Date Nights in Abu Dhabi

How long do you think it takes a marriage to flatten and become downright boring?

I don’t ever want to personally find out the answer to this question, but people say sooner than you think, if you’re not putting enough effort into keeping it fresh and interesting, for yourself as well as for your significant other.

And I thought falling in love with Mr. Right and marrying him will be the end of my relationship trouble!

All you need is ove

Experience has taught me that keeping all communication channels open between a couple is important on multiple levels. Having shared a roof for years, you reach a point where you assume that you’ve learnt everything there is to know about each other. It becomes easy to completely forget that you are essentially two individuals with separate minds, hearts, past lives, who met on a crossroad of life, established a common ground of love and care, yet you both continue to evolve and change.

I totally blame the Beatles for this one, they’ve had us thinking all we need is love all along!

Communication is like a dance oprah winfrey

The knowing and the learning must continue if you’re in it for the long run. And I’ve got some news for you, it doesn’t occur naturally (nor supernaturally) unfortunately, you’re going to have to put some muscle into it, the one that beats, and the one that thinks.

FYI, no couple come to this conclusion the easy way.

Since there is no school around here where we can get some formal education on the subject, we’ve gone pretty much old school about this. Yep, we’ve signed up to regular date nights.

Mainly we’re making the most out of our current circumstances, while it’s still just the two of us.

just teh two of us

I happen to believe that dating your husband is an extremely healthy practice, not for his credit card, but it’s defiantly one that reiterates constant involvement.

We’ve kept it up for a couple of legit reasons; first, it’s an excuse for me to play dress up and let my hair down every now and then. Second it’s a great motivation to check out new restaurants while catching up one on one. This has been especially valid since moving to Abu Dhabi.

So what do we talk about?

Anything and everything…..seriously

I don’t think that being a mixed couple is an obstacle by definition, though at times it calls for working few hours overtime to bridge wide cultural gaps between us. It is defiantly not a walk in the park considering that we’re both gifted with strong characters, and we seem to be taking the bull by the horns when it comes to making the most of our time on earth.

Besides, I think Arabic, he thinks Spanish, it has taken us a couple of post marriage dating years to start talking the same language, literally.

Date night

How do we do it?

Basically, we play by the rules.

Once (or twice) a month we’d pick a romantic spot where we’ll both be able to enjoy a good meal and have some relaxed fun. Good thing we’re way pass the phase where I pretend to fill up on a girly portion of salad, unless that’s what I feel like having that night. That of course is rarely the case anymore, and totally besides the point.

One of us would choose the place and leave the other person to be surprised. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, but it is nice to show that some thought has gone into the venue selection process.

Showing up, on time, prepared, is essential. If the whole point of this is to demonstrate commitment and appreciation, then there is not much room for indifference here.

Terms and conditions apply in case of cancelation or no show.

 ********************

Now we come to the fun part, where I share some of our favorite date night spots in Abu Dhabi

Zuma Abu Dhabi

We agree to disagree on many things, but if there is one thing that we both fully agree on all the time, it is that contemporary Japanese is our favorite cuisine. Food wise, Zuma is by far our favorite Japanese restaurant in Abu Dhabi. We’ve been to the one in Dubai few times and we loved it, so we decided to check the Abu Dhabi branch out on our 4th wedding anniversary back in November.

We went all out with the platinum tasting dinner menu, not realizing that getting through it will keep us in our seats for the next 3+ hours. Fine by me, we’ve got nothing but time to celebrate making it thus far in our marriage without killing each other, just a thought.

Genius creations kept arriving on our table, it felt especially good to share such an amazing meal over reminiscences of the highest and lowest points of the past and future of our life together.

Somewhere around course six, I was ready to call it quits, but like many moments of a young marriage, sometimes you just have to look at the bright side, and keep going. No good food will be wasted tonight I decided, especially when course number seven is the yummiest chocolate fondant that I have ever tasted.

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill, Fairmont Bab Al Bahar

Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill, Fairmont Bab Al Bahar

Uber chic and classy. With a Michelin started menu that fits the choosy taste of the passionate carnivores that we are.

Everything from the dark wood paneled décor, to the glass encased fire tucked into the wall, puts you right into the mood. the kind of place that makes you feel like the most important woman in the room. I am taking a wild guess as to that’s why my husband picked it.  

