Just as we're getting used a dip in temperatures in the capital, Abu Dhabi prepares to heat up next spring with an influx of Latin dancers at the first International Salsa Festival to be held in the region. On April 23, 24 and 25, Le Royal Méridien hotel will host a series of workshops and shows by international dance stars. The hotel will also provide accommodation for the over 1,000 salseros who will fly in from around the world. Live bands and Latin DJs will provide the background music for a weekend of intense dance and professionally acclaimed dancers such as Jaime Jesus, Little Liz and Amy Mills from Australia, as well as John Narvaez and Liz Rojaz from California, to name a few.
At Dubai's Festival of Taste in Jumeirah last week, we discovered that baby Jean Novelli, only nine weeks old, is already following in the footsteps of his well-travelled father, the celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli. Baby Novelli and his mother, Michelle Kennedy, who is engaged to the cook, were in town as Novelli senior cooked up a storm. "He already has more air miles than a lot of grown-ups," the chef told me. "He was born in Los Angeles, came with me to London, then Qatar and after Dubai we are all going on to Spain and Austria." Jean is the first child for the couple but Novelli, 46, who has a 21-year-old daughter, Christina, from a previous marriage, said fatherhood was easier second time around. "Thankfully he sleeps well. I thought it would be like getting back onto a bicycle but things have changed so much." The chef also shares nappy-changing duties with his partner. "I have already had to do it twice this morning," he said.
The British chef James Martin, who also appeared at the festival, showed he wasn't averse to taking a leaf out of the cookbook of Delia Smith. Her bestseller, How To Cheat At Cooking, caused a storm earlier this year when she suggested making shepherd's pie with frozen mash and tinned mince. So it came as something of a surprise when Martin shared a recipe for white chocolate and raspberry trifle with festivalgoers, which included shop-bought Swiss roll as one of the ingredients. "I don't think it matters. No one has time to make Swiss roll these days," he scoffed.
The home of Venu Rajamony, the consul general of India, was beaming with decorative lights recently as the melodious rhythm of Hindustani classical music filled the air. The voice of Anita Singhvi, a classical singer, was enjoyed by Indian expatriates who gathered at the villa in Al Safa for an "Evening of Ghazals", organised with the support of Indian Council for Cultural Relations and Carfare. The highlight of the event, undoubtedly, was the presence of Farooque Shaikh, the actor and theatre personality, who added to the mood of the evening by narrating scripts. Shaikh's narration was welcomed each time with a huge round of applause by the audience.