Tasting Ramadan at Olea

A few more sunrises, and we’ll be in the season of Ramadan again. I’m already seeing grocers in a scurry to put up their lovely dates and sweets displays. My inbox is inundated with press releases on Iftars, Suhoor, Ramadan tents, season closer parties, pop-up boutiques and restos who will deliver during the day.

For readers who live in the West, this means that most restaurants here are closed at daylight during the Holy Month in respect for those who are fasting during this time. The Iftar is the evening meal when fasting Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset. As a team member for a luxury magazine’s editor, we’ve been getting quite a few offers to sample Iftars throughout Dubai’s plethora of diverse restaurants.

I joined the gym recently, so I’ve had to decline the majority of them since most of the timings for the invites conflict with my workout classes. It would be a paradox of the worst kind if I opted to go stuff my face rather than try to shed some kilos in Zumba class. 🙂  But I played hookie from Pilates on Sunday because I could not resist the invite that came in to sample Olea’s Iftar menu. Olea is located in the opulent, luxury 5-star Kempinski Hotel.  Their cuisine is Levant, which represents the foods of Jordan, Lebanon, Cyrprus, Palestine, Syria, and southern Turkey.

Ramadan at Olea

Ramadan at Olea
Such a gorgeous hotel.
Olea Menu
Very inviting

I realize now I’ve underestimated Middle Eastern food. There are so many lavish dishes that I am still joyfully discovering. There were many wonderful options, but I just tried a few.

I’m talking a mouth-watering buffet of the creamiest lentil soup, whole lamb ouzi, chicken freekeh, Jordanian wheat and chicken soup, mixed grill, kibbeh, and hot and cold mezze. There was one cold mezze that I’ve never seen before. It was made with pumpkin and spices, and was DELICIOUS!

Ramadan at Olea
This!
Ramadan at Olea
The meat in these dishes just falls off the bone. So tender!

 

Ramadan at Olea
Lamb Nakanek. So yum!

 

Lamb Nakanek. So yum!
Kebbeh Mashwye
Ramadan at Olea
Probably the best Mannakesh I’ve ever had.
Mannakesh
Balila: A warm appetizer in which boiled chickpeas are seasoned with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and cumin.

Some of their signature items were Mansaf Lahem and Magloba Djaj (I’ve had this on St. Croix). Mansaf Lahem is a national Jordanian dish featuring lamb cooked in dried yoghurt served with rice and flatbread and garnished with almonds, pine nuts and spices. If I had to pick a winner, I’d say it was this. AMAZING! Magloba is an ancient Palestinian recipe known as the “upside down” dish, where a big pot of cooked meats, vegetables, and fragrant colored rice is flipped over as it is served, bringing its delicious juices to the top.

The Ramadan juices were quite interesting. Some of them I’ve never heard of. I tried a few and took some snapshots. The Manakeesh made right on the spot was simply the best I’ve ever tasted.

Ramadan at Olea
Karkadeh: A refreshing drink made from the petals of hibiscus flowers
Ramadan at Olea
Kamar al dine: Made with apricot paste and orange blossom water.

And then, of course, a sweet finale of Arabic ice cream, krispy Kadaifs,  Halawat al Jibin,  Atayeef, Kanoufa, Osmalliah, and that Umm Ali – which I ADORE!

Ramadan at Olea
My weakness! Crispy, sweet goodness. *sigh*
Ramadan at Olea
It went so well with the Arabic ice-cream.
Ramadan at Olea
This sinful Halawat was magnificent.
Ramadan at Olea
Oh my! It’s Churros..Middle Eastern style.
The art of sweetness.
The art of sweetness.
Ramadan at Olea
And always dates…lots of dates.

The ambiance was lovely. There was an Oud player and servers dressed in traditional attire. And the happy-go-lucky chilled Tamarind Juice guy walking around singing, clinking, and pouring that yummy nectar that is also a favorite in the Caribbean.

Ramadan at Olea
Always lovely to have live music.

If you want to give your taste buds a reason to dance in celebration, do try Olea’s Iftar this Ramadan. You will thank me! 😀

Best of all this will be for just 175 AED per person (children at 50% off, 5 and under for free). Iftar starts at 9 pm during the Holy Month.

And check this out: “For a more exclusive Iftar in the comfort of your own home, Kempinski MOE is offering the authentic, home-cooked Levantine flavours of Olea delivered to your house and served by the region’s finest chefs. Home delivery and service starts from AED 600* per person”

They are also offering a set Suhour menu for 90 AED from 10 pm until 2:30 am.

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