27 October 2014

Friday Brunch at Al Bahou, Ibn Battuta Gate

My entire family (including Mama, my sister, and Gabe) and I were invited to have brunch at Al Bahou in Ibn Battuta Gate last Friday.  And armed with the knowledge that the food and hotel were a sight to behold, I made sure to take pictures.

Upon entering the hotel, we were welcomed by this beautiful flower arrangement which adorned the lobby
And there were a couple of life-sized camel statues that we took pictures with

I'm sure these stunning Arabian lanterns hanging from the ceiling throughout the hall never ceases to amaze guests and visitors
At opposite ends of the hotel, you could see a huge image of Ibn Battuta on a horse on one, and a compass and sailboat on the other

At 12:30, we were led to the Al Bahou banqueting hall where we were given welcome drinks that were so refreshing, we consumed these during our meal instead of the softdrinks or other fresh juices they offered.
The Al Bahou Brunch includes the hotel's restaurants Chor Bazaar, Mistral, Moroc Bar, Sicilia, and Shanghai Chic.  Aside from this, they have dedicated rooms for Pork and Cheese, and, get ready for it, Dessert. That's right, an entire room full of delectable cakes and sweet pastries!  I was tempted to go there right away, but I stopped and reminded myself that I needed to eat "real food" first, else my daughters wouldn't eat properly.

With such a vast spread, it would make anyone confused as to where to begin, so we just started with the nearest stations to our table: the bread, and seafood, maki and sushi.

Hubby was overjoyed when he saw his favorite Arabic dish, the Lamb Ouzi.
We had a delightful time taking portions of dishes from the Indian, Italian, East Asian, Arabic and international cuisines that were spread all throughout the banquet hall.  It was a good thing we went there hungry, allowing us to taste a little of everything.  Our taste buds were definitely satisfied.

Of course I made sure to save some space in my tummy for dessert, and I was so glad I did. The roomful of mouth-watering sweets and treats was absolutely impressive with its wide selection

While we enjoyed our food, a couple of musicians performed on stage from time to time, entertaining the diners with relaxing songs
Adorning the hall, we saw this rickshaw from India and bright red scooter from Italy

There was even a Jack O' Lantern and pumpkins, reminding us that Halloween was only a few days away
Despite the hall's grand ambiance, the children were not left out. There was an indoor cinema for kids with a buffet of fruits, pasta, chicken nuggets, fish fingers, fries, and sandwiches, along with assorted sweets, cookies, and freshly cooked popcorn, all readily available for the young ones' little hands and tummies so they didn't have to go out and miss scenes from their favorite movies.

The young diners also had access to the Camel Kids Club where they could do all sorts of arts and crafts, while watching movies on the television screen.

A face painter, play area, and a bouncy castle were also available, much to the delight of the little ones.

The good thing is that all the kids' areas were supervised, so the parents had the option to leave their children without worrying too much, allowing them to enjoy their food.

After we had our fill and while our daughters enjoyed watching in the cinema, we helped ourselves to some hot drinks that were available just outside of the Dessert Room
Needless to say, our entire family had a great time at Al Bahou.  It's definitely one we'll return to.

The Al Bahou Friday Brunch takes place between 12:30pm to 4:00pm
Prices are Dhs295 (inclusive of soft beverages), Dhs395 (for selected house beverages), and Dhs95 (for kids aged 6 to 12 years old.  Children under 6 eat for free.

21 October 2014

I Was Blessed When I Gave My NOL Card To A Stranger

A few weeks ago, like I often do when Hubby needs to work longer, I rode the bus home.  I sat at the front seat, the one near the door and it was a normal, uneventful journey. That is until we reached a certain bus stop.

A lady carrying a heavy bag on her back and another in her hand boarded the bus and asked the driver if it was going to her destination. He said "Yes" and she gave him her NOL card, which he told her what to do with it.

She tapped it to the machine, and looked at him confused. He took her card and tapped it, then told her she didn't have enough credit and needed to reload it.

There was no way for her to reload it then (the stop didn't have a machine and the nearest metro station was far away) so she asked if she could pay in cash. Not possible. Then she asked if anyone had an extra card. No one did.

