Galeries Lafayette. The name says it all. For many many years the French department store, Galeries Lafayette epitomised my fantasy about Paris. And yes, stepping into Galeries Lafayette in Paris didn’t shatter my fantasy, rather strengthened it with the sheer brilliance of dazzle and fragrance floating around in the air. Forget about the high-end fashionable clothes that were on display. Or the eclectic shoes or the accessories. This was a different world altogether. Galeries Lafayette also housed one of Paris’ gourmet food markets, Lafayette Gourmet, which was initially modeled after a mid-eastern baazar. When we entered the Lafayette Gourmet for the first time in Paris, I stumbled. My knowledge on food was on such a dwindling score at that time. But my senses were alert enough to realise yes, this is what epitomises French notion of gourmandising. As this article notes – Galeries Lafayette Gourmet in Paris is a one-stop foodie destination… It’s a great place for travelers in search of foodie souvenirs, since you can buy many Paris specialties here – Jean-Paul Hevin chocolates, Mariage Freres tea. But this is not a tourist trap – Parisians account for about 60% of the clientele, which is why you’ll also find supermarket basics here, like milk, eggs and produce. Galeries Lafayette Gourmet stocks over 10,000 products, 70% of which are French.
That’s quite understandable in a city which is called Paris! But what about Lafayette Gourmet in Dubai? What product does it sell in a multi-cultural city boasting of more than 200 nationalities jostling for residential space? Opened in 2010 and housed in the world’s largest shopping mall, the Dubai Mall (above right), Lafayette Gourmet keeps up to it’s French promise of delivering gourmet food products with flavors from all over the world… 8 kitchens in one location! And as Gulf News comments ‘Those aspiring to be the Nigella Lawsons and Jamie Olivers of the UAE have, until recently, been limited by a lack of available ingredients… Lafayette Gourmet is a 3,000-square-metre emporium dedicated to high-end food products’.
When Galeries Lafayette opened it’s doors in Dubai in 2009, I was thrilled to see the same image that is synonymous with Galeries Lafayette in Paris – the model wearing the Eiffel Tower on her head, all tied by the French Flag coloured ribbon (above left)! If a Dubai-ite cannot visit Paris, Paris visits the Dubai-ite. With Christmas around the corner, visiting Lafayette Gourmet this time was slightly different from my gourmet cheese shopping visits. This time it was Chef Russel Impiazzi, the Culinary Director of Lafayette Gourmet who was hosting us, a few festively-inspired bloggers (including me, ahem!) for their festive menu tasting.
Festively inspired we definitely were – a few of my hearty food blogger friends (above left) donning the masks that were part of the table decor (left) and I’ve to admit that they did look as good as the fashionable mannequins (above right) wearing the same masks in the retail section of the Galeries Lafayette! In-case you need an alternative career options buddies…
The expansive Lafayette Gourmet, situated on the third floor of the Galeries Lafayette seemed to bask in the festive spirit of the season – candles ensconced in flower wreaths and mini Christmas trees shimmering in gold. Real gold? Not sure but well, why not? After all Dubai is also referred to the city of gold and even boasts of a Gold ATM, vending machines that dispense gold bars and coins 24 hours a day and that adjusts to market rates every 10 minutes!
I’ve realised one thing and that is to enjoy a delicious moment like this special evening one needed to be surrounded by like-minded buddies. In my case, a few like-minded food bloggers from Fooderati Arabia who are increasingly entering my actual world of friendship and camaraderie from the virtual world where it all started. Attending the festive menu tasting were Saba of Culinary Delights, By Saba Wahid, Jasmine of Pear Tree Food Diaries, Debbie of Coffee, Cakes & Running, Francine of Life in the Food Lane, Mitzie of The World according to Mitzee Mee, Nina of Acoustic Chef, Sarah of The Hedonista and your’s truly ce’st moi – Ishita!
Having said that I have also started appreciating the comfort of dining with fellow food bloggers – no body bothers if one one wants to click the food before the food leaves the plate for the tummy. Nobody minds if one takes multiple pictures amidst the wafting aroma of food which in itself a kind of a challenge for sure! Definitely a separate post on the pleasures of dining with food bloggers – for a food blogger I mean. I’ve always felt dejected by the way my friends behave when we dine out – they don’t understand our social responsibility of sharing our culinary experiences with the world at large!
After being served warm Cranberry juice which surprisingly tasted a bit like a non-alcoholic version of Glühwein, the Starters started pouring in. Maple cured Scottish smoked salmon platter with traditional garnish looking beautiful with a yellow flower perched on it, Smoked Salmon Roll, Canadian lobster and poached prawn ‘cocktail’ prepared with the signature Lafayette cocktail sauce…
More festive mini plates were rolling out which can be served as perfect pre dinner reception baits! Scotch egg with duck confit and quail egg, Duck and chestnut ‘chipolata’ with spiced blueberries, Turkey and Foie Gras ‘sausage roll’ with cranberry dip…
But yes, the Scotch Eggs (below) took me into my home turf, reminding me of similar tasting Deemer Devil (Devil’s Egg or the famous Bengali Egg Chop!) that are so famously served in movie halls in Kolkata – not the Multiplexes serving the standard Popcorn and Nachos but stand-alone movie halls like Priya, Menoka, Lighthouse etc.
