Tasty return for Abu Dhabi Food Festival

After a 22-month wait, the Abu Dhabi Food Festival finally returns with a superb line-up of ­foodie experiences, from a truck-filled street feast to an exclusive, intimate dinner with actor John Cusack at Emirates Palace.

The Abu Dhabi Food Festival makes a welcome return from December 6. Christopher Pike / The National
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After a 22-month wait, the Abu Dhabi Food Festival finally returns with a superb line-up of ­foodie experiences, from a truck-filled street feast to an exclusive, intimate dinner with actor John Cusack at Emirates Palace.

This year’s festival, which starts on Tuesday December 6 and runs until December 23, includes the eighth edition of Gourmet Abu Dhabi (December 8 to 23), the second annual Street Feast in Al Ain (December 8 to 10) and Abu Dhabi (December 15 to 17), and the SIAL trade fair, the Mena region’s fastest-growing food, beverage and hospitality event (running from December 6).

Meet the chefs

American chef Graham ­Elliot will host events at Jumeirah at ­Etihad Towers. Elliot opened his eponymous bistro in Chicago in 2008. It is one of just 15 ­restaurants in the ­United States to hold two Michelin stars.

Elliot has been the judge and host of the American version of MasterChef since 2000 (though he won’t be ­returning next year) and was host and judge for MasterChef Junior from 2013 until this year. On December 16, he will whip up a four-course dinner at Brasserie Angelique in Jumeirah at Etihad Towers from 8pm to midnight (Dh495, inclusive of selected beverages). On December 17, he will prepare the afternoon tea at ­Observation Deck at 300 in the hotel from 2pm to 5pm (Dh250, inclusive of soft drinks).

Also making an ­appearance at the ­festival is Adriano Zumbo – a pastry chef who became a household name with his appearance on the first series of ­MasterChef Australia. Zumbo, who has eight ­patisseries across ­Australia, is the host of Zumbo’s Just Desserts, a reality-TV baking competition on Australia’s Seven Network that just completed its first season.

Zumbo, known for his technically challenging desserts, has been called the “sweet assassin”, the “patissier of pain” and “the dark lord of the pastry kitchen”. Get a taste of his desserts during brunch at Olea at St Regis Saadiyat Island on December 16 from 1pm to 4pm. He will also host an afternoon tea at The Drawing Room at St Regis Saadiyat onDecember 17 from 2pm to 5pm.

Matt Preston, best known as a judge and co-host on MasterChef Australia and MasterChef: The Professionals is also a food journalist, restaurant critic and senior editor with Delicious magazine.

Join him on December 9 for an Australian afternoon tea at Majlis Lounge in the Rosewood Abu Dhabi from 2pm to 5pm, or book a seat for a dinner with him at Aqua in the same hotel from 8pm to midnight.

He will also host an afternoon tea at Dolce in the Ritz-Carlton Grand Canal, Abu Dhabi on December 10, from 2pm to 5pm.

Tickets to these events are available on tixbox.com.

Restaurants participating in Abu Dhabi Food Festival

Several of the capital’s finest restaurants will host special dinners throughout the festival.

• At Emirates Palace, Mezzaluna will ­feature an indulgent white-truffle menu featuring Italian dishes, including steak tartare and ­tagliolini covered with Alba white-truffle shavings. There is even an Alba truffle ice cream. Le Café in the palace will also host an Arabic afternoon tea menu that allows you to experience tea as the locals do, with prices starting at Dh200.

For a full list of the 33 restaurants offering special menus during the festival, visit www.abudhabievents.ae.

• At Eastern Mangroves by Anantara, ­Pachaylen will offer a bespoke four-course Thai menu ­featuring signature dishes every night from now until December 23, for Dh250. The hotel will also host a special Pool Deck barbecue on December 23, the final night of the festival, that will feature a performance by Parisian band Swing Deluxe. Tickets start at Dh239 and will be sold on www.tixbox.com.

Food fun at the malls

• The capital’s malls are also getting in on the food festival action. Marina Mall will have a ­Kitchen Mission event for children from December 8 to 10, 5pm to 9pm, at which they can cook and play games with Dora the Explorer and ­SpongeBob SquarePants. The same Kitchen Mission will take place in the Western Hotel, ­Al Gharbia, from December 21 to 23, 5pm to 9pm.

• In Al Ain, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will cook with kids at Al Bawadi Mall from December 15 to 17, 5pm to 9pm. In addition, Raoul the Pizza Guy and Sweet Dreams will perform their interactive comedy shows at malls around Abu Dhabi. Keep an eye out for them on December 11 to 14 at Yas Mall, Galleria Mall, Dalma Mall, The Mall at World Trade Centre and Al Ain Mall.

Street feasts

• A wildly popular event during the previous edition of Abu Dhabi Food Festival was Street Feast, a food truck extravaganza featuring 150 bites from more than 60 trucks, including The Shebi, Shmokins, Pinza, Gobai, Calle Tacos, Casa Latina, Melt and Kono Pizza.

• The Street Feast will be in Al Ain at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium this weekend (Thursday to Saturday) and on the Abu Dhabi Corniche the ­following weekend (December 15 to 17). Expect an inspired range of street food from cultures around the globe, with a particular focus on cuisine from South America and Africa. There will also be live music, a kids’ fun zone, street performers and graffiti artists. In addition to the weekend-long feasts in Al Ain and the capital, you’ll also find food-truck events at: the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival in Al Wathba (December 7 to 14); Abu Dhabi airport, in the car park in ­the Terminal 1 arrivals area (December 12 to 14); and on Maryah Island during Winter Wonderland (December 22 to 26).

• Street Feast at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain runs from 4pm to 12am on Thursday, and from 12pm to 12am on Friday and Saturday. Entry costs Dh30 for adults and Dh15 for kids under the age of 12.

• Street Feast on Abu Dhabi Corniche runs from 4pm to 12am on December 15 and from 12pm to 12am on December 16 and 17. Entry costs Dh30 for adults and Dh15 for children under the age of 12.

For tickets, visit www.tixbox.com

For more details about the Abu Dhabi Food Festival, visit ­www.abudhabievents.ae.