Local diners enjoyed an exceptional, five-course, “Arabian Nights” repast Sunday, June 25, at Abu Dhabi’s Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque — without leaving Nocatee.
The meal, created by Chef Wesley Nogueira, was served in the Flagler Health+ 360 Immersive Studio at the link, 425 Town Plaza Ave., Ponte Vedra. Cuisine aficionados will recognize Nogueira from the Food Network's “Beachside Brawl.”
Inside the intimate dining space, table mates introduced themselves and shared stories with one another as still images and video depicting relevant scenes encircled them. The aromas of the evening’s fare further enhanced the experience.
The event was part of the link’s ongoing Supper Club series. Each month, featured chefs prepare meals with a specific cultural context. The experience has been described as a “dining journey.”
Sunday, as guests stepped into the lobby of the link, they were welcomed by link co-founder Raghu Misra, shown a short video and served a glass of wine.
Nogueira introduced himself, and with each course, he spoke briefly about what was being served.
Talented henna artist Neha Shah was on hand to create ornate, temporary tattoos for anyone who wanted to give them a try while waiting for the main dining area to be opened. Shah has been practicing this art for 10 years and is available for weddings, sweet 16 parties, baby showers and other occasions. To see examples of her work and contact information, go to facebook.com/shahneha6012.
Entering the immersive studio by way of a red carpet, the guests were transported to the evening’s locale — for this occasion, United Arab Emirates. Every seat offered a good view of the cultural surroundings projected on special 360-degree screens. Images and wine pairings were tailored to each course.
The experience began at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque with falafel, caramelized eggplant, tomatoes, pickled turnips, pomegranate and tahini.
The second course included pistachio-encrusted lamb, honey-glazed cumin carrots, potato puree, garlic cream and date sauce. Throughout, a belly-dancing performance was projected around the room.
Third course: za’atar cod, roasted cauliflowers, crispy spicy Yukon potatoes, rice foam and orange butter sauce were served during a virtual tour of Dubai.
The Dubai Fountain in front of the Burj Khalifa was shown as diners enjoyed the fourth course: poulet et gratin dauphinois, chicken leg, creamy potato gratin, glazed carrot, saffron garlic cream and red wine sauce.
Finally, guests — surrounded by images of The Milky Way — were served baklava pistachios, hazelnut cream, filo dough, honey ice cream and caramel tuille.
An alternative vegetarian menu was also available.
The link staff and caterers saw to every detail to enhance the dining experience. And guests enjoyed the opportunity to try cuisine almost certainly new to them.
Diners were given cards detailing facts about their “host” venue, Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque. To read a bit about this astounding mosque, click here.
The immersive dining schedule for rest of the year is as follows:
Event details will be available at app.thelink.zone and at eventbrite.com.
The link is a unique facility, a smart building at the forefront of embracing technology for smart workspaces, event spaces and experiences. It’s a business incubator, a center for cultural events, a place to learn new things and more.
For further information, go to thelink.zone.