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Luscious lobster – Come Dine With Me Dubai (part 1)

May 16, 2011

Personalised table setting

Imagine inviting people for lunch who then snoop round your home, critique each course and vote on it at the end.  Imagine that the guests are all food bloggers.  Sounds like your worst nightmare? Why did I volunteer to submit myself to this excoriating challenge?  The chance to eat four fantastic lunches prepared by some of the most talented and enthusiastic cooks, of course.  For that I’m prepared to put up with a little torture myself.  Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking for a bunch of friends – but this audience is seriously discerning.

Who is this exalted company (I’ll use initials so you know who I’m talking about)?

Anjas food 4 thoughtAnja’s Food for thought – Personal food journal and cookbook exploring new ways of healthy eating, “healthy” being based on mostly natural ingredients.  If you think healthy means boring think again (especially with Anja’s gorgeous pics). A

Sips and spoonfulsSips and Spoonfuls – Desserts dominate this beautiful blog with exquisite photography.  She’s a perfectionist! S

The HedonistaThe Hedonista – What doesn’t she know about food and wine? All expressed in way that makes me think and  often laugh out loud. H

Johnathan CastleJonathan Castle – Food, wine and whisky are just three passions.  Fast cars and travel also tick JC’s boxes. J

Much was revealed at this lunch including the amazing marathon-running goals A has set herself; J‘s previous appearance on Masterchef (in the days of Lloyd Grossman) – wow!; that this was S‘s first ever Western style meal at someone’s house; and that most of the table list watch Come Dine With Me regularly as a guilty pleasure. A confessed she had been having nightmare-style dreams “You guys didn’t like my steamed unsalted plain broccoli for a starter and sneaked into my  kitchen to eat my chocolate because you were so hungry…….”

J looked bemused as we whipped out our cameras (he hasn’t hung out with a gaggle of food bloggers before).

Elegant table setting

My teens had sent me off with strict instructions to rifle through H‘s shoe cupboard in the manner of the TV version of Come Dine With Me.  I was immediately seduced by her light airy villa, gorgeous table setting and warm welcome so felt I couldn’t possibly betray any secrets of my hostess…could I?!

We’d submitted our menus in advance to S (the only rule being no pork or alcohol in the food).  H‘s menu:

  • Starter- Salmon Carpaccio
  • Main-  BBQ lobster with Tarragon and Mustard
  • Dessert- Sticky Date Pudding with mascarpone cream (see recipe here on H’s site)

H‘s salmon carpaccio had been replaced by tuna as she hadn’t found salmon fresh enough and was appalled to learn that the Tasmanian wild salmon sold in Carrefour was fresh (i.e. had been on a 14 hour plane journey) not frozen.  As fish starts to deteriorate the minute it leaves the water you need to consume within hours or freeze immediately.

Tuna carpaccio

Doesn’t this look divine?  A lemongrass dressing and a salad of endive, radish and green mango was the perfect foil for this silky rectangle of tuna.

We all made little cooing noises as the next plate appeared but a few, including me, were a bit tentative about how to tackle the beautiful Omani lobster.  When curiosity about food unites nothing is taboo so we felt at ease asking for advice (which you wouldn’t if at dinner or a restaurant).  We probed the inside of the shell with our knives as instructed and revealed fronds of tarragon lining the curve of the shell imparting a subtle but relevant flavour to the sweet white lobster flesh.  It came with lemon risotto and mustard greens.

Lobster with lemon risotto

Sticky date pudding ended the lunch and a ‘proper’ cafe latte.  I’ll just let the pictures do the talking here (and the scraped clean plates).

We drank iced lemon and ginger fizz, sparkling date drink and Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc.  S asked and we tried to explain the taste and appeal of alcohol – I don’t think she was convinced!

Sticky date pudding

Overall verdict? The bar has been set super-high.  I would eat the whole menu again – today.  H was disappointed by her risotto (al dente but not creamy) which perhaps was the only flaw, but grilling lobster to perfection and producing risotto at the same time was a real challenge.

Coffee and clean plates

S throws down the gauntlet next week and I’m looking forward to it already.  Tweet with us via #comedinewithmedxb

No, no, no – I couldn’t possibly reveal any secrets. What? Oh alright then. Just don’t tell H.

