Math was never a favourite of mine. Let’s say, I didn’t have the appetite for crunching numbers. But when I saw this equation, I liked it instantly. The Sum Of Us. An urban, chic cafe that claims good stock, since it is the 2nd offering by the famed duo Tom and Serg, as they do their coffee, since they have their own roastery.
It was a lunch meeting venue. It was for me. You are welcome to make a special visit. Fear is that in lunch meetings, the focus is never the food. But since the meeting was food related, I made sure to be as shameless and gluttonous as I possibly could.
Began with my hostess’s recommendation of a double Sum Of Us burger that included fresh tomato, lettuce, cheddar, pickles with a side of mayo and fries. It was a tasty, fresh burger, no doubt, but would have preferred the mayo and fries to have more flavour. My partner gobbled on a soft-shelled crab burger. He only resumed conversation when the burger got over.
What followed, was beautiful indeed! A fat slice of salted caramel French toast with a dollop of mascarpone cream cheese, fresh banana and candied macadamia nuts. You should have seen the plate when it got over. Bet they didn’t have to put it in the dishwasher.
And when TSOU claimed a good understanding of coffee, it certainly called for drinking a cup, as we sat outside enjoying the changing Dubai weather. I agree that good coffee needs full fat milk for a ‘fuller’ taste and texture. And coffee that scalds and scales your palette is not something that will happen here because all coffee is served at 65 degrees C. The good cappuccino was downed quickly over the remaining conversation.
Will be back at TSOU, primarily to try out their breakfast options and a few other sundries.
Seriously, who helped name that on the menu? Chai Tea!
It is like naming your bolognese Noodles Spaghetti. Now, you wouldn’t do that, would you? Then why have Chai Tea on your menu?
Let me explain – tea in the Indian sub-continent, and a few neighbouring countries, is called Chai. Unless, a few restaurants in Dubai really want to “over emphasize” that they serve tea, I feel such naming should be scrapped outright. Yes, “over emphasize” is a moronic expression and completely incorrect, much like “more happier”. As is Chai Tea!
If restaurants serving spiced tea that incorporates cardamom, cinnamon, milk and sugar etc want to highlight that, then it should be called Masala Chai or Masala Tea. Not Chai Tea.
And on behalf of many in the industry of food writing and appreciation, I would issue a warning not to name dishes like mentioned below:
Street walking was never fancier till one heard Michael Jackson release a song by that name. And then, the all-day-dining world restaurant Nine7One launched their Street Art Brunch last week.
The reception was colourful, breezy, street-artsy, guitar-strumming, thigh-high flashing, cycles and barrows where flip-flops and stilettos met over drool-worthy, lusty food. Here, we need to take in a moment. It is, perhaps, unfair to have so much food around that you will need 3 days to savour. So, starve yourself well or jog from the farthest Dubai corner to The Oberois, Business Bay for their vibrant Street Art Brunch.
Here, food does the talking. Right from the moment you step into the foyer, where a lavish charcuterie will hold your fascination while you sip on a chilled glass of prosecco. La dolce vita!
And now you can attack your gastronomic senses from the live Thai counter that simmers you a healthy ‘pulled’ broth of goodness that has everything of what you see in the picture.
Feast your eyes on the sushi boat and quietly populate your plate with one of every kind. Don’t make eye contact with anyone if you are embarrassed of the pile of food on the plate. Nobody will bother, because that is what all else is doing. Oh! and do not forget to easy on the wasabi. It is potent enough to blow your head off!
The Sexy Mexi (I call it that) counter is a live taco station where you can make the stuff of your drooly dreams. A young chef helped made me a sumptuous chicken that was finished off with chocolate, with the usual suspects – sour cream, cajun spice, guacamole, bell peppers and close your eyes when you pop it in your mouth. The only sounds that you will make are bedroom sounds.
I skipped the Indian table, although am told the salmon chat and gajar ka halwa was to die for.
What I savoured with relish, literally, was the burger. The fried chicken nestled with some fine emmental cheese, caramelised onions and sweet relish made me commit loyally till I had chomped off the last crumb of the sesame crusted burger bun! A small bucket of fish fingers and potato rings was plonked on each individual table. Then on, there was the Arabic section that emphasises SLOW cooking. To know more, read my post on SLOW food. Couldn’t say no to a crispy chicken shawarma that came wrapped like a love letter.
Two strapping young hostesses from Oyster Elite Co came by each table and offered oysters. They were quite the “Lady Rambos”, with the low strapped oyster buckets and armed with an oyster paring knife. They probably could do a cameo in the next Expendables!
If you are not driving, then you might as well dive straight into the fancy, music-laden bar that whisks up just about anything that your tongue fancies!
