Hope you’re well?
So in October, Mr Man and I, in need of some sunshine, booked a cheeky getaway. Somehow we ended up back in the UAE (probably because it was relatively cheap and actually nice and hot). But, we’d decided in advance, that whilst we were going to be based in Dubai, we wanted to explore the rest of the emirates too. We spent ten days there in total, and rather than writing up a daily travel diary, (because I want to get back to food blogging), I’ll be doing 5 2-day combo posts instead. I warn you in advance, I got a little carried away with my camera!
We set off from Heathrow in the afternoon and arrived in DXB at something like 4 am in the morning.
At the airport, after waiting a century or so to go through security, we picked up our bags and stopped to exchange a small amount of money to get us by till the next day. As I’ve mentioned in one of my previous Dubai posts, exchange rates are always better on the other side. Mr Man grabbed the dirhams and we quickly loaded our suitcases into the boot before hopping in a taxi, ready to hit the sack.
I turned and raised an eyebrow, before enquiring, “you’ve got my camera, right?”
He’d left my camera bag (containing my camera, lenses and memory cards) at the money exchange shop.
“Get out,” I commanded, “…and RUN!”
And bless him, off he went. In the meantime, Mr Taxi Driver decided to start moving, while I started panicking, “um, excuse me, you do realise we have to wait for him right…?!”
“We can’t wait here,” he explained. I told him we couldn’t go any further either else Mr Man would never be able to find us in the chaos.
A few mins later I saw him, camera bag in tow. I don’t know if I was more glad to see him or the bag. (Joke) After some frantic waving and shouting, and on his part, dodging other taxi propositions, we set off towards our flat. Rather than go for a hotel, we used Airbnb and booked a flat in the Torch Tower, situated in the Dubai Marina.
We woke up the next day around midday and admired the views some more…
We headed out to explore the marina and find some late lunch.
We stopped at a little place called Zaatar w Zeit, which was recommended to us by one of Mr Man’s work chums. We decided to order two mains and share.
First up, a zaatar and cheese manakeesh. I expected a circular flatbread, as depicted in the pictures in the menu, but, it arrived rolled up like a wrap. Zaatar is a middle eastern dry herb blend, consisting, typically of oregano, thyme, sumac and sesame seeds. A little bit of olive oil really brings this magical mix alive, but unfortunately, the wrap didn’t have any. There was also a bit of a lack of cheese…
Next, a spizy chicken wrap (not a typo). Even though it doesn’t look like much, it was pretty good. Chicken, onions, red pepper, melty cheese and a great tangy, slightly spicy sauce. More fillings wouldn’t have gone amiss though.
We also got a skillet of cheesy fries to share, served with garlic sauce. Thin, crisp, with plenty of cheese, but, unfortunately, they just didn’t pack a punch in terms of flavour.
Running low on funds, we hopped on the train and headed towards Deira to exchange the rest of our spending money. Deira has a whole road dedicated to money changing shops and you can often haggle to get the exact rate that you will see on Google, especially if you’re exchanging a lot, which, is much better than you get at the airport!) Definitely worth asking.
As we stepped out of palm Deira train station, we were greeted with a beautiful orangey red sunset, the stark contrast between the air-con inside vs the heat outside made my camera lens steam up, making for, what I think is, a great pic:
Money exchanged and ready to roll, we grabbed a pressed sugar cane drink to share. For me, sugar cane is reminiscent of summers spent visiting family in India…
We headed back to the train station, from where we made our way to Ibn Battuta mall, the largest themed mall in the world. It consists of six courts, decorated to reflect some of the most impactful places that Ibn Battuta, a great Moroccan explorer, visited.
Check out these balconies:
I mean, just look at this detail.
Love the vibrant red decoration.
Huuuge boat display:
Love the marble decor, reminds me of some of the old palaces, forts and temples I visited when I was younger.
Persia with pretty blue tiles everywhere:
Jaw dropping ceiling dome!
And finally, Tunisia. Despite arriving at night, for all of about thirty seconds we were like, oh, we’re outdoors, until, it dawned on us that the ceilings had been painted so!
