Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Eastern part of Georgia

Our tourguide and driver picked uscup at 9.30 in the morning and we drove towards the eastern part. The landscape was shifting from mountains to wide open fields and in the background, the mighty Caucasus mountains covered in snow! After a short while we stopped at a small house to see how they made traditional Georgian bread Tonispuri n a round, cylinder shaped oven called Tonis with coal in the bottom and the bread attached to the sides. The bread was still warm and so delicious. We also tried the liquor, chacha, made of grapes and very strong. After this, we drove towards the old monastery Bodbe where the remains of St. Nino is buried. St. Nino is one of the most well known symbols for Georgian christianity. Our tourcontinued to Sighnaghi, the city of love. A very pittoresque city with narrow streets located on top of a hill and with an amazing view over the valley where the Silk Road once passed through. It is one of the smallest cities in Georgia with only 2146 inhabitants. The city is surrounded by a wall reminding of the Great Wall of China (only the way it looks, definetely not the size)! After a stroll around town, we headed towards the summer mansion of Alexander Chavchavadze. Chavchavadze was born in St.Petersburg by Georgian parents and his father was the ambassador in St.Petersburg. He was greatly inspired by the cultural traditions in Europe and built the oldest and largest winery in Georgia where he mixed European and Georgian wine making traditions. We tried six different wines, two white and four red and they were all very good. You can easily notice the specific taste and smell of the traditionally Georgian wines, being more "earthy". After a guided tour through the mansion, where some original items were still preserved, we drove back to Tbilisi via Telavi and gorgeous mountains, still covered with snow. Alexander Chavchavadzes younger daughter Nino married the famous Russian play writer Gribojedov but he died only a few years after their marriage and is now buried in Tbilisi.
After a wholeday without any proper lunch, we were starving and decided to walk down Chavchavadze street and to a well known Georgian restaurant where we enjoyed khinkali, large dumplings filled with meat, vegetables, cheese Or potatoes. They remind a bit of the Russian pelmeni but much larger and with different spices. We had the cottage cheese nadughi, wrapped in something reminding of thin filo dough. After that we had potatoes and fried pork but only managed to finish half. It was so delicious and i am truly in love with the Georgian food!!! We had a quick stop at small bar for a beer before walking back to the apartment.

View from Sighnaghi- the city of love

Sighnaghi

Sighnaghi
 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mtskheta

No, it is not a spelling error, this is the name of the old capital of Georgia, located outside of Tbilisi. We strolled around town, admired the small houses with its beautifully carved wooden balconies and headed towards the old Patriarchal Temple oF Svetitskhoveli, a Georgian Christian religious centre and symbol of the nations spiritual unity. The old church has been a target for invadors several times and rebuilt just as many. The intervention of Tamerlane greatly damaged it and Arab commandant Abdul Qasim ordered to burn it down but it was rebuilt soon. After turning into ruins again at the beginning of the 11th century, Catholicos Melkiades drew forth the idea to build a new temple. The temple proved to be a popular spot for newly wedded couples and I think we saw up to eight different wedding couples! Since it started raining we decided to have a late lunch and ended up spending more than two ours at the local taverna, enjoying barbecue with potatoes, Georgian bread and a bottle of red. On the way back, I managed to flat on my nose (not sure due to the slippery rainy streets or the wine, or a combination of both). Our taxi driver for the day was laughing at us, saying he thought we went off  and got married since we took such a long time! We then drove back to Tbilisi and had some nice tea in the flat before heading out again to a Japanese sushi place. After delicious sushi we rounded off with drinks at a jazz bar! I promise you, there will be photos, I just don't have my lap top with me and can't seem to uplpad photos from my ipad!
Fried pork wiht potatoes and onion. Delicious!
 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tbilisi

I have to admit that my hopes where not that high as I left for Terminal 2 a second time. Check in was quick and I entertained myself with a book while waiting. The departure hall looked completely different, almost empty. That was a good sign, meaning all flights departed as per schedule! I think I fell asleep instantly before take off even! The plane was insanely cold. I looked out the window at some stage and saw tons of loghts beneath, it said Tehran on the flight map. We landed on schedule in a dark and cold Tbilisi. After collecting my light bag, I managed to exchange money to Georgian lari and get a taxi to Abashidze street in the Vake area of Tbilisi. The outskirts of the town reminded me of any post Soviet city with shoebox looking apartment buildings in various grey colours. As we came closer, the city changed to small cozy streets, old houses with beautiful architecture reminding me of Europe. We pulled up outside an old looking house where my dear friend C met up. We quickly moved inside to her small but very cozy apartment. I was still tired so we decided to take a nap before heading out.
Iranian chicken soup