And then you have the expansive dessert tables. a fondue fountain with milk and white chocolates, marshmallows, meringues and what-have-yous! A molecular section played with textures and flavours like a white chocolate peach treat that melted in contact with another syrup. Or the guava (bomb) that took me back to my school summer holidays.
Must try the tiramisu that comes with a small dropper of coffee concentrate that you can squeeze to make your tiramisu squishy and wet. I think I should stop writing. It seems to be taking a rather decadent dip!
For all this and more, head to Nine7One. Street walkin’ baby!
Aunt closes the big oven door. In a few moments, her airy kitchen is filled with warm, aromatics of the casserole bubbling in there.
“You know, I love such one pot meals,” said I. “Make them regularly at home. I just throw in some thinly sliced zucchini.”
“Oh, you like zucchini?” she said.
And then, I saw a quick blur, as aunt whizzed past me, into her gorgeous home garden in a picturesque village in Nottingham, UK and came back with a long, emerald zucchini. In seconds, it was sliced and popped into the casserole in the oven.
My expression was ‘what just happened’!
Meet Superwoman Sunanda Chatterjee. My wife’s aunt. I have happily adopted her as my aunt. Nicknamed Bumble Bee, she is always buzzing around to make sure everyone is well fed and happy. She’s quite the thing – a qualified doctor by day, consummate home maker and a cook par excellence. Am trying to bully her to write her cook book.
One of the first things I noticed is her well stocked kitchen. There isn’t anything that you cannot find in there. Rosemary powder? Check. German shortbread? Check. Strong roasted coffee? Check. Teas from gardens of the world? Check. Peri Peri sauce? Check. I should have looked harder for a chef’s hat – would have found that too!
The other thing I noticed is her beautiful garden where she grows her English roses, honeysuckles and a bunch of other beautiful flowers whose names escape me. She scaped the garden herself and tends to it regularly. To the left is a fish pond. And farther left, is where she grows her veggies. That ripe zucchini, the one that was bubbling in the oven, came from there. She grows squash, brinjals, tomatoes, pumpkin, potatoes and maize. I am a huge fan of the style and rustic elegance (did I just coin that phrase) of Jamie Oliver. His series on cooking all across Britain using what he could get his hands on, is inspiring, mildly put. This felt just like his show. There are ways to grow a few veggies and making one’s own dry spice mix by sun-drying herbs. My mother used to grow tomatoes, Thai chillies, cucumber. We never had a garden but mum used to grow them in small pots. As a child, I used to be filled with amazement seeing vegetables grow at home. It added perspective as opposed to picking up what you want and when you want from the market. And now, I was in Superwoman’s vegetable garden, reliving my childhood amazement!
A day earlier, she went to another part of her garden and came back with a small basket of hand-picked cherries, raspberries and blueberries! I have never had such raspberries, considering that raspberries and I cannot get along in temperament. In fact, I polished it all off.
I realised exactly what ‘fresh from the garden’ really meant. It doesn’t get fresher than this. The soil and water plays an important role in how your veggies taste. For those that are inspired to start a home garden, here is a quick link, how to: http://www.bhg.com/gardening/yard/garden-care/ten-steps-to-beginning-a-garden/. I do peg home gardens as the next level of ‘foodie’ aspiration – to grow your own vegetables, even if they are just chillies. There is a little more fun than picking up a bunch from a plant than from a supermarket.
Why? Why would you orphan the last 10% of your drink? Why would you leave it sitting at the base of your fancy glass like it was never meant to be consumed? It has the same stock as the rest of the drink, yet, it doesn’t find favour with many. Why must you punish the remainder? And for what fault?
I find it discriminating. If you like a drink, slurp it down, right to the last drop. I was once told, during my impressionable years that leaving a bit of your drink is a sign that you are rather well-off. It made an indelible impression on me, till today. Thankfully I never tried showing off my social status by leaving a swig of my drink. If I like the drink, I drink up, my friend. Life’s too short and insipid without a good drink. OK, that may be taking it a bit far although I’m assuming you get my hint.
I have always finished my drink. I have done this for as long as I remember. And there is no embarrassment in sounding like a hoover while sucking a drink in a coffee shop. I might have cause my fellow coffee shop drinkers some cause of shock and dismay. I appreciate their swallowing that surprise with their drink. I might have been the object of aural apathy each time I slurped a cold coffee through a drinking straw. Surprisingly, it has always added to the taste!
I propose that we change this behaviour of leaving residue. Back me on this, my fellow food bloggers and writers, a good drink must meet its fate, right down till the last drop. It was not without a reason that we have the urban adage of ‘bottoms up’. If so, then we have been hypocritical at times by leaving a sad 5mls of drink.
