. Many Jordanians consider it their national dish – an apt and altruistic choice in a country where visitors are greeted with the words, ‘We welcome you’. In the kitchen




of Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative Society, cooks Amena, Nwer, Latifa and Sabah prepare mansaf with chicken: ‘First, I tear shirak (bread, stretched into thin rounds by hand and lightly baked) into pieces and spread these over a large tray, like this,’ demonstrates Amena, ‘then I pour over chicken stock that we made earlier. Last night we soaked dried laban in water, to bring it back to life; then this morning we prepared one of our chickens, cleaning and jointing it before cooking it in the laban with spices.’ Over the bread she heaps rice, this too cooked in stock and spices and, on top, the chicken pieces; over all she scatters parsley and almonds fried in samneh, clarified butter. Before taking it to the table, Amena covers the mansaf with a round of shirak, the same size as the tray, to infuse everything beneath with the spicy steam. Lemon

GOURMET TRAVELLER This spread: View over ancient town of Al Salt; Amman Citadel; View from Regency Palace Hotel.

wedges, bowls of rich, deep-gold stock and handfuls of fresh rocket accompany this treat. Later, Anam Al-Abbadi, who oversees the cooperative, joins us for coffee, made gloriously aromatic with ground cardamom pods and poured piping hot from a flask into small cups. Coffee plays an important role in traditional society: if you’re accepted, you’re served coffee – a moment of relief, no doubt, for many a desert traveller passing through in the past. Jordan is a relatively young country with a complex history. In 1921, following the collapse of the Ottoman empire and Arab Revolt, the French assumed influence over Lebanon and Syria; the British over the Palestinian territories, encompassing the Emirate of Transjordan (east of the River Jordan) and the British Mandate for Palestine (west of the river). In 1946, the emirate gained independence as The Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan, with Amman as its capital (it was renamed The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1949). Modern Amman (Ammon, in antiquity) is the site of one of the largest Stone Age settlements so far discovered in the Middle East. Remnants have been unearthed, too, from the early Bronze and Iron Ages when present-day Jordan was composed of many small states. Then came the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians and Greeks before the FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA



This spread, left to right: Camel; Market-Dried Lemons; Market-Spices; Gold Market-sign post; Coffee pot

Romans re-named Ammon Philadelphia – one of the Decapolis, or ten cities with allegiance to Rome – and built Al-Qal’a, the magnificent citadel whose ruins still dominate the skyline. The link between these groups was their interest in the area’s importance as a trade route. And curious visitors can readily discover the influences this eclectic history has had on Jordan’s modern food story. The Romans also discovered well-trodden route-ways here between the ancient empires of Egypt, Persia and Assyria. As they occupied the area they found skilled farmers, well-equipped kitchens, olive groves, orchards, vegetable gardens and an array of spice shops. With such a rich source of local foodstuffs and skilled labour the Romans thrived, building massive markets in the shadows thrown down by their imposing citadels. In Amman today, your nose will guide you from the breath-taking Roman Theatre, its amphitheatre built to seat 6,000 people, to the

Travel information The official currency is the Jordanian Dinar (JD). You can change money in hotels and banks. Jordan is two hours ahead of GMT. The climate is hot Mediterranean in the west and north-west; very short, but occasionally chilly winters; short and distinctive springs and autumns; long, hot summers and high summer daytime desert temperatures with no rain. Visitors will benefit from cooler nights towards the south and in the east. GETTING THERE Royal Jordanian Airlines ( flies daily from Dubai to Amman. Emirates ( flies daily from Dubai to Amman. RESOURCES Jordan Tourism Board ( has useful advice to help you plan your trip. 26


FURTHER READING Jordan by Carole French (Bradt Travel Guides, $28.11). A guide to take you through the exotic mix of old- fashioned bazaars, tiny streets, desert treks and religious sites. A New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden (Penguin, $41). Reproduce some of the wonderful, exotic and wholesome foods of this historyrich region in your own kitchen. JORDAN: Walks, Treks, Caves, Climbs and Canyons by Di Taylor and Tony Howard (Cicerone Press, $28.13). For the more adventurous traveller this guide will lead you through the wonderful landscapes of Ajloun, the Dead Sea Hills, Dana and Wadi Rum.

“Enjoy some sugar cane juice with the knowledge that the sweet drink has refreshed the people of the Jordan Valley for over two thousand years” small shops and narrow streets of the Spice Souk. Then it’s on to the noisy, well- stocked Downtown Souk nearby. Here, stalls are stacked high with seasonal produce – tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, peppers, apples, plums, peaches – that startle in their vivid colours and intense flavours, the result of being grown with less water. Enticing aromas draw you, too, to the market herbalists. With sacks full of dried lemons, hibiscus flowers, geranium and sage, perfumed za’atar, fuul (dried fava beans) and trays of giant, dried sunflower-heads heavy with seeds, your senses will be overwhelmed with the scents and sights of their distinctive wares. Traders cry out, advertising their trinkets, olives and fresh herbs – huge bundles of mint, coriander, parsley and purslane to name just a few. And, nearby, stop to enjoy some sugar cane juice with the knowledge that the sweet drink has been used to refresh the people of the Jordan Valley for over two thousand years. To the north of Amman are more superb Roman ruins. Gadara or Umm Qais – once described by a classical poet as ‘New Athens’ – is a place of wonder. Wander through its beautiful, colonnaded main street, taking in the stunning black-basalt theatre and carved black sarcophagi. And just over an hour away, great Jerash is a rival to the splendour of Pompeii. This is a land celebrated in both the Bible and the Koran, where the forested hills and rich, fertile valleys induce a feeling of blissful timelessness. To share a family’s food in such a place is an extraordinary privilege. In nearby Ajlun, host Mohamad Dwekat is justifiably proud of the beautiful array of dishes that his wife, Maysoon, has cooked and FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA



This spread, left to right: Anam Abbadi; Perfume Shop; Sandwhich Stall; Madaba-Haret Jdoudna Restaurant; Holy Koran

“This is a land that is celebrated in both the Bible and the Koran, where the forested hills and fertile valleys induce a feeling of blissful timelessness. To share a family’s food here is an extraordinary privilege” arranged on the courtyard table. The centrepiece, makmoora, is a local speciality – a delicious pie of stacked olive oil-baked pastry rounds separated by layers of both spicy meat and chicken. Surrounding it are bowls of lentil soup, yoghurt balls in olive oil known as labneh, warak enab or tiny stuffed vine leaves and moujadara (lentils and rice with onion slow-cooked in olive oil and sumac). Maysoon has also prepared baba ganoush (mashed aubergine), Arabic salad (diced tomatoes and cucumber with parsley and tart-tasting sumac) and purslane (a nutrient-packed wild green that’s appetisingly acidic in flavour) in a yoghurt and olive oil sauce. Tea is flavoured by sage that Mohamad plucks from a nearby bush, and dessert grapes are taken straight from the courtyard vine. 28


Olive oil is known locally as Roman oil, giving some clue as to the age of some of the dignified, gnarled trees in the olive groves that cover this region. Its flavour imbues the local cuisine as do dishes favoured by Palestinians, now a large proportion of Jordan’s population. Kitchens here are simple, with a few essential tools – a large, stone mortar and pestle for kibbeh (a dish often used informally to measure the skill of a household’s cook) and a small brass one, for herbs and spices. There’s a heavy-bottomed pan for yoghurtbased sauces and for making samneh, and a large, round, shallow pan for pastries. Store- cupboard necessities include fine and coarse bourghul or cracked wheat, tahini paste, dried beans, chick peas, dried mint, za’tar and rose-flower water.

Food Glossary BABA GANOUSH Purée of aubergines, slow-roasted over an open flame until scorched, with tahini paste, olive oil and lemon juice. BEDOUIN COFFEE Rich, sweet and aromatic, made with ground cardamom; served piping hot in small cups.

4cm-sized ‘rugby-balls’ then fried – a popular traditional dish. LABAN Yoghurt that’s made from goat milk. LABNEH Yoghurt cheese, made into balls and stored in whey.

BURGHUL Cracked wheat, fine or coarse ground.

MAQLUBEH A dish that is ‘overturned’, with meat sitting on top of rice.

FUUL Cooked, dried fava beans mashed with olive oil, lemon and chilli.

SAMNEH Clarified goat’s butter, in the past made from buffalo milk.

KANAFEH Sweet pastry made with layers of shredded dough (kataifi, available in Greek and Middle Eastern stores) and white goat’s cheese, sprinkled with pistachio nuts and drenched in rose-water syrup.

SUMAC Auburn-red berry with a slightly acidic flavour, ground – a regular flavouring for salads and slow- cooked onion-based dishes.

KIBBEH Fine-ground bourghul mixed with ground lamb and onion, shaped into

ZA’ATAR A herb/spice mixture of thyme, marjoram, sumac, salt and toasted sesame; also the local word for thyme.






This spread, left to right: Iraq Al-Amir - Olives; Eastern Desert Castles - Qasr Al-Harrana; Amman - Umayyad Palace Ampitheater; Amman - Umayyad Palace Ampitheater Tourist; Iraq Al-Amir; Grapes.

Greek-speaking and predominantly Christian Byzantium (now Istanbul) had a profound effect on this land. In Madaba, south of Amman, there’s a stunning 6th-century mosaic map, which is the oldest known depiction of the Holy Land. The surrounding area is as richly productive now as it was back in Byzantine times – with olive groves, fruit orchards and vineyards sweeping the landscape and the production of forest honey in full swing. Zumot’s Saint George grapes benefit from the unique local growing conditions. Their distinctive characters are derived from grapes grown as close as possible to the desert, so they can take advantage of the big fluctuations in day and night temperatures. Jordan has been home to biblical-style plagues, so I asked Omar Zumot how he was able to grow organic grapes in such an environment. He explained, ‘We see

pests – which are plentiful – not as something to destroy but, instead, as part of the life-cycle here. Our pigeon towers bring these birds to the area. They have taken care of the large numbers of wasps and we’ve also planted aromatic herbs between the vines to attract aphiddevouring small birds.’ History here can be roughly measured in blocks of a few hundred years. It wasn’t long before the Byzantines were overrun by the Ottomans and, at intervals, other followers of Muhammad – seeing Muslims replace Christians as the dominant religion. This was a time of movements (and scatterings) of people. On the edge of the great Eastern Desert, in Azraq, near the fortress that was once the headquarters of Lawrence of Arabia, Abu Amer bids us to enter his fan-cooled house. Inside his wife, Um Amer, has prepared a true feast. As members of Jordan’s small Druze community (who are also found in neighbouring Syria and Lebanon), their culinary repertoire includes dishes found commonly elsewhere in Jordan – kibbeh, moujadara, fattoush (a salad of bread, tomatoes and herbs), kabsa (spicy rice with chicken and fried almonds) and green pepper pickle. But the Druze also enjoy their own specialities such as fatet batinjan (baked aubergine, bread and tiny meatballs in yoghurt sauce with almonds) and shish barak (small pastries generously filled with ground lamb and onion made the Druze way using samneh, not olive oil, in a spicy, pale-ochre yoghurt sauce). Outside, in the courtyard, two hammocks are piled high with justpicked mallow (melochia), drying naturally in the sun before Abu Amer or his wife store them away for their winter casseroles (the dried leaves will turn a slow-cooked sauce velvety rich). Jordan’s Desert Castles fire the imagination. They’re built in places it’s almost impossible to believe man can survive. Yet the inner walls of 8th-century Qasr Amra – a Unesco World Heritage Site set amid sand dunes and miles from anywhere – are covered with murals depicting hunting and feasting. Then there’s the majestic form of Qasr AlKharrana, a caravanserai (a type of inn with a courtyard for travellers) FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA



This spread, clockwise: Rainbow Street Falafel; Mount Nebo view across the Jordan Valley; Woman from Iraq Al-Ameer Women’s Association Gadara Madaba; Al-Amir Donkey; Amman - Paris Square: Greek Orthodox Church; Gadara, looking to Galilee & Golan Hights; Man downtown

Don’t miss AL-BALAD (DOWNTOWN) WALKING TRAIL Taking you along quiet side streets, where you’ll find delicious falafel, fresh fruit juices or coffee. Take tea in a traditional tea shop (at the First Circle or try the café at the junction of Sylyman al-Bustani Street) or indulge in an ice cream at Gerard’s. Wild Jordan, Othman Bin Affa Street, Downtown, Amman, DESERT CASTLES AND ROMAN AJLUN Take a day trip to the Desert Castles or Roman Ajlun and stop for lunch in a local home. AS-SALT A small, interesting town with lovely Ottoman buildings and a delightful market, 30km north-west of Amman. Stop at the Historic Old Salt Museum, then pick up a map of the Salt Heritage (Buildings) Trail and take yourself on a walk around the town. 32


PARIS SQUARE Enjoy small shops selling ceramics, bric-a-brac and antiques. There’s also a variety of interesting architecture here, including some attractive modernist buildings (dating from the 1920s). 16 Mohammad Ali Al-Sa’di Street, Amman, IRAQ AL-AMIR WOMEN’S COOPERATIVE SOCIETY Established in 1993 and funded by the Swiss government, this provides training projects for women from all villages in Wadi Seer and is run by female members of the Society. You can buy handicrafts, goat-hair rugs, hand-made fabrics and paper, and ceramics, and there is a showroom and tourism information centre. Book for lunch. MADABA A Byzantine church containing a 6th-century mosaic map of the Holy Land. Nearby is Mount Nebo, the final stop in Moses’ flight from Egypt.




