Don’t Dilly Dally, Get Down to Cavalli!

February 1, 2012 by marykei

Last week I was kindly invited to the sparkling Cavalli Club for dinner and wine.



It was evening to celebrate Tenuta Degli Dei which is the wine created by Tommaso and Roberto Cavalli. I had a chance to ask the charming Tomasso about his love of wine and he explained that he has chosen a variety of different grapes to grow instead of the traditional chianti as he wanted to create something new and exciting as well as in respect to the neighbouring established chianti vineyards. He said that his wine is still young at 10 years and that it takes time for a wine to develop a mood. We were offered Le Redini 2009 and the Tenuta Degli Dei 2007 with our meal. I was fortunate enough to be sitting next to fellow blogger Sarah, the Hedonista, who is quite the wine expert and encouraged me to smell the raspberry and blackcurrant and explained about the pepper which comes from the skin and seeds of the berry. I preferred Le Redini which is 90% merlot and was slightly lighter.



Our delicious menu started with seared scallops (my fave) wrapped in smoked duck on a morel risotto, an amuse of leek followed by Mesquite smoked Black Angus, crisp potatoes, earth salad and smoked tomato cream. I asked Tomasso what food he likes to eat most and he said he cooks a mean steak! he did also say that Japanese food is a firm favourite and when travelling he always looks for the best sushi restaurant.We finished our meal with dark chocolate Molleux with heart of caramel and a very alcoholic glass of Grappa!

We were entertained by a very beautiful opera singer and as the night went on the restaurant filled with more and more beautiful people, wealthy men, women dressed head to toe in sequins(I think it’s the Cavalli Club dress code!), fabulous shoes and so many pairs of perfect eyebrows! I don’t live in this land of bedazzle but I do enjoy visiting every so often. It was a great night meeting fellow bloggers, eating delicious food and indulging in ever flowing wine. A huge thanks to our kind hosts Camellia, Zahirah and Sheamus from Pragma PR Agency.

For Reservations to dine at the Cavalli Club call 04 332 9260 or 050 856 6044 or reservations@cavalliclubdubai.com

Posted in personal, Uncategorized | Tagged Cavalli Club, Pragma, Tenuta Degli Dei, Tomasso Cavalli | Leave a Comment »

Food and Fashion to Kick Start 2012

January 8, 2012 by marykei

VOGUE declares colour and pattern are back! Yeay! What better way to overcome the cold, grey winter months of January and February in Europe. And here where the weather couldn’t get any more perfect it is time close the door on all that christmas pudding and start experimenting with new salads to accompany those bbqs and desert camping trips! Why not do both…..




Fashion: Dolce & Gabbana rose-print bustier and pencil skirt. Dior ribbed silk/cotton cardigan

Food: Green bean, spinach, roasted onion and butternut squash salad topped with pickled beetreet and feta cheese, delicious with a balsamic dressing and a perfect accompaniment to a grilled steak.



Food: Basmati, red camargue and wild rice with prawn and smoked salmon, tossed in oil, lemom and hondashi dressing

Fashion: Pheobe Philo printed leather biker jacket, hibiscus print shirt and trouser, leather wedges all by Celine



Fashion: Christopher Bailey’s batik-print trench for Burberry, sunglasses Cutler&Gross. (I love, want, need?? this coat!)

Food: Bill Granger’s Asian slaw, red and white cabbage with red onions and celery tossed in a sweet, tangy and incredibly refreshing miso dressing.

Check out Bill Granger’s new book, Bill’s Everday Asian. (I bought this as a christmas present to myself and absolutely love it. Recipes are straightforward and delicious and the photography and styling is excellent)

Fashion from January issue of Vogue UK, ”Be so Bold” modeled by Agyness Deyn, photographer Patrick Demarchelier

Food made, styled, photographed and eaten by Mary-Kei!

Posted in food tips & techniques, personal, Uncategorized | Tagged Asian slaw, Bill Granger, food styling, Patrick Demarchelier, salad, Vogue | Leave a Comment »

Cook & Coffee with Kenwood and Chef Dima!

December 13, 2011 by marykei


Kenwood have a hi-tech kitchen set up in a shop! The Jashamal store in Festival City to be precise. I was invited to a delicious Christmas lunch there last week It was a Cook & Coffee, Kenwood have been doing these events for a few years, starting in Paris in 2009, then Hong Kong and Shang Hai and now in Dubai. It is a great way to demonstrate their machines to the public in an interactive way (so you don’t have to read the whole manual!!). And as I got to eat the food it was the right kind of interactive for me!!


