Ladies’ Night @ Trader Vic’s – A Snapchat Story

In case you missed it, here’s my Snapchat story from last week’s Ladies’ Night at Trader Vics!

In case you didn’t know, every Wednesday night is Ladies’ Night  at Trader Vics, Hilton Doha! Unlimited drinks and bites for two hours for 100QR! Even us hijabis and/or non drinkers can join in on the fun!🍹

You can read my review on Zomato and watch the full Snapchat story below!

 

#QatarLinkUp – My Favorite Restaurant(s) in Doha

Every month, bloggers across Qatar come together for what’s called #QatarLinkUp. This is a fantastic way for bloggers to write about a particular theme, read and share each other’s posts on the theme. This month’s theme is, “My Favorite Restaurant in Doha.” My first blog for the link up and I’m already struggling. How can I pick just one? Have you met me? I’m always hungry!

Since I’m an equal opportunity foodie, I decided to go through my Zomato collections and randomly pick a few restaurants to showcase. They are in no particular order other than being under the collection I have them in. Here’s a sampling of what makes Doha the great gastronomic city that it is.

When I had snails & loved it! via Instagram @MsHalaCo

Best Eats, Qatar Edition

IDAM by Alan Ducasse is literally the most luxurious dining experience you will have in Qatar. On the fifth floor of the Museum of Islamic Art, the architecture, the view, the decor, the service and of course, the fusion of French and Qatari cuisine is an experience to be had at least twice in Doha. And any place that has me craving snails, has done something right!

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Parmesan truffle ravioli! #JustDrooling

However, when we aren’t spending up to 1,000QR ($275) on a meal, there are a plenty good casual spots I enjoy going to on a regular basis. For Italian, try Papermoon and go for the truffle ravioli. For Indian, Caravan Bukhara has some delicious curry dishes. For Egyptian, Layali Al Qahira always hits the spot for me.

Just want the basics? Flavorful sandwiches, salads and good coffee can be found at Monte’s or Shades Cafe in West Bay. For the best hazelnut chai latte in all of Qatar, the drive to Coffee Time in Wakrah is totally worth it. On the other side in Al Rayyan? Al Shafi Street has you covered and is accessible despite all the Metro construction happening.

My favorite quinoa salad is at Shades Cafe! via SnapChat @MsHala.co
My favorite quinoa salad is at Shades Cafe. via SnapChat @MsHala.co

Hungry yet? I promise there’s more! *sips coffee and types faster*

Small but Mighty, Qatar Edition

Places like Gokul Gujarati and Thai Corner make you not only appreciate the diversity of cuisines in Doha, but the hidden gems throughout the city.

Seriously, who would’ve thought that a thali of vegetarian dishes can be so drool worthy. Or that delivery/take out from a store front in a plaza parking lot would be delicious and sufficient. Seriously, don’t ever doubt the small guys!

For My Sweet Tooth, Qatar Edition

Oreo flavored popcorn from Let's Popcorn
Oreos flavored popcorn via Zomato @MsHala

Qatar has an abundance of dessert shops with the perfect recipes for that sweet tooth of yours. From the ones that remind me of visiting family in New York to the innovative Qatari start ups, you really can’t go wrong here. Magnolia Bakery of New York has some great selections of cakes and cupcakes, especially in the fall when pumpkin pie is in season.

For the popcorn lovers, you will get addicted to Let’s Popcorn! My favorite from the shop has to be the Oreos flavored popcorn. Also try the caramel or even the nacho’s if you are keen on the spicy side of things. Again, it’s very addictive, you’ve been warned!

Hungry yet, because I sure am now. Then again, I’m always hungry!

*gets up to eat*

A Month In Food

A Month In Food, October 2015

Being that I have a job that relies on me going out to eat, October was one of my busiest monthes yet! I got to experience some new and awesome things for the first time. Grab a tissue because I promise you, there will be saliva.

French-Qatari Fusion

As a fan of this restaurant (which I’ve only tried for lunch), I was elated when asked to organize a fine dining experience meetup at IDAM by Alain Ducasse to showcase their new autumn dinner menu. There is nothing like this true gem on the 5th floor of the Museum of Islamic Art.

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For the first time, I willingly tried snails – SNAILS – and cleared my plate of it. I was never tempted to try snails or escargot but when I realized that was on the menu, I knew it was now or never to try it out. It was absolutely flavorful, sweet and without any bitter aftertaste, just perfection.

As an American, we are easily fooled when it comes to portions. However, we tend to forget that quality is above quantity. True, portions are small but extremely rich in flavor, you will leave stuffed . Start with the amazing breads and cleanse with the fantastic grape mocktails.

