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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fish Market

Next door to where we live, is the Doha Cultural Village or Katara. Previously, I blogged about it hosting the Film Festival. The village lies on the coast and has a reasonably long stretch of beach which was laid empty for several months until now.

A beach club has opened offering deck chairs, umbrellas, sea sports equipment that one can rent hourly like windsurfing boards, paddle boats and kayaks. For the land bound, there is beach volley ball and soccer goal posts. Entry is from 9 til 5pm daily and 100 riyals per adult, free for kids from 1-7 and for kids up til 25, they only pay 25 riyals. There is a ice cream parlour and cafe for snacks plus a small shop selling toys and snorkels.

Today is a work day so the beach was empty but there were a few families lounging on the chairs. I am definitely coming here soon with little Z and am keen to try out the massive bouncy castle slide on the water. The guides there said no two piece bikinis were allowed , just one piece swimsuits but guess that is only fair.

Further along the beach as you approach the cultural village are some fancy restaurants. We came across this one called Iwzaar, Fish market. 

It was bustling so we were decided to walk in and see what the fuss was about.  Through the glass doors, a long counter of fresh seafood greets you. There were mud crabs, lobsters, giant prawns, fresh scallops and tons of fish. Pick a seafood and they will prepare it any way you want. Grilled, fried, curried, steamed, sashimi-ed. Then you can pick a side of fries, rice, noodles or salads.

The restaurant was very big and decorated with shimmering blue mozaic tiles, punctuated by columns that were aquariums that had exotic lion fish and multi coloured corals.

We were seated and a waiter appeared briskly with a basket of raw vegetables with some dips and warm breads. Everything was fresh and juicy. I chomped on a lettuce while milling over my choice of fish for lunch.

The veggie basket had spring onions, big green chillies, romaine lettuce, juicy tomato, I could just eat that along with the hot bread they served.  Still, the fresh seafood was hard to miss out on, so we trotted to the counter to have a look.

Barracuda, tuna, king fish, sea breams, bass, too many choices. 

I told the guy that I was after some curry and he recommended barracuda. It turned out well, the curry was less spicy that I liked but the sauce was creamy and rich. 

T had the blue fin tuna grilled but only slightly because he likes it raw. It was served simply with a sprig of rosemary and a wedge of lemon. It was divine, I must have that next time.

The salad bar which was only 35 riyals per person for all you can eat, had a large array of arabic dishes. 

T had the salad buffet too so I sponged off his plate and everything was tasty. The kids menu was small but had everything that they would want including jello.

 So for two mains, a bottle of water and a salad buffet for one, came up to 97 riyals. Not bad at all. I shall be returning very soon.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy Birthday K

A and C's baby boy is turning the Big 1 and have requested for a birthday card. Theirs is a poolside party at the SSC in Singapore and they were not sure which theme to go for so asked for suggestions.

1st parties are fun, parents have full reign over the party theme and can even dress the kids up in ridiculous outfits which would  make embarrassing photos to be brandished when their future girlfriends come knocking. 

I came up with 4 quick creations and sent them off to A and C for their approval. 

They liked the fonts in first and the design in the 4th so I combined them and finished the card this morning including a thank you card for the after-party.

Happy First K, have a great birthday celebration !

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japan Earthquake Crisis

I want to blog briefly about the earthquake in Japan as the photos and videos from the disaster zones are chilling. T is over there now covering the news as the it breaks and is today, gone as far north to escape the nuclear crisis. The crew is in Akita maybe 200km away from the nuclear plants in Fukushima. The radiation levels 100km away from the plants are already 10 times above normal levels and even in tokyo, levels have edged up slightly.

I know he's safe but you can't help but worry. Hopefully he gets to come home soon.

Monday, March 14, 2011

For the Nigella within

Lakeland, a kitchen shop has just opened in Doha and it stocks a range of cool kitchen gadgets that one doesn't need but gotta have!

I found some ridiculous things like this..

A storage specifically for bananas and Del Monte ones too.

