Friday, 29 December 2017

Dubai: A (Christmas Day) Sunset Desert Horse Ride

dubai desert horse ride

Riding through the Dubai desert at sunset has to be one of my most surreal and magical experience since I moved to Dubai. Oh, and this just happened to be on December 25 so it made for a rather good answer to the "what did you do for Christmas?" question...

The AlAli Stable is just a twenty minute drive from Downtown Dubai but twenty minutes is enough to already feel like you've left the city behind. The stables are quiet and peaceful; they smell like the countryside, the ground is muddy - such novelty for this City Girl.

The sunrise and sunset rides are run every day - no previous horse-riding experience is needed and the rides cater to all levels. I used to horse ride at university but that was years ago and I've developed a lot more fear than I had in my early twenties. I'm not sure if watching YouTube videos on "how to ride a horse" made me more or less apprehensive as to whether this would turn out to be a good Christmas story or not...

Once I was seated on "Chips" I felt less apprehensive. Maybe this horse riding lark is like riding a bike after all (although I can't remember the last time I did that, either). The stables loan out riding hats and the dress code specifically mentioned "yoga pants" so I dressed as if off to a yoga class and thanked my past self for buying a pair of Vans in the sale thinking they would be "useful" one day.

Setting out into the dessert, our guide, Mudasser (red cap, Puma t-shirt), expertly kept our horses in line while providing instruction on technique, taking photos and casually smoking a cigarette on horseback. I felt proud of myself for just managing to take a couple of shaky one-handed photos without falling off or losing my phone to the desert sands...

As the sun dipped below the horizon, I remembered why I liked riding at university - it is almost impossible to think of anything else in the world while fully concentrating on just not falling off. There's something about being on horseback that makes you feel really cool and capable, even if my horse didn't really listen to my commands and didn't really seem too keen on running (/trotting).

Maybe it was because it was Christmas Day, or that I hadn't fallen off, or that I'd just spent ninety minutes feeling as far away from my worries as I could possibly hope for, but the sunset on the way back to the stables might just have been the most beautiful sight I've ever seen. My phone stayed safely in the waistband of my leggings because some moments don't need to be captured anywhere other than in memory.

Back at the stables, we thanked our horses with carrots and apples (the apples more gratefully received) and sat down to tea and dates. On the drive home, when the city lights came back into view it all felt like a dream but thankfully my trainers are still caked in mud and goodness knows what else so I know that it wasn't - Christmas Day really was spent riding horses through the desert in my adopted city.

  • The Dubai Desert Horse Ride Experience are here.
  • The sunset and sunrise desert rides are AED150 (approx. £30) per person for 90 minutes of riding.


Friday, 22 December 2017

2 0 1 7

#DubaiLife, finding a key to brunch, avocado on toast and American Psycho, Dubai Marina, a very cold Canary Wharf, Brighton, Obama on my coffee,  a beach day (I've literally been to the beach four times this isn't representative at all...), my beloved Barbican. 
I'm typing this on my phone. Having found one of those moments between other moments - the last month has been ridiculously busy and, despite it being 25 degrees in Dubai and it feeling entirely un-December-like, the feeling that another year will soon be over is creeping up on me, adding more things to my ever-increasing to-do list. I'm finally ticking off "2017 blog post".

This blog has been quite of late, but life offline has been loud and busy and full. Time is skipping by - a whole year since I wrote my 2016 post (20152014 and 2013 here - wowee), an entire ten months since I moved to Dubai, five months since I nervously met a boy in a bar on a Saturday night, three months since I turned thirty.

I'm living in a new city, a new country, coming home to a different apartment, still feeling "new" but also asking a friend how the weather is in "London" rather than at "home" and not knowing how I feel about that. My old life sometimes feels small and far away, like I am listening to someone else regaling their twenties while nodding along. My current life is different, in some small ways and some huge ways - like wearing new shoes which haven't quite found the grooves of my own feet, that make me take smaller, slower steps until they have. And they will.

Things that I always thought would be hard have proved to be the easiest, things I thought would come easily have been hard - I don't entirely mind being proved wrong. I think the current "me" is one of the better versions but I know I can do better still, that I've made things happen and can make bigger, better things happen - that good things are coming, that I'm not undeserving of them.

