Tag Archives: Arabic

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

Advertisements

ربما حققت أقل مما أستحق، ولكنه بالتأكيد أكثر مما توقعت.  – نبيل الحلفاوى

 

Translation: “I may have achieved less than I deserve, but for certain it is more than I expected.” –Nabil ElHalfawy

Closer To The Dream

When I was a young girl, a part of me always wished there was a place where I could be with other young Muslims. Please don’t get me wrong, I loved most of my time in school with extremely diverse surroundings, but I always found myself to be the only Muslim in the room. There was a handful of occasions where I was bullied for being the only Muslim, looking weird and being just plain different.

Thus a part of that young girl always yearned to be in a place where people prayed like her, understood her love for Hijab and helped her learn the Holy Quran. A place where a Muslim girl who looked weird and was just plain different was embraced. That place did not exist in this young girls time.

some of my silly students!
some of my silly students!

I was finishing up grad school when I first came across the San Francisco Islamic School (SFIS) a few years ago. That’s when the young girl within me smiled from ear to ear! It wasn’t long before I joined as a volunteer teacher myself and having one of the most amazing experiences of my life! I looked forward to planning my lesson plans every week, waking up early Sunday mornings and seeing my students gather at Mercy High School where SFIS was welcomed.

This non-profit educational initiative, started by a handful of community members, meet every Sunday in San Francisco where a diverse group of students from all parts of the Bay Area gathered to learn the Arabic Language, the Holy Quran and Islamic studies. From a handful of students to the creation of a waiting list, the demand has grown bigger than ever imagined.

The SFIS Family

As of today, SFIS has become more than a Sunday school with…

  • A weekly structured coursework of the above mentioned areas
  • Multiple field-trips and activities on a regular basis
  • Daily tutoring and mentoring programs for all subjects
  • Adult education courses and seminars focusing on Islam, health and family well-being

Realizing the need for a full-time Islamic faith based school in San Francisco, board members worked tirelessly for years to develop a successful strategic plan. From becoming accredited by the education department to finding a suitable place to call home, the plan is now in motion.

We are now closer to the dream!

An offer on a beautiful facility on the borders of San Francisco and Daly City has been made. This is a prime location making it accessible to students from both within and outside San Francisco. It houses eight decent sized classrooms, offices, a full functioning kitchen, an auditorium, a cafeteria… the works! SFIS’ offer has been accepted and now a down payment is to be made to secure this home for SFIS.

Support the First Full-Time Islamic School in San Francisco TODAY!

Seeing SFIS be closer to the dream while being so far away has been difficult for me on a personal level. What can I do to support the cause aside from catching a glimpse via social media of the amazing work the volunteers have been doing towards this campaign? The best thing I can do to contribute is to reach out to you as I’ve done in the past. Your contribution of any size is not only tax-deductible but counts towards your zakat. Your contributions of both funds and time to help support this campaign and SFIS as an organization makes all the difference in one person’s educational experience!

I urge you to not only donate, but to visit SFIS, talk to the volunteers and see for yourself the work that’s being done. Visit SFIS’ Indiegogo’s page today to  learn more, view pictures, stay informed of the latest announcements of the campaign and of course, to donate. =)

I promise you, your contribution of any form to SFIS will make at least one young girl smile from ear to ear.

A Four Month Report

Happy Eid everyone! I pray you are all enjoying the blessed Eid AlAdha weekend.

As for me, right now, I’m spending the wee hours of the morning in Terminal 2 of the Dubai International Airport (DXB) for my bi-monthly visa turnaround, an attempt to renew my “visitor” visa, hopefully for the last time. Tomorrow marks four months since I’ve landed in Doha, Qatar. Four long, exhausting, fulfilling, exciting and at some point dangerous months. In the last four months, I’ve been caught up with work, trying to get settled into a  place I can call my own and develop some form of a social life.

They call me Doha, Ms. Doha.

As of a few weeks ago, I attempted to get back to my short work outs and walks just to keep my energy level up. Recently I was able to some how get back to reading Aleph by Paulo Coelho which was my first non-food purchase in Qatar. The other day, a cute little kitty followed me half way home and adopted me. With all the time I have on my hands right now before I check out the tiny duty free section, I shall rant away at some of the events that have taken place in my first four months in Qatar…

 

Cool British Accent — After calling a few landlords to inquire about available apartments for rent, I received a text message (or SMS as it’s called here) stating how one very nice man liked my “really cool British accent”. I had to respond because I thought this was a joke but it turns out, that wasn’t the case. I mentioned how I wasn’t British but thanks for the kind words. His exact response (misspellings and all), “I want us to get to know echother more and I promis you I get you discount in very nice apartment. ;-)” I didn’t even know how to respond without being rude so I left it at that. However, a few more call outs over a course of a few days garnered me 3 more similar SMS’ and 2 call backs asking about my marital status.

