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Recently I was asked by the luxury silverware brand, Cristofle to work with them to create a unique event. We decided to do it in two parts, one aim was to showcase their gorgeous mini trays and the other was to show how the tray can be the centrepiece of party presentation and is not just something that drinks are brought in on, to then be put back in the kitchen, especially when they are as beautiful as these Cristofle trays!

Breakfast in Bed

Emirati Welcome

High Tea

Emirati New Year

These were shot by Photographer Edwina Cottino using trays from the Vertigo, Jardin d’Eden  and Royal Cisile ranges.We actually shot  seven varieties including Emirati sushi , French deserts as well canapes set out as the Emirati flag and the idea was to present food gifts to your guests not unlike the Japanese bento box where food is beautifully presented for the individual.

The second part of our tray event was a VIP party, kindly hosted by Sheika al Qamze at her beautiful house. We set out a Christofle tray extravaganze on her seven meter dining room table. The format was based on the traditional Jardin a la Francaise, (you have to imagine the beautifully kept gardens of Versaille) where geometry and negative space is the key. The event was a huge success and everyone enjoyed the new ideas we brought to the table as well aseating the delicious food!!

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A huge thank you to Gwendoline Fontaine and her team, Marie Elena and Farah from Christofle, to the Hyatt Regency for their exquisite food and to Shereen Saifudeen from Havas PR. Look out for more coverage in Dec edition of Marie Claire UAE and Russian Emirates. Christofle can be found at Dubai Mall, MOE and Tanagra at Wafi so don’t forget to put a a little silver tray on the Christmas list. They are adorable!

Cooking with Khulood

I have just returned from a great new experience! I was working on a tv cookery program with Emirati Chef, Chef Khulood Atiq for Abu Dhabi TV. As I work mainly on stills and tv comercials it was great to see how a tv program is put together. Our set was modern and clean, white and turquoise with accents of red props including red Kenwood machines which I was of course pleased to see.

I was in charge of setting the themed table on set as each episode has a different them and styling the dishes for the close up shots.

The control room was upstairs where the director David Coyle from the UK would switch from camera 2 to camera 3, back to close ups on camera 1 etc. I however spent most of my time in either the props room or in the back kitchen which got fairly chaotic on a daily basis!

This is where we prepped all the ingredients and made some of the dishes ahead of time. ”Here’s one I made earlier!!”

I have been trying to get more knowledge of Emirati food and it is surprisingly hard to find this information so I was grateful to Chef Khulood who works as a Emirati Food Consultant for TDIC (Tourism Development & Investment Company) who taught me so much. She cooked everything from Semach Al Hasho, stuffed fish to Sagaw, sago. We also diversified into Emirati sushi made with rocca and spiced hammour and Emirati pizza. I have learned that saffron, cardamom powder, sugar, flour and ghee are key ingredients in Emirati cuisine.

Chef Khulood

I have to say a huge thank you to Executive Producer-Charbel who did everything from buying props to washing the dead goat in the shower! Script Writer and ingredients coordinator Susie who taught me Arabic everyday and Assistant Executive Producer-Jaad who spent most of his time in the supermarket but kept us all entertained, all from Firehorse in Lebanon.

And yes, the last episode was cooking a whole goat in true Emirati style! It was the first time I had seen one being prepared for cooking and now I can definitely say I have styled a baby goat. Always a winner on the CV!!!!

Watch Sarareed with Chef Khulood on Abu Dhabi Emirates channel everyday throughout Ramadan at 3pm.

Pomegranate Passion

The pomegranate is an ancient fruit originating from Persia. Its’ sweet, sour seeds glisten like little rubies. It is a fruit that for centuries has represented prosperity, ambition and fertility. There are records of the pomegranate in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, Greek mythology, the Quran, the Bible and in Hinduism. ” Shrouded in history, myth and legend, some say the pomegranate was the original forbidden fruit found by Eve in the Garden of Eden” Julie Le Clerc. Today the pomegranate is grown all over the world from the US to Japan and is revered for being a great source of vitamin C, vitamin B5 and  potassium. Pomegranates are also high-fiber and full of nutrients and studies have shown it can reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure!

