Cubano Lito – A slice of Cuba in Dubai

I’ve never been to Cuba before. It’s definitely on my travel bucket list though. So when an invite to try a fairly new Cuban bar/restaurant arrived in my inbox, I accepted almost immediately. 

Cubano Lito is located in the Ibis One Central hotel, not it’s neighbor next door. I (learnt that the hard way). It was inconspicuous from the outside, with no sign, just a giant teal door painted with a flower. We tried our luck and sure enough inside we find this hidden gem.

IMG_0738The owners have left no detail spare when it came to furnishing and decorating this corner space. From a cigar corner complete with a cabinet full of Cuban cigars to a fully tiled bar with rustic pieces like old barber chairs, a jukebox mixed with alternate leather and aqua seating even down to the bar tenders uniforms it all combines to really recreate the feel of Cuba adding so much charm and character.

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Should you prefer some fresh air there is also a small al fresco dining space surrounded by lots and lots of pot plants. Karina from Peru is our waitress for the night and my guest and her converse in Spanish. The food menu is made for sharing and the chef prepares us a selection of dishes to try. First up was some empanadas, one stuffed with beef and served with a creamy dill dipping sauce whilst the other was totally vegetarian and stuffed with halloumi cheese and guava paste, this one coming with a sweet plum sauce.IMG_0757The mixed grill is served for two and contains seafood and meat. Everything is char grilled so there’s a very slight chance that it could come over cooked and dry which is partly what we were thinking judging by how well done the meat was, however we were surprised to find how tender the meat was. The charred seafood was so tasty it didn’t need a sauce but a slight squeeze of lemon was a nice touch, however the squid or calamari rings were the only things I didn’t enjoy off the platter as I found them a little on the chewy side.

We also tried their mojito ceviche which was one of the best I’ve tried in Dubai, well diced pieces of white sea bass with loads of herbs and citrus juice with a nice kick from the one and chili. So addictive I end up finishing the pot to myself. Oops!

IMG_0761They have some great cocktails most of which are rum based of course, my favorite being the La Mula, (it only took me 3 cocktails to discover it).

IMG_0766By this stage I want to get up and dance. At 9:30 every night besides Sunday a live Colombian band play a mix of Spanish and international songs. Lucky for us there was some guests who happened to be salsa dancers so they got up and put on a show on the dance floor for us. I was mesmerised. 

IMG_0796Considering it’s only been open for 4 months, it pulls in a decent sized crowd, who are there to enjoy the live music and soak up the atmosphere.

Cubano Lito is definitely a hidden gem in Dubai and I’m looking forward to taking friends back here and also trying their desserts! Or perhaps even learning how to salsa!

Location: Hotel Ibis World Trade Centre, Ground Floor
Phone: 04 429 8847

Open Daily 5pm – 2am

Happy Hour everyday from 5-8pm Buy 1 drink get 1 free

Free flow drunch – Friday’s 5-8pm 159aed – Unlimited house cocktails and selected beverages

Unlimited Cuba Libres every Saturday 5-8pm for 199aed

Unlimited daiquris every Sunday 5-8pm for 199aed

Cubano Lito Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hakuna Matata @ KIZA

Let’s be honest. I hadn’t heard good things about KIZA so I was very hesitant to visit. However last Monday evening a bunch of food bloggers (myself included) gathered for another BME in DIFC. I’m so glad I got to try KIZA for myself as in the end I had nothing to worry about. Hakuna Mata!

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KIZA is located in the same building as Mint Leaf of London and is easily found on the Ground Floor. There is no valet service unfortunately so depending on where you park you will have to pay.

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Our evening starts with a change of outfits. We were lucky enough to wear some incredible designs by Ntombi Couture. After a small photoshoot, we enjoy a welcome cocktail or mocktail of our choice. I opted for the passionfruit mojito which was served with a load of ice, fresh mint and fresh passionfruit. (My fave!)

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KIZA used to be located somewhere in Healthcare City and was a lot smaller venue/bar. The new space in DIFC is huge! It has a bar which takes centre stage lined with African drums as chairs. In the middle is the DJ booth and dance floor where we learn from the African staff members how to do a traditional dance which they do at weddings. It was super fun!

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Once we eventually sit down we are served two small portions of soups to try back to back. A pepper lamb soup which is very spicy, I nearly choke as the pepper goes down the wrong hole. The choking aside the lamb adds a nice meaty flavor to the broth although some of the lamb pieces were a little too fatty for me to finish my bowl. Next up was a lentil soup which was very powdery on my palette.

