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Mireille’s monkfish à la FooDiva

3 Nov

Dubai; It’s about time FooDiva shared an odd recipe or two with you, don’t you agree? I am a huge fan of Mireille Giuliano, author of a number of recipe and lifestyle books including her bestseller ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’, which had me so hooked I read her four books back to back. It may have something to do with the fact that she was the former president and CEO of Cliquot (LVMH), yes the famous Veuve bubbles amongst lots of others. Anyhow I am digressing, Mireille’s mantra is all about portion control, and the only way my figure can keep up with this blog. Here is one of my favourite Mireille recipes, slightly adapted by FooDiva. 

Monkfish with Tomatoes and Capers (Serves 4)


Mireille's monkfish à la FooDiva

Mireille's monkfish à la FooDiva

¼ cup olive oil plus additional for garnish
A dozen vine ripe tomatoes – if not in season such as now, then I realise it’s not ideal but best to use 2 cans of diced tomatoes                                                                                                                                                                                                                             2 tablespoons capers in vinegar, drained
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 (175gr) monkfish fillets (it’s also delicious with halibut, you can even try cod or hammour)
4 tablespoons fresh basil leaves cut into thin strips

1. Preheat the oven to 200 C.

2. Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the tomatoes and capers. Season to taste and simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Place half of the tomato-caper mixture in a baking dish, add the fish, and cover with the remaining tomato-caper mixture. Bake until the fish is cooked through, 15-20 minutes.

4. To serve, place 1 fillet on each plate and spoon the sauce over. Garnish with basil and a drizzle of olive oil.

It literally takes no more than 30 minutes to prepare and cook – so go ahead and try it tonight! A glass of Veuve won’t go amiss either.

Bon appétit. I’ll be back with a few more of her recipes soon.

FooDiva. x


FooDiva tidbits

27 Oct

Dubai; There’s one restaurant in Dubai that consistently delivers; 1. quality food at a reasonable price with a menu that continually evolves, 2. excellent service and no upselling thank goodness! and 3. breathtaking location overlooking the world’s highest fountains. It’s none other than Rivington Grill, my all-time Dubai favourite. It’s been operating for a little while, but I wanted to let FooDiva fans know they have recently added a ‘pie of the day’ dish, and when I dined there it was cottage pie. That’s a first for Dubai I believe, so other than my kitchen you need to head there for your British classic fix. I’ve also been known to pop into Rivington just for dessert and tea, so make sure you leave enough room for scrumptious puddings.

A venue that’s not widely publicised, but deserves a FooDiva mention is The Observatory at the Marriott Harbour Hotel. With a stunning location on the 52nd floor, the restaurant and bar offer panoramic 360 degree views of Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeirah and Sheikh Zayed. It has one of Dubai’s most inventive bar menus; try the baked camembert with thyme, butter chicken with paratha and trio of mini burgers.

I realise FooDiva only recently e-introduced you to Chef Maurizio, but I just had to share an impromptu Sunday supper in his very own kitchen. Starter was crab on a bed of endive (chicory) accompanied by very finely chopped celery and fennel, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Not only was there plenty of crab meat, but it was ever so juicy.

Maurizio's crab

Maurizio's crab

And the piece de resistance, was no, not French, or Italian, but Spanish…red snapper on a bed of SO thinly sliced potatoes they were almost crisp-like, sun dried tomatoes, capers and black olives all baked in the oven, and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of black pepper. DIVINE! So much so I just had to have three servings of potatoes – no portion control diet for me that night.

Maurizio's red snapper with magical potatoes

Maurizio's red snapper with magical potatoes

Maurizio weaves similar magic in his kitchen practically every evening – try and blag yourselves an invite, or else am sure he wouldn’t mind sharing his recipes. (E: M: +971 50 4282 289)

A bientot.

FooDiva. x

Chef Maurizio’s ‘Cena di pesce’…

19 Oct

Dubai, October 19th, 2010: I am still reeling from Thursday’s ten-course dinner at Chefaholic Maurizio’s villa, so whilst each course still remains ingrained in my memory, I’d like to share the sumptious Italian fish menu. And yes Maurizio is Italian, and incredibly foodie patriotic – he will defend his country’s traditional dishes right down to the last drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. So here is the ‘cena di pesce’ menu (in Italiano of course, with FooDiva’s best English translation):

 Antipasti freddi

1. Carpaccio di salmone fresco, di gamberoni selvaggi tigre con rucola e pepe rosa – fresh salmon and tiger prawn carpaccio with wild rocket and red pepper

2. Tartare di salmone con finocchio, sedano e melograno – salmon tartar with fennel, celery and pomegranate

Antipasti caldi

3. Gratin di ostriche, cozze, gamberi e sardine – gratin of oysters, mussels, shrimps and sardines

4. Zuppetta di cozze con crostone di pane all’olio extravergine di oliva taggiasca – mussel soup with toasted bread and extra virgin olive Taggiasca

