x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Food for thought on Valentine's Day

When I call my husband my better half, I mean it. He's the half that remembers to take to the airport the credit card we used to buy tickets online. I'm the half that forgets the passports at home.

"What a way to spend Valentine's Day, eh?" said Amit Sadh, offering me a cup of green tea.

I wasn't doing that bad, actually, I wanted to say.

Though I'd been waiting about an hour to get this interview, here I was with India's heartthrob - Adi from the Hindi TV serial Kyun Hota Hai Pyarr. I could have done worse.

But Sadh, who was in Dubai with his co-stars to promote their new film Kai Po Che, could have done better. Despite his claims that he was exactly where he wanted to be (promoting his film in one of the biggest overseas markets for Indian cinema, right after its worldwide premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival), I bet some part of him must have wanted to do something a little more personal.

"You're coming to the cricket match, right?" he asked afterwards. Dream Advertising, the company behind the promotional tour, had ingeniously worked a cricket match into the tour schedule (the sport being a significant part of the story). Not a big fan of cricket even on a regular day, I declined in favour of something more befitting of Valentine's.

You see, for me, it's more than just a day for sickly sweet celebrations of love - it's my better half's birthday. And when I say better half, I mean it. He's the half that remembers to take to the airport the credit card we used to buy tickets online. I'm the half that forgets the passports at home. And he's an ace at planning birthday surprises for me, while all I can say is that it's not really my fault that he was born on the one day that women take as their birthright to "get", as opposed to "give". By the time Valentine's Day/ his birthday arrived this year, I had no ideas - as usual.

"Shall we go to Hugo Cafe?" he asked casually. And so we ended up at the newly opened joint in Palm Strip Mall in Jumeirah for dinner. Fitted out in classic French decor, the cafe made me feel like I wasn't in Dubai anymore. A view of the gorgeously lit Jumeirah Mosque from the terrace gave me a reality check.

The maître d' arrived with our welcome drinks and talked us through the Valentine's Day menu. For starters, my better half got cauliflower soup with scallops and I got king crab on lettuce, followed by steak for him and foie gras-stuffed chicken for me. We had hardly any space left, but who can say no to a dessert of classic chocolate fondant and heart-shaped vanilla mousse?

"Ah, I can see you have enjoyed your meal," said the maître d' when he came over after the last of our dishes had been cleared away. Our unintelligible moans encouraged him. "I already know what I'll order for you the next time: Parmesan-pistachio crusted veal tenderloin for the gentleman and oven-cooked Vietnamese sea bass for the lady."

I begged him to stop describing food, and asked why he assumed we would be back. "Eighty per cent of our guests become repeat customers, madame," he informed me with a twinkle in his eye.

If the blissful food coma we went into that night is anything to go by, he wasn't exaggerating.

And I would not be exaggerating if I said that it's not only the man's heart the way to which is through the stomach. It works both ways.

As for my contribution to this specific brand of love: I may not be the best at coming up with romantic date-night ideas but I sure can lick a plate clean by the end of a meal - and that has to count for something, right?

 

The writer is an honest-to-goodness desi girl living in Dubai