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twoshovelAlder was not exactly what I expected. The food was fairly straightforward, at least in comparison to WD-50, which wasn’t a detriment for the dishes since most are memorable close to a month later. I couldn’t conjure up a single detail about the room if I tried, though. Perhaps that wasn’t the point.


Even though I’ve been trying to work my way through two pounds of Chinese sausage picked up at Costco, I still ordered the pigs in a blanket that wrap flattened hot dog buns around the sweet fatty links of lap cheong. The emphasis here is more on the link than the normally puffy coating. Served with sweet chile sauce and Japanese mustard, these are the perfect cross-cultural snacks. They will not be forgotten come Super Bowl.


The quail scotch eggs, whose shrunken size provides a good coating to innards ratio, also tread in bar snack territory.


Grilled octopus combined the most unusual flavors and it was also the most successful composed dish. Octopus and chorizo, I could buy in that Portuguese-y pork and seafood way. Sweet potato–why not? Banana, though, seemed, well, bananas, one step too far. It was not. Oily sausage, paprika and octopus coins are strong enough for a sweet, starchy accent.


Instagram works. I might not have considered the goat if I hadn’t seen the whole animal being prepped before service. I’m not sure what else went into this take on Jamaican goat curry and coco bread, but based on taste it was less a riff than a rendition, just presented spilling out of a wedge of acorn squash.

Alder * 157 Second Ave., New York, NY

24 Hours in Dubai

costa coffee festive
People may complain about the pervasiveness of American culture, but abroad it’s Britishisms all the time.  At the airport Costa Coffee (yes, yes, a British chain) the advertisement for mince pies (also, mince for ground as in ground beef will never be right) set me off. Thankfully, the sight of the turkey, stuffing and cranberry sandwich tempered my Thanksgiving outrage a bit. Also, did you know that Costa Coffee recently started offering camel milk?


I said “takeaway” and hated myself for it when I over-ordered at the mall food court and didn’t want to leave food behind. We all know what to go means, right?

carrefour turkeys

The only mention of Thanksgiving was this frozen turkey display at Carrefour. This is also a four-day weekend in Dubai, but it’s for National Day, which means a lot of flags.

My hotel room, which is slightly larger than my Brooklyn apartment which isn’t super tiny, has a kitchen. Unfortunately, there is an electric tea kettle but no coffee maker. I’ve scoffed at foodies who travel with pour over coffee contraptions, but now I’m not laughing. I resorted to buying a jar of private label instant espresso that was imported from Poland.

so much instant coffee

This is only one-third of the instant coffees displayed at the Carrefour inside of the Mall of the Emirates. The mall is a three-minute walk from my room.

cheesecake factory mall of the emirates

I’ve wondered why American malls don’t contain grocery stores when it’s commonplace in other countries. I will concede that shopping carts in a crowded (Thursday night is Saturday night here, if you didn’t know that already) mall isn’t the wisest idea. Someone has one half-way through the entrance of the Cheesecake Factory. There was still a wait for tables at 10pm.


It has now taken me 96 hours to get this short post uploaded because my laptop internet won’t stay connected long enough to insert photos. At least that now gives me the chance to share a picture of a guy driving down the street with his pet monkey hanging out of car…or not–it’s taking over 20 minutes to email the photo and instagram crashes my ipad, which I resorted to because the laptop won’t work. You are really missing out. Ok, the mall has better free wifi.