Tribes DubaiTribes Grill Cafe in the Mall of the Emirates was the first stop on my Dubai food adventure, and it set the bar pretty high for the rest of my stay.

Mocktails are a big thing in Dubai, so I kicked off with a Brainwash. It has coriander in it – be warned!  (Dubai is the PERFECT place for non-drinkers like me – because almost every restaurant here has a list of decent Mocktails to placate those who like a colourful drink with an umbrella poking a piece of fruit in it!)

photo-9Homemade bread is delivered to your table. Fresh. Hot. And not your run-of-the-bread-mill bread, no – this is fresh date and honeyed-walnut bread. Read that again. Now drool.

It’s just one of three flavours they bake daily – and paired with soft, French butter, it’s a bloody good foreplay to the meal that follows.

A plate of large Mozambican prawns in a creamy chilli sauce followed, to whet the appetite further. Hot in both senses of the word, and crunchy. Proper!

Then came the pièce de résistance – a wagyu blade steak. My first ever wagyu beef – and I could write VOLUMES about it. I was eating with a foodie – the man who designed Tribes’ menu, in fact – so he regaled me with all the intricacies of the Japanese Kobe wagyu beef. I got lost in all the details about purebred and full blood wagyu, grading and marbling, and the global supply chain – that in itself is worthy of another blog, but that’s not my point of interest, and I’m sure Google will tell you all you need to know, if you’re really interested.

The piece I ate was a grade 4 – 6 purebred Ranger’s Valley wagyu blade steak – a decadently rich cut of meat. Marbling, by the way, is the thin layers of fat that run through the meat which crisp on the grill, and give the meat its distinctive rich, full flavour and alternatively soft and crispy texture. The steak was topped with thin slices of foie gras – an absurdly good blend to put on wagyu, as it turns out. A rich, textured cut of beef, topped by soft, smooth and rich duck liver – this is the stuff that last meals on death row are made of, probably. It’s certainly how I would want to go…

I added a strong blue cheese butter to the mix. The result of all this was that as the heady flavours and subtle textures swept over me, all reality beyond the extreme delight happening in my mouth ceased to exist. Nothing mattered but this sensation, these tastes – it was like damned good sex, and the waves of afterglow breathlessness that follow.

You really shouldn’t mess with the happy feelings in your brain after a dish like that, but I am nothing if not incautious, so of course we had to add dessert to the mix. A rich chocolate Malva pudding and a traditional South African milk tart was shared by five of us, followed by giant caffè lattes with crunchy homemade biscotti.

The hospitality team at Tribes is also amazingly friendly and welcoming, and make you feel like you’re family, coming home for a good meal after a long time away.

Love, good food and conviviality – if this was just the beginning, then my food adventure in Dubai was going to be nothing short of spectacular!


Mall of the Emirates

© Dave Luis 2014. All Rights Reserved.


Stuffed Jacket Potatoes

Stuffed Jacket Potatoes
Baked potatoes, halved and flesh removed, stuffed with bacon, feta cheese and garlic. Topped with wholegrain mustard, melted cheddar cheese and pepper.
Considering the kinds of meals I rustle up, I shouldn’t have been surprised at the miserable attempts made by KFC Paarl this morning. But that’s for another piece, this one is about the absolute taste porn described above.
Normally I deep-fry the fleshed potato halves, but that seemed like overkill tonight, and I’m glad I didn’t – this one worked a treat with the new tweaks. Food like this should be described with such monikers as ‘hugs’ and ‘wrapped in lust’ and ‘enveloped in a cheesy, schmaltzy phantasamagoria’, so I shall…
Bacon – crisp bacon, diced, is hugged by baked, fleshed potatoes, wrapped in a lust that comes from being smothered in garlic and salty feta, dripping wholegrain chardonnay mustard and melted cheddar, to make one facial orgy out of the cheesy, schmaltzy phantasmagoria that lies so seductively on the plate, begging you to lean in, and take in its heady aromas, deep, and rich, and glistening, like the sweaty anticipation any sultry, anonymous encounter brings.
Food like this is porn, and I’m well-hung enough to know how to man up to the eating of it. This is seduction in the most loosely defined way: your senses of taste, smell and expectation are hurled against a wall of wet longing, as this meal has its most urgent way with you – you can resist as much as sugar before the flames, on a creme brulee, but it’s all for nought, and just like all the best and most vivid violations of your fantasies, don’t fight – just lie back and be taken, like an animal.
Pure filth. I love it.
© Dave Luis 2012. All Rights Reserved.  

