Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 25 May 2019

Dubai Food Festival 2019: Sample a dish a day

If the many goings-on at DFF are whipping you up into a food frenzy, follow our guide on what to eat and where, as well as masterclasses to further your culinary skills

The innovative Studio khichdi is part of the Tresind x Nadodi menu
The innovative Studio khichdi is part of the Tresind x Nadodi menu

Dubai Food Festival runs between February 21 and March 9. For these 17 days, the city transforms into a veritable foodie haven, giving you a chance to explore a spectrum of dishes, cuisines, eateries and areas, with much of the chow going for a fraction of the price you’d shell out for it otherwise.

On the cards for the sixth edition of the festival are: the open-air, activity-filled Beach Canteen at Jumeirah Beach; Restaurant Week (until March 2), which gets you three-course menus at Dh199 from more than 20 restaurants; Hidden Gems (voting open until February 25, meals served until March 2), where you can vote for your favourite restaurant from a list of 40, each of which will offer a meal for Dh35; Foodie Experience, which includes chef’s tables, as well as cooking masterclasses for sushi, ceviche, dim sum, pretzels, pasta, meat and vegan recipes; Cheese Fest (February 23) at the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi; Street Food Fair (March 7 to 9) at City Walk; and Taste of Dubai (March 7 to 9) at the Media City Amphitheatre with live music and signature dishes at subsidized rates from the city’s best-loved eateries. Click here for more details.

Feb 21: bites by the beach

Begin your tasting journey with DFF’s flagship event, Beach Canteen, which is set up on the stretch behind Sunset Mall. The arena features a mainstage for live concerts and movie nights; a cooking court for demonstrations by regional chefs; an obstacle course and sport zones; and workshops ranging from art and hip-hop to plating lessons. If you’d rather eat than arrange your food, however, chill at the food piazza and don’t miss the disc-shaped ka’aks from Lebanese coffee shop Ka’ak Al Manara.

Feb 22: creative confection

Sign up for one of the first masterclasses as part of the new Foodie Experience segment of DFF, at Brothaus Bakery at the Steigenberger Hotel in Business Bay. Try your hand at pretzel-baking with the bistro’s master baker or cake-decorating with a confectionary stylist, for Dh145 each.

Feb 23: say cheese

Neufchatel cheese is heart-shaped. Getty  
Neufchatel cheese is heart-shaped. Getty

Sample creamy feta, crumbly gouda, heart-shaped neufchatel and ripened blue cheeses from around the world at Oeno at the Westin Mina Seyahi, which is hosting a free-to-attend Cheese Festival in collaboration with lifestyle company Sopexa Middle East. Visitors can try and buy imported varieties, meet vendors from across the region, and attend workshops to learn how best to choose, make and cook with cheese.

Feb 24: meal deals

If there’s one eatery you must visit before you cast your vote for the Hidden Gems contest, make it Catfish, which operates from the Kitchen Nation incubator space in Business Bay. Nigerian blogger, dancer and now restaurateur Gbemi Giwa takes traditional African recipes and recreates them using healthier alternatives or methods of cooking, while retaining the bold and tasty flavours. On offer for Dh35 are jerk cauliflower and hot honey chicken.

Feb 25: tasting menus

Fried mango cheesecake at Zheng He's for Restaurant Week during DFF
Fried mango cheesecake at Zheng He's for Restaurant Week

Dedicate the next couple of days chomping your way through the three-course set menus offered by eateries participating in Restaurant Week, for Dh199 each. One of the most appealing menus comes from Zheng He’s, which has a vegetarian and non-vegetarian option. The former includes spiced spinach dumplings and sweet and sour “vegetarian” chicken, while the latter has golden king prawns and barbeque honey chicken puffs, with both serving a deep-fried mango cheese cake for dessert.

Feb 26: from Argentina to Arabia

Arabic spread at Al Nafoorah during Restaurant Week for Dubai Food Festival 
Arabic spread at Al Nafoorah during Restaurant Week for DFF

Meat lovers can head to Gaucho for its Restaurant Week offering of tuna ceviche, shrimp in ají Amarillo, rib-eye steak and pan-seared salmon, while Al Nafoorah is the only entrant in the Arabic food category, serving up hot and cold mezzeh, mixed grill and vegetable stew, and kunafa and baklawa for dessert, all for Dh199.

Feb 27: one for vegans

Book your spot for the only vegan chef’s table this year, at Bleu Blanc, Renaissance Downtown Hotel. Chef David Myers will put together a meal featuring salt-baked beets, potato gnocchi, and sweet potato and asparagus risotto, plus ember-roasted berries and pit-roasted pineapple, for Dh250 (www.dubai.platinumlist.net).

