When my mum left for home in January I found it hard to adjust back into my routine, it set me back a bit in terms of settling in Abu Dhabi. I am well aware that worse things happen to people and truly I am grateful for what I have but for that moment I was fed up all the same.
I have a tendency when I am fed up, sad, lonely or to be fair any emotion to turn to food because at that moment it makes me happy. I love making nice food and reinventing those classics my mum taught me because they bring me comfort.
The only thing I could do when my mum left was to dust myself down, grow a pair and fill my time with things that make me happy and that is where I came across Gourmet Abu Dhabi 2014. If I were to even consider this event at home it would be out of my price range but the 2 day culinary adventure that I found was only £70 quid. You got to meet top chefs from around the world and let them show you their signature dishes and if you were very lucky even have a little taste.
The event was held at one of my favourite hotels in Abu Dhabi, The Westin, not only is the food really good the location and setting is beautiful. On a side topic you will find that living in this country that you get a lot of “favourite” things, like which is your favourite mall, favourite route to work, honestly the list is endless but trust me I have conversations like this every day…I like to chuck a curve ball in every now then as people take this conversation very seriously!
Anyway my culinary adventure awaits you…
On arrival at The Westin I saw one of my favourite chefs, Michael Caines, I nearly passed out on the spot… we helped ourselves to free designer water, Nespresso and a selection of divine cakes and pastries to set us up for our day of culinary delights!
First up – Lebanon…I have to say I found the dish of Blue Shrimps a bit of a faff for me. I guess to the reader it sounds simple but the dish consisted of cucumber candies, beetroot meringue, potato jelly, salsa verdi, hummus – are you getting the picture the list is pretty endless!! I was lucky enough to taste the candies and meringue, they weren’t to my taste but it was great to experience them all the same. Next onto dessert….Almond tart with an apricot filling with a butterscotch cream. Sadly I couldn’t taste this one as I am little allergic to nuts but I did get to sample the chocolate that went into the Butterscotch, it was out of this world. The Valrhona Dulcey, it is a blonde chocolate if you want something to liken it to it is an expensive version of caramac, I can’t wait to get my hands on a full bar and scoff it with a cuppa.
Please don’t worry I am not going to list everything I saw it is just to set the scene…Korea is the next stop, the food that was produced was so simple and something I will cook at home. It was beef short rib slow cooked with soy and a selection of spices and vegetables, I got to taste a bit of this and it was tasty and would be perfect served with noodles or rice.
After a quick break for lunch which included a stop at the camel’s milk ice cream stand I was ready for action. I saw three amazing chefs, one of which specialised in Indian cuisine and is somewhat of a mega star over there, the crowd went crazy for him. Next chef up was an Australian who specialised in French bistro food, then finally I was off to Thailand. I found with most of the dishes you needed loads of unusual things that you either can’t get in this country or wouldn’t usually purchase, which I found strange. I thought it would be good to have selection of ingredients that are common in people’s homes with maybe one or two specials ones thrown in, which can then be transformed into something amazing. However that aside it was a pleasure to watch these people demonstrate their talent and skills.
After seeing these six amazing chefs it was time for the one I have been waiting for Massimo Bottura. I first saw this chef on Masterchef UK, where his passion for food and what it stands for shines out. Massimo’s philosophy is three things – humility, passion and dreams and he has bundles of it for everyone. The food he produces has a story, it might relate to a point in time e.g. historical event, family memory, whatever the dish is it has been thought through with precision. I wasn’t keen on his first dish of risotto but that is down to personal taste not to the genius process that went into making it. I knew he was making two dishes and so wanted one of them to be “Oops I dropped the lemon tart” which he is famous for. It was, and it was amazing. I will never be able to articulate well the concepts that this man is dreaming and delivering but the fact that this dessert went viral speaks volumes.