Eat Your Way through 5 of Dubai’s Art Hotspots

Where Art and culinary adventure come together, be inspired and visit 5 of Dubai’s art hot spots, and enjoy some delicious food while you’re at it!

For those who want to feel the creative pulse of a city that boasts a mix of East and West, an artistic beat has hidden in Dubai for over 70 years. Today, as Dubai rises in prominence as a travel destination, the art scene is growing fast, and it’s not so alternative anymore. With that development has come good eats and exciting activities in the city’s cultural enclaves. Check out the article here.

Published by yours truly.

 

Highlights of Luxury Dubai: My new favorite Friday Brunch

How do you wow friends and visitors that come to town in Dubai?

See the dancing fountains, check!

See the Burj, the tallest building, check!

Eat some amazing food, with a view of them both; in an uncrowded spot- at the Taste of Thailand brunch.

That was something new worth trying.

Thiptara at the Grand Palace hotel on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard offers a stunning and delicious 5 course brunch.

Eat to your hearts desire.

Seafood salad. Avocado salad. Crab cakes.Spring rolls. Thai satay. Thai curry. Prawn stir fry. Thai ice tea. Beef. Pad thai. More tea. Coconut milk with jelly. I’m stuffed. Happy. Caught up with old friends and loved it so much!

It’s on the Entertainer too, use it up before it’s gone!

Refreshing Thai Iced Tea. Neutralize Foodiness.

My favorite prawn stir fry with fried noodles. Yum!

Thai green curry with fresh sweet basil.

Buddha’s Greet you at the door, the hospitality of the Thai is very different to what we know. Their welcome is grand and they give what they have.

The quirky finds of Sharjah souks

Countless walks along Souk Al Arsa, in the arts area and souk Al Mureijah is a taste of the old Sharjah and old UAE.

Whenever I see these things I can’t help but chuckle. It’s a mix of Iranian, Indian, khaleeji Arab.

Check out the pictures. And write me your thoughts.

At the Reza Herbs shop we found some smoking swans.

And a princess of rice, called Nasrin who came all the way from India.

Tea or Cha?

With just some small variations, the world really only has two ways to say tea.

Think about it the next time you have a steaming hot cup.

One is derived from the English “tea” or the Latin “te”, and the other is some version of “cha”, like “chay” in Persian, Urdu or Hindi.

But, did you know that both words came from China?

How they spread around the world is an example of globalization…

“Cha” spread across land routes such as the Silk Road, where the Persians until today have Zafrani Chay. A Steaming treat made from tea leaves, infused saffron and sugar.

Karak Chai is another delight- which is a boiled milky drink made from steamed tea leaves, cardamom, sugar and condensed milk. A favorite of India, Pakistan, and the Middle East; and translated as “Hard Tea.”

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“Cha” even made its way to Tanzania and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa.

I was pleasantly surprised to have spicy masala tea at a spice farm while reuniting with my college friend in Tanzania.

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The spice tea of Tanzania.

IMG_1305Waiting for a cup of Chai with Ruth (July 2015)

And the “Tea” leaves spread across the naval trade routes of the Dutch and the Portuguese in the 1700s-bringing the leaves to Europe to be celebrated.

A few cultures have also celebrated the novel leaves through ceremonies, such as the Japanese Tea Ceremony.

Other cultures also have meals around the drink- such as the Spanish Merianda, the Moroccan Gouter, and the English High Tea,

Last, but not least, you just learnt a new word in a few different languages.

 

Credits:

Alya. “Chai Karak: The Popular Drink That’s Rapidly Spreading in the Gulf.” Khaleejesque, 28 Aug. 2014, khaleejesque.com/2011/09/lifestyle/chai-karak-the-popular-drink-thats-rapidly-spreading-in-the-gulf/.

Sonnad, Nikhil. “Tea If by Sea, Cha If by Land: Why the World Only Has Two Words for Tea.” Quartz, Quartz, 11 Jan. 2018, qz.com/1176962/map-how-the-word-tea-spread-over-land-and-sea-to-conquer-the-world/.

Special Thanks to Chen-Yong Cher for the amazing topic, and Ruth Sabai for taking me on a spice tour in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

 

Eat Fried Maple Leaf?

Would you eat a sweet fried maple leaf?

Do you eat Maple Syrup?

Would you have it on pancakes?

I like mixing the syrup in my muffins. Said some Australians.

Some people drew it on their flags for 150 years. Canadians.

