Culture Vulture | Fire Station Museum

Culture, Lifestyle, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

The art movement in Qatar is in its infancy but it has a lot of potential.  Not only that the government is very keen in amassing a good wealth of artwork from all over but is determined in developing talents within the country.  A perfect example of this is the Fire Station Museum which originally housed the fire brigade.  The idea of recycling a Civil Defense building to become an art hotspot is superb!  But it doesn’t stop there.  Qatar’s Museum Authority uses this hub to hone emerging creatives thru their residency program which I believe is what needed to propel the country as an art destination.

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Photo Credit: Veronica Yu

Last week, we made a quick visit (my first) and on display is the German Encounters exhibit.  It’s a very interesting collection of works that range from photographs to paintings to the mundane (stovetop?).  According to the museum’s website, these pieces are from the Deutsche Bank Collection.  I am neither an art critic nor enthusiast but I appreciate the idea and effort they put into this.

Here are some photos I took during my visit.

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Just looking around…

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There’s a section where you can submit words from your native language as well.  I spotted some Ilocano (a dialect in the Philippines) words in the mix.

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I don’t know but this reminds me of those beach hats Koreans wear when travelling in the Philippines. 

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That girl is working it!

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This can be a good fabric print!

There’s also Cafe #999 in the compound for when you need a break from all the walking and looking around.  They serve breakfast so this can be a good option during the weekend .  Next to the cafe is an art supply store where you can buy all the stuff you need for your next masterpiece. LOL.

So, have you been?

B3W

In Photos | Christmas 2017 In Doha

Culture, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

For the fifth consecutive year, I’m celebrating the yuletide here in the sandpit and away from home.  Some of you who have never stepped foot in this part of the world may think that Christmas in the desert is not the same as in the Philippines or Europe or in the US.  It may be true to some extent (Qatar is a Muslim country so Christmas is not really considered a holiday—yes, we work on Christmas…and New Year’s too) but most of the things you enjoy or traditions you do back home to make this season memorable can be replicated here as well.

Oh, and cheat week (month is more precise?) is enforced.  Yay for turkey!

Dinner at the Mestarihis

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But first, photo op…:-)

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and another one

(Early) Media Noche Feast at Sabai Thai

The lobby at Westin Doha.

And then, gluttony (I love my Asian food).

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Welcome drinks at Sabai Thai

Care for some papaya salad?

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Taking a break

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Cheers to all the hardworking expats in Doha!

Night Out at the Souq

Shisha? Turkish coffee? Souq?  Sign me up!

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Bring it on 2018! I’m ready for you!

***

It was a great week despite the fact that I was alone at home—a first in five years I’ve been staying in Doha.  I would have gone out more, maybe visited some museums, but I was too lazy.  Must be the weather.  LOL.  I had fun and I hope everyone enjoyed theirs as well.

Cheers!

 

B3W

 

Bargain Eats | Bin Mahmoud, Doha

Lifestyle, The Hitlist, Tummy Adventure, Uncategorized

Let’s establish some truths first.

Fact number one: Expensive doesn’t always mean good food.

Fact number two: Everybody loves to eat.

Fact number three: Everybody loves to eat cheap!

Bin Mahmoud is sort of like an oasis to a foodie.  It will satisfy most of your cravings and you’ll never get bored as there are plenty of options.  No exaggeration.  Here are some of the best bargain eats in the area.

Tofu House

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Who’s hungry? (Photo: Facebook)

The king of Al Jazeera Street.  This Korean restaurant is the best in the area IMHO.  Their jjampong and chicken wings (Korean style) are enough reason for you to visit this joint. They recently expanded and now has a bigger dining space but is usually packed in the evening so it is best to call and reserve a table in advance.

Khao San

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Sawadee khrup! (Photo: Facebook)

The new player in the vicinity.  I had the green curry tofu when I first went to this restaurant and it did not disappoint.  I love it mak mak.  It gives you that feeling of being in one of those eateries in Bangkok.  The staff (who are mostly Filipinos I believe) are very attentive and they engage customers in small talks (so you don’t feel alone when dining by yourself lol).

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I want my Mango Sticky Rice now…

Falafel Al-Akawi

On a tight budget?  Then Falafel Al-Akawi can be your best friend especially during that critical week before month-end.  A basic falafel sandwich from this joint is four riyals.  Yes, FOUR.  Service is quick, food is tasty, prices are super affordable.  Plus many say this is one of the best falafel places in Doha.  And did I mention they are open 24/7? Go now.  No judgment here.

