Spice it up, Farzi Cafe in Dubai

After two months in Toronto I was homesick for Dubai. There is one characteristic to expat life in the UAE found nowhere else: Dubai people create a fantastic ambience of “the show must go on”. And I missed it bitterly. Unsurprisingly, after conquering my ghastly jet leg it was time to hit up the local social life.

P4101384.JPG

A big fan of everything party and spicy, I decided to revisit Farzi Cafe at City Walk for lunch, as my breakfast there back in April was unbelievable. As they say, “eat here, or we will both starve”.

Farzi Cafe represents a modern take on the art of cosmopolitan cooking. It’s a mix of colours, flavours, cultures and spices with a dominant Indian theme. Committed to bringing Indian food back “en vogue”, they add a touch of a lovely ridiculousness to the art of serving, as drinks and dishes usually have an unexpected twist. The Farzi Team creates the illusion of spontaneity, but believe me everything they offer is a result of hard work and design.

By 1pm on Saturday afternoon Farzi Cafe was packed, contrasting with the hot empty streets of City Walk. Life does move indoors from May to October in Dubai! Fortunately I had a reservation, otherwise my name would appear on the long wait list. The cooling waves of air-conditioning installed at the entrance chilled a hot head like me and I noticed the cheerful buzz of happily fed crowds enjoying themselves.

IMG_5820.JPG

To spice things up, I ignored the menu and asked my server Aditya to just feed me. Well, I did clarify how little a model eats plus we discussed potential food risks and allergies. So the magic began! After a complimentary appetizer made of chilled mango burst into a drop of yogurt in my mouth, cotton candy was transformed into a watermelon cocktail revealing a little green leaf at the bottom. I’m guessing it was basil.

Savory shrimps in creamy chili sauce with foam was my next dish, followed by incredibly fragrant mushroom ragout served in an apothecary bowl with an overwhelming aroma of truffle oil pouring out of a long bovine nose. What can I say except they were absolutely amazing! Very tender at first bite, but wait for the heat of freshly crashed black peppers to tease your taste buds. It will happen!

As a further surprise, a model vintage truck arrived carrying my butter chicken burger. However my favorite dish came next. Set in a crescent plate, on a layer of mashed potatoes, rested pieces of roasted lamb and golden potatoes seared with crunchy beetroot chips. Watercress herbs added bright green colour to the dish.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My main course consisted of cheese naan, mutton biryani and chicken tikka. Exceptional through every bite, it was the presentation that got my complete attention. If only I could eat for two!

My dessert, a traditional yet contemporary gulab jamun, arrived in a cloud of fog. Right in front of my eyes, in a bowl of dry ice, a serving of vanilla ice cream was created and placed around warm gulab jamun. Frozen rose petals, crushed pistachios, berries and strawberry syrup made it the most irresistible dish.

IMG_5878.JPG

So good to be back in Dubai!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Click here to learn more about Farzi Cafe.

Stalk me on Instagram and Facebook.

Coya, a bite of Incan Heritage

On July 12, Coya, a contemporary Peruvian restaurant and landmark of the Four Seasons resort on Jumeriah Road, was the hottest place in Dubai. In preparation for the annual La Noche Blanca, a magical event that combines Latin music, food, drinks and entertainment, Coya transformed into the Garden of Eden.

Being a big fan of the city after-dark, I could’t resist the temptation of partying the night away. Luckily the “white” dress code was easy to follow in July, limiting my “getting ready” time to a matter of minutes. Let’s see: voluminous hair, high heels, a touch of highlighter on cheekbones and shoulders, bright red lipstick, goldfish purse and my “fancy Dubai girl” look was complete. Well, almost. Please consider a pair of Angel wings that I borrowed at the entrance as the final touch! Yay or Nay?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Right from the start I knew the night would be a great success (spoiler, sorry!). A long queue of the fanciest cars possible waiting for valet stretched all the way to the bottom of the hill, making it extremely hard for hotel security to keep order. But no one complained! The expectation of a magical night out had loosened the mood, and smiles were shining from every corner.

P7120588.JPG

As many, not to say all, I was completely blown away by a fantastic work of florists and the event team. The mesmerizing effect was achieved by millions of flower garlands “floating” in the air, creating the best possible canvas for light to play on. I was speechless, breathless and really anxious to discover more.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Indoors, surrounded by vibrant Incan colours, I continued looking in amusement from one side to another being slightly pushed by the crowd in the direction of a busy bar.

P7120602.JPG

The place was a dream!

Screen Shot 2017-09-03 at 1.22.56 AM.png

Moving away from the crowded bar to my table, I started paying attention to the bespoke furniture paired with carefully selected pieces of art, traditional and very modern, tastefully placed throughout the space.

P7120589.JPG

It was hard not to notice a very authentic feel to Coya, intentionally or unintentionally created with decorative objects that encouraged guests to interact, explore, ask questions and feel hungry for more.

