by ADELA EILEEN
The recent Royal Affair dining experience at Anantara Al Jebel Al Akhadar has made my dream of being part of a Royal wedding come true. It was everything I have ever imagined and more.
The dinner served quite a spectacular evening atop the mountains, with Chef Nikolaos Koulousias working his magic for the ultimate dinner. Flown all the way from Greece, Chef Nikolaos is famed for curating the menu at the Royal wedding of HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle that took place in London. His creations were nothing short of a dining celebration, and he brought his art to Anantara Al Jebel Al Akhadar to offer guests a taste of his artfully crafted menu.
With perfect, romantic weather, the evening was all set and guests were ready to feel the aura of the royal-inspired culinary journey. We began the experience with a lovely session of socializing at the terrace of the fabled mountain at Diana’s Point, where Princess Diana of Wales once stood in 1986, gazing into the rugged canyon.
A few minutes later, a very familiar shrill filled the air, played by a talented Omani bagpiper who made his way to Diana’s Point to mark the start of the evening. The General Manager at the five-star resort elevated this evening by her beautiful words and shared the reasons behind choosing her property as the perfect spot to celebrate this majestic dining event. After meeting the charming Chef Nikolaos, we headed to Al Qila, Anantara’s fine dining restaurant that serves the best of Arabic dishes, excited to explore what Chef Nikolaos has prepared for us.
After settling in and marvelling at the elegant setup. We enjoyed a warm welcome that led to a lovely 9-course dinner.
The menu was crafted by Chef Nikolaos to incorporate a variety of Middle Eastern flavours while showcasing flavours that truly represent his identity and authenticity as a Masterchef. The amuse-bouche, a baby hammour fish served in bisque with sea salt and crisp crackling skin on top was definitely an excellent start to this evening. Followed by a tomato and basil tartare with unforgettable pomegranate and balsamic reduced pearls.
After savouring the goodness above, we dived into an all-time Arabic comfort dish, the lentil soup with citrus creme fraiche instead of lemon. The next dish was an ode to Oman; Chef Nikolaos used a variety of local produce to make the Dhofari chicken roulade with dried apricots and pistachios, with a lightly foamed labneh. The dish was delicious, and the juxtaposition of a local dish with an international flare was absolutely commendable.
The next dish on the menu was apparently Meghan Markle’s favourite: A mint and pea shoot risotto with truffle oil and parmesan chips. Served right beer the final main course, which was a slow-cooked veal meat (cooked for 10 hours) artistically plated for the ultimate indulgence.
The experience so far has served nothing but perfection. We ended the savoury session with a palate cleanser of rose sorbet and for desserts, we had the famous Royal Cake, a typical English lemon butter cake.
This beautiful night proceeded to the library for some in-house chocolates. Only when we thought its over, the chef came in with yet another wonderful surprise; He made us a cigar mousse, ending this sophisticated dinner at the Anantara Al Jebel Al Akhadar in style.
The Royal Affair was definitely a culinary highlight of 2019, and I loved every minute of it. It was a true pleasure to meet Chef Nikolaos and learn from his craft as he explained each dish to details. I look forward to experiencing more of his lovely work in 2020. And, the hospitable service at Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar was beyond measures. I cannot picture a better host for such an elegant experience. Kudos to you, Anantara!