Last week I was at Bloomingdale’s with fellow food blogger Nausheen from Dubai Bites and Sally from My Custard Pie for the book signing of Ariana Bundy’s gorgeous cookbook ”Pomegranates and Roses”. It is a cookery book that features traditional Iranian recipes that have been handed down for generations. The book is more than a cookbook being so personal, with old family photos and illustrations. It is beautifully styled with Ariana and her mother sourcing all the props themselves. We were treated to an array of delicious canapes from the book and cookery demonstration using pomegranate molasses.

Personally, I have very fond memories of eating pomegranates, there was this sudden craze at school where we would bring in a half a pomegranate (I think they were quite expensive in England at that time!) for our morning break snack and we used to sit together picking all the seeds out, sharing and chatting like little old ladies! Ahh, the good ol’ days!!!

image 1,2 mary-kei, image 5 tartelette, image 6 tamarhammer, image 7 family spice

Meeting Meeta

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a food photography and styling course here in Dubai. It was held by Meeta K Wolff who is the author of the very successful ‘Whats for lunch Honey?’ blog. It was organized by Sally Prosser of My Custard Pie  blog fame and was held at Nasimi Beach at Atlantis where I have to say we were totally spoilt! We had cocktail demonstrations and cooking demonstrations from their talented chefs as well as a full on Arabian banquet in the evening where all course attendees got to know each other better after our first day of learning. It was great to talk and share with other bloggers and foodies.

It was very inspirational to hear how Meeta has developed her skills of photography and food styling over the years driven by her love of food and to learn of the success she is now experiencing. I personally learnt  a lot about my camera, what I want from my camera and how to use it as a proper tool.

Lunch!

Cocktails and Chefs

On day two we all met at Lafayette Gourmet at Galleries Lafayette for a guided tour by Chef Russell and for more photography challenges!

Meeta showing us how its done!!

A huge thank you to Meeta, Sally and Alison from Nasimi for all the effort and organization that went into this inspiring course!

Last week I was kindly invited to the sparkling Cavalli Club for dinner and wine.

It was evening to celebrate Tenuta Degli Dei which is the wine created by Tommaso and Roberto Cavalli. I had a chance to ask the charming Tomasso about his love of wine and he explained that he has chosen a variety of different grapes to grow instead of the traditional chianti as he wanted to create something new and exciting as well as in respect to the neighbouring established chianti vineyards. He said that his wine is still young at 10 years and that it takes time for a wine to develop a mood. We were offered Le Redini 2009 and the Tenuta Degli Dei 2007 with our meal. I was fortunate enough to be sitting next to fellow blogger Sarah, the Hedonista, who is quite the wine expert and encouraged me to smell the raspberry and blackcurrant and explained about the pepper which comes from the skin and seeds of the berry. I preferred Le Redini which is 90% merlot and was slightly lighter.

Our delicious menu started with seared scallops (my fave) wrapped in smoked duck on a morel risotto, an amuse of leek followed by Mesquite smoked Black Angus, crisp potatoes, earth salad and smoked tomato cream. I asked Tomasso what food he likes to eat most and he said he cooks a mean steak! he did also say that Japanese food is a firm favourite and when travelling he always looks for the best sushi restaurant.We finished our meal with dark chocolate Molleux with heart of caramel and a very alcoholic glass of Grappa!

We were entertained by a very beautiful opera singer and as the night went on the restaurant filled with more and more beautiful people, wealthy men, women dressed head to toe in sequins(I think it’s the Cavalli Club dress code!), fabulous shoes and so many pairs of perfect eyebrows! I don’t live in this land of bedazzle but I do enjoy visiting every so often. It was a great night meeting fellow bloggers, eating delicious food and indulging in ever flowing wine. A huge thanks to our kind hosts Camellia, Zahirah and Sheamus from Pragma PR Agency.