Ooh it is a tough task to get me to Dubai Mall; and that too on a Friday. Truth be told, I don’t remember where I came from and where I need to go. As a man who prides his in-built GPS sense, there is a stereo-typical shame in admitting that I am foxed by the ‘exit’ signage. Besides, on a Friday, Dubai Mall is a test in negotiating skills more than I have used all week. I accepted to visit Bloomsbury’s Artisan Bakery in Dubai Mall rather gingerly. I didn’t fancy cup-cakes either.
And there I found myself driving to Dubai Mall with my wife and toddler in tow for a promised cosy and lazy breakfast. We managed to get to the store which is located twixt the fountain and Wafi Gourmet.
Bloomsbury’s – the Boutique Café and Artisan bakery is a home-grown and chef driven concept with all recipes created from scratch using the finest ingredients available seasonally. From cupcakes, confectioneries, the famous high tea, and afternoon tea, Bloomsbury’s serve a fine selection of tea from all over the world.
While I was waiting to be served, I was sniffing around their fancy tea test tubes containing some fine mix of teas – some refreshing and some with a vigorous flavor. However, I settled for a cup of strong coffee, since that is my favourite poison.
My son found the quaint café quite interesting, more so as he leafed through a book on London while the smiling hostess put a strawberry cupcake in front of him and a ‘red velvet’ in front of us. The clever boy that he is, he didn’t wait any time in celebrating his cheat-day by digging into the smooth icing on the cupcake. I slowly advanced towards the ‘red velvet’ with some dramatic music in my head – cupcakes give you a sugar rush with the icing that will last you a rugby match – and when I spooned in the first swirl of the icing, I was blown over! Soft, creamy, clearly fresh cream cheese and with the sweetness fine-tuned to perfection! OK, then Bloomsbury’s – you are winning me over!
I walked over to the display to run a look at the motley collection of cupcakes that flaunt over 30 different flavours. The friendly store manager Mayank pointed out that the café has a unique rating system for all their products. That way, only the tops ‘stars’ are served to Bloomsbury’s patrons. Suddenly, I realized the pressure of being a cupcake!
I noticed this very artistic, golden hued chocolate fudge cake. It is Bloomsbury’s big ticket item that has seen unprecedented popularity thanks to its shape, size, texture and hue. Have a special occasion in mind? Book this good-looking baby. And there’s more, Bloomsbury’s also creates bespoke cakes / cupcakes for special days like birthdays, weddings, bridal showers, baby showers et al.
I sat down for my breakfast that consisted of oven-fresh flavoured croissant and coffee. Wife and I cooed over the zaa’tar croissant and the cheese variant. They were flaky, perfectly baked with the heat permeating to the deepest inner folds of flour. This is croissant could have you go silent for some time.
Set your Bloomsbury’s date at the Dubai Mall, near Wafi Gourmet with the café open from 10AM till midnight on weekdays and extending an hour on weekends.
In Abu Dhabi, find them at Al Wahda Mall, Mushrif Mall and Y Tower Building. In case you fancy a drive up to Ras Al Khaimah, look for Bloomsbury’s at the newly opened RAK Mall.
Fresh ingredients, aesthetic and artistic, and made hot off the oven, daily, Bloomsbury’s Artisan Bakery is that perfect place to sit with a book or watch shoppers walk past with a hot, buttered croissant or decadent cupcake and coffee.
Dubai is the place for fashionable brunches. If you do not like ‘fashionable’, then read the first sentence again without the adjective. The idea remains that breakfast is an option that is as expansive as fast food chains here.
There are breakfast options for all kinds of hunger. The kinds where you can walk-in in your floaters and not be judged to places where Dior or Chanel maybe the calling of the day. And there is a global menu to suit most palettes. From ‘desi’ Indian or Pakistani to Continental to Oriental even. Even the unpretentious omelette served in a roadside shack gains VIP status with myriad stuffing, and served with fancy tableware. I have also been with people who do not bother about what bread they eat but will ask for multi-cereal in upmarket breakfast joints.
I do enjoy this broadband of breakfast options. Shacks, to roadside eateries, to queuing up at Ikea, to a relaxed Safa Park break to fancy Citywalk names to the uber posh nosh at 5 stars! I have but one request! This is for those places that serve great breakfast but do not include the coffee. Please understand that the humble bread and egg and everything else that is used with tongue-twisting names leaves enough mark-up for you to brew me some good, strong coffee. So, keep as much as you want for your cash registers, just include the coffee with the breakfast. See, it is like buying a mobile phone that also has a transfer cable with the charger. You’d hate it if you had to buy them separately.
Hope you get the drift Mo’s, Citywalk. If not, you need a stronger (caffeine) kick!