Tasty treats that are traditionally part of the fixture
This summer is packed with enough sporting events, both home and away, to keep any fan happy. In case you’re not aware, the first balls will be served in the Wimbledon tennis championships in London on Monday June 25,the Euro 2012 final takes place on Sunday July 1 in Kiev and the 2012 Olympics kick off in the British capital on Friday July 27. Meanwhile, here in Dubai, June marked the start of Dubai Sports World, a 12-week programme of indoor events to showcase a vast range of sports, including cricket, volleyball and basketball.
While an athlete’s diet and appetite tend to be restrictive (and anything but gourmet), that’s not always true of the food spectators can enjoy. Many sports have become linked with traditional dishes – or even whole meals – that fans enjoy while watching. We find out what they are and where you can try them in Dubai.
American football There’s one food tradition that goes hand in hand with football games at schools and colleges across America, and that’s ‘tailgating’. This oddly named ritual involves groups of spectators (often friends and relatives of players) parking outside the venue and enjoying a picnic laid out on the boot or bonnet. Burgers are as quintessentially American as this style of eating, and it’s a dish that is quick and easy to prepare before watching the game. Here in Dubai, Double Decker’s burgers use only certified US Black Angus beef. The Big Daddy burger is as American as its size (an impressive 2.5kg), and boasts a classic combination of ingredients: lettuce, tomato, red onion, cucumber and pickle, alongside cheddar cheese and turkey or pork bacon. Dhs140. Open daily noon-3am. Al Murooj Rotana, Downtown Dubai (04 321 1111).
Cricket In England, cricket is a time-consuming affair – even an amateur match will take up the whole day. That is, however, because food is a big part of the experience: this must be the most civilised of sports, because it’s the only one where everything stops for afternoon tea. Wonderful afternoon tea options abound in Dubai: for a traditional English affair, head to Rhodes in Residence at Grosvenor House for finger sandwiches and freshly baked cakes prepared by Gary Rhodes’s team, or for a setting more reminiscent of a cricket green in the English countryside, try the afternoon tea at The Address Montgomerie, with views of the golf course.
Yet another English cricketing tradition is Eton mess. This dish, comprising crushed meringue, cream and strawberries, is traditionally served at the annual cricket match between elite English schools Eton and Winchester. The dish has been known by the name since the 19th century, and a classic version is available in Dubai at Rivington Grill. Rhodes in Residence tea, from Dhs150. Served daily 3pm-6pm. Grosvenor House, Tower Two, Dubai Marina (04 317 6000). The Address Montgomerie tea, from Dhs60. Served Sun-Thu 1pm-5.30pm. Emirates Hills (04 390 5600). Rivington Grill Eton mess, Dhs40. Open daily noon-11pm. Souk Al Bahar (04 423 0903); Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6464).
Football Although it started in England, football has taken over to become the world’s favourite sport, and each nation of fans has developed their own foods to keep them sustained as spectators at the games. In Korea, gimbap (sesame-flavoured rice rolls, similar to Japanese sushi) are the snack of choice, whether you’re heading to the stadium – the gimbap pieces are small and easy to carry with you – or watching the match from a bar. Yet it’s not just football fans that like gimbap. When Korean first lady Kim Yoon-ok visited the UAE in March 2011, she choose this dish to demonstrate to the students during her visit to Zayed Women’s University in Abu Dhabi. For the younger generation of Korean football fans, Korean-style fried chicken is becoming the snack of choice thanks to the influence of American cultural practices. Sonamu Korean restaurant has both of these football snacks on the menu. The fried chicken is served with Korean sauces, and the gimbap is prepared with vegetables, cooked egg and seasoned rice. Gimbap Dhs45, fried chicken Dhs65. Open daily noon-3pm, 6pm-11pm. Asiana Hotel, Salahuddin Road, Deira (04 238 7777).
Rugby South Africans often tend to be passionate about two things: rugby and meat. This nation is famous for its braais (South African-style barbecue) and when watching rugby, the snack of choice to cook on the barbecue is boerewors, a traditional South African beef sausage. Try it in Dubai at popular sports bar Nezesaussi, where it’s served with pap (smooth porridge) and chakalaka (South African veggie relish). Dhs60. Open Sun-Thu 6pm-2am; Fri-Sat noon-2am. Al Manzil Hotel, Downtown Dubai (04 428 5888).
Skiing It’s surrounded by the majestic Alps mountain range, which explains why Switzerland is synonymous with skiing. For more than a century, the resort of St Moritz has been one of the most famous ski destinations in the country, where the rich and famous flock to enjoy the lavish après-ski. And what do they eat after a hard day on the slopes? The traditional snack of choice is fondue: melted cheese, accompanied by bread on skewers that’s perfect for dunking. You can experience a Dubai approximation of this Swiss after-ski ritual by heading to St Moritz Café, which nestles at the foot of the Ski Dubai slopes. The cosy setting, complete with fake fireplaces and views of the snow, is as close to winter as you’ll get during the UAE summer. Dhs65 for two. Open daily 10am-midnight. Mall of the Emirates, Barsha (04 409 4131).
Swimming If you believe the old wives’ tale, swimming and eating shouldn’t mix. Nevertheless, the setting at Ossiano restaurant at Atlantis conjures up a desire to do little else. It’s a seafood restaurant, but beyond that, diners sit in view of a gargantuan aquarium filled with colourful fish and other exotic creatures, rounded off with mock-ancient masonry inspired by the sunken city of Atlantis. The aquarium seems to span the length and breadth of the dining room, but is in fact significantly larger (the largest in the UAE, we hear) and stretches on below the level of the restaurant. If your budget can’t stretch to the expensive restaurant prices, grab a Dhs18 coffee at the nearby Poseidon Café for similar views of the tank. From Dhs270 for a main course. Open daily 7pm-11.30pm. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 2626).
Tennis In England, not only are strawberries in season during summer, but they have become part and parcel of most of the traditions and delights of being outdoors during the UK’s warmer months. Wimbledon, the world’s oldest and most iconic tennis tournament, takes place annually in south London in June (this year’s event begins on Monday June 25). The strawberry season is at its peak during this two-week competition, and it has become a long-standing tradition at Wimbledon to serve these fruits in their simplest form: with cream and sugar. In honour of this, British restaurant The Ivy in Dubai is introducing a strawberry special during Wimbledon, serving strawberries with cream and a glass of premium bubbly. Dhs130. Open Sun-Thu noon-11pm, Fri-Sat noon-11.30pm. The Boulevard, Jumeirah Emirates Towers (04 319 8767).