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From the starters menu we also try the Kiza mango salad, special BBQ grilled chicken wings and African meat pattys. The Kiza mango salad was fresh – I love the addition of fruits in salads which adds sweetness and the addition of walnuts for the crunchy texture.

The BBQ wings had a nice sauce I only wish there was more of it and I personally would of preferred if the wings were left on the grill for a little longer, as the chicken skin was a bit soggy. The African meat pattys are equivalent to South American espanadas, a thick pastry baked with a filling of minced meat and vegetables. Warm and comforting and addictive, I could of easily downed the whole plate to myself.

Before main courses arrive we change seats so we can get to mingle with other people. The smiling staff offer us a glass of red or white wine to go with our meals. First out of the kitchen was the African kale, Peri Peri Prawns and the jollof rice. The sauteed kale was drool worthy and the prawns were so big and mean looking and tasting. The jollof rice is a red tomato based rice which is a nice base for the Kenyan vegetable stew which is a little on the spicy side.

Next out was the Mixed Grill Platter which was huge in portion size and perfect for sharing, however juicy the meat looked i still found some pieces I tried to be on the dry side. Looks can be deceiving!

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The masala fries which landed on the table at the same time were thick cut potato fries rolled in ample amounts of masala spices and herbs.

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The sea bream was served whole and then cut up into pieces. A fleshy meat, (but beware of the bones); I enjoyed it with Kiza’s special African sauce which was served with the prawns.

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From the desserts we tried I most enjoyed the Pineapple upside down cake. The cake was light and fluffy and had a coconut flavor to it, whilst the cooked pineapple is just enough sweetness to end a filling African meal.

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For those who are lucky to work in the DIFC area and love an after work tipple KIZA have a happy hour from 4-8 everyday!

The food menu is quite reasonably priced considering it’s classified as fine dining. There’s definitely some items I’d order again like the African meat pattys, Peri Peri Prawns and the Kiza salad.

If you want to see what my fellow foodies said about KIZA click on the hyperlinks below:

NB: This blog post was sponsored by Doindubai. Big ups to Monica for organizing such a fun evening!

Kiza
Location: Emirates Financial Towers
Phone: 04 453 9038

Kiza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Have you tried Zengo’s revamped pan-asian menu?

Make no mistake, Zengo is located in Le Royal Meridien and not Meridien Mina Seyahi. Also note, there is a separate parking area for direct access to Zengo. Don’t put the car in valet unless you wish to take a short stroll through the hotel grounds to find it.

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Zengo is probably the biggest Pan Asian restaurant I’ve stepped foot in. Spread out over an indoor and outside dining area with separate bars, 3 of them to be exact. One end houses the sushi bar and grill whilst the middle is a long bar with opposite being the resident DJ who mixes house tunes all evening.

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The furnishings are sleek and detailed with the overall ambiance inviting. The outdoor bar is impressive although the yellow lighting over the outdoor dining table which overlooks the beach, sounds great but it reality wasn’t great for photos so we chose to sit inside at a semi circle booth.

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The food menu is one single page covering Thai, Chinese and Japanese cuisine which is a new directive created by Chinese Chef Lieu back in September.

The raw dishes are executed and presented beautifully. The fresh seafood tasted divine. I can highly recommend trying the Suzuki aka the seabass sashimi.

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The dumplings I found to be quite average. Not a lot of flavor at all. I’ve tasted better dumplings at Din Tai Fung. The duck pancakes was a strange combination of flavors and textures, not a dish I’d order again.

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I wasn’t fond of the  grilled seafood, as it wasn’t juicy, perhaps a little overcooked as it was powdery in texture.

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The popular main dish is the coconut chicken and I can see why, char grilled sliced pieces of juicy chicken on a bed of coconut sauce with a generous garnishing of green herbs. Delish!

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Our waitress Madina was like our best friend. Chatting away and answering all of our questions without hesitation and also feeding back our thoughts to the chef.

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The drink list is extensive and impressive. I immensely enjoyed the Italian wine. I could of easily knocked back a bottle to myself.

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Ladies Night @ Zengo 7-12pm every Tuesday 3 free drinks and 50% off food

The restaurant was quiet when we dined on a Wednesday night. My guess it would be hard to fill considering the size. I’ve been told the Ladies Night gets quite busy though so it’s best to make a reservation.

