A gentleman’s indulgences
This week: Vanilla Butter at the Burj Khalifa
I am not big on early morning meetings, but occasionally I do gladly make the exception. The latest instance demands my presence at At.mosphere, the restaurant ensconced on the 122nd floor of the world’s tallest building—the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
I’m here for a breakfast meeting and have arrived a few minutes ahead of 8am. I’m escorted into the private dining room, beyond the common area that for this early in the morning is, surprisingly (or perhaps not), nearly packed to the fancy chrome rafters.
Our server is a charming Italian gentleman on whose recommendation the table is soon heaving under the weight of a motley culinary mix: richly marbled Wagyu cold cuts, truffle soba with tofu, macadamia manuka honey, crepes laced with mushrooms and Camembert, slow-cooked pears with Kinglas smoked salmon, waffles with chocolate chiboust and an assorted variety of fruits and berries, cheeses, and nuts. And, of course, there’s that vital component of any self-respecting breakfast of champions: the eggs—there are three types, of which one clearly qualifies as a star.
The lobster scramble, served with a sizeable dollop of Sturia caviar, garden fresh herbs and a perfectly shucked crustacean claw. A fairly straightforward preparation bound by butter and milk, the scramble sparkles on account of the disparate toppings that are balanced just right. Presented as a perfectly cylindrical disc, delightfully light and airy, the dish is remarkably akin to the wispy sea of clouds that kiss the crowns of the skyscrapers a few hundred feet below us.
For the plant eaters, the absolute winner is, and I’m not stating this with the slightest trace of carnivore sarcasm, the vanilla butter—so divinely delicious and flavoured so smoothly, I find myself in a reverie, running down the streets of Antananarivo. Even though I’ve never visited Madagascar.
I ask for seconds of that divinity. And would have asked for thirds, were it not for documents that need to be signed as part of the morning’s formalities.
Butter stains on agreements aren’t entirely in order. Vanilla or otherwise.
(Cut to earlier last week: On my return, I turn my home kitchen upside down for an agonizingly prolonged stretch, trying to get that frustratingly hard-to-reproduce vanilla flavour down pat. On the bright side, I’ve hand-beaten small-batch portions of over a dozen artisanal butters: cinnamon chipotle, anyone? Honey harissa, perhaps? Bourbon bacon, then?)
Arvind Vijaymohan is CEO, Artery India.