UAE Mother’s Day

As Mummy is out here visiting, I felt the need to celebrate!  We had SUCH a lovely day at Fairmont Palm!

IMG_3449

We started in the Willow Stream Spa.  I have long been a fan of the Willow Stream spas as we used to go regularly in Bermuda’s Fairmont Southampton.  In fairness, you cannot beat the views from that particular spa.  It overlooks Bermuda’s stunning South Shore and has outdoor lounging areas and hot tubs.  However, the interior of the one at Fairmont Palm is by far the nicest I have ever seen.

Aside the beautiful colour scheme, it’s just that everything was thought of!  There were even spare spectacles so if you had forgotten yours, you could still read!  How clever is that!!!  Also, a selection of beverages and snacks, with staff on hand to assist in any way they can and always with a giant smile to greet you!  It really is such a wonderful place!!

IMG_3453 IMG_3455

We arrived early so we could make the most of the relaxing day.  We were lucky enough to have got there in time to bag one of the balcony’s so we could lay and read out books in the fresh air.  Because of the way the building is facing, we weren’t in the direct sunlight either which was a bonus when we didn’t think to bring sun lotion!

About an hour before our treatment, we decided to go and explore the other facilities in the spa, whereupon we found 3 “experience” showers!  They were so much fun!  I think they are meant to massage or something?  Who knows!  I just find rainfall and waterfall showers the most relaxing things and could have spent an age in there!  We then spent a little time in the steam room too, but it was too hot for me, so I retreated back to my favourite shower!

After drying off back on the balcony, we were greeted and bought round to the treatment room, which was beautiful and so comfortable!  It also had a lovely view over the beach.  Sadly we only had half hour massages but we both absolutely floated out of there!

Sadly, our relaxation and floatyness wasn’t to last for long as I had managed to only leave half an hour between the end of treatment and the start of Afternoon Tea!  Oops!

Quick shower and change, throwing make up in the general right direction, and dragging a comb through my hair would just have to do!!

We arrived at the Al Mashrabiya Lounge and were shown to our table fairly quickly.  When we arrived, the lovely waitress asked if we wanted our table in the current configuration, or if we would prefer the bigger and more comfortable chairs.  We of course opted for the big chairs and when it was all moved about (which she would not accept our assistance in doing), we settled down for our tea.

The tea and coffee selection are beautifully set out, but typically, Mum plumped for Jasmine Tea and me for Peppermint!  Creatures of habit!!

IMG_3463 IMG_3464

At this point, I would like to say that I had a whole bunch of issues stemming from my food intolerance and allergies.  I would go into detail but a) the staff were all so lovely and helpful and b) everything got sorted in the end.

Mum, who had the regular afternoon tea, had no problems whatsoever, except that she is a human and not a cow and therefore only has one stomach.  She would have liked the two as she enjoyed everything she tasted and would have liked a lot more!!  Equally, by the time I had sampled everything I was offered, I wished I had two stomaches as well!

IMG_3467

What a wonderful day!  But, how do I top that for English Mother’s Day?!!?

 

 

Advertisements

Festival of Lights

Really, this blog post is going to be a bunch of photos!

Dubai is hosting a Festival of Lights in Downtown at the moment. http://www.dubaifestivaloflights.com/

There are 32 installations/features. Some are amazing. Some are entirely pointless in my personal opinion. Perhaps I just don’t understand art. In fact, my best friend has been telling me that for years so it must be true. Doesn’t change the fact that some of these are naff beyond all measure!!

Anyway… Here are a few pics and opinions!!

Most entertaining:

IMG_3495

Luminous Algae (My Name: Dancing Peas, or, The Peas That Dance)

http://www.dubaifestivaloflights.com/lights_description.html#20

I hate peas. It’s pretty much the only vegetable in the world that I cannot stand. I hate that everyone puts them in everything and that they are always offered on an English style roast dinner. They are nasty little popping balls of goo. Blugh. However, I do love this installation! Mum and girlfriends of mine have also been amused by it as it reminded them of me!! Also, the day we saw it, there was real movement there as there was quite a breeze going!!!!