Kebab with bread and salad
Yesterday was a glorious day, sunshine and a touch of spring in the air. We walked along Abashidze street, stopped at a nice cafe for coffee and sandwhiches and then continued walking to the old town. A few stops here and there, chicken soup and beer at a Persian restaurant, another stop at a traditional Georgian restaurant where I hade the best kebab ever! The food is a mix of Turkish, Persian, Greek with noticeable Russian and Arabic influences. There spices are tasty but wont burn your tung off. Another speciality is a large bread filled with cheese, egg and butter and baked in the oven. I saw a Georgian cooking book and will buy it before I go home! Their language is also something that does not resemble anything I have heard before! It sometimes reminds of Persian or Greek with strong "kh" sounds and an unusual combinatipn of sounds and letters! Fascinating! I bought a book "how to learn Georgian" yesterday (it is a self learning book for Russian speakers, I remeber buying similar books in Uzbekistan but for Uzbek language. They are quite old and were all produced during the Soviet era). In the evening, a friend of C and her daughter picked us up and we went back to C's flat for a girls movie night! We saw "Midnight in Paris" by Woody Allen and it wasn't that confusing as expected by a Woody Allen movie! After that we watched "Last night in New York" with Keira Knightley. We had bought draft beer at the nearby shop, some cucumbers, sausages, crisps and doritos to go with our beer. They sell draft beer in the shop and pour it directly into empty plastic bottles! I had brought some vodka but we left it for another evening! After the movie, friend I and her daughter took a taxi home and we went to bed. Today we are planning a trip to a mall, some museums and just walking aroindcin this gorgeous town. There are pelnty of cafes, bars and restaurants and veryone is so friendly!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Change of plans

I left happily in a taxi on Wednesday evening to Dubai Terminal 2, where all budget airlines are departing from. The check in was quick and smooth and managed to get some treats at the Duty Free and exchange money. The departure hall was full, people were sitting, sleeping, standing and I soon noticed that over half of all FlyDubai flights had been either delayed for more than 10 hours or cancelled. Around 45 minutes before take off, even the flight to Tbilisi was cancelled. By this time, there was a minor chaos with upset people trying to get some sort of information about their  flights. Luckily, since I am a resident, I can easily go out again and go home. I first went to the arrivals hall to get my luggage but was told to see the FlyDubai sales centre so they could off load me from the flight. Well, there were about a million of people there, all pushing and screaming, trying to get first in line (well, there wasn't even a line to start with!). After around 45 minutes, a very nice but slightly stressed out sales agent rebooked me (for free, thank G*d I had decided to click the insurance box when I booked my ticket). Unfortunately, there are only flights every second day to Tbilisi so departure will be Saturday morning, at 2.15. After this tiring experience of waiting, I walked back to retrieve my luggage, only to find out that they hadn't even started off loading. Almost three hours later, the bags finally arrived on the belt and I took a taxi back home, to a very surprised family. Needless to say, I was pretty tired and went straight to bed (this was 6 in the morning) and slept until noon. Since this little interruption made the whole trip two days shorter, I quickly decided to extend it for two more days and will now, hopefully, return on Thursday morning. I learned that the delays were all due to the dense fog on Wednesday morning that caused a huge back log. Most Emirates flights were also delayed but at least not cancelled. One has to see things from the bright side though, so yesterday I went to the pool for a few hours and in the evening, I met up with the girls for some wine. Today I and hubby went to IKEA to buy new office chairs and I found a new pair of boots at the sale. The weather has been amazing, 27 and sun, perfect. So this evening I will head off to the airport for a second attempt to make that flight to Georgia. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

See you in Georgia!

Beautiful mountains in Kyrgyzstan
The weekend has started, tomorrow is a Public Holiday here in the UAE (The Prophet's birthday). Husband is managing the BBQ and the kids are playing in the garden, a perfect evening! I am all packed and ready to leave. The taxi will pick me up at 22.30 to take me to the airport and my flight to Tbilisi will leave at 2 am. Not the ideal time to hop on a plane but what do you do?? I'm excited. My friend C sent a message yesterday, saying that she had booked a trip for us to the eastern part of Georgia. That sounds amazing! Camera batteries are charged, memory card empty, I'm ready! So I'll see you in Georgia!

Everyday luxury and "I'm a reader"!

