It was a happy day for many when Rumba got its license. Since then it's become a (partially) underground hotspot in Muscat, packed at weekends, with talented bartenders serving up the best strawberry margaritas in the country. And I don't like margaritas. Ask me why not one day; it's an excuse to tell you a story of me at my most debauched.

With all its popularity and boozy goodness - do you know you're allowed to take your drinks onto the terrace now? - you'd be forgiven for forgetting why it was that Rumba managed to survive and thrive through the Long Dry Year at The Cave. Their food is really good, and authentically Latin American. (They do have some of the tex-mexish stuff too, but the best food coming out of the kitchen is made by the chefs working to their mothers' recipes. Top tip: if you don't recognise something on the menu, order it.)

This week, Rumba is holding a celebration of Colombian cuisine. Given that my only experience of this has been at Rumba, it was nice to see fresh Colombian dishes featured on their special menu. I had the potato and chicken soup: delicious, very homestyle and nourishing. It's not pictured here due to my inability to capture neutral-toned foods. I came to Rumba straight from four and a half hours of swimming, so a soup was welcome, as were meat-and-potato balls. Like many meat-and-potato dishes, this sounds better in any other language: papa rellena. Unlike any other meat-and-potato dish, however, this one was light as air. How do you take a potato, fill it with beef, and turn it into little tasty bites lighter than the sum of its parts? The steak on horseback came with a fried egg on top and tasty little biscuits you can use to break the yolk and dip. The paisa platter was another hit, with dozens of flavour combinations, the charred and moreish pancake being my favourite. I didn't try dessert because - to my outrage - it turns out that Tres Leche, the world's best dessert, is not Colombian, and once you've been stunned by Tres Leche there's just no point trying anything else in a Latin restaurant, or maybe any restaurant, so I sulked into my margarita instead of eating the coffee flan which was apparently lovely.

Rumba's Colombian menu is available now and will be until the 22nd; there's a flyer below with details.

















FatSu suffered last week. For six days, my husband was out of town. That means many things, including a cold and lonely bed; a disgruntled, yowling cat who despises me but worships Maurizio; the background noise of a TV permanently switched to property programmes from 8 years ago; double duty on dog walks; and nobody to cook for me.

I've got two projects at the moment - one is the awesome new collaboration TOTEM/Copper, and the other is BritSwim. With my shop, I work, but that involves using a laptop, standing up, and talking, with some occasional re-arrangement of merchandise. It's not tiring. Teaching swimming is, though. Four or five straight hours in the pool with full focus on my students, constantly moving, every day. It's amazingly rewarding and loads of fun, but lord, you need some good food, hot food, fast, after that. Don't become a swim instructor if you don't have someone at home who loves you enough to cook and tolerate chlorine-scented hair.

The Maurizio-shaped hole first came into focus the morning he drove away. Why does tea made by someone else taste so much better? I had studied his methods before he left in preparation, but to no avail. Breakfast was a tangerine: a good middle line for a haiku, but totally inadequate as a meal. Lunch and dinner weren't an issue for the first two days; Maurizio loves me, so he had left me four portions of lasagna. So that's what I had for the first two days. Then it was Tuesday and I had to fend for myself. (I used to cook, you know. When I lived in England on my own, a group of friends once called on my unexpectedly one Saturday, and I was able to breezily offer all five of them a bowl of homemade tomato and basil soup I happened to have in my freezer. With a quenelle of creme fraiche and everything. And that was before Masterchef did the quenelle to death.)

Below are the images of what I had for lunch on the two days I was alone. (I didn't take pictures of the omelettes I made for dinner both nights; beige doesn't photograph well.) The first is pesto linguine with pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, and parmesan. Now, I would definitely recommend this for non-cooks, except use gnocchi instead of linguine. Gnocchi is the easiest pasta, because it floats to the top of the pan when ready - no need to dip your fork into the pan and try to spear a pasto of linguine, which is time-consuming and frustrating. Also, I had to break the linguine in half before putting it in the pan - I have since learned that you're supposed to put it in long and push it down as the submersed parts soften. But then haven't the first bits in been cooked longer? Just break it for less attractive but evenly-cooked pasta. Pesto can be bought ready made, and because it comes in a glass jar instead of a packet, you can pretend that you picked it up from the family-run deli down the road which doesn't exist. Pine nuts and cherry tomatoes go in a frying pan for a minute to warm up and toast a bit - real cooking, and it doesn't involve the bottom part of the cooker, which remains mysterious and threatening.

The second dish pictured is a salad of red beans, coriander, carrot, and cucumber. This is a miserable thing to eat. The image you see was sent to Maurizio on WhatsApp with the caption "Please come home."

Believe it or not, these are both #nofilter images. Feel free to pin.





Next PostNewer Posts Previous PostOlder Posts Home