Monthly Archives: January 2013

Like an old friend

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Sometimes, I find it oddly comforting to see and taste something familiar….. and TBG knows this.  He brought me these the other day…..

 

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Come here, my Dunkin’ Donuts buddy!!

Often, no matter how much things change, some things are still exactly the same…….

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Have you ever encountered some food that was so comforting, so familiar that it made you feel like you’d stumbled over an old friend?

Where did you go, Dubai??

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Dubai has officially disappeared.  Really.  I woke early this morning and decided to come downstairs and get the coffee started…… while waiting on the dripping thing (miss my Bunn coffeemaker!!) I peeked outside, and holy COW is it foggy in Dubai!!  I snapped this at 7 am local time, and you still cannot see past my back gate – looks like I’ve found the end of the world.  There’s tons of trees and buildings and a lake past that gate, but you can’t see any of it for the fog. Kinda like nothing else exists.

It seems to be a winter thing here, and the wrecks in the fog are legendary.  Multiple car-pileups were common, as inexperienced drivers continued to drive in the fog as they have in clear weather.  Some people here will turn on their 4-way flashers to drive in fog, which is really confusing – westerners think of that as a stopped vehicle in distress.

Thankfully, over the past few foggy days, there have been few crashes, and we’ll hope it continues.  But from where I look, it sure looks like Dubai has disappeared!

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This is not a part of my moving to Dubai, but I promise you I’ll be using a ton of these Life Hacks while I’m here. Like the toilet paper tubes organizing cables – TBG has a dang TON of cables in a couple drawers here, and he’s constantly rummaging…. thanks so much to Pepperbox Couture!!

Pepperbox Couture

I couldn’t resist re-blogging this………..  Enjoy!

99 Life Hacks to make your life easier!

reblogged from: http://darraghdoyle.tumblr.com/post/33892944163/handy-very-handy

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Food Review – Sandella’s Flatbread Cafe

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You know how sometimes, you luck up on one of those little gem of a cafe?  This is one!  We stopped at the Al Barsha Mall here in Dubai to go to the Union Coop for salted almonds.  TBG swears that they’re the best ones in town, freshest and saltiest.  And, we were both hungry, since lunch had been many hours earlier.

I checked The Entertainer books to see if they had vouchers for anyplace in this mall and they did, Sandella’s Flatbread Cafe http://www.sandellas.com.  Buy one, get one free entrees.  Yanked that one right out of the book and off we went!

We were the only ones in the place, of course, it *was* 9 pm after all.  And, there’s a Lebanese cafe that shares the space with Sandella’s, it’s called Abela & Co. http://www.abelaandco.com  We ordered the Apple, Celery and Walnut salad AED24 (Romaine, walnuts, apple, celery, orange peel with a citrus yogurt and mayo dressing) and the Turkey and Mozzarella Panini AED27 (Smoked turkey breast, mozzarella cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, red pepper basil sauce topped with fresh basil leaves in their flatbread).

While we were waiting for our food, I noticed that the server there was very attentive without being annoying, a rare find at local eateries.  He placed our dishes without fanfare or clatter, and removed papers, wrappers, quickly but not obtrusively.  Does that make sense??

Anyway, while waiting, I decided to check out the display case of foods on the Lebanese side and see if I could identify any of the dishes on display to their menu.  I could not.  But the server walked up to me and asked if he could help – I told him I was new to Lebanese foods, and wanted to learn what these were.  At that point, he graciously matched back each of the items on display to the menu, explained what they were, preparation if it was unusual, and any interesting information about them, like the group of Cold Mezzeh (snacks) and Hot Mezzeh were plenty for two, and the Platter would serve 4 easily.

It was really interesting, and when I asked questions like “What are the “Vine Leaves” stuffed with?”  He replied “Ah, grape leaves, madame, stuffed with rice.”  I thought about this for a few seconds, and asked “Rice?  That sounds a bit bland, is it seasoned any special way?”  He replied “Yes, madame, with lemon and peppers, cool and refreshing.”  Not a one of his comments were condescending or making light of my ignorance, and I appreciated that.  Plus, guess what?  THEY DELIVER!!  🙂

Food arrived.  Looky here…..

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TBG’s panini looked yummylicious….. fresh, wonderful looking flatbread, and chock full of chickeny-goodness and greens.  And HUGE.  Really.  I thought for sure he’d be taking half of it home for my lunch the next day (hoping).  Didn’t happen, he  pronounced it “Great” and offered me a bite.

Flatbread was crispy outside, but soft inside, a welcome distinction from most thin pliable flatbreads I’ve eaten.  Chicken was moist, well-seasoned for the average taste – a bit on the “hot” side for me, but I’m a wimp when it comes to hot things.  Plenty of cheese, and a nice balance of pesto sauce to meat/cheese.  Not a morsel remained on his plate.