I love magazines and I miss my favourite Swedish ones. Previous years, I have subscribed to a few interior design magazines and then collected them when ever I was back home in Sweden. It's perfectly fine apart from the fact that you have to wait for a very long time to read them and it is quite heavy to carry home ten issues of magazines in your suitcase. So this year I decided to arrange for a subscription all the way to Dubai. It is worth the extra cost and I have something to look forward to! The post system does not work the same way as in other countries. There are no mail boxes so all mail is directed to a company mail box at the post office where our drivers go to collect it ones in a while. Husband has post box as well at his work place and private persons can rent post boxes in post offices or community centres but you don't have it in your house. I'm not quite sure why it is this way, maybe cause there are no real street names and different areas can actually have the same names (or most common, just a number, like 17th street). Sending a letter or a package is just as complicated. Most people rely on FedeX or DHLservices as the whole mail system is quite unpredictable. It can take anything from a few days to weeks until a simple letter reaches its destination. In Singapore it was so simple to send letters, post cards and parcels and I miss that.
Anyways, to get back to my subscription. This year I decided on "Elle Food & Wine" and the first January issue just arrived on my desk! Lots of inspiring recipes, wonderful photos and creative ideas, I can't wait to get home and give it my full attention!!

 
My sweet Joli has been struggling a bit with her letters. Her teacher from KG1 didn't bother to tell me that she was a bit behind on the alphabet and the phonetics until she started KG2 and the new teacher was a bit alarmed that she actually couldn't sound out any letters. Since she is very verbal and has opinions about pretty much everything, she was amazed that her reading ability was so way behind compared to her "normal" comprehension. So we have been practising sight words every day and the other day, she read her first book (very simple words, but still) all by her self and she was so proud. "Mum, I'm a reader, I can read!!!" She also managed to read out the words "salt" on the crisp pack which caused yet another euphoria. When I was a child, I loved books. I could spend hours in the library and I have done all in my power to pass that on to my children. However, my son is not that keen. I have bought him so many books, C.L Lewis, Harry Potter, Wimpy Kid-books but nothing has really caught his attention, until this Christmas, when I gave him Adam Blades' "The Beast Quest". It is a serie of many different books (up to 50 I think) and he truly enjoys them. The text is a bit larger and there are a few pictures to make it a bit easier. And in less than a month, he has already finished three books. Another favourite is Tintin, but other than that, I'm really struggling to find him something that he finds interesting enough. Husband tells me to relax as he wasn't a big reader either when he grew up and now he reads more than I do but reading is so important, not only for the pleasure itself to dig into a new, exciting book but the vocabulary, grammar,  different ways of expression etc that you only learn by reading a lot of books.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

SPA-night

Once a month, the ladies on our street are organizing a SPA-evening. There are plenty of companies here in Dubai that do SPA-services at people's houses. They arrive with their baskets full of nail polish, wax, massage tables etc and set up a complete SPA at your house! I think it's a brilliant concept! So whilst enjoying a nice pedicure and/or manicure, you can chit chat with your friends, have a nice glass of wine and relax. And you don't have to drive anywhere. Everyone usually brings a plate of nibbles, cheese, spring rolls, crisps, biscuits, anything edible. And wine of course!! Last night, friend S was hosting the first SPA get together for this year with all the ladies gathering after work for a nice treatment, but mostly for the great company. Since a few of us are working full time, we don't get to see each other as often as we want, so a SPA-night is a the perfect arrangement!

Cheese platter!

More cheese

Not only very decorative, but very yummy!
Home made pizza slices

My contribution, filipino spring rolls (lumpia), made by Teresa

Veggie platter
The SPA ladies packed up their equipment and left, and a few of us stayed at S's house for some more wine and a nice chat.
The weather has been unusually cold and I have realized that 6 years outside of the Swedish borders have made my blood very thin. There is no heating inside the house which actually makes it colder indoors than outdoors. I am walking around in sweat pants, furry slippers and a warm cardigan and I'm still freezing!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

And the recipe project continues!