 

My Top 3 Picks:

IMG_3534

Mysticete (My Name: Relaxing Wales)

http://www.dubaifestivaloflights.com/lights_description.html#18

THE BEST, by far! Totally my favourite. I have loved whales forever, and spent many a day in Bermuda on my deck watching out for them to swim by. This amazing feature just made me smile and smile and smile! If there is a prize at the end of this week, my vote is the whales get it!!

IMG_3491

The world according to Piet (My Name: Lego Town)

http://www.dubaifestivaloflights.com/lights_description.html#15

I really like this and think it should stay all year. It makes that building much more entertaining to look at! It simple but effective, and it makes me smile. That’s all. No logical reason past that!!

IMG_3685

The Anookis (My Name: Cute Eskimo People)

http://www.dubaifestivaloflights.com/lights_description.html#11

This reminded me lots of an annoying game my sister used to kick my ass at regularly. I can’t remember for the life of me what it was called, but with the blocks and the bouncing ball it just made me think of it. However, this is with the addition of the adorable little Eskimo people! I loved them and their funny sounds!! Super cute!!

 

Notable Others:

IMG_3689

Elephantastik (My Name: Elephant)

http://www.dubaifestivaloflights.com/lights_description.html#13

I love elephants.  They are so regal and majestic.  I love this image.

IMG_3636

Vertigo (My Name: The Spinney One)

http://www.dubaifestivaloflights.com/lights_description.html#8

This is just awesome to watch.  It is interesting and perfectly in time with the music.  It’s fun!!  We like!!

IMG_3645

Mikado (My Name: The pools)

http://www.dubaifestivaloflights.com/lights_description.html#7

Stunning.  So much going on in this area, and it all works so well together.  This, as an area, works so well and is my favourite.

IMG_3486

Keyframes (My Name: Falling People)

http://www.dubaifestivaloflights.com/lights_description.html#10

This is a funny one…. it doesn’t work when you stand close to it at all.  But, you can hear the music.  You can also just about hear it when you stand at the other side of the Boulevard, but it still isn’t impressive.  If you stand at Burj Lake and watch, it’s fabulous but you can’t hear it.  Difficult.

 

#EpicFail Top 4 Picks:

IMG_3700

Moving (My Name: don’t have one because it was dull)

http://www.dubaifestivaloflights.com/lights_description.html#24

It was all very skillfully matched up to the face of the building, and the music was pretty, but the light show was dull.

IMG_3693

Star Fisherman (My Name: ditto last remark)

http://www.dubaifestivaloflights.com/lights_description.html#12

The nets were nice and twinkly, but that’s the only positive I have. Dull.

IMG_3492

Big Bag (My Name: Yeah… ditto again)

http://www.dubaifestivaloflights.com/lights_description.html#16

It’s a big bag and it floats and changes colour. That’s it. I don’t get it.

IMG_3695

Serenade (My Name: And ditto, again)

http://www.dubaifestivaloflights.com/lights_description.html#23

It wasn’t interesting or innovative.  Boring.

 

 

There are a bunch more pieces that I have seen, and there are some which I still haven’t, but I have had a good time walking around and seeing them!  It’s something different to do, and it gets people out walking which I always need assistance with!!!!!!

I highly recommend you all get your asses out of your air-conditioned apartments and take a walk and enjoy the show!!!

 

Inspired

So, following the Taste of Dubai, Mummy and I have had a cooking few days!

One of my all-time favourite dishes of hers is a very simple chicken casserole. I have watched her make it hundreds of times, and I have her recipe, but I am never able to make it half as good!! After a weekend of eating randomly and really missing veggies, it was the perfect tonic. After watching Jean-Christophe Novelli in action, she took great pride in telling me that there was no additional fat in the whole giant casserole, which she served with mashed potato (see below note!) and brocoli. It was possibly one of the best things I have eaten in a very long time. Delicious!!

