Iftar @ Streets of Arabia – A Snapchat Story

Streets of Arabia Ramadan Tent - Doha Marriott Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Inspired by the success of Street Food Doha, the lovely Doha Marriott is at it again for the second year with Streets of Arabia. Dishes from all corners of the region, such as Sudan, Morocco and Qatar, are the stars of the streets. I started with the Moroccan harira soup and was tempted to go for seconds but there was much to discover throughout the restaurant gallery turned street food galore.

Headed to Sudan for stew, Egypt for hawashy, Lebanon for grills, Qatar for majbous, Turkey for kavurma and India for dahi vada. I was not disappointed in the least bit! Desserts were good, the qatayef were a hit for me. I just wish they had them in serving sizes rather than “serve yourself” type setup, people get a little too excited around desserts. #JustSaying

Service, as always, was professional and friendly. I just wish some of the serving staff were more knowledgable of some of the dishes they were serving. The setup is simple, nothing over the top, but nothing plain either. It’s a very chill and casual space for iftar, my kind of chill to be honest. It’s so chill, even the famous Ramadan camels, Bashoosh and Sahara were just chilling in the warm breeze outside the hotel with their new baby girl, Samara. Yep, it’s a girl! Woohoo!

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! 😉

Click to add a blog post for IL Teatro - Four Seasons on Zomato

Roger’s Diner – New Menu Review

Roger’s Diner New Menu Taste Testing Event
January 11, 2015

If you follow me on either Instagram, Twitter, FourSquare or Facebook (of course you do!), then you’ve noticed my many checked ins and pictures of our great eats at Roger’s Diner, located on C-Ring, between AlSadd and AlRayyan Road in Doha. My co-workers and I loved the business lunch deal, where you get an appetizer, entree and dessert for only 55QR from 12-3pm.

So when Roger’s Diner invited me along with 3 friends to taste test the new menu on the evening of January 11th, I couldn’t say “no”! My co-workers Sahar and Adel were excited about the invitation and to be able to introduce this amazing place to our friend Dana and our new colleague, Ahmed, whom just landed in Qatar a few months ago. Roger’s was kind enough to stretch our invitation an extra seat so that our two newbies can taste why Roger’s is one of our favorite lunch spots.

From Left to Right: Ahmed, Ms. Hala, Sahar, Dana and Adel.
C/O Roger’s Diner Facebook Page
#VIPLife

SETTING

The entire restaurant was reserved for just the invitees of the new menu taste testers that evening. It made me feel very VIP if you ask me. It surely impressed our group as we walked in, welcomed and our verbal note of an invitation honored.

Roger’s maintains a classic American aviation theme with a large plane propeller and a wide flight wings as decor. From the cushioned booths to the table settings to the menu design, the theme is through out while maintaining the look and feel of a legit American diner. Large TVs are propped throughout the restaurant usually planing an American movie or a soccer (keeping it American) game with popular American 90s music playing in the background.

C/O Roger's Diner Facebook Page
C/O Roger’s Diner Facebook Page

In all honesty, I always feel like I’m in a diner back home in the States on any given day.

MENU

Roger’s previous menu was fairly simply, give or take 5 different kinds of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, hamburgers, pastas and desserts. This new menu has much more options plus the originals still intact which I was so glad to see.

It only made sense for us to order as we usually do: an appetizer, entree and dessert. After asking our hosts what they recommended we try off the new menu,  we made our order. It was great to see our hosts be well aware of the new menu and their excitement over the new dishes they’ve surely tried and enjoyed.

Tortilla Soup
Tortilla Soup

I took a glance at the prices which seemed to be along the lines of the previous menu. Most dishes ranging from 20 to 70QR. The drinks remained the same though I had hoped for bigger glasses versus those two-sips-your-done they keep serving iced tea in for 24QR. At least offer refills for ice tea and fountain drinks for those cups, please. Pretty please!

TASTE

We were all very pleased with our appetizers. Sahar, Dana and myself ordered varying soups and were very please with the taste, texture and portion. I could have easily been happy with a soup and salad combo, an option I’d like Roger’s to offer at a decent price.

Seasoned Chicken Drumsticks with Rice and Gravy
Seasoned Chicken Drumsticks with Rice and Gravy

Ahmed ordered a mixed fried appetizer dish which was pretty good, ranging from onion rings to calimari. The portion was large and easily shared amongst all 5 of us.

