Saturday, August 3, 2013

Epic Brunch

To know me is to understand that one of my most favorite things in the world is brunch. Despite the fact that I worked the brunch shift at a restaurant in Baltimore for five years, which is saying something. 

I'm going to digress for a minute here and speak briefly on the topic of working a brunch shift. There are a few altruisms that exist:

1. The menu says "No Substitutions During Brunch." Everyone will order extensive substitutions, sometimes altering the dish to the point where it is something entirely new. No, you may not order a Belgian waffle with eggs and substitute the waffle for pancakes and the eggs for French toast. You may certainly order pancakes and French toast, if you'd like. No? You still want the Belgian waffle with eggs? WELL, SHOCKINGLY, THAT IS WHAT YOU'RE GETTING. NO, YOU MAY NOT EAT HALF OF IT AND THEN SEND IT BACK CLAIMING THAT IT WASN'T "WHAT YOU ORDERED."

2. That big, glorious sign that says PLEASE WAIT TO BE SEATED? It exists only in the eyes of the serving staff. 

3. Persons with extensive food allergies - wheat, dairy, legumes, nuts, cinnamon, citrus, and water - like to go out to brunch. It's your job to ensure that their food does not touch any of the above items, or is even in the same room with any of the above items. This means you will have to make a quick trip out of the city to the nearest organic farm, pick a bowl of perfectly ripe berries, and rush it back, in traffic, to the guest. For a 10% tip. No problem.

I digress.

My point: even though working brunch shifts for five years completely ruined parts of my soul that I will never get back, I still love brunch. Looooooove it. Mimosas, Bloody Marys, bagels, eggs, home fries, a lazy meal with friends and loved ones....totes fave.

And then I had to go to Dubai and have every favorite brunch I've ever experienced get totally blown out of the water. First, let's set the scene.

This was Day 2 of #ballerweekend in Dubai, and the morning of Sandance. My boyfriend, The Gentleman, had been to brunch at this establishment before for a going-away party and decided that no #ballerweekend would be complete without brunch at Traiteurs. (Pronounced - we think - as "traders.") Traiteurs is located in the Park Hyatt Dubai and has a pretty renowned French brunch. Brunch is held only on Fridays from 12:30-4pm (and you WILL be there the entire time), and it's something like $125 per person. This might sound slightly steep for brunch. It is. But just wait.

The Park Hyatt is totally breathtaking. It's an oasis of lush gardens and a blend of typical Arabic architecture with a Mediterranean bent. Greenery in the UAE is a measure of wealth and opulence - in the middle of the desert and backed up against the super-salty Persian Gulf, it's not the ideal location for plants. I'm always curious about the monthly water bill these places must rack up from the upkeep of the landscaping alone.

Located on the Dubai creek, and you can see part of the skyline in the background.

It's cool - you can park your yacht here.

I'm sure this is Arabic for "you will be stuffed to the gills with magnificent food items."

We made the reservation something like two or three weeks in advance, partially because there were ten of us, and partially because Traiteur gets booked up for brunch quickly. There are different packages you can buy - we opted for the Veuve Clicquot package which includes the four hours of buffet-style brunch and unlimited bubbly. We ended up ordering some other drinks too - Irish coffees and Bloody Marys - which can be added on. But the champagne is unlimited, bitches, and we made sure to take advantage of that.

Special Veuve Clicquot glasses. Classy.

Ahh, that's better.
 Forget everything you think about buffets. First of all, there were different rooms full of food (ROOMS) and a hallway with a giant cheese table. Everything was ridiculously fresh, beautiful, and enticing. I had no idea how anyone could spend four hours at brunch. I know better, now. 

The buffet is divided into different rooms, and some of the food is cooked to order. The rooms are themed, with a seafood room, carving stations, an entire roast pig on a spit out on the patio, a dessert room, and that massive marble cheese table. 

Let's dive into the courses, shall we?

To start - smoked salmon, oysters, some sort of cream fraish parfait with green stuff and a fluffy little biscuit, and foie gras creme brulee. 

A salad course with various French cheeses, peppered tuna ceviche, and mini sushi rolls.

Soup course - it was about 100 degrees outside, so I opted for the cold ones - a gazpacho-like tomato based soup and a basil-veggie-pureed something. Delicious and refreshing.

More French cheese (I freaking LOVE stinky blue cheese), foie gras, a foie gras benedict (I also freaking LOVE foie gras), and a quail's egg atop a ham hash.

Foie gras liverwurst parfait, oysters, shrimp with eyes, salmon sashimi, and bacon-wrapped dates.

Cheese, cheese, and more cheese. And quince paste, apricots, and salami. Soooooo happy.

Of course there was lobster.

You look delicious.
 And the dessert room. Ohhhh the dessert room. Chocolate fountains, ice cream sundae stations, and tiered platters of colorful treats. It was like Willy Wonka's factory. (Obviously, I'd be Veruca Salt.)
I don't even know what all of these are, but they were amazing. AMAAAAAAZING.

 We sat and ate for four hours straight. Plate after plate, resting in between to sip champagne with friends in this beautiful dining room in a beautiful hotel on the water. It was pure, unadulterated luxury. Also, I probably don't need to tell you that this was the only meal we ate that day. After four hours of stuffing ourselves silly, we went back to the hotel to get ready for the main event - Sandance (post coming soon). 

While pricey and ridiculously opulent, a Dubai brunch is definitely one of those once-in-a-lifetime things. Come hungry, and don't plan to eat for the rest of the way. Or the weekend.

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