A Taste of Photography

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As you all may have noticed, in the past year or so, I've dove head first, leg first, butt first, hand first, ear first... everything first into photography. It's something I adore. Bar the odd workshop here or there, it's a craft that I have learned on my own. Whether fiddling with my camera, standing ever so awkwardly to get that shot or testing the patients of my friends who dine with me. Practice and dedication does wonders. Before my travels, which I will be sharing more about in another post, I was commissioned to complete a photography project for Maple Leaf Restaurant in Jumeirah, a Montreal style smoked-meat deli and bistro. To capture the warmth of that neighborhood deli, one that is your escape from the subzero Montreal winters, I kept my shoots moody, accentuating the shadows and introducing a hint of sunset organge to them. The intended use of these photos was social media. Have a look at a handful of the images I captured. Love, Tala

Krush Burger

Krush Burger
I feel like I’ve watched Krush Burger grow up. I was there when her first board was hung in her Murooj Rotana Location. Several months later, I was there when her sign was installed and then that first light bulb glimmered in her space. She took a snooze for another handful of weeks and finally I hear word that her doors have opened. I walk into Krush Burger and am greeted with metal, cement and wood tones, an interesting take on a burger venue. Unfortunately, the space has a feeling of emptiness that's not successfully tackled. I proceed to the counter and order an original combo, meaning two mini burgers and fries. Next, I order a soda. You would think a combo would include a drink as well, right? After my order I’m handed a buzzer, how lovely. Several aggressive vibrations later, I’m back at the counter to pick up my tray. Two beautiful mini burgers, very well sized, perched on their sides with come hither lettuce extending outward. There are two teams when it comes to burger buns, brioche or potato burger buns. The prior has more of a bread-like consistency while the latter has a pillow-like consistency. I a fan of the latter because it does a good job of supporting rather than drying, while Krush Burger uses the prior. I cocoon the burger in my hands and take a generous bite. Neither disappointed nor excited, I pick a fry to complete my bite. Lacking a certain acidity or punch to the burger, I finish the remaining silently and devoid of any Oos and Aas. Doing my due diligence I look through some photos of Krush Burger on the net to be surprised with some very creative options. Unfortunately they seemed to have miss the flight over from California. Hoping they catch the next flight over on Emirates, I’ll pay her another visit in the far future.
THE DETAILS
LOCATION Murooj Rotana OPENING HRS. 10 - 11 CUISINE Burger PRICE PER COUPLE AED 120 WEBSITE Krush Burger
THE FORK-O-METER
Wait till they Catch their Flight

The Hamptons Cafe

The Hamptons Cafe
Having just booked a flight to New York in October, my subsequent booking is a convertible for the mandatory drive to the Hamptons. After enjoying Barefoot Contessa’s cookbooks and philosophy of simple yet comforting food inspired by the Hamptons, the drive is well overdue. Alas, as October is a handful of months away, I make do with a short drive to Jumeirah for the newly opened Hamptons Café. The first attempt is shot down by a fully booked space and an impatiently empty stomach. On the second attempt, a reservation is made prior and a table secured for myself and 5 friends. Walking in we’re welcomed by beige tones, anchors here and there, sea shells and that beachfront feel. We all swipe away, on our Ipad menus, a personal pet peeve of mine, and make our selections. The menu ranges from breakfast including eggs and pastry, lunch, soups and salads. Sipping on our tea, the eggs in tomato arrive, a close cousin to the shakshuka. The dish suffers from a heavy dose of under seasoning and makes me long to be in Baker and Spice. And next, buttermilk fried chicken, oh yes with a side of coleslaw, oh yes. The batter slightly over seasoned, but the chicken so juicy. After experiencing a seesaw of seasoning we decide on dessert, a carrot cake and rose croissant. Biting into the rose croissant an air of rose mist is released something that makes me smile. We finish our meal with beautiful conversation that lasts for hours, the highlight of the experience. I say goodbye to the Hamptons and wonder if I’ll see her again, I think yes, but only in October in my rented convertible.
THE DETAILS
LOCATION Jumeirah 1 OPENING HRS. 8 pm - 9 pm CUISINE American PRICE PER COUPLE AED 220 TELEPHONE # 04 331 5118
THE FORK-O-METER
Have some Fried Chicken

