Dubai, 2011: Once upon a time, if I wanted to learn a new art technique or a craft, or even attend master chef classes, I would end up taking classes in Hong Kong, Thailand or the UK. These days, it’s possible to do all these classes right here in Dubai. As an artist, I like colour, but it doesn’t have to be in the form of a watercolour palette; it could take on the shape of a cooking class where colourful vegetables are all chopped up and ready to be sautéed either on their own or with fish, or chicken.
I was recently invited to a Wafi masterclass demonstration at Under One Roof in Dubai’s Al Quoz area. I have already written about my experience at the Park Hotel Apartments and Arabian Park Hotel, a part of the Wafi group of companies. I was content to sit back and let Chef Mariano Andres from the Spanish restaurant Seville’s at Wafi Mall, do all the cooking, while I did the eating (along with fellow attendees). In case you don’t know what Under One Roof is: Under One Roof showroom boasts of home improvements all under one roof (simple yet effective concept).
The kitchen is a girl’s best friend when you have got the delectable cuisine down to an art ; the place where spices and flavour combine into a favourable blend to the palette.
We were seated at the Under One Roof designer kitchen and the chef demonstrated at the Metris kitchen setting. Bokashi, with the concept of recycling all food leftovers (whether raw or cooked), were present and the photos in this article were taken by them. I had decided to leave my camera back home so that I could just be in the moment and taste the moment of life as it were.
We were given a fine demo of gamba al ajillo (prawns in garlic as starters), gazpacho (raw cucumber soup) and the ever favourite choice Paella. After each demo, we were served a sample. Coupled with free flow of non-alcoholic Sangria, I was pretty relaxed and observant.
Here were some of my observations:
- Gazpacho was quite surprising to my palette. I didn’t realise one could have soup so tasty whilst preserving the raw flavour of cucumber but so smooth to gulp down.
- In Spanish culture, for Paella, you will actually put the full (unshelled) prawns. You remove the shell, pull the head out and suck the juices. In many cultures, this is a no no. But I have a secret; I’ve actually tasted the head as he mentioned and it’s got quite a flavour.
- For Paella, it is best to cook the chicken first, then add the squid rings. After the rice is cooked, then add the mussels, clams and tomatoes at the end. Best use hammour (local UAE fish) as it doesn’t flake. Otherwise, if you are using other fish which tend to flake, coat in flour and fry quickly before adding to the rice
- For fish stock, use rock fish! A simple fish stock recipe is onion, bay leaves, rock fish, water. Boil down to 1 ½ litres. This usually takes 30 minutes.
- The most important observation. What a great time to observe different people. Some came as part of a group of friends, others to enjoy the demo and the food, but one lady stood out. She actually tasted each morsel of food as if it was the only one that existed. A chef in the making?
As for me, I’m off to Sevilles after my round-the-UK trip. The mix of delightful cuisine with the chef’s jokes is not to be missed.
Visit Under One Roof.
Visit Wafi Group of companies
Visit Bokashi’s facebook page