In keeping with the “eat, drink and be merry” conduct that the festive season inspires, a number of restaurants and cafes in the UAE have whipped up dishes that embody the scents and seasonings of Christmas – think nutmeg, chestnuts, orange peel and oodles of sugar.
Whether you want to take a culinary trip down memory lane or sample some innovative flavour combinations, here are some limited-time dishes to seek out this season.
“It Literally Tastes Like Christmas!” There’s nothing subtle about either the title or the taste of Pitfire’s first festive pizza. Priced at Dh65, the 10-inch pie is a heady combination of roast turkey, fresh mozzarella, Camembert chunks, a crumbled sage and onion stuffing, roasted chestnuts and spiced cranberry sauce, on an olive oil base.
The brand’s signature blistered crusts can be enjoyed with a spiced cranberry dip for an extra Dh7 (although we still prefer to dunk ours in its lip-smacking black truffle cream dip, also Dh7).
The pizza is available in all Pitfire branches until January 5, as is a limited-time festive dessert of apple pie with vanilla custard, for Dh35.
Brunch & Cake
For many celebrators, Christmas is incomplete without a traditional fruit cake. Barcelona brand Brunch & Cake, which has become one of the UAE’s most Insta-friendly spots since its 2019 launch, is tapping into this nostalgia with its Grandma’s Festive Fruit Cake.
Crafted by the cafe’s executive chef Carmen Landsberg (the former head chef of L’eto), the loaf is stuffed with soaked dried fruits including lemon and orange peel, figs, apricots and raisins, infused with seasonal spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, and finally coated with a delicate white fondant frosting.
Priced at Dh75 per loaf, the fruit cake is available at all Brunch & Cake outlets until December 31. The cafe is also serving a complimentary gingerbread cookie with every coffee.
The home-grown Japanese bakery and cafe is known for its cutesy-looking dishes (think Minion-shaped sweet bread and Happy Face burgers). Unsurprisingly, then, the creative team have gone all out for the festive season, dishing out no fewer than six varieties of sweet breads, four kinds of cakes and even two Christmas beverages.
Priced from Dh17 to Dh20 a pop, the baked goods on offer include sweet dough breads shaped to look like a Christmas tree (with icing sugar), Santa Claus (with Nutella), a Christmas ring (with crunchy chocolate cream), and a star and reindeer (both with icing sugar and sweet pops); plus a Shiro pan bun that resembles a snowman with Kiri cheese, white chocolate and crunchy chocolate cream (Dh20).
The Christmas cakes, meanwhile, are priced from Dh125 to Dh185 and include such options as: Chocolate Woodland (Baumkuchen cake, chocolate mousse, berries and meringue), Buche De Noel (vanilla sponge cake, vanilla mousse, white chocolate, berries and meringue) and Japanese Christmas Cake (vanilla short cake, strawberries and Chantilly cream).
Finally, treacle lovers can sample the atelier’s toffee latte (Dh28) and toffee milkshake (Dh38). The festive offerings will be served at all Yamanote outlets until January 8.
While the British brand’s regular selection of cakes, cookies and crackers would sit well on a festive table anyway, it has also launched two new themed dishes for the UAE market this year.
Those with a sweet tooth can sample the golden blond chocolate Florentines (Dh35) introduced for Christmas. Made of caramel rounds with flaked and whole almonds, and candied citrus peel, the Florentines get their rich, buttery flavour thanks to the slow-cooked caramelised white chocolate.
Those with more savoury tastes can set their Christmas tables with the brand’s new-to-the-UAE boneless roast turkey (from Dh169) or whole bird turkey (from Dh179).
LDC Kitchen & Coffee
Giant Christmas baubles, Nutcracker soldiers standing sentry, a candy cane staircase and frosted gingerbread house, sprigs of mistletoe and hints of cinnamon wafting through the air – LDC Kitchen & Coffee is following the go big or go home rule with the decor across all its branches this Christmas. The sentiment also carries over to the cafe's menu, which is brimming with seasonal favourites.
The highlight of this menu is a sugar-dusted babka (Dh40), a sweet braided cake designed to look like a snowflake. Another item to get excited about is the cafe’s cookie cups served with vanilla milk (Dh30) that will literally melt in your mouth, and add a festive spin to the hot chocolate bombs that were all the rage on social media earlier this year.
The French cafe located at The Dubai Mall has made a name for itself in the dainty desserts realm, and its light and airy Christmas cakes are no different.
Crated by the in-house patissier and available until January 6 are three flavourful pastries: the Mont Blanc is a blend of airy meringue, lightly whipped cream and sweet chestnut cream vermicelli. The Tentation Framboise and Tentation Passion are for those with more fruity tastes, and respectively come with a crunchy almond base, white chocolate mousse centre, financier biscuit and sweet honey-raspberry jelly; and crunchy coco passion shortbread, passion fruit caramel, stewed mango and vanilla mousse.
Each cake can be made in two sizes (for one person or a party of six people), but needs to be ordered two hours in advance by calling 04 442 8814. The price ranges from Dh54 to Dh399.
The beloved burger joint is serving the intriguingly named Ahhh Bisto Bird 3.0 until Friday, December 31. The sando (Dh75) features smashed beef patty, smoked roasted turkey slices, cranberry jam and parsnip ranch, all doused with Bisto gravy and served in a buttery potato bun with a fried Paxo ball on top. This one's best eaten fresh and, as such, is available only for dine-in at all Pickl outposts, including the latest one in Abu Dhabi.
Lotsa! Lazy Cake
The specialty cake store, which does delicious pinwheel-style mini cakes with chocolate and biscuit, has two additions for the festive season. The bright red Festive Sprinkle Box (Dh77) comes with six pieces of limited-edition gingerbread flavour cake and six pieces of the brand's signature OG flavour, but covered in red and white sprinkles.
The Lazy Buche de Noel (Dh150), meanwhile, is made from chocolate-ganache-covered Valrhona chocolate - and is a great gifting option or stocking filler. Lotsa! Lazy Cake is available for delivery in Abu Dhabi and Dubai via Deliveroo and Zomato.
While not strictly a limited-time addition to Kind Lyfe’s menu, its raw chocolate dipped cookie (Dh6.50) is a fab find for vegan and gluten-free revellers. Made from gluten-free rice flour (with rice, potato, tapioca, maize, buckwheat), raw chocolate (cocoa mass, cocoa butter, agave powder, cocoa powder), coconut oil, coconut sugar, chicory root fibre, flaxseed and natural vanilla powder, this cookie makes good on the Sharjah-based family business’s promise to promote vegan and preservative-free snacks that don’t compromise on the yum aspect of festive cookies.