As the whole world is gearing up to this one day holiday in February, which, I don't know why its called a holiday when everybody's bum-bum is stuck in their office chairs, Abu Dhabi is prepping up their kitchen for a whole other reason. Up until now, I only thought February is the month of the hearts and two birthdays in the family. Now, it is also Gourmet Abu Dhabi. It is the city's way of showcasing its finest restaurants. For the entire month of February every weekend is a special way to experience the festival.
I am lucky to win tickets and dining vouchers which makes this month extra special. First weekend was the Emirati Kitchen. Thanks to Foodiva Samantha Wood's blog giveaway, me and a friend are entitled to a free pass to the event plus one master class. I have always wanted to attend one but it is just too expensive or the schedule is not right. With that being a hindrance, the prize ticket came in as a perfect solution.
First weekend of February is scheduled for Emirati Kitchen. Along the east complex of the corniche, the Emirati Kitchen was set up. Stalls showcase special items prepared by the Emiratis and some food stalls selling local cuisine. Among the star of the event is the first Emirati food truck Meyla's. It is a good opportunity to try out their local delicacy. We were booked for the masterclass on how to prepare healthy food for children. We were not aware that it was for kids event but we queued anyway. Even if the activity was basically for kids, we were still able to pick up points. Especially on preparing salads using locally grown vegetables and using dressing like labneh and soy sauce. Who would have thought of that? We get to bring home a huge portion of salad that we have prepared. Took me three meals to finish off the entire stock.
Second weekend of February, valentine's weekend. While everyone else was jetting off somewhere romantic, the husband and I went to Al Raha Beach Hotel to sample the Gourmet BBQ. The buffet was set outside so it was a bit chilly. We were ushered to our table and started browsing the buffet table. Had I been a seafood lover or very adventurous meat eater that spread would have excited me. Unfortunately, I am allergic to seafood and my meat preferences are limited to pork, chicken and beef. I was also a bit sad not much carbo load on the table. All meat and few veggies. But the entire night was not a sad, the dessert spread was heaven. I can't remember everything I had but even the chocolates were good. I'm not a chocolate lover so that chocolate dessert had me smiling.
Third weekend of February - the food truck weekend! This I have been anticipating the entire month actually. Partly because I could try out some street food from other countries but mainly because of the chefs who will be doing demos. I am an avid fan of foodnetwork shows. If I could just stick to one channel the entire day that would be it. The event started on Thursday and ended on Saturday. We scheduled the visit on a Friday as the chef demo of two particular chefs I want to meet are scheduled not too far apart. Arrived at 5 pm and was lucky to catch Chef Jun Tanaka. After the demo, I saw the new schedule and Chef Andy Bates' demo will be another four hours. But since we came there for the celebrity chefs, we (my husband begrudgingly) waited until 9 pm for his demo. While waiting we did what most weird couples do, people watch. Of course we sampled on the food truck goodies. We tried the grilled cheese sandwich of Cheesetruck. Ordered Stilton and steak. It was okay. Nothing beyond unforgettable. Perhaps we should have ordered the goat cheese instead. But the queue was well, let us just say, stretches to forever, so we passed. Also tried Pizza Pilgrim. They have three kinds of pizza listed but since the queue was again horribly long, they have to resort to Margherita minus the basil leaves. Despite the missing herb, the pizza was really good. The dough was chewy and tasty just the way I like it. Last among the must try food at the park was the churros. I love that fried dough of happiness. If you want to try some you better prepare yourself to stand in line for quote some time. If there is a contest for the longest queue the Churros and Chocolate truck would win. People just love fried things and chocolate. Who wouldn't?!
To sum up, February was more than just flowers and chocolates, it was also about discovering more about food, people who loves food and people who loves to make good food. I hope more events like this will be hosted in the city. Its a way of driving more people in enriching one's own definition of culture.
more photos here.