Dubai believes it is among the best food centres of the world – some think it is THE best – but that story needs to get out to the rest of that world. One challenge, says Girlahead, is that too many self-styled foodies in the Emirate rely on the brands of ‘the chefs’.
Frankly who cares about that big name (Girlahead thinks back to another memorable-meals destination, Melbourne, when even Sydney’s real gourmets flew in for a one-off dinner by a visiting French super-cook and his chicken with enormous slices of Périgord under the skin was served still running blood). Let us care about ambience, service and products.
Zenzi Beach at JUMEIRAH ZABEEL SARAY opens a week from today, Saturday 14th January, and judging from a pre-opening tasting, it will be brilliant. It’s Venice CA or Miami Beach FL in style, palest sand wood and matching raffia and hemp table mats, and, in palest sand gear, the most engaging Ozzie manager, Nikki Crist. She’s everywhere, smiling. The menu makes full use of some of the 6.5 kilos of lettuces farmed daily from the hotel’s vertical hydroponic garden, a few metres away. The baby tomatoes are brought only a few kilometres (yes, Dubai is dabbling in agriculture).
Zenzi Beach’s menu sings Latin America. Shown above, with banana chips, is Aguachile de atun – yellowfin tuna, orange, serrano chili, cucumber, coriander. Follow this with, say, Lubina Chilena – Miso Chilean seabass, squid, asparagus, confit tomato. Well done to hotel GM, Mark Hehir. He designed the place, as he did Arcadia, the garden restaurant next to the lettuce production (plus, he has turned an old shed into the everybody-visits The Creamery icecream shack).
What a difference when a hotel boss truly understands food. In another part of the world, Edinburgh, Richard Cooke, GM of THE BALMORAL, A ROCCO FORTE HOTEL, needed a new top chef. He’s gone for someone who is not a television celeb but a cook with a great pedigree. Paul Hart’s previous posts include THE OLD COURSE in St Andrew’s, THE SCOTSMAN in Edinburgh and, latterly, GLENEAGLES, where he headed Culinary Development.
Time to hear from the next generation of the Forte family, Charles Forte: