Monday, December 16, 2013

Foodie Find: Laura in the Kitchen

I think there's never enough foodies to know about right? At least I don't think so. I always seem to find a new foodie that I start loving - whether it's an actual person in my life, an author, a chef, a blogger, a Youtuber, you know name it. 

A little while ago, I came across Laura Vitale from Laura in the Kitchen series (Youtube name: Laura in the kitchen) and pretty much just started to watch all her recipes. An original Italian living in New Jersey, Laura is a dedicated cook on her Youtube channel and showcases high-quality video recipes with a specialty in Italian cooking (My favourite). She also dabbles in baking, bread-making, and lots more.

I personally have tried out a couple of her pastas and sandwich recipes and they were delicious. Although I watch her through Youtube, I feel as though we have very similar taste in food and that's why I'm recommending her to all of you :)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

"Sha3bi Shop" - Chili's Za3beel

This was the place that my entire idea of Sha3bi Shop began with. 

If you have grown up in Dubai or know anyone who has lived here for quite some time, then you would definitely know about Chili's Za3beel. I was introduced to this place years ago when I was in school and have since called this a little hidden spot only for true "Dubaians".

Prior to this year, it was actually just a small takeaway hut or "dukan" as it is termed in Arabic (meaning shop) in Za3beel area near world trade center. It had no name, no branding and I only learned the name of it from friends who were used to eating there from their childhood days. A small takeaway hut deserted by sand in Za3beel's residential area, it included one or 2 cooks working there. 

This year, it received a little makeover and is now branded as Oyoun Al Reem Cafeteria situated in a small plaza with a few other cafeterias. It looks similar to all other cafeterias in Dubai now. Still the same takeaway concept - or more like park and eat in the car because nobody waits to take these babies home. It's the best when it's hot. 

The original and best sandwiches that this place has to offer are simple and just so darn good. You choose your bread, either paratha (Indian bread) or regular "samoon" bread (toasted hot dog bun) and choose your filling of eggs or hot dog or mix - all come with a tomato-ish sauce . The special additions of kraft cheese spread on the bread/bun and crumbled Oman chips on top of your sandwich with hot sauce (not actually hot, just gives a kick in flavour) takes these sandwiches to a whole new level. Sounds so simple but trust me you're gonna have to try these. Yumm.

My personal favorites are hotdog with paratha:

 And eggs & hot dog mix on regular "samoon" bread" (added bonus - they toast this one!):

Have any of you guys tried Chili's Za3beel? What's your favorite sandwich?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Taste of Christmas Festival - London

One of the best experiences I had during my trip in London was visiting the Taste of Christmas festival (Thanks cousins for the amazing surprise!)

If you've ever been to Taste of Dubai, it's pretty much the same branding but the experience is on a totally new level. The concept is the same in which different vendors and companies have their own stalls set up with their products (such as cheese, olive oil, meat, wine, chocolate, etc) where visitors can taste and purchase. This was one of the best parts about this experience, the fact that you can actually taste everything for free. It not only made the night much more enjoyable (for me and my appetite) but it definitely allowed you to get an idea of what you could potentially be purchasing on a wider scale.

Here's my picture diary & some little facts I picked up... Enjoy!

Chutney's, mustard & preserves - Tracklements

Blue cheese - Cornish Cheese Company

This was actually the best blue cheese I have ever tried. My cousins agree too. Not too strong but still flavorful. Not surprised this is award winning cheese - definitely my first time trying a cheese that's won an award :)

Black garlic (heat-aged garlic)

This was another first for me. The taste was quite similar to licorice with a very faint distant essence of garlic. If you ate this with your eyes closed, I don't think you would believe it's garlic.

Rustic French Bread
Different types of goat cheese & brie 

Did you know that brie is better when it's more yellow? I didn't! I've always had white brie from the supermarket and it seems as though I've been missing out...

