SHARJAH // Sharjah's foodies can fill their senses with midnight feasts, late-night cookery classes and sample tastings of fine cuisine all on the menu at the emirate's food festival this week.
Top chefs including the Italian chef Antonio de Dominics and Uwe Micheel of the Radisson Blu hotel in Deira Creek will dish up the secrets behind their signature dishes each day from 5.30pm to midnight.
"Following the huge success of last year's edition, we have been looking forward to organising a larger edition," said Dina al Nakhi, the events manager of Al Qasba Development Authority.
"We are confident our new theme, Slice and Dice, will attract people from around the UAE wanting to see the artistic decoration of dishes.
"We invite visitors to enjoy live musical performances, animated stilt performers parading through the crowds, and taste some of the world's most delicious dishes prepared by our honoured guest chefs."
The festival, now in its fifth year, opened on Thursday and runs until April 2.
"From food-carving displays, adults and children's workshops, cocktail recipes, canvas painting and Sesame Street characters to chef competitions and musical shows, Al Qasba Food Festival 2011 promises to appeal to the community at large," Ms al Nakhi said.
Food and beverage industry exhibits will include a stall introducing Sucral sugar, a new brand designed for diabetics.
"Sucral is the next-generation sugar," said Ahmed Mohammed, a salesperson. "People can now enjoy the sweet taste of beverages and food without all the calories and carbohydrates of sugar."
Mariam al Kindi, an Emirati visitor at the festival, said she was impressed at how the festival had grown since last year. "I have been here for the last two years and can tell there is something new every year," she said. "There are more food stalls and the children's play area has been expanded."
Ms al Kindi said she was keen to attend workshops to improve her cooking skills. "I want to learn how to make some European dishes so that my family do not always have to go to a restaurant to have these dishes," she said.