After a brief pause last week, the recipe project continues this weekend with Korean Ribs! I came across this recipe while reading The Haute Cookie blog (I just found this blog and I love it!). It fulfills two of my goals actually; to cook something new and to get more in touch with my Korean cooking self. The recipe looks gorgeous so I was up pretty early this morning to prepare everything and put it in the crock pot. I think one of my best investments ever is that crock pot, or slow cooker. It makes the toughest meat soft and juicy and you can put almost anything inside it and just let it boil slowly for many hours. We make soup, stews, chili, pork baby back ribs and last time, hubby put some beef fillet in there too.
The ribs turned out just amazing! Extermely tender after 8 hours in the slow cooker, simmering in a mix of soya sauce, honey and sugar, together with carrots, onion, green onion and potatoes. Husband and I ate as we hadn't seen food and even my picky daughter dug in with great appetite! This is definitely a recipe I will do again!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Russian dinner

The weekend has been quite busy so far. On Thursday evening, we celebrated hubbys upgrade to Captain and yesterday, I did my weekly grocery run and then Joli had a SPA-party at Times Square with friends from her class. In the evening, we were all invited over to dear friend A for a wonderful Russian dinner! As I have mentioned before, I love Russian food (and Russia in general) so this was a real treat for me. A had made the wonderful zimnij salad (winter salad), a beet root salad with mayonnaise, herring, potatoes and onion (also called "Herring under the fur coat"). We had marinated mushrooms, smoked salmon, Russian bread with delicious red Salmon caviar and as main course, pelmeni (Russian ravioli, small, round dumplings filled with minced meat). By that time I was just as round as the pelmeni and we had to wait for an hour or so before we rounded off with cake and hot tea!
The selection of beverage was of course ice cold vodka!
After dinner, we had a wonderful chat while the kids were playing. Elias found a football game on XBox and the girls were listening to Justin Bieber.
I don't have any plans for today, other than taking my pale self down to the pool for some me-time! A book, some good music will do me good and ready for a new working week tomorrow! And the countdown to Georgia has started!

"Dressed herring" or "Herring under the fur coat" ( cеледка под шубой)
Smoked salmon
Caviar     

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Networking at Media One Hotel

The thought of networking (and add some cheese and wine to that), cheered me up yesterday. I and friend T took a taxi to Media One Hotel, a quite new, modern hotel but still with a personal and intimate style, smack in the middle of Dubai Media City. We headed to the Cafe M where we decided to enjoy the cheese buffet. I love cheese and can eat pretty much of it but even I found my limit yesterday. The concept of a cheese buffet is great but I must admit I felt like a cheese myself after two plates. The lovely staff kept filling our glasses and they also brought additional hot dishes like fried cheese balls with chili sauce, cheese fondue and they were just about to serve a cheese souffle when we actually had to stop them. After the cheese, we headed to Zone Bar where the networking reception was held. As always, it was a rewarding evening with many new connections. While most people started to drop off around 10, a few of us decided to try the pool bar and smoke some shisha. It was quite cold and windy so the staff brought us some scarfs to wrap around ourselves. Around midnight, me and T decided to call it a night. It was husbands last training flight yesterday, and after some anxious waiting, I finally received a text from him, saying that he passed!!! So then I had to stay up until he got home and celebrate. Tonight we are having some people over for drinks, to celebrate even more. It is such a huge relief that it is over and I am very proud of him!





Yum!!
Cheese fondue

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

When in doubts...

There are some days when you are in doubt, about yourself, your ability, your strength. The last couple of days at work have been busy and exhausting and I don't mind busy and exhausting, if it is in a positive way. However, today, I just feel drained. People at work who use their power in the completely wrong way, blaming others to cover for their own mistakes, addressing their colleagues in a rude way. I was very close to just pack up my things and leave. But I guess we are all facing these days, they form a part of life, however some days we are less equipped to handle them. Just as I was today. There seem to be no focus, no goal at my work place anymore. Confusion and frustration, all in one great mix. No strategy, no thread. Which is a pity, because there is so much potential, so many skilled people with great ideas and visions and a concept that is unique.
My inspiration has been at the very bottom of the scale this week. No new recipes (I'm sorry for that), no photos, nothing. However, tomorrow is a new day and I am off to this networking event which I hope will bring something interesting. At least some good wine and nibbles. I'll try to take some nice photos before I dig into their cheese platter!!
Since I don't have anything new to offer photo-wise, I'll posts some more from our wonderful vacation in Montana and Seattle last summer. I would love to go back to Seattle this year and rent a car and drive up towards Vancouver.

Waterfall in Glacier Park, Monana
Fishing near Hamilton, Montana


Seattle and who knew that the famous Ivar was half Swedish, half Norwegian?!

Monday, January 14, 2013

My favourite restaurants in Dubai

Well, this may sound like I am out and about most every night, but that is not the case. I probably know less about various restaurants compared to the average Dubai expat and I also tend to stick with my old favourites, hence not being so adventurous as I should, rather conservative!