Primi piatti

5. Spaghetti alle vongole veraci spolvetari con bottarga di muggine – spaghetti with clams and sprinkled with mullet roe

6. Tagliolini al nero di seppia con zucchine e scampi – black squid ink tagliolini pasta with zucchini and shrimp


7. Sorbetto al limone con vodka – lemon and vodka sorbet

Secondi piatti

8. Branzino in crosta di sale con finocchi e fagiolini al vapore  – sea bass in salt crust with steamed fennel green beans

9. Orata all’acqua pazza con insalata di rucola e pomodorini  – sea bream in white wine with arugula salad and cherry tomatoes


10. Fragole al porto con foglioline di menta piperita – fresh strawberries marinated in port and infused with mint leaves

Now you’re probably wondering how on earth we managed to digest all this food, well it’s called ‘portion control’. Whilst we did indeed feast on ten courses, the portions were reasonable and well spaced out. I’ll certainly be back, that’s if I get another invite.

By the way, Chef Maurizio is available to cook for private functions – book him and you will certainly impress!

A bientot. FooDiva. x

Final Beijing update from FooDiva…

4 Sep

Saturday, 4th September: There’s been so much to do, see, buy and eat here, not much time left to blog…anyhow FooDiva’s back with a final update.

Dear friends that recommended Green T. House, you’ll be delighted to know we dined there on Wednesday night. Wow what a creative concept – decor was flamboyant, glamorous, minimalistic – right up FooDiva’s street. I am not sure my photos or description do it justice so please check out their website. Our ‘table’ was lounge seating a la Arabian majlis style but all white, where we kicked off our strappy sandals. Very romantic for mum et moi…where’s the sexy man when you need him. Dishes are ever so complicated, and I would definitely call it Fusion Chinese…having been down with the flu or haze allergy (they don’t call it smog here) my appetite had disappeared. We ordered ‘curly’ chicken Sichuan style with parmesan, and prawns coated in wasabi sauce. Stunning presentation, but food was disappointing and over-priced. Tea-wise, there’s over 100 different brews to choose from compiled in a wonderful educational menu – I even asked if I could buy the menu…they promptly declined. Great venue for pre or post dinner cocktails, but suggest dining elsewhere.







And elsewhere we certainly did the following night (Thursday). Thanks to having my aunt (Kate) and uncle (Robert) as Beijing residents, we dined at their house over a fabulous ‘drunken’ chicken. It’s a North Carolina dish (my uncle is American) where an open beer can is popped into a whole chicken before roasting…you don’t taste the beer, but it simply makes the chicken so juicy and tender. Nice to opt out of Chinese for a change!

Just as an aside, their compound houses a fabulous South African restaurant with an excellent and incredibly affordable South African wine list – I doubt you’ll be heading there as it’s a tad out of the centre, but just so you know that’s where I was last night!

A great lunch venue is Sureno at The Opposite House, a very funky boutique hotel in the Sanlitun district – the only district where you see a good handful of expats. An international Mediterranean-inspired menu with plenty of choice.

And last but not least, our final foodie experience of my three week trail, was high tea at The Peninsula Beijing this afternoon. It’s one of the few British foodie traditions that I absolutely love, and for some odd reason, I always try to fit it into a city break. Having said that, I’ve had better high tea experiences elsewhere, so suggest trying out another hotel.

A sightseeing must is the Summer Palace, do spend a few hours uncovering hidden pagodas and the marble boat.

The bizarrely named 798 Dashanzi Art District houses numerous galleries, boutiques and cafes – ‘At Cafe’ is perfect for lunch (try the lovely stone-baked pizzas).

Beijing is a shopper’s paradise – we shopped till we dropped…made so much easier by my aunt’s driver and car. Thank you Kate and Robert! I have enough tea to open my own shop (there are stores round every corner – my recommendation is TenFu’s in Wangfujing). I love their green rose tea.

Pearls (you can have your own designs made up in minutes) and handbags are also great buys – Kate knows the right shops. If you don’t have your own Kate on tap, it’s Shelley for pearls in the building right next to Hongqiao market, and Monica’s for handbags hidden away in the same building – ask for quality S (the best!). Sanlitun Yashou Clothing Market and Silk Market have hundreds of stalls selling clothes and silky knick-knacks of every variety – if you hunt, you’ll discover some unusual pieces. You gotta haggle like mad though. Start at a tenth of a price, and be prepared to walk away – they’ll come running! Antique collectors should head to Panjiayuan weekend market – make sure you know what you’re buying though. What better way to chill those weary legs than with a foot massage (aka reflexology without the explanation).

Dearest friends and family, I think that’s pretty much it for now – our flight is Dubai-bound tomorrow. It’s been an exhilirating three weeks, and I’ve relished every breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner experience. But I am glad to be heading home, gosh Dubai I’ve missed you! Can’t wait to try out my Asian recipes. If you’re planning a trip to Japan or China, I would love to help pull together an itinerary.

And if you’ve enjoyed the blog as much as me, stay tuned for my next surprise experience. Will be in touch!

Big hug.



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