Now I don’t have to be persuaded as to how great the Cooking Chef is, I have had my own private lesson thanks to Sue Poynter from Kenwood where we made bread dough and cake frosting as well as pasta! Amazing, all with one  machine that chops, grinds, slices, mixes, heats, pulse stirs, whisks, steams, basically you name it,  the Cooking Chef pretty much does all it bar the washing up! (and there isn’t even much of that as you are using the same bowl!)




We were very lucky to have  Chef Dima cooking for us. She made Christmas lunch look a doddle as she sliced potatoes and butternut squash for dauphinoise, grated cheese, chopped peppers for the Mediterranean foccacia and pepper stuffing and made gingerbread cookie dough. She was so full of handy cooking tips too! Check out more on her blog, Dima’s Kitchen.

Dimas tips:

  • When cooking with olive oil, it has a low smoking point so when you add it to the pan you don’t want to hear a sizzle as that means that it is already oxidizing and you will lose the flavour.
  • Flavour your pots and pans with oil, salt, pepper and herbs before you start cooking.
  • Dry your own rosemary, buy it fresh, wash it thoroughly then leave the whole plant to dry in the sun. This has much more flavour than shop bought dried rosemary.
  • Roll cookie dough in sheets of baking paper so as to not add too much flour which would make your cookies too dry.

Then we got a chance to decorate our own cookies. I loved this bit of course……


And just as tummies were beginning to rumble we were all treated to a delicious lunch of maple brine turkey with cranberry relish, a winter bake of vegetables and walnuts and Mediterranean stuffing. I have to say it might have been the most succulent turkey I’ve ever had! Sorry mum!!

Posted in food tips & techniques, personal, Uncategorized | Tagged catering, DeLonghi, Dima Sharif, dubai, Food Preparation, Jashamal stores, Kenwood | 1 Comment »

Are you Dating?

October 25, 2011 by marykei


Recently  I was asked to style an Arabian Lifestyle stock shoot for Arabian Eye. This involved two very talented photographers, Katarina Premfors and Rich Facun and the equally talented cameramen Nick Davidson and Andrew Clemson both from Alchemy. Now, all stock shoots are pretty hectic as the aim is to get as many quality shots as possible but when you have two photographers and film rolling you have to make sure that scenes work from all angles and everyone has a set-up to shoot!!!

I was responsible for the props, wardrobe and food. Luckily I was given two fabulous assistants, Simona and Sandiya to make this all possible. Here is the thing, you cannot do an Arabian Lifestyle shoot without dates and Arabian coffee served from a dalla (Arabian coffee pot). And to convey the Arab culture of hospitality I usually have to buy quite a lot of dates!

The Date, some facts……..
1. The English name as well as the Latin species name comes from the Greek word, daktulos,  which means finger because of it’s elongated shape.
2. Egypt produces the most dates at 1,350,000 metric tonnes and the UAE are 5th at 795,000 metric tonnes per year.
3. Dates are used in savoury dishes such as the Moroccan tagine, sweets such as Ka’ak, the Arabic cookie and in various date desserts popular in the West.
4. Dates are fed to camels, horses and dogs in the Sahara.
5. Traditionally, it is believed that dates can counteract alcoholic intoxication!!!(mmm, not sure about this one!)
6. Dates are a natural laxative so good for preventing constipation!
Well, as I mentioned earlier I am always left with rather a large amount of dates at the end of one of these shoots so I just choose one of the numorous recipes on the internet or from cookbooks for date cakes, date cookies, date squares etc but here is a tasty one called date drop cookies….
1/2 cup , 4 ounces, of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Date filling:
1 pack, 8 ounces, dates, cut up
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup warm water
1. Bring dates, sugar and water to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until dates are thickened. About 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. Cream butter and sugar, stir in egg, water, flour, vanilla, baking soda and salt.
3. Drop cookie dough by the teaspoonful onto a lightly greased cooking sheet.
4. Place  half a teaspoonful of date mixture on top of the cookie dough.
5. Bake at 350 degrees or 180 degrees for 10 to 15 mins.





Share with friends, family and hardworking Bookers in the office. Enjoy your date!

Posted in food tips & techniques, recipes, Shoots | Tagged Alchemy Films, Arabian coffee, Arabian Eye, Bareface, date drop cookies, dates, Katarina Premfors, lifestyle, Rich Facun, stock shoot | 1 Comment »

New York, New York

September 21, 2011 by marykei

This summer I decided to visit my friend in New York. I managed to beat Hurricane Irene and get in just before JFK was shut down! It was a blustery  weekend to say the least.