Steers Burger and Hero Roll, and yes, I’d like fries with that…

Hero Steak Roll, Rave Cheese Burger and Hand Made Fries
Steak roll, with avocado, mustard and cheese, beef burger with cheese, and hand-made fried potato chips.
There’s a reason that fast-food shops are ubiquitous, despite the global whinge about obesity and death. It’s quite simply this: there is comfort to be had in fried food, and warmth to be enjoyed, in salty fries. It’s not only McDonald’s that puts out, when it comes to happy meals!
Steers got themselves into a media storm  recently, offering a burger at R10, and promptly selling out. You can argue yourself silly on the validity of the statement that no press is bad press, and while you do that, I’ll be over here, in this corner, munching my Steers meals.
I’ve got a hole to fill, especially on a cold night, after a long train trip, so last night I treated myself to one of the seven deadly sins, and ordered two Hero rolls, with mustard, avo and extra cheese. And to top those off, I added two Rave Cheese Burgers, with extra-large, hand-made fries.
My arteries clogged in applause! Steers has found out the secret to my happiness, and that is with a flame-grilled steak, topped by a flame-grilled burger. Oomph! The hand-made chips are just extra, and bonus, and large, and I love ’em!
I’ll even forgive them for running out of the footlong rolls for the Hereo rolls.
©Dave Luis 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Home-Made Butternut Soup & Bread

Home-Made Butternut Soup & Bread
Home-made butternut, Blue Cheese, Camembert and sweet chilli Soup, with home-made bacon and cheese bread, for dipping, served with plum juice.

Every now and then I am forced to admit that I love my own cooking, and risk the hairy palms of old wives tales, in the enjoyment I take in the courses prepared by me. So be it, then, because on a rainy Paarl day when I have been under the weather, health-wise and climatologically as well, though not in spirit, I have cooked up something dreamy, to heat the cockles of every heart that remembers a mother’s love, and the kitchen where it lived.

Butternut soup sounds so dreadfully healthy and as a child I’d wot not of things of its ilk. That’s changed, thanks to time spent in England, with Melanie, who taught me the soup part of this recipe, which I have tweaked. It’s a simple mix of butternut and sweet potato chunks – I’ve removed the wine because I’m now one of those dreadfully boring folk who don’t drink, and adding alcohol to food is apparently sinful, so I’ll keep the slate clean.

Add to the boiling mix a 100g round of Camembert cheese, 10g of Blue Cheese, some pepper, nutmeg and ginger to taste and then curl some sweet chilli in the serving bowl, for rich, warm soup that bites back, now and then.

The bread is even simpler – use dough prepped a few days prior (and make sure you’ve added lots of milk to that dough mix, for a rich, and slightly sour dough mix) and then roll into the dough crisped bacon bits. Bake until the drool sets into both corners of your mouth, slap thick slices of cheddar on top, melt until runny and just starting to brown, and serve hot.

I rounded it off with a glass of plum juice, because I could.

Two words describe this meal: fucking epic – and pooh! to all those who cannot appreciate a great expletive by way of adjective!

© Dave Luis 2012. All Rights Reserved.

White Hot Chocolate – Mila’s Cake Shop

White Hot Chocolate
Needs no description, it is what it is.
Another reason I have been re-evaluating my chocolate thoughts, is this decadent creation. First seduction was a few years back, in Benmore, but this latest incarnation is droolicious in the extreme, and brilliantly priced.
You’d expect to pay more for hot choclate that has actual chocolate melted into it, so this one is a pleasantly surprsing R20 (at the time of writing, of course – if you’re reading this years later, things may have changed somewhat) which makes it all the more appealing, especially considering I am used to a 40% premium, from the days when I first discovered this evil little concoction.
Mila’s is a dream – a very, very wet and sugary dream, and you have to actually go out into the world to find unhappiness in large enough quantities to justify repeated trips. Or, like me, simply fix feelings in advance. I now can have at least forty-seven unhappy days, that will all go by unheeded, because I have been stalking the food and the white hot chocolate especially, at Mila’s.
The food is fresh, and freshly made, and Mila’s is small, with little space to move inside, so expect to wait a while for your dish, when you go, because they’re also HUGELY popular, and deservedly so.
If food is your porn, your péché nutritionnel, then this one is worth selling your soul to the Devil Cake for.  
© Dave Luis 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Po Pia Chocolate – Simply Asia

