Dubai

I’ve just returned from a very last minute, 5 day getaway to Dubai. It is such a whirlwind of extravagance that I don’t know where to start. I landed late and besides meeting up with my gorgeous friend Michelle, I only really had time to spend the first night to staring out my window in wonder at all the towering, newly constructed buildings surrounding a manmade lake of clear water.

In the morning, we laid by the pool and had breakfast before getting ready. We then went to the Dubai Mall, which of course, is the world’s largest. This place made the American superstore look like a small shopfront. We had lunch on the terrace facing the Burj Khalifa lake at the base of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. After spending the rest of the day of wandering around in what seemed like a city, we had worked up an appetite. We changed quickly at the hotel and took a cab out to Atlantis.

Atlantis hotel is positioned at the tip of the Palm Jumeirah, a cluster of manmade islands in the shape of a palm, which houses some of the world’s top hotels and most expensive residences. Inside the Atlantis is one of the most spectacular aquariums, which is reminiscent of the lost city itself. Even more spectacular than the aquarium is Dave Chihuly’s glass sculpture in the lobby of the hotel. I can’t help but stare in fascination wondering how the complex piece was created.

We had a spectacular meal at Nobu, with Sushi, Yellowfin Sashimi, Rock Shrimp Tempura, Wagyu Beef, and of course Nobu’s famous Black Cod. We then indulged on a Flourless Chocolate Fondant with Nobu Beer Ice Cream and Passion Fruit & Coconut Ice Cream. Sorry for the lack of Nobu photos, most were taken with my iPhone and didn’t come out. But, at least I posted the desserts!

The next day, we had an early breakfast of fresh fruit and yogurt before heading to Abu Dhabi. We briefly wandered around and had a delicious Za’atar and Halloumi wrap for lunch. Before heading back to Dubai, I insisted the cab driver take us past Ferrari World and the Formula 1 track. I’m definitely looking forward to the opening of Ferrari World and hope to return when it does.

When we returned to Dubai, we went to the most amazing local market. This was by far one of my favourite parts of the trip. It was as if we had entered a different world, leaving all the tacky extravagance behind. A local world of poverty, bordering some of the most lavishly wealthy in the world. However, first sight of the market was incredibly disturbing. A row of dead, bloody sharks lined up on a platform at the mouth of the market was heart stopping. I decided against including these photos because it really is sickening. Inside the market was a maze of fresh fruit, spices, and pounds of dates. I walked along unashamedly accepting all offers of date samples. We then headed deeper into the market which eventually leads to little local shops selling hookah pipes and more spices.

As darkness fell, we headed home to get ready for our dinner reservations at The Observatory. The Observatory is located on the 52nd floor of the Marriott Hotel and offers incredible views of the palm and downtown Dubai. It has low-lighting and a modern interior, but we weren’t there for the interior design.  I must say I admired the innovation of the chef, but not everything was to my liking. Overall, we enjoyed our meal with our well-lit view of downtown Dubai.

Here’s what we had:
– Seared Scottish Scallops with Microsalad, Pumpkin Sauce, and a Chocolate Ribbon
Portobello Mushrooms filled with Garlic, Goat’s Cheese, and Sun Blushed Tomato
– Asparagus Risotto
– Home Smoked Salmon enhanced with Soy-apricot Sauce and Wasabi Ice Cream
– Seared Tuna encrusted with Pink Peppercorns and served with Microsalad, Apricot, and Sweet Chili Sauce

Dessert:
– Trio of Chocolate with Granduija Soup, Maracabo Chocolate Brownie, White Chocolate Mousse, Date Scented Camel Milk Ice Cream, and Pink Pepper Caramel
– Milk Rice Pudding with Truffle, Candied Mushrooms, and Pine Nut Milk in Coca-Cola Jelly
– Electric Ice Cream of Date Scented Camel Milk with Rose Mouse Wrapped in Rose Water Parcels

Each evening at around midnight, we’d spend about an hour messing around in the hotel’s rather large gym in an attempt to make a dent in the day’s calorie consumption. The next morning was spent lounging by the pool. We then headed to the magnificent, sail shaped, 7 star hotel, the Burj Al Arab. Architectually, the exterior is phenomenal, one of a kind. But, and it is a definite but, the interior is absolutely, appallingly tacky. Rainbow fountains, mismatched carpets, and strange robotic panels seemed shockingly Vegas for this world renowned hotel.

Aside from the navy and forest green, cruise ship like interior, the views from the Sky Bar were unlike any other. We were seated in the middle of the dining room at a booth facing outwards towards miles of crystal clear ocean. On either side, all of Dubai was visible. We chatted away listening to the beautiful pianist playing Disney songs on her glass, grand piano. We then began our Sky Tea, and I think it would only be fitting for me to describe this as the world’s best afternoon tea.

It began with a miniature Beef Wellington, what an incredible beginning. Two bites of the best Beef Wellington i’ve ever tasted. Then we were served Vegetable Samosas with a spicy dipping sauce. Then came the Sky Tea. A massive, sail shaped stand was placed before us, and my little foodie heart skipped a beat. On the bottom plate, a selection of pastries, second, a fruit cake, carrot cake, biscuits, and shot glass of creme brûlée, third, a selection of savoury pastries and breads with delectable fillings, and on top, delicate tea sandwiches each on a different flavoured bread. The spread and presentation were amazing and we happily munched for hours. Nearing the end of our tower conquering, a waiter appeared with a platter of all the sandwiches we had just devoured. We naughtily took seconds of our favourites, feeling a bit like bears storing up for winter. As our stomachs neared their bursting point, we decided to stop and save room for the scones. The scones! Warm, freshly baked scones with the most gorgeous spreads i’ve ever been served to accompany this after tea treat. Strawberry mousse, clotted cream, passionfruit jam, and strawberry jam with rose petals, each more delicious than the last.  We sat back, sipping our tea, gazing out at the silky blue water, completely content. And then he appeared, again. The sight of the silver platter of tiny treats was almost overwhelming. Being the greedy little monster that I am, I took a strawberry, dipped in chocolate with a gold flake garnish, and decided that it was the last bite of food I would consume for the rest of my life. Or at least, until dinner.

After being driven off the Burj Al Arab’s island by a golf kart, we wandered around the Souk Madinat Jumeirah. It was built to resemble a traditional Arabic marketplace, but is rather touristy. We bought a few gifts before heading to the Dubai Mall to get boxes of macarons and Patchi chocolates to bring back to London with us. We then went to the hotel to relax before getting ready for dinner. That’s right, more food.

Verre is Gordon Ramsay’s Dubai restaurant with a modern, Eurpean inspired menu. The restaurant was almost empty, besides a few couples and a family with a screaming baby, my favourite. Once the family left, I was much happier and able to focus on our incredible meal. The service was impeccable, if not a tad robotic. It didn’t matter because the food was all delicious.

Here’s what we had:
– Rolls with Olive and Garlic Butter
– Beef Tart Appetizer
– Vine Tomato Minestrone with Basil Pesto
– Ahi Tuna
– Ravioli of Scottish Lobster and Salmon, with Tomato Chutney Glazed Lettuce, and Lobster Vinaigrette
– Pan Fried, Line Caught Halibut, Seared Scallops, Coriander Linguini, Roasted Asparagus, and Lemongrass Veloute

Dessert:
– 3 Cheeses with Paired Fruit
– Chilled Valrhona Chocolate Fondant and Pear Sorbet
– Chocolate, Passionfruit Chocolate, Turkish Delight

I can only describe my trip to Dubai as extravagant, decadent, and memorable. I have a feeling this won’t be my last trip to this manmade, world record breaking, lavish emirate.

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