This page, left to right: Amman from Beit Sitti Cooking School; Amman - Paris Square 2nd Circle Mosaic; Beit Sitti Cooking School students.

that rises out of the desert that can’t help but enthral. You may also catch a glimpse of some beautiful birds here – the exquisite, rose-pink and grey Sinai rosefinch, Jordan’s national bird, or the red-rumped wheatear. Closer to Amman is Ajlun castle. Built in 1184 by one of Saladin’s generals its purpose was to protect the area from the Franks and Crusaders and it remains a monument to Arab-Islamic military architecture. It’s also one of the network of castles which, in medieval times, used fire beacons and pigeon post to transmit messages between Damascus and Cairo in 12 hours. Throughout these turbulent centuries, the Ottomans established themselves in towns such as As-Salt, north-west of Amman. Settled during the Iron Age, As-Salt’s magnificent Ottoman buildings with high, domed roofs, interior courtyards and beautiful, tall arched windows prove its importance to that influential empire. Under British rule, this was considered as a possible site for Transjordan’s capital, before Amman was eventually chosen instead. Befittingly, in a country where it’s possible to be outside for much of the year, Amman is a paradise for lovers of street food. Along the 34


busy streets of Downtown, try fresh-baked sesame-coated bread filled with tomato, goat’s cheese and za’tar. Behind Paris Square, look for sublime fried doughnuts, liberally dusted with sugar and cinnamon. And don’t pass the Jerusalem restaurant, on Al-Rainbow Street, without sampling some of its delicious falafel. A stroll along this interesting, café-filled street will take you past attractive architecture, including the birthplace of Jordan’s late King Hussein and balconied houses built by Circassians, people originally from the North Caucasus who were displaced by the Ottomans in the mid-19th century. In early medieval France this legendary land became known as The Levant, from levant – or (sun) ‘rising’ – a name adopted first by the Crusaders, then the British. The Levant’s historic route-ways link the lands of the eastern Mediterranean, north east Africa and western Asia, and it’s this that forms the foundation of Jordan’s rich food story. You can find it in the Bedouin coffee you’re offered, in the syruped, pistachio-filled pastries of the Byzantines, in the exquisite fresh fruit juices and herb-infused teas, that are beloved throughout the Arab world, and at the tables of Jordan’s generous people.

Words by: Rosemary Barron. Photos by: Gary Latham

“Olive oil is known locally as Roman oil, giving some clue as to the age of some of the dignified, gnarled trees in the numerous olive groves that cover this region, and its flavour imbues the local cuisine”

Picture O F H E A LT H

If you’re looking to eat well without sacrificing flavour, Dale Pinnock is the chef to follow. Apply his principles and try these perfectly balanced, delicious recipes RECIPES AND PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN FROM THE MEDICINAL CHEF: HOW TO COOK HEALTHILY BY DALE PINNOCK PHOTOGRAPHY BY ISSY CROKER (QUADRILLE) n recent years it has become more obvious that the food we eat affects our health in a big way. We are witnessing first-hand the extent to which bad diets can influence the health of nations. Globally we are seeing levels of degenerative disease and mortality rates that are staggering and a lot of it can be linked to diet. Type 2 diabetes, for example, affects 415million people, and by 2040 it is believed that it will affect one person in ten: that’s 642million people.




We are constantly reminded about how time-poor we are, although if we really analyse our days, we may be surprised to find how much time we could devote to preparing food. People are being sold processed rubbish on the basis of convenience, and we need to go back to basics. There are two mantras that will tell you everything you need to know. The first one is: ‘If it ran, swam or grew – eat it. Everything else, leave out.’ Use whole ingredients that are found in their original state, as nature provides them. A brightly


QUINOA What used to be a mystical ingredient that nobody could pronounce has become popular in recent years. It has an extremely high protein content that means it takes longer to digest than many other grains. It won’t raise blood sugar levels rapidly, which can lead to the onset of Type 2 diabetes.




coloured box with an ingredients list as long as War and Peace is not a natural state. The second mantra is even simpler: ‘Real food does not contain ingredients. Real food is ingredients.’ Arm yourself with some basic knowledge and making better food choices is as easy as pie.

WHOLE GRAINS These are the cornerstone of a healthy diet. I am not an advocate of eating large quantities of carbohydrates and would advise you to ditch re ned carbohydrates altogether but adding whole grains to your diet offers real bene t. They are rich in an array of vitamins and minerals, have a high fibre content, are a great slow-release energy




source and aid digestion. The modern Western diet brings with it a cross-section of digestive maladies. Bloating, gas and IBS are directly related to diet and others can be managed by it. White bread, white rice and white pasta all play havoc with digestive health. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of fibre in processed food. Fibre is vital for digestive health for two reasons. First, it bulks out digestive content and helps with digestive transit. Fibre absorbs water and swells up, which helps the rhythmic contraction of the gut that keeps things moving. The second way it helps is by influencing gut flora. This is the colony of bacteria that live in our digestive tract – not problematic




MEAT AND POULTRY Both are an important dietary inclusion. Meat can give us a broad spectrum of vital minerals such as iron, zinc and selenium. A few meals featuring meat each week will give you a vast amount of nutrients packed into a small serving, though we don’t need to eat it every day. FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA



WHAT IS GOOD AND WHAT IS BAD Advances in research and data analysis have revealed that the recommendations we have been given for decades have been horribly wrong. Essential fatty acids are a group of fats that are biologically active and critical for our health and every cell in the body. They are called ‘essential’ because we have to get them from our diet; our bodies cannot manufacture them. There are two main classes of essential fatty acids: omega 3 and omega 6. These fatty acids play a vast and varied role in human physiology that helps to keep us in good shape. When we consume both omega 3 and omega 6, they go through a series of metabolic pathways. These are streams of chemical reactions that alter them and transform them into end products that play various roles in our bodies. When we consume our required amount of omega 6, it is converted into several important substances that do their jobs nice and quietly. The problem arises, however, when we consume too much omega 6, which thengets shuttled down a slightly different metabolic pathway and exacerbates inflammation. A regular intake of good fats can have an amazing impact on heart health. They can lower cholesterol, reduce organ inflammation and reduce blood pressure. 40



bacteria but a friendly, beneficial army that is 100-trillion strong. Dietary fibre helps keep this colony healthy and some of the more dense and complex fibres are broken down by the gut flora and when the bacteria ferment they cause it to multiply and increase in number which keeps the balance right.

THE BEST WHOLE GRAINS There are a huge number of whole grains available in the shops and these are some of my favourites: Brown Rice; Pearl Barley; Quinoa; Oats; Millet; Bulgar Wheat

WHY WE NEED GOOD FATS We have a strange relationship with fat in the UK. We either avoid all fats like the plague and opt for low-fat diet rubbish, or we indulge in too much of the wrong type. For decades we have been fed the message that fat is the enemy and will kill us faster than anything. This recommendation represents one of the biggest public health disasters of all time. Fats are a vital group of nutrients, essential for virtually every aspect of our health. The benefits of fat are enormous, especially for the heart, joints, immune system and our mental and emotional health.









FISH AND SEAFOOD These contain some of the most important nutrients for long-term health. Oily fish like tuna are full of omega-3 fatty acids, vital for almost every aspect of wellbeing. They are anti-inflammatory, regulate numerous chemical processes in the body and they have a role to play in immunity and managing infection. They also help to maintain the health of our brain and nervous system, can lower LDL (low- density lipoprotein) cholesterol and contribute to immunological health. Increasing our fish intake is one of the most important dietary steps we can take towards greater health.


BEST FOODS FOR HEALTHY FAT INTAKE I try to encourage people to get some good fats into each meal. Not only does this ensure you get an excellent spectrum of them into your diet but they also help to ll you up as they slow gastric emptying and influence hormones that tell us when we are full. OILY FISH Salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, sardines: these are the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids on the planet, and the omega-3 fatty acids they contain can be used by the body straight away. AVOCADOS These are a great source of oleic acid and GLA

(Gamma-linolenic Acid). Top tip: try adding several slices of ripe avocado to your cooked breakfast in the mornings. SEEDS Rich in GLA, vitamin E and the plant form of omega 3 (ALA, Alpha- linolenic acid). While ALA isn’t useful as an omega-3 source, it reduces the metabolism of excess omega 6, so has a role to play. COCONUTS A rich source of medium-chain triglycerides. Top tip: coconut oil is especially good for south-east Asian and Indian cooking. FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA




The pull of London is intense for those visiting the UK. With the capital offering a massive array of attractions; to experience the countryside a little more fully can sometimes be challenging, especially when searching for a luxury country hotel. Lying just beneath the surface however are many incredible places to stay, all offering a chance to explore areas of the countryside away from the hussle-bussle of busy urban sprawl. See our Top 10 places to stay in the Yorkshire countryside. and imposing dams THE PHEASANT, HAROME A converted blacksmith’s, village shop and barn combined, The Pheasant, found overlooking the duck pond in Harome, gives a postcard-perfect first impression to arriving guests that is difficult to forget. ‘Home from home’ is the theme here, with 16 rooms to be found, all located around an attractive tree filled courtyard, with many featuring four poster beds. An emphasis is placed on The Pheasant being a location for everyone, and of the hotel going out of its way to provide a friendly and welcoming service. Rooms contain classic countryside styles and designs, and while not overly showy, give a feeling of taste and sophistication. The welcoming and traditional feeling is encouraged by a relaxing lounge area, often featuring an open wood 44


fire, and allowing guests the opportunity to spend some time thinking and reflecting about the building’s former uses and past occupants. Food at The Pheasant is a highlight, and comes courtesy of Chef Peter Neville and his restaurant, which received the Welcome to Yorkshire White Rose Award for ‘Best Restaurant 2017’. Seasonal and local dishes are the speciality here, with breakfast being a particular highlight. An indoor heated swimming pool adds a touch of modern luxury, and provides a perfect way to soothe aching muscles that may be encountered as a result of partaking in walks in the North Yorkshire Moors, the National Park The Pheasant is located next to.



This spread, clockwise: Devonshire Arms; Black Swan Fine Dining; Black Swan Wilden Suite; Black Swan Strawberries and Hay

THE BLACK SWAN, OLDSTEAD Making warm and informal hospitality the focus of this family-run establishment has resulted in great success, with the Black Swan now being widely recognised for its many attributes. Describing itself as a ‘restaurant with rooms’, it’s storied past gives it a true sense of identity and character. When The Black Swan pub faced the prospect of closure in 2006, the local Banks family, farmers in the area for many generations, decided to step in and rescue its future, giving it a unique edge. As one might expect, The Black Swan favours a very traditional style, with flagged floors, bay windows, candles and fires featuring prominently alongside stylish wooden furniture, made by the Banks family themselves. Nine rooms are contained within the pub itself, while five are located within a beautiful Georgian era house nearby, Antique furnishings, fire places and exposed wood lead the style, with fantastic bathtubs being the focus of many rooms. As Tommy Banks became Britain’s youngest Michelin starred Chef in 2013, food has been placed at the heart of The Black Swan, with Great British Menu awards coming in 2016 and 2017 as well as 4 AA Rosettes. The menu concentrates on vegetables and meat grown and reared on the land nearby, with a range of food that leans towards the experimental, whilst maintaining the highest standards of appearance and style. The awards haven’t come for nothing, and indeed, the food offerings alone make a visit essential. Due to it being a family business, The Black Swan also offers many unique touches in an attempt to make guests feel they are part of an experience. Personal tours of the gardens are possible, and the family welcome questions about their life and work. FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA



This spread, clockwise: Simonstone Hall from Garden; Tickton Grange Bar; Tickton Grange Bedroom; Swinton Park Hotel Exterior; Star Inn Bedroom.




Those wishing to tease themselves with a glimpse into an English past of countryside opulence, luxury and charm need look no further than the manor house that is Simonstone Hall. Formerly home to Lord and Lady Wharncliffe, this eight bedroom retreat stands at the foot of Stags Fell and truly offers some of the best views in the entirety of Yorkshire. As expected, the countryside feeling dominates Simonstone Hall, and is made the most of. Terraced gardens, ancient windows and wood are everywhere, but attentive and respectful retouching has ensured that the past has been respectfully maintained. The opportunity for extensive walking is one which is perhaps the focal point of the hotel, with guides to the many different routes freely available, and knowledgeable staff happy to assist in this area. While it would seem somewhat of a shame not to take advantage of the chance to ramble and hike, shooting expeditions and an incredibly welcoming bar offer good excuses to stay within the confines of Simonstone Hall. Bedroom furnishings are again, in keeping with the Manor House feel. Large and wooden items rule, while the lack of many modern touches doesn’t feel like a loss, as their presence would detract firmly from the style and historical mood being set. Food is largely traditional, and served in a beautiful Drawing Room that features remarkable views across the Dales and the Pennine Range. Afternoon Teas on the terrace are very special, and are a recommended experience.

Situated close to the Yorkshire country town of Beverley, and within easy reach of Hull, Tickton Grange is a Georgian country house that stays true to its roots, whilst bringing things right up to date. It’s 4 acres of well-kept and presented grounds prove a fantastic opportunity for those wishing to explore a little, and while wandering it’s difficult not to spend a moment imagining previous occupants of the house, and how they too may have enjoyed much the same thing. Paddocks, old farm buildings, and bee hives all bring much to the experience. The centrepiece of Tickton Grange however, and perhaps its most striking feature is it’s Library, now used as a bar, but still loaded with books on a variety of topics, as well as a roaring fire and a grand piano. Bedrooms are all individually designed, and hence unique, but maintain a classic style, while offering substantial nods to the modern in the form of coffee machines, and up to date bathroom facilities. Of particular interest are ‘The Granary Rooms’, a suite which contains four rooms around a private garden, and can be booked out individually or altogether, effectively creating an exclusive hideaway. A small restaurant concentrates on traditional British dishes, done well, with a lot of attention paid to vegetarian dishes, alongside the wide selection of locally sourced meat options. An interesting option for dining is to take advantage of the Georgian Bradley Room, a private dining area that can be booked out by groups or individuals who are looking for something a little more personal.


"A classic English Stately Home, giving a sense of past glories and history" SWINTON PARK, MASHAM, SWINTON With the Swinton Estate consisting of 20,000 acres, and also being one of the largest privately owned estates in England, it’s hard not to have high expectations for the Swinton Park Hotel, which finds itself surrounded by parkland, woodland and swathes of invigorating open space. Fortunately, these are more than matched by the imposing, castle-like structure, clad in creepers and offering a comfortable mix of the modern and the traditional. A classic English Stately Home image is presented throughout Swinton Park, with paintings, wood and dark colours giving a sense of past glories and history. This is tempered however by the new spa centre and restaurant, located in a separate building, and offering guests light colours and modern fittings in a contrasting yet not obtrusive manner. Much charm is added to Swinton Park by its vast range of activities and events, all with a countryside feel. From fishing to shooting, falconry displays and cooking, alongside of course walking and hiking, it isn’t hard why many guests spend the entire duration of their visit in and around the hotel itself. Bedrooms range in size and style, and favour a rustic yet modern touch, with three Signature Suites featuring the most ornate furnishings. Food comes via the 3 AA Rosette Samuel’s Restaurant, which offers formal dining from a menu concentrating on produce from the Estate itself. The Terrace is more relaxed, found within the Swinton Country Club and Spa, and has more of an emphasis on sharing plates and casual dining.