Po Pia Chocolate
“Crispy chocolate-filled spring rolls drizzled with rich chocolate sauce and served with ice cream”
I have long been extolling the virtues of oil. For all things. Food and sex are just so much more engaging, so much more tantalizing and tactile and desirable, if only you add a little oil.
Pastry is another fetish of mine (I have so many…) and chocolate is something I long eschewed in mind, though not in practice, as something other people drooled over. I have reviewed my thoughts on chocolate, subconciously, though with increased consciousness of late, because of dishes like this one.
Oil, chocolate and ice-cream, with pastry, in one dish.
It’s like having deep, and personal sex, with your mouth. Repeatedly. Making love, orally: if you have no taste for it, you’re probably dead, and should be reading something else, as well as trying to minimise your effect and aspect on the real world, and the living.
But for those of us still alive, and vital, this is a dish to die for. Try it.
© Dave Luis 2012. All Rights Reserved.

Calaprawnia® – Mariner’s Wharf

A skillet of prawns and calamari, pleasantly spiced”
Republic of Hout Bay, South Africa.
In the firm belief that food fixes feelings, welcome to my new foodie blog. I am qualified to talk on this subject matter only by the passionate love affair I have with food.
Many dishes that will appear you won’t be able to try out, because I made them myself, and don’t often write down recipes. For that matter, I sometimes get it spectacularly wrong, but you more than likely won’t get to see those events, here.
The above dish went a long way in dismissing my belief that all the best seafood from Cape Town and Hout Bay is shipped up to Johannesburg. I do believe that Cape Town and environs charge more than they should, not only for seafood, but for all food. You also are far more likely to get a ‘Hit’ in Pretoria, than you are in the Western Cape, where a ‘Miss’ is a fifty-fifty chance, in my experience, and this is due in large part to the food establishments of the area’s wont to overcharge, rob and otherwise rape the everyday eater.
The sad knock-on effect is that Joe Public then feels he has the rights to become snobbish, and treat with snobbish effrontery, such experiences as may be had in this province, whether or not these are good or bad. They talk down their noses at one, because they ate at such trendy spots as The Biscuit Mill, among others.
These desultory and overpriced canteens, in response, often become emotionally vapid at best by feigning irritation at the hands of a poorly-educated palate, or sycophantic at worst, as they try to either please the undeservedly snooty eater, or woo them back, with freebies, discounts or vouchers. Together, they are complicit in making South African restaurant goers in general an unhappy, and hard-to-please bunch, who expect to get fifty percent slashed off their meals if these are anything less than orgasmic, moving in the most religious of ways or so trendy that NO ONE else has ever heard of the dish.
I am much simpler in my affections for food, and heap the sycophantic praise whenever a dish gets that happy sigh, that means the rate of consumption has exceeded the rate of spend, and overwhelmed the consciousness  of my day. There are many, and varied dishes, some complex in their preparation and subtleties of taste – others are simple but mind-boggling in how pleasing they are in their simplicity.
Let it be known, that like a good desert I waffle.
The Calaprawnia® I enjoyed at Hout Bay’s Mariner’s Wharf was deliciously tangy, the prawns crunchy and properly cooked in a divine and not-as-creamy-as-I-usually-take-it lemon butter sauce. They were good enough to eat whole, and I did, barring the head shells – but that is my issue, and no restaurant will ever prepare prawn heads such that I may consider eating the shells of the heads. My sister can do that, she like to, so I won’t impose myself on her relishing of these.
Do try this dish when you’re there, any residual feelings you’ve had that remain unresolved will dissolve about half-way through this meal!  
© Dave Luis 2012. All Rights Reserved.