Monday, September 30, 2013

South Street Burger @ Ibn Battuta

I think we can say that the BBQ- season has officially started! The weather has cooled down significantly and yesterday we enjoyed a lovely BBQ with friends. It was wonderful to sit outside, not too hot and very low humidity.
Joli is home sick today with a runny nose and a bad cough. Elias made the school football team so he is off this afternoon with his Dad to buy new football clothes and shoes. He actually got a brand new pair for his birthday, six months ago but they are already too small. His feet are the same size as mine already and he is only 10!
Husband is flying to Stockholm again on Tuesday, this time for work and not vacation. I have put in my standard order for more crisps and Falusausages.
From one subject to another! I normally bring my lunch box to work as it is cheaper (and normally tastier than the food court food) and save a lot of time. However, sometimes it is nice to leave the office and go out for a quick lunch meal. I am working in the free zone area, Jebel Ali Free zone or JAFZA as people call it and there are a few (very few) options around this area:
1. The JAFZA food court which is next to JAFZA building 15
2. Ibn Battuta Mall (which is around 10 min away by car from the office)

Ibn Battuta Mall offers a larger variety of food outlets and a slightly more pleasant environment, especially being situated at a mall.  A new popular burger place amongst my co- workers is South Street Burger Co, a Canadian burger chain that opened up recently in Dubai. It is located in the Tunisian food court, next to the supermarket Geant. The burgers are fried upon request and the menu features 100% pure, fresh, Angus beef patties from Spring Creek Ranch in Alberta where cattle are raised without the use of added hormones or antibiotics. Sides include New York Fries french fries and a variety of poutines, hand-made onion rings and milkshakes.
A wide selection of "toppings"

Fresh veggies

You can choose between white bread or brown bread

New York fries are always New York fries!
I have to say that these burgers (for still being "fast food" burgers are extremely good! You can chose between medium and well done and there is a large variety of "toppings" to be added to your burger, such as mayo, garlic mayo, onion, pickles, jalapeno, salad, veggies, goat cheese, mango chutney and various sauces. If you buy a combo meal you will also get a cup of golden crispy fries and a soda/water.
This is the third time I have tried the South Street Burger Co and I will definitely go back! A yummy lunch that doesn't take too long when you have a limited lunch hour but still gives you a good meal value for your money!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Like Christmas

Hubby had 8 days off and decided to go to Sweden and do some work on his summer house up north. Emirates is now flying daily to Stockholm so it is very convenient for us to get home (either via Copenhagen or Stockholm). He had a very productive week, planting trees, renovating the summer house and catching up with friends and family. I had given him firm instructions to bring some good Swedish food back home and he definitely did! A whole suitcase filled with various sausages, smoked ham, licorice, Estrella crisps and cheese! I was truly in food heaven (and still am).
And when his roster was released yesterday, turned out he's got three more flights to Sweden in October! Hurray!
The school activities have kicked off and yesterday Elias was accepted to join the school football team (well, in fairness it has to be mentioned that all kids were accepted...) and he was very pleased. This means football training every Wednesday in addition to Swedish lessons and guitar on Tuesdays. I don't want to sign him up for too many activities as they have quite a lot of homework too but some physical activities are always good.
And my "no computer and/or TV- games during the school week" campaign is still working, he is not even asking anymore!
This has week has been "less good" if you can even say that so I am really looking forward to the weekend. Tonight I'm off to Grosvenor House for drinks with friends and tomorrow we are attending a birthday party on the street and on Saturday we have a BBQ booked with friends.
Have a great weekend all!


Saturday, September 21, 2013

More pics from the cocktail party

Some more pics from the cocktail party the other night! It was truly an interesting experience. I am not normally the one to go to such opening events. Thanks again Mitzie Mee!
Free flow of bubbly and gorgeous little desserts

Mitzie Mee

More nibbles

This weekend has been quiet. I met up with my girl on Thursday. It has become something of a tradition to meet up at someone's house on Thursday evening to summarize the week. We are all working and have kids so it is sometimes hard to find time in the middle of the week. On Friday I had my friend A over for dinner and today we have done nothing. A few hours by the pool in the afternoon before dinner, that's all. I have also helped Elias with his art poster about Salvador Dali.
Hubby is expected back tomorrow from Sweden with lots of goodies!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The great Ossigeno party

The other night I was invited to a cocktail party event with Mitzie Mee at the Royal Meridien. We were greated at the door with bubbly and waiters kept serving an endless supply of delicious nibbles. I have never been to any launching event before, I have to admit, so it was a very interesting (and yummy) experience!

