Monthly Archives: February 2013

It’s Camelicious!

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TBG always sees camels on the way to work and is telling me about them –  I couldn’t understand why, till he casually mentioned “oh, well, there’s a camel dairy just off the road”.  What??  Why have we not been there yet??  So, here we go!

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Driving up to the entrance of the facility.  I wanted to take photos of the actual road we were on, but there was a group of men sitting alongside the road in the shade, eating and drinking.  It’s not acceptable to take someone’s photo here unless you ask first, so I didn’t get that shot.

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Yup, It’s Camelicious!  Told you.   The official name of this dairy is The Emirates Industry for Camel Milk & Products (EICMP).  Now, just for fun, go right ahead and start singing in your head the song “Fergalicious” by Fergie….. “So delicious (It’s hot, hot) So delicious (I put them boys on rock, rock) So delicious (They want a taste of what I got) I’m Fergalicious (T-t-tasty, tasty)”  OK, anyway, now that that’s stuck in your brain read on!

From this facility, over  3000 camels produce the nutritious milk which the on-site factory processes into multiple products- milk, flavored milk, chocolates and “camelchinos” – frothy coffee beverages.

flavored camel milk

This camel dairy farm is owned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, and is one of only two in the UAE and is the largest in the world.  The herds are still under development, with western-style herd tracking, breeding and artificial insemination methods underway, but the Camelicious milk has been on supermarket shelves in the UAE for years.  The UK has just issued the approval for Camelicious milk to be exported there and will be on UK supermarket shelves shortly.  Now, as I understand it, wild camel milk has a very “distinct” flavor as the animals graze on desert brush, and this taste is generally considered undesirable for the masses.  Camelicious camels are “camels of a different kind” though.  They are fed imported alfalfa hay from New Zealand as well as carrots and dates.  This combination sweetens the milk and makes it more consistent and palatable.

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One thing I’ve learned about this facility is that they have a genuine concern for these tempermental critters.  They don’t want them turned into “humped milking machines”.  See, camels do not like to have their schedule disrupted, they normally need their calves present to produce milk, and they’re used to walking  many miles daily.  In order to keep the herds happy and milky, the facility has made adjustments – scheduling is precise, a walking track has been added and the camels spend daily time with their calves.  Happy camels, Camelicious milk!

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I asked TBG why this camel had a red rope between his front feet and he said it was a hobble of sorts.  I asked why all the rest of the camels didn’t have one, and he said “That one must be the leader.  Camels are social critters, they’ll follow one lead camel anywhere, but they like to stay huddled together.  Their body temperatures are lower than the outside temps, so huddling feels cooler to them.”

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This is the “cattle guard” things that I’m used to seeing in the US over roadways at fenceline – though those are made of pipes, and much closer together.  These must be heavier, and further apart for the camels’ bigger feet.

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Oh, and ever wonder how they transport camels from place to place??  LOL… here ya go!!

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camelicious

Service Review – Girl Talk Salon, Dubai

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I bought a groupon voucher for this insanely priced pampering package…… it included a one hour revitalizing facial, a hair treatment, a foot scrub, classic manicure and pedicure plus a 1-hour body scrub.  Now, remember, all this is included, and cost AED179 – That’s just a skosh under fifty bucks.  Really!

groupon

The facial was truly soothing, light massaging, a gentle cleanse, then some exfoliation followed by a really yummy cucumber mask.  Heaven.  The facial person was one of the most stunningly lovely women I’ve seen, she was from Kenya.  Gorgeous skin.

Next up was the body scrub – not for the faint of heart or the ultra-modest.  This was a pretty intense full body scrub.  But it was done in a discreet and professional manner…. and I promise you that my skin felt as smooth as a baby’s after that scrub.

Then came the foot scrub and the mani-pedi – nothing unusual or really outrageous about it, the foot scrub felt great, though.

Didn’t have time to do the hair treatment, but the cut and color that I had done in addition to this package was wonderful.  My only complaint was that it was freezing in there – maybe not for the staff, but if you’re the passive customer, it’s COLD!  But the salon was clean, bright and well-cared-for.  If you’re looking for a really nice pampering package at an affordable price, definitely look at this one!

Girl Talk Beauty Center

Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah Plaza,1st Floor
Dubai P.O. Box 1347  +971-4-3492600

Quite an honor

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TBG had an unusual invitation yesterday – he was invited to a fellow Emirati pilot’s promotion luncheon!  Now, to sort of put this into perspective, it’s really rare that expats are included in Emirati celebrations.   It’s simply a cultural issue that is a big divide to bridge.  But invited he was!  And he went.  Now for those of you that know TBG, he’s not a real big social creature.  He’ll generally go with me to some function, but it’s not his favorite thing to do.  But this?  This was different.  This was an honor.

He said “Yeah, we all sat on the floor, and ate some kind of interesting rice and goat meat dish.  Or maybe it was baby lamb.  Pretty tasty.  Had to eat it with my hands, though, and they had to show me how to do that.  I’ve never eaten rice with my fingers.  It was pretty cool.”

