The Dubai Food Festival – Gastronomic Discoveries

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Dubai is a great gastronomy destination. Over the centuries, Dubai has been a big trade centre and the many cultures that have passed through and reside there now have shaped the food culture in this vibrant city. We ate street food on a beach, got local at a kebab shop, made like a bedouin in the dessert, drank champagne on roof top bars, indulged in a mega Friday Brunch. Do a quick tour via the Steller gallery below, follow along with the handy map at the end of this post and read on for more.

Dubai Food Festival 2015

Every year, the Dubai Food Festival attracts famous chefs from around the world to showcase their food. This is a great opportunity to experience some terrific Emirati food to Michelin starred offerings. On a recent gastronomy trip there, we had a few days to sample the culinary delights that the city had to offer. We met with some of the top chefs in the city, met with some desert farmers who produce an abundance of organic fruit and vegetables and lots more.

Dubai Food Festival - Alta Badia Food Safari
The view from Alta Badia

One evening, we embarked on a Mystery Food Safari with Lime and Tonic which took us to several Dubai destinations with a view of the skyline. Starting off with drinks and canapes at the uber stylish 40 Kung rooftop bar. Here is a great place to watch the sunset with the beautiful people while sipping a refreshing cocktails. (Alcohol can be served in hotels and specially licensed establishments). Dubai Food Festival 2015 Rooftop Bar

The next stop was the Mosaic Poolside Bar at the new Sofitel Hotel. This is a bar with the ultimate view of the Burj Khalifa which dominates the skyline of downtown Dubai. You get a great view of the dancing fountains of the Dubai Mall from here too. Here we had more cocktails and canapés while enjoying the balmy evening and spectacular view.

Main course was served at the Alta Badia Italian restaurant in the Jumeirah Emirates Tower building. The dining room has a stunning view of the Dubai Skyline. For the last stop, we hopped over to the alfresco Uptown Bar in the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. This bar overlooks the beach and at a distance the trendy 360 Bar by the beach. We had some lovely selection of desserts and even more cocktails. These food safaris are a great way to experience several eateries in one evening with other food obsessed people. Dubai Food Festival Jumeirha Beach Hotel

Linger at the Beach Canteen on Kite Beach

Dubai Food Festival Camel burger on Kite Beach
Camel burger on Kite Beach

Kite Beach in Dubai was transformed into a Street Food market with a colourful construction made with shipping containers. They have a list of rotating food producers serving a vast array of different cuisines. This camel burger was quite memorable. I was expecting the meat to be quite gamey but it was not. A well seasoned burger in a plump sesame covered bun. The other stalls offered reasonably priced sushi, sandwiches, Indian street food and even churros.

Surreally, all this was enjoyed under the burning sun, by the beach full of beach bodies while the sound of prayers were being broadcast from a nearby mosque reminding you that you were in Dubai. If you fancied a break from the eating, there are a few beack volleyball courts to expend your energy on. Kite beach is a triumph and a really fun venue. I am expecting this to grow even bigger in future years.

Beach Canteen Dubai Food Festival

Take the Dubai Food Tour

Dubai Food Tour Fish Market
Dubai Fish Market


Dubai Food Tour The Meat Market
The Meat Market

To get the true pulse of Dubai, you have to do the food tour with Frying Pan Adventures led passionately by Arva Ahmed. This takes you through the vibrant back streets and souks of Deira and Old Dubai and gives your a real flavour life in the City. We visited the fish and meat markets, the Spice Souk, The Coffee Museum and ended at a local secret kebab shop for lunch.

Dubai Food Tour Fish Market
Fish Sellers

You will get a completely different view of Dubai after you spend a day on this tour. Don’t miss this if you do visit Dubai. Read more about the Dubai Food Tour here.

Have dinner on a Dhow

Al Mansour Dhow Dubai Creek

Dhows have been trading on the waterways of Dubai Creek for centuries but today many of these boats have been converted into leisure boats. One balmy evening, we went on a dinner cruise along the Creek, where we enjoyed some wine and an Indian feast by India’s most famous chef, Sanjay Kapoor. Sanjay sat down for a chat with us and told us his very inspiring life story.

Chef Sanjay Kapoor

Al Mansour Dhow Dubai

The Farmers Market Dubai

Dubai Farmers Market
Dubai Farmers Market- Every Friday

The weekend starts on Friday in Dubai. For a foodie start to the day, we dropped in at the Organic Farmers Market in the car park of Jumeirah Tower. This market was started by Gail of Baker and Spice. In the short time that this has been around, the market has grown and the type of produce the farmers grow has changed. They now grow several varieties of kale and other vegetables being demanded by the local chefs and other customers.

Besides the fresh produce, there are stalls for coffee, juices, raw Yemeni Sidr honey and baked goods. Sometimes, local chef do cooking demonstrations in the market. You will often see off duty chefs shopping here on their day off and it’s a great place to meet friends for a coffee.

Friday Brunch at the Caravan Restaurant, Ritz Carlton Hotel

Fridays in Dubai is not complete without a Friday Brunch date. We were treated to the full experience in the Caravan Restaurant at the Ritz Carlton Hotel where we were staying. The brunch is a massive buffet with cuisine from many countries. A chilled glass of bubbly greeted us as we sat down. To help you manoeuvre your way around the offerings, they have helpfully listed the Top 10 must try items on the menu.

Brunch started in the cold section, where there are Arabic mezes, Japanese sushi, a raw bar with oysters. This is where I was wowed by the Mohammarra, a spicy walnut dip. The pork counter proudly displayed a very inviting hunk of Porchetta. The next sections offered some of their Moroccan tagines including an intriguing raisin and onion stew.

Friday Bruch at the Ritz Carlton -King Fish and a mountain of lobster at the Caravan Restaurant
King Fish and a mountain of lobster at the Caravan Restaurant

A massive grilled king fish flanked by a small mountain grilled lobster grabbed our attention as we walked along to the next section. Slightly further along was the grill with a choice of roast beef, lamb and chicken. Two steps away, Indian chefs were busy making naan and chicken tikka in the tandoori oven.

Lastly, the dessert counter is a sweet lovers delight. Here you have almost all the cakes that they serve in the lobby lounge, amazing cakes made by their pastry chef, Dustin Baxter. Don’t miss his grandma’s Apple Pie. If you don’t like cakes, you can get some fresh waffles made to order and topped up with your choice of ice cream.

Friday Brunch Ritz Carlton

Accompanying the brunch, there is a special cocktail menu concocted by Dominic their effusive Drinks Manager. Try the Pear Dew Cocktail made with vanilla, saffron syrup and Pear cider. The Bedouin cocktail is a lovely mix of pomegranate juice. If you do go, be prepared, go hungry and you can expect to write off the rest of the day as you probably have to go home for a nap after.

Pear Dew Cocktail Caravan Restaurant

During our stay at the Ritz Carlton, we tasted and made delicious tempura sushi at Blue Jade, had great beach friendly finger foods at the Palm Grill by the beach, sampled delectable cakes and patisseries in the Lobby Lounge  and experienced Arabic cuisine at Amaseena. All the staff were super friendly and hospitable which made our stay at the hotel a truly memorable experience.

Ritz Carlton Dubai

Jumeirah Beach Residence,

The Walk Dubai

Phone:+971 4 399 4000

Plan your next Dubai trip to coincide with the Food Festival and check out more things to do on the Dubai Tourism website.

EatCookExplore travelled to Dubai as a guest of Dubai Tourism and The Ritz Carlton Dubai. 

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