Someone lit a torch under my derriere over the holiday season and got me all inspired for 2016. I’m trying something new by venturing into the world of blogging, a chance to share my eating adventures with a bit more candour.
For the past few years, I’ve been writing for publications based in the Middle East, where one adheres to a certain code of reticence and respect. Criticism is chided here because businesses are so inextricably linked through friendship or familial ties that any negative comment must be so laced with diplomacy. Well no more. I’m going rogue.
Funnily, now that I’m unencumbered, I have nothing to moan about. Because my first meal out this year was at my absolute favourite restaurant in Doha – Market by Jean-Georges at the W. It should come as no surprise; I’m here at least once a week. So when the proprietors of Market asked me try a few items making their maiden appearance, I leapt at the opportunity. I’m glad to report that nothing’s changed… I’m still a devoted fan.
My favourite dish of the evening is the kale salad with lemon, parmesan and Serrano peppers… well, a modified version, at least. The salad on-menu comes with a heavy, citrusy-cheesy dressing that clings to each leaf like molasses to a spoon. I was instantly skeptical and proven right at first taste. Kale, itself full of body, needs something to lift it up, not bog it down. I complain and am told the kitchen offers a lighter version with more lemon, less cheese. This particular rendition is dynamite… refreshing yet filling. So why bother with the first? It’s more popular, goes the explanation. Diners in Doha clamour for creamy, cheesy delights. No judgment there — food is subjective. But if want my advice, opt for the kale salad lite.
Another highlight is the Canadian lobster with spaetzle. The Germanic egg noodle is cooked in a light broth with winter vegetables and served over the lobster, a cloak of comfort over an exquisite piece of protein. Because the flavours are mild, the lobster still has a chance to shine. It’s a posh dish that comes from a place of humility. I very like.
Other dishes are also beautifully made yet command less attention. A silky foie gras brulee would delight the fussiest of gourmets, but because I’m plagued by the ethics of foie gras, I TRY not to enjoy it (even if the dish is decidedly divine). An updated braised short ribs now comes with parsnip puree. It’s faultless – tender, aromatic meat with a crown of fresh herbs and a fancy mash. Hard to go wrong… but the flavour combinations are not that unusual and hence don’t stand out.
Especially not with something as ingenious or seductive as the green apple pavlova. Fresh fruit… little basil seeds, a delicate sorbet. You gotta try it for yourself before it’s removed from the menu – it’s a seasonal item after all; yet its limited availability makes it that much more exclusive.