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Friday, July 30, 2010

Happy Birthday D.G

It's your birthday today and hope you are having a brillant day !

Here's a little blurb about my friend DG.

She's smart, so good looking but doesn't know it, extremely generous, great listener and possesses a  fantastic sense of humour. Accommodating to a fault, determined and disorganized. Brillant friend and great to travel with. Does accents really well and cracks me up whenever she talks about her mother.

A great pal and here's wishing you a great year ahead !

Weekend is here!

 It's Friday and it's the weekend in the Mideast. We are at home today with our to-do list including wiring up the computers, hanging up the monk painting, and organizing the bookshelf.

Plenty to do and we have already decided that if we manage to complete the tasks, we will treat ourselves to dinner at the French steakhouse.

Le Relais de L' Entrecote is now at the Pearl Qatar serving steak frites. Entrecote is french for steak and this place is famous for it.

So hope you have a great weekend ahead whatever you do, breakfast in bed, walks in the park or some quality couch time !

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Manly gifts

In less than a week we will be celebrating T's birthday and I still haven't bought anything yet. Been racking my brain for ideas and went online for suggestions.

As a gadget crazed man, he might like the Powermat.  (USD 79). A beauty that hides all the nasty wires and will charge your iphone, psp or ipods at the same time. 3 gadgets at one go and it's portable too. Simply roll up and pack it with you when you travel or put in the office or bedroom. This gift is more for me as I hate wires.


As a coffee nut, T has been using his trusty Rancilio espresso machine for 8 years now. He was suggesting it was time for an upgrade. To one that is shinier, up to date and well higher quality that his old machine. I have no clue about coffee machines but I thought this portable one was cute and would be great for camping or whenever he's in the office. The mypressi, at USD 129 is a lot more affordable than the shiny ones that he was lusting after.

And what about this great looking bbq, a recycled whisky barrel. Bit rustic but wouldn't it  be cool to have? Z picked this as the perfect gift after I introduced her to a buying guide for men. It is over the top to pay USD 950 just for an old barrel though.

So back to the drawing board. 

About 6 years back, I bought T two paintings from a Singaporean artist Manjeet Shergill for his birthday. Back then she had a tiny studio in Chip Bee Gardens and I contacted her because I had seen one of her works in a gallery in Bangkok. 

 (That's Manjeet looking rather glum)

Her paintings are usually of a single subject / object and she chooses lines and colours that are quite plain but striking. Here's one of the painting.

I loved the calmness that the painting protrayed so I brought it along to Doha. We found a place for it on the wall in the living room but it is still sitting on the floor, yet to be hung. The other painting was much larger and it was of a lady in red which 3we both loved but kept in storage back in Malaysia.

Here are some of her works then.


She stopped painting for several years and I was not able to look her up again. I just found out that in 2009, she returned to the scene, with a new collection called Sons and Lovers.

Since we already have two of her paintings, I wouldn't look at getting him another of her works but have my eye on something else. It will be delivered after his birthday because I just found out about this product. Will blog about it after I surprise him. Fingers crossed.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I Heart Vintage Cases

In the process of organising my home, I had to buy these ugly but functional milky white plastic boxes from carrefour. They did the job of storage but could not be displayed due to their inherent hideousness.

During a coffee break, I surfed the net and found these beautiful vintage cases that I wish I could get my hands on. Wouldn't it be super to have these displayed along the shelves and to keep knick knacks in ?

GetReadySetGo on etsy has these vintage train cases upcycled with fresh colours and handpainted playful designs.

Or these from another etsy seller Brightwall

Brightwall also had this beauty for sale at USD 90.
A mobile cocktail bar ! How perfect !

I found one from Roundtrip and really liked it so bought it for USD 60. It would look fab and I think I might use it to store baby stuff. Maybe even travel with it to carry bottles, nappies, creams and other baby things. What do you think?

I can't wait for it to be delivered!

But besides train cases, I have noticed that steel or aluminum trunks are making their way back and some of the designer labels like Ralph Lauren, Dunhill and Massimo Dutti have used them in their window displays.

Have you noticed them too ? I think they add a really modern and classy touch to living rooms as coffee tables or as side tables.

Then again not everyone likes the polished aluminium look but what about the leather trunks. Blogger Girl meets Glamour had these photos that I simply drooled over.

Timothy Oulton, a london based antiques dealer and reproductionist has a stunning collection of furniture that includes trunks. If you have a penchant for old stuff you must check it out.

He is also responsible for these pieces featured in Restoration Hardware stores in the US.

A repo antique steamer trunk $2995 covered in vintage cigar leather. What a stunner eh ?

Or this clever media unit that has openings for wiring at $ 1895.

