So, the diet starts tomorrow? An insider’s guide to the Dubai Food Festival

So, the diet starts tomorrow? An insider’s guide to the Dubai Food Festival
Indian at Carnival by Tresind. (Supplied)
Updated 02 March 2019

So, the diet starts tomorrow? An insider’s guide to the Dubai Food Festival

So, the diet starts tomorrow? An insider’s guide to the Dubai Food Festival
  • Rachel McArthur provides an insider’s guide to the Dubai Food Festival
  • The lowdown on the 2019 edition of the Dubai Food Festival (DFF)

DUBAI: Just when we thought we could get back to being healthy, along comes another hard-to-resist food event. So, the diet goes on hold (again) and we give you the lowdown on the 2019 edition of the Dubai Food Festival (DFF), which debuted last Thursday.

From foodie experiences to discounted three-course meals at some of the emirate’s swankiest restaurants, there’s a lot on this year. We’ve narrowed it down to a few highlights that you can still catch. Knives and forks at the ready.

Swyp Beach Canteen

For a daytime excursion, this is a great place to start. The beachside location — behind Sunset Mall – is perfect for the entire family, so you can relax with a few snacks while the little ones visit the gaming zone, sports court and kids play park.

A number of brands have set up trucks or stalls selling their popular bites. Emirati cuisine comes courtesy of Seven Sands, while crazy pasta creations — served in Cheetos and Doritos bags — are available at Aballii Burger. Poke & Co never disappoints with its poke and acai bowls.

But dessert is where Swyp truly shines. iScream is serving up purple ice-cream, while The Inventing Room is a self-billed ‘Willy Wonka-inspired dessert shop’ that lets your imagination run wild. They’ve even released a special-edition black vanilla ice-cream with gold foil exclusively for the fest. For something a little more ‘body-friendly’, House of Pops specializes in vegan fruit lollies.

Timings: Noon to 10 p.m., Sunday to Wednesday; Noon to midnight on Thursday; 10 a.m. to midnight on Friday; and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, until March 9.

MINA Brasserie

Dubai Restaurant Week (DRW) — an offshoot of DFF —offers bespoke three-course meals at some of the city’s top fine dining establishments.

MINA Brasserie opened last year at the Four Seasons Hotel Dubai DIFC. Founded by Egyptian-born, American chef Michael Mina (of Prime Grill Dubai fame) and led by executive chef Matthew Dahlkemper, MINA’s menu features a glorious range of hearty, brasserie-style dishes.

Its DRW menu features a choice of three starters, three mains and three desserts, The tomato-and-avocado salad starter was crisp, fresh and flavorful, but our other starter — the beet-cured salmon — was prettier on the plate than on the palate; it was on the salty side. The mains were fabulous though. The Porcini Ravioli with parmesan and black truffle is the ultimate in comfort food. The roasted lamb rack with herb pearl couscous didn’t disappoint either.

For dessert, we opted for the best-selling Chocolate Bomb, which is great if you’re into nutty chocolate — not so much if you prefer a Dairy Milk to a Snickers.

Timings: Daily from noon until 1 a.m. DFW menu runs till March 2.

Hidden Gems

This is fun if you’re a fan of finding about places before anyone else. The DFF Hidden Gems experience offers special meals priced at AED 35 (just under $10) per person at 40 restaurants. Participants include the cute little Asian café Socialicious; Lebanese diner Al Falamanki; Bangkok Town, and Bait Al Mandi.

Timings: Until March 9. Visit for more info.

Carnival by Tresind

While most DRW venues allow you to choose dishes from a single menu, Carnival by Tresind, at Burj Daman, DIFC, offers two — one vegetarian. We chose to mix and match. Starting off with a small slice of potato focaccia and yogurt dip, we opted for Jungle Book (lamb seekh kebab and mint sauce grated radish), which came neatly packaged in a faux-hardback book cover, and the delicious Pullinji — south Indian ginger prawns with palm-sugar caramel.

We switched to the vegetarian menu for the mains: the Life of Pie, a ‘mock meat’ Shepherd Pie with garlic pao toast, and the Gol Hatti, a chickpea and spinach curry. Unfortunately, they were both too spicy for our liking, so the bread came in handy.

The standout dish was the showstopper Gajak dessert — a glorious combination of caramel, peanuts and chocolate, including lots (and lots) of chocolate sauce. A calorific end to the evening. We regret nothing.

Timings: Daily from noon to 3.30 p.m., and 7 p.m. to 11.30 p.m.

Limited Edition Coffee

A new concept in which participating cafés invent drinks especially for DFF. Boston Lane has a ‘Doughnut Latte Series,’ where you can combine a doughnut flavor with coffee. Or try Emirati Coffee Co.’s special, made with date syrup, wild rose water and a double shot of espresso. Doh’s Bounty Latte is coconut-flavored, while Costa Coffee has come up with a Superfood Charcoal Latte.

Timings: Until March 9.