Sushi: Toshis sushi buffet at Grand Millennium is one of my favourites. There are plenty of great sushi restaurants here in Dubai but this still remains my favourite. The stunning view over Dubai from the 18th floor adds to the experience of course and the staff are lovely. The main theme is of course sushi and sashimi (oh and I could live solely on sashimi!!) but they also offer tempura and teppanyaki stations.

Steaks: Rivington Grill at Souk Al Bahar and The Meat Company (either Souk Al Bahar or Madinat Jumeirah). Souk Al Bahar offers a sensational view over the fountains but Madinat Jumeirah is not far behind with a great view over Burj Al Arab.

Italian: My all time favourite Italian is Pregos at Media Rotana. I have never been disappointed with Pregos and I have been there quite a few times. And the Amaretto/Vanilla/Pistacchio creme brulee is to die for!!

Tapas:  Seville at Wafi has excellent tapas and also Al Hambra at Al Qasr Madinat Jumeirah.

Lunch: There are plenty of great lunch restaurants, all forms of food and price ranges but one of my favourite lunch places is Carluccio's (Dubai Mall, Mirdif City Centre, Dubai Marina Mall). The food is excellent and they also have a lovely shop where you can buy your pastas, pestos, biscotti etc.

Coffee: No, it's not Starbucks, I am actually not a huge fan of Starbucks. I do miss the cozy, personal little cafes you can find all around Europe, instead of the major coffee chains like Starbucks, Costa, Caribou. Though, I must admit that I love Tim Horton's coffee and Timbits. Luckily, they just opened up several outlets around Dubai recently.

I also have my favourite Afghan restaurant, which is a very humble little place close to Dubai Bowling Center. Plastic flowers, Bollywood TV-shows and a wide range of customers from Central Asia; they still make amazing ploff (rice with meat) and Afghan flat bread. One lunch meal constist of three large skewers, soup, salad, rice and bread. Enough to feed a whole family. The best Afghan meal I have had was in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan but there are plenty of Afghan restaurants here in the UAE.

I definitely need to wider my food horizons and find new favourites. If there is something Dubai can provide, it is good restaurants!

As you can see by this post, nothing exciting is going on in my life. I think I caught a cold, feeling a bit tired and worn out. And I don't have the energy to cook either. I hope that will change soon.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The ABBA mission

...and I am NOT talking about "Waterloo ABBA", but cod fish roe and pickled herring. Since a few months back, Carrefour in Mirdif City Centre has been our main supplier of ABBA products, cod fish roe, pickled herring and Kalles roe spread. However, there seem to be more and more Swedes aware of this rare treasure so now they are out of stock most of the time. Until yesterday, when a friend posted on Facebook that you can actually find the same at Hyperpanda in Dubai Festival City. Since IKEA stopped selling herring (apart from Matjes herring) we have been left to our own devices. IKEA is unfortunately a major disappointment when it comes to Swedish food nowadays. The launching of their new brand cannot have been very successful as there is hardly anything in their shelves. So yesterday, I drove all the way down to Festival Center to put my greedy hands on the last three tubes of roa spread. Other than that, yesterday was very non-adventurous. I bought some frames at IKEA for my new photo wall (inspired by Life's Silverlining and I).
Friday's BBQ turned out really well, we had a great time despite the cold and unfriendly weather that day. Mitzie Mee brought some wonderful chocolate fondants that we all enjoyed. Inspired by Friday's Korean lunch, I decided to indulge a bit more in kimchi last night and opened a jar of Chonggae Kimchi and ate probably half of it with the result that I woke up several times this night with a terrible stomach pain.
I have also failed with my new years project as I was far too busy to cook something new on Friday and yesterday I was way too tired. I am still thinking of doing something exciting and new for tomorrow, not quite sure what.
This week is ga busy one. On Wednesday, I'm attending a network reception for contractors and other companies in the security/peace-conflict business and it is usually interesting and with a great opportunity to meet potential Clients. It is held in Dubai Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City. And on Friday, we are invited to my dear, Russian friend A for a traditional Russian party with vodka, dumplings, salads and dark bread. As I have mentioned before, I am a huge fan of Russian and Central Asian food and when I spent three months studying in Uzbekistan, I gained about 5 kg thanks to the lovely food...