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Empty tummy no more! (Photo: Facebook)

Silversticks

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Why did I give up meat again? (Photo: Facebook)

Who doesn’t like shawarma?  C’mon, it’s the ultimate comfort food (Khaleeji-style).  And for a small price (12 riyals), you can have a big chicken shawarma sandwich which again, in my opinion, is really yummy (my pretentious plant-based self is aching to have one at this very moment).  They also have grilled meats and seafood in their menu so choices are not limited.

Al Aker Sweets

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Ricotta overload!

Craving for something sweet?  It was only recently when I found out about their branch on Al Jazeera Street and now it’s just a short walk from home to get fresh from the oven knafeh (the best Middle Eastern dessert IMO).  Lucky me!

***

So give those fancy schmancy restaurants a rest and go cheap.  There will be no need to dress-up and your bank account will sing you praises if you do.  But just because it’s affordable doesn’t mean you have an excuse to eat two servings.  Everything in moderation, please.

 

B3W

 

 

Table For One | Paper Moon Doha

Tummy Adventure, Uncategorized

It’s Thursday and none of my colleagues from work felt like going out for lunch.  I wasn’t mindful of the time and forgot to order food so the inevitable happened—I dined solo. This is not the first time though as I enjoy having a meal in a restaurant by myself every now and then—no judgy friends watching me stuff my face with food. And I’m not worried about being looked upon pitifully by the staff. LOL

I work at Jaidah Square so I went to the nearest food place—Paper Moon.  Call me lazy but I was wearing my Doc Marten’s (read: gym weights attached to your feet) and didn’t feel like walking to check other restaurants in the area.  Also, I know what to expect from this place.  Decision justified.

I chose to sit outside since the weather is amazing.  Never mind that it’s the smoking area (I’ve stopped months ago), the outdoor seating in this restaurant is quite nice.

And then the food.

I went straight to their business lunch menu of course (glad they have this on offer) and ordered these.

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Mozzarella and tomato with basil

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Garlic pasta using home made square spaghetti

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Cheesecake with white chocolate shavings

The appetizer is what you’d expect from a caprese salad.  Flavor wise, the pasta dish is good.  However, the texture of the spaghetti reminded me of ramen noodles which is a bit weird.  It’s my first time to try this home made square spaghetti so I’m not sure if that’s the intention here.  The dessert tasted good BUT it’s a bit mushy—like it was in the freezer then defrosted before serving. #justbeingreal

The staff was attentive and didn’t give me the “poor-you-you’re-alone” look so that somehow made this visit worthwhile.

Overall, it was a good one hour of me time.  One hour of being invisible (in a good way) and not caring about my garlic breath.  LOL.  You should do it sometime if you haven’t tried eating alone in a restaurant.  It can be liberating and you might learn a thing or two about yourself, who knows.

B3W

For The Love Of Hookah

Culture, Lifestyle

Shisha is part of Doha culture and the Arab world in general.  I wouldn’t say it’s integral but no one will say shisha or hookah without picturing the sands of the Arab world.  I remember when I first came here four years ago, the first place I went to was Souq Waqif where most of the cafés and restaurants serve shisha.  I tried smoking this back in Manila but it was different when I first had it here.  It was stronger and packed more flavor.  Or maybe it’s the souq and the fact that I’m in Qatar which made the experience more authentic.

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Photo taken in March 2013, Souq Waqif

While buying your own water pipe and setting it up at home is more practical than going to shisha lounges, it is more enjoyable to do this sitting with the locals and other expats.  I guess it gives me the feeling of being part of the culture.

Now having spent several years in the sandpit, there are places where my friends and I usually visit to get our fix.  Other than the lounges in hotels around Doha, I prefer the standalone establishments for two good reasons—you’ll get better quality (based on experience) and it won’t hurt your wallet.  The following are three of my favorite hookah hangouts in the city.

Downtown Restaurant

Back when West Bay was home, Downtown is the most convenient for me as it’s walking distance from where I live.  The whole staff is nice and the service is great.  The food they serve is not bad either.  My Lebanese friend even commented that they serve one of the best tabbouleh in Doha.  As this is located in the business area, it’s the perfect after-work option to meet with friends where you can have hookah and a pleasant dinner.

Orient Pearl

This restaurant is situated along the Corniche and very easy to locate (re: dancing fountain).  This place is huge and has good interiors.  This is great for families as they’ve set up a playground where kids can play while the grown-ups do some adulting.  LOL.  They serve some of the best Arabic dishes IMHO.  There are performances every now and then especially during Ramadan which makes this a must-visit during that time of the year.

