Meet Miss Tess

It makes me extremely happy to witness Dubai flourishing with unforgettable dining experiences. As the world moves away sitting nicely face-to-face and chewing in silence accompanied by outdated piano tunes, cheeky new entertainment is to the rescue. Miss Tess at Taj Hotel is that kind of place: immerse yourself in street style Asian cuisine at its tastiest, funniest and brightest. Walk-ins are most welcome for example. Booking a table is suggested for bigger groups or for Korean BBQ. Being a girl from the boring generation, I called to reserve a wonderful spot on the terrace facing the Burj.

The appearance of Miss Tess is inspired by the true story of an Asian woman who grew up learning to cook the delicacies of her continent and sharing her skills and knowledge with the loved ones. Under its roof Miss Tess unites the most common and exotic options from Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, China, Korea, Indonesia and Thailand (thought I spotted a few Malay specialities too).

Strolling through Miss Tess is a pleasure. The open space is visually divided into zones representing different cultures, and my eyes jumped from one fun detail to another. Think delicate Japanese partitions, Chinese lamps, Korean beauty magazines, wisdom posters and so much much more to discover for yourself. I randomly walked into some local warriors who made my night to take a crazier turn.

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Turns out, every Monday Miss Tess challenges the brave and foodies to a one-of-a-kind hot noodle challenge. Every participant is obliged to sign a form and commit to strict rules, which involve limitation in time, strategies, beverages and even napkins. The challenge starts with the arrival of the team, who cheer, chant, observe and judge, and, obviously the noodles. The whole place turns upside down during the next twenty minute and it’s a great pleasure to watch faces of walking guests trying to figure out what’s going on.

The challenge is challenge indeed. A big fan of Ting Irie’s burning hot off-menu wings, I could barely handle a few bites of Miss Tess’s noodles. The secret sauce consists of special chillies, dried chillies and fresh chillies plus something super mega spicy that made me sob. Please do not let the few veggies on the top fool you. This dish is hot hot hot. Compete only if you are physically and spiritually fit. No exception.

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Once done with the challenge (lost by me), do dig into other bits and bites as everything on the menu is longing for attention and review. No matter what you choose or where you sit, I promise you won’t forget Miss Tess until the next visit

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Toro Toro in Abu Dhabi, it’s kooky

When life throws you an afternoon of sunshine, breeze and bright blue sky, head to Toro Toro’s new Friday brunch in Abu Dhabi. Served on a stunning waterfront terrace, the offer included beach access, a live Cuban band, DJ, exotic food and unlimited beverages (from AED 295).

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As life spoils me with perfect weather every weekend, it was only a matter of time before I ended up sipping refreshing sangria at Toro Toro surrounded by extravagancy and Latin chic. The place itself is a little mystery worth discovering and rediscovering. Leave your car with the complimentary valet service and start a journey through the lobby of Etihad Towers all the way to the beach. Once onshore, spot the peculiar futuristic structure on the right and confidently rush in.

 

A pair of giant fighting yet charming bulls next to the rolled down carpet and an ancient entrance door is the first curiosity object to note. The transformation from exterior to interior is breath-taking. One never guesses the entire spectrum of decorative passion locked inside without spending a couple of hours at this art gallery of a restaurant. Picture a burst of colours, patterns, textures and elements spread in harmony across two floors, creating a Barcelona-like presence. It blew my hard to impress mind that pieces so different in the form and feel were brought together in this kooky collaboration of past and future. It was the call of the giant bell that put me back in my senses.

 

Nesting comfortably in a high backed chair I waited impatiently for the brunch to start. Smoothed by fruity sangria, I was ready to sample and gossip. I smiled very happily when the wide spread of cold and warm appetisers landed on the table. Guests around us seemed to be pleased with a service and very relaxed. I fell in love with the food once the taste of crunchy tortilla dipped in a lightly smoked guacamole overshadowed everything I ever tried before. A simple yet powerful dish of pure passion won me over!

 

The corn bread served steaming hot in a little pan, seafood ceviche with yellow curry and deliciously fresh Toro Toro salad were excellent, with a little unexpected twist of flavours. And it was just the beginning… I’ll say no more as you must visit and share your thoughts 🙂

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Vida la vie de Loca

Do you recall those Friday mornings when you wake up and feel it’s gonna be a beautiful day? So you start with a lazy coffee, scrolling Instagram direct messages or giggling to ridiculous emojis from your favourite WhatsApp people. Then a random pop-up ad on YouTube reminds you of a new amazing dress still with tags longing for attention. For me this was the moment to book my brunch experience at 3in1 at Vida Downtown, the place where weekend lasts forever.

