Thursday, October 19, 2017

RESTAURANTS IN OMAN: Angelina's

So the first time I blogged about Angelina's I didn't have my camera, and the second time I went, I cared more about the food than taking photos. I am afraid we devoured our eggs and croissants, and I drank my hot chocolate all without taking a photo. Likewise, my husband drank his espresso, and finished my goat cheese salad happily (it wasn't my thing turns out). My french onion soup was perfect. It was the first french onion soup I have ever had out in Oman that was ACTUALLY french onion soup.
The waiter probably thought that I was a little bizarre because I ordered a lot, and for our table, it was all for me. I am really a dessert girl.
Oh look, my raspberry macaroon... I finally remembered to take a photo. It was good, but I prefer the vanilla one.

My daughter finished off her other raspberry/chocolate mousse dessert before we could take a photo of it.
And there's my citron tart that my husband and daughter picked all the pretty little chocolate pieces off of.

So of course, Angelina's a little pricey (I spent 40-something rials) this day, but for a treat or a small lunch for two, I love it. The service is very good, the view is nice in the daytime, and it is the only place I know of you can get real french onion soup and croissants really.

Whenever I have gone, there have only ever been two tables occupied, so I hope it does well, and it stays around for the long run, because it the perfect spot for a treat or a little fancy European-style lunch or brunch.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

THE HOUSE: Our errant gardening attempts thus far

Recently I was rather late to meet a friend because my Omani husband bought a coconut tree. Yes, a coconut tree. It was on sale you see, the garden/nursery was closing, and he got it for a  really good price (they only sold it to us because the baladiyia were gonna bulldoze everything remaining anyways that very day and they had to be gone off the land).

I had wanted a palm tree for a very long time. I almost bought what they call here a "Washington" type of tree, but then, after I'd dug the hole in my front yard for it after agreeing to buy it from the nursery (1 metre by one metre by one meter deep---which is quite a hole) the nursery had sold it to somebody else (those jerks!).

So my husband bought the coconut tree....which needed a bigger hole, so more digging.

The guys who delivered the tree of course just dumped it in the yard like it fell out of the sky, cracking the plaster and cement on the side wall, and leaving the roots all up in the air.

It was horrifying.

Well, they came back later since we didn't pay them, and got it really planted. Then we paid them, but we cut out some for fixing the wall (but not too much because let's face it, our contractor was shite with the quality of plaster he put on the wall anyways). So now I have a coconut tree, and we will see if I kill it.

If you note the black pots on my wall, withered away to naught, those were some kind of boxwood, and I killed it, whatever it was (not boxwood apparently). I intend to replant those with bougainvillea. If those do well we'll arch them over and around the wall.

I kill mostly everything. The only plants I do keep alive are bougainvillea shrubs. I intend to buy a lot more of those soon. No white Muscat villa is content without a little bit of bougainvillea and jasmine to round its glare a bit off.
But a coconut tree is so very tropical I suppose.

If one is not hit by falling fronds or coconuts.

That has very nearly happened so far.

We are supposed to replace the front door with a wooden one, and to add shutters on the windows this year, and turquoise shutters with a coconut tree and blazes of pink bougainvillea are pretty much Muscat to me.
Another thing we did was plant vines to hide the pipes when we first moved in.

For a year we watered it and fussed over it and it grew almost not at all.

So we said screw it, and stopped watering the bloody thing, went away to Canada for a couple weeks, and when we came back it had reached the 1rst floor almost, and was blooming. So there you go. Don't coddle vines.
They smell awfully pretty too, especially at night.

Tomorrow I am supposed to dig a place for my palms (which I have grown inside in my bedroom, and they hate it there so I am moving them out to the yard). They may die anyways, but if they don't, I saved 8 rials worth of plants from being wasted. I'll stick in the pot of bougainvillea we've got as well, since it keeps trying to root itself out the bottom of its pot, and so would very likely like to be free.

If the palms do well, I'll get another pair, stick 'em on the other side of the front wall, and I do want to get a banana fan palm as well. My wall looks bare in the center. A banana palm will fix that. My neighbors have them, and they seem to thrive in the area, so if I find a nice one next time out to the garden store, why not? If my husband can gamble in coconut trees, I can with palm plants I suppose. Gardening for me is a bit of gamble. Will I or will I not remember to water things? Will I water them and they will insist on twisting up any dying anyways? C'est la vie. That is landscaping thus far for me. 

Honestly, we've done nothing at all really. That is the conclusion.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Ode to a powder blue abaya I could have worn, but didn't

If I were to do-over my first trip to Angelina's in Muscat, I'd have worn my new powder blue abaya. Albeit, that is a risky venture, as prone as I am to getting anything chocolate on anything that isn't black or brown in colour...but there is something so lady-like about powder blue.
When I was a non-Muslim I had a powder-blue suit that I wore with a silk leopard scarf, and leopard print heels and I called it my "Princess Suit". Of course, a princess or president's wife must always pair powder blue with something safe like white or beige, but even Jackie O liked a little does of leopard with her powder blue in her personal life;).
If you are a fashionista or a blogger you can totally get away with it, I figure. Powder blue has always made me feel royal of course, like I can afford to throw away my clothes because for sure I will ruin anything with the word "powder" in the colour description.
But I mean, I am not the only one who thinks this way. Look at the Princess of Kent, Diana, and Katherine...even Julie Andrews wears powder blue when she's instructing Anne Hathaway on how to be a Princess in the movies!

Jackie's Dressing Room: Powder blue with a dash of leopard
So when I do wear my powder blue abaya, will it be with beige or white, or with a dash of something wild? Wait and see.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Angelina's open now at the Wave!

Silly goose, I am! I was all excited about Dubai Mall as I miss hot chocolate done French-style, and all the while there is an Angelina's opened at the Wave/Al Mouj!

