Tuesday, May 14, 2013

United Arab Emirates, July 14th 2012

It was Bastille Day and aside from basting in the scorching Atlanta heat, my plans for the day had nothing to do with celebrate France's accomplishments.  In fact, we were going on a culinary tour in a completely different continent.
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And that was about a year ago. I can't explain it. Suddenly it was like I had lost my ability to write and continue with my alphabetical dinners’ project. Maybe it was the fact that Eric retired and the change was exciting for him and really scary for me. Or maybe it was the infernal heat accentuated by the fact that I was training for the NY Marathon and that forced me to spend an inordinate amount of time outside sweating buckets (and may I point out that the marathon never took place on account of super storm Sandy).

I don't know.  As I said, I can't explain it, but the reality is that I never finished writing this blog and I haven't had another dinner since then.  I toyed with the idea of moving to V for Venezuela but I just never had the motivation to finish writing this blog about UAE and Eric pretty much said I can't do another dinner until I finish writing this blog.  Mind, it's not like Eric rules or anything but somehow it made sense.  Plus it felt like an excuse.  As long as I didn't finish the blog, I didn't have to do another dinner.

But here I am, in May 2013, almost an entire year later and I finally came across the menu of that dinner from Bastille Day 2012 and I just couldn't put it off anymore.  Except, I can't really remember much of that dinner.  So glad about the comment cards.  This story will be told from the comments of my guests.  Hopefully I can still find photos... And more importantly, I hope that when I do find them, I can remember what's what!

According to my guest cards, I hosted quite a few people that night: Karen and her friend Michelle, Kako, Joanne, Anne & Tony and of course Eric. 

I offered my guests a lemon & rose flavored punch as a welcome cocktail. I'm sure there was alcohol in it, gin, and also Cascal crisp white (I found this as a pencil note on the recipe, must be true). The most recurring comment was "refreshing" which is probably prompted by the torrid heat. My favorite comment was from Tony: "refreshing, but basically it is pink lemonade with a leaf in it". I've to assume the leaf was mint...

As an appetizer I served Shrimp fried with spices.  Typically served as a main course, I suppose I just gave smaller portions and made it a starter.  Everyone loved this, gave it a 9 or a 10, except for Eric who gave it a 7 despite the fact that he doesn't like Cardamom.  Must have been good.  Note to self to make this again...

I think I served this dish with homemade bread, Khameer, but I honestly can't remember. I must have since I have lots of photos of how to make it and I have comments from my guests. I have a note to serve with the main course but the photo of that shows so much rice that I can't believe I would have served it with bread too. It looks yummy and it scored well.

I also served fish cakes as another appetizer: I made it with grouper and Anne commented that she really liked it despite the fact that she really doesn't like fish. According to Tony this is a great fish dish for those that don't like fish as the flavor was mild. Eric loved it and would have given it a 10 if I had served it with the right sauce (which one, honey, which one??). It doesn't look like I have a photo of this. Maybe it was so good that it was gobbled before Eric had a chance to take one. If my friend Kiyomi had been at dinner, there would be a photo! 

As a main course, I served Chicken and Rice. This is a very traditional dish and the color of it depends on the amount of tomatoes that are used in cooking it. Given that I don't see an overflowing of red, I assume that I didn't use a lot of tomatoes. But I did use a lot of spices. Anne commented that it was a little too spicy but everyone else liked it well enough. This is served with radishes, sliced onions, sliced limes and dates.

For dessert I made a custard with cardamom and rose water and got some really mixed reviews: Eric and Kako hated it, Joanne & Anne gave it a passable score but Tony, Karen and Michelle loved it (I can remember desserts, I almost always remember a good dessert and I remember really liking this - but I do love custards, I like cardamom and I do think rose water in dessert make it smell like you're eating a flower).  It looked really pretty too but it was obviously not something for everyone's palate.

Surely, there was a lot of wine and a lot of fun conversation.  Because there always is a lot of wine and people have a good time (I have fun friends, very opinionated and not at all afraid to get into a good animated discussion). 

I gave some nice goody bags too.  I roasted some spices to make "bezar" a mix of spices pounded together....

I also made a date crumble which ended up having the consistency of bread crumbs...and some small fried rice cakes (I have no recollection of these at all...)

The complete menu is below:
Khameer ~ Round Yeast Bread  8
Ro-be-yann nashif ~ Shrimp Fried with Spices 9.1
Sa-mak koufta ~ Fish Cakes 8.6
Machboos or Fogga ~ Chicken and Rice  7.4
Custard ma hal ~ Custard with Cardamom and Rose Water 6.3


And here we are.  Again, almost 1 year later but I'm finally back.  Hopefully I can go back to getting real comments instead of the huge amount of spam I've been getting.  Spammers are getting very sophisticated.  It really looks like they're reading the blog.  But honestly, I don't care to play your poker games, join your online casino, buy your fake cellulite creams, etc. 

I care about getting to know what people around the world eat, how, when and with whom.  But above all, I care about spending great nights with friends with good food, wine and lots of laughter.

Next Venezuela.

Stay Tuned.


SalMonela said...

What do you mean I don't rule? I'm devastated!


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Anonymous said...

Nice to finally read another post! I miss your alphabet dinners (well, most of them!). Cheers!