This I quite

A mould to make those funny faces. How do you get the lollies to look like that? I was curious too. Only need to see the back of the packet to understand.

Would be great for kids no?

For the leftover lemons or half of limes in your fridges? ! Cute but no.

We did cave and bought a thermometer cos it was too cool to pass up. Even though we bought one just two days ago. This one is digital, explains T. 

There are shelves of jam jars, books on making jams, preserving thermometers and decorative labels for the jars, just perfect for the domestic goddesses. 

Dubai Getaway

Dubai, the shopping mecca, only an hour's flight away was our first choice of a quick getaway from Doha. It would be a good test for travelling with an infant before his first long haul flight during Easter. We checked rates of hotels online but found a cheap and cheerful service apartment best suited for our budget. Chelsea Towers was right next to the Dubai metro system which sweeps through the city, linking the 3 airports and the malls and financial center.

The last time we were there was in 2006 when this metro was not yet completed. It is now and uber modern and rather beautiful especially at night.

This I took standing in the living room of the Chelsea Towers. We were upgraded to a 2 bed room apartment complete with a separate living room and kitchen. It was perfect as that meant Z had his own bedroom and bath ! From the master bedroom, you had the view of the Burj Khalifa, tallest building in the world.

Dubai mall which was right next to the Burj Khalifa, opened in Nov 2008, boasts 1,200 shops ! They had many of the US departmental brands like Crate and Barrel, Bloomingdale's, Pottery Barn. I was in heaven ! I doubt we saw everything because we simply could not go through all the shops in 2 days.

The mall also had Waitrose and a really nice organic supermarket where my eyes simply lit up when I saw this!

Yay!! One of the other reasons to come here for a holiday was to do a bacon run. Truly pathetic but you can't get any in Doha so this trip had to be done. I think we managed to pack about 2kg of bacon and sausages home and are going through it slowly. Freezing some for another day.

Moving around with a pram was not ideal, nor is trying to feed him in public but we managed ok. He took catnaps as we whizzed around oo-ing and ahh-ing at the shops.

A few times, I just parked him in a corner and strolled around the displays. Sometimes we get so engrossed, we forget about him and go "Where's the baby?".

I was looking mainly at homewares and there is so much available. I almost lugged this massive clock from Pottery Barn back but T said we can leave that til another time.

What a stunner!

At Bloomingdale's they had some gorgeous furniture like this aluminium trunk coffee table ( 10,000 Dhs)

Tall chest of drawers in the same style at 9000 Dhs.

I was very tempted by these oversized cushions with the Union Jack design. T was not convinced.

We did buy me a Medium Brown Bag from Bloomie's and a boxy aluminium letter Z that was about 30 cm tall for baby Z's room.

Food choices were endless and we stopped by an organic market for some laksa and then at a french cafe for a cuppa java while basking in the glorious sunshine. Right now, the weather is still bearable at 30 degrees with a cool breeze. This will change very soon as it gets to over 50 degrees in the peak of summer.

This space here with the towering steel building over a fountain space is reminiscent of KLCC. This was at least twice the size. During the first night, we just bought some stuff back to the apartment and ate on the couch. Baby Z seems to like the couch.

On Day 2 though, we ventured out to the Palm Jumeirah, where there were condos and restaurants along the Gulf. We picked a spanish tapas joint called Barca. Very cosy but the menu had pasta. Strange. Anyway, the food was only average and I wouldn't go back. Would have liked to try Gary Rhodes' restaurants - Rhodes Mezzanine and the new Rhodes Twenty10 but I was unsure about bringing a sleeping baby in pram to a posh restaurant. Next time then.

Overall Dubai is fantastic and I love that it is only an hour away, hopefully we will go again soon and this time, might even try to stay in the upmarket hotel The Address with the view.

Or at the Mall of the Emirates where Ski Dubai is, there is the Kempinski Hotel that have these amazing ski chalet rooms with a view of the snowy wonderland.

Whatever the case, we will be back ! When the bacon runs out, I suppose !