Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Finding Jones the Grocer

It took me almost two (2) years to finally find this shop.  I was still in Davao and preparing for my weddin and I wanted to buy some pecorino cheese as my wedding token.  I found some shops in Davao that sells gourmet cheese unfortunately they don’t sell whole rings.  They sell it by grams.  So I asked my husband, fiancé back then to check the market in Abu Dhabi and that’s the first time I encountered this shop was when I was scouring the internet for cheese sellers in Abu Dhabi.   My husband, fiancé back then, had a hard time looking for the shop, I didn’t believe him the, because knowing men.  When I finally got here, my search for this shop continued.  Still it was difficult to find unless you have your own car to leisurely scour the area.  And recently before Christmas, we finally did found this shop.  Though not the first shop but the shop located here in Khalidiya area, still it is Jones the Grocer.

Here is a quick direction.  If you are traversing along Sheik Zayed First Road heading towards First Gulf Bank of Khalidiya you will see the Khalidiya Garden Park on the left side and you will come across an intersection.  After the intersection you will a small road on the ride side before the old Adnoc Petrol Station.  Take that road and head straight, you will see Oryx Hotel on the corner, turn left then take another sharp right turn then you would see a shop with bluish glass windows and doors.  That’s Jones the Grocer.  It can easily be missed because the signage is quite small.

Now on to what is inside.  If you are into organic products, cheese and wine this is definitely the place to be.  Maybe this is the reason why the location is somewhat hidden because they serve wines and other meat that is not usually serve in restaurants in the city.  The ambiance has the feel of friendly charm of a high end diner.   The staff are all friendly and accommodating.  You don’t have to wait and wave for somebody to take your order.  Once we got inside, a friendly staff ushered us on the seat we find comfortable.  We were informed that the right wing of the restaurant is colder while the left wing is warmer.  Since it was 72 degrees F outside, we chose the warmer side.  We were given the menu and left us to study it.  After some time the very accommodating manager went to our table to take our order. 

 I got the pastrami panino and my husband ordered the char-grilled chicken with couscous.  We also ordered iced tea and homemade lemonade, which is their house specialty, and mash potato.  Our drinks arrived within 5 minutes of ordering it.  The lemonade I must say is good.  It has the right amount of tanginess and sweetness.  Just perfect for my palate.  Then our order came.  I dig into my salad and enjoyed it.  The mashed potato was served last because it was just an additional order.  The chicken was good, it tasted a bit like curry chicken but grilled.  The couscous was a bit dry and bland for my taste.  The sandwich was not as warm as I have expected.  The meal was good.  They cleared our table once they saw that we have already polished everything. 

My husband wanted to order some sweet.  A lot of pastries were displayed and you would definitely drool over each of them.  It all looked so delectable.  It took us sometime to finalize our order for desserts.  And decided on moist chocolate cake for husband and homemade ice cream for me – vanilla and pistachio. 

The cake, sad to say has the texture of a one day old cake.  The icing is gummy and the cake is dry.  Not at all what we have expected.  But the ice cream gets 2 thumbs up.  The vanila was incredibly creamy and the pistachio is yummy.  Our total bill for that night was AED 163.00. 

Reasonable price.  You would think with all the glass exterior and modern interior design that the price would be a bit stiff, but no, it was ok.  Asked if I would recommend this place?  Yes, definitely.  Next time I’d try the Wagyu Burger next time.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sisha: Arabic Night Cap

My ten-minute walk from the house to our office made me realize that Arabians just love to have their coffee and smoke anytime of the day.

Every corner and almost every building of Daruthalmiya in Khalidiya is swamped with cafe shops. Unlike most cafe shops that I am used to, which serves gourmet coffee prepared in the most fascinating way. Plus pastries that suits perfectly well with the caffeine. But the cafe that flanked the corners of Khalidiya serves mostly Arabic or Turkish coffee and instead of pastry to partner with the coffee, they order sisha instead.

I have always been curious about sisha or some other call it hookah. It is like smoking from the little tube with water inside. A charcoal is placed on top to burn the flavored tobacco. A variety of flavors are available anywhere, even in the grocery stores - rose, mint, green apple, strawberry, lemon and mint.

Some say, inhaling sisha could make you feel drunk. And if do sisha after a heavy meal, tendency is that you might shower the street with your dinner after your sisha session.

Both young and old, enjoy a few hours at this cafes. I'm not sure if this kind of smoking has any effect on the lungs. Good thing, it does not smell as bad as the cigarettes.

So when dusk sets in, the lights on the all the cafe will start blinking and charcoals are already burning.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How to Spend Christmas in Abu Dhabi

For the neophytes, spending Christmas abroad is the most difficult hurdle to overcome. I am one of those few who spent it with my husband and away from the boisterous party with the rest of my ramily. Honestly, it went well, not a single tear was shed. At least not from my end. Now, how to beat the homesickness feeling, which is heightened by this season? I could list a few things to do, if you are given the day off to celebrate it. Most companies give their Christian employees day off to celebrate christmas. So here are some of the things you could do.

A. Hit some Pins:
If most of you at home are single and slightly alone, why not go to the malls and test your skills in bowling. Most of the malls have bowling alleys even for kids. Enjoy making fun of each other, bring some take outs and maybe do some exchange gifts. One game would cost AED 15 per head. Malls that have bowling alleys are Al Wahda Mall, Khalidiya Mall, Marina Mall and Al Mariah Mall.

B. Have a Picnic at the Park:
It's winter and its the perfect weather to stay outside. Set up that grill and prepare the barbeque. Do the "kamayan" party. It more fun when you dig your food using your hands. Don't forget to bring along the ice cold Coca Cola to complete the celebration. However, if you are under medication, be happy with water.

C. Go Malling
If you think Christmas is a foreign event here in the Middle East, think again. When you visit malls and even coffee shops, the halls are bedecked with green garnishes that Christmas is also here in Abu Dhabi. The tallest and biggest tree I've seen here is in Abu Dhabi Mall, right after you set off from the escalator you'd see the gigantic tree with complete christmas cottage and the sleigh.

Many shops are on sale. So malling could take up the entire day.

My first Christmas away from my faily zoomed so fast. I have no time to wallow in sadness. Good thing Skype is available - minus the hugs and kisses. It is still like we are almost together during Christmas.