And my salad?

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Well… hello apples!!  Great combination of crispy tart granny smith apples and savory roasted walnuts.  The candied citrus peel was a pleasant find in there, too – I’m a big fan of fruit in my salads.  I had some doubt about the citrus-yogurt dressing, and had asked for it on the side in case I hated it….lol.  It was light, more yogurt than mayo, and barely citrusy at all.  OK, but I would have enjoyed a bit more citrus taste in it as well.  HUGE serving here as well, and I did end up taking about half of it home with me.  Very tasty and I’d order it again.

We also ordered a Family Style Italian Salad (2-3 servings, mixed greens, tomato, olives, cucumber, capsicum and carrot with italian dressing) to takeaway for lunch the next day.  TBG had bought this salad in the past and enjoyed it tremendously, so this was a “known” food to him.

As we finished our meal, the server arrived with a slice of carrot cake and two forks (man after my own heart!) compliments of the house.  He said it was their specialty and was really tasty.

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Lovely, isn’t it?  I asked what the small orange thing was on top, and he told me the name, but I’ve forgotten.  It’s a fruit, sweet, reminds me of an orange kiwi taste, and texture of a grape but looked like a tomatoe inside.  Interesting, and I’ll look for them.

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The cake layers were surprisingly tender and moist, with lovely bits of grated carrot distributed throughout.  Well-spiced, with nothing too exotic to overpower any other one, just a really enjoyable cake.

But that frosting….. man.  I’m a big fan of cream cheese frosting, but it can sometimes be REALLY too much, thick and gooey and just covers up whatever it’s on… but not this.  Light, almost a whipped texture, smooth as silk, and not too sweet – tremendous.  Truly.  The server asked if we were enjoying it, and between mouthfuls and calculating if there were still bites left for me, I told him “Very much, do you make it here??”  He said no, that it was made in their central bakery just a few miles away.

Excellent meal, excellent service, loved the buy-one-get-one-free voucher, and we’ll DEFINITELY be back.  Oh, and guess what?  According to the back of their takeaway menu, Sandella’s Flatbread Cafe is “The largest growing American Flatbread Franchise in the World.”

Planning? We don’t need no stinkin’ Planning!

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One major difference that I’ve noticed between Dubai and the US is a difference in planning.  For example, I wanted to see when a particular TV show would be appearing so I could watch it.  We get a small “TV-guide” type booklet from our satellite provider (providing we go pick one up.  *sigh*) with a listing of times and shows.  Now, shows here aren’t exactly scheduled, they may start at 735, or at 1615, or even 1210.  They don’t start on the hour and half-hour.  But the booklet’s nowhere close to what’s showing up on the TV screen……lol.  So planning your TV viewing is a challenge.

Shopping papers, sales ads, or grocery fliers – you may get one the day the sale begins, or the day before.  Not like in the US, where most of them will appear on a Wednesday, with sales beginning on the weekend.  Gives one time to plan out meals and budget.

Recreation can be dicey too – there’s a really interesting looking entertainment complex called Global Village.  Image

It’s got tons of cultural exhibits, amusement-type rides, shopping, dining and performance venues.  I had read about some cool-sounding dance exhibitions, one Egyptian, one Jordanian.  I wanted to plan a trip to Global Village to see them.  I checked their website, http://www.globalvillage.ae which routed me to their facebook page.  I didn’t find a schedule, but I found a phone number -, so I called to ask when I might be able to see these dancers.  The conversation went something like this…..

“Hello”

“Hello!  I’m trying to find the schedule of entertainment so I can see some dancers from Egypt and Jordan.  Where would I find the schedule for upcoming dancers?”

“Yes, we have dancers from Egypt and Jordan”

“Great.  When do they perform?  When can I see them next?”

“Yes, they may next be dancing from time to time”

“OK.  When next?  Where is the schedule?”

“Schedule posted daily ma’am.  On website.  In the morning.”

“OK. Where is schedule to tell me next time these dancers will perform?”

“Our schedule is posted daily ma’am.  You can check it online.  If not there in the morning, check it on the twitter.”

“So, you cannot tell me the next time the Egyptian or Jordanian dancers perform?”

“Schedule is daily – you can check daily.”

So.  If we want to see these dancers, we have to check their online schedule daily, or “the twitter” to see if they’re performing.  Because they publish the schedule in the morning for that day’s events, “so as not to cause confusion” according to their facebook page.

My solution?  We’ll just pick a day to go.  If the dancers happen to be performing, it’ll be a happy bonus…. If not, no worries!