Next time I visit I’ll definitely re-order the Thai food and the raw fish.

Call for reservations 043995555

Zengo - Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort and Spa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Totora – Peruvian cuisine in DIFC

There’s an abundance of Peruvian restaurants popping up in Dubai lately. A welcome invite saw myself and a guest have the privilege of dining at the newly opened Totora Cebicheria Peruana which calls Gate 7 in DIFC home.

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I’m wowed as soon as I walk in, the floating bridge they’ve created for their entrance makes me feel like I’m deep in the Amazon. Lions and monkeys aside, the well mannered staff greet us on the other side and one kindly escorts us to our table upstairs in the main dining area. The pops of aqua green and cleverly hidden lights add a chic feeling while the music is a mix of Spanish infused house which is heard from the live DJ in the bar/lounge below.

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Ronaldo is our server for the evening and passes by with a set menu for the evening. It includes three different types of cebiches. 2 years ago I would of never thought I’d be eating raw fish and here I am, fighting for the last bits of the Tuna cebiche, soaked in a salty but Asian inspired sesame dressing. Although we both agreed the mushroom cebiche is also outstanding and we’d definitely order this dish again.

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We are offered a pisco sour, a traditional cocktail of Peru made with you guessed it, Pisco which is a brandy base originating from South America; mixed with egg whites, bitters and citrus juice.

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Post starters Ronaldo serves us with another cocktail, this time it’s a Chilcano, which again uses pisco as it’s base but this time has a refreshing sparkling of ginger ale with fresh lime juice and a dash of bitters.

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The next round of small bites include a maki roll topped with quinoa and a Peruvian sauce, some beef empanadas de carne as well as some anticuchos which are grilled chicken skewers. For me the sushi and chicken skewers were a little bland and something I would not order next time. I was happy to know that we knew exactly how to eat the empanadas with Ronaldo chirping in as we did. “Ahh you know how to eat them”. Apparently cutting them in half first then squeezing the lime in the center before taking a bite is the correct way. A good guess by us!

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Next we rolled onto the mains which included a braised lamb leg perched on top of a bed of Peruvian squash, a quinoa salad with truffle oil, white wine, mushrooms and parmesan and last but not least duck on a bed of risotto style beer flavored rice. Not being a fan of truffle oil, the quinotta was the least favorite for me. Although it’s the most bland of the 3 the lamb was my favorite as it’s a comforting dish of slow cooked fall apart lamb in a warm gravy and whilst the duck meat was also very good I wasn’t a fan of the rice base so overall for me it the duck dish didn’t hit the spot.

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The dessert comes later with two on offer – their Clasico Peruano a classic rice pudding with crumbled pieces of chewy fig and a traditional purple corn sorbet. As much as I appreciate the combination of flavors and textures the Tres Leches is right up my alley. A little annoyed I didn’t have time to take a “before” picture as Ronaldo starts pouring the condensed milk straight over the thick but fluffy wedge of cake which then makes the whipped cream peaks slide off the cake making for an “after” photo like the one below.

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If I didn’t have a pending vacation I would of gobbled all of the Tres Leches down to myself as my guest preferred the rice pudding. Although I must admit I had troubles putting the spoon down.

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As you can see the kitchen has a special eye for attention to detail and if you’re after a lot of fresh ingredients with ample flavor then Totora is for you.

Location: Gate Village 7, DIFC, Dubai

Phone: 04 3999666

Totora Cebicheria Peruana Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

What to eat when you visit Sydney

The top 10 things to eat when in Sydney, Australia.

  1. Yum Cha aka Dim Sum. Recommended location: Cabramatta, this is where you’ll find the most authentic tasting dishes.

2. If you’re a fan of My Kitchen Rules then you must pay a visit to Kin By Us in Macquarie Park. The duo serve up some Asian inspired fusion dishes which are not to be missed.

3. Bao’s are all the rage. You can find these soft and squishy buns at Belly Bao or alternatively Mr. Bao or Bao Stop.

4. Who doesn’t love a soda float? Especially when said soda float contains alcohol. Find them from none other than The Soda Factory, in Surry Hills.

5. Fancy AF ice creams. I mean look at my ice cream. It’s floating in a cloud. Create your own at Aqua S.

6. If you’re lucky enough to have family or friends in Oz then there’s nothing like a home cooked meal prepared on the BBQ along with some fresh seafood. Check out my Xmas spread below.