The highlights (not according to Instagram's "best nine") - shivering on the rooftop of the Queen of Hoxton in February saying a "see you soon" to my favourite city, the serene quiet of Ranthanbore National Park at 7am, my parents sprinting through Dehli airport to see me onto my flight, every birthday wish and gift from afar, snorkelling in the sea after a not small amount of encouragement, seeing Conor Oberst perform for the 8th time, finally being a bridesmaid aged 29, getting an impulsive (tiny) tattoo, one 5am bedtime and too many G&Ts to count (not that one ever should).

Thanks for the memories, 2017.


Friday, 15 December 2017

Food: Cabin Dubai

cabin dubai

A relatively new opening and a new discovery for me - Cabin Dubai might just be one of the nicest spots I've whiled away a Friday afternoon in lately. 

Outdoor seating and sunshine aside, the relaxed atmosphere and decor here felt far more like an old favourite east London haunt than Dubai's usual offerings. The restaurant scene here means that despite (or maybe because of) being spoilt for choice, it's hard to find spots that feel like the sort of neighbour hang-outs that other cities take for granted.

cabin dubai

We were shown around the interior of Cabin after arriving  - the walls are decorated with art works and there's a mini store selling art supplies, candles and jewellery. My attention was somewhat distracted by the coffee table tome in the lunch date thankfully has better conversation skills than me or just didn't spot it... We grabbed an outside table because it's winter and being outside is finally pleasant again. 

cabin dubai

After a quick browse of the menu (which changes seasonally) I obviously had to have the avocado on toast. It came beautifully presented - the portion was not the largest but it was just right for a late-ish lunch in the sunshine. 

The location is a little out of the way, in Al Barsha South behind Maisan Towers. The apartments are home to the Emirates Cabin Crew (belated wondering from me if this inspired the name of the restaurant) who I think comprised our fellow-diners and the drive out made it feel like a getaway from the city, more than making up for our longer than usual journey for food. Cabin is open from 7.30am - 7.30pm so is catered towards the breakfast / brunch / lunch crowd. For avocado fans, the breakfast menu is served all day. 

cabin dubai

Cabin Dubai, Al Barsha South

Cabin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, 1 December 2017

Life: November Round-Up

I spent the middle part of November in India so my round-up this month can't really be about anything else.

1 - Humayun's Tomb, New Dehli; 2 - Jama Masjid Mosque, New Dehli; 3 - India Gate, New Dehli; 4 - Tomb of I'timad-ud-Daulah, Agra; 5 - Fatepur Sikri Fort; 6 - City Palace, Jaipur;  7 - City Palace, Jaipur; 8 - Taj Mahal, Agra; 9 - City Palace, Jaipur
India isn't the easiest of holiday destinations - beyond visa applications and trying to figure out how to fit a huge and varied country into ten days of annual leave, it's one which can make you feel every emotion in the same day. Extremes of poverty and wealth, centuries worth of history and the more recent scourge of plastic co-exist, sometimes uneasily and sometimes wonderfully incongruously. A five minute journey can take in more sights and sounds and smells than I witness in an entire day in my current home city.

The streets are packed, there is no concept of personal space and everyone (and everything - water buffalo, cows, goats, skinny stray dogs) is on the move, at any hour of the day or night - often all at once in six different directions. There's little regard for the highway code and a scooter, a tuk-tuk and a (for now) unscratched new car have the same status. Everything is moving, literally and figuratively in a country of 1.2 billion people.

We did the Golden Triangle (New Dehli, Agra and Jaipur) with a few relaxing days in Ranthambore National Park before flying up to Amritsar. I saw the Taj Mahal at sunrise, heard the almost silence of a national park as the day unfolded and intrepidly tasted (for this rather unadventurous eater) the most colourful and spiciest vegetarian food.

But, sights and sounds and tastes aside, the overriding memory of this country is of the people: our brilliant guide who made us learn and laugh in equal measure; the matriarch of a colonial-era bungalow in Agra who served us sweet chai; the teenagers who politely asked for selfies in perfect English and our travel companions with whom we shared laughter and life lessons over ice-free G&Ts.


Saturday, 25 November 2017

Life: Reading List - Feminine Dystopia

While I haven't quite kept up the reading streak that I had when I first moved to Dubai (a lunchbreak being a distant memory, seven seasons of Mad Men, reacquainting myself with gin), I'm still getting good use from my first generation Kindle.

My most recent reads all have a somewhat similar theme - female authors, strong female characters and a dash of dystopia for good measure.