Me and Mitzie Mee

Yesterday I attended the "back to school night". It is an evening session where the parents have a chance to meet up with the teachers and hear about this year's program and the expectations and objectives. It is very useful and at least provides you with an idea of what the kids will be doing for the next academic year. 
Today it's finally the weekend which I am looking forward too even more this week as it has been quite hectic. Hubby is coming back from Sweden on Sunday evening and I am already looking forward to Swedish treats (falu sausage and crisps!). Elias has an assignment to hand in on Sunday so I suspect we will be working on that one as well.
Happy Thursday everyone! 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Diploma course in compliance and financial crime

I have started my diploma course in compliance and financial crime and my brain has turned into mush! Two intense days of information overload but also interesting discussions, amazing coffee breaks with nibbles and a gorgeous lunch buffet! Our last day of Module 1 (out of 5) is tomorrow and thankfully, there is no assignment for this first module. The next module will be held by end of October and our last module 5 (with a final exam) takes place in February. If you pass the exam plus the three assignments, you will receive a Diploma.
Being new in the role as compliance manager, this is very interesting and informative for me and I have definitely starting to see the light at the end of the compliance tunnel! Our lecturer, Mr. Peter Haines, has many years experience in compliance and other areas, such as finance and he is inspiring and knowledgeable and also very funny. 
The participants are from all over GCC. We have regulators from Kuwait, banking people from Bahrain and the UAE, three lawyers (from the UK, Spain and France) and I am the only one representing the shipping industry. The terminology is mostly directed at the banking and finance sector but of course this is a topic applicable to any industry (as it should).

Tangy Dipping Sauce

Pork satay

Amazing nibbles served at the coffee break
Husband returned after a few days in Dallas, just managed to unpack and re- pack his bag before he left for Sweden for a week. We did have time for a nice dinner on Saturday, grilled pork satays and an old favourite I completely forgot about! Recipe below!

Grilled pork satays

serves 4 to 6
500 g pork loin sliced into thin strips
30 bamboo skewers soaked in water before using
2 tablespoons oil for basting when grilling
Sweet Thai chili sauce for dipping
sprigs of coriander (cilantro) to garnish

2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons crushed coriander roots and stem
1 tablespoon ground coriander powder
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
80 ml thick coconut milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce

Tangy dipping sauce:
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon minced red chili
1 tablespoon thinly sliced garlic
1 tablespoon thinly sliced shallots
1 tablespoon minced coriander leaves
1 tablespoon sliced spring onion

1. Make the marinade first by combining all ingredients in a large bowl and mixing well. Add the pork strips to the marinade, mix until well coated and marinate for at least 3 hours over overnight if possible.
2. To make the Tangy Dipping Sauce, combine all ingredients in a serving bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Dilute with some water if desired. Set aside.
3. Thread each marinated pork strip onto a bamboo skewer. Thread all the pork strips in this manner and grill, a few at a time, on a pan grill or under a preheated broiler wing for 3- 5 minutes on each side, brushing with a little oil until cooked. Transfer to a serving platter.
4. Serve hot as a snack with a bowl of Tangy Dipping Sauce or Sweet Thai Chili Sauce, garnished with coriander leaves or serve as main course with steamed rice.

We love this dish and normally eat it as a main course! Enjoy!!!

Tomorrow evening, I am joining Mitzie Mee for a menu tasting event at the Royal Meridien. That would be my first time tasting a menu and I hope I won't embarrass myself or Mitzie Mee!
Elias home work has made a kick start with three quite time- consuming tasks involving making a presentation and doing research about an artist.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Recipes, how to store them?

Happy Joli waiting for the school bus

Serious pre- teen Elias with hair gel...
Since I'm working, the kids take the bus to school and it stops conveniently outside our doorstep. They also get dropped off at the same spot!
Yesterday, Elias was working on a school project, to take research notes and write a poster about an artist (he chose Salvador Dali) and I was flicking through my old issues of "Skona hem" and "Lantliv", chasing new recipes. These are now waiting to be properly added to my recipe file, which will probably take another couple of months. How do you store your recipes? In neat files or crammed together in a folder? I started the whole project off earlier this year by typing them and then printing off and put in nice plastic folders but as the collection expands, I am not sure if I have the time to re-type them or if I should just glue them to some nice paper. Sometimes it is nice to keep the original picture, at least to get an idea what it is supposed to look like!
Today it's Thursday and I am so looking forward to the weekend! Elias and Joli are invited to a birthday party on Saturday and we are meeting up at Mall of the Emirates for pizza and then an afternoon movie. Tonight I'm heading out to meet up with Mitzie Mee to hear all about her adventures in Vegas and LA!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hubby's garden project and a breakfast meeting

