I spy with my little eye... a proper vintage bistrot in Dubai.

When I had dinner at the Oberoi, Chef Dirk Haltenhof told me about a few new restaurants to try in Dubai so I took notes and last week, I had dinner at Fumé, at Pier 7 in the Marina. "You will see, they are not completely open but if you push the door, they will be there" were Dirk's exact words, so we were not sure what we were going to find. I personally find it difficult to find my way around Pier 7 (might have something to do with my poor sense of orientation), there are no signs and the place still feels unfinished, so I asked a few people along the way and finally arrived to a huge open door. 

The space is huge with different little nooks and a smoking/bar area that isn't open since they don't have the alcoholic licence yet. The view is amazing, the ceiling high windows are right on the water, which brings a lot of light in the daytime I would imagine. I was instantly charmed by the retro vibe, the wooden furniture, the iron tea pots hanging, the bare walls, the original 1940's coca cola fridge, what's not to love? Simple, retro and full of fun details.

On the menu you will find classic American style lunch and dinner items, steaks, burgers, salmon, fried chicken, doughnuts, but also a bit of an Asian vibe. There is something for everybody, the service is smiley, lovely and efficient (that last one makes the difference). It was easy, simple and non pretentious, everything I love.

I went for a burger, that came pretty quickly. they were tender, spicy, just what I needed. Big up for the home made ketchup and the chunky potatoes, I love the fact that you can't question the quality of the work that's been done in the kitchen. My dish was made from scratch and that brought a very homey vibe to the experience.

Last but not least: the prices are right. I was actually surprised not to pay more. Such a refreshing experience in Dubai! I will definitively be back for more, Fumé, you got me at the first vintage photo on the wall, you will see me again. Merci Chef Haltenhof for sending me there!

More information here.

I spy with my little eye... retro make-up.

What is tiredness? Tiredness is meaning to try new cosmetics 3 mornings in a row and realising half-way through your make-up you went with your regular products... This week-end I finally succeeded in fighting my routine and took time to try out my Benefit Glambox goodies. I love the retro packaging, perfect for a vintage gal'. For some reason I was in a 60's mood so here we go, reviewo'clock!

I never use foundation. I don't see the point of covering my skin with layers of products, taking the risk of obstructing my pores if I don't really need it. I use matte powder in the evening or when I feel a little bit too shiny (not a fan of shimmering products, you know me), but that's pretty much it. So I was a bit curious to try the Porefessional balm, and I have to say, I was actually impressed! I'm always wary of coloured products since I never know if it's going to match my skin tone but this one melted perfectly, I could see a net improvement, my pores were less visible and it dried into  a powdery veil, leaving my skin really soft, loved it!
On top of it (go big or go home, if I'm going to do foundation, might as well go for the full set, 2 layers of products, let's be crazy!), I added the Big Easy oil free SPF 35 foundation. Here again, I wasn't sure of the colour but luckily it worked perfectly. Big up for the SPF 35, a must in Dubai. The product aims to balance the complexion, therefore I applied it mostly on the T-zone, as for the texture, here again, it was featherlight, I have nothing to complain about, if I was wearing foundation daily I would seriously consider it.

I have a tendency to use concealer as a primer for my eyeshadow. I'm sure a lot of make-up artists will say it's a mistake, so far it works for me. So I applied the Fake Up under but also over the eyelid. The hydrating balm around the colour in the stick makes it very smooth and easy to apply, so I enjoyed it.
Now mascara and eyeliner are the 2 products I use the most so I have tried a few on the market. I did like the They're Real mascara, the brush separates the lashes perfectly, which is important to me, I hate spending hours brushing them, and the formula is well balanced: easy to apply and does a good thickening job.
The one negative point, and I am sorry to say it, it the latest novelty, the They're Real push-up liner. It didn't agree with me at all. I found it difficult to calculate the right amount of product, the formula is too dry to draw my wings and the brush was too stiff to allow me to do anything else than a straight line. That eyeliner is definitively not for me.

So to sum it up, I discovered really good foundation products, which is something I wasn't expecting but I got disappointed by the eyeliner.

More information here.

I spy with my little eye... the Hokkaido tasting menu!

Last week I was invited by the Oberoi to experiment their 12 courses testing menu. I didn't know much about Hokkaido but I knew I loved the Oberoi Dubai so I was happy to RSVP. Umai, their japanese restaurant has a special place in my heart since I've always had great food and evenings. I love the cosy ambiance, the discreet design and the open kitchen, I like the unpretentious atmosphere of the place. And when Chef Dirk Haltenhof, Pro Chef's Innovative Chef of the year, shows up with my drink, just to say hi, it really feels like home! (note to self, work on a more flattering posture... the joys of cosy sweaters).

So what did I learn about Hokkaido? Very briefly: it is Japan's second biggest island at it's Far North frontier, and it is known for it's seafood cuisine. I will admit that I got intimidated by the 12 courses menu, or marathon rather.

