Category Archives: I Fork It Over

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/

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! http://www.dubaifoodfestival.com/culinary-scene/ 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…

Lunch
Love, Tala  

Power of Creation

Spain
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

Astei
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

Espania!

Espania
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

Fraiche
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  

A Weekend in Beirut

Beirut
I was in Lebanon this past weekend for a beautiful wedding and I just wanted to share a couple of snaps of my trip... mostly food of course. Enjoy! x  

Strawberries and the Beach

Beach
I enjoy the experience of creating, whether it’s creating a blog post, pictures, an almond tart or even dinner experiences. If I have created something, then it is a day well spent. Idleness is my biggest pet peeve, and I’m strictly stubborn about being un-idle.  I don’t go to the movies, I don’t watch TV and I don’t just do nothing. But there’s something about spending the whole day lying on the beach that’s so satisfying. At sunset with my hair curled from the sea water and my shoulders rosé from the sun, I always have a feeling of contentment. Is it being close to nature? Or maybe it’s being close to a body that is full of power and energy, two things I’m constantly attracted to. Rather than a spot to get away, the beach is a place that reenergizes me. With my book in hand, I always find myself drifting off to the sea. Staring at its endless horizon, it’s crashing waves and admiring the unknown of what it holds in its deepest blue. So it’s not surprising that every Friday, regardless of weather, you’ll find me on the beach! Leaning into my fridge, I see beautiful strawberries my mother purchased a few days ago and remember Jamie. Opening my drawer full of One of These Days Recipes I find Jamie’s Charred Eggy Bread With Strawberries and Honey and think this is the perfect pre beach breakfast, fresh yet filling. Getting my mise en place in order, I take out a must have in everyone’s kitchen, a cast iron stove top grill. Living 60 something floors up, I may not have the luxury of a barbeque but I have something that comes close. Cooking on a cast iron grill makes everything crispier rather than soggier which I get from everyday pans. Dipping my bread into the organic egg and milk mixture, I dust it with sugar and place it on the bottom half of the hot grill and it welcomes it with a sizzle. I then throw my sliced and sugar dusted strawberries on the top half. Waiting for everything to caramelized, I have a sip of coffee and flip through my summer plans. A few minutes later I plate my toast, top it with a spoonful of ricotta, grilled strawberries then honey and finally lemon zest. The warm bread forms a crispy crust from the caramelized sugar while the ricotta cools the almost soft strawberries with a sprinkle of lemon zest for freshness. Casually enjoying my last slice of strawberry and smudge of honey, I never rush food, I put on my swimming suit, kaftan, hat, sunglass, and towel in hand, off I go. And yes, I did ‘borrow’ the towel from Jumeirah Beach Hotel, but with the amount I pay for a single day entrance, on the rare occasion I don’t go to a public beach, I should be taking home the beach chair as well. A beautiful day at the beach makes everything colorful again! For the link to the full recipe, click here. Love, Tala