STAR INN, HAROME Looking like something from a chocolate box lid, the big draw of the Star Inn, in the village of Harome, is inevitably its Michelin starred restaurant. Local sourcing is the backbone of the food prepared by chef Andrew Pern, with many of his ingredients produced in the back garden. The menu focusses heavily on fish and meat dishes, with an overriding Yorkshire slant featuring creative and interesting elements. The village of Harome is relatively remote, and as a result provides a welcome chance for wandering and taking in local life, before perhaps venturing a little further afield to Helmsley or Pickering where many attractive sights make a visit worthwhile. Rooms are to be found across the road from the pub, in the form of converted farm buildings. Décor is rustic, rural and warm, with each of the nine bedrooms individually designed and containing unique and fascinating features such as a rope slung bed, pianos, and perhaps most unusually, a snooker table. A lounge usually features an especially welcoming open wood fire, and breakfast is served in The Wheelhouse, at an octagon table, which adds much to the feeling that the Star Inn has given serious thought as to making itself stand out and offer guests features that can become talking points. FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


This spread, clockwise: Yorke Arms Dining Room; Wrea Head Hall Hotel Lounge; Wrea Head Hall Hotel Four Poster Room; Yorke Arms Exterior

THE YORKE ARMS, RAMSGILL-IN-NIDDERDALE If you are looking to experience the fantastic scenery of the Yorkshire countryside you need look no further than Nidderdale, which was officially designated an area of outstanding natural beauty in 1994. The Yorke Arms, nestled in the village, is an 18th century coach house and shooting lodge, covered in ivy, and featuring low beamed ceilings and a firmly traditional style of design. Priding itself as a ‘Michelin starred restaurant with rooms’, emphasis is rightly placed on the quality of the cuisine, with chef Frances Atkins offering up a menu focussing on home grown ingredients and imaginative twists on traditional favourites. A kitchen garden gives guests the chance to experience the pleasures of a warm countryside evening, with a gazebo also playing host to a special chef’s table. The sixteen rooms, to be found either within the main building or in a separate cottage, offer a classic country style, with a firmly modern edge. Light colours dominate, giving a clear and crisp impression, and keeping The Yorke Arms free of the claustrophobic and oppressive feeling that can often dominate country hotels. With the heritage cities of York and Harrogate just 40 minutes to an hour’s travel away, taking the opportunity to spend a day experiencing the many historical delights of both locations is possible, but The Yorke Arms remains remote enough to give a true feeling of life in the Yorkshire countryside. Indeed, the location is a major part of the appeal, and taking advantage of the relaxing experience and atmosphere is a significant reason to spend a few nights, and will find guests leaving feeling truly refreshed. The hotel re-opens in the Summer after an extensive refurbishment – check site for details 48



WREA HEAD HALL, SCALBY Found on the edge of the North York Moors National Park, the Gothic mansion that is Wrea Head Hall offers history, compelling views, and a perfect opportunity to experience the Yorkshire countryside in the most atmospheric manner. The first thing that strikes guests is inevitably the beauty of the Hall itself. Built in 1881 as a private home, evocative stone laced with gargoyles and wide sweeping windows draws visitors into the past, and the wood panelling within creates a powerful initial impression. The Hall is set within acres of woodland, and as a result feels isolated and remote; something which adds to the charm on which it clearly prides itself. A fantastic hall with a large stone fireplace is a real highlight. Remaining seemingly untouched, the room acts like a form of time capsule, and offers incredible views across the grounds, which should be explored fully to appreciate the true natural beauty of the area. Maintaining the past forms a large part of the agenda of Wrea Head Hall. Alongside the hall, a Library aims to pay its respects to the past, and the 1881 Restaurant is located in the mansions original dining room where antique mirrors, paintings and oak work well with a menu that emphasises local produce in seasonal ranges. Twenty one bedrooms feature a selection of interesting nods to the past, the most intriguing of which is a 10ft tall Gothic Tester bed, although the novelty of the four poster beds many rooms contain is also attractive. The Gate House, located at the entrance to the estate offers a full kitchen and dining room, giving guests the option to self-cater, should they wish, and the light green and purple hues of the décor send off a charming countryside vibe. FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


This page: Rudding Park during winter; Rudding Park Horto




Anyone who has seen Bolton Abbey and its impressive estate never forget it. The Devonshire Arms, which dates back to the 17th century when it was a coaching inn, nestles deep within its grounds, and provides the perfect location to explore the breathtaking area of natural beauty. The hotel is split into two wings, one newer than the other, and features a selection of incredible artwork that comes directly from the Chatsworth Devonshire Collection, leading to a country house feel. Décor throughout The Devonshire Arms sticks to this style, favouring four poster beds, warm light and brown colours, and open fires. Views from the bedroom are of special note, offering vistas that take in rivers, fields or the gardens. Food comes from the Bolton Abbey estate itself, and is served in the 4 AA Rosette award winning Burlington Restaurant, which features a dress code, and an essential booking policy. Like the hotel itself, the menu concentrates on classical country flavours, but also includes more modern dishes. A more casual brasserie offers traditional British Sunday Roasts. Meat and fish dishes are popular menu items, as is the very large and extensive wine list. A welcome and somewhat unexpected addition to The Devonshire Arms comes in the form of a fantastically equipped spa, found in an adjacent ancient barn. Indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna combine with therapy rooms, lounges and a gym to create a remarkable establishment, in one of the most relaxing and scenic places in Yorkshire.

A country house hotel that steers away from rustic and antique, Rudding Park is a perfect choice for those wishing to experience fine facilitates and features. At ninety rooms it is one of the biggest luxury hotels in the area, with guests eager to use the two golf courses, for which it is renowned. In addition to this, and possibly its biggest selling point is the enormous rooftop spa, named Best New Spa in the UK by the Good Spa Guide 2017. Gardens, swimming pools, saunas and hydrotherapy pools all feature, alongside a vast array of treatments and therapies, making the experience a vital part of any stay and a serious attribute to the hotel. For those looking for other forms of luxury, a gym and even private cinema are both excellent features. Furnishings throughout Rudding Park are light and creamy, with modern aspects done in a tasteful manner and much attention to detail. Bedrooms, as would be expected in such a large establishment, vary quite widely in terms of sizes and features, but the Spa Rooms are an especially attractive option and contain a private steam room, sauna or spa bath. Self-catering cottages and luxury lodges are also available, sleeping between 4 and 8 people and making for perfect family getaway holidays. The Clocktower Restaurant has a 2 AA Rosette Award and features the ever popular Yorkshire Tapas, alongside a wide selection of modern British dishes, and a well-crafted Vegetarian menu. Another option for eating comes courtesy of the Horto Restaurant, which itself holds a 3 AA Rosette Award and has a more contemporary feel, mandatory booking, and more expensive dishes.


Words: Thomas Williams Images: Mike Caldwell, Dave Mackinnon, Andrew Hays Watkins, F&TA, iStock

"The hotel features a selection of incredible artwork that comes directly from the Chatsworth Devonshire Collection"

Star QUALITY Comfort food doesn’t have to mean carbohydrates. With these recipes Marcus Wareing weaves his Michelin magic to create substantial dishes that will keep you full through winter, using the season’s very best produce



PUMPKIN SOUP WITH MAPLE-TOASTED SEEDS A true winter warmer. Maximise the pumpkin flavour by making a stock with the skin and seeds – the leftover is great in risotto.






MARCUS WAERING BRAISED COD WITH HERB VINAIGRETTE, TOASTED BROCCOLI, SPROUTS AND CHESTNUTS An ideal light supper for a chilly day, the cod absorbs the flavours of the vinaigrette beautifully while braising. RECIPES START ON PAGE 92



HARISSA-GLAZED AUBERGINE WITH COCONUT AND PEANUTS The gutsy north African spice mix meets hearty aubergine and coconut yoghurt for a fresh and ямБlling vegetarian meal. RECIPES START ON PAGE 92




This spread; The infinity pool looking into the forest.


HINTERLAND With its tranquil forest setting, organic home-grown produce and therapeutic treatments, a stay at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat sets the benchmark for wellness.


t was while tucked away in Australia’s Gold Coast Hinterland that my life changed. A twisting mountain road and a steep eucalyptus-lined track led to where mindful wellbeing began. Stepping out of the vehicle was like stepping into another era, with charming heritage buildings peering from the foliage. My Aboriginal-inspired Mulberry Suite came decked out with reclaimed timbers and louvred windows breathing the outside in. With no TV or mobile reception, I began the 7-day detox program.




Gwinganna days began on a grassy hillside with a 6.00am Qi Gong class. A form of tai chi, the movements, postures, and deep, meaningful breaths created peace and balance in the mind and body. Just the sight of Tallebudgera Valley rolling towards the Gold Coast at first light was a therapy in itself, connecting me not only to my own body, but also to the natural environment around me. After breakfast, there were yin (gentle) and yang (energetic) activities to enjoy. We practised yoga and meditation in an

open pavilion, heard our cores groan during Pilates, and got breathy during aqua classes. Or we simply enjoyed the two infinity pools overlooking the hinterland beyond. Devoid of harsh chemicals, they are filtered naturally through an ionised purifying system, keeping the skin hydrated. Most cleansing was the dynamic tribal dance class devised by Stephen McInnes. Through self-expression, we danced freeform to the beat of his drum, clearing our energy pathways as we celebrated our liberated selves. The session culminated in a group meditation session when

some participants shed tears of release. They reported this as being able to finally ‘let go’ of something they had been holding onto in life.


At the core of the Gwinganna retreats is the philosophy of food as medicine. In collaboration with the head chef, a nutritionist designs Gwinganna’s local, seasonal, organic and wholefood menus. And as this was a detox week, there was no red meat, dairy foods, gluten, coffee or alcohol. FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA



Opposite page, left to right: Arrival at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat; Roaming wallabies at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat; Heritage buildings at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat; Seafood paella; The Mulberry Suite; Dining at Night; Foods for health at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat.

“Just the sight of Tallebudgera Valley rolling towards the Gold Coast at first light was a therapy in itself” Breakfasts featured nutrient-packed dishes, including: brown rice porridge, poached eggs with creamed corn, and mushroom crepes. For lunch and dinner, we savoured inventive wholefoods from the sea and soil. Plated up were: cauliflower and brazil nut soup, walnutcrusted barramundi, grilled snapper with quinoa and macadamia cream, turmeric chicken with coconut cream, and mango-based salads with produce cut fresh from the organic orchard and vegetable garden outside. And enjoying amaranth nut bread and tahini balls for morning and afternoon tea left us satiated as well as nourished.



The diet strategically aimed to reduce inflammation in the gut, balance blood sugar levels, improve digestion and optimise liver function.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT With Shelley Prior, Gwinganna’s organic gardener, we explored the property’s bountiful allotments. Shelley pointed out some of her favourite recipe ingredients. “I use this rose-scented geranium in coconut milk to make pannacotta,” she said. “And these red flowers and leaves on the pineapple sage bush, I put in ice blocks.” Shelley also likes to use society garlic with red onions on goat’s feta with lime juice and fresh mint. “The leaf of herb-Robert can be used for medicinal purposes, and as a secondary herb in peppermint tea,” recommended Shelley. “It alkalises your system, is anti-cancerous, and oxygenates every cell in your body.” She then pulled out the green calyx of a snapdragon, and ate its flower. We saw the pink flowers of the holy basil/tulsi plant—an adaptogenic herb that absorbs cortisol. When Shelley snapped off some asparagus FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


Travel information GETTING THERE Emirates ( fly from Dubai to Gold Coast Airport via Sydney. GWINGANNA LIFESTYLE RETREAT Multi award-winning and ecotourism-certified Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat is located half an hour’s drive from the airport. A shuttle transfer is included for guests. Choose between 16 wellness packages from two to seven nights, and from a variety of accommodation categories. The above 7-night Gwinganna Detox program costs US$2,760pp. Visit: VISAS Travellers to Australia require a Visitor Visa. Apply at:

“One of the aims of coming to Gwinganna, is returning your body back to its natural circadian rhythm” for us to taste, it burst with flavour and crunch.

MIND-FOOD Throughout our detox week, we also attended daily seminars led by resident and visiting health and wellness presenters. Senior naturopath, Shannon McNeill, led an empowering talk on detoxification with a strong focus on epigenetics: gene expression. “We have 25,000 genes, and while we can’t change our genetic makeup, we can control how our genes behave; through diet, exercise, stress-management and sleep,” said Shannon. “Food is nutrigenomic, so through our diet, we have the ability to switch on beneficial genes, and switch off genes that may predispose us to illness.” Our bodies are clever machines, designed to heal and regenerate, and detoxification is encoded in our DNA. But how we nourish ourselves today is how we feel tomorrow. So Shannon questioned whether we are thriving or surviving. Our liver never clocks off. And at night, it works extra hard to mop up toxins, otherwise they are reabsorbed into the bloodstream and fat cells. Green vegetables are the best gift we can give our liver to keep it clean. 60


“For a cleansing breakfast juice, blend an orange, half a lemon, aloe vera, turmeric, ginger and a cup of water,” suggested Shannon. In another seminar, Sharon Kolkka, Gwinganna’s wellness director, reminded us of the importance of sleep. “One of the aims of coming to Gwinganna, is returning your body back to its natural circadian rhythm,” she said. When the sun rises, we wake up. During the day, our gut creates serotonin, which in turn produces melatonin. “If the gut is sick, it doesn’t produce serotonin, so you won’t produce melatonin—then you don’t sleep.” Serotonin is lowered by sugar, caffeine and alcohol. On another day, dietician and nutritionist, Carolina Rossi, talked about optimum nutrition. “We are prehistoric bodies living in modern times. Today, inflammation is the starting point of most—if not all— chronic conditions,” she said. “Our bodies are highly adaptive, but too much inflammation for too long invites illness.” Acidity causes inflammation, so we must alkalise our bodies with fruits and vegetables. Legumes, grains, nuts and seeds are also alkalising foods. And turmeric is the most powerful anti-


Words & Images by: Marie Barbieri

Opposite page, left to right: Edible flowers at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat; The Qi Gong hillside; Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat›s stunning yoga pavilion; Poached eggs and sliced zucchini; The open-sided dining room.

inflammatory herb. Sugar and caffeine also cause inflammation. When we crave sugary foods, it means that our blood sugar is imbalanced. And if we ‘need’ a coffee to perk us up, we are probably addicted to caffeine. These stimulants interfere with our insulin levels. When we are temporarily stressed, we produce adrenalin for a fight or flight reaction. Similarly, when we drink coffee, the pick-me-up we experience is our adrenal glands producing adrenaline, telling our bodies to run. Of course, we don’t run, but we still produce cortisol. Continued raised cortisol levels deplete hormones essential for health, such as: serotonin, dopamine, GABA, thyroxine and insulin. Managing stress, avoiding sugar, caffeine and alcohol, and balancing our hormones should be a way of life. It’s about retraining the taste buds.

