Category Archives: I Fork It Over

A Taste of Photography

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

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

Ghaz Forks it Over

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.

Dubai Gourmet Food Trail

Gourmet Food Trail
I was recently contacted by the Dubai Food Festival to help dredge out a trail that I would be more then willing to get my hands dirty for, a gourmet trail actually. The Dubai Gourmet Trail is a trail that winds you through Dubai, the old the new the swanky and the not to swanky restaurants that it has to offer. Forget the tour bus, if you want to explore Dubai through a differing angle, I’d suggest this trail. Why I personally love this initiative is because it was created by some of Dubai’s best food blogger. It wasn’t a company that paid to get on the trial or that one business man that exerted his influence, restaurants on the trail are there because of there merits and nothing more. The lovely ladies involved in the making of include Foodiva, The Hedonista, WhenShaikhaCooks, Saba Wahid, and Secretsquirrelfood. We each recommended 5 restaurants under Arabian Inspirations, Around the World, Best Cheap Eats, Best-Kept Secrets and Ultimate Dining Experiences for a total of 25 of the top restaurants. Have a look at all our recommendations and I hope you enjoy the trail! Love, Tala

The Beaches of Sitges and the Padron Peppers

Beaches Stiges Pepper of Spain
I had just spent more then a handful of days in the Basque Country with a group of more than inspiring women surrounded by nature, crisp air and the serenity that comes with embracing the countryside. Stepping out of my cab, a stone throw away from La Rambla in Barcelona, almost trampled over by a group of Russians on tour, I think to myself, wait… I’m not ready yet. I lug my bags over the curb and under the view of another tourist, a Chinese this time, taking a photo of his beautiful family and check myself into my hotel. I freshen up grab my fedora hat and off I go to get out of the city. One ticket to Sitges please – the easiest and only town I know closest to Barcelona. After taking the wrong train, I don’t get the Spanish train system, I arrive to something more quaint, white low buildings, winding alleyways and the sounds of the beach not far away. Tourists? Yes, but nothing compared to Barcelona. Walking along the beach, a smile appears on my face as I take in the breeze and the blues of the water. I perch myself on a café stool, hungry from all the commute and browse through the menu for comfort food. My eyes and heart stopped at a plate of fried Padron peppers. A dish a didn’t grow up with, a dish I never knew existed 9 days prior and yet is my comfort food. Tied to it, beautiful memories I had in the Basque. As I pluck each warm pepper from its stem while enjoying a cool beer and salami along the beach, the feeling of comfort sets. A few hours later, happily tanned, that beautiful bronze Mediterranean tan, I begin to gather my things and enjoy my last moments of Sitges. Finally reaching Barcelona after getting off on the wrong stop, I still don’t get the train system, I strategize ways of getting as much peppers as I can back to Dubai. 7 am the next morning, positioned at the center of the farmer’s market, I’m loading up on peppers before catching my 10 am flight back to Dubai. If you do get your hands on some Padron peppers, please remember sharing is caring (just kidding… or am I?) try out this recipe, it couldn’t be simpler and is wonderful with some cheese and salami. Love, Tala   Ingredients: 500 g fresh padron peppers 1 cup olive oil ½ tablespoon coarse salt Preparation: Wash the peppers in cool water and dry thoroughly. Keep the stems on the peppers. Add the olive oil to a deep pan and let the oil heat up, around 3 minutes. Add a handful of peppers to the oil and cook for a round 3 minutes and turn occasionally so both sides are evenly cooked. Spoon out the peppers and place them on a paper towel. Repeat the above until all the peppers are cooked. Place the peppers in a serving bowl add the salt and serve warm.

The Basque Country…

Love, Tala  

Power of Creation

Everyone has their guilty.... not so much pleasures... or aspirations... but maybe satisfactions, like fame or fortune. I'm not one to care for either of the two, but I will confess a satisfaction towards power or the ability to control a desired outcome. I'm a self taught photographer. In certain circumstances I'm conformable enough to say I do have a good eye for setting up a frame, although nothing beyond that. My photos are usually a product of my environment rather than the art of photography. Day one, the holy trinity of camera basics, aperture, shutter speed and ISO. Three concepts I knew of and that were dangling around in my head but were never thoroughly understood or put into practice. Two hours later post explanation, post aha moment and watching Aran at work, I approach my cool metallic sardines. I look Bob and Fred (the sardines) in the eyes, and say "I can sum you up in three numbers... I know you... I think... I hope..." Pushing a button here changing a dial there my trinity is set and I'm ready for the click. Click Holly.... wow! Though far from perfection, for the first time, I feel power, I feel the ability to manipulate my camera to generate the outcome I want and most importantly I feel in control of creation and the art of photography. Love, Tala

