A CASE OF FOOT-N-MOUTH

Working as a reporter in Dubai has its ups and downs. Capturing the top stories for City Times readers can be time consuming, involves a lot of legwork and can be dangerous. However, sometimes the occasional perk falls into your lap that makes it all worthwhile.



By Dubai Diary By Peter Donnelly

Published: Thu 25 Aug 2005, 1:14 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 6:07 PM

Last month two events highlighted this perfectly.

Putting his best foot forward

The first involved covering DSS's Colour Surprises Week at the Ibn Battuta Mall. I appeared to cover the opening ceremony. There were children singing and dancing, and all the pomp and colour one would expect from the event. I found myself in a ring of steel; security guards held hands to create a giant circle where the performance could take place, while preventing the surging mass of spectators any opportunity of becoming involved themselves.

It was absolute chaos. Instead of a series of acts appearing, the entire show occurred all at once. A swarm of children appeared singing the memorable line: “Colour, Colour, hee hee hee.” None of the song made sense to me, and I think Gilbert and Sullivan's shows still have the edge.

Within seconds of the children appearing, enter the Chinese dragon, stilt walkers and a variety of individuals dressed in all manner of costumes. I suddenly found myself with no room to move. As I tried to make my way to the periphery of the circle, members of the audience pushed me back into the fray. A chap dressed in an artist's palette costume turned and the side of his get up smacked me in the back of the head. As I stumbled forward I managed to avoid the jaws of the dragon. Dazed, I then felt a surge of pain from my foot. I looked down to discover someone with stilts standing on it.

I managed to escape with my life intact, but I left the mall that evening with a slight concussion, and a limp.

Roaring Ramsay

Compare the above to the second event I attended. My editor asked me to attend an "exclusive dinner at the Hilton Creek's Verre Restaurant to celebrate the coinciding opening of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay's first restaurant in Asia, located in the Conrad Tokyo." Invites had been sent out to several journalists and media people in the UAE. The meal was also used as a spring board by the Hilton management to promote their newly refurbished, super-chic hotel in Sydney.

It had been a hard week, and on the evening of the meal, the last thing I wanted to do was attend, what I thought was going to be another boring publicity stunt with a bunch of journalists. After all, I spend most of my days with these characters. Moreover, that Gordon Ramsay chap didn't strike me as the type of person that deserved promotion in this newspaper. He might be a three starred Michelin chef, but he also shouts and swears at his staff. Anyway, he's a Glasgow Rangers supporter (I'm a Glasgow Celtic fan).

How wrong can one be. I take everything I thought about the man back. Mr Ramsay, we may always disagree about who the best football team in Scotland is, but if you need to shout and bawl at your staff to ensure the quality of food is produced to the level that I received at Verre's, then you have my permission to carry on.

This was quite simply a marvellous evening. The conversation almost matched the food. I enjoyed myself so much that I was the last member of the guests to leave. Mare and Amal, the girls from ASDA'A Public Relations, the company that organised the event, had to drag me, kicking and screaming, from the table at the end of the evening. Special mention also to the staff in Verre's who were completely professional without being fussy.

This is not a restaurant review, but the meal was delicious. With meaty scallops; a light, tasty vine tomato minestrone with basil soup; foie gras layered with confit and smoked goose cooked to perfection I now find myself in a difficult position; when I eat out where else is worth visiting? I'll maybe try and wrangle a restaurant review out of my editor (not a chance - Ed) and visit the restaurant again soon.


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