Brother and Sister

Friday, January 11, 2013

Lazy, wonderful Friday

The weekend is a bit different here in the UAE. Our weekend starts on Friday (that is our Sunday and most people are off), our Saturday is like a normal Saturday and Sunday is our Monday (work and school starts). It took a while to get used to this and I guess it can be a bit confusing for tourists and other visitors. Hence, we don't have TGIF, but TGIT!!
Yesterday, I and the ladies on our street went out to celebrate friend L's birthday. A table was booked for us at the new Movenpick hotel Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel (where I and friend A enjoyed wine and nibbles before our two hours of drooling over Daniel Craig a few weeks ago). The theme for the night was Surf N'Turf. Lots of delicious sea food, steaks, salads, deserts, you name it! After the dinner, we moved on to the Moroccan Lounge and enjoyed some cherry shisha. It was one of those wonderful evenings in Dubai and the place was packed. A few drinks later, we all squeezed into a taxi and headed to Rock Bottom Cafe, where we danced until 3 in the morning. Quite impressive I must say!! Not so impressive this morning though as I was dead tired.
As I mentioned in my previous post, this weekend's mission was to try out the new Korean restaurant. I didnt find the one in Golden Tulip hotel but another one, Koreana, next to Ibis Hotel Al Barsha. As we were on our way home from our weekly grocery run, I decided to order a take away; mando (I love steamed mando), kimchi and fried rice. Joli was not too impressed with the food but I just loved it. The kimchi was fantastic! I normally buy the one in a plastic jar at Spinneys but of course, it can never compete with home made kimchi.
Joli trying to master the chop sticks
Mando
Kimchi
I will definitely try to find the other one in Golden Tulip hotel as well.
This morning we woke up to a nasty sand storm. It is still very windy outside but at least the sky is clear. We are having some friends over for a BBQ so I really hope we can sit outside.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Back to my roots (food wise at least)

I have been searching for my birth parents for many years, on and off. It started already when I was in high school (the good old days when you didn't have emails and actually had to send a real letter all the way to Korea!). Nowadays (yes, I can safely say "nowadays" as this was more than 20 years ago...) there are many different and easier ways to search for your  birth parents, through various organizations. I know many friends who have found parents, relatives, sibblings and developed deeper relationships with them. For some of them it worked out well, for some it didnt't work out at all. We all have different reasons, backgrounds and stories. You can never compare it with somebody else. Since I am an orphan, I didn't have much hope to find any form of link to my birth parents, but of course, one always hopes that there would be a letter, a request or something from someone! But, nothing, not even a trace of my foster parents in Seoul. According to the records, they have moved and cannot be located. Well, as I grow older, and my kids grow older, I would like to introduce a bit more of Korea to them, apart from "Gangnam Style". A good start would probably be to visit one of the many Korean restaurants here in Dubai, including a North Korean one (I have to investigate a bit more in this, apparently a restaurant run by people from the North Korean embassy, I guess they are not too busy with visa applications and other consular stuff so they can also run a little restaurant, or perhaps that is how they fund the embassy??!!!). We had the great pleasure of eating at the wonderful Korean restaurant Shilla in Seattle this summer. I think that was the kids first real introduction to Korean food, except for my kimchi jars in the fridge at home... Elias enjoyed his kimchi fried rice but Joli was more suspicious although she is more of an Asian food wise than her brother (fried rice and noodles, must be those early years in Singapore). I have now found a newly opened Korean restaurant not too far away from where we live, Sky Korean Restaurant in Al Barsha. Apparently got some good reviews so this is the weekend shall be the Korean Food Weekend. Time to indugle in kimchi (me) and other Korean specialities. Review to follow!
Football guy
Swim girl
After an extremely busy day at work yesterday, I am trying to get all my other stuff together. This is the week when school starts and with that, field trips, homework grids, birthday invitations and after school activities. Elias will now be playing football and Joli continues with her swimming. It takes me a few days to get back into the routine of going through folders, keeping track of library books, reading books and other stuff. On the other hand it is nice to be back to the old routine.Nothing exciting food wise happened yesterday in our household as I was late from work and had to eat soup and cold garlic bread...Didn't quite cheer me up so I spent half of the evening (when the rest of the lot went to bed) with a glass of wine, editing photos I took of my friend A's lovely house. Someone of them are ok but I can see I still have lots to learn. Well, it is not the goal but the journey right? Have a good day folks!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Winter in Dubai

It is winter in Dubai, the best time of the year. The weather is perfect, you can actually spend more than five minutes outside without getting a heatstroke. The winter is when all out door activities start, when there is always a BBQ going on at someone's house and you see the pool crowded until late afternoon. The parks are full during weekends with families enjoying a picnic while the kids are playing.
The average temperature during the day is around 25-28 degrees, which is like a hot Swedish summer but for us Dubaians, tends to be a bit cool. In the evening, it drops even further, down to 15-16 and that is VERY cold. The kids wear their school jumpers while waiting for the bus in the morning. I have realized that the Swedishness in me is diminishing for every year. Almost six years outside of Sweden takes its toll. I have turned into a complete wimp!
My cooking adventures have not been very adventurous, yesterday we enjoyed fish with mussels, cooked together in a white wine sauce and with that, pressed potatoes and fresh dill from the garden.

