Sunday, October 27, 2013

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Fauchon in Muscat at the Opera Galleria

If this blog handed out assignments to the OPNO girls, a review of the recently opened Fauchon at the Opera Galleria would be one I'd fight for. Of course, we don't do anything so pathetic as hand out assignments here. I mean, if I wanted to write for a living, I'd become a journalist, use spellcheck, never use smiley icons, worry about always having something worth saying, and our blog would beloved by Muscat Jet driver again;). JJKN. It is a blog after all, run by girls/women who only write when they want to rant, store images, or run their mouths. But even so, if we did hand out assignments, I think it would make sense that I would be the OPNO to review Fauchon.
Fauchon has macaroons. I've blogged about being homesick for macaroons and pastries before, long before macaroons became fashionable in Dubai, let alone Muscat. I've even brave a try at macaroons made by Carrefour. Word of the wise, don't. Anyways, when it comes to patisseries, I am very picky. I've actually had Fauchon's cakes before, so it would make sense that I would be able to say if they hold up here in Oman, where often, let's face it, some brands don't.
Fauchon in Muscat, is very glossy. The ceilings are enameled black, the patisserie pink of the table tops reflective, mirrors retract and reflect the space, and the chairs are almost traditional Parisian café chairs, only they're not and that's the point. Girlie mod I'd call it. I thought I'd go very Parisian myself, and I did the whole black-and-white thing, with my polka-dot abaya and a baby pink manicure. I carried no purse, very French-editor, but the look failed in that regard, as I was in flats, and not towering in ankle boots. Something about dessert makes me lazy.
 One can definitely anticipate dessert when they walk into Fauchon. That is the whole point afterall. That is the only section of the menu that I even bothered with. When one walks in they are greeted by a barrage of éclairs, cakes, scrumptious eye-candy as only the Parisians can do when looking at it may arguably be better than eating it, and of course, macaroons.
It wouldn't be fair to rate Fauchon on macaroons alone, but it wouldn't be a review worth anything if macaroons were left out, so I knew from the moment I walked in a macaroon would accompany my espresso. What remained to be seen was what flavor. I was torn between vanilla, lemon, and raspberry.
MOP (My Omani Prince, aka my husband) ordered a MEGEVE which was meringue and chocolate mousse. Admittedly, very Omani male of him, he ordered it because it looked the biggest. It wasn't really the best choice for him as he isn't into creamy desserts so next time I should probably order. He liked his latte though.
I don't know what mine was called, but I did enjoy it. The strawberry and cake itself were fresh and moist, and pretty as a picture. It was 3.000 OMR though, and I make really good cake myself at home, albeit not nearly as pretty. The vanilla macaroon though, I will go back for. At 1 OMR a piece, I consider it worth it, and will probably buy three or four to go with a coffee. My espresso wasn't pretty to look at it, but that's how I like my coffee so….
Fauchon we will be back. Next time I will try your milkshakes, and eat macaroons in place of cake. I am still disappointed Oman, that you lack petit fours, which are my favorite, but macaroons may just tide me over until the next worthy assignment/whatever we want to do/blog about.
XOXO
-OPNO     

Sunday, October 20, 2013

EID DAY ONE: my Eid outfit, Omani shuwa in Muscat, and sunset in Shatti al Qurum

This Eid I decided to stay in Muscat. Partially due rebellion... I longed to punish those obscure family members who isolate me due to me not originating from their tribe and family---by depriving them of my daughter's presence. As my daughter is of their tribe, and blood, this is actually shocking, because how could I let her miss seeing all her little cousins, and getting Eidyia [money Omani children traditionally get on Eid] and eating all the traditional foods?!