IDAM By Alain Ducasse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato IDAM brings fine dining and mutli-ethinic fusion to another level, under one very beautiful roof. Even before the food arrives, you are engulfed in a once in a lifetime experience that is to be had again and again. You leave knowing you’ve experienced everything that is to be experienced from the meticulous details of the decor to the elegance of it all.

Sushi

Now if you know me as well as you should peeps, you know I’m not a fan of sushi. I know, I know, I’m from California, home of the California Roll, it should be in my blood, blah blah blah. That’s not the case! Everyone I know but my little brother appreciates sushi. What’s my excuse? I can’t get past the “raw” factor of sushi. Give me seaweed, give me tofu in miso soup, but never raw fish.

Dragon Roll, Asia Live

Two foodie meetups allowed me to try some really good sushi. First was at Asia Live of Marriot Doha, where I actually went for seconds on this amazing Dragon Roll. Made with cooked tuna, shrimp and eel, it was absolutely spectacular. Many of us foodies went for seconds and thirds, it was that good. No aftertaste of sorts as I would’ve expected from an eel or mix of flavors. This is Asia Live’s most popular dish for only 50QR!

20151028_142014Another spot with some really creative takes on sushi was Blue of Grand Heritage Hotel. We were given the opportunity during our meetup to try some new and popular sushis, including fried sushi and tempura sushi. Seriously, there was a lot of variety I didn’t even know I could like let alone eat by the mouthfuls. I’ve learned that if the sushi contents are cooked or at least smoked, I’m all over it!

South Indian

There is a lot of misconception when it comes to South Indian cuisine, mainly because it’s already so diverse as it is. Mainly known for being vegetarian, not all foods out of South India is strictly that. However, we got a taste of it all at our foodie meetup hosted by Dakshin in Barwa Village.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 3.38.29 PMI got to have a taste of a few dishes familiar and new but the one new dish that stood out for me was the Murungakkai Soup. A lentils and drumstick soup spiced to perfection. Adding on top some really crispy and addictive chakkaras (think: airy crackers) for some pop, literally! The soup is just so warm and filling, it would be perfect for a San Francisco winter.

And at Dakshin, knowing that not everyone can handle the level of Indian spicy, they really do accomodate the level of spiciness your palette can handle. I recommend checking out their very diverse menu, selecting a few items and going on a South Indian taste journey.

Until next time peeps, stay hungry!

Food Bloggers Qatar Meet – November ’15

This meet introduced me to some amazing food bloggers and opened the door to my dream job. If you are a food blogger in Qatar, then this meet is not to be missed!

Food Bloggers Qatar

Its that time of the year again and with the fabulous weather change, we announce our second Food Bloggers Qatar Meet. As always, we aim at bringing the community a step closer as well as giving our social media followers an insight about our meet ups and word of mouth about the fantastic restaurant we will visit.

Food Bloggers Meet definitely calls for networking that is perfectly paired with decadent food and a gorgeous ambiance. And if food wasn’t enough, this time around, we have associated with the foodiepedias of Qatar –

Zomato
Dining in Doha
Messo App

And of course, Hungry Birds Doha will be there to host and welcome you to this one of its kind event in the region!

You can find all the delicious food information about the region from these pioneers and you are surely not going to be disappointed

And for the big question about our…

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Living the Confused Expatriate Life

Living the Confused Expatriate Life
Year Four, Let’s Go!
By: Ms. Hala

Feels like only yesterday I walked out of the airplane to get hit in the face hard by Qatar’s humidity. And yet, some how, by the grace of God, I’m putting up with it for the fourth summer!

YIKES!

Yep, whatever plans I had is no longer the case. Everyday I’m watching Qatar grow and develop into a spectacular place. There’s something charming about Qatar that keeps me drawn to it, I’m not sure what it is but here I am.

I just changed dream jobs, left cars for food as I’ve previously ranted. My new job is to help build the foodie community here in Qatar. Being that I’m always hungry, it was as if this job was designed for me! It isn’t easy at all to say the least but it is a challenge I’m taking head on. I’m already learning so much about social media, bloggers and the food/beverage industry, it’s exciting. Imagine being excited to wake up and head to work in the morning… I’m there peeps, I’m there!

My advise to anyone of my peeps thinking of expatriating out of the US (or re-expatriating for that matter), do it for something you know you will enjoy. A passion to travel and work with a company you know (or at least researched well) will do right by you in the long run. Anything that sounds too good to be true, is too good to be true! Don’t move for the high (and sometimes tax free) salary for the same run of the mill job you already hate. I promise you, you’ll be miserable if you are not passionate about the job, the company or even the country you are deciding to move too.