Actually, I made the mashed potato as mine is awesome! Probably more calories in there than anywhere else, but it’s delicious so I just don’t care!!

Then, we made a carrot cake. I have no idea if it was good or not because I don’t actually eat cake at all. However, due to my allergies, no nuts are added. This was pointed out by a couple of my coworkers who were force-fed cake for a couple of days!

The icing was a butter/cream cheese icing with lemon juice and rind. I must remember to only use a quarter or half lemon next time. Thankfully it freezes nicely and so I didn’t waste an entire bag of icing sugar!

As for the decoration, it wasn’t a cup cake so I couldn’t try out the new technique I had learned from Eric Lanlard’s master class. So, instead, I just did my own thing. This involved slapping icing on top in a very haphazard fashion. Then, when a little more care had been put into spreading it around (otherwise your cake crumbles at the edges and you get crumbs everywhere), taking the back of a spook and swirling round in circles until you have a pattern you like the look of mostly!

Not world-class presentation, but the coworkers appear to have enjoyed it…. after I cut it into slices as apparently boys are too lazy to go into the kitchen and cut a slice for themselves!!!

Bi6NwipCYAAMoMT

Tasty Dubai!!

***WARNING: Long post because it was such an awesome day!!!***

This weekend was probably my favourite weekend of the year, after my birthday of course!  Why… because it was TASTE OF DUBAI!!!  Such a fabulous concept and we are pleased they bought it here.  I have also been to Taste of Christmas and Taste of London.  A weekend dedicated to food!  Genius!  It’s the one guaranteed weekend of the year that I will be in Dubai, without fail!!

This marked my 3rd year, and I am looking forward to the next already!  I was pleased to see that this year was even bigger than last year!  The only thing that was missing, but I may have just not seen it, was a lot of the cooking equipment stands.  I loved those.  We need those back again next year, please!

Anyway, not only do some of the best restaurants in Dubai show their dishes here, but a bunch of celebrity chefs turned up too!  Apparently on the Friday Nicole Scherzinger turned up at the BA VIP Lounge which caused a lot of excitement!  I am sad that I missed her as am a big fan of hers (and her reported fiance!) but at the same time pleased because that lady is far too beautiful and has much too perfect body to meet her at a weekend of over indulgence!!

Our day started really well as we got there just in time to watch the FABulous Chef Jenny Morris’ cooking demo in the main theatre.  Not only does this woman cook the most yummy looking, smelling and tasting food, but she is an absolute gem!  One of those people who you know you want to be friends with because you can imagine sitting in the garden having a nice wee cocktail and laughing well past sunset.  She just has the most infectious laugh and such a lovely way of telling stories.  And then there is the food!  Who knew buffalo mozzarella and cumin coated steak would taste so good together?!  I will be hunting down that recipe and trying it out asap!!!

After her demo, she was signing books and meeting with people for photographs.  I didn’t want to bother her by catching her when she was just walking around, so I bought her book (which I wanted for the recipe that she just cooked!), and queued to have a chat!  It was great to catch up with this vibrant woman.

photo 1

We had a bit of an amble around after that, because we had an hour or so to kill before we started to queue for Chefs School with the wonderful and unique Chef Reza Mahammad.  We walked around the main area where all the food stands were, and around the little random crafty section at the back of the area.  I have to say, I have been lucky enough to eat at most of the featured restaurants in the 3yrs I have been living here, so there wasn’t much that made me say “oooohhhhhhh” and be distraught if I didn’t have them.  I am however sad that I missed out on the Steak and Chips with a posh name, at St. Tropez.  It was highly recommended but by the time we had got to them, they had run out.  Boo.

I happily settled on a steak, egg and hash dish from the Fairmont on the Palm.  It was the perfect one to try too, and on the back of just that one dish, Mummy and I are planning on heading over for their breakfasty brunch before she leaves!  It was that good!  So, head on down on Fridays from 10.30 to 3pm, and make sure that you’re hungry!!  I wonder if they do it on a Saturday, actually?  Must google.  That will be the perfect day-after-brunch venue!!!!