P7120597.JPG

Before I could ask any questions, a glass of Moet sparkled in my hand and the feast began!

P7120590.JPG

Meant to be shared, the Peruvian cuisine at Coya is moderately spicy and pleasantly colorful. The ceviche mixed right in front of me was a real delight with its zesty sauce and freshest ingredients. Grilled chilly peppers were so tender and sweet that I accidentally exceeded my fair share. I was told the majority of ingredients were imported from Peru and the rest locally sourced.

To stop further teasing your growing appetite, I’ll just tell you that all dishes on the menu were absolutely excellent and delightfully unique. Compliments to the chef and the entire team for serving an incredible cultural experience like no other!

Screen Shot 2017-09-03 at 1.45.34 AM.png

Find out more about Coya right here or on Instagram I hope you’ll get the table!

Stalk me on Instagram and Facebook.

The New Address Hotel, Boulevard Dubai

Last night, on the way to Iftar dinner with a friend who makes this world a better place, we had an opportunity to explore the new Address Hotel and Residences at the Boulevard Downtown.

FullSizeRender 9.jpg

With its central location a few minutes away from major landmarks, and views on the tallest tower Burj Khalifa, the Address Boulevard is already a sought after place to stay in the city. Not to mention New Year’s Eve!

Through the glass door we went with expectations of a hearty dinner, and unexpectedly stood still looking around at the little details. The interiors opened up in a beautiful bright space filled with comfort and lots of fresh air. High white ceilings, elegantly decorated walls, and crystal lamps paired with patterned marble floors created an illusion of a private residence lost in the era of Art Deco.

The dinner was served in a spacious Ballroom at a long communal table surrounded by mouthwatering desserts, chilled refreshments and aromatic Arabic coffee.

The feast began after the sunset, and from the first minute we completely lost count of the endless array of irresistible dishes placed in front of our eyes.

Accompanied by the sounds of Oud, the dessert tasted sweeter than ever.

By the end of the evening I really envied the guests who were so well looked after at this beautiful new hotel and residences.

Stalk me on Instagram and Facebook

Night out at Zahira, H Hotel Dubai (it’s closed)

When the sun is shamelessly, endlessly bright, and temperatures above 40C, Dubai summer life eventually moves towards shady evenings. Fortunately most places stay open until midnight and safety on the streets is impeccable.

P5161484.JPG

During the month of Ramadan there is always something exciting going on after sunset, opportunities to give back to the community, night swimming experiences with a view on Burj al Arab, photographing the street life in the Old Dubai, watching a thoughtful movie screened as a part of DIFF 365 (Dubai International Film Festival all year round), or catching up with incredible people over a heartwarming meal.

IMG_1288.JPG

I love to eat. Here’s a confession: I love food more than photography and red lipstick, completely neglecting the latter when a beautiful steaming bowl of soup appears in front of me. You may not believe it, judging by looks, but it’s an absolute “veritas”. That’s why I couldn’t resist but go for an incredible Iftar offer at Zahira, a very well reviewed recent addition to local “fancy eating out”.

IMG_1261.JPG

I entered intense WhatsApp correspondence looking for a fellow skinny foodie available on a short notice. Likely SylviaSylvia was in town and a few texts later, mostly about fashion with a focus on “I have nothing to wear”, we set a date.

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 2.30.38 AM.png

Without prior agreement on dress code, we both showed up wearing black. Sylvia chose a long flowy maxi dress and I styled a new little black dress from Dubai-based online fashion store Trovea. What do they say about great minds? Dress alike 😉 ?

IMG_1242.JPG

Zahira caught my attention partly because of its location in H Hotel, famous for futuristic design with elements of Art Deco. H Hotel represents eclectic, vibrant and dynamic hospitality, and we’ve expected “nothing less but more” making our way to Zahira.

It was Dragana’s dazzling smile at the entrance that settled all non-existing doubts and put us in the right mood for a beautiful evening ahead.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our table was pre-set with a bottled of chilled mineral water, little plate of dried fruits, nuts, and short, easy to digest menu by chef Greg Malouf.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Waiting for the beginning of Iftar, we spent time studying the surroundings. Our eyes were fully occupied, wondering around ceiling, walls and unconventional art radiating great taste and humour.

It was like magic when mezzas started appearing. Moroccan style Harissa with labneh, a dash of fresh red chilly, smoky moutabbal served on a stone plate, crunchy soft chicken pies, tempura made of fresh zaatar, halloumi fondue with oregano, freshly baked Arabic bread and a very interesting dish called Fatima’s fingers (I’m saying nothing, you need to discover it for yourself).