S’wich

S'wich
This past year has been a period of Renaissance, a renewed interest if you will, for the Arab Cuisine. No longer a product of street food or something reserved for the home, but rather a cuisine that has been heightened to the trendy and the fine dining. Starting with Qbara, now S’wich and I foresee many more to come. Newly opened in Dubai Marina, S’wich is redefining the classic Shawerma and conveniently delivering it to your doorstep. Stepping into their humble space, a delivery outlet with two tables, I luckily catch a seat while another diner departs. Looking through the build-your-own-menu, possibilities range from the ultra gourmet, truffles and veal, to the classic pickles and chicken. Leaving nothing to chance, rather than building my own, I opt for S’wich’s signature duck Shawerma to objectively test their strength. A combination of duck, lettuce, garlic and fig paste warped in homemade saj bread. I take a bite, sweet sauce is left at the corner of my mouth which I happy lick away. Not the greatest admirer of duck, though this duck is different. It’s not duck-y, but light and the fig sauce makes everything splendid. I take a bite of the Cucumber and Cabbage Salad and am left under whelmed. Swiftly S’wiched (did you catch that…) with the Quinoa Clementine salad, my taste buds are again appeased.  The Clementine, onion, tomato and cranberry make for an energetic salad. Don’t forget your sweet potato fries! I’ve heard a friend comment that they enjoyed the Shawermas prepared at S’wich but confessed that he felt they were not Shawermas but wraps. That’s the underlying matter why it took the Arab Cuisine so long to get trendy. Arabs enjoy tradition and food prepared the way their mother did. Altering the status quo would just be a question of “But Why?” I on the other hand, love what S’wich has created, a modern take on classic favorites and it’s about time. And here’s to a more modern take on other pressing aspects of our lives in the region. Currently delivering to New Dubai, soon to Down Town and later as a dine-in outlet. Looking forward to ordering many more Shawermas when they land in my part of town.
THE DETAILS
LOCATION Marina Views Tower OPENING HRS. 11 am to 11 pm CUISINE Modern Shawerma PRICE PER COUPLE AED 100 TELEPHONE # 800 79424 WEBSITE S'wich
THE FORK-O-METER
A Craving Fix
 

Dhow and Anchor

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A place for the beach but not to eat. But there’s La Parrilla you say, but I say it’s remarkably overrated and peppered with bad service and dated dishes. Expectations for lunch are low, but high for post lunch, oil bathed relaxation on the shorefront. I push open the doors of JBH which take me back to the 80s, a then vs now charm. I walk up to Dhow and Anchor which swiftly brings me back to the present. Well designed with black metal and wood tones, it’s apparent that every inch of the space has been attentively used up. We take our seats by the window as we stroll through the menu. On par with Friday traditions, I order the chicken roast for an internal hug. The bread, so worth commenting on, arrives crispy on the outside and awfully fluffy on in the inside. The kind of fluffy you’d want to fall and fall into. The service, attentive. On more than one occasion, our waitress approaches the table to take our drinks order. Each instance we respond with, “No drinks for today, thank you.”  and receive an amusingly dumfounded reaction. The fresh green salad arrives, shiny and youthful. With one taste, a hint of garlic shows through, perhaps in the sauce. Alas with evening plans already secured, the garlic infused salad was set aside. And so to the roast, a well cooked chicken cocooning deliciously mashed potatoes in a pool of gravy. Every bite is indeed a hug. Based on the waitress’s recommendation, we order the apple tart for dessert. A step down from the main course, but not disappointing, but also not exciting. Having beautiful roast chicken at D&A, I summoned my mother to give the restaurant a try, a hard woman to please she is. Happy with her grilled fish, but unhappy with the soggy fish and chips my father ordered she returns with mixed reviews. Contrary to recent reports, the fish and chips seem to be a hit and miss for the classic British restaurant. And now a place for the beach and potentially to eat. Also relatively newly opened in JBH is Jamie’s Italian. Well done to them for giving their F&B offerings a well needed rejuvenation. Will I return, yes! I was very happy with the experience of the space and the dish I ordered. When will I return exactly, I’m not quite sure, on what occasion or what time of day, again, I’m not so sure…
THE DETAILS
LOCATION Jumeirah Beach Hotel OPENING HRS. 12 - 11:30 CUISINE British PRICE PER COUPLE AED 250 TELEPHONE # type 04 4068999 WEBSITE D&A
THE FORK-O-METER
Because I Don't Have a 3.5 Image

