Foodie Farewell – a Snapchat Story

Flashback Friday to the foodie farewell Snapchat story!

Flashback to two weeks ago when Kamal and myself (aka foodie royalty) got a magnificent send off! Can’t thank the team at Nisantasi Baskose and my foodie friends enough for this lovely, unforgettable afternoon.

Happy Eating peeps!

American Expats Voting Abroad

Are you an American living abroad like me? Are you following this year’s insane elections like the rest of the world is? Do you have any idea how to practice your voting rights aboard?

Please make sure to visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program, also known as FVAP, and follow the proper procedures for your state. Even if you missed the registration for the primaries, some states are still open until May or June. Otherwise, at least be sure you can vote, come November.

 

A kind reminder to my lady peeps… generations before us, ladies died for us to have a right to vote. Please do your part, make your vote count.

What’s Your Motivation??

I posted the following on Instagram & SnapChat earlier today…
“Do you regret changing jobs?” they ask. “Are you happy now?” they ask. Regreting means you learned nothing & I strive to have no regrets especially when it comes to my career. Happier means I was miserable before which is far from the truth. I loved my last job as I’ve always had an appreciation for cars & my work gave me the challenges of my career. But what’s next when these challenges are conquered? You take on the next challenge!

“You’re living the dream” they say. “You’re new job is easy” they say. Yes, I’m living the dream of having my intellect (& pallete) challenged on a greater scale. Yes, my job is easy only because I’m motivated every morning to rise, “fuck mediocrity” & get to work! #Yalla!

What’s your motivation??

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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Living the Confused Expatriate Life

Living the Confused Expatriate Life
The Art of Being Humble
By: Ms. Hala

 

It wasn’t a difficult decision to present my resignation as I had accepted an offer  I simply couldn’t refuse. It was nonetheless, bittersweet. The automotive industry is a very tough and challenging industry in all of the Middle East. I faced some of the toughest challenges in my entire career and take great pride in what I was able to accomplish during this time. However, I was truly blessed to have worked in this company. Not for the money, the status que or even the perks that come with working in this industry. I was truly blessed because I worked with some genuinely good people, people whom expected nothing in return from you no matter what it may be. I consider many of the people here friends, if not family.

Just this past weekend, I had an appointment to get my car serviced. The perk of being in the automotive industry is the support you get throughout the process. However, it’s always way more than I expect when it comes to my fellow colleagues! Our main workshop, like many others in Qatar, is located in the Industrial Area, a good drive from Doha. After taking my car in, my colleague picked me up from the workshop and dropped me off at the office as I had to get some work done. Afterwards, one of our fellow drivers at the office dropped me off to where I needed to be. Another driver from the office went to the Industrial Area and picked up my car so that I didn’t have to make that trip via taxi. My colleagues at the workshop, after calling to explain everything to me, emailed me the invoice so that I can make my payment conveniently at my office the next day.

None of them had to do this for me, especially our drivers whom have a packed schedule on our busiest day of the week. Yet none of the drivers would take a single riyal from me as a “thank you”. What can I possibly do to show my appreciation?

Everyone at the office knows I love the American classic, Dunkin Donuts. Having a branch located so close to the office (and all over Doha) has not been so great for my hips but it hasn’t hurt my wallet to say the least. However, the same doesn’t apply to our fellow drivers. It isn’t the best paid job here and something as simple as Dunkin coffee and donuts is a far fetched luxury. Knowing this, from time to time, whenever we’ve had a rough or good month, I’ll walk in with something for the team. Dunkin is their favorite.

Light bulb!

Earlier this morning, and why I’m writing this rant, I was reminded of the blessing I had of working with such selfless people. It literally takes a minute for someone to just educate you on an art form many in this day and age of accepted selfishness and narcissism have forgotten.

“Madam, thank you so much! You bring us cakes and sweets, so good!” One of the two driver’s exclaimed to me this morning.

A bit surprised, I said, “For what my friend? THANK YOU! You helped me out big time yesterday, this is the least I can do.”

“No, no. Thank you!” and he walked away giving me the biggest smile.

We take a lot of things for granted in life and sometimes forget to be humble about it. If I was taught anything by my fellow colleagues I am bidding farewell this month, it was how to be humble, be grateful for the small things and listen empathetically for in more ways than one I am truly blessed. For that, my fellow colleagues at DOMASCO, I thank you.

Food Bloggers Qatar’s Meetup at Four Season’s Il Teatro

IMG_20150222_103408Food Bloggers Qatar’s Meetup
Four Season’s Il Teatro Restraunt
Event and Restaurant Review
February 21, 2015

 

As I mentioned in my rant review of Roger’s Diner, I’ll begin to rant on some of the eateries and hot spots here in Qatar. Sharing this idea with some of my favorite bloggers here in Qatar, I was honored to be invited to the Food Bloggers Qatar‘s first meetup on February 21st, organized by Food Bloggers Qatar &  Hungry Birds Doha‘s very own Doaa Jabir.

The event took place at the Four Season’s Il Teatro, currently run by Chef Marco Arlotti. Since this was my first experience at Four Seasons all together, I was extremely excited! For only 150QR, we indulged in a 5 course meal, a chance to interact with amazing food bloggers and left with a goodie bag worth over 200QR! Kudos Doaa for a fabulous and well organized event. With her blessings, here is my take on the evening.

But first, let’s take a #FoodBloggersQatar selfie! c/o of Doaa Jabir’s phone via Haytham Bennani.

 

FOOD BLOGGERS QATAR MEETUP

c/o Ahlan Magazine & Food Bloggers Qatar

The idea to hold the first Food Bloggers Meetup at a location as grand as the Four Seasons, right off of Diplomatic Road in Doha, was very smart. Free valet parking, helpful, smiling staff and a calm atmosphere on a Saturday evening was a great way to get you in the mood to mingle and eat!