MIND AND BODY THERAPIES Afternoons at Gwinganna brought Dreamtime: a period where we retreated to the Spa Sanctuary. Around 200 treatments aimed at ‘strategic rest’ were available, which took place in rooms set around a central tropical palm grove and giant eucalypts. Massage therapists, acupuncturists, aromatherapists and kinesiologists addressed our personal needs, from emotional stress and adrenal exhaustion to

weight issues and auto-immune disease. First, I experienced Integrated Massage Therapy. My therapist’s intuitive hands read my muscles like braille. He used deep tissue massage and passive stretching techniques to restore functional movement. Reflexology then unblocked my congested pathways, and acupressure and breathing exercises enabled my neck and shoulders to unlock. On another day, I experienced The Dreaming: Gwinganna’s 3-hour signature ritual infused with Australian native plant essential oils and desert salts. A full-body mud wrap, followed by a kodo massage and a hand and foot treatment, led to a snore-inducing scalp massage. So powerful was this therapy, that I slept uninterrupted that night— something I hadn’t done for years. Then there was the sanctuary’s exquisite steam room. Featuring a giant amethyst crystal, it glittered beneath the changing lights, while head-clearing eucalyptus oil impregnated the circulating steam. By the end of my week of healing on the mountain, I felt thoroughly detoxed, cleansed, nourished and re-energised. I headed to my bed and deeply inhaled the moist, rainforest air. I’d learned to let go of the past, to not worry about the future, and to live in the now. Healing—it’s a bucket-list destination. FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


Sweet smell of success Alan Honein, Managing Partner, Sugarmoo You crave - We deliver n recent years the online delivery service has completely overhauled the way in which we consume food. The various platforms available make it easier than ever to have a wide variety of cuisines delivered straight to our door, and all with the single tap of a mobile phone. While restaurants across the globe are eager to embrace the change, there is one company in the Middle East that was ahead of the curve. The brainchild of Raki Phillips and Alan Honein, Sugarmoo was launched in November 14 after the Lebanese-American duo spotted a significant gap in the market. The food delivery business may have been booming but there




was very little on offer for those with a sweet tooth. Initially the pair explored franchise opportunities as they looked to bring the online ordering of desserts to Dubai. But having been discouraged with the high costs, they decided to go out on their own. “It was four years ago now and back then no one was delivering desserts, so we saw a very clear gap in the market,” explains Honein. “We looked around at different opportunities and in the end, it was out of sheer frustration that we came up with our own concept. “We knew we wanted to be a market leader and hence our slogan, ‘you crave, we deliver’ was born. And we always knew that we wanted to deliver as even back in 2014 the delivery business


This spread, left to right: Nutella Brownie; Alan SugarMoo Managing Partner; Sugarmoo packaging; Choco loco cake.

“It was four years ago now and back then no one was delivering desserts, so we saw a very clear gap in the market”

was a $700 million industry, yet none of that was in desserts. “Now the same industry is worth around $1.4 billion, and we were the first in the region to provide desserts. We also trained up our own fleet of drivers, so we were ahead of the curve.” The idea was a complete change in pace for the duo who had previously launched a night club in DIFC and organised concerts with some of the most renowned DJs in the world. Yet both had previous experience in the world of food and beverage, and quickly discovered that there was demand for their new concept. However, starting a business from scratch is never simple and there were major hurdles that needed to be overcome. Especially when the focus of the business was online, a place where a company’s reputation can be destroyed in a matter of minutes. “There was a lot going on behind the scenes before we even got up and running,” says Honein. “It took us several months to make sure we had the right logo and that our drivers were properly trained as we soon realised it would be a major challenge to transport the desserts.

“We needed the right packaging and we needed to make sure that when the dessert arrived it was actually in one piece. So we had to invest and do the proper training. Still in the early days we spent plenty of time writing apologies and sending out free samples to anyone who complained, but we soon solved these issues and it rarely ever happens anymore.” While the idea of delivering desserts may have been new, the Sugarmoo founders knew that there was still a lot of competition when it came to sweets and pastries. The market in the UAE is overloaded with cupcakes and traditional Arabic sweets, with dozens of stores dedicated to their production. Alan and Raki knew that they needed to differentiate themselves and that meant hiring a forward-thinking team who were prepared to think outside of the box and create innovative and tasty products. “I had worked in F&B at the Venetian Hotel in Arizona and Raki has 15 years’ worth of experience in hotels, but neither of us were chefs or bakers so it took quite a bit of trial and error in the beginning before we found a great pastry chef who is still with us today,” says Honein. “We wanted to make hybrid desserts and something that just looked completely different. Straight away we wanted people to be able to customise the cakes so there wouldn’t be anything else like it out there. “Also we weren’t afraid to experiment and mix both Middle Eastern and Western flavours. Our team is very creative, and the desserts are constantly evolving so we never have a static menu. FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA



This spread, left to right: Dessert Lab; Co-Founder Raki Phillips; Vegan Crazy Cake; Colossal Cookies; Our First Sit Down Dessert Lounge in Dar Wasl Jumeirah; Sugarmoo bags; Sugarmoo team

“The kitchen team are so quick on their feet and they love the challenge of coming up with new recipes. It means they are that much more engaged and feel free to give their opinions. It’s a really creative outlet for them.” Besides the standard menu that has an array of decadent items that include cookies, cakes and individual desserts, there are also healthy alternatives and the option for customers to make something truly unique. Since opening Sugarmoo has made a seven-foot multi-level tier tower cake for a wedding, a 13kg cake designed like a chess board and even combined fudge rich chocolate cake with fresh slightly salted potato chips sandwich in between the sponges for a prominent Emirati wedding. Essentially, whatever delights their audience can imagine, the talented team at Sugarmoo will deliver. And if your taste buds are craving a red velvet Oreo cookie or a simple chocolate cake from the menu, then it will be delivered in extra quick time. “Normally ordering a cake you would have to do that at least 24 hours in advance. We do anything from our menu in under 90 minutes, that is our edge,” continues Honein. “Even with most of the



elaborate orders, we can normally do it within 24-48 hours.” Now Sugarmoo are looking to expand their enterprise and are already in discussions to open franchises across the emirates and in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Oman. However, it is unlikely that will ever become a traditional bakery and open stores. The founders firmly believe their success is due to their online service and are working hard to further improve their reach. “We are very focused on technology and apps and we are in the process of creating out third app,” says Honein. “If you have a userfriendly app you will improve the number of orders, but at the same time we are on all the other platforms as that is great in helping us get our name out there. “We never had intentions of opening a store and that hasn’t really changed. We do now have what we call dessert labs in several outlets, but these act more like delivery hubs and only really showcase what we can do. “Instead we prefer to focus on the online community and we like to engage with our audience. We don’t want to be viewed as a standoffish brand, so we like to know our customers and if we know

their birthday is coming up with will send them a cake. It’s great to have that link to your audience.” Having identified a gap in the market, Sugarmoo are now leading the way when it comes to delicious desserts. The team are working hard to offer healthier options as the Middle East becomes more health conscious and there are alternatives for those with intolerances. But in large they know that they will always thrive thanks to people’s demand for indulgence. And that is true for almost any region of the world, not just in the Gulf. “We have done a lot of research and no one out there does what we do,” adds Honein. “So hopefully we will be in Saudi this year and then we will explore lots of other markets. “We will always have the core items, but wherever we go we will always allow people to customise and order the flavours they enjoy.” FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA

Words by: Adrian Back

“Normally ordering a cake you would have to do that at least 24 hours in advance. We do anything from our menu in under 90 minutes”




Riviera Touch

Riviera offers an elegant, beach front fine dining experience amidst a chic yet relaxed ambiance

here’s a reason the Mediterranean is known for its romance, its passion, and its ‘joie de vivre’. The combination of great food, excellent grape, and the waves lapping the sandy shore makes for an unforgettable evening; nothing says delicious food like the French Riviera, the vineyards of Italy, or the white-washed shores of Greece. The Mediterranean has always been the place where the love of food and life collide; and the Riviera Seafood Grill at Rixos Premium Dubai celebrates these Mediterranean roots. This elegant beachside dining experience captures the essence of its eponymous name, and the cuisine embraces the best of the Mediterranean. A palette of washed whites and light blues form the

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core of a minimalist décor, delivering a sophisticated ambiance and chic style, as you pamper yourself and relax by the azure waters of the Arabian sea as they gently lap upon the pristine white beach. If you are looking for that somewhere special to enjoy a relaxed meal, a sophisticated business lunch, or a family brunch with that added touch of European flair, then Riviera is for you; not only a designer ambiance but gourmet cuisine too. 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. There is no doubting the tempting array of dishes makes for quite a challenge, as you wrestle over just what to select.

This spread, clockwise: Dining evening; Sea Bass filet; Calamari; Riviera Roast Lamb; Burrata caprese

“European flair, a designer ambiance and gourmet cuisine; this elegant beachside dining experience captures the essence of the Mediterranean.�





GOURMET TRAVELLER This spread, clockwise: Main Dining Area; Mix Riviera; Scallops Savona; Burrata Capreses; Night view; Chicken Fettuccine Favignana

Words: Darcey Gibbsl

“The restaurant has distinct personas depending upon what time of day you visit, but the same delicious food.” What better way to spend a balmy afternoon? After a few delightful cocktails we started our meal with a Spanish classic, Prawn Pil Pil – sweet prawns cooked in white grape, olive oil, lemon and chilli flakes; the delicious flavours combined with just the right amount of heat were perfect, And Scallops Savona – flawlessly cooked char-grilled diver-caught scallops (so easy to overcook), served with a sweetcorn coulis, a wonderful smoked red pepper purée, and perfectly contrasted with crispy kale. After the starters the mains had quite a lot to live up to and we weren’t disappointed. The red snapper – was firm and moist and the subtle flavour was complemented by a delicate mint sauce. The sea bass was delightful, a hint of smokiness from the grill and the unctuous buttery sauce elevated the taste. And for the hungrier amongst us a half-kilo T-bone steak – which was served exactly as ordered, medium- well with just a hint of pink in the centre. The steak was seasoned well, full of flavour, tender and plated de-boned as requested. An exceptional melt-in-the-mouth treat. Sometimes the sides can leave you wanting, however

the risotto was rich and creamy; the assorted vegetables were cooked al dente delivering crunchy fresh flavours and the truffle potato purée was light and creamy providing a flawless pairing for all of the mains. The advantage of having a lazy afternoon lunch was being able to treat ourselves to some of Riviera’s indulgent desserts. The cheese flan – a classic Spanish flan de queso, was smooth and savoury which was balanced with a light drizzle of a rich caramel tuille; the fluffy bitter sweet dark chocolate mousse was contrasted by the hazelnut glaze; and the almond tart was everything it should be – a crunchy bite followed by an enticing soft centre providing the perfect harmony for the delicate overtones of vanilla ice cream – perfect for sharing! The restaurant has distinct personas depending upon what time of day you visit, but the same delicious food, a real treat for gourmands and casual diners alike; and one that will not break the bank. Riviera Grill is a must have experience. FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA



SHELINA PERMALLOO This talented chef has come a long way since winning MasterChef UK in 2012; numerous TV and personal appearances, cook books and her own restaurant

t was back in 2012 that Shelina Permalloo was finally convinced by her friends and family that she should enter high profile cooking show MasterChef. Competing with 25,000 applicants just to make it onto the popular television series, she would eventually be crowned champion. But as it turned out, emerging victorious was just the start of her culinary journey. Winning the show opened some doors for Shelina but in the more


is like a shortcut professional food course,” says Shelina. “You get put into different environments and you know whether you are good or not. It gets rid of the rubbish quite quickly and then it becomes really tough. “But after winning it was difficult as my passion was to serve my food to people, and prices in London were extortionate. Honestly, I would have had to sell my soul to the devil, so I saved ferociously and

“I went to a Michelin restaurant with the show and all I did as peel prawns for four days, But I realised you have to earn your stripes and the good thing about the show is that it is like a shortcut professional food course” than five years that have passed since her victory she has had to work extremely hard in order to live out her dream of working in the food industry. “I went to a Michelin restaurant with the show and all I did was peel prawns for four days, I didn’t even get to the pass. But I realised you have to earn your stripes and the good thing about the show is that it 70


took all sorts of jobs in order to save my money.” While working in a succession of kitchens around London and saving in order to open her own restaurant, Shelina was able to pen two cookbooks that contained recipes inspired by Mauritius. Having grown up in a Mauritian family she was familiar with the eclectic ingredients found on the island and when writing her first

