Any expat kid will know what I mean when I say that I dread the “where do you come from?” question. I tend to tailor my answer to suit the person asking it. If it’s a complete stranger who I’ll probably never have a conversation with ever again, I usually tell them I’m from London. Job done. No more questions asked. For anyone else, it tends to get rather complicated…
“So where do you come from?”
“Errr…well I would say I am southern….but I don’t really have a hometown in the UK. My parents have lived in Dubai most of my life, and I was born in Sharjah.”
“Oh – so you’re an Arab?” Really?!!!
“No – both my parents are British.”
“Well where do they come from?”
“My mum’s from Marlow and my dad’s from Harrow.”
“So you’re from there?”
“No – I have never lived there.” Cue confused look.
“You must come from somewhere.” AAAARGHHHHHHHHHH! Help.
The point that I am really trying to make is that while I am a Brit through and through, I will always consider Dubai my hometown. And even though I was unfortunately born in the dazzling city that is Sharjah, no – I’m not an Arab. Dubai is the one place in the world that I feel I really know. There are places here that I have been going to since I was a wee nipper, and I quite often cruise past the house my family lived in when I was born. Considering the regular villa demolition in Jumeirah, I am quite surprised it is still in existence.
So with a solid knowledge of this strange and pleasant land, I have decided to impart some valuable knowledge. To most – Dubai is a shiny, golden, tourist hot-spot, but those who have spent a good portion of their life here will know that there is much more to it. Hidden restaurants, quirky cafés and cheap & cheerful weekend getaways.
Today’s suggestion isn’t hidden at all. In fact, it’s right under your snout in the mighty Mall of the Emirates (MoE). I remember when MoE first opened. For someone who has been lost many-a-time in Mercato, MoE sort of blew my mind. After a good number of years, I can confirm that I finally feel comfortable in there. I do, however, still park my car in the same location every time to avoid confusion, but inside – I am pretty good at finding the shop I want. Dubai Mall is something else entirely. It terrifies me. The only time I ever go there is to either visit Bloomingdale’s kitchen department (I thoroughly recommend…it’s heavenly), to well-up while watching the fountains (the Andrea Bocelli/Celine Dion duet is my FAVE) or to visit the Rainforest Café with my 5-year-old half sister. Terrible food, but she genuinely thinks it’s Africa. Not quite ready to burst her bubble of imagination on that one.
Back to MoE. On the ground floor, overlooking the Ski slope is a chalet-style restaurant called St. Moritz Café. Complete with crackling tv-screen fires, it’s got Dubai fakery written all over it. Not the kind of place that would usually draw me in for a nibble, but I am glad that I once did, because it was on that fateful day that I discovered the St. Moritz Café cheese fondue. And I LOVE fondue. The perfect size for 2 hungry people, or 3 semi-hungry people. It’s the ideal post shopping treat and in the festive season (my favourite season) it makes you feel super christmassy with its view of Ski Dubai’s snowy wonderland. So pop on down to fondue heaven. You won’t regret it. Happy munching y’all!