We started with a sparkling strawberry with green tea jelly as a cool and sweet appetiser to wake up the palate. Then came the Kuzu starch Hokkaido milk tofu with smoked salmon and eggs. I am not the biggest fan of tofu but this one was creamy, almost like a burrata, it was surprising and a nice change from the usual chewy tofu (no offence to all vegetarian readers, I simply have a lot to learn about tofu, obviously).

The seasonal Hokkaido sashimi was pretty classic, but I didn't expect such a generous plate, at that stage I already felt dangerously full... But then the avocado and Hokkaido cheese spring roll and the cream croquette with crab meat showed up so the curiosity took over. I enjoyed the crab croquette very much, it is not something you have everyday, it was tasty, crusty and soothingly warm, a very nice mix after a few cold courses. I was looking forward to the sweet corn soup with Hokkaido king crab and white asparagus since I would have never imagined such a combination, but I couldn't really feel the asparagus. It might be because I just had the crab croquette, but I could mostly taste the crab and sweet corn, that was very nice, but it overtook the asparagus.
I loved the grilled scallop with wasabi mayonnaise and sea urchin spuma. I want to thank the chef for taking time to explain what an urchin is. I did know what it was in french but I didn't know the english translation. I just love the fact that he took time to draw me an urchin.

When I reached the grilled salmon with salt and Hokkaido kelp, I started wondering how I would finish that dinner, my stomach was struggling. I had never had fish or meat cooked in a proper salt crust so I was happy to try it. It is a tricky one since the heat travels through the salt you don't really have control over how it spreads, so you have a nice, tender, slow-cooked piece of fish that can be unevenly cooked. That didn't bother me since I don't like an overcooked piece of fish. 
I remember looking at the charcoal grilled miso marinated cod manga and thinking I would have loved to pause the dinner and come back the day after to allow my stomach to reset. It was delicious, soft, not too much seasoning so you could really taste the fish, just the way I like it and the plate was a real piece of art, but my little appetite just couldn't handle it. 

My stomach and I can, unfortunately, barely remember the teppanyaki beef with Hokkaido stew. In my food coma, I remember a very tender piece of beef in a white sauce. I might have to come back to investigate more!
Last but not least, the Hokkaido musk melon was perfect to freshen up the palate and ease digestion! Followed by the green tea ice choux, that was obviously going to be a hit since I love green tea ice cream (or any ice-cream really, just not strawberry)!

So a big thank you to the Oberoi for their warm welcoming, I definitively have a crush on their team! I loved spending an evening in Hokkaido, just wish I had brought a bigger appetite in my suitcase! If you feel like a gastronomical escape, you have until the Friday 23rd May to book you 12 courses dinner at the Oberoi. I usually don't mention prices but for AED 390, my stomach and I can assure you it is a good deal. 
More information here.

I spy with my little eye... my new favourite breakfast spot!

The Lime Tree, Tom & Serg, Pantry Café, these are all good addresses for breakfast but lately I discovered a little gem at City Walk: Sapori di Bice. The concept is very simple: Italian food, good bread and lots of pastries (what's not to like?). The reason why I particularly like it isn't crowded yet. You can actually wake up while sipping your latte instead of feeling assaulted by the noise and volume as soon as you enter the restaurant. The place is divided in 2 spaces, so I like to sit next to the windows (conveniently, that's where the pastries happen to be).

I obviously wouldn't go for pasta early morning but the home-made pain au chocolat is very good, crispy, and has that 2 chocolate lines. I insist that a French pain au chocolat should always have 2 lines of chocolate, if there is only one I feel robbed so well done Sapori! Little things make me happy as you can see, remember? details are not just details. I like the fact that the portions are European (read "human" here), and since my little morning appetite couldn't finish the bunch of pastries included in the continental breakfast, they kindly wrapped them up for me to take them back home.
That's an other thing I really appreciate: since they are not overloaded yet, the service is attentive, smiley and very efficient. Definitively a plus when you are still waking up: I hate having to fight for my coffee.
Since the place makes bread, we took a bunch of baguettes and cereal breads back home and I have to say, they were excellent, and lasted a couple of day which is rare in Dubai. I really appreciated.
Last but not least, they have amazing ice-cream. The best coffee ice-cream I've had in Dubai, without a doubt. They don't have a lot of flavours but the ones they have are perfectly executed, that's my kind of place: a proper menu shouldn't involve 5 different cuisines, choose one, and be the best at it.
Sapori also seems to be a good spot for baby showers and other joyful events, as I said, it is still calm and therefore cosy and I would like to think (or at least hope) that it will stay this cosy, refined and smiley place even after all of Jumeirah discovers it (please don't ruin it for me).
Thank you Sapori for the warm welcoming, we will be back!

I spy with my little eye... a French brunch in Dubai.

