Saturday, December 29, 2012

2013 must do: More Love Doughnuts

Have you had a bite from Love Doughnuts yet? Um, why not? I can quite honestly guarantee you will love everything about it.

It's not just the out-of-this-world doughnuts that not only break the mould - and they are amazing. Wasabi cheesecake? Peanut butter banana, anyone?

Also, seriously, don't bother with gelato anywhere else. Currently vanilla with chili and salty caramel are my faves.

Love Doughnuts is in the Guardian Tower building by 31st Street. Go.

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year, New You: No

First one of the year: Spotted at the Mac app store on December 28. I am sure there are more out there... I just hope I don't see any.

Try harder people. I want to be the same next year (if slightly improved over the 2012 model). This tired old cliche has got to go. 

Headline: Paris & Disney and Vegas, oh my

I am heading to Paris tomorrow (yippee!!!!), where I am hoping very much for a relaxing five days of eating, grape beverage-sipping, people-watching and hanging with a cool guy and his even cooler seven-year-old daughter. (I am also hoping not to be mugged, which is what happened when I visited about 11 years ago. But I am a much more savvy traveller these days, so fingers crossed!)

One of the coolest parts of this trip, for me (and the seven-year-old, I'd wager) is a planned visit to Disneyland Paris. Sure, it'll be cold, but we are tough Canadians and will bundle accordingly. I love Disney more than anything, and going there is reminding me of one of the best trips I've ever taken, which happened seven or eight years ago. 

A press trip to Walt Disney World in Florida, for the launch of the Mission: Impossible ride - complete with real-life astronauts (cool) and then on to Las Vegas, for a wedding and weekend at Caesar's Palace. (coolest) I am not sure if anyone else would combine these two stops into one frenetic week; for one thing, as I was flying from Florida to Nevada, I realised that the US is a lot bigger than I bargained for. That would normally sound stupid, but look where I am coming from!

But if you ever were to decide you wanted the best of both worlds in one vacation (and could somehow leave the kids with Grandma and Grandpa), I highly recommend the world's best children's playground and it's counterpart for adults. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Today in Yum-yums: Fauchon Le Cafe, The Meat Company and more

Going out in Abu Dhabi is not always that great. You know what I am talking about. You settle in to a pricey restaurant and pretty soon, something disappoints you. Whether is screwed-up service - I won't go into the litany of ways that service can be well-meaning, but terrible, but you can just check my martini diaries for a quick affirmation - or lacklustre food, I find the return is often not worth the exorbitant prices involved in dining in five-star restaurants. We usually opt to order shawarma and fresh juice from the corner shop than be disappointed again. 

There are really only a couple of dining/going out experiences that stand out for me this year, in Abu Dhabi anyway. And I want very much to pass them along to you.

The unbelievably amazing brekkie at Fauchon Le Cafe.
I was checking out Avenue at Etihad Towers when I spotted this Paris-born patisserie; hungry, I quickly figured eating there would be about the only thing I could afford at the luxury shopping destination. It was one of those situations where I said cost be-damned - I am here, and I am hungry, and I'd like to try something new. What a pleasant surprise! A full breakfast including fresh-squeezed juice and your choice of coffee, eggs, sausage, toast, bacon, delish sauteed grape tomatoes, mushrooms, hash browns and delicious preserves? Just Dh45. About Dh30 less than if you'd gone to that other high-end breakfast joint across town. (I am not naming any names, but it may rhyme with PHONES THE LOBBER). I can't believe I am waxing poetic about such a (still quite) expensive breakfast, but as we all know, there aren't any diners here. And the best part? The food was absolutely scrumptious. Everything - parfait. I can't wait to go back.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dubai International Film Festival 2012: More flawless Cate Blanchett

This woman makes me proud to be in my 40s people. Blanchett was on the red carpet again last night at for the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Award, seen here with a Roger Vivier Belle Vivier Pilgrim clutch and the Epin’elle Caviar Rosé Sandals.

Ikea monkey vs gum-chewing monkey

Everyone is going crazy about this monkey-in-an-awesome-shearling-coat who was loose in a Toronto Ikea.


