Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Emirates Palace Hotel: An Iftar to Remember

Lantern and Dates:
Iftar at the Emirates Palace Hotel

So just when I had given up on Iftar buffets at hotels, Matt informed me that we'd be having one at the Emirates Palace Hotel (of Sex and the City 2 fame), and on the company's dime.  Needless to say, I was very pleased.  I, of course, in all my excitement of putting makeup and a dress on for once, forgot my camera, Roman's bottle, and even Roman's stroller.  It was an ominous beginning to the evening that was, thankfully, not indicative at all of how our dinner went.

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Some Aesthetically Pleasing Impressions from Our Feast
courtesy of my cell phone

After driving through the amazing grounds of the hotel to reach the parking garage (which incidentally had an entire floor of nothing but white BMWs, I swear to GOD!), we were ushered through different hallways lined with glass cabinets housing hundreds of antiquities from all over the world - Ancient Rome, Greece, Turkey, and even Mexico.  Matt took the opportunity to remind Roman that one of those things was worth more than his life. :)

Finally, we arrived at a beautiful ballroom that had been dressed to look like an Arabian tent, with velvet-draped cielings, moroccan lamps, colorful table dressings, and intricate Islamic China to eat off of.  

Amusingly, we were both handed "gifts" at the entrance which included a robe called a bisht or Mishlah for Matt and a red velvet "kufi" hat to go with it and a black sequined wrap for me.  

Roman and Matt with the
Giant Dallah (Arabic Coffee Pot) in the Lobby
But back to the food...

Every table boasted plates of dried fruits and nuts, prominent among them dates stuffed with dried fruits and nuts, and water and Iftar drinks (which are generally exotic juices - pineapple, apricot, grape, etc.).  The walls were back-lit images of Arab-esque paysages which lent the entire room a strangely ethereal feel.  

Those are the walls; I kid you not.

At the back of the giant room (which must have had table settings for at least 500 people) was another large room for families which had a movie-size television screen, 2 bouncy castles, a ball pit and several other larger than life toys for kids to indulge in while the parents feasted.

And feast we did.

the tasteful and tasty buffet
My first course was a typical Emirati soup: a lentil soup flavored subtly with cumin and garnished with lemon juice and croutons.  I also finally got more than my share of the irresistible whole roasted lamb and rice dish I'd been seeing at all the buffets; turns out it's a dish originating in Yemen (but considered a national dish in Saudi Arabia) called Majboos or kabsa (file that away for a rainy day!).

I also discovered a new sweet to add to my list of yummies.  Not sure what it's called but I did get a picture. 
Mystery Sweet
 Overall, the quality and experience were far superior to that at the Shangri-La, and while I did not have a personal butler or get to stay in the super crazy suite, I left feeling like a million bucks (or at least weighing that much more).

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  1. Yay for finally experiencing a wonderful iftar! It sounds like an amazing evening and it looks as if Roman wanted that dallah as his own souvenir. Better believe that I'm going to file away kabsa - lamb and rice is a combination that can not be forgotten! 8-)

    I'm off to Manila on Sunday to join my husband, then we'll spend a week exploring Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. At the latter, I hope to visit the Pasar Ramadahn - markets of prepared foods to break the fast. Will report! 8-)

  2. Tangled - that sounds awesome! You better report as I am dying to hear the Asian version of Iftar and feasting in general.

  3. Sounds like a wonderful evening! The setting there looks just gorgeous!

  4. What a wonderful treat and adventure - I wish you had a photo of the fleet of white Beamers, that would have been a sight to behold.

    The feasting sounded awesome and I love how they had everything prepared for you. What an evening. Glad the early mishaps were not indicative of the outcome.