Unthinkable, perhaps, but it was my husband's duty to inform the [more kindly/Islamic]others that the case of our disapearence was due mistreatment by a certain few.
But if I examine my motives deeper, perhaps it was simply out of a longing to have the freedom to do whatever I liked on the Eid, not bound by tradition. So what I am not Dhofari, or Bedouin? If I like their clothes, why can't I tailor that style of Omani dress... or God forbid, a Moroccan takchita, scarlet woman that I am... So what if I can't eat beef and rice for a week straight with the only other option being schwarma? So what if I have pasta or Jordanian lamb stew or a Palestinian chicken dish in between the mishakeek and the shuwa?
For certain, there was a substantial longing for something different, something other than sitting in a room alone being left with food and tv and children and not much else to do. So all I tailored this Eid was an abaya. I used suri silks in the sleeves, something from a region of Oman unrelated to my own, simply because I think their clothes are gorgeous. I didn't put any henna, although I love henna, but painted my nails candy colours instead. My purse added a little rock-star rebellion, being an unsuitably garish-look-at-me shade of hot pink, with sweet studs. The bracelets and ring were gold and purely traditional Omani, as let's not forget, I love this country and its traditions nonetheless.
My daughter and I woke up to the sound of men and boys calling people to wake up before the takbir (chanted for the Eid prayer) rang out. I took my time to dress her in an Omani dress, with its cute little kerchief, and she was happier than anything to be granted chips, spiced milk tea, and candies before breakfast. As soon as we were both dressed, I took a bag down out of the closet. A sparkly pink and gold bag, which contained her Eid gold bracelet and necklace, and new toys. So what she wouldn't get Eidiyia in the village? She didn't seem to care.
We played all day, took time to smell the flowers, kicked up sand and surf, saw new neighborhoods, and walked to the store to buy nuts, juices, and my friend--- she made us a delicious lamb stew for lunch. The next day was much of the same, with people cutting the meat for Eid sacrifice and preparing the shuwa (traditional Omani meat dish which is cooked over hot coals buried under the ground for a 1-2 days). So what if we wouldn't have  our own shuwa or see the al azwa (village traditional dances) I thought.
But when my husband returned from his duties of cutting the meat in his village, it turned out we would have an Eid with everything anyways, both Village-AND-Shatti-Girl. It began with him gifting us mishakeek (which is cubed and spiced meat on skewers, very delicious!).
Then we went to Kargeen restaurant in Madinat Sultan Qaboos. Non-smoking section, of course. Kargeen is the most adorable authentic little restaurant, which is done up with a lot of antiques and oriental decor.
We ordered a fruit cocktail for our little princess, and dried lime tea for ourselves (which is very Omani and I suggest you try it, although Omanis don't actually consider it to BE a tea).
Of course, my husband's plan was all along for me to have shuwa. I grew up eating goat or sheep shuwa as a child and the beef shuwa in his village just doesn't taste as good to me. Kargeen serves goat shuwa wrapped in lime and banana leaves for flavour, over a bed of rice with ghee (sooooo good, but oh so bad) and yemeni salsa on the side with a small dish of dates.
It was soooooooooooooo good. I am the world's slowest eater, serriously, and I think I finished mine before my husband did his. My daughter was also a fan. And I have never been able to get her to eat meat of any kind.
We should have had dessert because the cake at Kargeen is good, made from family recipes but I mean, we had to walk after that. The beach I grew up walking was within a short distance, so just in time for the sunset we made it to Jawarat al Shatti. Very reminiscent of bygone Shatti-girl days I kicked off my (Michael Kors) heels and strode along barefoot in the sand. Husband was having a father-daughter moment, so I enjoyed the black and grey silhouettes of the coconut trees lining the beach and burgeoning moon signalling the day's end.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Eid Al Adha wishes, before the weekend, from the girls at OPNO

Eid Mubarak, for this Eid Al Adha, to all our readers, wherever in the world they may be, or whatever they believe. To Muslims, this holiday marks the sacrfice, for truth, and right, of even those things held dear. May it be that each human being finds it within themselves, to live to that standard, ameen.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

shades of gold and emerald for an October in Oman

"Gold is intrinsic to the Middleeast. So is scarf-collecting." -anonymous expat woman;). So here is my random post of gold and jewel-tone eye-candy for October. Stained-glass, bartering in the souq, and the perfect cup of chai---these are a few of my favourite things. Some photos are from Oman, others Marrakesh... I don't usually save my image links so please, if you'd like to inform, please do so in the comments section. All my best, -OPNO