Hubby has a new project, to build a green house in our garden! He has been experimenting for a while with various vegetables and with various results. During the summer months it is simply too hot and the plants die in the sun. The solution is a green house, covered with a thick fabric that will keep the sun away but still allow for air and some light. This is where our tomato, chili and sugar snaps will grow. I have to admit that he has been very successful despite the hot summer. We have enjoyed homegrown tomatoes, corn, basil, rosemary, chili, capsicum, sugar snaps, long beans and strawberries and it is a special feeling to eat vegetables from your own garden. Hopefully the survival rate of his plants will be higher now with their new "house".
Yesterday, Elias and his friend B helped out to remove old bricks and make way for new pots and today the work will continue.
I have very little to do with our garden, I am not a garden person at all, except that I enjoy looking at it, and eating whatever it produces.... We are buying some more pots to put outside the green house and I am also thinking of hanging some small flower baskets on the wall to brighten it up.
Yesterday we had our first shamal in months. A shamal is a strong sandstorm and if you have seen "Mission Impossible 4 Ghost Protocol", you get an idea of what it is like. The sky goes all dark and sand is literally flying everywhere. It was over in an hour though, leaving everything covered in sand.
Despite the storm, we managed to host a smaller BBQ yesterday. We had a great evening, the kids were playing around and Elias, who was home sick yesterday, got a bit overwhelmed with the school start, homework and being tired so there was a slight meltdown before bedtime. This morning he seemed to be fine though and went to school.
I attended a breakfast meeting at Thomson Reuter's yesterday about anti money laundering. It was very interesting I must admit and I am looking forward even more to my diploma course that starts next week! I actually didn't think that anti money laundering and compliance could be so interesting!
School activities have kicked off and Joli is enrolled in her swimming class and Elias will resume his guitar lessons. Good to be back on track!
The green house

Sun roof to protect the plants

Inside the green house

Finally the weather is cooling down and we can sit outside

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Back to school

Official school start yesterday and I have never seen so many happy parents! I decided to bring the kids there in the morning and send them home in the bus. Elias immediately saw some friends and disappeared before I knew it. Joli was a bit more anxious until she spotted some old friends from KG and relaxed a bit. All Grade 1 teachers met the kids outside the cafeteria (it was insanely hot to stand there, waiting). They then brought all the kids inside to their respective classroom where us parents were kind of left to our own devices outside.
Changing schools is a quite common thing here in Dubai, for various reasons. Sometimes kids will not get admitted to their first choice of school and have to be put on a waiting list. This could go on for a year or even longer as it all depends on how popular the school is and their admission policy. The international schools offer either American curriculum, international curriculum with IB or British curriculum. We have chosen an IB school and one of four authorized schools in the world and the only authorized school in the UAE to offer all four IB programmes (Primary Years, Middle Years, Diploma Program and Career- related Certificate). I can now see the results of the IB years with Elias since he has been with Greenfield Community School since Grade 1. The way they encourage the children to be open minded, creative and taking risks is amazing. During the semester, the students have to complete several projects. Last year they created a board game based on their knowledge of the human body and they also had to make their own invention and describe the process behind it, how it works and its advantages. There was also role play where they could select a historic character and dress like that person and describe an ordinary day in that person's life. Elias loves this kind of work and they do all sorts of research in class and at home before the project ends with some form of exhibition where parents are invited to admire their work.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Haven SPA

We are very fortunate to have our own SPA called "The Haven SPA" inside our compound. It is quite small but with wonderful and professional staff. I go there every second week for my pedicures and hair colouring and yesterday I decided to try something new, a full body massage and a facial. The entire treatment took 2 hours and me, being on the impatient side, was slightly worried that I'd get bored. I did not have to worry as time flew by and I found myself more relaxed than in a very long time! After the one hour massage, I finished off with the facial and was given three options; anti ageing, deep cleansing and rejuvenating. I went for the deep cleansing and today my face is as smooth as a baby's behind! This is something that I will definitely treat myself to again. Sitting in front of a computer all days make my back quite sore so a bit of massage now and then truly helps. I have never been a huge fan of massage before as I always found it too rough and more painful than relaxing. However, yesterday's session proved me wrong!
Today we are beginning a new month, September and school starts tomorrow. I am quite happy for them to get back to some form of routine as there have been many late nights and late mornings (as it should during school holidays).
The Eid Al Adha holidays have been announced as well in the newspaper and it seems like the private sector will get three days off, Monday to Wednesday. I would love to go somewhere with the kids but suspect it will be tricky as the whole country and other GCC states have the same holidays so flights will probably be full. Destinations currently on my mind are Stockholm (Emirates opening up Stockholm this week so hopefully the flights are not that full yet plus it is in October) or Seoul (hopefully off peak so less full flights). We shall see!