1. Margaret Atwood - The Blind Assassin

I loved Margaret Atwood before I read this and when my friend F mentioned, three double G&Ts down, that this was one of her favourite books I added it to mental to-read list when it was, in fact, already on my Kindle. Even halfway through, I knew two things - I'd be sad when it was over and it was already one of my favourite books.

The Blind Assassin tells the story of Iris and Laura Chase, sisters growing up between the wars in Canada - bereavement, the complexity of sibling relationships, privilege and the changing society make for a compelling tale before Atwood skilfully weaves in the book-within-a-book - the story of the Blind Assassin. Complex but still immensely readable, terribly sad in the realness of the sisters' story and with an ending that left me sitting in silence for a good few minutes staring into space - this book left me convinced that Atwood is indeed an actual goddess and that I will do the unthinkable and re-read it sooner rather than later.

"Beginnings are sudden, but also insidious. They creep up on you sideways, they keep to the shadows, then lurk unrecognised. Then later, they spring."

2. Emily St. John Mandel - Station Eleven

If Atwood is the queen of her craft then Emily St. John Mandel is surely her heir apparent. A fellow Canadian, Mandel's work reads like a natural continuation in the line of female-led dystopian fiction but her voice and story-telling is completely her own. Beautifully written and almost too plausible to be a settling bedtime read, in a very near-future a virus has wiped out the majority of the population and every creature comfort we have come to rely upon. Amid the scattered survivors, a travelling symphony of actors tour the post-apocalypse North America performing Shakespeare plays. In a world where nothing will be the same again, this feels oddly perfect.

Station Eleven weaves together several plot lines of the last days of "our" world and the new reality. Extremely readable, terrifyingly realistic and with characters I grew to truly care about, this book is almost perfect. Oh, also, I googled the author and she is exactly as cute as I imagined.

"No more Internet. No more social media, no more scrolling through litanies of dreams and nervous hopes and photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions of contentment and relationship-status updates with heart icons whole or broken, plans to meet up later...No more reading and commenting on the lives of others, and in so doing, feeling slightly less alone in the room."

3. Naomi Alderman - The Power

Well, Margaret Atwood liked it. And so did I. The Power is firmly set in "our" world - a female mayor, a gangster's daughter, a runway abuse victim and an aspiring YouTube journalist provide their interweaving tales following the "Day of the Girls". Girls and women have mysteriously developed the power to cause pain and even death through electrical impulses - a plot device which helps Alderman explore the (admittedly huge) theme of gender (in)equality. While the novel isn't perfect and some elements felt, to me, overly-simplistic, I found it a hugely enjoyable and (cliche alert) unputdownable read. I read this amid a backdrop of daily revelations of abuses of power and position and the themes that this book explores filled my head for the same amount of time I spent reading it. I loved the writing style and the characters and as a woman who sometimes struggles to find her own "power" I couldn't help but like the idea of the "Day of the Girls" (a little bit).

"It doesn't matter that she shouldn't, that she never would. What matters is that she could, if she wanted. The power to hurt is a kind of wealth."

4. Megan Hunter - The End We Start From

Another apocalypse, this time distilled into a read-in-one-sitting 140 page serving. This book is beautifully and sparsely written, the lack of detail makes it all the more terrifying as the reader has to fill in the gaps and the chapters are interspersed with biblical-sounding apocalyptic predictions. London is submerging beneath rising flood waters when the protagonist gives birth to a baby boy. This short story covers a family's journey from comfortable city-dwellers to displaced refugees in a dangerous world. The reason for the (I presumed) environmental crisis is never covered as the focus of the story zooms in on the family's plight. While a short read, this book covers a lot of ground and is one that has stayed with me long after turning the last page. Oh, and Benedict Cumberbatch's production company has bought the film rights for this...

"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from." - T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Life: October Round-Up

October marked eight months since I moved to Dubai and eight years since I started LilyLipstick. I can still remember setting up my Blogger account and tentatively typing up my first post - blissfully oblivious to everything that would unfold as a result of that, at the time, tiny step. Eight is the magic number for this month's round up, then. And here's to taking more tiny steps, every single day, because who knows where they will take you...

1. Brunching at home was back on the menu this month - avocado on a bagel with...eight pierces of halloumi. Possibly the only meal I made at home all month.

