“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” James Beard
Like buses, you wait for good events in the capital and then they all come along at once! Last weekend was chock-a-block with capital dwellers spoilt for choice on how to best use their leisure time. There was Abu Dhabi Art at Manarat Al Saadiyat, Taste of Abu Dhabi over at Yas Island, Diabetes Charity Walkathon at Yas Marina Circuit and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at Du Forum and do you know what, I was pretty exhausted after attending them all!
Taste of Abu Dhabi, the large al fresco food, drink and music festival made its debut in our emirate for three days at Du Arena, Yas Island and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it on both days that I visited.
On opening night, my friend and I enjoyed a good boogie and sing-a-long to some of the cast members from Broadway’s Jersey Boys who performed hit after hit with their fantastic band in tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons as well as other artists from that era, in three separate sets played throughout the evening. They were absolutely fantastic, great music, great voices and dance routines all together very entertaining and we both throughly the show as did it seemed, the rest of the appreciative audience.
Jersey Boys close-up (source:www.timeoutabudhabi.com)
We sampled a few beverages and devoured some delicious food and even did a spot of skiing (it snowed in Abu Dhabi, ok fake snow at the Evian stand but still). I had a vegetarian tortilla from Burlesque to start and my friend had a chicken kebab and fish and we tried some calorie laden desserts (good job they were small) and we also consumed far too many potato rolls from the Superfresh taste tester stall, until the girl recognised me!
In a surreal moment, two lovely readers (pictured below) approached me having recognised me from the blog and shared how much they loved reading my words! Such a great moment and I was completely overwhelmed by their interest and the fact they have visited restaurants based on some of my recommendations, great motivation to carry on! Ladies, if you are reading this post, thanks very much for your kind words 😉
The event brought together a selection of Abu Dhabi’s top restaurants who offered small-scale portions of their signature dishes, celebrity chefs, cooking demonstrations, live music and street performers, retail stalls with a range of gourmet food and homeware products, an open-air Vox Cinema and a dedicated children’s area. The event was all hoping to emulate the success of the annual Dubai event which has been running for several years at Media City Amphitheatre and those around the world and from what I saw it was a great success.
Celebrity chefs shared their top culinary tips and cooked up some of their best dishes for the crowds over the weekend at the live demos and there were cooking classes at the Kenwood Cooking School. Every possible cuisine was available to taste at the festival from French to Indian, American to Asian inspired, Mussels from Belgian, Japanese and Italian, sweet treats of cupcakes, doughnuts, ice creams, cookies and so much more which basically equated to so much food and so little time. Each restaurant offered diners a choice of their most popular starter, main course and dessert.
As part of our VIP package we had six vouchers, three each for food and drink (and entrance to the SPG VIP lounge and bar), but you could also purchase the sample-sized offerings for a very reasonable 15-30 dirhams each from each restaurant. On the second day, the teenager (bribed with the promise of Nutella laden treats) and I visited during the day and the beautiful sunny weather definitely brought out the crowds and there was a great festival atmosphere.
The teenager started with her favourite Butter Chicken and I had a very flavourful and visually pleasing Potato and Pea samosa both from Angar Indian Restaurant (Yas Viceroy Hotel) followed by some perfect little sliders for the meat eaters in our group from Caramel Lounge. We whiled away some time with friends in the pop-up McGettigans pub and enjoyed the perfect weather, live music and the all round positive vibe of the very well received inaugural event. I am looking forward to next years Taste of Abu Dhabi already.
Here’s a selection of my photos from the two days I visited the festival so you can get a feel and a little taste of your own (tee hee) of Taste of Abu Dhabi.
Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2014. All rights reserved.