Souq Waqif

This is a no-brainer.  Located in the heart of Doha, this souq offers a lot of things.  There are dozens of shops selling a wide variety of items, a lot of food options, street performances, art galleries and there’s a museum too. You can literally spend an entire afternoon (or evening!) walking and exploring the alleys of this Qatari market.

Any of the outdoor cafés or restaurants in this area is a perfect spot for shisha and peoplewatching.  Al-Bandar, Damasca and Le Gourmet are excellent examples.  And at 35 riyals, it won’t burn a huge hole in your pocket.

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Other than these three, Layali at Lagoona Mall, Eatopia at the Gate Mall, Burj Al Hamam at the Pearl and Shisha Garden at La Cigale are very good options as well.

My usual combo of shisha and green tea

So go now and have a puff.  Just keep in mind that like cigarettes, shisha smoking can be detrimental to your health so do it sparingly.

 

B3W

Friday Catch-Up With Friends At La Spiga

Lifestyle, Tummy Adventure

There is no better way to spend Fridays in Doha but to de-stress after an entire week spent in the office and meet with friends for lunch and do a bit of gossiping (yes, we love to do that like everybody else).  We decided to meet at La Spiga in W Hotel because we felt it will be the perfect place to talk and catch-up (nice and quiet) as most people will be brunch-ing in other restos.  And we can use our Entertainer vouchers so that’s a bonus.

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Veronica having a moment with the menu

Since this is not our first time dining here plus the fact that Veronica and I are (sort of) following a pescetarian diet, it didn’t take long for us to pick what we wanted to have for lunch.  We went for the sea bass and hamour while Rica and Justin, the meat eaters, opted for the beef mains.  We all had dessert of course because meals are never complete without them.

As for the interiors, we still can’t seem to grasp the idea of photos of Hollywood icons hanging on the walls considering it’s an Italian restaurant.  Maybe they have a reason for that, who knows?  The place is cozy and nice although the dim lighting gives off a snobby ambience.  Overall, food and service considered, La Spiga is a great choice for eating out in Doha.

 

B3W

Will You Grow A Moustache This November?

Fashion, Lifestyle

You should.

To raise awareness of men’s health issues, an annual event is being held and ran by the Movember Foundation since 2004.  The organization’s aim is to reduce the number of preventable deaths among men—be it cancer or mental health issue—by increasing the rate of early disease detection, accurate diagnosis and effective treatments.  Their website contains a wealth of information—from the causes they are pushing for to interesting trivia to styling and grooming tips—so do me a favor and click this link.

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The idea is simple:  Show your support and involvement by signing up at https://ex.movember.com/ , growing your moustache (not your beard!) for 30 days and helping to raise funds for the (worthy) causes the foundation is advocating.  The task is not difficult.  You just need to stay away from your razor (or clipper) until the end of November.  That’s it!  Minimal effort required and you get to promote awareness among family and friends.  Not to mention the money you will save from buying creams and aftershave cologne—it’s a win-win!  Hehe.

From a style perspective, the mo is making a comeback and currently a fashionable look for guys (please don’t wear it with flared pants or you’ll be in retro land!) .  It may be off-putting to some (hello, creepy) and have a dated quality to it but if you manage to pull this off, you’ll be the coolest guy anybody would want to hang out with.  I can see this look good with pieces from H&M’s collaboration with Erdem—a perfect contrast of masculine and feminine.  But since having one can be a hit or miss, the Movember initiative is a great way to determine whether the ‘stache is for you or not.

Here are some styles you may want to try.

Try out the chevron or if you want to unleash your inner hipster, go for the handlebar (the latter may require you more than a month to grow so that means commitment).  Yalla! Make the month of November count.  Grow those whiskers and be the difference in a man’s life.

 

B3W

In The Mood For Denim

Fashion

As Doha transitions to cooler weather, a wardrobe change is in order. Now is the time to take your coats and jumpers out from wherever you’re keeping them so you’ll be ready once the temperature drops.

I’m a Manila boy so I didn’t invest in cold weather garbs before coming here but since Qatar winters are not like Canada’s, a sweater or a light jacket will suffice.  If you don’t have one yet, a jean jacket would be a nice addition to your clothes arsenal.  It’s light, casual and Doha weather appropriate which means layering is possible without the worry of looking and feeling stuffy.

