Tag Archives: Dubai brunch

31st March 2015

Family Update: Beach, Brunch, and Bicycles

Both my parents and my sister have been in Dubai at various points in the last few weeks, so we have been very busy. This weekend was especially nice as their trips overlapped, meaning we were all together for a couple of days. On Friday morning, we started the day at the beach.

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It’s getting hot now and I know our beach mornings will come to an end soon, so we are making the most of them by heading down at least a couple of times a week. We used to always head to Palace Beach in the car; a relatively quiet beach, with great views of Burj al Arab and Palm Jumeriah. But since THE BEACH complex, opposite JBR, has been completed, we head down there. It’s a 5-minute walk from our apartment and has great facilities; toilets, showers, sun lounger and umbrella rental, and an endless choice of places to pick up coffee and pastries so we can have a beach breakfast.

Both my boys adore the beach. Wilfred especially has no fear and crawls boldly into the sea without even flinching when the cold waves lap his tummy. We have to keep a careful eye on them, but I find the whole experience much more relaxing than going to the pool where I am constantly worried about them slipping and falling in. They’ve already started to play with each other too, building and knocking down sandcastles, filling up holes with water, and using the spades to draw on the sand – and I can see this will only get better as they grow up.

After showering off the sand, I headed off to Friday Brunch with my parents and sister at Mina al Salam, The Madinat. This is my very favourite brunch in Dubai.

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For those of you that haven’t been to a brunch in Dubai, these are pretty grand affairs. Everyone gets dressed up and it’s treated like a special occasion. There is food from every cuisine imaginable, as far as the eye can see – and Mina al Salam spreads over three hotel restaurants, so it’s one of the biggest in Dubai. You have four hours to devour everything from sushi, to lobster, to shell fish, to cold meats and salads, to full-on roasts, to whole restaurants dedicated to Chinese, another dedicated to Mexican, stalls outside serving burgers and fish & chips, Arabic cuisine, a whole room dedicated to cheese, and a desert selection that will finish you off. Whether you fancy a glass or bubbles, cocktails, or want to stick to soft drinks, you won’t go thirsty either.

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We had a great table overlooking Burj al Arab – and as The World Cup horse race was the next day, there were obviously a lot of pretty important people in town and helicopters landed on the helipad every five minutes throughout our brunch. I also love the fact that Mina al Salam has a turtle sanctuary, so I spent some time watching these amazing creatures swimming between courses. It was a really lovely afternoon and definitely reaffirmed my love for this city (maybe that had something to do with the kids being at home with their Dad so I got a much-needed break for a few hours). Either way, I really recommend this brunch. I’ve tried a lot across the city and this is still my favourite.

The next day, my parents went down to Abu Dhabi for a beach barbecue (a belated Mother’s Day treat), so we had a quiet day at home – and that meant it was the perfect opportunity to surprise Stanley with his early birthday present – a balance bike.

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The surprise went down well and he spent the first 5 minutes cycling around our apartment with a massive smile on his face – but after a few near misses with a crawling baby (convinced at the age of 14 months that he should also get a go on the balance bike), we decided to head down to the promenade underneath our apartment. He found it very difficult and nearly gave up a few times, but with the help of his Dad, his confidence grew and he was soon pushing along himself. He needs a lot more practice, but I think he’ll get the hang of it soon.

We are off to the UK on Friday, so my next family update will be from home shores. Wish me luck on the flight – my husband is staying at home, so my sister and I will be juggling the two boys for 7.5 hours and the jetlag repercussions will be totally down to me. I already predict I will be relying quite heavily on my friend caffeine next week, so expect many coffee-relalated updates and perhaps some incoherent babbling…

6th February 2015

Family Update: Today was all about eating food

photo 21Friday is the first day of the weekend in Dubai – and the theme of today has been eating food.

We woke up early (don’t we always?) and I got to work in the kitchen cooking pancakes, as we do every weekend. Stanley helps me to mix the batter and watches as I cook each pancake, before running to his little table to scoff them down and returning for the next one. His little brother can usually eat just as many pancakes, so they are a big weekend tradition in our house that both the boys seem to look forward to and enjoy.