I did realize that with all of them, I had spoken straight English. To test out the theory that if I spoke in Arabic none of this would’ve happened, I called back some of these same people speaking in my great Egyptian dialect. Of course as always, I was right! Over the course of my search, I now speak only in Arabic unless English is necessary. Now my hurdle is having someone rent out to a single lady but that’s for post.

Right now, I’m not getting much compliments on my British accent.

 

I Swear They’re Real — Shopping and minding my own business one day, I caught a young lady looking me up and down. I flashed her a smile and we exchanged “salams”. No little chit chat, she just straight up asked me, “Where did you get your chest and lips done?”

“God, this is all done by God.”

“They’re real? No silicone? No surgery? Padded bra?” she whispers.

“Nope, just good wholesome fat!” I whispered back giggling with the gal. I showed her that all I’ve had “done” was my lip piercing. She’s still fascinated that I haven’t had any work done. She started telling me about how she’s debating getting her chest done before she gets married. I advised her against it and to work with what she’s got rather than agonize over it. Of course, the decision is hers and I had to remind her that no one gets the final say over her body but her.

Twenty minutes after our conversation, we crossed paths where she flashed me a smile and whispered to another lady walking with her. I’m sure she’s caught up on our little conversation. I couldn’t get my wholesome fat ass out of there fast enough.

 

Yes, I Can Be Both — In my recent dealings with people, I’ve noticed this odd form of racism and need for a nationalistic identity. I have friends that were born and raised in Qatar but they can never call themselves Qataris. They don’t even have a Qatari passport and every year must renew their legal status in the country. I know the government is working on changing these laws (for economical and sports reasons) but my question is, “when exactly?” The idea of keeping it as pure as possible is a bit far fetched to the point of silliness in my opinion. Remember, historically the people of Qatar came from either Saudi Arabia or Iran.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for being proud of your nationality, your heritage and it being part of your identity. However, there’s a difference between being proud and being arrogant; enforcing your opinion of one’s identity.

In dealing with Arabs, particularly Egyptian expatriates here in Qatar, they make it seem as if I can only pick one identity, either I’m Egyptian or I’m American. I just look them straight in the face and say, “but I’m both, proudly so.” I’ve even had arguments with random strangers after it was noted that I shouldn’t identify myself as an American.

For the record, I was born in San Francisco, California, USA. My father immigrated from Egypt in the 70’s and my mother followed suit after they got married. To deny myself the right to identify as both an Egyptian American would not be doing myself justice nor my parents for the many dreams they had for their family in America.

Just because most of the world, including Americans believe it or not, don’t agree with some of the American foreign policies, doesn’t mean  that we simply drop our identity as Americans. We are a nation that prides itself in being a melting pot. We come from all over the world, united with ideals and dreams. It is those ideals and dreams that has made the heart and soul of what is good in America today.

So yes, I can be both. I AM Egyptian American.

My Public Letter to Hamada Helal

Dear Hamada Helal,

Please put down the microphone, turn around and walk away from the music industry forever.

This catastrophic song of yours (from an even catastrophic movie, Mr. and Mrs. Awees) has now put you in the I’m-not-a-descent-musician category alongside Tamer Hosny and the 4cats.

It’s because of stupid, uncreative, unimaginative Arab artists such as yourself, Egyptian artists have been put to shame! We can no longer pride ourselves in the arts like we once did. Can you imagine if the Egyptian greats Oum Kalthoum or AbdelHalim Hafez stole another’s vision and made it their own? Even back then, they could claim ignorance and would’ve apologized for it.

You on the other hand live in the shared information and internet era so you can’t even claim ignorance on this when (and I’m so praying this happens) Nickelodeon sues you and your productions company for rights infringement! Isn’t it enough that these stupid Arabic television stations air the amazing show that is SpongeBob SquarePants with the worst possible Arabic dubbing EVER?! Then you come along and add fuel to the freaking flame with this pathetic thing you call music! Akh!

For those of you unaware of the song I’m speaking of, watch this video at your own discretion…

Hamada Helal, I used to like you, I really did, you know, when you were a sad, depressed artist. Seriously, I couldn’t even defend you when you became all happy and started singing cheesy happy songs. It got worse when you decided to act and develop entire soundtracks for every movie you’re involved with… from the stupid one where you lead a gang of thugs (really, you a thug?) to the one about that sad boxer (You as a boxer? Despicable!). I thought for a moment you came back to your senses when you released a few decent songs during Egypt’s revolution last year (except for Martyrs of January 25, terribly written!) or the one about Prophet Mohamed (pbuh).

However, as a huge adult fan of the amazing SpongeBob SquarePants, it was just too much for me to take! You are NOT SpongePOP, you are not as “yellow as cumin” and you always dirty yourself when you plagiarize! I beg of you, please just go away… Go under a rock or something because it’s over… It’s Over! 

Signed, Ms. Hala… A Very Angry SpongeBob Fan

P.S. – Cumin is not yellow, it’s brown.