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Archive for March, 2014

Emirate Eating. The Dubai Food Festival

March 22, 2014 1 comment

‘Oh Dubai it’s all bling and excess isn’t it, nothing to do, see or eat there’‘ Nick Harman finds the naysayers couldn’t be more wrong.

Red, red, wine, it goes to my he- eh -eh ed’, except that it doesn’t here because neither red nor white wine are an option at The Big Grill in Muslim Dubai.

However I do have a compensatory stacked plateful of grilled lamb, Lebanese mashawis and other food treats to gnaw on as I tap my toes to the bland white reggae beat from the UB40 boys up on stage.

The Big Grill at Dubai Emirates Golf course is a 2-day celebration of everything BBQ; packed with BBQ cook-offs, burger eating competitions and BBQ picnics amidst live performances from world-class artists and local DJs. It’s not perhaps what people usually expect from Dubai, but that’s the point,

It’s all part of the Dubai Food Festival, a new idea for a city more famous for soaring tower blocks, supercars on the street and money, money money than it is for food.

Dubai is a massively multicultural city of course and the food available reflects that. Over 200 cuisines are being represented at the Festival, which takes in everything from shipping containers at ‘Beach  Canteen’ – where I ate locally caught fish while the setting sun pinkly illuminated the amazing Burj al Arab hotel – to the highest of high end restaurants. Whatever your pocket, you can afford to eat widely and well. Read more…

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Time for tea at 300 year old Twinings

60.2 billion cups of tea are drunk a year, many of them by Nick Harman personally. He goes down to visit 300 year old Twinings Tea in Hampshire to discover more about their take on our national drink.

‘Shlooooooooooooorpppp!’ It’s a very loud sound and seems odd coming from Philippa Thacker who for the last ten minutes has been, dare I say, behaving in a perfectly ladylike fashion. ‘Slurrrrrrp’ she goes again and then accurately directs a jet of brown tea into her spittoon on wheels.

‘You don’t have to spit it out of course,’ she says, ‘it’s not like wine tasting where you’re avoiding the alcohol, but if you don’t spit then by the end of a tasting you will have drunk an awful lot of tea!’

As a Master Blender it’s part of Philippa’s job to ensure that each box of Twining’s black ‘breakfast tea’ or ‘everyday tea’ you buy in the shops is of the same quality and taste as the last and is true to the secret blend, which can contain up to forty separate teas.

Unlike wine, which is a once a year crop, tea is picked every day with the leaf quality varying every time so it’s the blenders’ job to assess each shipment of tea that comes in and create the correct blend for sale. Each blender has his or her own unique tasting spoon engraved with their name, a sweet touch that is so quintessentially British. Read more…

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