Vida, being a landmark itself, often appears in the news in connection with fashion shows, celebrities and events involving VVVIP+ (something super awesome that only exists in Dubai). The drive through the Downtown of Dubai is a separate treat. Lower speed limits result in extended views of palm trees, a mix of futuristic and stylized architecture and a sneak peak at new restaurants opening here and there. In the winter when Dubaians are spoiled with the best weather in the world, I roll down the windows and wave at folks crossing streets I’ve met some time somewhere. Downtown is a popular neighbourhood!

Friendly security and valet parking teams led my car right through a bit of Friday traffic directly to the entrance. Having complimentary valet over here is as essential as complimentary WiFi and obviously Vida offers both. A few steps down (please do not misunderstand me there is an elevator but I always fancy an appetising walk before a brunch), I was greeted like a star.

P2027113.JPGThe concept of brunch is not new but the Western version of it greatly differs from what we are used to in the UAE. Again spoiled by choice we pick a package that suits today’s budget, mood or driving arrangements (my life). For Urban Picnic brunch at Vida’s 3in1 restaurant I chose unlimited soft beverages over unlimited house beverages (think refreshing Margaritas). I upgraded my choice to a table inside a private cabana and smiled anticipatingly a fantastic afternoon.
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And what an epic brunch it was! Picture yourself sitting around a pool on a lovely sunny afternoon with a soft refreshing breeze playing with the silky curtains of your private cabana. The best of Latin dancing tunes including Lambada and Merengue act as the background, adding an authentic vibe to the event. Smoke from the nearby live cooking station encourages you to make another run for the bbq seafood of the day. Your Margarita never gets warm as an attentive server keeps an eagle eye on your happiness. Meanwhile a game of piñata starts somewhere in the corner and a friend hands you over a fun fail video taken at the spot to amuse you.

Believe me when the time is up no one wants to leave and no one rushes you out. Because there is more than one reason this party is the talk of the town.

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The House of Waka

Waka is not a regular restaurant but a destination to experience the authentic flavours of Latin American cuisine with a fusion of Japanese influence. The place is decorated in warm earthy colours, with splashes of bright expressive patterns bringing in a cosy homey feeling. So does the art on the walls.

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The reception outside the restaurant sorts out calls and reservations, keeping the extra noise away. A short corridor with dimmed lights opens up to a small lounge, beautifully lit bar, and DJ booth. The main dining area, divided in two parts, can easily be transformed in exclusive secret rooms for private events.

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The kitchen is divided from the main dining area by a transparent glass wall. Interestingly, while guests can sneak peak on chef’s movements, the window is blackened on the other side. Just like American detective stories but the other way around.

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Ordering is a pleasure, as the team gets very passionate talking about food and describing dishes. Frequent recommendations are followed by a brief history of a particular ingredient or a dish.

The food is fantastic. Most of what I tried had a distinctive individuality in taste and presentation including many little special effects (dry ice, so hot right now). The finely sliced wagyu steak that resembles salami from a distance gets cooked right at the table with a blowtorch and then quickly dressed with delicious bits and pieces. Chicken skewers served on tiny charcoal grills are deliciously juicy and out of this world. On a personal request a little bowl of fresh chilly sauce was prepared especially for me and was quickly consumed with great appreciation.

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The Avant Garde of Japanese cuisine

Weird but true: the exercise of observing art always has an intense appetizing effect on me, stronger than any existing aperitif. Just two hours under the “rain of light” dome of Louvre Abu Dhabi, all I could think of was food. All was lost to the most human feeling ever, hanger. A quick look at Google Maps disappointed with only a few exceptionally bland nearby options. Then, a peculiar name popped-up on the screen and a 10 minute countdown to Sushi 99 at the Four Seasons commenced. Grrrrrr…

The drive to Maryah Island, a fancy financial district overlooking downtown Abu Dhabi, from the cultural district of Saadiyat was pleasant with barely any traffic and complimentary valet on arrival. One floor down from the lobby and we were standing right in front of a bronze waterfall, casually serving as a door frame. “Wow,” I thought. “This will be an entrance to remember!”

