Our dinner table

July 02, 2012

Teaching one’s children right from wrong was the focus of last week’s column, and the significant role my wife Charlotte (aka Management) plays with our family came in for some comment. 

“You should write a piece about the importance of sitting down together around the dinner-table,” she instructed, “that’s really one of the most important things we always did, and still do wherever possible.”

“Well, yes, I agree, “ I replied, “but don’t you think their willingness to join us was a lot to do with your legendary cooking skills – just think of the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding on Sundays, the fish and chips, macaroni cheese, stir-fry and curries you made us. To say nothing of your world-renowned brownies!”

“My husband,” came Management’s reply, “that is not quite the point here. Sharing food and refreshment is the best way of interacting with your children and giving the family a focal point for the day – whether at school, play or at work, we all could share the fun things we had done. Even when our children were going through their monosyllabic speech phases, they still joined us for dinner.”

Management is right, of course. When we left the UK to come to Oman, we actually decided to bring our family dinner table with us. A friend of ours had made it for us from English oak, and it seats 12. It lives in our villa here in Oman and is used daily. Even when we are on our own, Management and I sit down every evening to eat together (with me enjoying a slightly less fattening menu, of course). And we do like to entertain - there is nothing quite like excellent home-cooked food and a few laughs with valued friends.

Many readers still remind me of my two previous columns which dealt with the challenge of finding good quality sandwiches in Muscat. The best on offer, by far, were those prepared by the students of the National Hospitality Institute.

MacKenzies Café and Deli has just opened its doors in Madinat as Sultan Qaboos, and an early visit to check it out proved very worthwhile. Lunch comprised an excellent prawn mayonnaise sandwich, with choice of bread, for colleague David and I, and a cheese toastie for my daughter Georgie. Homemade cakes were on offer too. The surroundings and décor are modern, clean and comfortable, a cut above much of the competition. The Deli is at the rear of the premises and stocks a selection of meats, seafood, cheeses and bread, and there is a very wide range of lovely looking relishes in glass jars. There are some products here that can’t be found elsewhere in Muscat.

I immediately liked the ambience and quality of MacKenzies, and as the business matures over the next few months I am sure there will be plenty in here to ensure customers come back for more. It seems like a good place to sit with family and friends to enjoy some fresh food, nice coffee, and to pick up the ingredients for that home-cooked dinner later in the day. Mabrook MacKenzies.