Where was the world when I blogged about this monkey on the Abu Dhabi Corniche, who wore jeans, a T-shirt, a belt (!) and played with the gum he was chewing.

Yes that's right. Played with the gum he was chewing. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gwyneth Paltrow has her own little nickname for the Burj Khalifa

So her Lady of Goop was in Dubai last week, being all gorgeous and low-key, to promote her tie-up with Hugo Boss fragrance.

The next day her newsletter included a self-portrait taken at the top of the world's tallest building (you can't really tell where she is in it, it's on the left), along with some typical GP bits of fun:

Dubai International Film Festival 2012: Cate Blanchett on opening night, flawless as always

Overheard in the newsroom: Super-special Monday edition

Well, I'd rather do that than go to jail.

I've given up trying to figure out how his brain operates. 

Oh, she's got a matching dummy

Can I smell salad?

Look how useful we are!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Snap caption: If only it were that easy

I love reading the menus from all the corner juice and shwarma shops in Abu Dhabi. The names and food combinations are hilarious. (So are the items that arrive at your door - there is definitely a linguistic barrier involved in these outings) Who puts chicken nuggets in a bun? Or chicken wieners in pita bread? And most everything seems to be named "zinker". 

Monday, December 3, 2012

UAE National Day 41: The country can do fireworks

Really, really something to see. 

Fill in the blank: This man is pulling this truck because _______

The winner is JP, and not because he was the only one, but because he is, as always, hilarious: "Because, even in the UAE, the fuel prices are getting ridiculous?"

National Day 41: Mayhem, foam and fireworks

Invited to a friend's place to watch the fireworks last night, I decided the only way to get there was on foot. And this is what I saw...

Crazy buildings:

Monday, November 12, 2012

The UAE's massive carbon footprint: This building may have something to do with it

Construction on this building off Hamdan St and Airport Rd (near the Central Market) finished about three months ago. I know, I live quite near there. Anyhoo, it doesn't appear to be fully occupied, or occupied in any meaningful manner. And even if it was, I doubt it would be full of people working feverishly with all the lights on at 9pm on a Sunday night. So why are ALL the lights on, so many nights of the week? I am not exaggerating when I say that this virtually empty building has been lit up like a Christmas tree for long stretches (once for more than a week) ever since this summer.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Today in yum-yums: Grandma's Cheese Cake

I passed by this kiosk in Abu Dhabi Mall the other day (it's across from The One) and finally decided: it's cheesecake time! What a great move that was: the piece I had was stunning. Caramel. Just two bites, really, of pure goodness. Creamy, sweet, with a delicious graham crust.

For about Dh10? Totally worth it.

A side note: I recently lost 10 pounds (almost a stone, for all you Brits; about 4.5 kilos, for everyone else) and it was both very difficult and quite easy. Difficult because I had been trying to for quite some time, without success, and easy because once I started losing it, it kept coming off.

But one key, I found, was eating much less of things, but still eating things I like. This tiny little portion of cheese cake is an excellent example of that. And the best thing is, even if you want to go back for a second one, as I did while looking at candles in The One, you won't because the guy will remember you and you'll feel silly.

Expat Blog Awards 2012: Thanks for all the comments!

Thanks to everyone who wrote such nice things! I know I asked you to, but it still warms the cockles of my heart. There is still a little bit of time if you are so inclined: go here.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I like to write: Did you see Argo? Want to read my interview with former Iranian ambassador Ken Taylor?

In which he talks about hanging out with Ben Affleck, his role in helping six escaped hostages get to freedom in The Canadian Caper, the tragedy in Benghazi and why Canada should have kept its embassy in Tehran open? What a guy. Anyway, it's all here. 

And by the way, if you haven't heard, the movie is well worth your time. Just don't look for a nuanced portrayal of Iranians at the time. (Although I liked the little history lesson at the beginning acknowledging America's oil-inspired interference with Iran's democratically elected government in the 1950s, which played a major role in the whole crappy mess.)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Snap caption: Specially decorated Eid fingers get the job done

Mooch: Not just a great name, but a fabulous drink

My dream came true: someone combined mint and chocolate milk. Thank you beverage gods!