In New York there are over 960,00 restaurants which employ 12.8 million people and this earns $604 million dollars a year! Needless to say I found that during my week in the city  there just wasn’t enough time to eat all the things I wanted to! I sampled food in Little Italy, Chinatown, Chelsea Market , Madison Avenue but there was so much more I didn’t get a chance to taste. Even my friend said she couldn’t keep up with all the delicious and exciting eateries that are constantly opening.


The highlights were Eleven Madison, a five star restaurant in a converted bank where I enjoyed tomato snow!! Amazing! Chelsea Market, a must for all foodies, my first taste of catfish(weird after taste!) at City Island near Orchard Beach, Maialino at Gramercy Park Hotel, pork belly to die for and dim sum in a little place in New Jersey which were incredible and Eataly on 5th Ave full of Italian delights with a beer garden right under the Flatiron Building.

A few facts from 2011:

  • $1.7 billion restaurant-industry sales on a typical day in 2011
  • 80% of restaurant owners started their industry careers at entry-level positions
  • 88% of adults say they enjoy going to restaurants
  • 69% of adults say they are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers food grown or raised in an organically-friendly way
A huge thanks to Julie, her husband Sung Ho and their gorgeous little Rocco for a fabulous week. I won’t leave it so long before my next visit. xx

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Bareface, Chelsea Market, Eataly, Eleven Madison, Gramercy Park Hotel, New York | Leave a Comment »

Food for the Heart

September 8, 2011 by marykei

spacer A while ago my friend and colleague, hair and make-up stylist and beauty creative, Dennie Pasion  and I came up with an idea to serve two purposes. One was to see our friends more and one was to help some friends of ours, Brian and Alessia who are currently working in Uganda and had explained that they needed some extra money to complete some small projects while they were there. We decided to throw a dinner party! The theme was of course African food.

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Old Pal Cocktail from Lamu, a refreshing lime and vodka arrival cocktail


Palm Heart Salad from Mombasa

Fish Katlesi (fish cakes) from Zanzibar

Mango and Chili pickle from Zanzibar


Honey Chicken and Pineapple Mishkaki (skewers) from Mombasa

Wali Wa Nazi (coconut rice)

Chapati, Grilled Plantain and Fried Sweet Potato


Kasa Ice Cream (coconut) from Tanzania

Tropical Fruit Salad

Dennie was in charge of entertainment and organized for Dubai drums to come. They were amazing and kindly brought 20 drums for everyone to have a go and work up an appetite! It was perfect to set the mood for the story of Dan, the little boy who needed a new house in the village for whom we were raising money for.

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Everyone was asked to pay for their ticket and we managed to raise enough money for Brian and Alessia to complete three projects.

1. The first was to help a family who had lost three family members to typhoid. Outside the cities the majority of people have to rely on natural sources of water which are often contaminated. Some of the money raised was used to pay for medication for the remaining members of the family who were still in hospital and to arrange for a home visit from an international doctor to come to their residenceto help educate the family on water sanitation.

2. The second was Hip Hop week, the children in this area have very little exposure to any creative stimulation. Few of them have ever been in a car or seen an aeroplane. Therefore to help stimulate their minds, Alessia, who  and Brian used some of the money to organize a group of top-class Ugandan performers to do a week’s workshop at the local school. Rap, Hip Hop, breakdancing and beatbox were just some of the skills they were exposed to during the week. The children then put on a performance for all the teachers and parents at the end of the week.

3. Third was Dan who is six. Dan and Laban and their mother Christine have been homeless for a few years after their mud house was destroyed in a storm. Christine is special needs so Laban aged 14 has gone out to work to earn money for the family. Christine and Dan currently sleep on the floor in the village pub. Alessia and Brian wanted to build them a new house which is what the money we raised managed to do!

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A massive thank you to Alchemy Films for the use of The Studio, to Selva, to Ant our fabulous waiter for the night and to everyone who joined us. It’s truely amazing how food can bring everyone together and how much a Random Act of Kindness can achieve!


Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Oh what a Mess!

August 8, 2011 by marykei


This past year I grew tomatoes, aubergines and peppers only to find myself harvesting one pathetic cherry tomato! Not even a bunch, just the one!!! So I have to hand it to my father when he showed me his vegetable garden. The deal is my mum does the flowers (and the sculptures), and my dad does the veg. Of course they both battle to find enough time to stay on top of the garden but as it seems to be an English national  obsession it is permanently at the top of the ”to do” list!

