Sally Prosser is a real gem of a person. She's one of those few local gurus who has her pulse on the latest happenings on the Dubai food scene as well as the online food blogging arena. It was only a matter of months after I started my own blog that I realized the need to connect with fellow food bloggers in the city...and that's prompted me to leave inquiring (or as Elaine offered, creepy) messages on fellow blogger's sites (Gist of message: Hi, I love your blog! I'm a Dubai-based blogger too, and would love to connect with fellow food bloggers. Would you be up to forming a foodie group?). Sally was one of the first to respond with enthusiasm, and since then, has always been full of that kind of energy, excitement and initiative that gives any fledgling group its momentum over the first few months.
But most notably, Sally is one of the most warm and lovely personalities I've met since I moved back to Dubai in February. My most recent and particularly scrumptious example of her awesomeness is when she opened up her home to hosting an afternoon gingerbread baking and decorating session for our food blogger group two Fridays ago. And get this, she actually made the dough using a time-tested gingerbread recipe in advance of everyone getting there. Sally, I think I've said this before but I'll say it again, You Rock. :)
There's something therapeutic about sitting around on a weekend afternoon, with a group of fellow foodies each in their own element, total strangers up until a few months ago, now united on a table stocked with cookie cutters, icing tubes, colored dyes, flour, M&Ms (50% of which were consumed even before they reached the cookie surface), silvery decorating balls, and Milky Bar buttons (I'm personally really proud of those milky bar buttons that my keen eye caught out in the grocery aisle. As I picked the tube of buttons off the shelf, I could almost hear a deep husky voice in the background saying: Milky bar buttons. For the gingerbread man who redefines style.)
The prize for the most innovative gingerbread creations goes to Debbie. These were completely atypical, nothing like the boring old designs that I plodded through on my gingerbread candy cane. We're talking icing smears twirled and blended with a skewer for the ultimate gingerbread art. And as the afternoon progressed, Debz ventured into the architectural space, using M&M's to make gingerbread structures that loomed into the sky, with the typical pomp and bling so characteristic of Dubai.
On a totally unrelated note - Elaine, I got another shot of your wonderfully lacquered nails. I think some version of this photo should now become a tradition of all our foodie events (the previous red-tipped photo shoot took place at our Thai cooking class that I'd blogged about back in September). Perfect for a food ad...
Other random homemade eats that afternoon which deserve a special mention: Ruth's dreamy scones warm out of the oven and served up with rhubarb jam, sticky rice dumplings (did I get this right??) in sweet syrup by Debbie, turkey and chutney sandwiches by Sally. Needless to say, having these treats to nosh on helped poor-willed souls like myself stave off the desire to sink our teeth into un-iced batches of gingerbread straight out of the oven.
I must confess that I only decorated three cookies - it was far more interesting to photograph everyone else's art...plus I also had the rude realization that I'd never really done much extravagant cookie icing growing up, so this was a really good opportunity to watch and learn (and steal ideas for the future). These were my three...and while I'm quite sure that it's wildly obvious to the observer as to what they're meant to be, let me still do the obvious: top, counterclockwise - festive candy cane (with intricate line and bling designs), a radioactive jellyfish, and a water spray can (or a modern art interpretation of a spray can. Please note the nuanced water work in the can, replete with shiny bubbles and white ripples)
Sally, once again, thank you for organizing this - I know I can safely speak on behalf of the others in saying that we had a FABULOUS time at your place! (and special shout out to Hazel and Rosie, your two adorable doggies that got all the lady love possible that afternoon!) And to all the other ladies who made it out that afternoon - Elaine, Debz, Anja (kudos to you lady, you made it right after your half marathon!), Ruth, Sidiqa, Tala, Rads, Jenn & Novhea - it was such fun seeing you all, can't wait to catch up again in 2011! ...maybe next year we could all attempt an ambitious gingerbread skyscraper together?
(PS. For those runners out there, I must mention that I completed a long run less than an hour after I left Sally's. It was the first time in weeks that I'd been able to achieve my target! That gingerbread had some seriously potent running fuel baked into it..)