While queueing for Reza’s class, we were lucky enough to catch the last half of Siba Mtongana’s class.  Naturally, I jumped at the chance of meeting her.  I love her show.  She has a beautiful face that just radiates health, happiness and kindness, but also the prettiest voice which I find very soothing.  Oh, and she makes super yummy food too!!  I am sad we didn’t get to see more of her, but really pleased that I got to meet her and have my photograph taken with her.

photo 2

My thinking on the cooking lesson with Reza is that it would not only be hugely informative, as I am not a pro with Indian cooking, but it was bound to be super good fun too.  Reza is a natural comic genius!  And I was right…. we cooked a yummy looking prawn coconut milk curry with coconut rice.   Sadly I couldn’t try any because I am allergic to coconut, and Mum couldn’t try any because she is allergic to prawns!!  We just didn’t care though.  It was a great experiment and it was entertaining as heck because Reza was on form!!

After the class, and after giving our dishes to randoms and friends, we again queued to meet with Reza.  The same as with Jenny, although meeting and hanging out with them last year and emails or tweets since, I didn’t want to intrude on the little down time they have.  Also, the same as with Jenny, I wanted the book anyway because a couple of really good recipes that I know to be in there.  I adore this boy.  He is so much fun, so friendly and so sweet.  I want to have a pocket-sized version of him so that when I am sad, I can take him out and pop him on my computer to entertain me!!

photo 3

After a chatting with Reza, I went off to find Mum a nice cup of coffee (yes, in +30c heat!) to revive her, and noticed that the star of the pastry world, Chef Eric Lanlard, was signing his books.  Of course, with a book entitled Chocolate, how could I possibly refrain from purchasing?  Also, Eric is known really as the bad boy of pastry with his tossled hair, giant blingy earring and rather sexy French accent – killer combo with the twinkly blue eyes.  Watch out ladies!  So, what girl could resist a book dedicated to chocolate with a naughty French chap thrown in for good measure?! Book in hand, I queued and waited for the meet and greet, and it was worth it!  What a sweet boy!  We had a chat and a photo, and a laugh about our failed food experience with Reza. Piccie time, and a promise to watch his Masterclass over at the Kenwood Chef school later in the day, and then it was time to amble on to the next thing.  What a nice chap though!

photo 4

Last of the book signings, but certainly not least, was the hugely talented (and rather dishy!) Jean-Christophe Novelli.  Swoon.  Again, such a lovely person.  He happily signed the book, posed for a photo and chatted for a while, and also then introduced himself to my mother/photographer.  Such easy charm, but sincere too.  As an aside, he was there with his two children and his beautiful fiancée.  Those kids are adorable now, but are going to be knock out stunning as adults with a mix of their parents genes!!  Just after he signed our books, he started on his cooking demo, where he made Coq au Vin avec Chocolat (chicken with wine and chocolate – what’s not to love!!!!).  Oh my word… it looked and smelt amazing.  The absolute genius of the dish was that it was fat free (not counting the chicken skin).  Thankfully it was in our new recipe book, and Mum and I are planning to give it a whirl!

photo 5

There were two highlights of the day through:

The first was Jenny Morris and Reza Mahammad doing a cooking demo together.  I honestly haven’t laughed so much in a very long time.  They have apparently been friends for about 8yrs now, and it shows.  They just complement each other perfectly.  Their humours bind and bring something even funnier than you were already expecting!  Their cooking is fantastic too!!

I will repeat my Twitter Plea to the Food Network…. please, please, please commission a show for these two together.  It would be absolute compulsive viewing and would bring in the ratings to a level that you just would be bowled over by!  It wasn’t just me that thought it was hilarious… there were so many people there and they were all laughing!  Do it!  Please!!!!!!

photo a1

The second was following Eric Lanlard’s masterclass.  I couldn’t get a spot to actually participate, but since Mum and I are both keen bakers, we popped along to see what we could learn.  I did learn a new piping technique which was cool, but that wasn’t the highlight.  The highlight was when he gave me his cupcake at the end of the class!  What an utterly adorable thing to do!  He had remembered that I passed comment at the signing about not being able to eat anything after Reza’s class, so gave me his pretty cupcake!  I was absolutely overwhelmed, and didn’t quite know what to say!

