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Farmers and festivities – in and out of my kitchen

December 5, 2015

After last month’s madness there is now a huge incentive to be in my kitchen much more.

  • The Farmers’ Market is back! As one of the first shoppers there at its new location, it was as though I was seeing, touching, tasting and smelling veg for the first time. I bought far too much so have had a concerted effort to use it all up including green smoothies for breakfast.
  • The last time I saw sprouts on the stalk was in our garden when I was a child. Couldn’t resist snapping one up in Spinneys as they looked so fresh. Recipe coming soon for a veg show stopper that sprout lovers will adore.
  • With Christmas around the corner I am smug delighted to have my Christmas cake and Christmas puddings mellowing away ready for the big day.
  • Long story but Jones the Grocer sent me a hamper which was very generous of them. It included vegan cheese which made veggie teen very happy. Thankfully she’s on her vegetarian month in December though. I’m intrigued by these from South Africa as I’ve never heard of a baobab.
  • Good olive oil made with olives that are pressed within 24 hours of harvest (and soon to be listed in a Michelin starred restaurant in Italy). Spice rubs which impart deep, aromatic, authentic tastes of Arabia. Fresh zaatar which is simply divine when you dip your ka’ak into some oil and then into it. All good products in themselves made even better as the proceeds go to help single parent Palestinian families in refugee camps in Jordan. Find them on Dima’s stall at the Farmers’ Market.
  • Another charity initiative I love is the annual stollen event at Mall of the Emirates put together by The Kempinski. So sad that I’ll miss it this year as in the UK for a quick trip. You can buy a slice or a whole stollen from 700 metres long of the stuff and the proceeds go to Dubai Centre for Special Needs. The hotel kindly sent me a stollen ahead of time (and I may have had some for breakfast and lunch). It’s on Saturday 5th December from 3pm – don’t miss it if you are in Dubai.
  • You may be a aware of my obsession enthusiasm for gin so delighted to get my hands on a bottle of Tarquin’s. I first tasted this and met Tarquin himself at the Plymouth Food Festival a couple of years ago. Every bottle of this small batch gin is signed by hand by Tarquin; find out why in this video (sadly Facetime is not allowed here in Dubai).
  • Send you a gingerbread house? Yeah sure I’ve got masses of time to ice a gingerbread house. Not. It was fun though. It comes flat packed with a bag of icing and decorations from Freedom pizza. I made extra icing and got completely carried away….
  • …and a glass of mulled wine in hand makes it feel even more festive. I couldn’t resist these little snowflake mugs in Crate and Barrel.

Out of my kitchen

November was jam packed full of good things with food, drink and travel on my own doorstep.

I adore Georgio Locatelli’s food and his whole philosophy. The truffle season menu at Ronda Locatelli is centred around simple dishes, executed to perfection, which bring out the very best of the truffle. He shaved copious amounts of this muskily, aromatic fungi onto my raviolo filled with an egg yolk himself and then joined us for a good old natter at the table.

One crazy day I did two food tours and went out for dinner. It all started at the crack of dawn at the fish market with an Emirati sea captain, haggling for crabs and fish which he then cooked for us. Another Frying Pan Adventure which opened my eyes to another side of our city. Then I cycled round Umm Suqeim on one of those blue bikes with  Tastecape seeing a different side of my own neighbourhood. Highly recommended. Thanks for my friend Lyn and her talented chef son of Born’s kitchen for a wonderful balsamic vinegar themed dinner in her lovely garden.

The Burj Khalifa now opens on weekends for sunrise viewings. I booked for the very first slot at 5.30am and watched the sky turn pink with Ishita, from the tallest building in the world. Truly magical.

With over 40% of the population of Dubai hailing from India, Diwali – the festival of light – is a special event in the calendar. Walking round Deira and Bur Dubai for six hours gave me a window into a different world – we gazed at the lights, met families who were celebrating, dodged crazy fireworks (illegal), attended a religious ceremony, stopped to watch dancing and drumming in the street, and ate street food. Thanks Gulf Photo Plus and Frying Pan Food Adventures once again.

Suzanne Radford invited me to join her on radio at the Sheraton Grand Dubai in their private kitchen and dining room at Feast Restaurant. She actually asked me about what was in my kitchen! We munched our way through an amazing menu by Sheraton’s Chef de Cuisine Raymond Wong and celebrity chef Suzanne Husseini cooked live. You can listen here for some delicious, festive inspiration. Earlier in the month I’d sampled the Olives and Vines menu at a gorgeous event hosted by Noreen from Noni’s place (I want my Christmas table to look like that).

OBE Organic were in town and we met at Book Munch to talk about their organic, free range beef sold as a cooperative of small farmers. Really inspiring. Available at Carrefour.

Gary Rhodes talked us through his new afternoon tea at Vox Cinemas which is actually available all day. I know where I’ll be taking the weight off my feet for a break from shopping at the Mall of the Emirates. Reasonable price and you don’t have to watch a movie.

Other eating out included new very French restaurant Bistro des Artes, the new Intersect by Lexus space headed up by Chef Tomas Reger (really interesting), Euzone at Royal Mirage overlooking the sea, and old favourite Flooka for Lebanese seafood (although building has impaired the view).

I previewed Spinney’s Christmas foods and am thrilled that they will be stocking organic, free range turkeys from Crowe’s Farm in Ireland (order now) as well as a range of different homemade Christmas items to make cooking a bit easier.

