The journey of love through dessert - Tamba, Abu Dhabi

A rose on the table. How symbolic of love. A near perfect moment as two people fall in love and pledge to love each other forever. The folly of youth? The optimism of love and its promise? The intoxicating effect of happy ending movies? However, the rose petals are strewn all over the table. The rose stem is left with thorns. Imperfect love? No. This is real. Every cliche pops into my head as symbolised by a rose. Tonight, on the eve of something I have never celebrated, Valentine's Day, Abu Dhabi's must-visit restaurant, is launching a new dessert, to continue a series that started when the restaurant opened less than a year ago. Tonight, it is the Indecent Proposal. But to understand tonight's dessert, we need to start at the beginning of this love story. 

The table is laid out. Tamba's restaurant manager Shipra starts the narrative of Tamba's desserts. We start off with Mumtaz, the starting point of the love story. She is an idealist; a romantic soul who makes quite an impression on SJ, someone she falls in love. Thus is born our first dessert, Mumtaz. It is all about passion. 

It is a dessert all about strawberry served in various forms - sorbet, fresh, coulis all broken up by pistachio paste - quite a sensuous dessert because that strawberry aroma is quite arresting. 

Next up, Mumtaz gets married, and fittingly, dessert is called The Bride. While the colour white dominates, a bit of colour reveals the fire that is in Mumtaz. This fire is beautifully captured in the chilli meringue. Chantilly cream, sorbet and raw mango complete the dessert. It is a delicate dessert, much like love.   

As we reach our third dessert, I am reminded again that food is not solely about ingredients. Every dish is infused with so much emotion, so many memories. When I try the dessert, it also evokes memories, so the whole act of eating a simple dessert is indeed rather complex.

Just before it is served, the love narrative continues to unfold. In literature and film, and indeed real life, love often ends because of betrayal. The seeds of betrayal in the love between Mumtaz and SJ are planted when Lady Chatterjee appears on the scene. She will tempt SJ with her charms. The question is, will she succeed?

The dessert, Lady Chatterjee, can best be described as a deconstructed cheesecake. Look out for the honey crisp which will add delightful texture along with cookie soil that sits atop the dessert. 

Now, getting back to their love story. In being unfaithful, SJ certainly manages to get himself into what Tamba's dessert line up calls a Sticky situation. In this homage to a traditional sticky toffee pudding, it is served with caramelised bananas, gold leaf and the clincher, in my opinion, cardamom ice cream. It is the latter that, in addition to the gold leaf, brings an Indian twist to the dessert. 

Next up, we have everyone's favourite at Tamba - the Break Up. With the break up of Mumtaz and SJ, comes the need for catharsis. Have you ever had that desire to break or smash something after being betrayed in love? This dessert is that metaphorical experience. The hardened chocolate coat is crushed and then melted chocolate is poured over the bowl. It is almost like the calm after the storm as I watch the chocolate lazily cover what is in the bowl. It is a gorgeously textured dessert with chocolate mousse and caramelised nuts taking centre stage. It is both fun and enjoyable. Engaging. Delicious. 

The men in white behind these fabulously creative desserts.
The thing about being human is that while love hurts, we have the power to rise up and again. Although it has managed to crush the spirit of some - for example the person who takes in 5 cats and lives alone for the rest of his/her life because the betrayal experienced was too severe, there are those who survive and are stronger at the end. This is Mumtaz as she returns - stronger, more independent and wiser. The final dessert, marking her return, is The Indecent Proposal

This is a super sexy dessert. Lemon sorbet on a bed of raspberry jelly, freeze dried raspberries and rose granita - topped with a rose petal. Then, water is poured into a supporting bowl to react with frozen carbon dioxide, sending the cloudy gas to cover everything - quite a spectacle. I love the dessert. After the intensity of The Break up, this is just the perfect follow up. It is light and refreshing while keeping the theme of love - the sour of the sorbet is always there to remind one, like the rose with its thorns, of the complex nature of love. 

As the dessert journey ends, I am not sure what will happen to Mumtaz. Will she show herself to be forgiving and ready to embrace love again or will she be a femme fatale, a Miss Havisham from Dicken's classic, or perhaps someone in between? Time will tell. But for now, The Indecent Proposal has added another twist to this tale of love. Love, with all its joys and struggles, is something we all want. No matter where we find ourselves regarding love, Tamba's dessert selection, Lasting Impressions,  allows us to experience the journey of love, albeit vicariously. Despite crashing and burning, I choose love, and this evening of desserts at Tamba reminded me of the depth and passion that is such a  part of love. 

One word for you, Tamba.

The Essentials

The Hub,
World Trade Centre Mall,
Abu Dhabi
+971 672 8888

Brandon Stoltenkamp
Disclaimer: I was invited to Tamba as a guest of the restaurant.