What a feast! All starters had 3 qualities in common: light, appetizing and incredibly tasty. It was a combination of Arabic food I’ve never tasted before. Zaatar tempura was served with a side of tiny fried fish with a dipping sauce to zest the flavor. Looking for a much needed break between the courses, I dragged well-mannered Sylvia to hang out at the real bar. While James was performing tricks, Mohammad and Tilak had to work twice as hard to get the taps pouring. Tilak was impressively skilled with his throwing technique and Mohammad managed to stay seriously professional under all the stress we caused.

Being nice to bartenders resulted in laughing out loud and a complimentary cocktail. Meet Tilak:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When the main course landed on our table, I was the happiest person on Earth. In front of me was a beautiful pink salmon cooked 40 minutes using some secret techniques, and a tender lamb wrapped in Arabic bread with rice and nuts, paired with the soothing tunes of Oud.

Our night at Zahira turned out to be fun, entertaining and very very tasty. My advice, save enough space to try their incredible pavlova with marshmallowy center, fresh cream and slices of peach.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
One of the Chef, Troy posing in a distance

P.S. Zahira no longer exists in Dubai

Stalk me on Instagram and Facebook

Nepal’s well kept secret – Dwarika’s

We arrived in Katmandu early afternoon.

Being in a habit to rush off the plane, I noticed only the tourists were hurrying, worried about queues and luggage and airport wifi. Local Nepalese travelers smiled peacefully, letting us push past.”Namaste, welcome,” smiled a man in a uniform. “Namaste,” I replied and bombarded him with visa related questions. He patiently answered them and pointed me through the visa formalities. My destination was an hour away from the capital, a gem of a hotel hidden high in Himalays.

Exiting the airport, Katmandu greeted me with sun, cheerful conversations, fresh breeze, laughs and uniquely melodic truck horns. I was welcomed by a charming man in a suit, Dwarika’s ambassador, who relieved me of two heavy suitcases and supplied a bottle of water, hot towel and a lovely chatty driver. I jumped into the car and we bravely joined the traffic chaos.

P3222068.JPG

The music of street life burst through the bus windows. Motorcycles, fruit vendors, authentic houses, gossiping girls, moms holding kids and lots and lots of construction. My eyes were shining bright, piercing for every little detail. Katmandu’s daily routine is paradise for a curious soul.

Katmandu is still rebuilding after the 2015 earthquake, however nothing apart from bricks and cement indicate it. My camera couldn’t get enough of outside scenery, especially when  lavish green fields replaced the urban streetscapes. I spotted women in colorful sari-like outfits crossing farms with huge wicker baskets hanging off their shoulders, at the same time boys were enjoying themselves at coffee houses spread along the road. Needless to say it was all casually happening against a background of traditional huts, clay temples, resting cows and powerful statues. Meanwhile our bus was taking us way up, higher and higher with every turn.

The road curved one last time and the bus stopped. I was at the footsteps of Dwarika’s. A few minutes later a golf cart appeared out of nowhere and in a matter of minutes I was sitting in a lobby on top of the world sipping a refreshing welcoming drink. Life has never been better!

To be continued…

Stalk me on Instagram and Facebook.

 

Destination dream body

“Be careful what you wish for. You might just get it,” said Tony Soprano with a sparkle of irony in his eyes, and I shivered. For the last couple of weeks my mind has been fully occupied with “below the waistline” thoughts. With upcoming modeling assignments, bikini season and everyone’s continuous obsession with perfect legs, I’ve been identifying the missing links in the chain of diet plus exercises. Don’t get me wrong, nutritionists love to repeat that first we are what we eat and then what we do, and a balanced diet contributes to 80% of success. However, regardless of playing by the rules, cutting on sugar, macaroni and gravy and squatting till last breath (did you see my insane workout with Leo), my body is a rebel at heart.

It was time to turn my attention to science by “doing the right thing”, googling my options. It appears that today’s beauty market had a lot to offer with body treatments varying from steaming to freezing, and everything “laser” in between. My search, narrowed to medical centers and clinics, resulted in a list of “must call” places, but only at Silkor was I offered a specialist prior to committing to any treatment plans. I screamed “Eureka” and demanded that Siri immediately book me for a free assessment.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Headquartered in Beirut, Lebanon Silkor is well known in the region for hair removal and laser services, promising smooth baby skin. Being a big fan of both babies and great skin, I decided to focus on getting rid of a baby fat here and there. While not so many are aware that Silkor Dubai is equipped with state of the art machines to polish the look and curves of female and male bodies, it was a perfect moment to take advantage of their availability to see me. So when I showed up at the door with an endless list of body goals supported by peculiar questions, Milena, Silkor’s specialist in body aesthetics, was well prepared to cool me down (literally).

