United Arab Emirates Dinner
Al Ain, October 12, 2018
Grandmother's kitchen inspires modern Arabic cuisine
" every mouthful of Chef Tarek's creations tells us a story of both simplicity and sophistication "

A veteran of many Chaîne dinners in Al Ain, Chef Tarek loves to tell how his passion for cooking took root many years ago in his grandmother's kitchen in Egypt, where very modest ingredients were transformed into flavoursome delights for the family.

Cultural heritage and personal experience inform culinary inspiration, and while some 'modern' ingredients would never have been found in grandmother's kitchen, every mouthful of Chef Tarek's creations tells us a story of both simplicity and sophistication. Presentation likewise is true to these cultural roots, ranging from rustic to elegant but never flamboyant.

Our dinner at Danat Al Ain Resort was on a slightly smaller scale this time, encouraging an intimacy more akin to sharing some excellent food and wines at home with a few friends - this is after all very much at the heart of what the Chaîne is all about - and much in keeping with Chef Tarek's meticulous approach and attention to detail.

The dining room was beautifully prepared and the ambience was elegantly enhanced by our harpist, Julie, currently making quite a name for herself as UAE's first Arabic harpist.

RECEPTION

Champagne Jacquart Brut ‘Mosaique’ NV

MENU

‘Amuse bouche’
Melon feta cheese spidini, tomato macaroon

Arabic-style marinated lobster medallion and shrimp
turnip carpaccio, fresh salad, caviar, fresh herb vinaigrette
Alsace Pinot Blanc - Oriel

Duo of lentils and morels
pesto walnut croutons, eggplant samosa

Seared pave of salmon
leek, saffron sauce
Bordeaux Blanc ‘Le Duo’ - Château des Tourtes

Relish of thinly-sliced citrus papaya

Roasted lamb loin
grilled vegetables, potato galette, coriander jus
Chateau Haut Beyzac 2014 - Haut Médoc

Date gateau, Umm ali, honey apricot parfait
Muscat Beaumes de Venise - Rhône Valley

The amuse-bouche and lobster medallion were superb. Morels and the eggplant samosa transformed ubiquitous lentil soup into a novel experience, the citrus papaya made an interesting palate-cleanser after the salmon, while the lamb loin was succulent and flavoursome and the trio of Arabic deserts was a delight to the eye as much as to the taste buds. Wine ambassador Eric Eybert had come up with well-chosen pairings. And as always the Danat's service brigade was impeccably drilled, efficient and attentive.

After service of coffee and as the kitchen and service brigades received their well-deserved thanks, a special treat (not on the menu!) was shared and much appreciated by all: 1963 Fonseca Vintage Port.

Vive La Chaîne!

Richard Corlett
Chargé de Missions