Canapes and gourmet starters served in a good high-end eatery always fascinate me. Mini plates of art, painstakingly created – the food rolled, carved or wrapped, placed delicately with such artistic exuberance – I feel that they should be enjoyed for the sheer pleasure of putting a work of art into your mouth and the excitement and the anticipation these creations build for the main course to come!
The Starters were definitely a fantastic prelude to the Main Course. I did take a major fancy at the oven (above) – the actual fire burning inside the modern interiors with hot roasts coming out of it – a sudden homely warmth of a hearth in the midst of the modern decor of the Lafayette Gourmet. Anticipation of traditional home cooked Christmas roasts!
As cameras were ready to click (aha!), Chef Lawrence Najjad did the honour of slicing the Canadian Heritage Roast Prime Rib of beef with Yorkshire pudding (below) which was served with delicious duck fat roasted potatoes and vegetables.
And finally came the Turkey (below) – the protagonist of the festive evening! A classic whole Roasted Turkey served with Cranberry sauce complete with all the traditional festive accompaniments – Bread sauce, Turkey gravy, Chipolatas, chestnut stuffing and seasonal vegetables – brussel sprouts, carrots, yams, potatoes.
What was really impressive was the way Chef Russel Impiazzi (below) overlooked everything – complete hands on – setting up the vegetables, giving the final garnishing and supervising every little detail. Even while preparing the dessert I was amazed at the way he scooped the chocolate mousse, decorated with minute edible foils before placing the mini dessert platters on to the tray. Touching and bringing a lot of homely warmth to our festive menu tasting.
What is a menu tasting without the sweet sign-off… the Desserts? Starting from classic Puff pastry Mince pies, Mini Christmas pudding, seasonal Berry Trifle, Chocolate Truffles, Chocolate Mousse, Crème Brûlée and some Ice Cream – we were pampered and horrifically spoilt!
Have I finished? I guess for the time being, yes. Sally of My Custard Pie rightly describes an earlier experience of her Lafayette Gourmet Menu tasting as ‘A big appetite for small food’! You’ll also enjoy the following posts on Lafayette Gourmet from other Fooderati Members – Francine and Samantha in their respective blogs – Life in the Food Lane, FooDiva. Apart from tasting all these exceptional ‘small food’ and the ‘big festive turkey’, one can place orders for a lavish traditional Christmas dinner or some signature platters from the comfort of one’s home. I was surprised to hear stories from the Event Coordinator as to how Lafayette Gourmet has previously customised home-catering according to the clients’ myriad demands. Here, you can have your very own chef for hire. And at what cost? I’m copy-pasting Sally’s comment on my post, ‘Good to note that GL home catering prices are very reasonable and I’ve been to some parties where they did the food and it was all superb. Competitive for Christmas dinner catering (and they deliver) too’. So if you ready for Christmas but not ready to don the aprons, here are the details…
Location: 2nd Floor, Galeries Lafayette
Tel: +9714 339 9933 ext 2342/ext 2383
Website; Facebook… Do check out the brilliant pictures of us Food bloggers hobnobbing that evening on their Facebook Page! A few pictures shown here, maybe 4-5 have been taken from there as well.
Yes, Christmas is in the air. Gulp it down before the Shamal, the sandstorms that hit the Dubai shores often in the winters.While writing this post, I’m taken back years ago to our Paris visit. Not much pictures from those pre-digital days. However, those memories livened up once again by the beautiful evening at Lafayette Gourmet and some brilliant Parisian shots of gloomy grey skies from my blogger friend, Kankana in her Paris post in her blog Sunshine & Smiles.
Apart from the festive menu offering, Lafayette Gourmet is definitely what it proclaims to be – a food emporium from all over the world. It boasts of 8 kitchens in one location – Italian specialties and wood fired pizzas, great salads from The Mediterranean, Asian favorites, Indian Tandoor and Curries, primes steaks from the Grill, Foie Gras and Caviar from the Luxury section, authentic Tapas and Paella from the newly opened Tapeo to Arabic specialities from Just Falafel. I have been eying the Black Paella with Cuttlefish & Shrimp and the Traditional Seafood Paella and have been splattering these (photographs only) all over my Facebook Page the other day.
The Fresh Market in Lafayette Gourmet sells UAE’s local seafood specialties, sustainable fish from Europe, Al Fumo traditional, hand sliced locally smoked Salmon, live Canadian lobster and crab, fresh oysters, mussels, clams and jumbo shrimps; artisans hand-cut beef fresh every day from Welsh lamb, Canadian Angus and heritage beef, USDA prime and Canadian milk fed tender veal; a range of fresh, high quality, fully certified organic vegetables from The Green League, the latest venture and business division of Unifrutti; 100 different French and Italian cheeses, homemade Foie gras and fine luxurious Caviar. Absolute high quality and high-end food products.
Well, the sudden realisation of the year passing by at an insane speed has been hitting me ever since December page came forth on my desk calendar. Now it’s probably time to sit back and enjoy rewinding my foodie escapades from my Dubai Diary!
Unblogging it all… Ishita
Disclaimer: I hope you enjoy reading the posts with lot of visuals. While you enjoy seeing them please don’t use them as some of them have been taken from our personal albums just to make your reading experience more pleasurable. You can see more pictures of my travel and food journey here.