Wednesday, February 29, 2012

hummana-hummana Hummus!

I have been craving for hummus since I got a bag of chips from my office mate that "suggests" various dips including hummus for a more enjoyable snacking experience.

Made from chickpeas and sesame paste it is high in iron and vitamin C, definitely more nutritious that you average store bought bottled salsa I think!

I like it as a dip for soft warm or crispy arabic bread, it also goes along with crudites - look at me enjoying crudite! I sound so fancy!!!

Hummus is readily available at local supermarkets in freshly made form that you can get in small tubs that are priced (cheaply) by weight or the canned varieties which you have to dress up a bit with a bit of olive oil.

So grab a tub and enjoy a truly 'arabic' snacking experience!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The art of making sushi

if you think sushi making is just rolling raw fish and veggies in rice and nori - think again! this seemingly simple meal is more complicated than it looks!!!

The rice alone takes 2 hours to prepare. The fish to be sliced with precise hand and knife movements and sushi rolling and shaping needs gentle grace of hand movements to make a perfectly shaped sushi.

I had the chance to take a sushi making class which is offered at Soba Japanese Restaurant at Le Royal Meridian Hotel and learned some of the techniques and how-to's of making the perfect maki and sushi!

atashi shiawase!!!

look chef!!

my lovingly handmade sushi in a bento box!

Monday, February 27, 2012

snap happy - flowers

as I've mentioned before I bough myself a DLSR - I fancy myself a photographer yes but I know I have a lot to improve on - I have yet to master the photoshop or lightroom applications which has the 'tools' to make your photos pop out even more.

Anyway I have been going around - on good days when laziness doesn't strike and am trying to work out how to get out of Auto mode and getting around knowing how to set the camera manually.

I'll be posting a few pictures every now and then. Let's try to see if I am improving...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Good pizza, great company!

stress levels were running high at work hence the impromptu lunch date and post birthday celebration with office mates.

having discount coupons we decided to go to The Pizza Company.

we had 4 variations of pizza and 4 types of pasta, needless to say we were full to bursting.

The pizza was at par with other fast food chains but the pasta has room for improvement - the consensus was the (tomato) sauce was too thin and too sour for the filipino palate...

... but in all fairness we still (almost) wiped our plates clean - nothing really beats blowing off steam with good food with great company at a discounted price to boot!!!!

thanks all and my friends connie and sachin for the coupons! burp burp!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Italian nights

As you may know I celebrated my birthday a few days ago and have been inviting friends to quick lunches and dinners over the past days - I had just realized that we have been mostly to Italian restaurants and with separate get-togethers between housemates, officemates and close friends its a wonder I haven't gotten sick at sight of pizza and pasta!

I think I am subconcsiously having themed birthday dinners and lunches - I remember last year we mostly went out and had Chinese food - this year it's Italian.... Hmmmm... I wonder what next year's theme would be...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dinner with Shakespeare and co

The first time I have been to Central Market, I had just passed by this cafe and was attracted by the shabby chic decor and intigued by the smells that wafted to my nostrils as I passed by and vowed to try it the next time.

So when my friends called for some catching up, I ,without hesitation suggested the place. We all loved the old world 'victorian' decor. I particularly loved the distressed tables and mismatched chairs and sofa. The place was very cozy and inviting and I hope the food would be as good... and It was!

The complimentary bread and garlic herbed butter was so good, I would have gladly paid for it. The bread smelled so good and the butter have just the right amount of garlicky goodness.

My friends had three different kinds of pasta. The spaghetti Bolognese, Lazagna and Fetuccine. All had just the right amount of tomato tanginess and alfredo sauce creaminess. It wasn't heavily seasoned to the point that you loose your appetite or interest after a few bites. I had the Chicken and tiger prawn which I finished all by myself while my friends shared their pasta with each other. The servings are generous enough for two if you aren't that heavy an eater.

For dessert we had the chocolate and vanilla ice cream and the strawberry and vanilla variation. Being a chocolate girl I devoured the chocolate ice cream which had that bitter sweet chocolatey taste I love.