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He has courgettes, (I made a courgette quiche the other day), tomatoes, beetroot, beans, lettuce, leeks and of course rhubarb which just seems to grow itself and has lived in the same corner of the garden since I can remember! I was informed that the rhubarb needed using up! Growing your own means that you not only have a constant stream of fresh and therefore delicious vegetables but it also forces you to make dishes that you probably wouldn’t make everyday.

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As my brother and his family were coming over for Sunday lunch I decided to use the rhubarb in an adaptation of the very traditional English summer dessert, Eton mess. Eton mess is a dish of strawberries, cream and meringue mixed together and has been around since the early 19th century and was traditionally served at the annual cricket match between Eton college and Winchester college. The great thing about it is it’s so quick, easy and tasty. (if you like creamy desserts)

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Rhubarb Mess

1. Peel the rhubarb to get rid of the stringy bits.

2. Chop into chunks and put in a pan with sugar and cinnamon.

3. Simmer until soft and leave to cool.

4.Whip some double cream and add sugar to taste. Mix in the rhubarb compote.

5. Before serving fold in the crushed meringue. If this is done too early the meringue will dissolve and the texture will be lost.

6. Serve chilled in individual bowls or glasses.

Styling tip: Glupey food should be served in smaller containers or dishes so it looks more attractive!

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Now, rhubarb is an acquired taste due to its tartness. So I was not at all surprised when, after their first mouthfuls, I got a unanimous, ”I don’t like it!!!!!!” from my two little nieces. Luckily I had some mini magnums as back-up!


Posted in food tips & techniques, personal, recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged Bareface, Eton mess, food styling, gardening, meringue, Rhubarb | Leave a Comment »

The Studio Kitchen

June 20, 2011 by marykei


Its done! We have completed the new kitchen in The Studio, Al Quoz. With bespoke kitchen units, a new fridge, 5-hob gas cooker with electric fan oven, a new extractor fan, a new hot water tank and even a moveable centre unit with a gas hob insert! This has been designed to be a functioning kitchen for all food stylists as well as ideal for shooting cookery webisodes. The colours are neutral greys which can be propped with numerous complimentary colours to achieve different looks. It is also equipped with chopping boards, pots, pans and knives to help food stylists lug a little less. And thanks to Rehana from Kenwood we can also boast top of the range cooking machines, blenders, coffee machines and more which are on their way as we speak!

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To book this space go to The Studio. Thank you to Nick Davidson, Selva, Jumeirah Carpentry, Rehana, Elisa and Candice for making this happen.


Posted in personal, Shoots, Uncategorized | Tagged Alchemy Films, dubai, Food Photography, Food Preparation, Food Stylist, kitchen, The Studio | 1 Comment »

One-Piece Wonders

June 12, 2011 by marykei



The one-piece is back! Check out these amazing swimsuits from Ralph Lauren, Moschino, Roberto Cavalli and Dolce&Gabbana, all featured in this months edition of Tatler. What better way to enjoy the summer that with delicious ice lollies and ice cream. Make your own ice lollies with fresh fruit juices or try a new flavour ice cream.

Food styling tip:

To avoid ice lollies from frosting over, blow on them using a straw or use compressed air such as ‘Dust Off’.

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 Try  green tea ice cream served with shiratama dumplings (rice flour) and sweet adzuki bean paste, available at most Japanese restaurants. This desert always reminds me of summer in Tokyo.

Food styling tip:

Make fake ice cream using icing sugar and food colouring, see ‘I Scream for Ice cream’ blog. I used acylic paint as well to get the colour right on this ice cream.

Posted in food tips & techniques, personal, Uncategorized | Tagged Bareface, Bareface productions, Food Photography, Food Stylist, green tea ice cream, Ice cream, Ice Lollies, Ralph Lauren, Roberto Cavalli, Tatler | Leave a Comment »

Cool as a Cucumber

May 25, 2011 by marykei


Well I have been in denial but I think summer is upon us! I keep on stepping outside and thinking “Oh its quite warm today!” but I fear this is it guys, brace yourselves for the on-coming 45 degree heat that we all endure (somehow) every year.

What better vegetable to come to the rescue than the Cucumber! The Cucumber is cool and soothing and is packed full of vitamins and water. Here are a few fascinating facts about the Cucumber…..

The Facts:

1. It contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Iron Magnesium, Phosphorous, Potassium and Zinc!

2. It is great as an afternoon pick-me-up as it contains the right amount of Vitamin B and carbohydrates, try it next time instead of reaching for that bar of chocolate.

3. When rubbed on skin the phytochemicals in the cucumber cause the collagen in your skin to tighten so it is great to put on your eyes if a little puffy or rub cellulite areas before heading down to the pool!<">

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