A little tired from all the exploring and ready for dinner, we headed towards the food court and South St Burger caught Mr Man’s eye. You won’t be surprised to hear, he managed to have a burger EVERY, single, day (except one) that we were there! Not sure if that’s something to be proud of or not to be honest.
This Canadian chain focuses on fully customisable burgers. You pick your bread roll, burger size and patty and top it with as few, or as many toppings and sauces as you like. Like subway, but for burgers.
Mr Man opted for an Angus beef burger (nice to know that the cow was raised without hormones and antibiotics), topped with swiss cheese, grilled onions and mushrooms, with a slather of garlic mayo. I, on the other hand, opted for a regular chicken burger, on wholemeal (looked rather like white bread to me, but I was assured otherwise…), and decided to keep it fairly simple with cheddar, tomato, red onion (hiding) and BBQ sauce. To be honest, both burgers were a bit disappointing. The chicken in mine was over cooked which really ruined it. Mr Man summed his up as “meh – not really memorable.”
We also, rather excitedly, ordered some butter chicken fries to share. I really wish I could say this was the saviour of the meal. Alas, the sauce was amateurish: it wasn’t thick enough, didn’t have the multiple layers of flavour you expect in a curry, was too sweet and the lack of fenugreek leaves, for me, meant it definitely wasn’t a butter chicken.
After a rather disappointing dinner, we headed back to the marina in search of somewhere better for dessert.
We settled on an Italian place called Stefano’s, sat down and got comfortable. I ordered a tiramisu for us to share while Mr Man ordered a shisha and drink. Dessert was enjoyable, but nothing to write home about, in fact, I think the sponge fingers had been soaked a few seconds too long in coffee. Also, the cream was too light, they possibly forgot the mascarpone or egg yolks something. I dunno. Something was up… The shisha was decent, smooth enough and the waiters were helpful and pretty attentive.
After hanging out for a few hours, we decided to call it a night and stroll back to the flat.
The next day, we woke up fairly early and hit up the gym, check this view! Dreamy…
For breakfast, we headed around the block to a little place called Cafe Martinez. I opted for the avocado tartine: sourdough bread, topped with caramelised onions (added a nice sweet dimension), creamy mashed avocado, sliced tomatoes and a sunnyside up egg. Overall, it was really nice, but had a few flaws. Bread was a little chewy and unevenly sliced, crisp toast would have been preferable. I would have loved a crisp fried egg, personally, I’ve started frying mine on a hot pan before turning down the heat and letting it spit and splutter as it cooks, and I can’t go back… And finally, sea salt and coarsely ground pepper would have been welcome as opposed to the powdered seasoning. It was served up with smokey baked beans which were a nice touch and I can never say no to a hashbrown. That said, I quickly passed my sausages on to Mr Man, cos I basically hate sausages.
Mr Man went for the eggs benedict. A slice of turkey ham layered on bread, topped with a couple of perfectly poached eggs, with lovely gooey, oozy centres. Good bechamel sauce on the side, although, not really enough.
After pouring over the coffee options for what felt like an age, debating the options, we settled on Colombian and Italian (influenced largely by the immense coffee we enjoyed in Geneva), both as lattes. Unfortunately, we had our expectations set sky high, but these came crashing down with the arrival of our mugs. Whilst they were both distinct in flavour, neither was creamy or satisfying, tasting watered down.
Stomachs satisfied, we hopped on the tram and headed towards the palm monorail station.
It was quite a long way from the station to the monorail, but luckily most of it was indoors (hello air-con!) / in the shade.
The monorail runs every 14 mins (I think) along the trunk of the palm island. On the other side, you have the Atlantis Hotel, waterpark, aquarium and, of course, mall. There’s a buy one get one free voucher up for grabs in the entertainer. For further details refer to my older post.
After a short ride and walk, we arrived at the Atlantis lost chambers aquarium. (Again, buy one get one free vouchers are available. Same goes for the waterpark and probably a few other bits and bobs on the island.) Obviously the theme was that of a lost underworld and this was reflected consistently with the decor and even within the fish tanks. Here are some of the better pics. (Such an amateur, I don’t really know what I’m doing when it comes to photographing through glass as it’s so reflective!)