The bill came to a total of AED 360 for 6 persons which I think is a good enough deal. And Oh, the staff were accomodating enough to let us ran around taking a lot of pictures!

am feeling the 'victorian era' vibe

chocolate vanilla cake

the counter choc full of goodies

love the chabby chic decor! wish my living room was this pretty

Monday, February 20, 2012

Oh happy day!

Today is my birthday!!! Happy Birthday to me!!!

I woke up today with the realization that age does really creep up on you!!! – now picture Joey in that F.R.I.E.N.D.S episode screaming “why God?! Why?!”

When I was younger (much younger than I am today haha!) and asked to write essays about ‘how do you see yourself in ten years’ during entrance exams and English Literature assignments I have always wrote that by this time I would have my own family, my own small business and substantial savings to live comfortably.

Well it seems like fate and God has a different plan. I have yet to meet the man with whom I am to start a family with, I haven’t my own business – I funded a Laundromat with my brother but that is being handled by my mom now so it’s not technically mine, and though I have some savings – I guess I can’t rely solely on that for a planned early retirement.

I may not be where I have envisioned my self to be years ago but I am grateful nonetheless.

I have had the luck and opportunity to work abroad. I have always dreamed of visiting foreign lands but I never saw my self working abroad and I consider that day when I saw the advert for a job in banking in the UAE one of the luckiest and happiest coincidence/ fate/ blessing I have ever had.  Working abroad came with a bonus – I got the (wonderful) challenge of living independently which if I fully embraced. Freedom is a tricky thing and though I have made some minor mistakes (nothing major major!) I stuck with my morals and beliefs and (hopefully) didn’t do anything to put myself and family to shame.

I’ve had the good fortune to do a bit of traveling too. I can’t forget my first trip abroad, looking out the plane window and seeing the beautiful Hong Kong harbour, I was awed and with eyes brimming with tears I could not help but whisper a word of thanks to God. I really do love to travel – the fuss of packing, airport security, getting lost only to stumble upon some hidden culinary gem or point of interest is one great adventure. I love it so much that if I could be magic or have superpowers I’d choose to be able to apparate, be in two places at once or fly so I could go exploring all around the world.

Working and traveling abroad allowed me to meet, get to know and socialize with people from different cultures – I have improved my people skills with that somehow – I still am shy and can shut up like a clam at times but I think I am more thick-faced and a bit confident now around people.

I have had the opportunity to do my bit my participating in civic groups and charity events – the UAE has an abundance of organizations and events for good causes and it helps built character and a sense of humanity.

I have a (somewhat) clearer sense of self – I may not like me at times but I learned not to be too much self-critical, find the beauty in me, not beat myself too much for some mistakes and pat myself on the back at times for a job well done.

I have retained a childlike and youthful disposition and look to match – sorry I just had to get that in haha! There are times when I wonder if I am being immature but I’d like to think that I am not – I just choose not to be corrupted with grown-up issues but enjoy and carry on life and all it’s struggles with the innocence and wisdom of a child.

And I am grateful and thankful that I am able to celebrate this *bleep bleepth* birthday of mine in good health and spirit with the love of friends and family.

… and (this just in) I am thankful for the unexpected delivery of loveliest bouquet of flowers from my adorable godson Shan!!!

Today I turn *blank blank* I am having a wonderful day so far! I thank the heaven’s above for all the blessing and life adventures and here’s hoping this year will lead me to the fulfillment of my dreams and prayers!

my birthday ice cream cake - nope that is not my age it's baskin's 31 flavor logo!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A cup of kindness!

The concept of having office boys or free flowing hot beverages for that matter, was relatively new to me when I first came to the UAE. In the Philippines we have janitors and messengers in our office – occasionally you could ask them for a cup of Nescafe which they grudgingly serve because the serving of hot beverages on command is only reserved for managers, officers and clients and not for lowly rank and file people.

I remember my first day in office here where I gave the office boy a puzzled expression when he asked me what I would like to have for the afternoon: tea, coffee, cappuccino, Turkish coffee, chai latte, karkade (huh? What??)… and the list went on. It was like I was being presented with the menu of a famous coffee chain. I was so overwhelmed with the choices that the only thing I could blurt out was “water please!”