Other eye-candy placed at the entrance was a giant fish statue with charismatic looks and an ironic eye: “You guys think you’ve seen it all?” This artwork was repeatedly re-printed on beautifully crafted rectangular plates all around the restaurant.

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Sushi 99 starts with a spacious lounge, a golden bar on one side and a glass window opening on expensive looking bottles thoughtfully arranged behind it. The interior décor includes expressive saturated tones and was highly elusive and slightly deceiving, as in my view it didn’t communicate Japanese. Comfy sofas and dark grey ottomans contrasted with vividly red murals and rugs and balanced the warmth of the light. A similar concept continued across the restaurant, and when my eyes adapted to the dimmed light, I started to realize how carefully the Japanese theme was crafted into the otherwise very chic Mediterranean surroundings. Bonsai trees, for example, did the trick for me.

The table was minimalist, with shiny wine glasses, custom-made cutlery and crockery, a piece of art soya sauce jar and an adorable white cookie that, with water, turned into a hot towel. Greatly impressed and stunned, I mumbled to myself something about sincerity, peacefulness, elegance and passion, however a clear voice interrupted my chaotic sentence: “Japanese with Spanish influence. Not vice versa.” The first Sushi 99 opened in Madrid and quickly turned into five locations including Barcelona. The Abu Dhabi bar and restaurant was the first and only establishment abroad. Alrighty!

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A big fan of chic cocktails involving advanced bartending and mixology, I couldn’t resist the temptation to order off the list. So I walked directly to the golden bar and requested to be impressed. Sergey, who immediately accepted the challenge, served me a tall glass filled with a refreshing, punchy mix with everything Dubai girl dreams of (fresh raspberries for example). My second drink, an exotic Mojito put together by Yuli, featured passion fruit as the main ingredient. Yumm!

The repeated theme of passion (think interiors, art and fruit) came up while ordering. Once the menu was open, our hostess started a conversation describing dishes, ingredients and cooking secrets to us. They source the world’s best and freshest ingredients. Their Spanish tuna was so incredible that some parts resembled a marbled Wagyu steak. Don’t believe me?

I placed myself in the hands of the very competent team to feed us with no regrets. Salted edamame, a complimentary starter, got me into sampling mood and the dinner began. It took the first dish, a juicy crab served in its shell, to announce my verdict: absolutely amazing. The best I’ve had in life, and a little spoon on the side made scooping easy.

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A few other masterpieces tasted that night included: spicy tuna tartar with a secret Japanese sauce, foie gras rolls topped with sweet raspberries, a selection of salmon sushi flambé with slices of browned lime a top, and slices of tuna soaked in a trio of sauces – coriander, passionate fruit and soya. This was the moment the chef stopped by our table to grate fresh wasabi right in front of us, melting my heart completely.

While we were savouring these luxuries to our senses, the breeze occasionally blew through the open panoramic windows adding a touch of wildness to the experience. We selected a pot of green tea with mochi ice-cream as a final touch to the dinner and sipped the night away. I can’t wait to go back!

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P.S. The charismatic looking person casually lounging at the bar is Cris, a fellow blogger and social media influencer. You can find more about him here.

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Cafe Bateel 10 years

Starting of as a producer of gourmet dates and chocolates in 2007, Bateel has rapidly transformed into a well-known brand, loved for traditional Arabic coffee, French pastry, Mediterranean cuisine and luxury gift boxes packed with tempting goodies.

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To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Bateel chefs designed a seasonal menu available at all branches including their flagship store in JBR. That’s where I went for lunch after spending the morning at the beach.

Being right at the beginning of this popular neighborhood, Bateel JBR is quicker to reach than the rest of the development due to less traffic. Customers get two hours free parking at Murjan Tower 1 and there is indoor and outdoor seating with free WiFi.

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The menu introduces several signature dishes designed for the occasion, seasonal variations of all-time favorites and a few call backs from previous editions.

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The 10th anniversary menu consists of locally sourced ingredients with a focus on regional flavors rather than traditional Mediterranean cuisine. This trend is continued, adding mildly spiced curry, saffron and tabbouleh to otherwise conservative dishes.

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Superfood tuna salad pleasantly surprised me with a dash of roasted garlic that wasn’t listed in the description but was hidden among the fresh lettuce, house-cured olives, avocados, pine nuts, cherry tomatoes and slices of beautifully pink tuna. Seasoned with light apple vinegar, it was an ideal choice for a starter as it triggered an appetite for more. Apparently it was available on the menu in the past, and if you are looking to try a completely new creation, the Bateel Palm salad is a great alternative.