Definitely an heirloom piece don't you think?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Good cheap eats

Not long ago I blogged about our trip to Thai Snack, an establishment that is popular with locals and expats alike for its cheap and great food.

We missed it then because we turned up too late but a few days ago, we found ourselves in Al Sadd area again so decided to pop in for lunch. The place was fairly crowded but we scored a table that was unfortunately next to the window so I was sweating like crazy even though we were indoors.

The restaurant was simple and we could be in Thailand I swear. The Thai royalty photos were hung high above the walls, looking over the patrons. Plastic tablecloths and cheap aluminium cutlery lined the tables. The menu was extensive, including seafood, rice and noodle dishes, dumplings, spring rolls and more. You could see the cooks huddling over great big vats of boiling stock and tossing noodles which is always a good sign.

I licked my lips and ordered a roast duck noodle soup while T decided to try the Pad Thai chicken. That would be te ultimate test, a good thai makes a good pad thai. We also got some morning glory as a side.

Prices were not comparable to Thailand but cheap for Doha standards. Our 3 dishes with a lemon juice and a salted prune juice, came up to 40 riyals. 2 coffees and a muffin at starbucks cost the same.

The broth of my noodle soup was excellent, the duck succulent and very very tasty. T's pad thai was divine, not oily and full of flavour. The veggies were fresh with a touch of spice and crunchy to the bite. Top points.

I just heard that the dinner party we are attending tomorrow will be catered by Thai Snack ! I simply cannot wait !!

Home sweet home

I have been unable to post anything in the past weeks as I have been being buried under boxes upon boxes of personal effects. We moved in last week to our new apartment and the 48 boxes descended upon us last Saturday.

The unpacking led to more confusion and we kept looking and misplacing stuff we just took out of boxes. The frustration led me to invest in numerous storage boxes and a label maker to help re-organize our mountains of crap. If only my mother would see me now, she would be so proud.

The apartment also came unfurnished and we only brought along our Eames lounge chair. Handsome looking thing but not enough for both of us. Thankfully we brought our persian rug so had something to sit on besides the cold hard floor.

So not only was there unpacking to  be done, we had to shop for beds, sofas, dining table etc. I live to shop but after running around town looking and re-looking at furniture, I was ready to just point at any random item and get that delivered. The choices of clean looking, well constructed furniture is limited in Doha and they come at a hefty premium. We decided to mix good pieces for the living spaces and some cheaper alternatives for the bedrooms.

Our flat is a 3 bedder and we wanted to turn one of the bedrooms into a study / TV room. The plan was to get a sofa bed for this room so we could lounge in it while watching Entourage, and it could be turned into a second guest room for visitors.

Unfortunately we blew all our budget on the rest of the house so we had to rethink the strategy. So stupidly we were faced with sitting on floors AGAIN as the TV was already mounted on the wall in the study.  We scratched our heads about how to afford more furniture.

We decided to give up thinking and head to the Souq Waqif to get shop for spices and food. Getting lost in the alleyways, we came acroos a trader who sold rice imported from all over Asia.

We bought some basmatic and were intrigued by the green coffee beans that were sitting in sacks near the rice. The man explained that we could another trader in the souq will roast them for us.

Maybe next time.

After turning a corner from the food markets, we spotted other shops selling cheap mattresses and blankets. Amongst the stacks of foam, we spotted bright red cushions that you see in local shisha cafes, usually strewn on floors or on benches. We approached the shopkeeper and found that they sold a set that included several cushions, a mattress and an arm rest for 430 riyals (USD 110). Bargain !

These could be set on the floor of the TV room for the time being. While in Qatar, lounge like the qataris !

As we chatted with the shopkeeper, a weathered old man trottered up with his wheelbarrow. He offered to take our shopping to our car. We shook hands on it and bought the cushions.

Here's our man waiting in the scorching sun while T went to get the car. Since he was so sweet and we didnt know how much to tip him, we gave him 25 riyals ( just barely USD 7 ).

He helped us load up the car and when we were getting ready to drive off, he came back and started talking to T in Farsi. After a good minute and tons of smiling cos he really didn't understand the conversation, we left. Apparently T said the old man asked if we were "in a good way" and if we were, if we could help his friend get back to Iran for some medical help.

I guess we know now, the tip was too much !

The cushions are now sitting against the room and we are happy using them until we figure out a more permanent solution.

Result !

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dean & Deluca Doha

This gourmet deli recently opened in the Villagio mall and is fast becoming a popular lunch spot for the ladies who lunch. The food counter prepares fresh sandwiches and hearty salads or even berry pancakes for an indulgent breakfast. All at premium of course but portions looked generous. Sandwiches set you back about 45 riyals and soups between 30-45 riyals. We lusted after the platters of beautiful meals and opted to allow ourselves a little treat to takeaway.