Pressed potatoes. Easily done wit a potato press (resembles a garlic press, but bigger)
Fish fillet with white wine sauce and mussels
Jolis mermaid plate from Pottery Barn Kids
I love pressed potatoes, it is a nice alternative to the more common boiled ones and less time consuming than the heavier mash. You press the boiled potatoes in a potato press, which resembles a garlic press, but bigger. And voila, pressed potatoes. Decorate with some fresh herbs! I managed to take a quick tour to the compound gym before dinner yesterday and felt exhausted afterwards, hence an early night for me. Elias was still up working on his homework, compare three different scientists. Apologies for the not so classy photos, I am way too lazy to pull out my Nikon (and when there is dinner time, one has to act quickly in our household to get descent photos before it is all ruined) so most of my recent pictures are taken with my Blackberry (which has a quite good camera for being a phone, I must say).

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Georgia on my mind

A dream is coming true! My dear friend C is renting a small flat in Georgia's capital Tbilisi from mid January to beginning of February and asked if I liked to visit her. Of course, without a doubt! Fortunately FlyDubai flies straight to Tbilisi and also to neighbouring countries Azerbajdzjan and Armenia (next on my travel to-do list). My leave has been accepted by The Boss and I will be away for five days. I realize it is in the middle of the winter but I hope for gorgeous days, shopping, sightseeing in one of the most fascinating countries! And I would love to come back in the summer, to explore the mountains, the Black Sea coast and the countrysides. No visa restrictions for EU-members, which makes it even easier to travel.
My friend C has been working for many years in the South Sudanese capital of Juba and is now transferring to Jerusalem, another interesting place I would not mind visiting. I just have to figure out how I can avoid getting my passport stamped as they don't allow you back in the UAE if you have a stamp from Israel. However, I know that many people in the region are still travelling to Israel, either by obtaining a second passport or avoiding the stamp somehow.
My beurre blanc project has taken a new turn. I have been googling and found a few other recipes of beurre blanc, all with different ingredients. I will therefore have to devote an entire cooking day to find the best version of Beurre Blanc. And preferably not the day after a Girls night out when all you want you can think of is pizza take away.
Beautiful Georgia (photo from Wikipeda)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Fried salmon with beurre blanc sauce

The recipe project started officially today. Since I was out with the girls last night, the inspiration for cooking was not at its best this morning. I decided to fry salmon fillet (which is nothing new really) and serve it with Beurre Blanc. I have never made Beurre Blanc before so that would be this week's challenge. I found the recipe in my Swedish gourmet recipe book from "Allt om mat" ("All about food", a food and wine magazine). I love that book but I have never actually made anything from it, until today.

Fried salmon with beurre blanc
4 pieces of salmon fillet

Beurre Blanc
1 shallot (I used yellow onion as I forgot to buy shallots and it seemed to work fine)
1 tbsp butter for frying
3 dl white wine
2 dl water
1 chicken broth cube
100 g butter
1/2 dl finely chopped dill

Chop the shallots and fry in butter in a saucepan. Add wine, water and the chicken broth. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until some of the liquid has evaporated, leaving about 3-4 dl. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk two pieces of butter into the reduction. Set the pan over low heat and continue whisking butter into the sauce, one chunk at a time, allowing each piece to melt into the sauce before adding more. Remove it from the heat and add the chopped dill. Taste and add some more salt or whitepepper if necessary.
Fry the salmon fillets in butter in a pan, serve with boiled potatoes and a fresh salad.


Voila! Bon Appetit!
Beurre Blanc in progress

The sauce tasted really good, rich and buttery and with a touch of the fresh dill (straight from Hubbys garden). I know there are many different ways to make Beurre Blanc but this worked fine for me and it was easy enough for an impatient soul like myself. I promise you that next week's recipe will be a bit more interesting.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Easy fish dish

I love fish and we try to have it at least once a week. Especially after the holidays and all "heavy" food, it felt nice with something lighter, such as fish. This recipe is simple to make:

Fish with dill and leek

500 g fish fillet (frozen or fresh), cut in cubes
dill
1 leek, finely chopped
water
butter

Fill a saucepan with half water and half butter. Bring to boil and add the fish and the herbs, salt and pepper. Boil the fish for 10 min or until the fish meat is white. Serve with boiled potatoes and/or a salad.