Bumped into some baby albino alligators!
Stingrays are just the cutest, right?!
The highlights probably include the jellyfish and the baby albino alligators… However, the aquarium was a little smaller than I thought it would be, but still conceptually very cool.
We headed on out and made our way to the coast to just sit and soak up the sun…
Back on the mainland, we made our way to Kite beach and took a nice long stroll.
Look how clear this water is!
For an extremely late lunch, we headed to a food truck called Salt, who I may or may not have been stalking on Instagram since we’d booked our tickets… It’s simple enough: 3 types of sliders and 3 types of fries available. Place your order and pay at the first truck, who will give you a buzzer to let you know when your food is ready for collection from the next truck.
At the drinks / dessert counter, we grabbed a couple of beverages before we sat down and got comfortable (hello old friend, air-con!). Really good vibe, great ambience. Before long the buzzer went off and Mr Man dutifully went to collect our order while I sat and salivated for a just a little longer.
He returned with a paper bag containing our long awaited burgers.
Mr Man chose the “hook” sliders, (with each order, you get two burgers). This consisted of burger patty cooked well, (the marbled fat helps it from drying out), melted American cheese, jalapenos and curly lettuce and their special secret sauce (creamy with a slight hint of spice and a briny / vinegary after taste) all housed in a squidgy, fluffy bread roll. Perfection.
I, on the other hand, chose the chicken Cheetos option. Crispy breadcrumbed, buttermilk soaked, fried chicken slices, topped with gooey cheese and, you guessed it, Cheetos. The same, fluffy, toasted bun, curly lettuce and secret sauce. Small party in my mouth.
Excuse me, I’m drooling.
We also picked some cheesy chips to share. Crispy and topped with a processed cheese sauce, like nacho cheese but better.
Just as we’d finished eating, a member of staff came around and offered us a trial of their new sweet potato fries. Whilst I’m always sold on the concept, I find the product usually isn’t so satisfying. To be honest, I prefer my own, oven baked, sweet potato fries. I promise, I’ll share the recipe at some point. We gave them our feedback, mostly that it could be crisper, use some better seasoning + garlic powder (sweet potato fries are infinitely better with some garlic!) and would be better if served with their secret sauce.
For dessert, we shared a Lotus Softie. Aerated whipped ice cream (think ice cream van), topped with a not too sweet caramel sauce and crumbled Lotus biscuits. Pretty simple, very unique and oh, so good.
We headed back out to the beach where we took a little dip and watched the sunset.
We headed back to the flat for a pit stop, obviously, half the sand from the beach decided to follow. We kicked back, showered and freshened up. Later that evening we ventured back out looking for some dinner. We ended up at JBR, Jumeirah Beach Walk. This strip is always absolutely buzzing in the evening with tonnes of restaurants and shops to choose from.
We settled on Chilli’s, having had been there on our last trip.
Love the colourful table tiles.
We ordered a couple of drinks, strawberry lemonade for Mr Man, and pina colada for me. The former was nice, but I preferred my own version with mint as this was a bit syrupy (and kept settling) and didn’t have enough lemon. The pina colada, however, was really good. Nice balance of flavours and I enjoyed it even more because of the frozen texture. That said, neither drinks were finished because of their rather large size.
Because neither of us were too hungry after the late lunch, we decided to share a starter platter instead of full on meals.
- Boneless buffalo wings – small juicy bites of chicken, in a slightly crispy coating soaked in beautiful tangy buffalo sauce. I could basically drink the blue cheese dip that it came with.
- Crispy honey chipotle chicken strips – perfectly crisp, very enjoyable, covered in a sweet sauce with a kick. The honey dipping sauce it came with was a bit unnecessary and sat neglected through the meal.
- Mexican egg rolls – Slightly crisp, deep fried rolls with a mix of sweetcorn, black beans, spinach and plenty of cheese. I’m not the biggest fan of spinach, but these were very nice.
Stomachs satisfied, we took the long route home to enjoy the views of the marina at night: