Food Features

The Majlis Dubai: Camel Milk Café

by Christine Salins on September 27, 2014

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Camels have been the mainstay of traditional Arab life for centuries, not only for transport but also for sustenance. Despite having ridden these ships of the desert more times than I care to remember, I’ve never actually tasted their milk. So when I came across a camel milk café in the Dubai Mall, it was most definitely time for a rest stop.

As an aside, you can do with a rest while browsing around the mall, for like everything in Dubai, the mall is very big – big enough to have not just a walk-through aquarium and underwater zoo, but an ice skating rink as well. It’s said to be the biggest shopping mall in the world.

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Even though we were looking not buying, we were still tired from all the walking, so we welcomed a break at this lovely café. The Majlis opened in Dubai Mall in 2012 in a joint project between Emirates Industry and Al Nassma, which produces the camel milk products. There are now two other cafés as well, one at Jumeirah Grand Mosque and one at Arabian Adventures’ desert camp.

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The cafés sell a range of chocolates made from camel milk, including the impressive big one at the top of this post. There are also little camel-shaped chocolates in gift boxes, camel milk icecream, and chocolate bars ranging from 70% cocoa down to milk chocolate with orange and macadamia, dates, cardamom and so on. Yum!

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The café has its own coffee blend made from Ethiopian beans, which it serves with camel milk in hot drinks such as Camelccino and Camellatte. I had an iced coffee made from camel milk (see above) and was pleasantly surprised by the milk’s subtle flavour. Never a milk lover, cow or camel, Maurie had a refreshing mint and lemon drink which was bursting with flavour, goodness and vibrant colour.

All of the café’s baked goods – muffins, sweets etc – are made from camel milk. Coffee lovers will also find cinnamon, Turkish and Arabic green coffee, “Qahwah” (served from a traditional Dalla coffee pot) and other beverages from the Middle East such as local teas and Karkadeh, made from dried flowers. It also does fresh fruit juices and sandwiches.

Located in the “Souk” at Dubai Mall, The Majlis is a relaxing oasis with a small fountain at its heart and an Arabic sense of place.

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Some interesting facts about camel milk: it is naturally low in fat, containing about half the fat content of cow’s milk. It is much richer in minerals, calcium and vitamin C than cow’s milk. Camel milk and dates were the traditional diet of the Bedouins until the mid 20th century. There are no known allergies to camel millk; it might be easier for those with lactose intolerance to digest.

There’s a sad ending to this tale: we bought one of the chocolate bars to sample at home, but accidentally left it and a bag of other exquisite chocolates at a café in Abu Dhabi airport. Someone, somewhere, is hopefully enjoying our extravagant purchases.

Fact file:

The Majlis Dubai
Dubai Mall, United Arab Emirates

Visit: www.themajlisdubai.com

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Room With a Vue

by Alise Salins on September 23, 2014

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Just in time for Brisbane’s fireworks spectacular, Riverfire, La Vue opens on the Brisbane River waterfront with a bang.

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Set against the spectacular backdrop of the Brisbane River and Story Bridge, La Vue is not only a feast for the tastebuds, but also the eyes.

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Enjoy Tiger prawns thermidor with dressed rocket and potato rosti ($39), or perhaps Lamb rump with sweet potato custard and rosemary jus ($38). To finish, choose from dishes such as Summer berry and champagne terrine ($15) or Chocolate fondant with macerated strawberries and hazelnut praline ($15).

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The menu is fresh and inventive – both the sous chef and head chef Mark Wright have spent many years honing their skills in the Brisbane restaurant scene.

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Perfect for lunch or a romantic dinner, La Vue is now open on the northern end of Queen Street, Brisbane.

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Fact File:

La Vue Waterfront Restaurant
1/501 Queen Street,
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Tel: +61 7 3831 1400

www.lavuerestaurant.com.au

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Help Kickstart the Fonte ‘Tough Love’ cast iron pan

by Christine Salins on September 9, 2014

Fonte Tough Love cast iron pan

Mark Henry is a man on a mission. I first got to know him years ago when he launched his Füri knives onto the market. They’re still among my favourite knives and have really stood the test of time. Always an innovator, Mark has now created a cast iron pan, which he is launching via the crowdfunding site Kickstarter.com

If you pledge $99 towards the project, you’ll be rewarded with one of the Fonte ‘Tough Love’ pans, shipped free in Australia. This is the same price the pans will sell for when they are released onto the market, and you’ll have the added bonus that they will have “First Edition” and the casting date stamped on the bottom.

You’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve helped get the project off the ground. But you’ll have to hurry as the Kickstarter appeal has a deadline of September 21. (I should stress here that this is NOT a sponsored post. I’m just happy to be spreading the word as I know Mark and admire his work.)

Mark HenryMark is the founder and engineer behind the well-known Füri knives business, which he sold in 2008. After decades of making knives and equipment for chefs in Australia, the USA and France, and exporting them all around the world, he has turned to creating cast iron pans.

While living in the USA, he found it interesting to see that American cooks had a long tradition of using cast iron pans. In recent years, there has been a huge rebirth of interest in cast iron cooking there as people seek a more natural alternative to non-stick polymer coatings.

Mark hopes that with his innovative new version of old technology, Aussie cooks might also embrace the cast iron revival.

Mark wanted to keep “all the good stuff” and improve on the traditional weaknesses of cast iron cookware. “I wanted to retain the best natural properties of cast iron pans, like their even heating and high temperature searing ability, and their famous multi-century durability,” he said. “If you can trust the source of the iron they are also the safest material to cook on, with no non-stick chemicals, just natural oil seasoning.”

The Fonte ‘Tough Love’ pans have been given a graceful French shape like a Lyonnaise sauteuse pan. (It is said that rounded-walled pans best for the sauté toss originated in Lyon, France.

Although cute, the racy love handles of the Fonte ‘Tough Love’ pans, long ergonomic handles with heart-shaped palm pads, are not a gimmick. “They’re carefully engineered for more comfort, control and less heat transfer up the handle – for high performance for chefs. It was about time someone did something about those uncomfortable, hot, stubby little handles on cast iron pans.”

Fonte Tough Love cast iron pans

For food safety, Mark wanted super-clean and trustworthy Australian cast iron. He is proudly manufacturing in Australia, even though he is under no illusion as to the inevitably higher cost.

Fonte Tough Love cast iron pans

The only way to get hold of the Fonte pan initially will be through Kickstarter.com. Once the project is off the ground, the pans will be distributed through retail outlets. The Fonte pan is the first in a long line of innovations that Mark expects will come from his new company, Solidteknics.

“We have three very interesting patents pending for other kitchenware innovations, so if Kickstarter really works for Fonte Tough Love pans in Australia, we may launch the other new products in the same way,” Mark said.

Here’s a link to the Kickstarter appeal if you’d like to become involved.

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