Secret snooping

Spotted! A kitsch fish tank and baskets of shoes to rifle through

  1. May 16, 2011 7:17 am

    wow lady, respect for you all! Sarah’s done a pro job, I’m stunned. No words…!

  2. May 16, 2011 7:25 am

    Ha ha Arva – I don’t care if I come last …the judging is such a pleasure!

  3. May 16, 2011 7:36 am

    Congratulations #comedinewithmedxb! I love how the date plum was presented, very pretty!
    Excited to read about the next one.

  4. May 16, 2011 7:36 am

    Aaaarrrrgggghh the horror! Now everyone knows I have a Vegas style arc de triumph in my house!!! Wow your photos make my table look very pretty…

  5. May 16, 2011 7:38 am

    Nice one Sally! Photos look great, must bring a camera myself next time!

  6. Tricia Evans permalink
    May 16, 2011 7:55 am

    Wow a real life ‘Come Dine with Me’ in Dubai – love the blog Sally. x

  7. May 16, 2011 8:03 am

    sally!!! you guys are the best and the bravest!!!

  8. May 16, 2011 8:03 am

    Wow impressive images and dishes – gals and guy you’ve got a tough one to beat! x

  9. May 16, 2011 8:14 am

    Now you all can see what we’re up against. Beautiful summary Sally. I’m just a tad nervous now!!!

  10. Tara Rogers permalink
    May 16, 2011 8:26 am

    What fabulous fun! And thanks for allowing us to be part of it through your post and pics.

  11. May 16, 2011 8:31 am

    Lovely Post, Sally! Indeed, Sarah has set the bar very high. I had a wonderful time. Now that we have started this, I don’t dream about Come Dine With Me anymore. Quite a relief. Can’t wait for the next round at S.

  12. May 16, 2011 9:27 am

    Great menu!! well done! let´s hope there´ll be a second edition and i´ll be able to join then! 😉

  13. May 16, 2011 9:33 am

    Oh my, what a fabulously fun idea. Not sure if I would be brave enough to partake. I am looking forward to pat 2.
    🙂 Mandy

  14. May 16, 2011 9:40 am

    The food looked fabulous! I must try the Omani lobster grilled one of these day. Lovely piece to read Sally.

  15. Yasmin permalink
    May 16, 2011 10:01 am

    Everything looks so delicious with an artistic touch. I can see how this can get a little scary! Wonderful summary, thanks for sharing with us. Can’t wait to see what everyone else has to offer.

  16. May 16, 2011 10:20 am

    WISH I took part in this!!! 😦 if only coursework wasn’t an interference !
    Love your photographs!! Seems like everything was wonderful

  17. May 16, 2011 10:59 am

    What a beautiful feast 🙂

  18. May 16, 2011 11:05 am

    how clever to do this with food bloggers! I ran a competition last year based on Come Dine with Me 🙂

    • May 16, 2011 12:23 pm

      Really interested in how you ran the competition Tandy. Loads of interest here so might follow your lead for a future event in Dubai.

  19. May 18, 2011 6:46 am

    Oh my Sally!! What an amazing meal!
    A fabulous read and the pictures are just gorgeous!
    I could almost taste it!

  20. May 18, 2011 11:09 pm

    Loved reading this post. Good job!

  21. May 21, 2011 10:30 pm

    Looks so lovely !! Would love to visit houses myself :D… Cant wait to do a version myself 😀

  22. May 24, 2011 10:02 am

    Wow! I had never heard of Come Dine with Me, and just watched a couple of snippets on BBC. How fun, although a tiny bit odd. Do the guest actually wander around the house and critique it? Hmm.
    Food looks wonderful and sounds like you had a blast!

    • May 24, 2011 10:45 am

      As total food fanatics (and wanting to preserve our friendship!) we dedicate ourselves more to the eating part of the concept than the snooping! On TV they are fairly merciless though (yes a bit odd!).

  23. June 1, 2011 7:47 am

    This sounds absolutely delicious and fun! Oh, but the stress – I can’t imagine. I love your description of everyone getting their cameras out and taking photos. A telltale sign of a blogger in the house 🙂

    Thank you for joining Post Of The Month Club! XOl


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