The Forge, Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi

THE FORGE

It’s all about the meat in this place. Forget my husband, all I wanted to romance was my AED 600 perfectly cut and sizzled steak that cooperated consensually with my custom made meat knife, and shamelessly flooded my taste buds with pleasurable juices.

Angel would never go for a burger in such a place, but he took the chef’s recommendation for the tower of selectively matched components of seared duck liver, truffle sauce, caramelized onion, and cep mushroom compote, spread between generous portions of lean Wagyu patties, rightfully named “WOW burger”.

He moaned, I groaned, systematically. When the need for small talk soared, to hide our momentarily infatuation with our engaging food, we repeated; this is really good (him), I love it (me).

Every now and then we were pulled back into the room by the sound of music and the flickering tea light. Caught by the other’s softened gaze, neither of us needed to verbalized what a smashing fail this date really was by classic terms.

Let’s just say all we shared that night was our passion for good food, and gratefulness for grass fed cows.

Mezlai, Emirates Palace

mezlai emirates palace

It is no big secret that finding the illusive Emirati cuisine is a tough job in this town. Once located, you always ought to pray that it isn’t a knockoff replica of the true magic cooking inside real Emirati kitchens.

Stumbling upon a fine dining Emirati restaurant that serves authenticity on a platter, in a genuinely romantic setting was a dream of mine come true.  For once I was in charge of explaining the menu items, since no one else at the table knew what on earth is a “Chicken Margoogah” or what kind of fish is “Halwaio”.

Under a marble arched open air cabana, surrounded by majestic red brick walls and elegantly carved trees, we exchanged cultural values and nostalgic recollections, and chimed to soft oud tunes.  At the end of the night we were reassured that what each of us bring to our mixed marriage table may contrast, yet it certainly completes the other.

Nurai Terrace, Zaya Nurai Island

Occasionally we break the rules to shake it up a little. instead of a date night we’d go for a weekend brunch date. Having tried few good ones in Abu Dhabi, the one that stole our hearts was on Nurai Island. The boat departed the welcome center in Sadiyyat Island, and 15 minutes later we were delivered a world away from our world. I followed my curiosity for what lies beyond mainland Abu Dhabi to this amazing new island hideaway, and I actually managed to pleasantly surprise even myself this time.

Our biggest struggle is usually avoiding work related talks during such an outing. When you’re on a beach so beautiful that’s not so hard to achieve.

We ate, we talked, we walked, we ate again, chatted some more, then we lounged on a bench and pretended that we are on a mini holiday far from home where we are normally able to just be …..together.

 Nurai IslandThe things I have to compete with for his attention!!

Cipriani, Yas Marina

FullSizeRender

If you’re not careful enough, you could bump into Kim Kardashian here. If you’re lucky, you will enjoy an uninterrupted view of the glorious Yas Hotel, its colorful reflection glistening luminously in the sedate gulf water.

The inspiring view is what we return for whenever we’re in the mood for a hassle-free romantic evening. I mean how Venetian of the founders of the original Harry’s Bar in Venice to choose this magical waterside spot to extend their world famous legacy. Anything that reminds us of beautiful Venice instantly wins a special spot in our heart.

Dine by Design, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara

Dine by design at Qasr Al Sarab Abu Dhabi

Last month’s date night had to be something special, since it fell on Valentine’s Day. No, we are not over it, and we make sure to celebrate it every year. We’re just this kind of a couple.

We went for the well-reviewed and recommended dine by design experience in Qasr Al Sarab. Something about dining under the stars at the edge of the empty quarter desert sounded so mysteriously romantic, and we like that.

Barefoot, enchanted by a snowy crescent, below a vast orbit of visibly glowing planets, we gathered in front of an entrancing wood fed fire. Our multicourse dinner was served in a private Arabic majlis setting, all around us giant waves of dimly lit dunes rolled away into the night.

You’ll be glad to know that the food was far from your average desert safari barbeque meal. Way far.

As we swooned over the last few bites of our scrumptious dessert, we got what we have been wishing for the entire night, a shiny shooting star to wish upon. With Angel’s fork and my spoon sharply pointed towards it like magical wands, we both shut our eyes so tightly for a second or two, and wished away.

I never asked angel about his wish, but I am not superstitious enough to hide mine. May Valentine’s Day be every day, I prayed.

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