Have questions about moving to Qatar or the Middle East, feel free to ask me and follow me on Periscope (@mshalaco) as I attempt to broadcast some of my expat adventures. Some broadcasts will be reposted right here on MsHala.co so keep on the look out!

Until next time peeps, big hugs from Qatar! 😉

 

Note: If you noticed, I’ve updated this series so we are no longer “counting parts”. This will be an ongoing series for as long as I’m a confused expatriate. =)

Eatopia for Iftar – A Review

Eatopia for Iftar – A Review June 22nd, 2015

Enjoying ourselves at #Zomato’s first #Iftar #FoodieMeetup! #ImAlwaysHungry #YumminessAcheived -via Instagram

Zomato‘s first Iftar Foodie Meetup was held at Eatopia in the Gate Mall. When I first experienced Eatopia, I was a bit taken back, confused by the concept and didn’t think I’d come back. Than I was invited to my first Zomato Meetup back in April where everything was explained to me by the friendly staff and management. We had such a blast, I’ve been coming back every since!

However, this was my first time experiencing Eatopia during Ramadan. I must say, it was one of my best experiences yet at Eatopia! Here’s why.

THE ORIGINAL CONCEPT

First off, you need to understand the original concept. As you step in on the 2nd floor of the Gate Mall, there is a vast entrance with the left leading you to the restaurant and the right leading you to the oh so sweet shop/deli. As you walk into the restaurant, you’ll see multiple stations, starting with the dessert section on the right, salad and sushi to the center, than coming around to the left to find the Arabic, Italian and Western sections.

After you select your seat and order your drinks, you then take your order card that’s assigned to you and make your way to your section of choice. Whatever you order is than scanned onto the card and you can take a seat while it’s made than delivered right to your table. For example, get your salad, scan, walk to the Italian, order your fresh made pasta, scan, order a shawarma because you can, scan, have a seat and everything comes to your table.

Once done, you take your card to the cashier, make your payment and walk off your food coma.

IFTAR

During Ramadan, Eatopia basically has the best of both worlds, a buffet of all it’s goodness set out with the cooking stations still going strong. How sweet is that idea? So I was given a quick tour of what to expect by the lovely manager, Ms Marifel, showing me the addition of a juice bar, where we can get our popular Ramadan drinks like lemon mint and cold karkadeh (hibiscus iced tea to the rest of you) along side all their popular stations, most with ready made food laid out plus your option to get a made to order dish.

As the Foodies gathered round, I gave them a quick explaination and as soon as it was time to break fast, we were off. Eatopia had generously laid out water and dates for us at the table so we can traditionally break our fasts. I started with the salad section where I made my selection and a helpful staff added in the dressing of my choosing.

Afterwards, I was anxious to get my hands on a Penne Eatopia, my favorite dish at Eatopia, period! Because it was buffet style, they made the next closet thing to their menu item which was penne pasta with mushroom and “pink sauce”, a lighter version of the typical tomato marinara sauce. It was still so good and the portion was just right, you could go for seconds on your choosing. However, I ended up trying their pizza for the first time and I almost went back for seconds! Cheesiest, thinnest pizza I’ve had in a long time! That was pizza my friends, right there! Bruchetta came in three forms. Your original, your duck breast and your two in one. I tried the original and the duck breast which was highly recommended by Ms. Marifel and it was sublime. So good, I went looking for her to thank her for her recommendation!

Umm Ali and ice cream galore!
Two bowls of goodnss, Umm Ali and ice cream!

Of course, must end such a heavy weighted iftar with dessert. I hadn’t tried most of their desserts as I’m usually always too full but yesterday, I was ready and determined! Everything offered looked so good. I had a few pastries, a small helping of Umm Ali and two scoops of ice cream, one chocolate (of course!), one raspberry.

Umm Ali was simply divine, and I mean someone actually did it right for a change. It’s such a popular dessert for Ramadan yet it’s either too dry or too much coconut, yuck! This was balanced and literally perfect, I could’ve licked my bowl clean. Then I went for the ice cream and it was seriously one of the best I’ve ever had. I need to go back and find out where they got it from or if they make it themselves because it was seriously that good. I mean, G.O.O.D.!

OVERALL

If you like fresh and variety, you’ll LOVE Eatopia for iftar this Ramadan. Seriously, (and I don’t care if it sounds cheesy) I believe the reason the food is so good is because it’s made with love. Not a single staff is without a smile, anxious to give you the best experience possible.