We had a lovely indoor, quite intimate, set up arranged just for our large group. Our hostess encouraged us to change seats and interact with one another. Throughout the evening, individuals introduced themselves, their work and why they do what they do. Amongst us were chefs, bakers and simple food lovers like myself. Despite the love of food that brought us together that evening, everyone was unique and different in their approach and expression of this love.

And if you were a fan of one’s work, it was wonderful to put a face to the name. The highlight of my evening was not only meeting those I was already a fan of, but discovering those I should be a fan of!

For example, I meet for the first time Zomato‘s Country Manager, Haytham Bennani whom encouraged our work in support of bringing forth the best eateries to the spot light. We had a very interesting conversation about the our individual work and he gave me a few tips to continue ranting away on my love for food. I am now a fan!

Journal c/o Four Seasons Doha

Of course, when food is good, it’s always a delight to meet the chef! Chef Arlotti spoke to us about his work in Italy before moving to Doha just a few months prior. Despite his young age, the man has year, I mean years of experience and ideas galore to present to the table. I look forward to tasting more of what he has to offer.

Overall, the event was a huge success! We were a full house of happily stuffed people already discussing when the next meetup would take place. Doaa has her plates set! Additionally, I’d like to thank Four Seasons for adding to our goodie bag the beautiful journal. I’ve decided to use it to outline my “I’m Always Hungry” rants!

 

Chep Marco Arlotti, c/o fourseasons.com

IL TEATRO

“How have I not come here before?” was the question that swam through my head from the moment I walked in to the moment I walked out of Il Teatro.

The décor was elegant yet simple, the staff were welcoming, the lighting was deem, creating a calm atmosphere. Even though the lighting may not necessarily have been great for photography (which should explain the photo quality of some images here), maybe that was the catch. More focus on the experience rather than the need to Instagram your meal?

The set menu provided to us made it seem that we’d be treated to a 4 course meal and because the words “lasagna” and “spring chicken” made my eyes sparkle, I assumed, small portions to taste everything. I was wrong, oh so wrong!

Appetizers

Soft Crab Amuse Bouche
IMG_20150221_195224
My messy but yummy seared scallops with caviar.

We were surprised by a soft crab amuse bouche of sorts as a treat. If you know me, you know I don’t do crab, I just don’t. When it comes to shell fish, I prefer lobster and shrimp.

However, since it was a first time for everything, I thought to myself, “after oh so many years of not touching crab, tonight was the night.” This crab was not only indeed softer than I’d expect but very flavorful, cooked to perfection, decadent to be exact. I couldn’t believe I finished that plate.

Then the originally set menu began with seared scallops garnished with caviar. The presentation was mixed. My plate came as if it had almost fallen from the poor waiter’s hands while others plates looked exceptionally beautiful. Of course the photo on my Instagram was not of my plate but it was too pretty to not steal a snapshot of.

The caviar complementing the scallops made my messy plate worth while. I highly recommend this appetizer.

Main Entrees

Lasagna with parmesan sauce
Lasagna with parmesan sauce
Spring chicken with potatoes and green beans
Spring chicken with potatoes and green beans

Yes, entrees with an “s”, plural because we were given two dishes not two options as I had originally thought. Can you imagine my excitement? We were served lasagna with parmesan sauce and spring chicken breast, roasted with light gravy and asparagus.

The lasagna was an average sized circular cut portion that needed a bit of salt and pepper. However, it was absolutely delicious. So delicious, for a moment all you heard across the room were the forks against the plates as it picked up pieces of this deliciousness into the silent salivating mouths. It’s that type of silence that let’s you know something is oh so good!

So good, when the chicken arrived, everyone looked around wondering, “is it wrong to be full already?” Of course, my hungry self had to go for it and it was simply divine. The chicken was tender, the gravy was just right for the portion that was just as large as the lasagna. I tried my best, trust me, to finish the tender chicken. I took a bite, had a sip of my specially made pineapple free mocktail, waited, talked, waited, laughed then repeated the steps. I’ve never been so upset for food being taken away from in front of me like I was with this chicken.

How something as simple as lasagna and chicken can take over one’s senses is simply beyond me. Hat’s off to Chef Marco!

TaramisuFSDohaDessert

Tiramisu. I’ve had such bad experiences with this complex dessert. Some are too bitter. Some are too sweet for my sweet tooth. Some simply don’t deserve the name all together!

“The best tiramisu in #Doha! Am I right @debbietingszon?” -via Instagram

Il Teatro, by far, served the best tiramisu I’ve ever had in Doha… in Qatar… in this part of the world! It seriously tops my list of the best tiramisus I’ve ever had! I couldn’t stop ranting all night at how great this tiramisu is. If we made comments here and there about anything that was served to us that night, we all unanimously agreed the tiramisu was a hit!

Plated in a large martini glass, topped with an eatable salute to Food Bloggers Qatar & the Four Seasons, this tiramisu was extremely light, fluffy and I’m assuming had a lovely hint of nutmeg.

If you have anything at Il Teatro, anything at all, have the tiramisu!  This glass of goodness can seriously turn any long day into the best day ever.

OVERALL

Food Bloggers Qatar Meetup = Fantastic, well organized and just plain fun!

Four Seasons Hotel = Wonderful, just wonderful!

Il Teatro = Delicious! It’s seriously very rare in Doha do you come across a restaurant in a 5 star hotel that actually doesn’t let you leave hungry! Hopefully that wasn’t just for the event but I’ll have to find that out for myself on my next visit… coming soon! 😉

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