The One With The Food Adventure

The RISE team has done a lot of thinking about food over the last 10 weeks working on our food-related project. We’ve spent hours learning about the US and UAE restaurant industries. The strange thing about Dubai, however, is that the food choices here, particularly in the tourist areas we frequent, mirror those from home. There’s a Caribou coffee in our building along with two Starbucks and two Subways within a 5 minute walk. Then there’s the KFC down the street, the Z Pizza we can see from our window and the fact that the American concepts in the area malls are so numerous that a lot of us haven’t heard of most of them because while they’ve made it to Dubai, they haven’t made it the shorter distance to Columbus yet.

So then where are the authentic restaurants? Well they’re tucked away in neighborhoods that aren’t filled with skyscrapers and they’re so many of them there that how do we know which ones to pick? Our answer was to find a middle eastern food tour. The tour is so popular that we actually had to book it over two weeks ago. It’s now definitely one of my highlights of the trip. Take a look at what we tried over the 5.5 hour tour (yes… 5.5 hours!) and you can understand why my stomach hurt so much this morning.

  • Falafel mahshi (chickpea falafels stuffed with chilli paste and onions), hummus with a coriander/parsley/capsicum/lemon sauce called tatbeela, Musakhan (Palestinian chicken pie with onions, sumac and olive oil), Kunafa (cheese pie with kataifi noodle pastry on the top)

  • Bukaj (Baklava shaped like a cloth knapsack), Karabij (pistachio cookies with the soapwart cream), Ma’amoul Madh (spiced date bar) and Arabic coffee (gahwa)

  • A taste of Syrian pistachio Boozah ice cream at Asail Al Sham on Rigga Road

  • Egyptian feteer with veggies and cheese, along with spicy ‘shatta’ sauce

  • Emirati Lamb Machboos (lamb cooked in an Emirati blend of spices and with the rice simmered along with the rice) & Laham Salona (lamb curry with the traditional blend of Emirati spices) and served over two kinds of rice (the regular spiced one and then one with paprika and tomato paste called ‘Bukhari’). Paired with Laban (drinking yogurt) and Shatta (spicy sauce)

  • Iranian Sangak (stone bread) with cheese and rayhaan leaves (tulsi), Baghali Polo (rice with broad beans and dill), Zereshk Polo (rice with barberries), Maahicheh (lamb shank in tomato broth), Kabab Koobideh (twice minced lamb kabab), Makhloot Faloodeh (vermicelli with frozen sugar syrup and rose water, served with lemon/sour cherry syrups, topped with Saffron ice cream with pistachio and clotted cream), Iranian black tea with mint and sweets

The RISE team that went on our food adventure and our new international friends after our tour

The RISE team that went on our food adventure and our new international friends after eating for 5.5 hours

A welcome surprise along the tour was that our tour guide, after growing up in Sharja and Dubai, attended school and got her MBA in the US. It was fun looking at how she built her business by applying all of the concepts we learn about. We talked to her about how she strategically chose which tours to start, how she markets, where she is going to expand to next, who she hires onto her team, and more.

Today is our final presentation to the RISE executives. More on that later. In the meantime I need to go jump on the treadmill…