2. A new piercing (I went to Kyra in Dubai) for a false rook / Tash rook piercing (popularised by piercing goddess, Maria Tash). My tenth piercing in total and my eighth ear piercing - I'd wanted this one for a while but kept putting it off, even though I actually quite enjoy getting piercings done.

3. Jumping right on that Glossier bandwagon. It's not (yet) stocked here in Dubai but I would like at least eight more of their products in my collection.

4. A...lavocado and a lavender latte. My working hours have been obscenely anti-social of late but I try to take a bit of morning "me" time in the form of a slightly perfumed breakfast before eight A.M..

5. I signed up for a flower arranging class at Dubai Garden Centre and despite waking up in a less than completely positive mood, an hour of flower arranging (and a coffee from the adorable onsite cafe) and all was right with the world. Yes, I look eight years old here.

6. I might have been better at this when I was eight but it's hard to worry about the bazillion things you think you need to worry about with a colouring pencil in hand.

7. Eight delicious tacos at Muchachas - I'm not usually a "Dubai brunch" kinda girl but if it's by Tom and Serg and comes with tacos and bottomless margaritas then count me in...

8. A friend in town is the ideal opportunity to do some exploring. Dubai isn't much fun solo but with a friend in tow it's excellent - we visited the coffee museum and the rather low-key (entry is 60p) Dubai Museum. This is point eight, my imagination is failing me...

9. A quick trip to Abu Dhabi and the Yas Viceroy hotel. The hotel is built over the F1 track and watching the sunrise over it from the rooftop pool at 6am made me feel slightly better about my current terribly insomnia. Oh, and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has been held eight times.

November sees me head to India (eighteen months after booking the trip), eight years after horrifying my parents with a planned solo trip there. I'll be Instagramming a fair amount given it's my first holiday in over a year and I've sort of fallen in love with the platform again this last month, acronym be dammed.

Some reading material I loved this month -

Sophie's post ties right back in to my eight years of blogging - no I'm not blog famous or Insta-famous and this blog doesn't pay my bills and never will. And that's ok because it's brought me so much more than money and sponsored posts.

I've read this Man Repeller piece countless times this month. Haley's writing is always spot-on and this is my favourite article appeared when I needed it most. I'm digging a hole to plant a tree, even if it doesn't always feel that way.

I love R29's Money Diaries. How we chose to spend our money is complex and fraught with judgement. This round-up is so interesting. My own relationship with money is...something I'm working on, both in terms of how I spend it and how much it matters to me.


Friday, 27 October 2017

Dubai: Brunch at Muchachas by Tom & Serg

I had a friend in town last week - my first time playing hostess in my new city! I always love visiting friends who live abroad, it always seems like a much more authentic way of experiencing a place. I was keen to avoid the tourist trail and instead take my friend to my favourite spots - preferably ones where we could have an extensive de-brief of life lately, and possibly with a drink in hand.

muchachas brunch

For Friday brunch, I booked a table at Muchachas Mexican Cantina - a Tom and Serg offering in the Holiday Inn Express near Safa Park. The venue is a little out of the way and very low key but I guess it circumvents Dubai's alcohol licensing laws and avoids the Dubai brunch cliches, y'know, ladies in ballgowns, chocolate fountains, all you can eat I've heard, having not actually made it to one of these affairs yet (/ever).

muchachas brunch

The decor here is definitely millennial interior goals, a pleasant surprise after milling around the hotel reception impatiently waiting for a midday margarita. There's a choice of drinks and a set brunch menu - the food is brought to the table so there's no jostling at a buffet or the risk of making a Bad Decision. The "with booze" option is AED295 which is pretty good for a "Dubai brunch" offering.

muchachas brunch

I very much enjoyed the classic margatita, starting with a glass (to check I liked it) and then moving on to a jug because it had been One Of Those Weeks. My friend tried a frozen watermelon margarita before switching to the sangria, mixing drinks at lunchtime is totally fine. The food was plentiful but not guilt-inducing excessive - I loved the guacamole the most and would have happily eaten just this for three hours but the fish tacos were amazing, too, and the corn salad might have been the first vegetable I had seen all week. We finished off with churros dipped in warm chocolate sauce.

muchachas brunch

As the afternoon wore on, the music got louder, the drinks continued to flow and we deprived the wall of two sombreros. All before 4pm when we forced ourselves to leave the party-getting-started atmosphere before it got dark.

muchachas brunch

muchachas brunch

muchachas brunch

Muchachas Mexican Cantina
Holiday Inn Express, Al Safa
Details here

Muchachas - Holiday Inn Express Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 23 October 2017

Food: Jolie Floral Cafe, City Walk, Dubai

Today's cafe offering may just be the cutest yet. As Elodie said when I messaged her a picture "it's so cute it looks like it could be in Korea!"- high praise indeed (and confirmation that solo brunch is much improved by a friend in a timezone a few hours ahead to chat with).

