Dazzled by White Gold
Mazina at The Address Marina is hosting an asparagus festival till end-June — and their set menu, offering gourmet delights with asparagus (including the white variety) playing the background score, is definitely worth a try
I had always con-sidered myself as being ambivalent when it comes to asparagus — the white version of which is, often, referred to as White Gold (imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon this piece of info recently). Which is funny given that most people have extreme views on the slender spring vegetable: they either love it, or they hate it.
to some discerning eaters, tastes a lot like mushy
peas. Then again, a few others (let’s just call them pea-bodies) refute that sensory observation vehemently, claiming peas are far superior. And so the arguments and counter-arguments
Personally, I think asparagus has a trace of sweet blandness, and an aftertaste that goes down well with only certain kinds of dishes — mellow, refined ones, cooked in olive oil or served in hollandaise sauce… most importantly, ones that do not have to weather an onslaught of spices.
As it turned out, the set menu (it changes every week) at Mazina, comprising a Continental mix, pandered to my set belief, and I emerged a clear lover of the vegetable that I tend to confuse Lucky Bamboo (before it starts sprouting leaves in right earnest) with.
My dinner companion and I opt to sit on the balcony: even though it’s a balmy evening, it doesn’t feel half-bad, and there’s girlie chat and the spectacular, overhanging view of the Dubai Marina with its heavy-duty yachts’ traffic to keep you riveted. The service at Mazina, as always, is pleasant, gently questioning but never intrusive.
Dinner starts with a goodly portion (as the evening progresses, I realise all portions are a bit too goodly to be had in full) of asparagus chowder soup with parsley croutons. It’s delicious and hot (in the temperature sense), and the asparagus flavour comes through full throttle, but the croutons are a bit too soggy, and I realise croutons are best saved for cold soups — or at least tepid ones.
This is followed by the yellow-fin tuna carpaccio with green asparagus-avocado tartar. Now, I’m not a big fan of carpaccios, but this one is so good that I polish off most of it, even though the tiny quail eggs seem ever so disconcerting (I carefully keep them aside).
For mains, there is a choice of truffle-laced risotto with braised leek, white and green asparagus, and mushroom foam; sous vide Norwegian salmon and white asparagus with dill-flavoured potato mousseline; and corn-fed chicken breast with asparagus and pea fricassee. I pick the risotto while my friend fishes for the salmon. My entrée is flavourful and wholesome, with the leek-mushroom-asparagus trio raising my palate’s bar by several notches.
For dessert, we are served a bitter chocolate cold soup with white asparagus ice cream; the soup seems a sorry version of a cocoa-and-Nutella combo, and the ice cream is almost tasteless. This is clearly the weakest deal in the meal, coupled with the fact that the serving portion is mammoth (one can almost swim in the chocolate soup).
It dawns on me that even though I think asparagus has a slightly sweet flavour — and the white one more so — it’s best reserved for savoury experimentations. - email@example.com
In seven words: Continental delights while gazing at the waterfront
- What we liked: The subtle flavours
- What we didn’t like: The chocolate soup and the asparagus ice cream
- Restaurant best for: A romantic evening or catching up with friends
- Cost for 1: Dh185
- Did you know: White Asparagus, other than being known as White Gold, is also called Edible Ivory and ‘the Royal Vegetable’
- Contact: Mazina, The Address Marina, Dubai 04-4367777
- Rating ****