GOURMET TRAVELLER This spread: Shelina Permalloo Masterchef; Lakaz Maman Signage; Lakaz Maman drinks; Mango & lime syllabub

book it made sense to go back to her roots. “As a Mauritian I love food. We are big foodies so being from a foodie family, it was all about feasts,” she says. “You spend the whole week planning the food and the weekend was eating it. And fortunately, my mum was a very frugal chef, so she could make the money stretch even though we had big Mauritian feasts. “Even at uni I was called big momma chef because I was constantly cooking for everyone; and even when working as a project manager before MasterChef I was always cooking for my friends.” Both cookbooks were a huge success and further convinced the bubbly young chef that when she had saved enough money she would open her own Mauritian restaurant. That dream then became a reality in May, 2016 when Shelina opened Lakaz Maman, which translates as Mum’s House, in her

hometown of Southampton. “My husband built the place and I just had a design brief for him and seriously he has made the most beautiful little Mauritian street shack in the middle of Southampton,” explains Shelina. “Across the UK there isn’t anything similar. There are shops, but a restaurant that serves modern Mauritian food there aren’t any. I can definitely say that. “I was unsure what to do so the first month, so I was testing my customers, trying to discover the right balance. We have some dishes that are very powerful, so I went quite bland with my chilli sauces to begin with, but my customers told me it could be hotter. “So I was shying on being too conservative, now it’s full blown garlic and chilli.” When first opening it was very much a family affair with mother and daughter in the kitchen. And while the food they produced was proving popular, Shelina soon discovered the problem with learning old family recipes. “It’s hard to get an actual recipe because my mum growing up would never tell me measurements. She would always say ‘a bit’ of this and ‘a bit’ of that,” says Shelina. “But I’ve watched a lot of the elders and I am writing everything down now.” And as for the style of the food in her restaurant, well as you might expect from someone influenced so heavily by their family, it is very much home-style cooking. Despite working in Michelin-starred restaurants and having dined




This page, top to bottom: Grilled Swordfish with Pomegranate; Almond & Cinnamon Cake.

around the world, Shelina still prefers to keep things simple and understated. “I much prefer home cooking, white table clothes give me the heebie jeebies as I spill my food everywhere,” she says with a broad smile. “There is something wonderful about the showmanship of a Michelin restaurant, but when you are eating at home you want to get your hands dirty. And my restaurant is like that. It’s chill out, take your shoes off, eat and go. “But I certainly won’t rest on my laurels and as a chef I always like to come up with new ideas. Though with a young baby that can be difficult, but I find time. “At the minute we have some new dishes which are coconut and mussel as a starter. We have a Mauritian chowder for a main and a syrupy coconut cake. Luckily Mauritian food is very eclectic so nothing in our food is ever ruled out.” Now the restaurant is proving to be successful and Shelina has found staff she can trust, she is now hoping to spend more time embracing another passion. The mum of one loves to travel and was thrilled to be invited to the UAE capital for Taste of Abu Dhabi. And while many would take the opportunity to sit down in some of the top restaurants in the very best hotels, Shelina prefers to find the hidden gems that only the locals know about. “Any time you get to travel it is all about learning and I love to adapt and modernise dishes,” she explains. “I stayed in Atlantis in Dubai a few years ago and I was asking the taxi drivers where they eat. I always ask the drivers as they help you find the flavours of the country. “They took me to this small place and I had a dosa pancake that was so cheap but utterly amazing. We also had proper Chai tea and it was perfect, those are the places I like to discover. “So while I am in Abu Dhabi I will make sure to find out where the locals are eating. Luckily I have an Emirati friend so I will make sure he takes me to all the best spots.” Having had the opportunity to travel around the Middle East, Shelina has also noticed a gap in the somewhat overcrowded market. Despite the thousands of restaurants in the region, it seems there is a real lack of authentic Mauritian food. So could the British chef soon be opening a restaurant in the UAE? “We actually have lots of Emiratis studying in Southampton and they seem to love my food,” she adds. “They are always saying that I should open in the region, so it could well be something I look it. “It is great having one restaurant and it can be tough as I have a five-month old baby, but I am looking for a new site to open a restaurant, so it could be in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.” Certainly there seems no reason why such a restaurant would not be a success with Shelina proving ever since winning MasterChef that just like her culinary idols David Thompson and Atul Kocher, she has managed to refine home style cooking. And with a lack of Mauritian restaurants across the UAE, Shelina may just have found the perfect market for her second restaurant. 72


Words by: Adrian Back

“Despite working in Michelin-starred restaurants and having dined around the world, Shelina still prefers to keep things simple and understated.”






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AN OILY RAG (OR ALMOST) Anthea Rowen acts as our London Tour Guide and visits the best places to take your kids without breaking the bank ver since I worked there, back in the big-hair, broad-shoulderpadded, heydays of the eighties, London has remained fast in my affections. Though its urban sprawl is barely contained by the – sometimes stagnant circumnavigation of the M25 (not for nothing is it called Europe’s biggest carpark), its beating heart is a tightly packed centre bursting with colour and vibrancy and more historical buildings than you can shake a stick at. But an abiding fondness for a place does not obscure the fact that London is amongst the top twenty most expensive cities in the world, just beneath Beijing and just above notoriously pricey Paris. It does not cushion the reality that to enjoy a day in the capital could necessitate taking out something akin to a mortgage and so it was with a modicum of alarm that I heard my youngest inform me that we, we, were spending a day, a whole day, in London with Beth. Who is a Londoner and the progeny of Londonliving and Londonearning parents who presumably have the wherewithal to ‘Do London’ on more than the scent of the oily rag I proposed doing it on. I am not, I gently reminded my daughter, a City earner anymore. She looked blank. We were going. That was that. My conscience, as a then home-schooling parent, got the better of me, particularly as Beth, similarly educated, in the vagaries of the ether in an invisible classroom with my own daughter, was, Hattie professed my best friend in the whole class. That we were in England anyway was at least a head start. We arrived in Covent Garden, our designated rendezvous, early on a bright, bright Indian summer’s morning, armed with our One Day travel cards and Hattie’s broad smile.




The land on which Covent Garden stands has been occupied for almost 2,000 years making it the oldest inhabited part of London. After the City of London was devastated in the great fire of 1666, trade moved westwards to Covent Garden where the seeds of the famous fruit, vegetable and flower market were sown and flourished for 300 years before relocating as New Covent Garden (in the south of the capital) during the 1970s. Since then Covent Garden has developed a new character, one of cosmopolitan and sometimes unconventional entertainment: John Logie Baird broadcast the first television programme from here and a hoaxer used the place as a platform to parade the mermaid he’d apparently caught in China. Whilst Hattie and I didn’t see any mermaids, we did enjoy the antics and the skills of a plethora of performers whilst we waited: musicians, comedians, magicians and a knife-juggling tightrope walker. All, unless you felt compelled to toss a pound into a cap (and we did for such is my daughter’s altruism), for nothing. Having never met Beth or her parent s before my anxiety sustained until I did; I had, in an email, indicated that as Londoners they ought to be in charge of the day and though I’d made small, polite reference to ‘not being terribly flush’ for all I knew they might have overlooked that entirely and booked lunch at Claridges. I needn’t have worried. They arrived eminently practical and full of fun. We’ll walk, declared, Beth’s dad, ‘it’s a lovely day and on foot Hattie will see the best of London’. But first, Beth’s mum insisted, I need a coffee and a fag. We drank cappuccino inside and she smoked a quick cigarette outside, this being the new shiny smoke

WORLD TRAVELLER This spread, clockwise: Buckingham Palace; Phone Box; St James’ Park; Grenadier Guards; View from the London Eye

free London that had replaced the one I left: where an evening in the pub might have left you rank as an ashtray but your wallet less light than it would after a round of drinks now. From Covent Garden we walked to Trafalgar Square where the stone lions basked warm in the sun whilst pigeons deposited droppings on their heads and Nelson stood tall upon his column. We climbed the steps to the National Gallery, admission free, and identified the paintings the girls wanted to see given prevailing history lessons on the French Revolution and the Civil War. Beth’s mother busied herself collecting leaflets, ‘these’, she told me, ‘are for when the London Education Authority come knocking on the door to ask nosy questions about whether our home-schooled daughter is actually learning anything, do they hassle you?’. I laughed and told her that my geography was so compromised it even arm-wrestled the long reach of the LEA into submission. With fistfuls of brochures we sallied forth, down pink surfaced Pall Mall (which takes its name from the game ‘pallemaille’, a cross between croquet and golf, that was played here in the early17th century) so that the girls could pose for a picture beneath Admiralty Arch which marks one end of the Mall and where Hattie could observe the route of dozens of monarchs over hundreds of years. We walked alongside St James’ Park gilded green-gold in the late summer sunshine, families picnicked on the grass and couples sprawled. We walked all the way down to Buckingham Palace and Hattie enquired if we thought the Queen was in and whether we could nip up for tea; she wasn’t ,Beth’s dad told her: the wrong flag was flying. From there we stole brief peace in the shaded still of Birdcage Walk and I marvelled at the serenity that could be found in a city mostly loud with the tread of a thousand feet, the rattle of black cabs’ diesel engines and the wheezing of red buses. Big Ben’s iconic face came into view watching over the imperious façade of Westminster and the Houses of Parliament. The London Eye peered at us from over the tree tops; I had persuaded Hattie that my lack of finance and a bad case of vertigo put that, most definitely, off-limits. Footsore we opted to take a river taxi east and with travel cards bought for the Tube we got generously discounted fares and clambered aboard a boat where we sat on the top deck situated to enjoy the sun and the abounding sights that present as you cruise from Parliament all the way to the Tower of London. A trip down the Thames is, indubitably, one of the best – not to say most restful and least expensive – ways to see the city. The

Free Museums in London for Kids NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM a must, for the dinosaurs alone. THE VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM OF CHILDHOOD for the dolls, the dolls’ houses and the puppets THE SCIENCE MUSEUM full of interactive stuff for kids, they won’t get bored even if you do HORNIMAN MUSEUM 16 acres of gardens to stretch little legs plus an aquarium and a Nature Base with real live animals NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM in Greenwich, kids can simulate parking a vessel in port, loading cargo and even firing a cannon FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


This spread clockwise: Street entertainer; Globe Theatre; Tower Bridge; Tower of London

“Covent Garden has developed a new character, one of cosmopolitan and sometimes unconventional entertainment” boat we took on this occasion was devoid of commentary which didn’t matter for we had our own guides in the form of Beth’s parents and because I had done a similar trip once before when I learned, amongst other things, that there is a glass walled gym tucked beneath one of the bridges that span the river. Its members were told they were safe to enjoy the club in nearnudity, until the river taxis reminded them otherwise ... We sailed past Cleopatra’s Needle, the 186 ton, 60 feet tall granite obelisk which, having lain buried for centuries beneath the desert sands of Alexandria, was given as a gift to the British by the Turkish Viceroy of Egypt in 1819. The needle dates back to 1475BC and is inscribed with dedications to several gods and the names of Ramses and Cleopatra. She is guarded by two sphinxes which ought to have been installed to watch over her, but a miscommunication means they face out, their backs firmly, and rather rudely, to their charge. With Shakespeare very much on the school curriculum at the 76


time and the girls battling to comprehend the stage language of Midsummer Night’s Dream and the soliloquies of Othello, the National Theatre was an important landmark: it was formed in 1907 as the Shakespeare National Theatre Committee. Further up the bank, Beth pointed out the Globe Theatre which has been built to replicate as closely as possible the original. The first Globe Theatre, which opened in 1598, was a round, wooden theatre with no roof so it was only open in the summer. William Shakespeare was both an actor and a shareholder here. During a performance of his Henry VIII, in 1613, the thatch caught light when a cannon was fired and the theatre was destroyed. It was rebuilt and opened again the following year but was closed in 1642 by the Puritans. London’s skyline punctuated the blue and the spires of famous old churches like that of St Dunstan’s and Southwark Cathedral pierced it. We passed beneath half a dozen bridges whose names are part of childhood everywhere, irrespective of where one grows up for they crop up in nursery rhymes and literature. Charles Dickens


4 Cheap Places to Eat with Kids WEATHER PERMITTING, NOTHING BEATS A PICNIC in any one of London’s glorious parks: St James, Hyde Park, Green Park, Kensington Palace Gardens ... London boasts more green space than any other capital city in the world. BELGO CENTRAL IN COVENT GARDEN the Mini menu means kids aged 12 and under eat free providing an accompanying adult orders from the a la carte. CAFÉ ROUGE offers a special kids menu and London’s best activity packs for kids so they’re busy whilst you indulge a little IMLI Cheap Indian style food, a three-course meal from the kids’ menu costs little more than a fiver.

describes “Little Dorrit” crossing an “iron bridge” to get to and from Marshalsea Prison, that was the first Southwark Bridge which was opened by lamplight as St Paul’s struck midnight in 1819. The present bridge was completed in 1921. Blackfriars Bridge was the third to span the river; it opened in 1769, it’s modern successor in 1869 and it was under the bridge’s first arch that Roberto Calvi, head of the Vatican Bank and nicknamed ‘God’s Banker’ was found hanged. Waterloo Bridge was officially opened on the second anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and was described by Canova as ‘the noblest bridge in the world, worth a visit from the remotest corners of the earth.’ Its modern-day replacement was built by women during the World Wars. But of all the bridges that link one side of the city with the other across the broad and tidal Thames, London Bridge is the oldest and the most iconic. It has existed here, being rebuilt and remodelled over the ages, since the time of the Romans. Wooden then, it was

knocked down or fell over with alarming frequency: In 1014 King Ethelred and King Olaf burned it down to divide Danish invaders. In 1091 a gale felled another, in 1136, fire again robbed London of its crossing. The first stone bridge was begun in 1176. But that didn’t put an end to the bridge’s misfortunes: in 1213, a large number of people were trapped on the bridge when it caught fire at both ends. In the ensuing panic three thousand people died either by fire or drowning. Its morbid history was extended when it became fashionable to display the heads of traitors on pikes on the southern side. The heads were boiled and dipped in tar to preserve them, a vogue that sustained for centuries: Thomas More and Bishop Fisher both had their heads put on spikes after falling out with Henry VIII. In 1831, a new bridge was opened By William IV. It was sold to the States when the present bridge – which opened in 1972 was built, and is now at Lake Havasu City, Arizona. The story goes that the Americans paid quarter of a million pounds for the bridge, thinking that they were FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA


“St James’ Park gilded green-gold in the late summer sunshine, where families picnicked on the lush grass” buying the famous gateway to the Thames: Tower Bridge. It was at the Tower of London, just before Tower Bridge with its opening arms, that we disembarked. We didn’t go in, the queues were too long and admission too steep. But Hattie did recognize Traitor’s Gate and the girls giggled at the Beefeaters. What I learned later was that had we had the energy and had I employed two months foresight we could have witnessed the Ceremony of the Keys which is a nightly event that has persisted for 700 years. Every night, at 21.53 precisely, the Tower is locked up by the Chief Yeoman Warder. He locks up a series of gates, but it is not until his advance to the Bloody Tower that the famous and historical words are spoken: A sentry challenges his approach: ‘Halt! Who comes there?’ ‘The keys’, comes the response. ‘Whose keys?’ ‘Queen Elizabeth’s keys. ‘Advance, Queen Elizabeth’s keys. All’s well’. 78




This spread clockwise: St James’ Park Lake; Cleopatra’s Needle; London Cab; St Paul’s Cathedral

Must Do’s With The Kids (apart from taking a river taxi of course ...) BUCKINGHAM PALACE (because every little girl’s got a princess inside her somewhere and every little boy wants to know where they hide the cannons) WATCH THE CHANGING OF THE GUARDS Use your travel card and take A DOUBLE-DECKER bus anywhere.