Over the next days however I learned to try out different beverages though I dare not try the Turkish coffee because (I am sorry to say to those who love it) it seems like thick muddy water to me, my favorites being the karkade and cappuccino – and boy is that cappuccino good!. With its strong bitter brew and milky foamy top with a sprinkling of coffee powder it can rival starbucks’ cappuccino (in my opinion at least) and the best part is I am only charged a smile and a word of ‘thanks’ for that – ahhh afternoon break couldn't be better!

Here's to all the office boys never fails to bring a smile to our faces with the first whif of our afternoon coffee or tea :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fashion me conservative

You'd think that in a conservative country like the United Arab Emirates, women are constricted when in comes to dressing up because they wear the abaya and niqab to cover themselves from the prying eyes of  the public, but no.

Since I came to UAE about 5 years ago I've seen women wearing intricately detailed abayas and niqabs with designs of beads, lace, ribbons and rhinestones. From the simple bead trimmings to the very daring skull and bones applique' in pink rhinestones, the only limitation to making an abaya unique and fashionable is one's creativity and imagination.

Designer eyewear and bags and chunky sparkly rings are the most common accessories for women in abayas, and with those majestic noses, they can pull of wearing any eyewear style with ease.

This is not to say their style is limited to their outwear, if you have seen the movie Sex and the City 2 which is set in Abu Dhabi but is actually shot in Morocco you'd know what I am talking about. When women take off their abayas in the privacy of their home or ladies spa they are sporting the latest trends in high street and designer labels for sure.

Is winter over?!?! Nooooo

I am no weather forecasting expert but it seems to me that sandstorms are the signal of changes in weather. It was windy and dusty yesterday and today - yep sandstorm are raging specially in Dubai I've read, so does this mean the cool breeze of winter is over? Does this mean I have to put away my winter jumpers, scarves, boots and jackets to give way to dresses and blouses with thin, flimsy, breathable fabrics? Much as I like the wardrobe rotaion I am not ready for the hot and humid summers of Abu Dhabi - its much too sson! Oh how I wish winter will linger even just a teeny bit more!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Back to the routine

It's been five days since I have come back from my month long vacation and its like I never left - its back to the old expat routine in fact I just had finished my fish batch of laundry.

We had maximized our thirty three day vacation and ate, slept, pampered ourselves with spa treatments and went around town in our own pace, time and whim. We never gave much thought about cleaning house, the laundry or groceries because we have our very kind house helpers to mind them for us and thus for a month we had lived a routine very far from the one we had in abu dhabi which was one of hard work, home chores which we do by ourselves (and yes that includes cleaning the toilet) and a sprinkling of social activities.

While waiting in line at the airport immigration before boarding our flight back to abu dhabi a few days ago, my brother commented that he had forgoten what life was like as an expat. The minute we stepped out of the plane when in landed it abu dhabi, I told my brother "take a deep breath and it will all come rushing back to you..."

Ahhh.... 'tis the expat life!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

packing frenzy

I have only two and a half days left before I drive to the airport and fly back to Abu Dhabi and resume work. It would be another year's wait for the next vacation. I would surely miss the days of leisurely lazing around, going on food adventures and out of town trips with family and friends.

But before I could dwell on the nostalgia and novelty of the past glorious month - there are a lot of packing to be done. As an airline rule we are allowed a maximum of twenty kilos of check-in luggage and seven kilos of carry on bag. I as much as possible to try refrain from having a carry on luggage, I don't want to carry that much weight specially when taking connecting flights - it prevents me from enjoying the sights of the usual two to three hour stop over. As for the check in luggage, if you think 20 kilos is a lot - wrong! specially for Filipinos. 

We have this 'pasalubong' thing where in we bring back (lots and lots of) goodies to give our friends and family - it's like a compulsary thing. My brother jests that I keep saying am not buying anything but end up buying everything for everyone. Add to that the things we have shopped for ourselves. I specially shop for clothes and shoes because its more cheaper in Manila and they carry my small size - I do my years' worth of shopping in a month. And now I have to face packing, repacking and weighing my luggage to make sure I don't go over the limit. Oh the Agony!