Feb 28: beef it up

Photo by Satish Kumar / The National
Prepare the perfect beef Wellington. Photo by Satish Kumar / The National

The beef Wellington has become something of a Dubai classic, thanks to chef Gordon Ramsay, who lists it as a must-have dish at both his restaurants Bread Street Kitchen and Hell’s Kitchen. This DFF, learn how to make your own from the team at the uber-cool Marina Social, for Dh500. For a cheaper option, head down to Craft Café in D3 for a ceviche masterclass with Peruvian chef Roberto Segura, for Dh200.

March 1: scones at sea

Afternoon tea on the QUeen Elizabeth II during Dubai Food Festival 
Afternoon tea on the Queen Elizabeth II

Keep things light and leisurely this afternoon with a high tea on-board the Queen Elizabeth 2 floating hotel at Port Rashid. The spread includes finger sandwiches, quiches, premium tea and coffee flavours, and scores of pastries, scones and other desserts, for Dh540.

March 2: spoilt for cuisine

Courtesy Pai Thai 
Courtesy Pai Thai

Today marks the day that Restaurant Week ends. Depending on your food mood, head to Morimoto, Pai Thai, Basta!, Hotel Cartagena, Seven Sands or Bhar for their Dh199 three-course Japanese, Thai, Italian, Latin American, Emirati and Arabic-­fusion menus.

March 3: sushi session

Sushi at Miyabi. Photo by Reem Mohammed / The National
Sushi at Miyabi. Photo by Reem Mohammed / The National

Sign up for Miyabi’s sushi masterclass, and learn the art of making, rolling, cutting and serving the Japanese rice rolls, for Dh100. Hint: dress the rice with sushi-su (seasoned vinegar) while it’s still warm, then fan it with a piece of cardboard to help the rice cool down quickly to a shiny finish.

March 4: click as you eat

Get out and about on a food-and-photography tour (Dh595) with the Gulf Photo Plus team, who will take you into the colourful Naif neighbourhood in Old Dubai. The area is peppered with Indian and Pakistani eateries serving decadent biryanis, parathas and curries.

March 5: flour power

Dim sum and noodle masterclass followed by a three-course meal at Zhen Wei, during DFF
Dim sum and noodle masterclass followed by a three-course meal at Zhen Wei, during DFF

If you want to reward yourself with a hearty meal after a cooking tutorial, sign up for Zhen Wei dim sum and noodle masterclass, where after you make your own, you can tuck into a three-course meal for Dh250.

March 6: fusion fare

The innovative Studio khichdi is part of the Tresind x Nadodi menu
The innovative Studio khichdi is part of the Tresind x Nadodi menu

Tresind Studio’s chef Himanshu Saini will collaborate with Malaysian chef Sricharan Venkatesh from Nadodi restaurant in Kuala Lumpur on Four Hands, a two-day pop-up at Nassima Royal Hotel. The fusion menu includes such innovative delicacies as Studio khichdi, a rice and lentil mixture using various ingredients from the different states of India; Goan chicken and pepper cafreal, made from Goan vinegar, black pepper and coriander, with a crispy tempura fried shisho leaf topped with red puffed rice; and a short-grain-rice chicken biryani with aubergine salsa, served in a globe. Tickets for the Dh650 meal and drinks are available from www.dubai.platinumlist.net.

March 7: subsidised staples

Nobu's black cod at Taste of Dubai. Courtesy Taste of Dubai
Nobu's black cod at Taste of Dubai

Attend the opening evening of Taste of Dubai to catch the headline performance by former Spandau Ballet band member Tony Hadley (of Gold, True and Through the Barricades fame), and sample chef Nobu M’s world-famous black cod, down from Dh239 to Dh45.

March 8: street-food stalls

Galeries Lafayette Le Gourmet and Le BHV Marais at CityWalk are hosting their own mini festival this DFF. The Street Food Fair will have six stalls, one each for grills (meat sliders and chips), Indian (paani puri, egg parathas and pav bhaji), Asian (stir-fried noodles, laksa, and squid, crab and beef balls), Italian (classic pizzas and pasta) and pick-as-you-go sushi, plus rare cheeses and artisanal grocery items.

March 9: meet the masterchefs

Mushroom and glass rice noodles laksa sauce topped with a quail egg at Taste of Dubai 
Mushroom and rice noodles laksa

Head back down to Taste of Dubai to meet, and perhaps even cook for MasterChef Australia’s Matt Preston, who will host a Mystery Box Challenge to judge the culinary prowess of amateur cooks. The venue will also feature a pop-up MasterChef, the TV Experience pop-up restaurant ahead of its April launch. Try the mushroom and glass rice noodles laksa sauce topped with a quail egg by Ping Coombes, the MasterChef UK champion from 2014.

Updated: February 20, 2019 07:52 PM