How about frying the leaves? Say What?

Would you eat salty sweet fried maple leaves? Say what?

At first glance, I thought, I’m not hearing this right, say WHAT?

But then, when I watched on, about how a lady in Japan made Maple leaf Tempura for 50 years, I was truly amazed.

From Hisakuni-Sen Do:

“As beautiful as they are, autumn leaves can become a huge headache when they fall everywhere in Japan, however, instead we turned this seasonal flood of garbage into a tasty treat by cleaning, salting and frying their maple leaves in slightly sweetened batter.”

Click on Great Big Story’s video:

https://www.facebook.com/greatbigstory/videos/1783338281968597/

Super inspiring!

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Credits:

Great Big Story.” Great Big Story – When in Japan, Deep-Fry Some Maple…, http://www.facebook.com/greatbigstory/videos/1783338281968597/.

Photo Credits:

Hisakuni-Sen Do

Special thanks to Ali Mrad for introducing me to fried maple leaves. I will go to Osaka, Japan someday to try them.

When my toddler walked Tbilisi…

Ready, Get set, Go! And Myra was off walking!

Is Tbilisi a place to explore on foot with a 16 month old who’s recently discovered her feet? HAHA!

I was starting to wonder why we left the stroller at the hotel…especially at the point when we were climbing uphill and every cat and bird Myra saw she wanted to chase, and some walls looked tasty enough to bite! Yes. You read right..800 year old walls must be taste-tested for endurance by a toddler.

Hi! Can we be friends? I’ll give you my cracker…by the Lover’s bridge. And a padlock.

A slightly unique bond was formed. Between Myra and a Georgian cat.

All they had left to do was to carve their names in a padlock and place it on the bridge. It was hard to separate them.

Next stop: Sulfuric Baths and the Legend of Tbilisi

After the Lover’s bridge, we were taken to view the reason why the city is called Tbilisi. The name derives from Tpili, which means hot springs.

An ancient Legend says that during a hunting trip of Georgian King Vakhtang, 2 birds fell in a hot spring and died. He was so impressed by these springs that he decided to build a city around them.

Then, off and uphill we went, castle-bound for these amazing views of the old city.

Tbilisi is built on hills, like many old cities- so viewpoints are charming, and photo opportunities at every angle stunning.

We were supposed to go all the way to the top to visit the Narikala castle..but neither of us had the energy to carry Myra.

Instead we went to the stunning Tbilisi cathedral of St George and the Virgin Mary.

The illumination was more stunning at night than day.

Tbilisi winter nights are long and days are short. The sun would set at 5 pm.

Myra, however thought the courtyard was way more fun.

Enough photos! Now let me run around please.

Must-haves: back-pack because you may have to carry your baby through some walks, a harness or stroller, and essential items for your child.

Ohh, and really comfortable shoes.

Crossroads of Cuisine: Georgian Food

Georgian food is a hidden gem to those yet to discover it. Fresh, unique combinations. Partly Russian, Central Asian, Iranian, European, Middle Eastern and proudly their own.

Supra: The feast meal a visitor is welcomed with. Don’t forget the wine. You can’t go to Georgia and not try the wine.

Amazing Pear soda is a must try and and fresh pomegranate juice for babies too.

Kho kho Khachapuri! Yes in Georgian to the best pizza-like bread one can ever eat. Countless varieties, but I prefer the Megrielian one best.

Try the Imeretian one too. It’s because some delicious Sulguni cheese that makes everything better.

88% of people in Georgia and Russia when asked to vote the food pizza versus khachapuri by CNN…voted Khachapuri over pizza.

Fire up the grill. Or carnivorous taste buds.

Shashlik & grilled meat of all kinds must be savored especially at Machakhela restaurant. It’s worth the wait.

If it’s busy, save 40 minutes wait to eat there.

Try the grilled peppers and the Achjka boats too.

Two trips are needed to this spot.

Don’t try to go on a diet in Georgia.

It brought out the foodie in me.

Left: Savoring an imeritian Khachapuri. Right (from up to down- Machakhela grills, Furnicular dips made of beets, spinach, red pepper, walnut and olives. Then last was the pelmeni dumplings with cream and of course, more Khachapuri but a different kind- my favorite, the megrelian!

Old is gold.

Khinkali and Pelmenis are stuffed dumplings of beef eaten with sour cream.

Best side dish for the dumplings was a Greek salad. It balances the meat out.

Retro on D. Gamarkeli in Pekini was my Tbilisi spot for a basket of pelmini dumplings.