Got a minute? Can you spare a kind word for A Canadian in Abu Dhabi?

So typical of a journalist used to working on deadline, the nice people at Expat Blog Awards 2012 told me A MONTH ago that my blog had been nominated. They also gave me a nice badge, which you can see has been prominently placed on the panel to the right.

I remembered this today of course and I see that the deadline for readers to leave nice comments about what they like about the blog is SUNDAY at midnight. So, if you feel like it, don't be like me and delay. Go here now (and by now I mean before the end of November 11) and give me a virtual thumbs up.

If you feel like it. That would be nice. Thank you very much in advance.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2012: This is what I will be snacking on with James Franco

That's Spicy Mashed Potato Popcorn - an Indian snack I am both intrigued and repelled by. So I am using the 7.15 screening of James Franco's (likely slightly insufferable) film Francophrenia tonight as an excuse to try it. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Good morning! I recommend this complicated new siphon coffee from Jones The Grocer

I had some the other day and I don't think I've ever been that wide awake. Available at the location off Electra Street, closer to the Corniche.

Plus you get a little truffle with it, which is just the kind of happy surprise everyone should have at 7.30am!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Happy Friday: Just another weekend in Abu Dhabi

If you get a chance this winter, take a weekend afternoon cruise with Belevari Marine, who operate them both Friday and Saturday. I was part of a group last Friday who rented the whole catamaran, and it was a really, really, really great day. (Maybe not quite as great as it was for those people on that huge yacht in the background of this picture, but pretty great.) Dh350 with great drinks and snacks provided.

Phillips My Style shaver: This is how to make an Arab beard

Phillips sent us a new shaver the other day, and it was accompanied by this hilarious sticker, which basically sums up the face of every man over the age of 20 here.

The sticker raises so many more questions than it answers, including: is it for your face? Or for the mirror?

I like to write: the exercise ball edition

A colleague and I recently started sitting on exercise balls at work. We have been the object of much ridicule, but we don't care because we are strengthening our cores and fighting the scourge that is inactivity. We also like to make a lot of jokes and puns with the word ball, as you do.

Here's our take. And by the way, if you don't mind people laughing at you, then I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Overheard in the newsroom: Super-special Wednesday edition

I found it in her drawer. I think it might be a prosthetic testical. 

My cat's a letdown.

It's not free, but it will be delicious

I don't think it looks like a baby. I think it looks like a coconut.

That soup didn't work. It was a misfire.

I get comments: Dear Anonymous, from the bottom of my heart, thank you

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a picture of some empty shelves in a shop, because basically it looked like the worst shop ever and I thought that would make someone giggle. I made the error of spelling "stationery" with an "a", which every grammar and spelling guru knows is a crime that carries a sentence of 25 years to life.

Only in the UAE: 3 randoms

This is what I love about living in Abu Dhabi: over a period of three days I mingled with three people I can guarantee you my paths would never have crossed were it not for my decision to leave Canada.

They were: an ex-US military guy who is over here fixing F-16s, the new Mexican ambassador, Francisco Alonso, and the wife of one of the Canadian doctor inventors of the Banana Guard.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

If you do just one thing here; Save your cash peoples!

A new study published in 7Days in Dubai today reveals the results of a poll conducted by for the financial website out of hundreds of people asked, one in four don't have enough savings to get by for four weeks if they lost their job.

How can this happen? And are people who don't have more than a month cushion not freaking the heck out every minute of every day?

Snap caption: Worst stationEry store ever

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Only in the UAE would a flea market be held in a five-star hotel ballroom

The above photograph is of strangers sifting through my belongings. It's hard to believe, but I have accumulated a lot of stuff over the last four years living in Abu Dhabi. At the same time, living in small spaces and in such close proximity to people who do so much with so little (labourers etc) I have been thinking a lot about my consumerist ways and how they have nothing to do with true happiness and becoming a lot more interested in changing them. The decision to pare right down like this, happily,  coincided with the announcement that the Sheraton Corniche would be holding its first "night" charity flea market, so a friend and I decided to split a table and get rid of our junk. (Her junk was a little bit nicer than mine; it involved Jimmy Choo shoes)

Friday, September 7, 2012

That's where I am headed this weekend: To see one of these guys

Catch a bunch of his friends at the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition, on at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre until Saturday.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Good morning window cleaners! This is what I woke up to today

And shortly after I snapped this picture, and I thought they had safely left, I had a shower. Then I returned to the room, and they were back! Suffice to say, it was a lot more "All of Me" than "Part of Me".