For Reservations to dine at the Cavalli Club call 04 332 9260 or 050 856 6044 or reservations@cavalliclubdubai.com

VOGUE declares colour and pattern are back! Yeay! What better way to overcome the cold, grey winter months of January and February in Europe. And here where the weather couldn’t get any more perfect it is time close the door on all that christmas pudding and start experimenting with new salads to accompany those bbqs and desert camping trips! Why not do both…..

 

Fashion: Dolce & Gabbana rose-print bustier and pencil skirt. Dior ribbed silk/cotton cardigan

Food: Green bean, spinach, roasted onion and butternut squash salad topped with pickled beetreet and feta cheese, delicious with a balsamic dressing and a perfect accompaniment to a grilled steak.

Food: Basmati, red camargue and wild rice with prawn and smoked salmon, tossed in oil, lemom and hondashi dressing

Fashion: Pheobe Philo printed leather biker jacket, hibiscus print shirt and trouser, leather wedges all by Celine

Fashion: Christopher Bailey’s batik-print trench for Burberry, sunglasses Cutler&Gross. (I love, want, need?? this coat!)

Food: Bill Granger’s Asian slaw, red and white cabbage with red onions and celery tossed in a sweet, tangy and incredibly refreshing miso dressing.

Check out Bill Granger’s new book, Bill’s Everday Asian. (I bought this as a christmas present to myself and absolutely love it. Recipes are straightforward and delicious and the photography and styling is excellent)

Fashion from January issue of Vogue UK, ”Be so Bold” modeled by Agyness Deyn, photographer Patrick Demarchelier

Food made, styled, photographed and eaten by Mary-Kei!

Kenwood have a hi-tech kitchen set up in a shop! The Jashamal store in Festival City to be precise. I was invited to a delicious Christmas lunch there last week It was a Cook & Coffee, Kenwood have been doing these events for a few years, starting in Paris in 2009, then Hong Kong and Shang Hai and now in Dubai. It is a great way to demonstrate their machines to the public in an interactive way (so you don’t have to read the whole manual!!). And as I got to eat the food it was the right kind of interactive for me!!

Now I don’t have to be persuaded as to how great the Cooking Chef is, I have had my own private lesson thanks to Sue Poynter from Kenwood where we made bread dough and cake frosting as well as pasta! Amazing, all with one  machine that chops, grinds, slices, mixes, heats, pulse stirs, whisks, steams, basically you name it,  the Cooking Chef pretty much does all it bar the washing up! (and there isn’t even much of that as you are using the same bowl!)

We were very lucky to have  Chef Dima cooking for us. She made Christmas lunch look a doddle as she sliced potatoes and butternut squash for dauphinoise, grated cheese, chopped peppers for the Mediterranean foccacia and pepper stuffing and made gingerbread cookie dough. She was so full of handy cooking tips too! Check out more on her blog, Dima’s Kitchen.

Dimas tips:

  • When cooking with olive oil, it has a low smoking point so when you add it to the pan you don’t want to hear a sizzle as that means that it is already oxidizing and you will lose the flavour.
  • Flavour your pots and pans with oil, salt, pepper and herbs before you start cooking.
  • Dry your own rosemary, buy it fresh, wash it thoroughly then leave the whole plant to dry in the sun. This has much more flavour than shop bought dried rosemary.
  • Roll cookie dough in sheets of baking paper so as to not add too much flour which would make your cookies too dry.

Then we got a chance to decorate our own cookies. I loved this bit of course……

And just as tummies were beginning to rumble we were all treated to a delicious lunch of maple brine turkey with cranberry relish, a winter bake of vegetables and walnuts and Mediterranean stuffing. I have to say it might have been the most succulent turkey I’ve ever had! Sorry mum!!