7. Everyone’s always looking for the best gelato in Sydney. I can tell you now that N2 extreme rocked my socks off. I prefer it over Messina.

8. A freak shake. Canberra started the craze and the rest of Oz followed. Check out The Missing Piece in Macquarie Centre for your fix.

9. A pork sausage roll with tomato sauce. Nuff said.

10. Last but not least, a chicken schnitzel or schnitty as us Aussie like to call them.
Most pubs and RSL clubs serve up a decent schnitty and I couldn’t leave Sydney again without smashing one down. Don’t forget to ask for chicken salt on your chips and your choice of gravy.

Brunch with Superheros @ Mazina

Don’t put away your comic con costume just yet. Mazina in the Address Hotel Dubai Marina have recently launched a Saturday Superhero themed brunch. Aimed at the kiddies with a dedicated kids’ room complete with jumping castle, magician and self serve food. No one will judge you if you rock up as Super woman, in fact it’s encouraged.

The staff are welcoming upon arrival and show us to our table. There’s the option of also eating on the outside balcony too whilst the weather is still nice. It’s actually more peaceful out there too.

I take a wander around to see what’s on offer before grabbing a plate and tucking in. I notice a cereal station. I’m not sure why anyone would eat this considering the brunch starts at 12:30pm and most people would of had breakfast at home.

I always like to start a brunch with seafood. There was a nice selection of fresh seafood as well as four types of sushi, raw octopus and also salmon and tuna sashimi.

There was no signs on some of the food, which is OK as most stations are manned so you could just ask the friendly staff however signage on all of the food would definitely help especially for the unmanned stations.

The amuse bouche served on ceramic spoons were delightful each with their own mix of flavors.IMG_5723Mocktails – The virgin pina colada and mojito were okay but we preferred the taste of the Summer fizz.IMG_5722There was a pork charcuterie station, a cheese station and a healthy station consisting of fresh salads and juice shots.IMG_5685There was also Indian & Chinese cuisines on offer with one my favorites – dumplings.IMG_5694Although the braised chicken in black bean sauce stole the show. IMG_5739Brunch isn’t complete with a selection of hot roasts. Mazina’s selection includes: Roast Beef, Roast Turkey, Roast Chicken and Roast Pork complete with vegetables and of course Yorkshire puddings. Don’t forget to add the lashings of gravy. However after trying the Roast Pork and the Pork Loin they were both a little too dry for me. The Turkey was the highlight.IMG_5700You could also choose from super tender lamb shanks, pan cooked salmon or seafood paella.

IMG_5699IMG_5702Our tables were cleared quite quickly most of the time with only once we reached back to find a plate still there. That’s quite good considering we went through 5 rounds.

For desserts there was plenty of options but I limited myself to just a few as I was seriously struggling by this point to fit any more in.IMG_5715IMG_5710IMG_5712You can choose from individual portions of desserts, a slice of a full sized cake or tart, a spoonful of hot puddings like Um Ali or drizzle some fruit pieces in the chocolate fountains. The choice is endless and totally yours. I stuck with a choc brownie dipped in more chocolate (totally guilt worthy but worth it), a scoop of bread & butter pudding, a mango pudding and a date and caramel pudding as well as a latte to help me digest it all.IMG_5748The vibe is a very relaxed with a family friendly casual dining atmosphere. More of a buffet lunch than your typical boozy brunch that you might find elsewhere. That’s not to say alcohol isn’t available. There’s a fully stocked bar.

Overall for the price it’s quite reasonable and has a decent variety although not OTT. It’s not overly crowded either so you’ll face zero queues at the buffet. What’s great is the soft package brunch includes water, soft drinks, mocktails and tea and coffee! Not bad at all.

315AED soft package

440AED alcohol package

Don’t forget to sign up to the U by Emaar card to start earning rewards on all your purchases.