Paneria watches: Inspired by the Burj Khalifa

Monday, September 3, 2012

Does anyone eat this horrid-looking corn shipped to the UAE from England?

I had the most delicious corn-on-the-cob when I was back in Canada this summer. This corn looks nothing like that corn. It costs a lot and well ... it's just not that appealing. Then there is the carbon footprint to consider. Yet there it is, in every supermarket, so someone must be eating it.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Overheard in the office: The when it comes to music, it's all perspective edition

On the news that Nickelback and Kylie Minogue will be performing after the F1 races November 2-4, with the third night yet-to-be announced:

"They have lame acts before cause they are saving it up for the big night."

"That's too many good people! The third night will be crappy."

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Snap caption: Not sure about the event, but an enthusiastic yes to the bedazzled fez

Snap caption: The bathroom instructions are back!

Overheard in the newsroom: Super special September 1 edition

Flip flops are the lazy woman's high heel. 

Yesterday. I had a bad day, I just wanted to play a game of bowling. However, I was not told that I could not have a game of bowling in kandoura. 

There's just no way I'd want to put any of those in my mouth.

Welcome back! I was almost attacked and eaten by this Big Bug

Okay, that is a bit of an exaggeration, obviously. But I did find myself getting this weird "I'm not alone in here" feeling the other day in the loo, and low and behold, this GIANT Big Bug was eyeing me up from the wall to my right. If I had the nerve I would have held my iPhone up next to it and photographed it with my camera, to show you that the bug was very nearly (with antennae most definitely) as long as the iPhone.

This is not my first encounter with this unsavory sort. There have been several over the last four years, all terrifying. Look, I love all creatures big and small. Except this one.

Long-time readers may recall that several years ago, I opened the door of my first apartment in Abu Dhabi one morning to this. Giant bug who called it quits (I like to imagine this part) after a long arduous journey, just as he knocked, squeaked out "help", flipped on his back and left this world forever.

Does anyone know what Big Bug is actually called, and what it's purpose in this part of the world is other than scaring me at semi-regular intervals? Any information would be most welcome.

UPDATE: Okay fine, it's a cockroach. I knew that, deep down, but I guess I was just hoping that someone would write to say "oh it's a rare Yemenese jute beetle, the sighting of which brings life-long luck and prosperity", or something like that. I would also like to stress that this sighting was in the work loo. The closest one of these big boys has been to my home was on that doorstep several years ago. And thank goodness: how would one go about killing it? It's the size of a squirrel.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lovely London: 3 interesting, but not photographically good, photos

No explanation needed. Just excellent.

The sign says 'Please Do Not..." oh never mind.

Words fail me. Just go.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How I experienced unexpected culture shock, and almost mingled with Lady Gaga, at a London hot yoga studio

I miss hot yoga. You might laugh at me saying that, in this heat, in Abu Dhabi, but there is nothing like stretching and sweating a lot for 90 minutes to clear out the cobwebs. And that is how I came to enter London's Sohot Bikram Yoga studios the other day, when I was in town for a wedding, some sightseeing and, funny enough, a respite from the UAE summer.

I should explain that for the most part yoga in Abu Dhabi, unlike back home in Ottawa, has been largely a female experience, as many Muslim women are less comfortable in the company of men not in the family in a variety of circumstances. Although both the Body Tree and the Abu Dhabi Country Club launched men--only classes last September, and there are a growing number of mixed options out there, in Abu Dhabi my experience has been a lot of classes for women, taught by women. At least the ones I am able to attend.

Anyway, after four years of all these women, you can imagine my surprise upon entering Sohot to find the male instructor Alex standing at the front desk helping process cards, clad only in his Speedos.

How to be a happy expat

Because a cloud wall makes you want to take a selfie.  After 10 years living in the UAE, some of that time happy, some miserable and ...