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Photo grabbed from The Garment District

Denim is made of cotton so you know it can breathe and can be dyed in a wide range of colors.  It comes in different thickness too so depending on how you can tolerate the cold is just a matter of preference.  In terms of styling, denim clothing is versatile.  You can even wear this material to work!  Like this for example:

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Eidos Slim-Fit Unstructured Herringbone Denim Blazer at Mr. Porter

Personally, I like the distressed (not extreme though) look as the frays and abrasions exude more character—it has that lived-in vibe (without looking beggarly) that I really love.

 

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The Classic.  Levi’s Distressed Denim Jacket at Mr. Porter

How about these trucker jackets?

Did I inspire you to get one?  I know I did. =)

 

B3W

 

 

 

Weekend Rundown | Lazy Day Friday to Sugar & Spice to Dana’s Farewell

Lifestyle, Tummy Adventure

My Friday can be summed up in two words: TV and bed. Don’t judge me but after a busy week at work, I decided that Friday is going to be a lazy get-up-from-bed-only-when-I-need-to-pee kind of day.

Yesterday is a different story though—the roomie and I sort of had a long day.  Our first stop was at Sugar & Spice for a quick and “healthy” (read: no dessert) lunch with Pam and Aya.  In my opinion, this restaurant is the best reason to visit Aspire Park (as opposed to running or anything that involves sweat). It has a homely ambiance (the good kind—very shabby chic), comprehensive menu, and very good service.  The owner of this establishment really did his homework IMHO.

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My wannabe vegetarian self ordered the Quinoa Kale salad (will try to replicate this at home!)


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Trinkets galore! I would love to have this at home but I doubt it will look this chic.  Imagine the upkeep this chandelier requires…not for me…LOL

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This button-studded lamp-shade is super cute. Mmmmm, and Aya, too.

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Is the sun bothering you?

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Our very own Gucci girl, Pam

We headed to Villagio to get some Starbucks and do some window shopping (read: broke) after lunch.  There were a lot of walking because girls.  By the way, do you know how frustrating it is to look and find something you like and not able to buy it?  VERY.  At that point I started to direct my thoughts to my bed and how I miss it already.  Hehe.

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In the evening, we were bound for Dana’s farewell dinner.  Our sweet girl is getting married soon and she’ll be settling in the US with the husband.

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Pretty in pink!  We will miss our future Mrs.  Thanks for inviting us!

Like the ones you see on Pinterest, the table set-up is really cute.  Props to Yasmin!  Yay!  Just look at those lemons! LOL.  This can be a good catering business idea, no???

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Are we having lemonade after?

Here are more photos from last night:

***

I have mixed feelings when I got home.  I had a fun weekend but at the same time can’t help but think it’s Sunday the next day and that almost always ruins the vibe.

So how did your weekend go?  Did you do anything fun?

 

B3W

 

Saturday Brunchin’ at Santa Monica Breakfast Club Doha

Life In Doha, Tummy Adventure

Last Saturday, we went to meet some friends for brunch at the Santa Monica Breakfast Club located in Grand Hyatt Hotel (just opposite of Lagoona Mall).

The first thing you’ll notice when you walk in is the decor.  Everything is vivid and colorful—from chairs to table napkins to the murals on the walls.  This place will definitely put a smile on your face.

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Weekends are made for brunches (and sleeping).  It’s a fact.  Do not argue with me.

Our group ordered the Super Nachos and some fries (regular and sweet potato) for starters.  The fries were textbook—nice and crisp.  The nachos, on the other hand, weren’t overloaded like the ones being served in other casual dining spots but was quite OK.  It has the basics—nachos, cheese, sour cream, salsa and guacamole.

For our mains, most of us opted for the salad.  I had the Ocean’s Eleven salad which is basically fennel, celery, octopus and some greens in orange dressing.  It was light and the fennel didn’t overpower the other ingredients.  The rest went for the Californication salad, Santa Margarita pizza, Pan Con Chicharon, Brekkie Bao Buns (this looked so yum but it’s meat so deadma) and Sweet Soy Glazed Chicken.  I didn’t hear anyone of them complaining so the food they had must be good.

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Ocean’s Eleven

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Santa Margarita and Super Nachos

Eating out in Doha, just like everywhere else, can be expensive and will make you think twice about spending your hard earned money.  But if you have the Entertainer app on your phone, it becomes guilt-free as you can use 2 for 1 vouchers (maximum of three per table) to trim down the bill.  We used three and saved a lot! If you don’t have it yet, you may download the app from the App Store or Google Play.

B3W