Delicious and warm for a cold night!

Sorry, I still can’t tell the difference between khinkali and pelminis yet.

The first energy bars were made in Georgia.

Grape juice, walnuts, flour and cinnamon. Some muscle-man mixing and you have a “Churchkhela”

The stuff that kept people going on long journeys.

Churchkhelas are still made during New Years and Orthodox Christmas.

Making the first energy bars in the world by hand needs muscle.

Thank you Georgia for saving my days spent on the run…

Madloba & thank you Georgia again.

I learnt something new about food.

I learnt to love a new Cuisine.

I can relate to the fusion as I am a hybrid of cultures.

Credit:

“Tbilisi Sketches: Muscling Up Some Churchkhela.” Culinary Backstreets, 26 Dec. 2017, culinarybackstreets.com/cities-category/tbilisi/2017/tbilisi-sketches-8/

“Georgian Cuisine.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Jan. 2018, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgian_cuisine.

Photo credit:

Sahar Sharif, 2017.

Welcome to the Art Hotel Claude Monet

 

Impressionism was revolutionary, it got the artist out of the studio. It got humans thinking out of the box, it freed us a little. Similarly, in my humble opinion, the charming Art Hotel Claude Monet on D. Gamarkeli street in Tbilisi, Georgia, got me thinking, I could use some artsy hotel getaway in my life too.

What a great choice of artist, but then, when I went back to art historical references and was reminded that Monet was the father of French Impressionism- I fell in love again, with the art period, and the hotel even more.

Sometimes a connection is so enthralling that one has to passionately live for it. It seems that the hotel and the owner is passionate for Impressionism and what she does. I was reprimanded that Art is universal, and you don’t have to be from anywhere to love a certain kind of art. Georgians love impressionism, So do the French and now people from the UAE might just too. I know a few that did! *grins*

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The Monet salon where we ate breakfast and I blogged..cozy and charming.

Good Morning Tbilisi!

 

Claude Monet, in full, Oscar-Claude Monet, (born November 14, 1840, Paris, France—died December 5, 1926, Giverny), French painter who was the initiator, leader, and unswerving advocate of the Impressionist style.

Monet hardly ever painted recollections of subjects, but rather “en plein air”, which means out in the open.
Some of his favorite subjects were gardens, sailing ships and the outdoors.
This link and love of being in the fresh air could have had something to do with spending time in the French Norman countryside. When Monet was five, in 1845, his family moved from Paris to Le Havre.
This event has more than biographical significance, for it was Monet’s childhood, spent along the beaches, and the intimate knowledge he gained of the sea and the rapidly shifting Norman weather, that would one day give rise to his fresh vision of nature. Monet’s first success as an artist came.

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Monet is credited, along with artists such as Renoir and Pissarro to have formed the Impressionist style with “bad sketches”. However, those who dedicatedly stick to something eventually become the masters of that creation.
Eventually, in the 1890s, what gave rise to Impressionism was the tireless artwork that was produced at Monet’s farmhouse in Giverny- and what drew crowds, from far and wide, especially from the other side of the Atlantic to visit.
Monet also became the inspiration for artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Kandinsky and believe it or not, Andy Warhol!

Many many years later, it also inspired the design of a hotel in Tbilisi, Georgia- called the Art Hotel Claude Monet- designed and dedicated to the works of the artist, into a fabulous boutique hotel.

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Surrounded by prints and paintings of Monet works, the hotel is designed in an Art Deco way- with an eye for detail.
Their artsy salon (where I wrote this blog post) and bar has some unique furniture pieces, don’t miss the couches made of denim and the tables of tree barks.

Immersed in the art, in Georgia, in the culture..I was..whoops, did I get too immersed? Maybe! But during holidays I believe we have a divine right to disconnect.

Hotel Claude Monet could be a good starting point for those who want to begin a cultural holiday, summer or winter.
Tbilisi has different offerings for both seasons, and this hotel doesn’t fail to disappoint.

5FBBDF05-8A12-495A-AFF5-BF26F8C68325The indoor garden was adorable. Love the improvisation for the Georgian winter.

Last but not least, the mirror and the garden when going up to the room. My daughter could not resist touching the plants each time we come up and down, and then greeting herself in the mirror.
Art Hotel did it right- especially if my headstrong sixteen month old likes it.


I can’t imagine staying anywhere else in Tbilisi now. The hotel has a wonderful vibe and their staff will take care of you from the moment you arrive at the airport.
See you next time! Madloba!