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Lobster rigatoni made of slowly cooked Canadian lobster in light creamy curry sauce was delightfully fragrant. Fresh coriander leaves added lovely drops of green colour and perfectly balanced the zestiness of the lemon.

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Sea bass served on a bed of saffron risotto was tender and tasty. Large asparagus cooked in a pan added crispness and tartness to the dish.

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My dessert, paired with dark coffee, was made of premium beans and as delightful as the whole lunch. A Tarte Azelia greatly benefited from bits and pieces of roasted hazelnuts and the Emoji Tartelette and Passionfruit Strawberry Tart had a lovely contrast of sweetness and sourness that were just excellent.

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Break the sky @At.mosphere Dubai

In many ways Dubai is the most eccentric city in the world. Home to driverless subways, the largest malls, warmest sea, safest environment, the most expensive coffee and the tallest building, it always keeps visitors on their toes, overwhelmed with experiences all year (even when thermometer jumps to +50C). The one truly unmissable attraction is the Burj Khalifa, a tower that holds to the world’s record of 828m since 2010. Dubaians believe if you haven’t been to Burj Khalifa you haven’t really seen Dubai. Many opt to book a tour to the top but there is a better and tastier way to experience it, – At.mosphere.

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Located on the 122nd floor, a minute ride on a rapid elevator, Atmosphere is divided into two establishments: a lounge for high-tea, pre- and post-party drinks, and a luxurious restaurant with private dining. Needless to say the view is fantastic from every window.

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Depending on time, weather and position of sun and moon, the view around Atmosphere changes dramatically making it the most exciting destination to explore the ever-expanding Dubai.

Being a frequent guest of Atmosphere’s lounge for high-tea and pre-dinner cocktails, this time I stopped in to experience the newest breakfast menu created by chef Christopher Graham, formerly of Jumeirah Group hotels.

Atmosphere states the dress code as casual, but I prefer to wear a slightly ridiculous outfit because my photo memories are expected to be spectacular!

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The interior resembles the vibe of London decor with polished wooden panels, reflective aluminum columns, shiny glass, panoramic windows and patches of warm red light here and there.

The new breakfast menu consisted of pre-set dishes paired with eggs as well as tasty delights like organic greek yogurt parfait, waffles, crepes, jams and vanilla butter (with real crushed vanilla).

In terms of cost, it’s quite flexible. The minimum spend is AED 200 per person (window tables are subject to availability upon reservation). A special 35% discount is offered on Decadence Menu (yumm) for guests with a valid Emirates ID card.

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Day & Time: Daily, from 7am to 11am (last arrival time is 10am)

Price: Decadence Menu – AED 325 per person (UAE residents can enjoy 35% discount with their Emirates ID), Prestige Menu – AED 525 per person and À la carte – Dishes start from AED 60. Children below 5 years can dine for free (ID required with date of birth). Children aged 6-10 years are entitled to 50% on Decadence Menu only (ID required with date of birth).

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Spice it up, Farzi Cafe in Dubai

After two months in Toronto I was homesick for Dubai. There is one characteristic to expat life in the UAE found nowhere else: Dubai people create a fantastic ambience of “the show must go on”. And I missed it bitterly. Unsurprisingly, after conquering my ghastly jet leg it was time to hit up the local social life.

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A big fan of everything party and spicy, I decided to revisit Farzi Cafe at City Walk for lunch, as my breakfast there back in April was unbelievable. As they say, “eat here, or we will both starve”.

Farzi Cafe represents a modern take on the art of cosmopolitan cooking. It’s a mix of colours, flavours, cultures and spices with a dominant Indian theme. Committed to bringing Indian food back “en vogue”, they add a touch of a lovely ridiculousness to the art of serving, as drinks and dishes usually have an unexpected twist. The Farzi Team creates the illusion of spontaneity, but believe me everything they offer is a result of hard work and design.

By 1pm on Saturday afternoon Farzi Cafe was packed, contrasting with the hot empty streets of City Walk. Life does move indoors from May to October in Dubai! Fortunately I had a reservation, otherwise my name would appear on the long wait list. The cooling waves of air-conditioning installed at the entrance chilled a hot head like me and I noticed the cheerful buzz of happily fed crowds enjoying themselves.