You might have noticed that I am not really a brunch bunny. I will always prefer a nice breakfast + lunch (2 occasions to eat will always be better than one in my world) to an afternoon of stuffing my face, risking an indigestion and feeling like the day slipped through my fingers. That being said, when A. announced that she would like the gang to celebrate her engagement by brunching at Traiteur, Park Hyatt Creek, I wouldn't have missed it! And it was the perfect occasion to try the best brunches in Dubai (dixit Time Out)!

I obviously got lost looking for the restaurant, as I always do... I passed by it but was looking to the right, checking that gorgeous alley when Traiteur was just in front of it, on the left. Typical me. But who wouldn't enjoy that view?

Once I finally found it ('cause I eventually did), I was quite surprised to find a cosy place, filled with morning light. In Dubai you get used to huge spaces but Traiteur is more of a succession of medium sized rooms, that makes it actually normal and almost European if I dare say. That's a nice feeling. I absolutely loved the light, they did a great job with these windows and light interior design.
The only downside of that cosy place is that it isn't easy to walk around the food stations, it can easily get crowded and when you have a grill in the middle of the room, you have to acknowledge the fact that staying too long too close to it might add a little barbecue vibe to your pretty outfit.

Foodwise you will find a lot of shellfish, oysters, shrimps, lobster, which is always quite impressive. I loved a good little steak tartare and those truffle crème brulees were surprisingly tasty (wasn't sure what to expect). I had to make a proper effort not to overeat although I will confess I couldn't stomach dinner. Best part remains the pastries, you are all aware of my sweet tooth by now so when placed in a room full of "mignardises", I feel like I'm on a mission to try a little bit of everything... which usually ends up with a colourful plate and a big smile on my face!

I will add that a whole brunch watered with proper champagne is rare in Dubai and much appreciated! So Traiteur is an expensive choice, obviously, but it is the perfect place for a cosy catch up or to celebrate a romantic occasion (just watch out for the grill stations). I loved stepping outside to enjoy the sunset right after brunch. Thank you for a lovely day A. and Park Hyatt!
More information here.

I spy with my little eye... matte lipstick love.

I wear a lot of lipstick, but I have a deep and solid hatred for glosses: I never understood the appeal of sticky lips. Shiny lipstick is borderline. I can deal with it but it's not my favourite, now give me a matte lipstick and I'm a happy gal'. Therefore I am loving this new trend of matte liquid formulas. Sephora's Cream Lip Stain n°1 never leaves my doctor's bag, and it is very happy to welcome a new addition: Bourjois's Rouge Edition Velvet!

I absolutely love the formula: it's easy to apply, light, and turns matte within 2 minutes. It's comfortable and lasts for hours! Trust me, I washed my face, got out of the shower and was surprised by this bright pink smile in the mirror... I also like the fact that Bourjois played around with colours a little bit more than Sephora so I get to add brighter and softer colours to my collection. So far n°2 Frambourjoise is my favourite. A raspberry pink I find perfect for daytime.

More information on Bourjois here.

I spy with my little eye... a 1920's Bistrot in Dubai.

When I heard that there was a 1920's bistrot in Dubai, I couldn't wait to visit it! Since it was the Gentleman's birthday, we had the perfect excuse so we booked a table for 10 people on Thursday at Cafe Belge at the Ritz Carlton in DIFC.
The place is gorgeous, I loved the style. Very Art Deco, the art is very classical but it works, the lighting does most of the work , the space is quite big and you can tell they are struggling a little bit to fill it in. I was surprised not to see a packed place since Dubai terribly lacks this sort of relaxed bistrots. I guess since it took me 2 years to hear about it, a lot of people don't even know that it exists.

Now the menu is very succinct, not a lot of choice (which is usually a good sign), and it is mostly shellfish. We mostly had oysters and moules marinieres, and that was very good. The food was very nice but the service was a little bit slow, and that was a bit disappointing: how do you ask someone to taste the wine, pour it for the whole table, not realize that the bottle is empty and leave the person who tasted the wine with an empty glass. For 20min. Until they were able to inform us that they didn't have a second bottle from the same wine. I understand that their cellar was a bit far but still, forgetting the birthday boy was unfortunate. They did their best to make it up to us when we explained the situation and we appreciated but this sort of thing could have easily been avoided.

After dinner we headed to the outdoors bar for a drink. Unfortunately the place was very very quiet and the music didn't match the retro look of the place (I don't really understand lounge music in a 1920's décor, but that's just me. I would have rather had a swinging flapper soundtrack). You know I'm always happy when I don't have to fight to get a drink but a little bit of ambiance would have been nice.  We obviously joyfully compensated with loud laughter!

All in all, I loved the place, I think it has a great potential, and I am torn between encouraging them to improve their service and work on their marketing and keeping it as it is: an imperfect yet rare gem in Dubai. I will probably be back on a weekday for casual moules and oysters.
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