For our entrees, two of us ordered the new sizzling fajitas, and I mean sizzling! I ordered the mixed chicken and shrimp while Ahmed ordered the beef. My dish was very tender, flavorful and the side toppings were more than enough. However, I wish the server hadn’t uncovered my tortilla bin as they cooled down fairly quickly during the 10 or so minutes we were asked to pose for pictures.

Sizzling Fajita Combo, Chicken and Shrimp
Sizzling Fajita Combo, Chicken and Shrimp

Sahar ordered the seasoned chicken drumsticks with rice and gravy. The portion was large and very filling according to her. A dish she would order again.

Adel ordered the salmon and raved at it’s flavor. It took a while longer than the rest of our dishes to come out but he was extremely happy with his dish that my camera missed it.

Dana ordered the beef medallions with steamed vegetables topped with mushroom sauce. She stated it was tender, juicy and cooked to her liking. A dish she recommended we must try on our next visit.

Beef Medallions with Vegetables
Beef Medallions with Vegetables

For dessert, I ordered the Nutella banana crepe, Sahar ordered the Oreo fundant cake and the rest ordered the classic New York cheese cake. I was not happy with my dessert at all. The crepe itself was very doughy, the Nutella not enough spared that I didn’t finish it.

Sahar thought her cake was OK, disappointed that the melted chocolate center that was expected was really just Oreo cookie crumbs. We both thought that something needs to be added to make this Oreo cake sublime.

Nutella Banana Crepe and Oreo Fundant Cake
Nutella Banana Crepe and Oreo Fundant Cake

The rest were very happy with the cheese cakes, a dessert off the classic menu. I’ve always enjoyed the brownie a la mode and recommend it to anyone on any given day. It’s always been my favorite dessert at Roger’s and a part of me wish I had ordered it instead.

OVERALL

Our group had a fantastic evening and truly enjoyed our food! I really hope Roger’s fixes up those dessert recipes as it does have a lot of potential. The ambiance was friendly as always and the service was seriously at it’s best! A special shout out to our waiter Paul, whom really went over and beyond to accommodate us that evening.

Classic New York Cheesecakes
Classic New York Cheesecakes

We’d like to once again thank Qanect and Roger’s Diner for a lovely evening, a great new menu and the overall wonderful food! It was a delight to taste test the new offerings and can’t wait until the business lunches are rebooted!

2015 is the year I shall begin writing a few reviews a month since I’m constantly raving about the amazing eateries here in Qatar. In between reviews, I highly recommend that you check out some of my favorite Qatar based foodie bloggers, Hungry Birds Doha and Life on the Wedge… You’re welcome.

Click to add a blog post for Roger's Diner on Zomato

Two Thumbs Up

Now when I watch a movie, I’m going to think, “What would Ebert have thought of this one?”

“Two Thumbs Up!”

That was the quote I awaited to hear every week on “At the Movies with Siskel and Ebert” when I was young. Roger Ebert’s work was one of the ways I was introduced to American movies when I was young and only really exposed to American TV and Egyptian movies. I learned not only to enjoy a movie, but to appreciate cinema as a whole.

I remember many times going to a movie and thinking, “Ebert was right, these actors were superb.” or “That’s why Ebert gave it a thumbs down, it sucked!”

I agreed with many of his reviews and was an instant fan of his work both written and on television. God bless the internet, Ebert’s work became more easily accessible to a fan living outside the Chicago Sun Times delivery route. From reading his reviews on the web throughout high school to following his tweets on a daily basis. He was not just a critic of the movies, but a critic of the many issues that we faced every day outside the movie theater. He championed indie film makers, supported film festivals and was always heard, loudly. My kind of critic!

By Scott Stantis for the Chicago Tribune

Ebert suffered from cancer in the last few years. It eventually effected his speaking abilities but that never silenced him. He continued to do what he loved best, critiquing movies, and the world, loudly via social media. Yesterday, he posted what is now his last post, “A Leave of Presence” where he basically says, “I’m sick, going to take care of myself but I’m not going to stop doing what I do.” Now when I watch a movie, I’m going to think, “What would Ebert have thought of this one?”

Rest in Peace Ebert. I’ll see you at the movies.

Please also read:
Chicago Sun Times’ Ebert Obituary
Mashable’s Ebert Obituary
Angry Asian Man’s Champion of Asian American Cinema