The choices were endless but we picked something that we had not seen or heard before. Golden globes of something with toasted almonds caught our eye. A Syrian dish called Ouzi. The chef explained it as a spiced lamb and rice mixture wrapped in phyllo pastry.

It was about size of my palm and we bunged it in the microwave to heat it up slightly before tucking in.

The filling was extremely tasty with almonds, pistachios and the rice sweet and perfumed with cinnamon. I loved it and wolfed it down too quickly. It reminded me of chinese banana leaf wrapped Ba Zhang.

I found the recipe online and am keen to try it one day. Well have a great weekend everyone !

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Arabic lunch

We took the car out for a spin the other day and explored the back streets of Al Sadd. An area that is more developed than the rest of Doha, a web of many nameless streets where restaurants, shops, apartment blocks and the occasional 5 star hotel is found.

The GPS on my phone gave us directions to Thai Snack, a restaurant that had gotten many rave reviews from the expat community. It was the place to go for a good green curry without paying 5 star prices for it. Unfortunately even my GPS system got us lost and we found ourselves driving into many dead end roads.

After making several 3 point turns, we finally found it. As fate would have it, we got there at 2.30pm when lunch had ended and the restaurant was closed. Bit bizarre that the massage center got a bigger sign board than the restaurant.

In 40 degree heat, this was not the end result I was anticipating so plan B was to find any lunch spot. We parked and walked along the same street, Al Mirqab and I entered the first shop I saw with people eating inside. A lady at the front counter waved us in and showed us to a table lined with a blue plastic sheet and dusty plastic daisies decorated the shelves.

The menu was local and cheap. 5 riyals for a falafel sandwich or 9 riyals for a plate of other hot meat sandwiches like chicken shawarma or livers. As we browsed the menu, a stack of hot bread and marinated olives arrived at our table. We tucked into those happily while deciding. I wanted the zaatar manakeesh which was a pizza dough with a topping of the spice zaatar ( thyme, sesame seed and sumac) but asked what the meat and cheese manakeesh was like. The waiter smiled and said matter of factly - "cheap meat ".

T also ordered a chicken sandwich to share. Tender chicken pieces, some salad and pickles, and potato chips were wrapped in local bread and served toasted.

Here's my zaatar manakeesh, a typical breakfast dish actually but can be topped with cheese, "cheap meat", spinach or cheese and it becomes an open pie. It was crispy and the spice combination smelt amazing.

Along with that, we got a salad and for drinks, a lemonade with mint for me and a fresh banana & orange juice for T. The total was 44 riyals. Result.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Shopping in stealth

One of the first things we had to do when we got here, was to get our alcohol license! To get that, you had to complete certain tasks like get your residency ID card which can take anytime between 2 weeks to a month. Luckily T managed to get his sorted out early and armed with that, we charged out to the industrial corner of Doha to check out the QDC.

QDC or the Qatar Distribution Centre is hidden from the main thoroughfare, about 15 minutes drive from the City Centre, behind high stone walls and a formidable steel black gate. After producing our ID card, we were allowed to drive through and park.

We had to register for a liquour license first and after filling in some forms and putting a 1,000 riyal deposit, we were issued with one of these.

I have to get one myself, after I get my ID card but that will take a couple more weeks. With this card, the authorities give us an monthly limit of 5000 riyals. This is the top limit we are allowed to spend on booze at the QDC each month. As the Ramadan is approaching, we were given a total of July, August and September limits to spend now. The QDC will be shut from Aug 9-Sep 10th, so we will need to stock up.

The limit as you can imagine, is more than what we ever need. Although having said that, booze prices were higher than in KL and the selection limited but enough.

You could get a 5 litre keg of Heineken for 130 riyals ( RM 110 or USD 35). Beers ranged from Italian Peronis, to  Japanese Sapporos, Australian VBs, Singapore's Tiger and more. Wines were sourced from all over and you can get almost all flavours of vodkas, whisky and gin. A bottle of Verve champers which cost RM 250 in duty free KLIA cost 340 riyals ( RM 290 or USD 91)

Still, it was good enough especially since they charge 50 to 75 Riyals for a glass of wine in hotel bars. T almost choked when he had to fork out 120 Riyals for a double scotch at the Hyatt last week.

Overall the experience was surreal and felt like we were being naughty. This is the only off-license in all of Doha. We took away a few bottles of wine and some beers but will return once we move into the house.

I will be having a glass of chilled s.blanc tonight with my dinner so cheers !