Bits and Pieces of Me

Al Quoz
This is post is more of a Hey There kind of post. If you’re at work enjoying a quick break, having your morning coffee or just perusing through, Hi! Thanks for stopping by, how have you been? Anything new on your front, I would love to hear about it. I thought I’d share some updates with you. Over the past 6 months, and since I’ve returned from my trip to Spain, my fascination with photography has grown day by day, both for food and for spaces. My weekends, much to the dismay of my close friends, have transformed into photographer weekends. Meaning very early to bed for the very early to rise combination in pursuit of good lighting. My evening social activities have dwindled, but my time spent clicking away has increased, oh how I love the inescapable tradeoff rule. What’s all this for? An attempt to reach the wholly trinity of My Job = My Career = My Calling. Currently I’m at the Should I? No wait could I? phase of getting there, also known as Phase 1. Well at least I started. Also part of Phase 1 is a complete redesign of my baby Fork It Over Dubai to better showcase my photos. This will allow you to instantly get an idea of the look and feel of a Restaurant I review. In terms of nourishing my soul, let’s talk travel. Other then the sprinkling of weddings throughout summer, I’ll be staying put in Dubai. My big travel plans will come in October and I can’t wait to share them with you closer to the date. What are your plans? I leave you with some shots I took over the weekend in Al Quoz, one of my favored spots in Dubai. Housed in the linear, beige and blue warehouses are some of the most fluid and creative ideas bursting to get out. As if the bareness of Al Quoz fosters creativity. I wonder, does a creative space make you more or less creative? Speak soon! Love, Tala

The Counter Burger

The Counter Burger
What is it with women and loyalty? Women have an exceptional ability, inclination rather, to be loyal and in most cases when it’s not due. Whether to her man, her Company or even her favorite restaurant. An inherent gene that seems to have been overlooked in her counterpart. A weakness? As first glance, yes. But it makes our passion for that perfect dish, that deal we just secured or that spot, that couch we love so much more deep. There’s nothing more honorable then loving with depth. I am loyal. When the clock strikes 12 am I know there is only one place I’d want to be, always. And that’s Elevation Burger. With the surge of burger joints around the city, I pass most of them off as not good enough to even sample. Although with the hype of The Counter Burger and in the name of restaurant reviewing, I find myself seated at a booth ticking my way through building my own burger. Side order of fries, chilly and guilt – tick. An interesting selection of both classic and unique toppings ranging from blue cheese, guacamole and onion rings. They arrive plump and looking their best for first impressions. That first bite is new and by default exciting. Stacked too high I would say and the bread beautifully shiny but doesn’t melt how I like it to. And at the end a portion of the burger is left uneaten. Not because it isn’t appetizing but because it isn’t that perfect size. The chili and onion rings are spot on. I thank the Counter Burger for a delicious first date. But then say it’s not you but it’s me and we could never be, we just didn’t click. The clock strikes 12 am, and I’m in his arms again, on that couch [booth], having my usual favorite Elevation burger and I couldn’t be happier. Yes, I am woman, I am loyal, hear me roar.
THE DETAILS
LOCATION The Beach JBR OPENING HRS. 10 am to 12 am CUISINE Burger PRICE PER COUPLE AED 110 WEBSITE The Counter Burger
THE FORK-O-METER
The Beach Burger Spot

