Wednesday, October 31, 2007

9 hours where???

'Nine hours,' I mused.

What would you do if you had nine hours to spare?
(A) Play Grand Theft Auto until your eyes turn red from the bulging veins;
(B) Read Larousse Gastronomique (all of 1,360 pages) cover to cover;
(C) Sleep; or
(D) Have dinner at Abu Dhabi.

It was a tough decision. Really.

With minutes to spare before the plane landed at the Abu Dhabi airport where nine long transit hours awaited, we were still undecided.

As we stepped into the crowded airport and noticed the number of people sleeping on the floor in the cramped surroundings, the only obvious answer stared us in our faces. We headed for the first exit straight into the blustering heat of Abu Dhabi and hailed a cab.

Nothing prepared us for the heat. It didn't slowly creep up on us, like how it is here in Malaysia. This was more of a guerilla attack - quick and sudden. In less than five seconds, my clothes were drenched.

Nevertheless, our spontaneous attempt at adventure prevented me from dwelling too much on my wet T-shirt look as I drank in the stark scenery en-route to the city.

The breaking of fast had taken place just a few minutes earlier as we exited the airport. It was a heartwarming sight to see groups of people clad in loose robes gathering around huge plates of food. Quiet conversation. An overall atmosphere of thanksgiving as dusk fell on earth.

The handsome Tom Cruise lookalike air steward and transplanted blogger, Kat, had both recommended the Lebanese Flower Restaurant to us, so with only nine hours to spare and no Lonely Planet guide, we took their advice. I threw caution to the wind on Arabian etiquette and walked straight in to the restaurant, hoping that I wasn't breaking any laws (that is, in itself, an indication of what an ignoramus I am).

My ignorance was further amplified when I looked at the menu, having eaten middle eastern food only once before in Al-Nafourah in Le Meridien. Thankfully, there were pictures and an amazingly patient waiter who struggled to explain the various dishes to us.

starter starter

We were given a plate of raw and pickled vegetables which we presumed was the equivalent of getting peanuts at a chinese restaurant prior to the meal. With a squeeze of lemon juice, it was a refreshing start to the meal.


The hummus came complimentary too with a side helping of pita bread. Essentially made of ground chickpeas, the hummus came with olive oil poured in the centre of the "well". I enjoyed swishing pieces of pita bread in the hummus - such a simple dish but oh so satisfying.

falafel with tahina sauce

Little did I know that the next dish would also be made primarily with chickpeas. The falafel is approximately the size of a ping pong ball and is fried until it turns golden brown. The closest Malaysian dish which I think resembles a falafel is the paruppu vadai although that is made with lentils. The texture, however, is somewhat the same. The falafel was served with a tahina sauce - a smooth creamy textured sauce made of sesame seeds.

mixed grill

By this point, I had chickpeas coming out through my nose. So it was a relief to see our main course, a mixed grill dish, arrive. The charred smell of the meat tantalised my nose and cleared it of all the excess chickpeas. There must have been something in the marinade that made the different types of meat taste so wonderful. The good thing is that the meats didn't come masked in sauces, thus enabling us to enjoy the dish for what it was.

escalope cordon bleu meat with chicken

The final dish was a mistake for two reasons. Firstly, we had over ordered, so there was no way we could finish eating this. Secondly, the escalope cordon bleu came with a sauce that screamed commercial tomato ketchup and the thick cut fries served on the side didn't help alleviate my negative reaction.

Emirates Palace

Despite the final dish, we left the restaurant stuffed and contented. With another six hours to go before catching the connecting flight, we whiled away our time seated in the lobby of the luxurious and opulent Emirates Palace. It certainly beats being cooped up in the airport together with 1,000 other passengers. :-)

To the glorious people of Abu Dhabi, click here to view pics. :-)


Big Boys Oven said...

I love hummus, they are love with crackers! When in UK I alway have M&S ready make meals, and hummus is mine first choice, great with wine too.

RP said...

Looks like you spent the nine hours in the most delicious way! You didn't have a dessert? :)

Chubbypanda said...

That is such an awesome intro. I love it.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

haha looks like hummus seems to be the only thing i recognise too!..

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

BBO: Hummus is lovely, isn't it? :-)

rp: Our priority was food, of course. :-) And we were too stuffed to have dessert. :-P

chubbypanda: haha...thank ye!

Nipples: There's so much to learn, isn't there?

Tummythoz said...

Food exceptionally expensive there?

Kenny Mah said...

I read this eating some homecooked lunch and well, if my own efforts were closer to this side of dismal, at least your post left a better aftertaste on my palate... ;)

kat said...

Aah.. the lovely heat of the desert. You should have been here a month earlier, it was even hotter! To recreate the experience at home, just switch on your oven and swing open the oven door to get that instant blast of heat in your face...

Oh ya, forgot to tell you. After sampling all the starters and free-flowing bread, you'd do well with just one plate of mixed grill to share. And I have never ever had the chance to order dessert. An extra mug of avocado juice is usually all we can manage (which I should have asked you to order. It is the best fockin juice ever!!) but even that is pushing it. Did you get that garlicky-yoghurty dip as well? Soooo addictive with the flat bread. And it was here that we were first introduced to fat stalks of daun bawang as part of the salad.

Argus Lou said...

What?! No cincaluk for breaking fast?! Oh, I have a craving for it... help.

Lovely pics, by the way. ;-)

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

tummythoz: the price of food is similar to Malaysia. Very affordable.

kenny:LOL! Actually hor, homecooked food is always better, isn't it? :-P

kat: Now u tell me! LOL. I was almost puking from the abundance of food! Thanks for the recommendation anyway, dear. It was a great restaurant for a 9 hour visit. I only wish we could have met up then!

argus: oh dear...that's a terrible craving to have. Even if u tried fermenting prawns, I don't think it'd look anything like the glorioius stinky cencaluk from Malacca! LOL.

Henry Yeo said...

ready for the Gourmet Festival?
See you on Wednesday

mama bok said...

What an experience.. :)