Husbands home grown corn

Yummy fish and so easy to prepare!

Husbands garden project is starting to pay off so we enjoyed a lovely salad with home grown capsicum, corn and dill! Isn't that just amazing, to step out in your garden and just pick whatever you like for your dinner. And it does taste so much more than the sad examples you will find in the shop. The capsicum was all sweet and so was the corn.
I am still excited about my new recipe project and I am not frenetically searching for "The Ultimate Best New Recipe" for Friday. I am thinking fish, chicken, meat, starter.... I have searched all my recipe books but nothing seems worthy enough to kick off this great project. I will keep you all posted!

To- Do List for 2013

The new year's resolution for 2012 was to eat less carbs and start exercising on a more regular basis. I will definitely continue exercising (currently spinning and running). I feel so much better, more energetic, healthier. Cutting down on carbs is the tricky part as I am real carb junkie. I love potatoes (all shapes and forms), pasta and rice. I could probably live on spaghetti and ketchup only. However, we have now introduced more vegetables (steamed) and sometimes ratatouille or other healthier replacements for the good old potato.
Other things I want to do for 2013 is travelling. I would love to go back to Korea this year, see my good old friend E (we were neighbours in Singapore and she would always invite me over for yummy Korean food and she taught me how to make kimchi) and show the kids what Korea looks like. We have also put Greece on the vacation map for this year. The idea is to rent a house and spend about a week, three families with kids all together. Cooking, drinking wine, enjoying the weather... a bit like Mamma Mia (but without Pierce, unfortunately...).

Post Christmas pre New Years taco dinner

Yesterday, as I was comfortably resting in the TV sofa, I came across a movie called Julie and Julia. It is about Julia Child and the journey that lead to her cooking book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and a parallell story of Julie, who runs a blog and decides to cook all the recipes in the book in 365 days. The movie kind of inspired me and no, I won't make a promise to cook one new recipe every day (I can't even come up with something new even once a week) but I have decided to try one new recipe every Friday. Friday is the day I do my groceries so hence easy to plan what ingredients I need and regardless if hubby is home or not (most of the times not) I will still stick to my plan (I may stretch it to Saturdays if Friday proves to be inconvenient). Since we rarely eat desert and cakes in our family (yes, very boring) it will have to be something dinner-related. The recipes can be from anywhere, magazines, books, blogs, internet you name it. And they will be written down in my new "Recipe trial book" which will (needless to say) contain the recipe itself, short summary of the cooking process itself (too messy, complicated, time consuming) and of course, the grand finale, how did it taste? I am very excited about this new project of mine but I am also aware of that most of my ideas normally only make it to the "theory" stage and rarely move further to the "practice" one.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Years Eve

The New Years' table

 

Welcome drinks

Instead of napkin rings! Ribbons from Daiso

The food table

White chocolate mousse with strawberries on top


We had a truly wonderful evening last night with great food and even greater company, including dear blogging friend and neighbour Circles in the Sand! Eventhough we managed to leave work earlier, I still ran out of time and found myself still in the kitchen by the time the guests were supposed to arrive. Luckily they were a bit late and I had time to finish off my chocolate mousse, which turned out really well. Very smooth and yummy and easy to make!
After the dinner we all sat outside, chatting, drinking until it was time to prepare for the traditional walk to the desert (which is right outside our security gate). From there we have the best view of all the fire works in town, Global Village, Burj Khalifa, Jumeirah, Burj al Arab, the Marina area...! We brought glassed and a few bottles of bubbly and greeted the new year with other Layan inhabitants. The kids had a blast, running around in the sand, chasing each other.

White chocolate mousse (4 portions)
200 g white chocolate
1 egg yolk
3 dl whipping cream

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and melt in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until melted. Set aside to cool.  Separate the egg and beat the egg yolk slightly. Beat the cream but not too hard. Mix the egg yolk with the melted chocolate, stir. Fold the eggg yolk and chocolate mix into the whipped cream and mix it all thoroughly. Pour into a decorative glass and leave to set in the fridge for a few hours. Decorate with fresh/frozen berries.

I have no intentions of doing anything exhausting today, I may take a stroll down to the community pool but that's all. I wish you all a great start of the new year!