Tucked away in Dubai's City Walk development, it looks a little unassuming from the outside - I must have walked past it a few times (possibly en route to Sarabeth's) before my first visit, prompted by a "best avocado dishes in Dubai" article in Time Out.

I, obviously, only had eyes for the avocado on toast but there are salads, sandwiches, burgers and a very pretty afternoon tea offering. The "his and hers' burger duo that the next table were tucking into did, even as a vegetarian, look very delicious (although maybe that's just a sign that I should start taking iron supplements again).

Some Insta-worthy cafes are a let-down in reality (mentioning no names but we all know the places where we took "that" picture only never to return) but Jolie, I think, would be just as enjoyable for those who don't meticulously document every morsel that passes their lips. It's a little on the girlie side but the few "Instagram husbands" I saw on my visit seemed convinced once their food turned up that this place is not just style over substance.

The avocado on toast might just be the prettiest plate I have ever laid eyes on. It's also a very generous portion - no scrimping on the green stuff here. I might have already had my (supposed) one coffee of the day but I ordered the mocha la flora (they do it with soy milk, praise be) because it sounded...intriguing. I usually regret sweet coffees after a couple of sips but this was really delicious and the rose flavour wasn't overpowering. Top marks for presentation with the rose and mini-cupcake, too.

Jolie Floral Cafe
City Walk Jumeriah - details here 
And they're on Deliveroo here 

Jolie Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, 20 October 2017

Crafting: Halloween Flower Arrangement in a Pumpkin

I love Halloween - quite a strong statement from a girl who is an active avoider of anything with a whiff of Organised Fun about it. I'm slightly sad that I left all my potential dressing-up clothes in London... why a Japanese schoolgirl outfit didn't make the cut of things to pack for Dubai is something I will forever wonder.

As a committed pumpkin carver, I thought this year I'd share something a little different - a flower arrangement in a pumpkin. Not only more Pinterest-worthy, it's also a lot less risky as you only need to make one cut with a knife rather than play a risky game of finger roulette...

I took a class at Dubai Garden Centre but this would be so easy to do at home, too. You will need: a pumpkin, a block of oasis, cellophane, a sharp knife, scissors and a range of autumnal-coloured flowers...

Start with the dangerous / gross part. Cut the top off the pumpkin and scrape out its innards. I picked a long, tall pumpkin to make the best "vase" but any will work. It's less dignified but more fun to use your hands to scrape out the insides.

Coffee on the side is mandatory to all crafting endeavors. Feel free to substitute with gin if at home, maybe after the sharp knife step is done?

Messy work done. Now cut a block of oasis to fit inside your pumpkin and wrap it with cellophane. Trim the cellophane as close to the pumpkin as possible.

Start with some greenery around the base, to cover the bottom of the oasis block. Then take your chosen flowers and arrange from the outside in. Use a smaller flower as "filler" to make sure all the oasis is covered. Pro-tips - use more flowers than you think you'll need to make the arrangement look really lush and full blooming, cut the stems of the flowers on the diagonal to create a sharp tip to stick into the oasis and, once complete, give the flowers a good spray with water to perk them up after the traumatic arranging process.

Done! Give your flowers a top up of water every day and the arrangement should last a good five days.

PS. Dress is from Oliver Bonas similar here (minus the print).


Sunday, 15 October 2017

Life: Ten Things I've Learned Since Moving to Dubai

Has it really been... 8 months since I jumped (ok, more tentatively stepped) onto a one-way flight at Heathrow? There's really nothing like quitting your job, packing up your flat, moving to a new country, starting a new job and picking a country which doesn't really have a concept of "seasons" to throw you into a timewarp.

Eight months on, Dubai feels almost like home. I maybe didn't appreciate how hard moving halfway across the world could be and there were (past tense) days when I felt very small and lost and far from home and familiarity. Even seeing Instagram pictures of the notice boards at tube stations had me running to the nearest bathroom trying not to smudge my mascara.  