This weekend, however, I decided to give them a twist with a dash of food colouring. We made these “rainbow pancakes” with exactly the same recipe we always use, before dividing the batter into different bowls and adding a dash of natural food colouring to each (our natural colourings are from Waitrose). We only had green, yellow and blue in the house – red would’ve made our stack much more colourful as we could have made both red and purple, so that’s something to add to the cupboard for next time.

Here’s the recipe I use every weekend for perfect batter:

2 eggs
2 cups of self-raising flour (add a teaspoon of baking powder if you only have plain flour)
2 cups of full fat milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
1 tablespoon of brown sugar (optional)
Dash of natural food colouring (optional)
1 teaspoon of butter for the frying pan

Simply whisk it all together, heat up the butter in the pan, and then use a tablespoon to add the batter to the pan. I use three spoonfuls for each pancake, always adding the batter to the centre of the circle and allowing it to spill out to make sure it’s nice and round. I always throw the first one away (I think this is the law of pancakes) and after that, they are perfect every time. You only need about 30-60 seconds on each side, before flipping over, and they are ready to scoff (we eat them with maple syrup and blueberries.

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After eating our pancakes at the crack of dawn, we had a lazy morning watching films and reading books, before piling into the car at 11am and heading over to Fairmont The Palm to try their BreakSlow Friday Brunch with my friend Simone and her family.

For those of you that haven’t visited Dubai, brunch is a bit of a Friday tradition. It means more than a late breakfast as it does in the UK; these things are grand food celebrations, with people dressed up like they’re attending a wedding, food buffets as far as the eye can see, and lots of entertainment for kids. We’ve tried a fair few of them in the last 4 years of living here (sometimes with the kids and sometimes without), but what I find hard about these events is that they are always at lunchtime – which means over-tired children who have missed their nap. Not fun for anyone.

Fairmont The Palm solves this problem with their brilliant BreakSlow Brunch, which starts at 11.30am. Better still, there’s a fantastic kids’ club at the hotel, so we could drop off Stanley and his friend Charlie for 90 minutes while we sat down and ate, before picking them up and feeding them their lunch – and still managing to get home in time for them both to have a nap.

Off to brunch!

Off to brunch!

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The brilliant Falcons Kids Club at Fairmont The Palm

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The brunch itself is focused around breakfast (unlike most brunches in Dubai, which offer everything from lobsters, to sushi, to steaks, to noodles, to chocolate desserts, to whole rooms full of cheese, and literally everything in between). The other difference is that you don’t have to leave the table if you don’t want to, with a menu of breakfast options to keep ordering from the  staff – and other bites regularly coming around on trays to your table. This makes the whole thing a lot more relaxed and works much better with children.

If you fancy a bit of a wander, there are buffet stations to help yourself from, including a pork section, juice bar, salad bar, dessert station, ice cream selection, and cheese buffet. I got up to take pictures and get my dessert, but generally preferred the table service concept, ordering myself a Salmon Eggs Benedict, Croque Monsieur, glasses of Bucks Fizz, and Cappucinos over the course of the 2 hours we were there.

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We decided to sit inside, but there is plenty of seating outside too if you prefer to dine al fresco. Fairmont The Palm looks back at Dubai Marina (our hood!) and the views are pretty nice (I wondered out to take pictures and was quite jealous of all the holidaymakers enjoying a whole day on the beach.

photo 41photo 4All details of the BreakSlow Brunch are here. I really recommend it if you have small kids – the earlier timing of the brunch makes it very toddler-friendly – and the relaxed ambience and addition of the kids club facility made it the perfect Friday outing for the family. In fact, we enjoyed it so much that we had already decided we would be heading back soon before we even got two tired little men in the car to come home.

After all that, we were egg-xuasted. Get it? I’ll try harder with the jokes tomorrow.