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14 August, 2003

Frothy mushroom soup

Interesting evening courtesy of an Arab airline at the Grand Hyatt Dubai, in its spectacular Baniyas ballroom. Certainly the most beautiful function room in Dubai - excepting the Royal Madge, which is in a league of its own - and incomparably nicer than the adjacent Amira ballroom. Amira is evidently aimed at lower class functions.

After suffering an hour of Arabic speeches, awards and corporate puff, I enjoyed the last laugh, being the only person able to translate "Porcini cappucino" to a table of bewildered Arabic journalists. Eight out of ten for the food: points gained for the main course vegetables (tiny pearl onions and root vegetables), points lost for the starter (veal and salmon on "chickpea mousse" = hoummus cement) and points both gained and lost by the sorbet refresher: delicious, but far too sweet for a mid-savoury palate cleanser.

And the most alarming corporate gift yet: a crystal bottle of attar on a keyring. God forbid anyone drop their keys and crack that one all over the place. Or perhaps it's not intended to be a keyring, but instead a Saudi version of something to hang from the rear-view mirror, in place of a CD Quran or photo of that strange Indian prophet with Afro hair.

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