Today, as I type this, life is very different from the one I had last October in London and the one that I imagined for myself as an ex-pat. It's different in the day-to-day, in the things that for me are normal but that I appal friends at home with, and, it's different in ways that I never dreamed of for myself, or maybe I dreamed them but never let myself believe them, as I looked out at October skies from the balcony of my tiny flat last year. 

This is what I've learned (so far):

Firstly, the days of the week (let's start with a simple one). Friday is Sunday, Saturday is...Saturday and Sunday is a working day.

Secondly, the seasons. Summer is winter (air-con appropriate clothing, movie nights, copious amounts of Netflix, walking 10,000 steps inside the mall) and winter is summer (summer dresses, beach days, the prospect of a G&T on the balcony).

Thirdly, getting around. Taking four taxis in one day is not an indulgence or a luxury but the non-optional only way to get to work, to a yoga class and to a bar which is technically on the same street you live on.

Fourthly, selective amnesia. You will have no memory of the last time you did the following: walked down a street, took public transport, wore socks or tights, used a hairdryer, applied lipstick without immediately wiping it off again.

Fifthly, lifestyle creep. You will no longer gawp in shock when someone your own age tells you about their boat, their balcony swimming pool (yes that's a thing), their maid or their dog's personal trainer.

Sixthly, personal safety. You will leave your front door unlocked and your MacBook, wallet and phone on a cafe table while you pop to the bathroom. 

Seventhly, personal nudity. Introducing a friend to your boss while wearing a bikini (me, that is, not the boss) at a pool party is in no way as horrifying as it sounds once you've done it. 

Eighthly, road safety. Your taxi driver or other road users making three lane changes in one swoop, reversing back down a motorway sliproad or watching TV while driving becomes normal, if never any less terrifying. 

Ninthly, food shopping. You will stop feeling bad about getting groceries home delivered via an app. Even when your "groceries" are a six-pack of Diet Coke because you still don't know how to turn on your oven. 

Tenthly, saving the best until last. You will every day marvel at yourself for actually picking yourself up and doing the "move abroad" thing. It was worth it. 


Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Dubai: Brunch at the Burj Al Arab

It wasn't hard to pick a venue for celebrating my first birthday in Dubai - having never been past the security gates of the Burj Al Arab on past visits, the Friday brunch offering seemed like an obvious choice. I've only been to a handful of Dubai brunches in the past - it's not the cheapest pastime and not really money well spent for a fussy vegetarian. That said, I don't quite roll my eyes at the sight of a chocolate fountain and if you can't do something a little extra for your thirtieth then when can you?

The interior of the Burj Al Arab is like stepping back in time to a late 80s / early 90s decadence. I have to say, I liked the jazzy carpets, the bright colours and the unashamedly OTT feel of it all. We are, after all, in Dubai and "understated" hasn't quite entered the lexicon.

My mother and I had a booking at midday (the brunching widow is 10am - 2pm) as she had arrived that morning on an overnight flight from rainy London. This felt very much like a "special occasion" type brunch - mine was not the only birthday being celebrated - so be sure to book well in advance as the restaurant isn't enormous. Payment is required a couple of weeks beforehand - not unusual here and it does make it easier on the day.

After marvelling at the view from the lift, we were greeted, shown to our table and I might have not been able to resist mentioning that it was my birthday. The Burj Al Arab's brunch offering is a buffet-type set up, it's not as huge as other brunches so you don't spend a large amount of time away from the table choosing food and the selection isn't too overwhelming (which always results in me making bad choices and then being too full to enjoy the good stuff).

There's a range of seafood and salads to start, sushi, dim sum and hot mains, a dessert table, a cheese table and, of course, the obligatory chocolate fountain. The setting and the views are really the main course here - we sat at the window with a view over the Palm and straight out to sea. I sometimes forget how, in it's own way, Dubai is beautiful and being up on the 27th floor of a 7-star hotel was a nice reminder.

Views and food aside, the best part of my brunch (the day before I was to turn 30) was getting offered a glass of champagne and then being ID-ed - I don't know who out of my mother and I were more delighted by this. Oh, and I got a birthday cake with a candle brought to our table which the restaurant kindly let us take away (so, breakfast for the rest of the week sorted...).

