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Sake Tasting at SushiSan - Holiday Inn, Abu Dhabi

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With wine dinners the domain of restaurants, there is very little place for one of Japan's many great contributions to the world - Sake. That is until now. While a few Japanese restaurants have have had the odd sake tasting or dinner, it has very much been a once-off affair. Thankfully, thanks to SushiSan and African & Eastern, that is changing. 

I attended the first sake tasting evening, hosted by SushiSan and African & Eastern's Tom Hickman. It was a very casual affair, and while not many present were familiar with sake, Tom ensured that everyone left with a greater understanding of sake, while at the same time not overwhelming guests with facts. I thought he did an excellent job by keeping the tone light but informative. 





On the night, we tried different sake. The hotel's Executive Chef David Main was in attendance to make sure that this night was not only about sake, and at the end, we could choose from 3 as the pairing for our 3 course meal. Quite a nice concept.…

Pays de la Loire Week at Le Beaujolais 14 to 27 September 2017 - Mercure Abu Dhabi Centre Hotel

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Pays de Loire de la Loire, with its setting along the Atlantic coast, is well known for its fine seafood. In fact, many regard its seafood as the best in France. Seafood is just one aspect of the Western region of France that is celebrated at Le Beaujolais from September 14-27. I was lucky to preview the menu.





We start off with Artichoke cream soup with prawns. It is a real soup. Sometimes when a vegetable is blended and blended so that it becomes super smooth, there is something unnatural about it. Don't get me wrong. I marvel at how a chef can take a vegetable and get it super smooth. However, sometimes I also want  a soup that my mother could have made. It has that homeliness about it. This is what the Artichoke soup is like. Not surprisingly, there is a seafood element to it, whole shrimps, recognizing the value of seafood to Pays de la Loire. 


My guest and I then share our second starter, Gratinated sea scallop in creamy white wine sauce. Instead of bread crumbs, Chef uses corn…

A day out shopping for wine - Gray Mackenzie & Partners, Abu Dhabi

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I recently visited Gray Mackenzie & Partners, one of the principal liquor suppliers in Abu Dhabi to have a look at their latest store that has opened in the city. My interest was piqued after I tried their wines at a Tamba Restaurant Tuesday Tastings event. I asked their representatives what the wine I was having retailed for and I was blown away by the price. It was in this context that I went to their store. Many of us feel that wine and spirits are very expensive in the city and have become  a bit more savvy about smelling out a good bargain. 
Location

When I pulled up at The Hilton Capital Grand Hotel on Airport Road, I was not sure where to go, but the security guards were very happy to show me the way. The store is located in the basement of the hotel and the red door was distinctive enough to catch my eye. 
Shop


It is spacious, with store owners resisting the temptation to really fill the store. It is, after all, also about the shopping experience. What is the point of shopping…

Toro Toro arrives - Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi

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Zuma. Asia de Cuba. Tamba. Bu! Coya. These have been the five most talked about restaurants that have opened in the capital in the last 4 years. These restaurants illustrated that dining is so much more than about food and ingredients. Dining is an experience - a cultural one too. Now you can add to that list a restaurant that we have waiting for since it was announced about a year ago. Following on from the institutionalized success of its sister restaurant in Dubai, renowned Latin American Chef Richard Sandoval has brought his dishes to Abu Dhabi. 
I had the pleasure of trying it during its pre soft opening. Now bear in mind, the point of having guests try a restaurant during this stage is to iron out any issues. It was in this context that I tried it. 
Toro Toro is located at Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, in the space that previously housed Michael Caines and Scotts before that. So, there is no doubt that the setting will add  an x-factor to the restaurant. Note though that it is a stan…

Shams de la creme: An Evening 'brunch' on Saadiyat Island - Caramel Restaurant & Lounge, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi

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Brunch. We all know it is a Friday institution in Abu Dhabi. It usually runs from 12-4pm or give and take away an hour. In recent times Saturdays have also become brunch days. Then, about a year ago, one restaurant launched a Thursday night brunch and more disturbingly, I came across a restaurant/bar that has  a daily evening brunch. Where does it end? So, when I was invited to try the Thursday evening 'brunch', the Shams de la creme,  at Caramel Restaurant & lounge, I was needless to say, skeptical. 
But as I walked in, it dawned on me that this was an evening venue, so if anyone was entitled to have an evening 'brunch', it was surely them or any other venue that opens at night. After all, brunch in the city is nothing more than endless dishes and free flowing bubbly.

 Reasons to be excited about this 'brunch'

1. Less is more

There are 8 tapas to choose from. Find one that you like and keep having it, or go for all 8 and then return to your favourite. The tapa…