Kari Heron (When Hunger Strikes)
28 October 2011
There is something about the weather cooling down that brings a whole lot of promise with it. Earlier this week, I actually felt the first autumn shamal.
I knew for certain that cooler times are really upon us when I needed to turn the heater back on. Now that the weather is getting nicer, it opens us up for a world of exploration that will make you forget the intense summer heat we just survived.
Here are some things you must do this winter:
Host a barbecue. No villa necessary, you do not even need a grill; simply pick the right park. Many public parks come outfitted with brick barbecues so all you have to do is go early and secure your spot. Bring and store all your food in insulated coolers and warmers to ensure food safety. The weather may be cooler but food must still be kept at cooler temperatures if cold and warmer temperatures if cooked.
Have a potluck. This is the easiest way of having a get-together or party. With potluck, everyone brings something so the work will not fall on just one person. This is great if you are too busy to spend two days cooking for a party but still want to get all your friends together. It is also a great way to get to taste the food of friends from all over. Be sure to plan a potluck with your foodie friends because they will be able to appreciate the luxury of authentic, well-made homemade dishes and will also bring tasty dishes themselves.
Take a trip to the market. I know you have been to the souks but have you ever been to the fish market? Yes, I said it. Fish market. There are two in Dubai and many all over the UAE and the Middle East. Find one closest to you and take a trip. Have a talk with the vendors and find out how they cook what and their favourites. You are bound to return home with lots of inspiration. If the fish market is too much for you, find another farmers market (Baker & Spice on Fridays in Souk Al Bahar, Ripe on Saturday and Masdar in Abu Dhabi).
Dine al fresco. This season is where the Middle East meets the piazzas of Italy. Many restaurants expand their seating outdoors and offer patrons al fresco dining. Take advantage of the weather. There is something magical about eating outdoors — that is why camping is so big in almost every culture. Be one with nature because the outdoors set the perfect atmosphere to enjoy great food and good company.
Go camping. Since we brought it up, let’s just explore it. The barbecue, potluck, market shopping and al fresco dining are all preparation for a great camping trip. Grab a really cool set of friends and head off to the desert to camp.
Take cookery or baking courses. Nothing gets your culinary mojo kicking more than being properly instructed in some kitchen technique. Learn to improve your cakes and breads, learn Arabic cuisine, take a high tea course, or learn to decorate cakes and cupcakes. It will be money well spent and you will become the most sought-after hostess. Plus you will always get invited to parties because everyone will love your treats. Can’t find a course that suits you in Dubai? Email me and I will help you to find one that suits you best.
Take on a food challenge. How about baking a bread every week or as often as you can and taking it over to a friend? How about cooking an entire meal in a cuisine that is new to you?
Discover new restaurants. We know you have old favourites where the waiters know your order. They may even have a steak knife stored for you with your name engraved on it. Of course, you should by all means enjoy what brings you comfort, but also explore new things. Remember your favourite dining spots were also once not known until you went out and discovered them. Give as much attention to the small street joints as you do to fine restaurants because some have amazing food.
Follow food blogs. The Middle East is growing as a foodie destination and there are lots of people like me who are stark mad about food. Find our blogs and leave comments, make a request and join the online party. I am working on an article about the regional food bloggers, but in the meantime, you can have a jumpstart by visiting www.fooderatiarabia.com.
· Kari is a Dubai-based journalist and photographer of the food blog chefandsteward.com. Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/ChefandSteward and contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org