Images: Diliff, F&TA, iStock, Shutterstock

GETTING THERE Travel to London from Dubai is easy with over 16 direct flights per day

With all the towers locked the ceremony, free to those who apply in writing and with weeks to spare, is over at 22.05 From the Tower we took the subway west and wandered across Millennium Bridge to eye up the art at the Tate Modern, on the way we enjoyed pavement art which abounds in many parts of the city – you can enjoy street art for nothing in lots of places, the 4th Plinth in Trafalgar Square and for modern art and graffiti aficionados popular guerrilla artist Banksy’s work can be witnessed right across London. The Tate Modern is perfect for teens and younger children alike – it’s super cool and super child friendly all at the same time; we admired a ceiling high sculpture made out of forks and the girls giggled at the sometimes silliness of contemporary art pitched against the serious exhibitions earlier that day at the National Gallery. With twists of caramel popcorn brought from a street vendor it was time to wend our back over steely, streamlined Millennium Bridge which lies in the shadow of St Paul’s. Mark Ione was thought to be been built on the site of the Roman’s Temple of Diana and dedicated

to St. Paul in 604. The present St. Paul’s Cathedral, designed by the brilliant Christopher Wren, is the fifth to have been built on the same site. Construction began in 1675 and was finished in 1710. Wren’s original design included a steeple, but he decided that his masterpiece should have a dome instead. It is said that while Wren was building St. Paul’s he stayed in a house on Cardinal’s Wharf, because it gave a clear view of the progress of his great work. That house is still there. We walked to the tube station by the same name around the corner, trailing hands along the sun-warmed walls of this magnificent building, staring up into an azure sky at its domes bellied high and thought of the city it had watched grow and the monarchs it had seen come and go and I was struck at how easy it is to absorb our history when it is still here, so tangible. So accessible. So instantly gratifying. So – and this was the best bit – affordable. Hattie just thought what a great day out she’d had. FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA



Ramusake may be priced towards the premium end of the market, but its food delivers the quality you’d expect of a high-end restaurant. n many ways, Ramusake, the Japanese restaurant brand originally launched in London by nightlife entrepreneur Piers Adams, absolutely nails its brief. It’s designed around the concept of an ‘izakaya’ dining experience. In Japan, izakaya restaurants are casual gastro-pubs - places to meet for after-work drinks and good comfort food. And Ramusake Dubai, situated in a hidden corner of the Hilton DoubleTree at Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR), fits the description perfectly. Except in one crucial area. In Japan, izakaya restaurants tend to be on the less expensive side. There’s certainly a premium end of the market, but on the whole, they’re supposed to be affordable places where friends can meet and socialise on a regular basis. Ramusake Dubai, however, can at times be eye-wateringly expensive, making it more suitable as a venue for bigger celebrations and one-off parties. Perhaps that’s part of the appeal. The London restaurant may have closed down last year, but the Dubai branch has gone from strength to strength, garnering plenty of hospitality industry awards and the




adoration of Dubai’s Japanese food fraternity. Ramusake’s prices may prevent it from being true to the casual nature of izakaya dining, but the restaurant more than makes up for that with its star status. That status is well-deserved, too. The entrance is tucked away on the car park level of the Hilton DoubleTree – an outside area that’s a little less than glamorous. But walking through the heavy glass doors and up to the front desk transports you into a world of ultra-modern opulence that makes the drab greyness of the car park outside feel a million miles away. The restaurant’s design inspirations are ostensibly taken from the 1920s show era of Tokyo, and combined with a futuristic theme designed to evoke a feeling of science fiction. Whether or not you agree that the design brief has been met, there’s no doubting at all that this is a stunning venue. Dark, smooth wooden surfaces play traditional Japanese lanterns, while aged concrete slabs are juxtaposed against bright, incandescent-style lights. It sounds like a recipe for sensory overload, but the skill with which the materials


This spread, from left to right: Ramusake Interior; Lamb chops; Set lunch; Lantern

“In Japan, izakaya restaurants are casual gastro-pubs - places to meet for after-work drinks and good comfort food.” have been brought together instead creates an effortless urbanAsian style. The wall panels behind the front desk give way to a sprawling drinks area, with aged wooden slats above and the smooth marble surface of the bar running the width of the room. Behind the bar, large sake casks tower over the staff, while back-lighting illuminates an impressive collection of Japanese whiskies. At the far side of the room, all-glass doors open out to an even larger balcony area, separated into casual seating for drinkers, and more formal tables for diners. A picture-perfect scene of Ain Dubai, the largest Ferris Wheel in the world, atop the Bluewaters Island dominates the view. And while the cacophony of cranes and construction vehicles may jar the otherwise pleasant sea vista now, the view is sure to bring in crowds once the project is completed. Move to the far end of the balcony, and you’re able to enter the main restaurant area – which is decidedly Japanese in feel and design. Light wooden panels surround the panoramic glass viewfinder into the kitchens, while simple, chic wooden furniture sits below a traditional-style wooden lattice-work. Aside from the style of

the tables and chairs, the only modern touches are the concrete floor and the warm spotlights nestled between the ceiling’s lattices. Like the interior design of the main restaurant area, Ramusake’s a la carte menu errs towards the traditional Japanese end of the spectrum – though there are modern twists to be found. The edamame beans served with yuzu and sea salt may be pretty par-for-the-course at Japanese restaurants, but the fried pepper squid is turned into a rare delicacy with its accompanying jalapeno dip. Likewise, the yasai sticks chive dip served on dry ice make for a fun and inventive take on what would otherwise be a standard Japanese dish. Everywhere you look on the menu, it first appears that Ramusake serves reasonably standard Japanese cuisine, but dig a little deeper, and the stand-out dishes begin to reveal a more imaginative take on modern south-east Asian food. The spicy tuna maki rolls, for instance, contain chilli garlic, Togarashi, avocado and tempura flakes – familiar flavours that blend beautifully together to create something that amounts to more than the sum of its parts. It’s the same story when it comes to the dumplings on offer. By a long way, the star of show here is the cheese and truffle gyoza, which FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA



From left to right: Ramusake detail; Asparagus; Asahi.

is as wonderfully decadent as it sounds – with a half-crispy outer batter and a melt-in-the-mouth, gooey interior that sends pleasant shivers down the spine. It’s a cliché that Dubai food fans are suckers for anything containing truffle, but dishes such as Ramusake’s cheese and truffle gyoza are a profound illustration of how the ingredient works wonders when used in simple packages. For those who’ve had enough of truffles, though, another inventive dumping comes in the short rib and foie gras nikuman with bulgogi sauce. This one’s steamed, with thick, airy dough wrapped around a succulent filling. Pour the sauce all over for an explosion of fabulous flavours and let the saltiness of the foie gras linger on the tongue between bites. Other areas of the menu aren’t quite as daring. The sushi platters come as you’d expect, and while you can opt for up to seven different 82


types of sashimi, the dishes themselves are nothing to write home about. They’re good, for sure, but they don’t offer the wow factor that some of the other meals do. The good news is that, if you’re a sashimi lover, you’re well catered for at Ramusake. The mains menu does feature its fair share of zany creations, but it’s best to stick to the classics. The miso black cod with hijinki and apple salad is grilled and seasoned to perfection, while the teriyaki salmon is a masterfully executed take on a classic Japanese dish. Ramusake may be priced towards the premium end of the spectrum – particularly when you throw its impressive menu of cocktails into the mix – but its food delivers the quality you’d expect of a high-end restaurant. That it’s a trendy and chic venue in which to hang out with friends is the added bonus that explains why the restaurant is one of Dubai’s favourite dinner spots.

Words by Tom Paye. Photos by: Ramusake

“The skill with which the materials have been brought together creates an effortless urban-Asian style.”

ALL THINGS NICE Driven by a commitment to support local farmers and provide high quality home-grown and wholesome dishes, Baker & Spice delivers healthy and delicious all-day-dining f you are looking for a family friendly all-day dining spot, and somewhere that serves tasty and healthy food then look no further than the Bahrain outpost for award winning bakery and restaurant chain Baker & Spice located in Bahrain’s elegant Al Aali Mall. The chic modern minimalism offers a clean and simple space where the food is the star attraction. In addition to its muchloved speciality artisan breads and pastries, the restaurant also serves its local, organic and homemade and wholesome classic and signature dishes to provide healthy and fresh options to its customers. Whether you sit inside or dine alfresco on the spacious terrace you can enjoy tasty fresh seasonal dishes from the everchanging menu served from breakfast to dinner. Open daily, from breakfast through to the evening, Baker & Spice offers a range of freshly prepared savoury and sweet treats, available for both dine-in and takeaway. Tempted by the promise of something special we decided to




GOURMET TRAVELLER This spread, clockwise: Baker & Spice bread; Baker & Spice terrace; Beetroot Bucatini; Spinach Falafel

“Sit inside or dine alfresco on the terrace, where you can enjoy tasty fresh seasonal dishes from the ever-changing menu, served from breakfast to dinner.” visit for lunch. We were immediately welcomed by a warm and friendly server who enquired as to where we would like to sit; we decided to take advantage of the weather and opted for a table on the delightful terrace, so we would watch the world go by as we enjoyed our meal. The menu offered an interesting selection of dishes from vegan and vegetarian to meats and poultry, to seafood and pastas, as well as desserts, pastries and artisan breads. For our starters we settled upon courgette fritters, served with a spinach salad; the fritters were crispy on the outside and the perfect texture in the middle; and spinach falafel, perfectly sized quenelles, served with a beetroot yoghurt, sumac lavash, and fried baby spinach. The falafel was full of flavour and again made to the perfect texture, a nice crunch followed by the soft centre. Both portions were more than generous. For the mains we tried the beetroot Bucatini – a vegan dish of handmade beetroot pasta, with wilted spinach, chickpea madras, lemon zest, and toasted coconut. The pasta is made on the premises and was an interesting combination of flavours.

The chickpea madras not only added a little spice (but not overpowering) but looked enticing on the plate in contrast to the beetroot red colour of the pasta and green spinach. The pasta was served al dente and burst with flavour. The other main dish was a simply superb homemade chicken pie; light puff pastry, served over poached chicken, served in a rich mushroom, spinach, and cream sauce served in its own individual cast iron dish; again, the portion was ample. The aromas emanating from the dish instantly awakened my taste buds and the golden pastry was immediately inviting. The chicken was tender and enrobed in the luxurious sauce and delivered that warm and comforting feeling – making it almost impossible to stop, long after I was full. We shared a side of roasted sweet potato, that was perfectly cooked; just caramelised on the outside yet still tender, and dressed in olive oil – almost good enough to be a dish in its own right. To follow we shared a pecan mousse tart; a chocolate and pecan mouse, encased in a dark chocolate ganache. A decadent dessert that was a fitting tribute to a delicious meal. FOOD & TRAVEL ARABIA



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RAVIOLI & CO DUBAI ubai’s new pasta hotspot, Ravioli & Co., is located in Burj Daman, DIFC. This new home-grown interpretation of classic Italian cuisine is 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) so it would seem rude not sample the delights of this new spot. Not sure what to order we took advice from our server – and found him to be extremely helpful. We started with Frito Misto: meat balls, zucchini flowers, with mozzarella and anchovies, arancino, panzerotto and fritters of asparagus, capsicum and cacio cheese, baby artichokes and sage leaves, served with the house signature sauce, a great choice; Carpaccio di Pesce Spada Affumicato, thin slices of smoked swordfish served with


orange, fennel, beetroot and pine nuts tartare; and Funghi Gratinati: baked mushrooms filled with a mix of breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic and Pecorino cheese, served over a shallot cream sauce. The stuffed mushrooms were a treat – the sauce was light and packed with flavour without overpowering the dish. For the mains it would have been a crime to not try the traditional Lasagna: layers of thin homemade pasta, with Fassona beef ragout and Asiago cheese - a rich creamy dish that had all the hallmarks of homemade fare; and tasted divine. My partner tried the Filleto con Porcini: a tender beef fillet served with a velvety smooth Porcini sauce. The fillet was cooked to perfection and full of flavour. To follow we tried Bonnet: a rich chocolate pudding served with Amaretto biscuits. The rich chocolate taste was perfectly complemented by the light and fluffy cream. Simply divine! A must try! Chocolate heaven! And Mela Pazza: a butter biscuit basket, with apple, raisin and ice cream. If you like apple this dish is for you. First rate food, excellent value for money and a great atmosphere. Ravioli & Co. is open daily from noon to midnight. For more information call +971 4 2411616 or visit




Where to

Tried&Tasted EAT

This month we brunch in the UAE, enjoy fresh fish in Dubai, chic style in Hong Kong, and discover Gourmet Burgers