Spill The Bean

Spill the Bean
Those tiles. How they take me back. To the beautiful and grunge, the opportunity and excitement. Traditional, Lebanese, that adorned the floors of Hamra, a university city in my beloved Lebanon. Many a days I spent walking along those tiles, experiencing new ideas, new loves and the new found freedom of being me. By default how can I not be nostalgic, again stepping on them, more then a handful of years later, in Dubai, older, more experienced, and somewhat subdued by the ‘have to’s’ of the grown up world. My finger browsing along the colorful bookshelf. And stop. It rests on a title “The Road Less Traveled, A new phycology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth.” A subconscious yearning for what I felt when younger? Slipping out the book I rest on a stool, sunglasses off and phone to the side.  "Pancakes and coffee, Mexican single origin please.”  I request from the waiter. Friends soon follow with their choice of literature. I close “The Road Less Traveled.” A treasure, that necessitates my undivided attention. My pancakes arrive, fluffy and honey stripped in tune with the healthy mindset of the space. I finish the cakes and mop up all traces of honey as I sip my single blend. Once you go single, you can never go back.  The complications and baggage don’t exist, shining through only something pure. As the hours pass and the chit chat flows while the literature read we order the egg. A touch under seasons, but a dish you feel an old friend has created. Eggs with fresh vegetables on toast, a classic. At the helm of Spill the Bean is the space and the coffee. I find myself returning, alone even, grabbing my corner, coffee and book, loosing myself in my thoughts and feeling at home.  
THE DETAILS
LOCATION Sunset Mall OPENING HRS. 8 to 8 CUISINE Coffee PRICE PER COUPLE AED 100 TELEPHONE # 04 3388559 WEBSITE Spill The Bean
THE FORK-O-METER
Coffee and Book Spot

Cafe Rider

Cafe Rider
Construction, sand, trucks, fumes, industrial – Al Quoz. Enter. Minimal, serene, cool, that jazz type of cool – Café Rider. The espresso. The kind of bitter that’s sweet. The kind of brown that’s rich. And the kind of aroma that makes you smile and nod. Do I have a croissant? No. I don’t want to. Keeping it just motor bikes and coffee is fine by me. The clientele, not your typical bearded and patched up jeans that you would think, but more of a sophisticated rider. The one that loves beautiful lines and curves and nothing more than the freedom of a ride. A handful of bikes, mistresses, on display down the middle of the space, posing. I know nothing about bikes, but I can always appreciate beauty in all its forms. Custom your own starting at a cool 90 grand. Will I make my own bike? No. Will I buy a helmet? No. Will I return? Always. On trend with the rise of independent concepts, Café Rider, is a creative space that aims to bring people together who share the same passion – lovely. The owner, a banker who craves to share and express his passion, how can I not relate to that. Respect.
THE DETAILS
LOCATION Al Quoz OPENING HRS. 8am - 7pm CUISINE Coffee PRICE PER COUPLE AED 50 TELEPHONE # 04 321 4411 WEBSITE Cafe Rider
THE FORK-O-METER
Craving Bikes and Coffee

Ghaz Forks it Over

Ghaz
It's no secret that I adore creative people. It may have stemmed from being around the mathematical kind for the better part of my life. My classmates while completing a degree in Economics or my MBA program and finally my colleagues in my full time banking job. All brilliant no doubt, but I could always understand and even predict their trail of thought, linear. On the contrary, watching a creative mind think, getting from point A to point B, is a wonderful process that fascinates me. A creative mind that I can't speak highly enough of is Ghazwan. Founder of Maek Design, a design house that has worked with Mercedes, Nokia, Make, Ferrari World and many more. Among many other things, Ghazwan is the creative direction behind the look and feel of Restronaut, a social dining concept we both are co-founders of. Working together over the past year has been a delight and experiencing his obsession for beautiful design is lovely. After discovering his cooking skills and after countless emails harassing asking him to create something delicious to share on my blog, I receive an invite to his kitchen one Friday morning.  "Yes, I'm most definitely free!" I say. Camera in hand and off I go, the rest is below. How was the cheesecake? It was as delicious as it was beautiful. Creamy and velvety,  and instead of tasting sweet, it tastes of whispers of vanilla topped with fresh fruits and crunchy caramel. Thank you Ghaz for welcoming me into your home. It's been lovely working with you this past year and wish for many more years to come. Tala     If your looking for a trail of discovery, check out my food trail set to uncover Dubai's best. http://www.dubaifoodfestival.com/culinary-scene/tala-soubra-fork-it-over-dubai/