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To spice things up, I ignored the menu and asked my server Aditya to just feed me. Well, I did clarify how little a model eats plus we discussed potential food risks and allergies. So the magic began! After a complimentary appetizer made of chilled mango burst into a drop of yogurt in my mouth, cotton candy was transformed into a watermelon cocktail revealing a little green leaf at the bottom. I’m guessing it was basil.

Savory shrimps in creamy chili sauce with foam was my next dish, followed by incredibly fragrant mushroom ragout served in an apothecary bowl with an overwhelming aroma of truffle oil pouring out of a long bovine nose. What can I say except they were absolutely amazing! Very tender at first bite, but wait for the heat of freshly crashed black peppers to tease your taste buds. It will happen!

As a further surprise, a model vintage truck arrived carrying my butter chicken burger. However my favorite dish came next. Set in a crescent plate, on a layer of mashed potatoes, rested pieces of roasted lamb and golden potatoes seared with crunchy beetroot chips. Watercress herbs added bright green colour to the dish.

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My main course consisted of cheese naan, mutton biryani and chicken tikka. Exceptional through every bite, it was the presentation that got my complete attention. If only I could eat for two!

My dessert, a traditional yet contemporary gulab jamun, arrived in a cloud of fog. Right in front of my eyes, in a bowl of dry ice, a serving of vanilla ice cream was created and placed around warm gulab jamun. Frozen rose petals, crushed pistachios, berries and strawberry syrup made it the most irresistible dish.

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So good to be back in Dubai!

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Click here to learn more about Farzi Cafe.

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Eat.Drink.Gossip in Toronto

What I really love about Toronto is its diversity. A place where everyone is from everywhere, boosted with a splash of flavors, cuisines, tastes, spices, beverages and food experiences accessible nowhere else. From Italian breakfast to dim sum lunch followed by 5 o’clock cocktails, irresistible Spanish tapas and locally produced ice-cream, all unforgettable and within a walking distance from each other. The picture is completed with Canadian service, the friendliest and, let’s be honest, most apologetic in the world. Getting hungry? I’m about to share with you a list of places very dear to my heart and my tummy. Places I love to go back to, again and again.

Forno Cultura

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Hiding in a basement beneath the notorious eating and drinking place Wurst, Forno Coutura on King West is loved for deeply fragrant coffees, crispy bread and mouthwatering pastry. The open kitchen creates an illusion of home cooking and there is something exceptionally magical in sipping a rather sharp macchiato while watching a focaccia rolled out right in front of you.

Try: cannoli made of light dough and filled with deliciously smooth ricotta cream.

609 King Street West, closed on Mondays, more at Forno Cultura

Wurst

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With 30 plus sausages to choose from and a fantastic selection of beers and artisanal cider (say what!), Wurst is a true wonder on King West. At a first peek, it resembles the great beer halls of Munich, but once you are in, you know it’s Toronto. Beside multilingual local vibe, this place features tile walls that evoke memories of subway commutes and rush hour. Recommended only for lunch, Wurst gets so crowded after 6pm that people line up on the staircase intimidated by a giant bouncer in a black suit. Well, I was! 

Try: carefully crafted beer samples.

609 King Street West, more at Wurst 

Enoteca Sociale

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They call it “A real Italian Wine Bar”, but for me it stands for the best Italian food ever (I’ve been to Italy). While the menu is only a page long, the selection of dishes based on seasonal ingredients represent what all Italians swear by: mozzarella di bufula, tiniest tortellini, aromatic formaggi e salumi, dreamy gnocchi and other bits and pieces to die for. Reserving a table is easy, but only if you are super lucky. I usually call a few days in advance. 

Try: Sparkling red wine

1288 Dundas Street West, more at Enoteca Sociale

Momofuko

Located at the corner of Shangri-La hotel on University Avenue, a few minutes away from City Hall, Momofuko’s famous entrance has a giant sparking statue and was featured in “Miss Sloan”. But it’s not the statue that made this place so attractive. Spread between three glass levels are two restaurants, a noodle bar, a milk bar and a cocktail lounge. Momofuko’s food experience upgrades with each floor. The higher you go the more expensive it gets, however a bowl of an exceptionally tasty ramen served on the ground floor doesn’t cost a fortune (14-16 Canadian dollars). 

Try: A jar of kimchi, pork belly buns and obviously, the ramen

190 University Avenue, more at Momofuko

Roof Lounge at Park Hyatt

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As romantic as it sounds, the rooftop bar at the Park Hyatt offers an incredible view of downtown and the skyline. Toronto’s food and gossip experience is incomplete without a fancy cocktail sipped away on a sunny summer day, with a view from the top paired with fresh shucked oysters (served after 4p). Just magical!

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4 Avenue Road, walk-in only, no reservations, more at Roof Lounge at Park Hyatt

Drake’s commissary

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Surrounded by brick industrial buildings, Drake’s Commissary embraces the spirit of the local community: urban but warm, dynamic and inviting. It’s a place where one doesn’t need to dress up, can arrive in pajamas and be seated with only one question asked: inside or outside. Provided it’s not raining I would always opt to seat outside in the shade close to the wall. Drake’s menu changes depending on the day (week or weekend), time and season. It’s important to try their both lunch and brunch menu as everything I had was worth re-ordering immediately.

Try: flavored lattes, local craft beers and scones (!!!).

128 Sterling Road, closed on Mondays, more at Drake’s commissary

Carmen

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Oh, Carmen! Carmen’s tapas and paellas are just WOW. Infused with spices, flavors and love, they deliver a dining experience that triggers the mind and senses. Carmen is tasty, visual and truly delightful in every bite, sip, look and noise. The restaurant starts with a long bar right at the entrance, leading to a spacious indoor area and a very cozy terrace open during warmer months. My first encounter with the barmen resulted in a hilarious exchange, where I was called “international” for my desperate attempts to book a table from my Dubai number.

Try: Cauliflower, white fish ceviche and paella of the day (big enough to feed 4-6 people if paired with tapas).

922, Queen Street West, more at Carmen

Rodney’s oysters 

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Another fascinating food experience on King West (I wonder why they call that street a tourist trap). Rodney’s design with dimmed lights, edgy posters and a cave like indoor space resembles a trip to dodgy London dungeons, but that illusion fades once you step onto their terrace. In fairness, the terrace, unlike many in Toronto, is hidden away from the busy street, traffic and curious pedestrians. To light up the magic, start with a dozen of oysters and just indulge in pairing them with their wide selection of sauces and freshly grated horseradish. You’ll be surprised to find pure vodka served in one of the jars as a sauce, but I opted for a dash of spicy chilly.

Try: Smoked fish charcuterie board

469 King Street West, closed on Sundays, more at Rodney’s oysters 

Bang Bang

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Apart from its fantastic name and edgy ads, Bang Bang actually makes an incredible, kicking delicious ice-cream with true Canadian spirit – there is a flavor for everyone. Even a nutty foodie like me finds a scoop that screams hazelnuts. Before placing your order, think carefully how you would like it to be served.  At Bang Bang you are not just choosing a flavor, but rather styling it with freshly baked carbs: a cookie, half a cookie, cone, sugar cone or if you’re lucky, a waffle. In the summer the wait may reach a half an hour, but consider it well spent. More about top ice-creams in Toronto, go here.

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93A Ossington Avenue, closed on Mondays, more at Bang Bang

Patisserie 27

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This little bakery is a hidden gem adored by a local community lining up for an almond croissant as early at 6:45am (well, it only opens at 7am). Their pastry tastes like heaven baked in the best traditions of French patisserie. Always fresh, always crisp and always so perfect that their daily specials sometimes are sold out by 9am. They are able to go an extra mile and create a delightful treat according to special dietary requirements, an egg-free birthday cake for example.

401 Jane Street, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, more at Patisserie 27

Enjoy!

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Coya, a bite of Incan Heritage

On July 12, Coya, a contemporary Peruvian restaurant and landmark of the Four Seasons resort on Jumeriah Road, was the hottest place in Dubai. In preparation for the annual La Noche Blanca, a magical event that combines Latin music, food, drinks and entertainment, Coya transformed into the Garden of Eden.

Being a big fan of the city after-dark, I could’t resist the temptation of partying the night away. Luckily the “white” dress code was easy to follow in July, limiting my “getting ready” time to a matter of minutes. Let’s see: voluminous hair, high heels, a touch of highlighter on cheekbones and shoulders, bright red lipstick, goldfish purse and my “fancy Dubai girl” look was complete. Well, almost. Please consider a pair of Angel wings that I borrowed at the entrance as the final touch! Yay or Nay?