Lazy grazing feast Dubai

COYA Abu Dhabi

or those who prefer to ‘brunch’ on Saturdays, a love of fine food and hand-mixed beverages, then the Lazy Grazing Feast at La Ville Hotel & Suites is for you; featuring a mouth-watering array of GRAZE Gastro Grill dishes, served continuously to your table. Beautifully presented and packed full of flavour, the sharing style plates reflect the restaurant’s eclectic style, and are changed every few weeks by Chef Juan Pablo Dominges to keep it new. Inspired by his passion for cooking with local organic products and his views of food as art, the brunch menu features seafood, vegetarian and of course numerous meat dishes – delicious food with a gentle Mexican touch. Current Lazy Grazing Feast dishes include Pink Guava and Togarashi Chili Cold Soup, Butter Poached Shrimp with Steamed Rice Bun and Spicy Mango, Fresh Seabass marinated in Lemon and Yuzu juice and green Aguachile, and Angus Striploin with Balsamic Red Cabbage, Butternut Purée and purple Cabbage Gel. With a laid-back atmosphere, enjoy a unique dining experience, the table service brunch delicacies are served non-stop over any three-hour block between 1pm – 6pm, allowing you to choose most convenient time, and sit back and relax. Prices for the Lazy Grazing Feast Saturday Brunch start at $55pp for unlimited food with soft beverages. To discover more visit, call +971 54 309 5948, or email

Enjoy brunch at COYA Abu Dhabi; enjoy a wealth of flavours, a combination of well-loved Peruvian favourites and seasonal additions to ensure a celebratory afternoon for all. The culinary journey begins with a selection of starters including corn and quinoa salads, tuna and salmon tacos, a selection of Latin-inspired maki rolls, and causa – a traditional Peruvian potato-based terrine. New dishes include a Causa Amarillo with crabmeat, and wagyu rib maki with wasabi. Coya brunch mainstays are served to the table, delivering a range of unique tastes ideal for sharing, including the new bao of veal belly with barbeque sauce, fresh ceviches, including sea bream and salmon, complemented by tiradito or sliced raw fish reflecting a Japanese influence, including yellowtail and amberjack. A selection of anticuchos – seasoned and grilled meat, brought sizzling to the table, include mushroom, chicken, and veal. Then select your main course, ranging from grilled chicken or salmon and spicy beef to a seabass cazuela, a delicious Peruvian stew with corn puree. Then if you still have room try the inviting new dessert display, featuring at least six choices of fruit-based or savoury sweets. More traditional Peruvian desserts include tres leches and cheesecake flavoured with maracuya or passionfruit, and homemade picanones, a kind of donut, with chica morada – a purple corn juice. To make its Friday brunch experience as accessible as possible, Coya Abu Dhabi has also refreshed its pricing while increasing the quantity of food choices on offer. Prices for the Friday brunch now start at $55pp including soft beverages. For reservations please email: or call the reservation line: +971 2 306 7000





Tried & Tasted

G lobal Gourmet


The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong has opened PDT, a stylish, intimate cocktail bar seating 25 guests, a unique collaboration with the iconic New York cocktail bar PDT (Please Don’t Tell). Regularly voted among the World’s Best Bars, PDT has long been a favourite of New Yorkers who enjoy its secret phone booth entrance, distinctive interiors, and creative cocktails developed by renowned mixologists Jim Meehan, Jeff Bell and their talented bar team. PDT Hong Kong is the first permanent PDT outside of New York City. Located on the mezzanine above MO Bar, the hotel’s vibrant alldaydining venue, PDT Hong Kong follows the tradition of the original: the entrance is disguised by a phone booth at the top of the staircase. The

interior maintains key elements of PDT NYC such as the copper bar top, herringbone patterned wood ceiling and taxidermy. PDT Hong Kong’s drinks menu features 15 cocktails including a mix of PDT classics and new creations crafted especially for Hong Kong. PDT Hong Kong’s food menu is from the Landmark’s own highlyacclaimed Michelin starred Chef Richard Ekkebus and offers his take on American comfort foods, and include artisanal frankfurters with free-range, chicken and beef from sustainable sources, the ‘Honkie Dog’ with sakura shrimp and XO mayo. Not to be missed are the Okonomiyakistyle tater tots topped with kewpie mayonnaise, takoyaki sauce, shredded nori, bonito shavings and scallions. For more information visit or +852 2132 0110

The Fish House DUBAI Inspired by local heritage and sourcing the freshest produce The Fish House opened its doors last month in the InterContinental Dubai Festival City. The restaurant prides itself on delivering an authentic dining experience, amidst by a warm atmosphere. Built on a simple premise of promising the freshest range of fish combined with the appreciation of individual preference and palette. Unconstrained by tradition, fresh produce is prepared and cooked to suit the taste of every diner. The centrepiece of The Fish House experience is the raw bar which houses a charcoal and wood grill, allowing the expert team to prepare every meal right at the heart of the venue. In addition, the Fish House Tower dishes is an impressive assortment of the finest delicacies form the ocean. The cold bar houses the catch of the day on ice, enabling diners to interact with the chef whilst choosing how they would like the fish prepared. Options include deep fried, pan fried, poached, oven baked, breaded and barbequed, offering something for everyone. For more information visit www. or call +971 4 7011127

Black Tab UAE The brain child of New York native & Michelin Star chef Joe Isidori, Black Tap first launched in New York in 2015 enjoying immense success ever since. Black Tap launched its first restaurant in the Middle East last year at Jumeirah Al Naseem. Paying homage to the classic all-American diner with its unique style of burger bursting with downtown flavour, Black Tap is a burger and shake institution that successfully blends quality produce and great cooking with creative burgers, revolutionary milkshakes and craft hops. You can now enjoy Black Tap at the Rixos Premium JBR. For more information visit



Places to


This month, we delight in chic Italian style, enjoy gourmet destinations in Spain, indulge in imposing luxury in Africa, and explore the deserts of Saudi Arabia

Journey to the Edge of the World SAUDI ARABIA Rising from the depths of the Arabian Desert, a unique adventure awaits guests to Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre in the form of a ‘Journey to the Edge of the World’. With unprecedented access to Saudi Arabia’s magnificent natural wonder, the Tuwaiq escarpment, the new Extraordinary Experience promises a trip of a lifetime. In the company of a dedicated Four Seasons team – the excursion begins by way of the historic oasis of Ad’Diriyah, once the seat of the Saudi royal family and home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After a captivating trip through the Kingdom’s historic past, described by the 15th-century architecture of palaces, forts and mosques across the old city, and the colourful market centre of Al Bujairy, you will have the opportunity to drink in the epic scale of the 700km-long Tuwaiq escarpment from Jebel Fihrayn. What better way to bask in the panoramic views of this majestic location than with a freshly cooked picnic lunch including traditional Saudi dishes. While you have been taking in the sights, the Four Seasons culinary team, led by the Hotel’s Executive Chef Ahmed Fawzy, has been preparing a



gourmet spread of traditional cuisine and BBQ dishes – the perfect complement to your Arabian Desert experience. Revitalised by the hearty spread, you can look forward to spending the afternoon trekking, photographing the dramatic views of the cliffs and the plains below, or taking a nap in the restful shade of your own Bedouin tent complete with true Four Seasons hospitality. For the most adventurous, this is the ideal moment to take to the skies and enjoy a magnificent view of the expansive landscape from the cockpit of a microlight aircraft. The day ends as beautifully as it began, amongst the acacia trees in the valley below, where you watch the setting sun as it paints the surrounding scenery with colours of twilight. The Journey to the Edge of the World Extraordinary Experience includes transportation in a Cadillac Escalade, a traditional Bedouin tent with fullyequipped washrooms, and Four Seasons BBQ lunch and traditional Saudi cuisine is priced at $590pp for a minimum of five guests. The experience can be booked between October and April every year. Those boooking the Extraordinary Experience can also enjoy a stay at the Hotel in an executive suite with breakfast at a special rate of $535 per night for two guests. For more information visit or call +966 11211 5888


Tried & Tasted

COLONIAL LUXURY ZAMBIA On the banks of the Zambezi River, The Royal Livingstone Victoria Falls Zambia Hotel by Anantara is named after the legendary explorer who named Zambia’s iconic waterfall in honour of his queen. Paying tribute to this glorious era, the hotel evokes Victorian elegance and colonial traditions in impeccable style and offers unforgettable adventures. All of the luxury rooms and suites feature a private veranda with mighty Zambezi River

views. The sights and sounds of river life can be soaked up as you laze in a hammock, enjoy a massage in a waterfront gazebo, or cool off in the pool. Sip refreshments in a lounge that displays the paintings of Sir David Livingstone. Partake in charming high tea rituals, and later sundowners on a deck overlooking Victoria Falls. Savour African and European fine dining, followed by nightcaps under the stars with undeniably the finest Livingstone hotel in the region.



Two Meliá Hotel restaurants have been awarded Michelin stars for 2018; the creative fare by brothers Sergio and Javier Torres at Dos Cielos of Meliá Barcelona Sky, and Angel León’s cuisine at Meliá Sancti Petri in Cadiz, have each received Michelin stars. Dos Cielos, located on the 24th floor of the Meliá Barcelona Sky, has received its second Michelin star, joining the exclusive club of two-starred Spanish restaurants. The cuisine by Javier and Sergio Torres is first-class, creative, intuitive and emotional, and all served in an incredibly delightful, intimate and elegant open-plan space with glass walls affording views of the Barcelona skyline. Signature dishes include foie-gras ravioli, dried tomatoes and black olives and chestnuts, salad with red egg, truffle and wild-mushroom sand, and cellarcured slab of beef. Famous for its personalised service, Dos Cielos has a small number of tables and an open kitchen so that guests can experience the entire creative process, a show especially devised for fine-dining connoisseurs. The Dos Cielos terrace offers a chance to enjoy the textures, flavours and experiences of the Torres brothers’ cuisine outdoors with the blue sea as a backdrop. Alevante, the signature restaurant of Meliá Sancti Petri, Cadiz, received its first Michelin Star. This award is recognition of the undoubted talents of chef León and his team. Based on the successes León has enjoyed at his 3 Michelin-starred Aponiente Restaurant, the Alevante culinary experience focuses on fresh, local seafood. Located in Meliá Sancti Petri, the only five-star grand luxe hotel in the province of Cadiz, Alevante Restaurant has become a culinary benchmark and a must-visit for any gourmet or lover of fine-dining. Together with its extraordinary location in a real Nasrid Andalusian Palace opposite the historic Sancti Petri Castle, Alevante offers a menu that channels and surpasses the experience gained in the successful Aponiente Restaurant for over a decade.

Located in a 15-acre private Mediterranean park on the leafy hill of Monte Mario, with breath-taking views of the Eternal City and St. Peter’s Basilica, the Rome Cavalieri is an oasis in the heart of the Rome. Ever since its opened in 1963, the hotel has provided the highest level of luxury and service, swiftly becoming the preferred destination for movie stars, businessmen and international visitors alike. Fifty years on, the Rome Cavalieri continues to move with the times, meeting, or even surpassing the expectations of the most demanding international travellers; a true an icon in the world of luxury hospitality. This prestigious hotel is home to a unique and star-studded private art collection, with masterpieces by the likes of Andy Warhol and Gianbattista Tiepolo; even the suites are adorned with works of art and sophisticated high-end furnishings, including Karl Lagerfeld sofas, rare 18th century antiques and Andy Warhol and Robert Indiana paintings. The hotel is home to La Pergola, which has been run by world-renowned chef Heinz Beck since 1994, leading the restaurant to a sparkling array of accolades over the past two decades. From three Michelin stars to the Six Star Diamond Award, La Pergola has been ‘Best Restaurant of Rome’ on countless occasions. La Pergola boasts a cellar with over 60,000 bottles, a water menu with 29 choices, a range of premium olive oils and vintage balsamic vinegars, and the finest ingredients from across the Mediterranean. As with everything at the Rome Cavalieri, quality positively envelops your very person: your table is laid with vermeil plates and cutlery, art treasures adorn the walls, a rare Aubusson tapestry, Sèvres porcelain, an 18th Century bronze candelabra, imperial furniture and a wonderful collection of hand-blown glass by Emile Gallé, are fitting accessories to Beck’s mastery in the kitchen.

MARCH 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


Spinach, potato and paneer with tarka dal SERVES 4

This Goan spiced dish is served with a side of tarka dal. For the tarka dal 200g split red lentils, rinsed ½ tsp turmeric 2tsp ground coriander 1½ tbsp ghee ½ tsp cumin seeds seeds from 2 cardamom pods ½ tsp black onion seeds (kolongi or nigella seeds) pinch of asofetida pinch of garam masala 1 red chilli, thinly sliced For the spinach, potato and



paneer 1 tsp turmeric 2 tsp ground coriander 1tsp ground cumin 5 tbsp ghee 225g original paneer, cut into 1.5cm cubes 2 onions, halved, thinly sliced then roughly chopped 3 cloves garlic, crushed 2cm peeled ginger, finely grated 400g prepared spinach (stalks and roots removed) 300g potatoes, peeled, cut into 2cm cubes and blanched for 5 minutes in boiling salted water 250ml vegetable stock 1 tsp garam masala To serve fresh coriander

extra chillies (optional) crispy fried shallots (optional)

To make the tarka dal, put the lentils in a pan with the turmeric and coriander. Cover with 1cm of boiling water. Cook on a medium heat for 30 minutes until soft. Meanwhile, prepare the spinach, potato and paneer. Dissolve the turmeric, coriander and cumin in 2tbsp of cold water to create a spice paste. Heat 3tbsp of ghee in a large wok and fry the paneer on all sides until a rich golden colour. Lift out and put on a tray lined with kitchen paper. Add the rest of the ghee to the wok and fry the onion, garlic and ginger for 10 minutes, stirring often, until it just turns

golden. Add the spice paste and potato and cook, stirring often, for 4 minutes. Add the stock and cook for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes have softened and the liquid thickened. Mix in the spinach and paneer, and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the garam masala, some sea salt crystals and freshly ground black pepper. Top with fresh coriander, crispy fried shallots and chillies. To finish the tarka dal, heat the ghee in a pan and add the cumin, cardamom and onion seeds along with the asofetida and a pinch of garam masala. When they sizzle, pour over the hot dal, cover and leave to infuse for a few minutes. Serve topped with the sliced chillies.