Location: Lobby Level, The Address Hotel, Dubai Marina

Phone: 04 4371652

Mazina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dubai Restaurant Week @ OKKU

Dubai Restaurant Week comes around once every year at the end of February. I missed out last year so I made sure I set reminders this time round to ensure I wouldn’t miss out again. For those that don’t know, Dubai Restaurant Week offers diners the ability to sample some of Dubai’s top fine dining establishments with a set menu for just a fraction of the price.IMG_4150The booking was made and the night arrived and off we set, taking a few back roads to avoid the traffic on SZR and we pulled up out the front of the H hotel. Ba Bow. Wrong. Sorry Ma’am, the valet parking is at the rear of the hotel. So we try again, and again and again. 4th time lucky and after much stress we find the valet parking. Like surely it’d be easier if they took your car at the front of the hotel and drove it to the back as they know exactly which tiny alley way to take to valet parking entrance. Anyways we try not let this dampen our evening ahead.IMG_4149We arrive at the front desk and the hand over our reservation number. Oh I’m sorry Ma’am it looks like your booking has been cancelled. Sorry? We wait patiently while they look into the problem and they quickly rectify the situation and show us to our table. OKKU oozes opulence like no other. A chic Japanese restaurant with suave Hollister model-like waiters to match. IMG_4148They bring us some edamame to start, quickly followed by the duck salad which has ample amounts of shredded duck and fresh bursts of pomegranate seeds. Delish!

Then came the sushi boat of scrumptious ebi maki rolls. I could of easily devoured a boat to myself.

IMG_4135They had run out of fresh passion fruit so I opted for a virgin strawberry mojito instead.IMG_4132These were the spicy tuna sushi. Deep fried oblongs of rice topped with marinated spicy tuna pieces. My friends weren’t a fan of these but I didn’t mind it. Something different.IMG_4134Then came the crunchy wasabi prawns. I’m not a fan of wasabi so I tried one but then let my friends finish them off.IMG_4137The yellow fin tuna carpaccio never arrived according to the menu order so I had to ask the waiter for it’s whereabouts. Lucky we did as they were ready to bring us the main course of the miso black cod. Delicate slices of tuna soaked in a yuzu pepper & zesty balsamic ponzu and garnished with circles of spring onion. This was my favorite until the main dish arrived.

The main course and what everyone talks about is how good OKKU’s miso black cod is. They aren’t stingy on the portion size either. Grilled to heavenly perfection you’ve never tried a cod this good. This dish is the eptiome of the term melt in your mouth.

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How could any meal be complete without dessert. Okku offers a dark chocolate fondant which is not too sweet and not to bitter, complete with a side of creamy vanilla ice cream.

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At an affordable 189 dirhams per person #DubaiRestaurantWeek is such a steal. The service was impeccable despite the restaurant being almost at capacity. We left content and with a smile on our faces. OKKU would be the perfect place for date night.

Location: 1st Floor, H Hotel.

Phone: 04 5018888

Okku Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tempting Cuisine @ Culinary Boutique

After winning an Instagram competition on Tableforfivedubai’s account,  I invited a fellow food lover to experience Culinary Boutique with me. It was our first time to this Jumeirah establishment which doubles as a cooking school as well as a restaurant.

 

I always fail to check if restaurants have valet parking so as I slowly approached closer to the restaurant (according to google maps), I noticed a paid car park to my right, so I parked there and walked a few hundred metres to where the restaurant is. Had I stayed in my car another few seconds I would of found the restaurant therefore used the valet parking.

 

My foodie date for the evening was not far from approaching so I entered the premises to find a table and introduce myself to the staff.

 

CB is a stand alone premises over 2 floors which includes an interestingly designed architectural design on the ground floor. Almost like an upside down wave. Downstairs is also where the bakery counter is showcasing freshly baked goods and their famous lavender items. Upstairs is not only the kitchens, bakery and classrooms, but an outdoor terrace seating area and if you look hard enough you’ll notice the Burj Khalifa dazzling in the background.

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I met the head chef as well as restaurant manager and they informed us we would be looked after and gave us some suggestions on what to order but also wanted us to try some new dishes on the menu.

I ordered a Ritzy Lychee to quench my thirst. The menu overall is refreshing with a good variety of options for dinner.

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The corn was first up. A new addition to their menu which they were currently trialing. Bursting with so many flavors I was sad when it was over.

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We also had wagyu sirloin carpaccio which was heavy on the truffle with both truffle mousse and truffle shavings.

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The lobster tail  was superb. Topped with sun dried tomato spicy butter which enhanced the taste. Fleshy and flavorsome seafood right there. It comes served with partially battered asparagus stalks and a creamy dipping sauce.

