It’s food festival time in Dubai. Held from February 25th to March 12th this year, Dubai Food Festival is an annual citywide culinary adventure highlighting diverse food events and experiences, such as Dubai restaurant week, tasting experiences with world-renowned chefs, and live demonstrations at various venues.
Today, I headed over to the Etisalat Beach Canteen for lunch. Located at Kite Beach, Jumeirah, the Beach Canteen houses 16 diverse food stalls housed in cargo containers and is open from 10am to 10pm for the duration of the festival.
I did a bit of reading before hand, so I knew I wanted to check out two spots in particular: Pinza and Ting Irie.
I love pizza, and although this restaurant goes by the motto “We are not pizza. We are Pinza!”, it still contains the critical (and delicious) elements of bread and cheese.
Upon entering the Beach Canteen, you knew it was going to be good based on the smell and the sheer number of people who were finishing up their meals from Pinza-branded boxes.
Pinza’s dough is made up of 80% water and 20% flour, using the sourdough, soy, rice, and soft wholewheat varieties.
I stuck with the classic margherita (35 dirhams), with a side of chili oil, of course – and it lived up to the hype. The perfect amount of cheese and the crispy outside but soft inside of the dough, made it one of the best pizzas I’ve had in Dubai. I’ll be sure to order it again, and/or visit their location in Business Bay.
Ting Irie had me at “the chef is from Toronto.”
Craig Wong, the founder of Ting Irie, is Toronto-based chef, with Jamaican-Chinese roots and extensive training in French fine-dining cuisine.
The spot offers a modern take on Jamaican cuisine inspired by his background, including a jerk chicken sandwich, oxtail cocobread sandwich, Jamaican beef patties, and a beautiful pineapple fruit salad bowl.
While I didn’t see any vegetarian meals on the menu, I asked if they had any of the coleslaw made with coconut milk that I had seen in my pre-visit reading, and they kindly accommodated my request. The twist on traditional coleslaw was fresh, interesting, and of course, very tasty.
My husband had the jerk chicken sandwich (40 dirhams), comprised of pulled jerk chicken with pickled escovitch slaw served on a coconut milk bun. I had a bite of the bun and slaw and it was flavourful and delicious. My husband assures me that the full sandwich combination was even better.
While we were eating our meal, we heard a Canadian accent nearby and knew that it must be the chef.
Chef Craig is a friendly and interesting guy, and let us know that Ting Irie will soon be opening up it’s full restaurant in April on The Boulevard in Dubai, across from Souk Al Bahar. (And, the restaurant’s al a carte menu will offer many vegetarian options!)
He also mentioned that he has a restaurant in Toronto – Patois – right at Dundas and Bathurst, for those who know the city. The menu there also reflects his Jamaican-Chinese background. I can’t wait to check it out the next time I’m in YYZ!
Check It Out
The Beach Canteen is a great Food Festival experience in Dubai. I only tried two of the 16 spots in the area, but based on the sights and smells around, there’s a lot more deliciousness to be had.
Diverse and flavourful food offerings right on the beach – is there anything better?
The Etisalat Beach Canteen is open from 10am to 10pm until March 12, 2016, as part of the Dubai Food Festival at Kite Beach, Jumeirah. www.dubaifoodfestival.com