My first glimpse of Dubai is breathtaking, and I mean that in the most literal sense possible. Stepping into the heat and humidity of this Arabian Gulf haven is quite a shock to the system. My sunglasses fog up, as does every single pore on my body. I scramble to find an air-conditioned taxi, and indulge in some instant relief.
My taxi driver is from Cashmere, speaks no English and drives like an Italian, overall not a good mix. Luckily, the sprawling city skyline does a good job of distracting me and I soon find myself driving towards one of the most iconic landmarks in the city: Palm Jumeirah. This absolute feat of human engineering is where my friends Suzanne and Martin live. They moved here 2 years ago, to get out of the hustle and bustle of Sydney, and to take advantage of Dubai’s incredible financial opportunities.
I hesitate ever so slightly getting out of the taxi, I somehow foolishly expect the Palm to somehow sway; even though I know it was built using almost 1000 million cubic metres of sand, and almost seven million cubic metres of rock.
‘WOW!” Is the first word I utter upon seeing my long time friends, even though my delighted exclamation is directed at the sight of the Palm, rather than their relaxed, happy and smiling faces.
It is early Friday morning, the start of the Islamic week-end, and my friends have a treat in store for me. Within hours of my arrival we head out to the Al Qasr Hotel in Jumeirah Medinat, just a few kms down the road. This most mind-boggling 5* hotel is a sight to behold. Sprawled over an enormous estate overlooking the Gulf, Al Qasr is a labyrinth of intricately manicured gardens, Venetian style canals, grandiose restaurants and exquisite terraces.
My admiration extends to the most amazing epicurean buffet I have ever seen in my life, or will likely see again. Spread over the entire ground floor of the hotel complex, Friday brunch at Al Qasr is an all-you-can-eat feast worthy of Olympic status…and stamina. The international food on offer is just out of this world, and I decide to build up my courage my heading towards Mexico, and its mojito stand. I walk past ‘Little Italy’ but soon discover that there’s nothing little about it. The buffet table boasts 27 kinds of pasta and even a portable wood fired oven for pizzas! Mamma Mia!
In case you’re wondering just how big this is, keep in mind that every buffet table is themed, and there are exactly 37 different stations to choose from. Of all the times in my life when I wished I were a cow, (to take advantage of seven stomachs), this would be it!
From tapas, to sushi, yum cha, Indian, burgers, Italian, Greek, Arabic and more than I could mention, the exquisite gastronomic choices at Al Qasr brunch are world class and unsurpassable. Little wonder then, that Al Qasr received the 2011 BBC ‘Best Brunch in Dubai’ award; how could one possibly compete?
Special mention must go to the most divine corner of all…the chocolate station! Before leaving home, my friends assured me that I would have a religious experience at Al Qasr, and as I stand in front of the most gigantic dark chocolate fountain I’ve ever seen, I can certainly hear church bells a-ringing. I have an incredible urge to dive, head first, into the holy sludge, convinced that if God is not to be found deep within the bosom of this fountain, he won’t be found anywhere. I’m so entranced by the constant flow of heavenly chocolate, that I barely notice the 10 metre long buffet dessert table the fountain is sitting on. When I do, I resolve to baptise each and every bite of cake, pastry and biscuit, come what may.
I too find it hard to believe one could put on 4 kgs over just a week holidaying in Jumeirah. Could it be? Really? I blame the heat and humidity personally, I’ve seen it do shocking things to people’s figures. Shocking things.
For your own chance to taste a slice of heaven, I urge you to travel to Dubai and come discover for yourself what wicked things Dubai can do for your taste buds.
***Story written by Laura Pattara, our very own and most entertaining travel writer***