Dates with a chef

Time Out asks top chef Gary Rhodes for his opinion on a selection of the traditional Iftar fruit

Ramadan 2009
Kingdom Dates, Almonds
Kingdom Dates, Almonds
Emirates Dates, Khodhri (Khadrawy) premium almond
Emirates Dates, Khodhri (Khadrawy) premium almond
Emirates Dates, Shibibi skinless almond
Emirates Dates, Shibibi skinless almond
Omara Premium Dates
Omara Premium Dates
1/5
Kingdom Dates

Almonds
Dhs22.50
1/5

A way of rating dates is to break them open – but there’s so much dryness in the centre of these. For me, the best dates are sticky and toffee-like. This is too dry on the palate, although the flavour is richer than you think. It’s got a slight bitterness behind it, which I quite like. But I’m not impressed. There’s a dry patch inside and the skin is too tough, almost leathery. I won’t be buying a box.

Emirates Dates

Khodhri (Khadrawy) premium almond
Dhs16.95
2/5

They do feel quite sticky, so the date’s not too bad. I quite like the presentation – it’s like a book – a nice present to give away. The date’s OK, but the skin is a little bit tough. It has the double texture of moisture and dryness instead of being the same all the way through. The nicest thing about this is that the almond really is inside the date, you can close the date around it and bite into it. I just wish the skin didn’t have the slightly tough edge to it because it’s not bad and would be nice with a double espresso.

Emirates Dates

Shibibi skinless almond
Dhs15.75
3/5

I love anything Emirates. Great company. Fantastic… but I don’t like the way these are packaged. They’re packed as tight as cattle. The almonds look flavourless but they’re actually quite toffee-like. Very moist. I like the depth – these deserve better packaging. They’re rich and pleasurable to eat.

Omara Premium Dates

Dhs21.90
4/5

These are pretty close to the medjool dates – the very best, I believe – they’re very toffee-like. These appeal because they’re kept in their natural form, and because they’re withered and wrinkled – that tells you what good dates they are. They’re much softer and they have that extra chew in them. I’d prefer them to be richer, older and more developed. But I taste natural sugars, some richness, a slightly bitter-sweet flavour. I like them.

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