Yay!
I was so happy when I saw it. My husband was taking me for breakfast/coffee at Bateel, and then we saw Angelina's and I was like, we have to go there...

We did, but I didn't have a camera to blog about it properly.

Don't worry.

I will be back.

The croissants and hot chocolate are as good as when in Paris.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Congratulations Women of KSA on gaining the right to drive

Congratulations KSA on granting Saudi women the right to drive. The right goes into affect officially June 2018. Women will not need a male guardian's permission to get the DL, and Saudi women with existing GCC licenses will be granted Saudi DLs. The law is not clear yet if expatriate women with valid international driver's licenses will be allowed to drive in KSA, but one would think so.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Al Ain Zoo, and Bur Dubai, with kids on a car trip from Muscat, Oman

So the trip to UAE over the long weekend was long and stressful (car trips with kids always are), but they loved Al Ain zoo...despite the fact that the zoo is way more expensive, and way less accessible than it was three years ago. Three years ago I didn't have to pay 80-100 rial for a "safari" for my kids to see the African animals, and all. Renting an SUV or a truck was not part of the Al Ain zoo experience back then. Things have changed....so I don't know if I'll go again. It was a lot of walking, and is pretty far to travel for the limited number of animals that we saw. [Zoo admission for two adults, and 2 kids was 8.596, which isn't bad, but an SUV rental is 100 OMR to see the African zone, or 80 for a truck, which means kids under 6 can't go into that zone if you aren't willing to spend at least 83 omr on top of admission and such now].

Thankfully, the giraffes remain.

The kids loved the giraffes because they still get to feed the giraffes. My oldest even wore her "giraffe dress" because she knew she would get to feed the giraffes. [A cup full of carrots costs 3.224 OMR according to our bank statement and is totally worth it, according to my kids].
Other animals that we saw were birds, cheetahs, hyenas, a leopard, lizards, ostriches, and Arabian animals, like the Oryx, mountain goats, and gazelles. Not that many, to be honest. Enough to satisfy my kids, but they were so sad they didn't see gorillas, or a lion. My son had his heart set on a lion. I would have paid another ten rials for him to see lion, but not another 100.

On the bright side, he did seem to like the park, and all the fake water stuff.

Omani kids, I tell ya.
My daughter did seem to like the flamingos a lot. Do you remember when Muscat used to have flamingos everywhere? Sigh.
 The head-butting goats were a fun distraction for my son.
We left after it got dark. The new entrance/exit is confusing though. So probably that is my last trip to Al Ain zoo.

In Al Ain the next day we ate at this restaurant called "Moroccan Beauty".  I ordered the "Barkook Tagine", and "Harira" soup, my husband ordered some chicken with cous-cous dish, and the kids had french fries. We also had mint tea, and I ordered a chicken pastry with cinnamon. My tagine was really, really delicious, and they served it with bread. As far as decor went, it was super basic, but the service was fine (I read some online reviews of the place and other people complain about the servers and the place being dirty) but our Filipino lady server and the Moroccan guys were polite and timely enough. Because it was around 2 in the afternoon, this may be different than the typical evening experience, I dunno, but we ate inside, and loved our food. The barkook  lamb tagine was divinely delicious, so I could forgive that the harira was kind of boring, and that the pastry was only decent. That's my review. I loved my tagine.
For our day in Dubai, I wanted to go to Bur Dubai. Most Omani families don't do Bur Dubai and my Omani husband never had. We exchanged some rials (Al Ain you don't really need Dirhams) and made sure to get coins for parking, and then parked near the Abra water taxi station. This is pretty close to the Dubai Museum and all that. Then we walked along the water of the creek (which is much cooler than the street side, through the souq, to Fahidi street/the old Bastakiyia District (which is my favorite part of Dubai).
 As one might assume, it was pretty hot, and it is better to go at 4pm, but I like it when less tourists are there, so I made everyone sweat, and will not apologize for it. When I was a kid in Oman, I'd go here when I was renewing my visit-visas. It was a little bit less polished than it is now, but still, kudos to the Dubai Restoration and Heritage Society. You guys are amazing and make Oman look soooooooooo BAD. We have more heritage sites, but our way or preserving basic living, not forts? Totally under-developed, that's for sure. Bastakiyia District is a lesson for Oman.
Now, being that we were dragging three kids with us, we skipped some of the sites we'd like to have seen, and others that we didn't want to see, like the coin and stamp museums. We did risk time in the coffee museum, and had Emirati qhahwa there. My son also ate very stale dusty popcorn from a display there as well, so we quickly left alas, before seeing it all.
We passed the galleries, and the hotels, like the Orient, and the XVA, and went on looking for the restaurants, since obviously, my toddlers were hungry.
Passing the shops and art galleries, we came to this particular restaurant, whose name I actually do not recall, but it is super close to the Mosque, and the cultural center that gives tours of the Mosque to non-Muslims. It's decor is beautiful, but our food experience was limited because our kids only ordered fruit cocktails, french fries, and a fruit plate lol, so it is hard to know the menu from that...

I can say, my Turkish coffee, and the Iranian sweets were good (and I usually hate Iranian sweets).
After this, we drove to Dubai, where we (mostly me) had lunch in Dubai Mall  (I wanted to go to Angelina's for hot chocolate and cake and mousse). My kids loved the sharks. I took no more photos. We also went to Al Ain Mall just before heading back to Oman over the Hilli border, since my husband's friend lives there. In Al Ain mall, for ten dirhams, my daughter and I rented skates,  and bought socks, and went skating. My husband, his friend, and the toddlers, had lunch at Paul's. Then came the long, arduous, screaming/crying/complaining/fighting filled drive back to Oman:).