Italian goods from Sicily

I picked up two types of Pecorino cheese from here - one with walnuts and one with truffle. I actually can never say no to truffle anything - truffle oil, cheese, sauce, pasta, etc. Speaking of truffle, I got the chance to feast on some very fancy truffle at a different market in London called the Borough gourmet food market - definitely a must-see if you're ever in London.
Live cooking show of holiday turkey

Gluten & butter free chocolates - The Chocolatier

Chocolate with 23ct gold leaf - The Chocolatier

This chocolate snapped above was interesting. Once I saw that it was written created for Arabian Royalty, I immediately asked the vendor what the story behind it was. She informed me that this particular chocolate made with gold leaves was created for the Saudi Prince as he requested a low calorie chocolate without compromising on taste and the gold leaves - well he is a Prince isn't he? I was intrigued, I then asked what his name was and she answered Ahmed. The other vendor working behind this business then came in on the conversation as he heard us and uttered "Yes, this chocolate was specifically made for the Abu Dhabi Foreign Minister". At this point, I thought things were sounding fishy and I replied informing them that Abu Dhabi is not part of Saudi Arabia and they just nodded so I decided to leave it at that :)

Hope you enjoyed my picture diary. It was such a great experience and I would highly recommend this to anyone in London during the holiday season. Have you guys ever been to Taste of Xmas?

Here's a little snap of my cousins and I at the festival!

left-right: Joanne, Dalia, Yasmin, Me

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Rated: Patty & Bun - London

Sorry for being missing in action for a little bit. I've just come back a couple of days ago from a holiday trip to London to visit family. 

I decided to do a quick little review of the well-known gourmet burger joint in central London, Patty & Bun. I have a really good feeling that if anyone who's lived, been or just knows London pretty well, that they've heard or tried this place out. 

On my first night in London, my cousin Dalia told me that she would take me to her favorite burger place and off we went... (with my review hat on!).

Situated in St. Christopher's place, pretty much a little area intersecting Oxford street that's packed with restaurants, we arrived to a line outside the restaurant with about 8 people already queued up (First impression, how long do we need to wait in the freezing cold?! ... however, if everyone else is doing it, may well be worth it?). 

So we hurried in line and the wait started. Minutes into our arrival, more and more people came and stood behind us to wait in line. The great part is that they had posted their menu on the wall outside where customers waited. Everyone in line, and I mean everyone, was only talking about what burger they wanted, which one was their favorite, what they tried last time, etc, etc, etc. The whole wait was a great big conversation about the burgers in this place. I was definitely excited and joined in on it.
Their menu is small (but to the point) and also caters to different varieties, from classic beef burgers, to chicken to lamb and even vegetarian. We pretty much had our minds made up during that 30 minute wait.

Once we got in, I noticed why there was a line to begin with because the actual space seats up to 30 pax but that's what made the experience even cosier. It was small, vibrant, energetic with mixed music from oldies to current singles and the vibes were definitely right. 

Photo credit to Patty & Bun Website

A group of three, we opted for 2 "ARI GOLD" cheeseburgers, 1 "Lambshank Redemption" burger with 2 sides of fries with rosemary salt and 1 "Winger Winger Chicken Dinner" chicken wings to start.

Dinner order at P&B

We started off with the chicken wings which were smoked confit wings with BBQ sauce and green onions.

"Winger Winger Chicken Dinner" Chicken wings

I am not the biggest fan of chicken wings, but these wings were the juiciest, tastiest and sauciest wings I've ever tried. The topping of green onions just added that extra freshness and crunch which made it all the more worthwhile. Finger lickin' good.

On to the burger, usually I go for a classic cheesburger whenever I try a new burger place out because if a place can't get a classic cheese burger right, then why are they a burger place?

So I got the "ARI GOLD" cheeseburger which consisted of a beef patty, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickled onions, ketchup, homemade smokey mayo and a brioche bun.

"ARI GOLD" Cheeseburger

Definitely a high quality beef burger. The meat was so tender and juicy (cooked medium and I'm usually a medium well but that's how it's done at P&B so I went for it!) The sauce was smokey yet tangy and the vegetables were fresh and crisp. Only downside was it was little bit of a mess to eat but I'd rather have a yummy burger with a mess than holding back on the yummy, you know what I mean?

Total price breakdown below (for 3):
1 x "Winger Winger Chicken Dinner" chicken wings = £5.50
2 x "ARI GOLD" Cheeseburger = £7.50 x 2 = £15
1 x "Lambshank Redemption" burger = £8
2 x Chips with rosemary salt = £5.50 x 2 = £11
Total (£) = 39.5 

In my opinion, food,  music and service was excellent. I know where I'm going first next time I'm in London. I'd definitely recommend this place for young adults and young couples and less for a family as it's quite packed, loud and cosy.

I've rated Patty & Bun - London a 5 out of 5!

Have you guys tried Patty & Bun in London? What would you rate it?