Waking Up To Green

After a 7 hour flight, a 4 hour layover and another 1 hour flight to Bilbao airport, I flag down a cab and say "Astei por favor". Winding through the darkness I realize that the as flat as Dubai is, is how hilly the Basque is. Up, down, around, over and around again cutting through whats seems to be an endless wall of trees. After a near case of car sickness and 2 phone calls later at half past 11 pm I finally arrive. Stepping out of the taxi, a woman in the later half of her years exclaims, "Tala! You have reached!" while throwing open her arms for a hug. What feels like the warmth of a long lost aunt I fall into her arms and say "Finally", a perfect end to my journey and welcome to may stay. "Come, come, I show you to your cabin..." Rolling my oversized bag over to my cabin and between the darkness I see balls of fur scurrying through the grass.  With my slight hesitation my aunt responds "It's rabbits, don worry." Reaching my cabin I'm handed the keys and given a tour of my space, thanking Mertxe I ask how to lock the door before I dive into bed. "Tala! you are in the Caauntry, there's no thief here... no need to lock" Rabbits, country.... where the hell am I? I wonder as a burry myself into bed. At the first sign of dawn, my eyes open, I frantically rush to my door, swing it wide open and before me, nothing but green, actually bunnies and green. Hmmm... beautiful... It's a green you not only see, but smell, taste and feel. With 4 hours before everyone meets, we hop on the train back to the city to visit the Guggenheim. I only accept to go along with 1 touristy plan per vacation and the below is this vacation's.   Would I go back, would I recommend it, probably not. Schedules, tours and plans are never my thing when I'm exploring a new place. All I want to do is rome around the streets and pop into every hole in the wall I can find. On our return, the whole group has arrived and dinner is well under way. Simple, fresh food is prepared as we get to know each other a little more. The tomatoes.... Olla! They make me smile the whole way back to my cabin. And look who I found to greet me at my doorstep after a light drizzle.... Speak soon! Love, Tala


Olla!! I’m currently in a four-hour layover in Barcelona, Blibao bound (The basque country, North of Spain) and I thought it would be the perfect time to update you on what’s coming up in the next 12 days. Before I begin, a side note about Barcelona Airport, I like it. As I type these words, I’m sitting outside (yes they have an out door area within the airport) enjoying the breeze, an espresso, free wifi and tall/dark/handsome men that seem to be everywhere I look. Back to the itinerary, a couple of months ago I was accepted into a dream come true kind of work shop with one of the best food bloggers/photographers I know of, Aran Goyoaga from the award winning blog Cannelle et Vanille. The lifestyle and food photography workshop will be held in Aran’s home town in the North of Spain and over the course of 5 days SHE will be teaching ME, along with 8 other women, the ins and outs of photography. In a nutshell, its like having one of your inspirations or idols teaching you your passion – wow. After Bilbao I will be taking a car, road trip, to San Sebastian a must visit for any soul who proclaims themselves a foodie, with the highest per capita of Michelin stars of any city in the world. A reservation is already secured at Mugaritz #4 on the worlds Top 50 Restaurants. A disclaimer was clearly mentioned on my confirmation email from Mugaritz informing me to set aside around 3 hours for the tasting experience, hell yea! And finally, a train back down to Barcelona for another three days to experience the beaches, tapas and aged cuts of ham and meat. Updates and photos to follow soon! One more thing, wherever I have traveled or whenever people try to guess my nationality, I always get Spanish, so on some level, I feel like I’m somewhere close to home. Adios! I'll leave you with a glimpse of Aran's amazing work:

Fraiche – #WatchThisSpace

This is strictly a #WatchThisSpace kind of post. Fraiche recently opened (Soft Opening) in JLT in early July. Stepping into Fraiche I notice the beautiful brickwork that surrounds the space which instantly gives it a warm vibe. Setting my eyes on the extra large communal table I smile, turn to the owner and say "I'll be pack on Tuesday... with some of my friends." I usually like posting reviews only after official openings, but I couldn't help it. Here's a couple of snaps of the evening, full review to come as soon as they officially open - September I think. #FIODT Powered by Restronaut. Love, Tala