*Sigh*  Details, honey, I want details.  What did you talk about?  How did they ask you?  What did the food taste like?  Were there people serving you?  How was the meat seasoned?  How was it served?  What did you have to drink?  Was there entertainment?   What about the singing and dancing, was there singing and dancing?  Was there a big blanket, or did everyone sorta bring their own?  How do they sit on the floor without getting dirt stains on those blindingly-white kanduras that the UAE men wear?

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But nope.  That was all I was gonna get.  “It was pretty cool” was all he had to say.  I’m still in awe and pretty proud of TBG – this was quite an honor.  And grateful to his fellow pilot for trying to bridge that cultural gap just a bit.

EDITED TO ADD………….

Well, well, well…. It appears that TBG *does* read my blog!  He said “you never asked me all that stuff”.  Actually, I did – I think he has selective hearing…. <smile>  Anyhow, I have some additional details that I was interested in, so I’m assuming y’all are interested too!

He said there was some kind of cloth on the floor, he doesn’t know what….. and there was a man that was bringing big platters of food and placing them all around.  And, there was a bread, a giant flatbread “big as a garbage can lid”…. (*sigh*….. was that the ONLY comparision he could make??  Sheesh.)  Folks tore off pieces of it to eat as they liked.

One of the dishes he remembered was called a “biryani” which is a traditional rice dish, layered with meat and/or vegetables that have been simmered in a spicy and creamy sauce to flavor and tenderize them.  Then, they’re layered in a large dish and cooked over very low heat till the flavors are all blended, and the rice is perfect.  Now there are a ton of variations, different meats, vegetables, nuts, fruits, they can be really elaborate.  He said there were four different platters of foods.  And in order to help him eat the rice, they put a yogurt on it of some sort…. Made it sticky enough to eat.   Oh, and Seven Up or Sprite to drink.

There was conversation and laughter, but no singing or dancing….lots of congratulations and well wishes.   He said it was just a really nice meal with some interesting people, a good time, and he was glad he went.

 

Food Review – Macaroni Grill

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Yes, Macaroni Grill.  The US chain, known as “a casually elegant Italian restaurant serving handcrafted pastas, entrees, and a diverse wine list.”  Rarely seen as gourmet, or even really, really good.  Generally, we think of it as “upscale mall food”, not fast food, but not a dining experience, either.

We went last evening because there was a “buy one get one” voucher in our Entertainer book.  Our first choice had been the Outback Steakhouse at the Festival City Mall but they were closed for renovations.  We were there to shop at the ARTE Craft market –  Artisans of the Emirates –  being held at that mall.  There’s a particular vendor there that has the *most* wonderful handcrafted soaps, Firuza Wragg of Desert Rose Handmade Soaps.  Check out her shampoo bars – exquisite!

OK, back to the food.   TBG ordered the sampler platter, figuring it was pretty safe, and he had three chances to find something he’d like.  It promised chicken parmesan, lasagna bolognese, chicken & mushroom cannelloni.  I opted for the grilled salmon, but we splurged and asked to substitute the lobster mashed potato for the rice pilaf.  There are no “before” photos of our meal, because frankly, we didn’t have very high hopes that it would be outstanding in any way.  But let’s take a look at the “after photos”……

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Yes,  we ate every single bit of it.  Even the bread was delicious.

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It was good enough that when the Front of House Manager Mohammed came to ask how we’d enjoyed it, we told him to please give our compliments to the chef – everything was cooked well, served attractively and we loved it all.  He walked back to the kitchen, hollered “Chefs, please!”  and when he had their attention, told them what we’d said….. There were smiling faces and waves all around, then they went right back to work….

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The restaurant wasn’t crowded, and our server was quite good – overall it was a much better experience than we were expecting, and we gave it a “We’ll be back” rating on the Trueblood scale of foods.

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“CarWash, sir?”

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There are carwash guys in mall parking lots.  And parking garages.  They wear uniforms, carry receipt books pre printed and are very efficient.

They’re all over, they push little carts with I’m not sure what inside them, but lemme tell you, they do a bang-up job of washing your car while you’re shopping!  Cheap too, around $6-8 USD if my conversions are right, and they do it year round!

Communicating with them can be an issue, though.  They seem to recognize a few phrases in English – “How much?” they can answer, and if you hold up fingers “How long?” they can answer.  Outside of that, you’ll hear “yes yes yes” which seems to be the standard service answer.  And it does not necessarily mean “yes” at all.

An SUV costs approximately AED25 ($8) and a sedan AED20 ($6) plus tip.

But it certainly is nice to get out of a dusty, dirty car in the parking garage, and when you return to it (not always as easy as it sounds, BTW!  These parking garages are HUGE, multi-story, multiple entrances to the malls, on multiple levels!) and return to something sparkling and shiny clean.  For cheap.