Mum and I both agree that it was the ‘icing of the cake’ of a completely awesome day!!

photo a2

Mocktails, Lights and Pools

Just down the road from me is a lovely hotel called Vida. It used to have another name, but I can’t for the life of me remember it! Anyway, it’s literally half way between my friend’s apartment and mine, so we have voted it out new meeting place of choice.

Why? Easy… because it’s pretty!!

The setting is stunning. You are sat around a pool which is lit up both under water, and there are lamp thingies around the sides too. The palm trees with the fairy lights are just about visible over the back wall. The bar is lit up too. And the best bit is that there are beds/loungers all around the pool to chill out on. They are draped and laid so prettily!

It’s a little oasis in the middle of the very busy area of Downtown.

My favourite drink of the moment is the Apple Julip – a blend of apple, mint, oj and other stuff! There is an extensive drinks menu both with and without alcohol. There is also a snacks menu which I haven’t gotten around to trying yet.

I absolutely love it here. You can unwind and catch up with your friends, and are never bothered by the staff. If you call them over, they either come straight away or apologise for the delay when they arrive. They are always friendly and polite.

Please don’t let anything change!!!

(I know, before you say anything… I need to work on my photography skills!!!)

photo

 

MFT 2014 Review : Nezesaussi, Al Manzil Hotel, Downtown

I had heard rumour of their ladies night offer, and it sounded too good to miss out on.

Here’s the deal:  On Tuesday nights ladies spend AED 50 on drinks and receive their main meal for free, if under AED 120 at full price.

Genius!

So, we did!  I had the delicious ribs and Mum had an absolutely divine steak that I will be having next Tuesday!!

I have nothing to complain about.  No remarks.  Just that I want that steak!!!

THE RATINGS:
Taste: 8/10
Presentation: 7/10
Ambiance: 6/10 (It’s a sports bar after all, and I don’t get sports!!)
Service: 7/10 (because it’s busy, so they can’t be as attentive!)
Value for Money: 10/10

Cost: AED 132 for 2 diet 7up, 2 glasses of wine and a bottle of water.  Bargain!  Meals were completely free.

MFT 2014 Review: Karma Kafe, Souk Al Bahar

Another friend has been out visiting for a long weekend, and last night was her final night. Which of course means, yummy dins somewhere nice!!

Today’s pick was Karma Kafe at Souk Al Bahar in Downtown Dubai. What an excellent choice!

We all started with the crispy duck rolls to start with. Then two of us had the Woking Duck, two had chicken and cashews and Mum opted for “Angry Chicken”.

The Woking Duck, which I had with the Nasi Goreng, was absolutely beautiful and is now one of my favourite dishes! I tried Mum’s Angry Chicken and it was also lush… creamy and spicy and perfectly balanced. I need to go back and try that all for myself! The girls enjoyed their chicken and cashew dishes, and one had rice with hers and the other had some noodles.

We all raved about the crispy duck rolls. The only thing we would change is having double the amount per portion!!!!

After the issues that I had the night before with my allergies, it was very refreshing to be here. Their policy is that if someone has allergies, the manager only may take their order to ensure that everything is done properly and is safe for the patron. Absolutely excellent idea, and as a result, I didn’t have a moment of worry.

I really would like to highlight that level of service. It was fabulous and I will go back time and time again, not only for the food but for the feeling of safety.

Thank you Karma Kafe!!!

THE RATINGS:
Taste: 9/10
Presentation: 10/10
Ambiance: 8/10 – It has fabulous music, and also overlooks the fountains!
Service: 8/10
Value for Money: 7/10 – It really is rather expensive.

Cost: AED1,293 for 5 people, and using 2 Entertainer vouchers