Friday Brunch at Al Muntaha, Burj Al Arab
Prices and booking info here


Saturday, 7 October 2017

Food: Even More Plates of Avocado On Toast

I know, I know. Eating dinner out is a distant memory. If somewhere doesn't have avocado on toast on the menu, I probably don't want to go. Here's the current round up of the avocado on toast offerings in Dubai...

The Sum of Us

the sum of us dubai

Ticking off another cafe in the Tom and Serg group, this unique plate of avocado on toast featured half a sesame seed sprinkled avocado and lots of fresh salad. I think The Sum of Us is my favourite Tom and Serg offering. It has its own bakery and coffee roastery and, avocado aside, I would struggle to chose from the menu if I went back.

Tom & Serg (the original)

tom and serg dubai

This is cheating a little as my mum ordered this but Tom and Serg have changed their avocado on toast recipe (former version here) and it now features a perfectly hard-boiled egg. The avocado is hiding under all the greenery. 

parkhouse kite beach dubai

Parkhouse cafe is so adorable - it has quite a British-seaside feel to it, minus the 40 degree heat outside. The avocado on toast here is topped with a perfectly poached egg and a sprinkle of cress. Had a great time watching the sea out of the window while waiting for it to be cool enough to venture outside.

baker and spice dubai

Another favourite Dubai spot and their bread is the absolute best. Probably my favourite avocado on toast in Dubai, here topped with two poached eggs for a change. Yes that is a side of more bread in the background...  

the daily rove hotel brunch

The Daily does a bargain AED100 brunch which includes - you've guessed - avocado on toast (and a coffee, unlimited juices, fresh fruit and baked goods). Topped with two poached eggs, roasted peppers and a sprinkle of cheese. Top marks for crockery and lovely service, too.


Sunday, 1 October 2017

Life: September Round-Up

I think the month just gone might have been my least prolific, blog-wise... Life wise, September was very lovely. I turned thirty and spent my birthday-eve drinking gin and Chartreuse cocktails and my birthday day eating avocado on toast. I wouldn't have had it any other way. Online life has taken a slight backseat - it turns out the best moments are not capable of being reduced to pixels and hashtags and 140 characters and don't need to be recorded for "later" because there's only really the present moment... That said, there is an avocado-on-toast-post in my drafts for when I, once again, feel like tapping words into this box.

Anyway, this was September:

Dubai expat life

1. I had some thoughts about eating meat again this month and then felt bad about thinking about it. Funny how what we don't eat ends up defining us... Anyway, I try not to think about things too much these days and this meat-free burger from Supernatural Kitchen was delicious (really!) regardless.

2. Playing with more of my Paperself tattoos. I'm too indecisive for a new tattoo and too irresponsible for a pet cat. So impressed with the staying power of these - it's that time of year where its still a little too hot to be outside but we're all got cabin fever so three showers a day it is...

3. Not my cat on the beach at Le Royal Meridian. She jumped onto my sun lounger and stretched out for an afternoon cat nap while I failed to read any more of my book. I finished reading The Blind Assassin this month (which swiftly finds itself in my list of favourite books ever - Margaret Atwood is a goddess) and can't really get in to anything else.

4. I'm slowly starting to enjoy the more "extra" aspects of Dubai life. The Candy Land pedicure at Kozma and Kozma was so much fun and my feet looked and felt very nice afterwards. Having sugar sprinkles dusted onto my feet didn't really feel that weird in the context of life lately.

5. If we're talking about "extra"... I finally went inside the Burj Al Arab for their Friday brunch on the day before my birthday. I got offered complimentary champagne and then ID-ed. The best 30th birthday present I could wish for.

6. Lunch at Zuma in DIFC - the black cod was amazing, as was the pink grapefruit vodka cocktail at lunchtime for this girl who is still disappointed that working life isn't a mix of Mad Men and The Wolf of Wall Street.

7. Showing off, getting my mother to be an "Instagram Husband" on the beach at Le Royal Meridian. I wouldn't really recommend doing yoga in a bikini in 40 degree heat but sometimes you need to get the 'gram and that's okay.

8. Birthday flowers from my friend, M. Grateful for all birthday wishes from near and far and for friends who co-opted my mother's limited suitcase space to get gifts to me. This birthday was genuinely one of the happiest I have ever had.  

9. Taking my phone into the sea for a snap of the Dubai skyline during the Golden Hour. I felt like "one of those people" until I looked around and everyone else in the sea had their phones in hand, too. Maybe I fit in here better than I thought I did.

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