Spinach and walnut malfatti with herby tomato salsa and chilli parmesan sprinkles MAKES 20

Spinach and smoked salmon tart SERVES 4

Use lightly smoked raw salmon fillets that have been hot smoked, not thinly sliced cold-smoked salmon. You could use readyrolled bought pastry: just press the lemon zest into the pastry, fold and re-roll before lining the tin. For the pastry 150g white spelt flour 85g cold butter, cut into cubes 1 small egg yolk 4tsp crème fraîche grated zest of 1 small lemon For the filling 3 eggs 50ml full fat milk 200ml crème fraîche Large knob butter 200g prepared spinach (stalks and roots removed) Grated nutmeg 240g (2 small) lightly smoked salmon fillets, skinned and cut into 2 cm pieces 12cm x 35cm rectangular, loosebottomed fluted tin

To make the pastry, put the flour and a pinch of salt into a

processor, add the butter and pulse to a fine crumb. Mix the egg and crème fraîche together with the lemon zest and pour over the crumb mixture. Pulse to bring the mixture into a pliable ball. Tip onto cling film and squash a little, wrap and chill for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 220°C/ 425°F/Gas 7. Roll out the pastry to fit the tin and line with a sheet of scrunched-up baking paper. Fill with baking beans and bake blind for 20 minutes until the edges look like pale biscuit. Remove the baking beans and put the pastry back in the oven. Lower the heat to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and leave for 5 minutes to cook the base. Whisk the eggs, milk and crème fraîche together. Heat the butter in a large pan and add the spinach. Stir to wilt. When soft, drain well. Squeeze any moisture from the spinach and roughly chop. Add to the egg mixture. Season with nutmeg, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour the mixture into the cooked pastry case and push the pieces of salmon into the mixture, letting a few peek through the surface. Grind over a little more nutmeg and bake at 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 for 20 minutes until puffed, set and golden. Cool for 20 minutes before serving.

The name malfatti translates to ‘badly made’ in Italian, so don’t worry about shaping them perfectly. 300g prepared spinach (stalks and roots removed) 20g butter 250g ricotta 100g parmesan, finely grated 3tbsp rice flour, plus extra for dusting the malfatti 50g Serr walnuts, finely chopped 1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk For the salsa 100ml extra virgin olive oil 4 tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped into small pieces 15g bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves removed and roughly chopped (or leaves left whole if they are small) For the sprinkles 50g parmesan, finely grated 1 tsp chilli flakes finely zested rind from 1 orange To finish 20g butter 3tbsp olive oil

Put the spinach in a large pan and pour over enough boiling water to cover. Add 1tsp salt. Bring to the

boil, by which time the spinach will have wilted. Drain and refresh under cold running water. Drain well. Squeeze all excess water out of the spinach a little at a time. When done, chop finely and put on kitchen paper. Melt the butter over a low to medium heat. Once it’s sizzling, sautée the spinach for 4 minutes, stirring often. Place in a colander and put to one side to cool completely. Put a large pan of water on to boil. Put the ricotta in a bowl and mix in the parmesan, flour and walnuts. Stir in the spinach, and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix in the eggs. Scatter a baking tray with a thin layer of extra flour and another with some oil. Mould the malfatti into fat cork shapes. Place them on the floured tray. When the water is boiling, throw in a tablespoon of salt and add 5 malfatti at a time to cook for 3 minutes. As they rise to the surface, scoop them out with a slotted spoon. Let them drain, then place on the oiled tray. To make the salsa, warm the extra virgin olive oil in a small pan. Add the tomatoes and parsley. Season lightly with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. To make the chilli parmesan sprinkles, mix the ingredients together and put in a small bowl. Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan. Fry the malfatti on all sides until lightly golden. Serve immediately with the salsa and sprinkles.





Chicken and spinach oven-cooked risotto SERVES 4

3 tbsp rapeseed oil 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs 3 banana shallots, halved and thinly sliced 2 cloves garlic, crushed ¼ tsp chilli flakes 4 medium tomatoes, peeled, cut into quarters, seeds squeezed out and each piece halved 200g arborio rice 250ml chicken stock 200g prepared spinach (stalks and roots removed)

Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F/ Gas 5. Heat 2tbsp of oil in a castiron casserole pot and brown the chicken on all sides until golden. Remove and rest on a plate. Pour the rest of the oil into 94


the pot and add the shallots and garlic. Cook without browning for 5 minutes until just soft. Add the chilli flakes and tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the rice and chicken. Season with sea salt crystals and freshly ground black pepper. Pour over the stock and 250ml water, and stir. Put a lid on the casserole dish and cook in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Meanwhile put the spinach in a colander and pour over a kettle full of boiling water. Add the drained spinach to the pot, stir and cook for a further 10 minutes. Serve from the pot.

Minted quinoa and feta burgers MAKES 4–6

250g quinoa 2 eggs, beaten 2tsp dried oregano small bunch mint, finely chopped 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 120g feta cheese, crumbled olive oil, for frying To serve salad leaves burger buns

Place the quinoa in a saucepan and cover with boiling water. Simmer for around 20 minutes,

or until it is cooked (it will soften and a small tail-like projection will appear on the side). Pour into a sieve and set aside to drain. In a bowl, mix the quinoa with the eggs, oregano, mint, garlic, feta and season with black pepper. The mixture should stick together when squeezed. Shape into 4-6 patties. Pour the olive oil into a frying pan and cook the patties for 4 minutes on each side, or until golden and crispy. Serve with a salad or in burger buns.

Ginger beef and cavolo nero SERVES 2

olive oil, for frying 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 5cm ginger, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks 1 x 400g sirloin steak, sliced into thin strips 5-6 long cavolo nero leaves, finely shredded 2tsp light soy sauce 1tsp honey Âź tsp Chinese five-spice powder To serve cooked rice

Heat a little oil in a wok or wide frying pan. Add the garlic and ginger, along with a pinch of sea salt, and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the steak strips and continue to stir-fry for a further 3-4 minutes. Add the cavolo nero and cook for 1 minute more. Add the soy sauce, honey and five-spice powder and stirfry for another 2 minutes, until the honey caramelises and turns sticky. Place on warmed plates and serve immediately with the cooked rice.

Seared beef and pomegranate salad SERVES 2

2 large handfuls mixed salad leaves 4-5 cherry tomatoes, halved 1 x 400g sirloin steak ½ pomegranate For the dressing 2tsp pomegranate molasses 1tbsp extra virgin olive oil ½ garlic clove, finely chopped

Combine the salad leaves and tomatoes on a serving plate. Place a frying pan over a high

heat and, when hot, fry the steak on each side for 1-2 minutes (or longer if you prefer it well done). Remove from the pan, place on a board and rest for 1-2 minutes before slicing into thin strips. Holding the halved pomegranate over the salad, hit the rounded side with a wooden spoon to release the seeds and sprinkle over the leaves. Add the steak slices to the salad. To make the dressing, add all the ingredients to a small bowl and whisk well before drizzling over the salad to serve.





Harissa-glazed aubergine with coconut and peanuts SERVES 4

Snappy citrus tuna SERVES 1

Juice of ½ lime zest of 1 lime 1 tsp light soy sauce 1 tsp toasted sesame oil 2 tsp olive oil 1 tuna steak To serve 1 red chilli, sliced green salad, cooked vegetables, stir-fried noodles or brown rice

Mix the lime zest and juice, soy sauce and oils together in a small bowl and whisk well. Place the tuna in the sauce and turn it a few 96


times to ensure it is well covered. Heat a frying pan or griddle pan until hot, and cook the tuna for 3 minutes on each side, drizzling small amounts of the liquid over the tuna as it cooks (this helps to get the flavours into the fish and also gives it some colour). Cut into slices and serve with the sliced chilli a green salad, cooked vegetables, stir-fried noodles or brown rice.

Aubergines release a lot of liquid when cooked so it’s important to chargrill the slices until they are really golden. 2 aubergines 3 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil 1 tsp flaked sea salt, plus extra 150g dairy-free coconut yoghurt Zest and juice of 1 lime 50g rose harissa (available to buy in most supermarkets) 30g agave syrup 1tsp lemon juice To serve 75g roasted and salted peanuts, roughly chopped ½ -1 red chilli, finely sliced coriander cress or salad cress

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ Gas 6. Heat a chargrill pan on the hob until hot. Slice each aubergine lengthways into six strips. Brush with the oil and season with the salt. Chargrill both sides of the aubergine slices until deep golden. Transfer to a foil-lined baking tray and finish cooking in the oven for 15 minutes. Mix together the coconut yoghurt, lime zest and juice and a good pinch of salt. Set aside. Mix together the harissa, agave syrup, lemon juice and 4 teaspoons of water. Season with salt and when the aubergine is cooked, brush liberally over the top of each strip then return to the oven for 5 minutes. To serve, place the aubergine slices on a large plate and dot the coconut yoghurt around. Scatter over the peanuts, chilli and cress.

Braised cod with herb vinaigrette, toasted broccoli, sprouts and chestnuts SERVES 4

Try to get thick fillets for this as they will have a juicer texture and bigger surface area to absorb the herb vinaigrette. 4tbsp olive oil 4 thick skin-on cod fillets 250ml chicken or vegetable stock 1 head of broccoli, broken into florets 12 Brussels sprouts, quartered 2 garlic cloves, crushed 100g fresh or vacuum-packed chestnuts, finely chopped For the vinaigrette ¼ bunch of tarragon, leaves picked and finely sliced ¼ bunch of parsley, leaves picked and finely sliced 2tbsp capers, chopped ½ red onion, finely chopped 4tbsp white wine vinegar 150ml extra virgin olive oil 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

To make the vinaigrette, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl then set aside. For the braised fish, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Season the cod well with salt and pepper and carefully place in the pan, skin-side down. Cook for a couple of minutes until the base of the cod is nicely browned, then turn. Pour in 200ml of stock and cover the pan loosely with foil. Reduce the heat and simmer for a maximum of 5 minutes, until the cod is just cooked through. Heat the remaining olive oil in a wide frying pan over high heat until almost smoking. Add the broccoli and sprouts and fry until browned. Pour in the remaining 50ml of stock and add the crushed garlic, then reduce the heat slightly. Cook for a few minutes until the vegetables are just tender and stir in the chestnuts. To serve, divide the vegetables between plates and sit the cod on top. Drizzle generously with the vinaigrette and serve immediately.

Pumpkin soup with maple-toasted seeds SERVES 8

1 x 2kg pumpkin, preferably with blue/grey skin 1 bay leaf 1 sprig of rosemary 125g butter 1 tsp sea salt 250ml milk For the maple-toasted seeds 60g pumpkin seeds 1 tbsp maple syrup ½ tbsp olive oil, plus extra to serve ¼ tsp sea salt

Peel and quarter the pumpkin, reserving the skin and seeds. Cut the pumpkin flesh into rough 2cm chunks and set aside. Put the skin, seeds, trimmings, bay leaf and rosemary in a large saucepan. Cover with about 2.5 litres water, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour. Strain and

reserve the stock. While the stock is cooking, preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ Gas 6. Mix together the pumpkin seeds, maple syrup, olive oil and 1⁄4 teaspoon of salt. Scatter evenly on an oven tray and bake for 8-10 minutes until golden. Remove and allow to cool before roughly chopping. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the pumpkin chunks and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the pumpkin starts to soften. Pour in about half of the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, until the pumpkin is completely soft and starting to break down. Stir in the milk, remove the rosemary sprig and bay leaf. Using a stick blender, blitz until completely smooth, adding more stock as required. Season to taste. Serve the soup hot, scattered with the mapletoasted pumpkin seeds and drizzled with oil.




Amol Takkekar Sous Chef at Lava Dining at the Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort, chef Amol talks to Food and Travel about his passion culinary likes and favourite spots Earliest food memory The dish which comes to mind is the Poha. Familiar to people living in coastal communities and consisting of simple ingredients, it is a flattened rice dish mixed with spices and fresh grated coconut. Growing up in Northern India, this was a dish which grandmother typically made especially during family reunions in the summer. I remember it just like it was yesterday; my grandmother making her way through the backyard to pick fresh coconuts, cooking on the wood stove and the aroma which filled every corner of the house as the rice slowly cooked. She would grate the coconuts, add a dash of spices and mix them with the rice. This is a memory which I still savour till this day. Inspiration Inspiration can be derived from many people and places. If I had to name one, it would have to be Chef Gaggan Anand. Compared to Japanese, Thai or Chinese, Indian cuisine is not as famous when it comes to Asian cuisine, especially in Asia. However, Chef Gaggan has really taken our food to a refined level. His restaurant recently ranked the 7th best world-wide and 1st in Asia, by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2017. He is highly passionate and determined which is evident in his achievements; and has definitely raised the bar for Indian cuisine which is why I strive to follow in his footsteps. What made you become a chef? I chose to stray away from the family legacy of serving in the military. It took me a bit of research as well as some trial and error to discover my passion for cooking. I was captured by the discipline and creativity that goes into the final outcome – most importantly, the pride of being a chef. My ambitious and younger self took on the challenge thinking “Let’s do it!” Thirteen years later, I still enjoy it as much as the day I wore my chef’s whites for the first time. First job in a kitchen? When I first started my hospitality career, I worked two jobs. By day, I worked at The Oberoi Amar Villas in the garde manager kitchen, where I was responsible for making all the fresh juices used throughout the resort. In the evenings, and I worked in the AAA rated, Chef Oscar restaurant for extra experience. Favourite city for food? It has to be Dubai! Through the rich mixture of nationalities in such a highly diversified community, comes the greatest culinary experience. It’s very easy to try out different cuisines with their authenticity intact. Fresh ingredients are easily accessible in the UAE, making it a foodie hotspot, and I am sure it will soon become the culinary capital of the world. Favourite place for a vacation? The Far East is on my travel bucket-list - there is much to learn in terms of culture as well as in culinary terms. The historical influence on how some cuisines developed was always a fascinating aspect to me and a source of inspiration. However, home; near the ocean and surrounded by lush greenery will always be my favourite destination. Favourite comfort food? Comfort food to me is classic, simple dishes made homely, such as a dish like seafood curry. Which is what I aim to create at Lava Dining, taking comfort food to the next level by serving the classics with a creative twist. Caesar Salad skewers, and Goan prawn curries served in parchment bags, are favourites.