“Between us is bread and salt my friends.” Suzanne Husseini
I think it’s a fair assumption to say that I love brunch and if you are regular over here at anexpatabroad you will know that I am rather partial to the terrific Market Kitchen restaurant at Le Royal Méridien Hotel, so when I received an invitation to preview their latest brunch concept, I was quick to accept.
So what’s new at Market Kitchen? Well the rather fabulous Dubai-based celebrity chef Suzanne Husseini has teamed up with Market Kitchen’s Head Chef Jordan Annabi to put her modern Arabic twist on the restaurant’s very popular Friday table brunch. A selection of us lucky folk got to sit down with Suzanne and her husband and enjoy her sensational food last week ahead of the brunch starting this Friday. I first need to set the scene, since becoming an expat and more recently through the blog I have met a great deal of different people from all walks of life from all over the world but Suzanne is hands down one of the loveliest and most charismatic people I have ever encountered. They say first impressions count and this lady sure makes a great first impression, she was warm, genuine and oozed Arab hospitality, with a basic need to feed people and share her passion of food that was so prolific in her own childhood and beyond.
I first saw the popular Husseini at the Abu Dhabi Street Food Festival and I was keen to met her in person after reading lots about her in the media and what better place to do that than at Market Kitchen. Palestinian born Hussieni was raised in Ottawa, Canada after her family moved there when she was very young and her passion for food and cooking comes from her mother who she described as a wonderful cook and her inspiration. She shared stories with us about cooking with her mother and how her school lunches of Arabic breads filled with lots of different fillings and smells provoked her new friends fascination about her food and heritage that served to break down cultural barriers.
Food proved to be a vital childhood connection, prompting friends to visit her house to sample Arabic cuisine and she even took orders for her mother’s food at school. Husseini takes that traditional Arabic cuisine, passed down through generations, and gives it her own unique twist to reinterpret dishes using different techniques and the freshest ingredients available. She is a teacher at heart and started giving cooking classes from her home in Dubai that led to weekly events and her own TV show ‘Sohbe Taibe‘ as well as her own cookbook Modern flavours of Arabia and now a weekly live radio cooking show on Dubai Eye called ‘Thursday Brunch’ part of the Dubai Today programme.
Market Kitchen’s table brunch is based on the sharing concept and we started with a selection of Mezmeza that included the most amazing Crispy Halloumi with Pomegranate Salsa (I literally died and went to veggie heaven, I think I consumed a whole plate to myself), a delicious homemade Labneh with a herb and nut crust, fresh Tuna Kibbeh, Hummus with Spiced Short Rib and Scallops in crispy Knafe pastry (Kataifi dough). I must also just mention that we enjoyed a selection of breads served with olive oil and a delightful pomegranate molasses (so good) which you eat much like you would oil and balsamic vinegar. Next up was a Hot Yoghurt soup with Siliq Shish Barak Dumplings, Fattouche with crispy Aubergine and M’sakhan Tart of caramelised onions and topped with Sumac roasted chicken. The other half was in his element and the mains hadn’t even appeared yet!
Pan Seared Sea Bream with Date Rice Pilau, Dakous and Tahini Citrus sauce was followed by Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with grilled cherry tomatoes and potatoes and Orange Honey Glazed Quail with Freekeh (Middle Eastern grain). The individual dessert platters arrived and we all made a bit of extra room for the delicious Chocolate Date Fondant with Halawa ice cream, Knafe Nabulsieh pastry with cheese and an exotic fruit salad, the saying full to the brim does not even come close.
Husseini was an exceptional hostess, extremely down to earth, friendly with so much enthusiasm and passion about food and her fervour shone through in her menu and the explanation of her dishes. Right, that’s enough fangirling for one day, don’t take my word for it book your place at Market Kitchen’s Friday Brunch with Husseini’s modern flavours of Arabia menu available for five weeks from this Friday (24th April) where you not only guaranteed a fantastic culinary experience but also exceptional service in a beautiful contemporary setting and not forgetting some amazing cocktails too. As an extra bonus Husseini will be at this week’s launch event and I have already booked our table, our visitors and guests are in for a real treat!
Table Brunch is available at Market Kitchen every Friday from 12.30pm to 4.00pm. Market Kitchen’s head Chef Jordan Annabi teams up with Suzanne Husseini to bring the modern flavours of Arabia to Friday brunch every Friday for five weeks from 24th April until 29th May,
AED 199++ including mocktails, AED 299++ including cocktails and wine and AED 399++ with Champagne
Location: Le Royal Méridien Hotel, Abu Dhabi
Telephone: 02 695 0300
I was invited to attend this event but all the views are all my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved. First, second and last photos used courtesy of Market Kitchen/Facebook.
You can catch Husseini cooking live on the radio every Thursday on Dubai Eye 103.8. When Suzanne Cooks written by Husseini is available in bookstores across the UAE and online through Amazon. You can also see some of Husseini’s recipes in Gulf News. Read more about Market Kitchen in my previous posts From Farm to Table, Shaken or Stirred, Divine Dining and Spice Up Your Life