For just 135QR per person, you get an iftar of great food, accessible parking and 5 stars service! Suhour is also served starting at 9pm which includes a live band. I recommend calling for reservations in advance, especially on weekends. Don’t for get to check out the shop and get your receipt for discounted parking.
Eatopia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

St. Regis Doha – Ramadan Tent Review

St. Regis Doha – Ramadan Tent Review
June 20th, 2015

The “Ramadan in Doha” theme setting of the St. Regis Doha – Ramadan Tent

My friend’s and I tried the St. Regis Doha’s Ramadan Tent for iftar yesterday and it was wonderful!! Here’s my take of the evening:

ST. REGIS DOHA – RAMDAN TENT

The decor in the hall turned tent was a typical “Ramadan in Doha” theme. With makeshift bird huts surrounding the dessert section in the center and lots of lights hanging around the celling. The tables were setup nicely, with space to walk around without bumping into anyone. All in all, I thought it was a beautiful setup.

Service was great! We didn’t know if we had someone specific for our area but anyone we asked to help us did so with a smile. They were all dressed in matching, beautiful cultural outfits, befitting of the theme. There is a prayer area just outside the hall, not far from the well maintained restrooms.

Of course, I’m always pleased with free valet parking which was made available at the lower entrance of the main hotel building. Please, don’t forget to tip the lovely guys taking care of your ride out in the heat!
This is what I call a chandelier! Part of the Arab sweets offerings in the dessert section.

IFTAR OFFERINGS

The setup was in six sections, five starters and entrees around one end of the tent and the sixth being the massive dessert section in the center. You had multiple offerings such as sushi, salads, Indian dishes, pastas, Mediterranean dishes and a butcher section. I tried my best to have a little bit of everything!

I started with a small bit of salad and some of the Indian offerings. I loved the wheat aloo pratha, the “chips” (I have no idea what they are called but they were addictive!) with all the side dips including the mango yogurt. I even tried what looked like a potato samosa but it was spinach and I really hate spinach.

The pasta options were few but you were given the option to take from either the ready made pasta dishes or request one done right there at the station. I did not try the pasta but I watched as one of the station chef was making one for a guest, looked and smelled amazing! We took a walk across the main wall where the Mediterranean dishes were set. On either side you had the leg of lamb over rice then varying rices, potatoes, stews, chicken, kofta and fish dishes. I tried the saffron chicken, the fish with brown rice and what looked like baked potato wedges, which were pretty good.

Went the red meat & carb route… so far, so good.
Craving red meat, I bee lined to the butcher section to come across cheese sliders, beef cuts with bell peppers, lamb shanks, a carving board with what I presume to be a beef roast, lamb bites in pastry and Yorkshire pudding or what I famously called “cheesy bread” to my British friends!

The cheese slider was a bit pink for me and the yellow chedder cheese was not melted but flavourful. I didn’t finish my beef cuts because it was too rare for me. The lamb bites were good and of course the Yorkshire pudding was amazing!

I wanted to go back for more but we decided to head to dessert since it was already 7:30pm. Dessert selections were a variety between Arabic and western. One side of the circle had a long ice cream que which I refused to stand in when there were so many other options. The opposite side of the circle had your Arab sweets with someone helping man the kunafeh table which also had a long que, however I couldn’t blame them as those were straight from Al Aker!

And on either sides of those long ques, were two chocolate fountains, one milk chocolate, the other dark chocolate with a selection of cakes and fruits to dip in. Alongside those fountains were varies mini cakes, parfaits, pastries, whips and mousses.

I tried the mango tiramisu, coffee panna cotta, puff pastry, ghurayeba (sugar cookies) with pistashio, dipped chocolate cake in milk chocolate and some fruit. Everything was good but my favorite was the chocolate cake, absolutely good. My friends dipped their fruit cake in milk chocolate and ran for second helpings before the buffet was closed.

OVERALL

Aside from minor details, I wish there was more live cooking stations especially for the Mediterranean section. I also wish that iftar lasted a little bit longer than an hour and a half. Yes the tent is open at 6pm but iftar doesn’t start until Maghrib time which is at 6:30pm, with many of us needing to pray either right before Isha which is at 8:20pm or as soon as we break our fast.

All in all, we really enjoyed ourselves last night! I highly recommend giving St. Regis a try sometime during Ramadan where both iftar and suhour are served. Iftar is at 230QR a person, which is well worth it for the variety of food and unlimited drinks. There are also vouchers available if you have the Entertainer App.

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