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Right from the start I knew the night would be a great success (spoiler, sorry!). A long queue of the fanciest cars possible waiting for valet stretched all the way to the bottom of the hill, making it extremely hard for hotel security to keep order. But no one complained! The expectation of a magical night out had loosened the mood, and smiles were shining from every corner.

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As many, not to say all, I was completely blown away by a fantastic work of florists and the event team. The mesmerizing effect was achieved by millions of flower garlands “floating” in the air, creating the best possible canvas for light to play on. I was speechless, breathless and really anxious to discover more.

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Indoors, surrounded by vibrant Incan colours, I continued looking in amusement from one side to another being slightly pushed by the crowd in the direction of a busy bar.

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The place was a dream!

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Moving away from the crowded bar to my table, I started paying attention to the bespoke furniture paired with carefully selected pieces of art, traditional and very modern, tastefully placed throughout the space.

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It was hard not to notice a very authentic feel to Coya, intentionally or unintentionally created with decorative objects that encouraged guests to interact, explore, ask questions and feel hungry for more.

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Before I could ask any questions, a glass of Moet sparkled in my hand and the feast began!

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Meant to be shared, the Peruvian cuisine at Coya is moderately spicy and pleasantly colorful. The ceviche mixed right in front of me was a real delight with its zesty sauce and freshest ingredients. Grilled chilly peppers were so tender and sweet that I accidentally exceeded my fair share. I was told the majority of ingredients were imported from Peru and the rest locally sourced.

To stop further teasing your growing appetite, I’ll just tell you that all dishes on the menu were absolutely excellent and delightfully unique. Compliments to the chef and the entire team for serving an incredible cultural experience like no other!

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Find out more about Coya right here or on Instagram I hope you’ll get the table!

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The New Address Hotel, Boulevard Dubai

Last night, on the way to Iftar dinner with a friend who makes this world a better place, we had an opportunity to explore the new Address Hotel and Residences at the Boulevard Downtown.

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With its central location a few minutes away from major landmarks, and views on the tallest tower Burj Khalifa, the Address Boulevard is already a sought after place to stay in the city. Not to mention New Year’s Eve!

Through the glass door we went with expectations of a hearty dinner, and unexpectedly stood still looking around at the little details. The interiors opened up in a beautiful bright space filled with comfort and lots of fresh air. High white ceilings, elegantly decorated walls, and crystal lamps paired with patterned marble floors created an illusion of a private residence lost in the era of Art Deco.

The dinner was served in a spacious Ballroom at a long communal table surrounded by mouthwatering desserts, chilled refreshments and aromatic Arabic coffee.

The feast began after the sunset, and from the first minute we completely lost count of the endless array of irresistible dishes placed in front of our eyes.

Accompanied by the sounds of Oud, the dessert tasted sweeter than ever.

By the end of the evening I really envied the guests who were so well looked after at this beautiful new hotel and residences.

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Taste of Arabian Hospitality, Ewaan

The new moon has been sighted and tonight is the start of Ramadan in the UAE. Regarded as a spiritual fasting month of giving and sharing, for many Ramadan is a time to focus on personal development, family life and wellbeing of a community. As an expat, I really enjoy observing the little changes happening in local life: extended shopping hours, the aura of concern around women rushing home with groceries, the excitement everyone shares when offices close two hours earlier, the beauty and the warmth created by colourful lanterns lit at every corner, and the happy sparkles in the eyes of local kids expecting sweet treats at dinner. I love the tradition of gathering for Iftar, a dinner at sunset shared together after a long day without food or drinks. Ewaan at Palace Downtown hotel serves Iftar buffet in the best traditions of Arabian hospitality and creates an unforgettable moment of unity people, flavors, dishes, species and tastes.

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The experience starts with a warm Marhaba (welcome) and a lovely cup of Arabic coffee or a chilled drink made of dried fruits.

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Right at the table there is an extra bottle of water and a serving of figs, prunes, apricots and dates to help conquer immediate thirst and hunger.

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My table was inside the restaurant however another option was to settle on air-conditioned Bedouin tent with a magical view of the  water and and Burj.

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Overwhelmed by a generous selection of dishes and flavors, I walked around talking to staff with  curiosity of a foodie and a journalist. Fortunately no one minded my camera and my plate got heavy in a matter of minutes.

My joy of discovering the dessert section was indescribable. It was the sighting of Moroccan tea brewing at my table that forced me to move away.

Hope you can make it to Ewaan this season and I’m so looking forward to hearing your reviews!

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