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The beef ravioli which we tried had intriguing presentation. I’ve never seen ravioli served like this before. I kept looking in the middle wondering where the filling was until I realized it was in the pasta itself but it was just wrapped and presented in a different way.

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The marbled wagyu sirloin which was served in a stone tray truly was the highlight. It was seasoned just right and cooked medium. I can still remember the succulent, juicy, meaty taste to this day.

We also had hokkaido scallops risotto. Personally for me the scallops were a little overcooked but the bed of creamy risotto they lay made me forget about it quite quickly.

We ordered dessert and wanted a tea to help with digestion but instead something else caught our eye. The lavender hot chocolate. Not only did it sound amazing, when it came to our table we were in awe. A chocolate web lay above our cup as our served pours in the almond milk lavender hot chocolate from a gorgeous copper tea pot.

Desserts then arrived, a gorgeous lavender tea cake, which also happens to be their signature cake. CB bakes their cakes fresh in house on a daily basis and they serve you up such a generous portion.

Everyone’s had a chocolate fondant before but not everybody’s had one with green tea matcha oozing out from the center. Enough to make someone green with envy!

I was so impressed overall with Culinary Boutique, from the taste and presentation, to the venue and decor, down to the service. I’d definitely dine again for dinner and I’m excited to see what other new additions they’ve put on the menu. Or perhaps even one day take a cooking class!

Culinary Boutique is located in Villa 56, Jumeirah 1.

For bookings: 04 4535466

Culinary Boutique Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Brunching at Giardino, Palazzo Versace

Versace, Versace, Versace, Versace.

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Drake raps about it. J-Lo wears it. I however, got to dine at it. The Giardino brunch that is, located inside the fairly new Palazzo Versace hotel. The hotel, has only been open for a few months and the brunch has only in operation for a few weeks.

Giardino, meaning Garden it Italian, is a restaurant decorated like the dress J-Lo wore to Grammy’s in 2000. View it here. Green Versace Dress From the walls, to the furniture and even the staff uniforms are made with this green leafy pattern hence creating an optical illusion.

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I was privileged to be dining with a group of around 20 foodies for another #ZomatoMeetup event. Upon arrival we were greeted with a glass of champagne and a tour of the restaurant.

I roamed around to take some photos and view what food stations were on offer. I was particularly impressed with the food art made out of chocolate into beautiful sculptures including the leaning tower of Pisa and the Colosseum.

 

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The DJ spun some great disco and house tunes throughout the day which made us want to get up and boogie however there is no set dance floor. The atmosphere is light, bright and breezy as the surrounding doors are open out onto the outdoor terrace and pool area.

You can help yourself to the various food stations or you can use cards with your table number and have the staff bring your plates directly to your table.

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Simple but delicious – The spaghetti with pecorino cheese, black pepper and crunchy dried artichokes

An ice cream cart…

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and a cocktail cart which all arrive at your table during your brunch visit.

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I found the salad station to be a bit boring and lacking any real variety. The seafood option however was aplenty. The grilled lobster was the highlight for me. So fresh and flavorsome. If only they offered more grilled seafood, for example prawns and perhaps some oysters kilpatrick. They also have a cheese and foie gras section offering an impressive foie gras creme brulee.

We were also brought various dishes to try at our table, which included loads of Indian fare.

However I found the Italian food the tastiest. In particular the gnocchi in mushroom sauce which almost made soup like and better eaten with a spoon. Rich, creamy and delicate.

IMG_3886As well as these stuffed pasta bites filled with cheese and topped with tomato sauce and drizzled with balsamic.

IMG_3889Post mains we sat back and enjoyed some desserts which were served to our table. They ranged from Indian sweets to a selection of pastries, cakes and treats. What would brunch be without us foodies playing with food and taking some funny photos. See Gaganjeet from Baggage and Dish below with his gulab jamun for eyeballs. Favorites for me included the chocolate brownie and chocolate mousse.

What better way to digest all the food than with a nice cup of green tea presented in this gorgeous Versace gold detailed teacup.

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All brunch guests get free pool access as well as going into a draw to win a nights stay for 2 at the hotel including breakfast. Not a bad deal. You can see the winners announced on their twitter account.

There are multiple pools on the premises with one being an infinity pool but it’s missing a decent view.

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I expected better service but it’s still early days. I’ve given feedback to the management team so hopefully with some tweaks it will improve going forward.

The location is a little out of the way compared to other Friday brunches but the roads were quiet and it’s easy to find.