Feast Dubai Eye-mycustardpie

In my glass

The brand ambassador of Krug was in town – my account to follow but you can read Foodiva’s here.

MMI invited me to join sommeliers in a tasting of new wines to their portfolio at Fume. It’s interesting to see trends emerging. Could Chenin Blanc be on the rise? Grenache-based wines were also much in evidence. And Whispering Angel maker Château D’Esclan continues capture rosé drinkers’ imaginations with Rock Angel.

A handsome French ex-rugby player making stunning biodynamic wines is a seductive combination. Adored the reds from Clos D’Ora, a beautiful white from Domaine de Cigalus and a rivesaultes which was almost older than me, presented by Gerard Bertrand at a fabulous lunch at Jean-Georges at the Four Seasons.

Add in a girl’s night at my house, book club, school concerts and two concerts (Florence & the Machine and Blur) in Abu Dhabi on consecutive school nights and you can see why my blog posts haven’t been quite as regular as normal!

Now on a countdown to Christmas and will be sharing a little gingerbread love every day over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (and sometimes on Snapchat).

If you are wondering what is in other kitchens around the globe, visit Celia’s page and follow the links in her side bar for this monthly event.  You can look back on past goodies in my kitchen here.

What’s in your kitchen this December?

31 Comments
  1. December 5, 2015 1:07 pm

    I wish I had made more icing up for my gingerbread house, I think I will order another one 🙂 lovely round up x

    • December 6, 2015 1:15 pm

      It was such a relaxing project. Nice gift too.

  2. December 5, 2015 1:20 pm

    I read this whirlwind of your November… widely awake and imagining myself in a few of them… apart from the incredible sunrise experience that you led me to. Hope your coming months are as interesting and colourful. xx

    • December 6, 2015 1:16 pm

      I hope the next few months are less hectic tbh!

  3. audrey mccaig permalink
    December 5, 2015 7:43 pm

    Baobab: most of us Africanophiles want to be buried under one…

    • December 6, 2015 1:16 pm

      Will think of you as I eat the jam Auds 🙂

  4. December 6, 2015 5:05 am

    Wow all the photos are so pretty!

  5. December 6, 2015 1:06 pm

    Sounds like a very busy month indeed!

    • December 6, 2015 1:17 pm

      …and now December’s onslaught! I love it all though.

  6. Ania @ Milk, Toast and Honey permalink
    December 7, 2015 12:12 am

    Loving your IG posts as much as IMK. Happy December x

    • December 13, 2015 10:55 am

      Loving Instagram… too much Ania! Thanks – and Happy December to you too x

  7. December 7, 2015 1:50 am

    Love the look of your gingerbread house!! Your decoration is so neat and tidy – I just don’t have the patience!

    • December 13, 2015 10:56 am

      Serious bodge job if you look closely – but I loved doing it!

  8. recipesfromapantry permalink
    December 7, 2015 2:53 am

    My gosh, you have had a very busy November. I really want to visit your farmers market as I see the gorgeous bounty posts you share on Instagram..

    • December 13, 2015 10:58 am

      It’s a very special market Bintu – would love to show you round.

  9. December 7, 2015 3:05 am

    gorgeous – glad your farmers markets are back on. I think of the morning we spent there together often xx

    • December 13, 2015 10:58 am

      You’ll have to come and visit it in its new location. Even nicer if that’s possible. x

  10. December 7, 2015 10:52 am

    wow, you have been busy! Why one earth is facetime not allowed in Dubai? What did you think of the baobab? We have some unique gin here with Kalahari truffles – it has such an earthy taste which works well with elderflower 🙂

    • December 13, 2015 10:59 am

      Intrigued by that gin. Haven’t managed to try the baobab yet – but looking forward to it. There is a comms duopoly here… say no more.

  11. December 8, 2015 2:40 pm

    Love it! Here’s to mulled wine, and gin and grenache and bubbly and……………. 🙂

    • December 13, 2015 11:04 am

      We are on the same wavelength!

  12. December 8, 2015 3:17 pm

    What a busy month indeed! December will be even busier I imagine. Yes to the mulled wine, I loved all the Weihnachtsmarkts in Germany, sipping a Gluehwein and nibbling on stollen.

    • December 13, 2015 11:05 am

      One of our favourite ever trips for me and the girls was to Munich to the Christmas markets.

  13. December 9, 2015 9:50 am

    Another jam packed month. I love Plymouth Gin from the Blackfriars Distillery in the old town. It’s my top choice. So cheap in the UK but so hideously expensive here (probably more expensive than Hendricks). I was just telling some colleagues yesterday that when it’s just Anthony and I, we have Plymouth but when there are guests, they have to make do with Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray. As for the sprouts… bah humbug! cheers xxx

    • December 13, 2015 10:54 am

      We did a fascinating gin tasting tour at Blackfriars this summer. Highly recommended.

  14. ramblingtart permalink
    December 11, 2015 4:53 pm

    I would’ve had to take those Brussels sprouts home too. 🙂 In my kitchen there are fresh apricots waiting to be eaten, two batches of sauerkraut fermenting, homemade plum wine aging, and homemade cider vinegar ready to bottle. Lots to do this weekend. 🙂

    • December 13, 2015 10:53 am

      You’ve made me want to hop over to your kitchen immediately Krista

  15. December 17, 2015 4:58 am

    phew lots of lovely things going on here. i adore that photo of the brussels sprouts. i think i had forgotten they grow like that. i have never seen a stalk of them in real life. have a wonderful Xmas.

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