At this point, the driver had continued driving the bus. If an inspector boarded, the lady would get caught and be fined a big penalty. Risky.

That's when I recalled a few videos I've seen on YouTube from the program What Would You Do? And then moments later, I remembered a question I learned years ago: What would Jesus do? I could practically hear a voice asking me that question.

So I made a decision.

When the bus stopped near my apartment, I tapped my card to the machine. Instead of putting it back in my bag, I handed it to the lady. It still had about Dhs23 in it.

She was confused at first, but when I told her she could keep it, she was so grateful. And as I turned to go she gave me a relieved smile while saying "Thank you very much! God bless you!"

And those words were enough to tell me that I did the right thing.

How about you? Have you done a random act of kindness to a complete stranger? Please do share.

19 October 2014

Ube Crinkles

Christmas season is fast approaching and one of the gifts commonly given and received (especially in the Philippines) are crinkles. Whether ordered or made with love, you can never go wrong because these goodies are absolutely delicious.

Crinkles first came in chocolate, but now there are also red velvet and, as you can guess from this post's title, ube flavors.

Although I never made chocolate crinkles before, I wanted my first attempt to be the ube ones. It made me curious kasi because it just wasn't common. And upon seeing the recipe from Bake Happy, I was relieved to see that they weren't difficult to make either. 

The hard part was finding the ube essence or flavoring here in Dubai because the Filipino supermarkets rarely have it.  Fortunately when we went to Wow Pinoy a few weeks ago, they had just restocked, so I immediately hoarded around 5 bottles of their McCormick ube flavor.

Once I had all the ingredients ready, I started making the purple-colored crinkles which were practically gone almost as soon as I had put them on our table for my taste-testers (i.e. family) to try.
Here's how you can make these yummy ube crinkles that my eldest just couldn't get enough of:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup ube jam
1 teaspoon ube flavoring
Powdered sugar

How to Make Them:
1) Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
2) In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. 
3) Beat in the egg.
4) Mix in the ube jam and flavoring.
5) Add the flour mixture and mix.
6) Cover the bowl and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
7) Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit.
8) Line a cookie sheet with baking paper.
9 Roll the dough into balls (I use a tablespoon to measure), coat with powdered sugar and place on cookie sheet.
10) Bake for 7 minutes. They may come out soft, but that's fine. Keeping them in the oven longer will result to "cakey" and dry crinkles.

This recipe makes about 2 dozen crinkles, depending on the size.

And there you have it. Ube flavored crinkles that you and your friends will love.

As a matter of fact, Mama requested me to make some today. Partly because my sister will be fetching her today, and mostly for her own consumption. I guess I'd better make a move on it then =)

14 October 2014

The Girls' New 'Dos

At long last, my girls had their hairs cut, done during the Eid holidays a week after Sophie's birthday.  Finally!!!

I honestly thought that Caila would back out at the last minute because she really loved her long hair and natural curls, but it was a good thing she didn't.
how they looked before
Before leaving for the salon that morning, we made sure to cut a bunch of strands from Sophie's hair which Hubby did this time.
I couldn't find the dictionary where we put Caila's, so I settled for an alternative to tuck Sophie's in.
I know I mentioned in an earlier post that we would be shaving off her hair, but then we decided not to because the winter season was coming and she'll be more susceptible to hamog and might get sick.  So we just settled on having her hair shortened, just to keep it away from her face.

At the salon, Sophie had her hair cut first.  Whether she knew what was happening or not, she was very relaxed all throughout, obediently sitting still and closing her eyes when Ate Mila would tell her to.

Then it was Caila's turn, and her beloved locks were cut.

approximately half chopped off
And finally, the end results...
I feel that Sophie's new hair makes her look like a Chinese kid, and her cheeks seem more fuller.  And I'm not sure if it's just me, but now whenever she smiles, it's like she's up to some sort of mischief. Kulit lang.

As for Caila, she looks a bit older with her Cleopatra cut. Ate na talaga. Which I think has actually helped  in the way she behaves and treats her sister.

So there. New looks for the kiddos.  Now we don't have to struggle to fix their hair every once in a while.  Finally.  For several months, at least =)

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