Overall, Giardino brunch has a great atmosphere and impresses with it’s seafood offerings and well executed Italian.

Bookings are essential. Call 04 4371640.

Giardino Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Say Jambo to Zanzibar

For EID Holidays this September my girlfriends and I were deciding where to go. We had 4 options. Pintrest boards were made as well as a list of pros and cons and the small island of Zanzibar off the Tanzanian coast came up trump.

Zanzibar is a 5 and a half hour direct flight from DXB. We flew at 4am and arrived at 8am with the time difference which gave us a full day upon arrival. We stayed for 3 nights and had 4 full days to explore Zanzibar.

We arranged a transfer with our hotel for a set fee. We stayed up North in a town called Nungwi which is about an hour and a half from the airport. Our hotel was a 4* star boutique hotel called the Zanzibari. The manager made us feel very welcome.

After check in and a beverage on arrival we were taken to our rooms. We stayed on the ground floor but have read the suites are bigger and with better views. The Zanzibari has it’s own private beach as well as pool with a bar and plunge pools overlooking the ocean.

Safari Blue Tour – This was our highlight of our trip without a doubt. The tour consisted of dolphin watching, multiple snorkeling stops, a quick stop on a sand bank followed by a BBQ lunch of freshly caught seafood, local Kilimanjaro beer and the ability to climb a fallen Baobab tree.

The RockRefer to my post here.

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Prison Island – Our driver for the day after The Rock, took us into Stone Town where you can catch boats from the beach over to Prison Island. We did not book a tour however we paid our drivers “friend” $40USD plus tip in total to take the 4 of us for a return boat trip. The entrance to the Tortoise Sanctuary was USD$4 per adult.
The lovely English manager gave us a tour with free commentary and history about the Island and the tortoises. We even got to hold the baby tortoises which are kept in a locked cage and guarded by security at night as some people keep stealing them.

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Fodrohni markets – Is very popular amongst tourists and locals and its where you can find street food. You can judge for yourself whether you should eat there but we stuck to more established restaurants.

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Stone Town – If you’re going here in the daylight, I assume it would be fine. We however visited late one afternoon as the sun was going down. I had done a lot of research about where to eat in Stone Town and wanted to head to one particular restaurant. We set off in the winding maze of stone buildings and uneven footpaths.
We asked for help and were shown in many different directions which leads us around in circles. After feeling frustrated and now walking around in the pitch black with motorbikes beeping as they rode past our safety net quickly dwindled and we followed a group of mothers and children right out of there and back onto a main road. Now personally I would recommend for anyone that wishes to go and experience Stone Town, to take a tour. As even in broad daylight you are bound to get lost.

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Orphanage – On our final day in Zanzibar we spent the morning relaxing on our private beach and taking multiple snaps of this stunning view and location we’ve called home. Noticing we hadn’t spent as much as we’d anticipated we decided to leave our hotel a little earlier and asked the manager to recommend an orphanage that our private driver can stop on our way back so we could meet the kids and make a donation.
It’s sad to know that a lot of these children are without families but these shelters make sure the kids get the love and attention they need. Not to mention food, water, shelter and also education.

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Vaccinations – Not essential (I checked with various people) however to be on the safe side I got a yellow fever jab ((which lasts for 10 years)) and also started taking malaria tablets but I personally would recommend not taking them as the side effects can be quite bad. Do your research. Instead, load up with highly effective insect repellent and be sure to wear clothing to cover your arms and legs.

DO: Take USD. The Zanzibari Shilling is rarely used.

DO: Tip and round up

DO: Book your tours

DO: Your research on the best areas to stay depending on the length of your trip.

DO: Learn the local lingo. Just some basic phrases will get you by.

DON’T: Drink the tap water. Drink bottled water only.

DON’T: Book a hotel that has a non-cancellation policy like we did. As we did find something closer and more affordable however it was too late to cancel. Although in the end it worked out fine as we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at The Zanizbari.

Traveled September 2015
Flights: AED 1740 – You can fly direct from DXB to ZAN with flydubai. They run a once a day service.
Accommodation: AED 1040pp based on twin share in a garden room
Visa: USD 50 payable upon arrival
Tours: Safari Blue – USD65pp
Spending: I took USD400 which was more than enough. Food is relatively cheap even at 5 star establishments.

Eat well, travel often.

Nossy xxx