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For further information & bookings:

Visit the link:
https://g.co/kgs/rGQ5Ti

Contact:
‭+995 595 940 908‬

Email:
Claudemonettbilisi@gmail.com

 

 

Works cited:
Seitz, William C. “Claude Monet.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 15 Dec. 2017, http://www.britannica.com/biography/Claude-Monet.

Picture credit:
Sahar Sharif, 2017, All Rights Reserved.
Please email or contact me if you wish to use them.

7 Mystifying Facts About Georgia

1. Georgians don’t call their country Georgia.
Georgians call their country Sakartvelo. The name consists of two parts: Kartveli, which refers to a central Georgian region of Karli-Iberia, and the circumfix sa-o is a usual geographic for indicating the “land where Kartveli live.” It’s not known where the English name of the country came from, though there is a theory that might explain it. St. George is believed to be the patron saint of Georgia, and thus the name might have been coined by Christian missionaries in the Middle Ages.

 

2. The first Caucasians or “White People” come from Georgia.
An archeological expedition in Dmanisi found the oldest human skulls in the Caucasus, suggesting that a man from Africa traveled to Europe through Georgia. The 1.8 million-year-old skulls are the remains of a human couple of Georgians called Zezva and Mzia. It is without a doubt that Georgia is a homeland of the first European.

3.Georgia has been producing wine for at least 8,000 years.
They produced wine by accident burrying grapes in a huge clay jar called a Qvevri.

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Image 1: the Qvevris, how wine was made by accident-8000 years ago, and is made today too. They also make whiskey like that.

4. No one speaks the Georgian language except for Georgians.
The Georgian language among 14 unique languages in the world and has its own alphabet. The one that Georgians use today is the latter and has 33 letters.

F7F63521-6102-4676-BA27-637CA84BD461Image 2: If we translated the Georgian alphabet into English. Here’s how it would look.

5. It is one of the most ecologically diverse places in the world.
Georgia has 12 different climate zones, ranging from subtropical to alpine to semi-desert, and has 49 types of soil. This makes Georgia one of the most ecologically diverse countries on Earth. In addition, many of the most exciting animals like leopards, lynxes, and bears reside in the dense forests of the country.

6. Many UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
There are three cultural sites listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list: an ancient city and former capital Mtskheta, the massive cathedral complex Gelati Monastery, and the mountainous region of Upper Svaneti.
Another 15 sites are waiting to be listed.

7. Winter Wonderland.
Spectacular views, and wide open slopes make Georgia’s ski resort Gudauri an excellent destination for heli-skiing and free-riding. Gudauri is a hidden gem of the world for a ski lovers, as it comes without without the crowds or the expenses of European resorts. And even if you are not an adrenaline junkie, Gudauri still offers great slopes for skiers and snowboarders.

53500A9F-B315-46D5-9C89-FA74921B55F3Image 3: The undiscovered Winter wonderland, Gudauri. A cafe and rest stop.

Works cited:
Dzagnidze, Baia. “13 Interesting Facts About Georgia.” Culture Trip, 18 Sept. 2017, theculturetrip.com/europe/georgia/articles/13-interesting-facts-about-georgia/

Images:

Qvevri photo:

Georgian Distiller Patents Method for Qvevri-Made Whiskey.” Georgia Today on the Web, georgiatoday.ge/news/3180/Georgian-Distiller-Patents-Method-for-Qvevri-made-Whiskey.

Georgian Alphabet

“Georgian (ქართული ენა).” Georgian Language, Alphabets and Pronunciation, http://www.omniglot.com

Gudauri, A hidden winter wonderland
“Gudauri Photo by Oleg Gritskevich.” Snow Forecast, http://www.snow-forecast.com/resorts/Gudauri/photos/8486

Old Tbilisi:

My Own, Sahar Sharif (2014).

I’m back..

Hi everyone,

After a pause of some months and having a beautiful daughter , I’m back to writing and bringing my readers new information on culture, art and great food.

Lets start with something exciting, japan is getting its very own food themed theme park!

check it out, compliments of Condé Nast:

http://www.cntraveler.com/story/tokyos-tsukiji-fish-market-may-get-a-food-theme-park?mbid=nl_062517_Daily&CNDID=40385826&spMailingID=11338760&spUserID=MTMzNDg1NTA0NTkzS0&spJobID=1182177078&spReportId=MTE4MjE3NzA3OAS2