During the consultation I mostly talked about the triumphs and failures of a busy girl in her 30s attempting to regain a body she once had prior to committing to an 8-5pm (if lucky) lifestyle. I explained my struggle with shaping up outer thighs and especially knees, which require a 7/7 gym attitude. Milena was seriously attentive just like Jennifer Milfner in the earlier “Sopranos”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Done with talking, I was asked to step on a smart scale to reveal my body secrets and the truth behind my questionable physic. The scale measured my weight, percentage of a body fat, water and muscle mass as well as BMR (basal metabolic rate), crutial if one is looking to loose weight. My results were printed and carefully filed.

When the time came for a visual assessment, I was done with my anxieties and no longer afraid of Milena’s tools: various rulers, scales, measuring tapes and a blue marker. After being asked to lie down, wrapped in a soft warm blanket, I was convinced that Silkor was my type of a place.

Armed with the facts and my emotional desires, Milena sat me down one more time for an honest talk, expectations vs reality.

P2281676.JPG

To be continued…

Meanwhile you can book your free medico-easthitics assessment here or reach Milena at Silkor Jumeirah branch. Their contact number is +97156- 1744550 or +9714-3480500, silkor.com. Silkor is Instagram active too

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stalk me on Instagram and Facebook

Super 5 from Fountain Cosmetics

Being dangerously adventurous when it comes to experimenting with baking (with a 50% pavlova failure rate), fashion (mixing yoga leggings and silk tops) and beauty (from mermaid locks to bob in one easy swoop), I passionately sacrifice myself to try out innovative products from all over the world and from every dot of the Internet. Because I want you guys to look and feel awesome  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So while I blindly entrust my wellbeing and pretty face to the decency of modern chemists, please blend a handful of berries with a glass of almond milk and a scoop of protein and build a healthy appetite for healthy skin. Cheers!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fountain Cosmetics, a family run business based in Sidney, Australia since 1999, creates sulfate, paraben and mineral oil free solutions for skin, body and soul (happy skin=happy you… and me!). All products are designed by a dedicated team of local researchers and scientists who believe in innovation and the latest skincare trends. Packed with anti-aging ingredients, Fountain Cosmetics are effective in conquering skin problems plus delivering desired results.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They make what they love and I love what they make! Here are my thoughts on the top 5 “must-gets” from  Fountain Cosmetics for a complete fancy spa experience:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • Exfoliate

Skin Exfoliant has a wonderful soft texture but a powerful base of lactic and glycolic acids paired together to penetrate deeper into skin (scratch-free). The combination of both acids is honestly a rare find that gives a professional touch to home care routines, allowing you to save on superficial medical peels. I use it once or twice a week depending on weather and skin condition, after removing all make up, washing and drying my skin (think face, neck and decollate at least).

IMG_4177.JPG

Test it first and then leave it on for 10-15 minutes to clear break-outs, free and tighten pores, brighten your skin from pigmentation or sun damage and soften wrinkles. Use cautiously in combination with products that contain retinol to avoid a reaction and please apply sunblock (SPF 20 in the winter and SPF 40-50 in the summer). More.

  • Firm and plump

Envy anti-aging eye serum contains glycerin, lactic acid, marine-based biopolymer complex, hard-working wrinkle fillers and a few other moisturizing agents to make your eyes a reflection of your forever-young soul 🙂 It smoothes lines, cools, plumps and gently firms the skin.

img_5062

The best part – packed in a long skinny 15 ml tube, Envy is easy to sneak onboard a flight for much needed hydration and regardless of its size it really lasts  (I use Envy twice daily), because one tiny drop covers it all! Doesn’t irritate eyes. More.

  • Moisturize

Exquisite Moisture hair mask is 3-in-1 R-solution: renews, restores and rehydrates. It has a lovely light fragrance and thick texture that melts into wet hair (the magic of argan oil).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I apply it to all hair from the crown to the ends except roots and wash it off after 5-7 minutes. Exquisite hair mask brings back the shine without greasing your hair, so it could be used every day or on the trip to the steam room. More.

  • Nourish

Hydrating face mask is a real treasure suitable for all skin types including the super oily. Once applied it turns into a light veil allowing your skin to breath while benefiting from fruit extracts and advanced moisturizers. You can keep it on for 10-20 minutes without having to sit still as this mask doesn’t leak or fall off, however I warn you that the freedom of movement may result in you forgetting to remove it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA          Processed with Snapseed.

Well, not a worry as you can just wipe it off with a wet cloth. Complete your little facial with a serum or moisturizer. More. 

  • Glow

Although it’s recommended for a very dry skin, the combination of Think C 15% serum and the Activator did wonders to my questionably demanding face (oily and irritated at the same time).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Activator is loaded with Vitamin B3 and anti-inflammatory properties, while the waterless formula of Think C serum revitalizes skin without blocking pores. Prevents break-outs and assists in healing. More.

Last, but not the least: Fountain Cosmetics offers a rare treat of delivering their products almost anywhere with free worldwide shipping (what!) on orders over $95 (Australian dollars). My latest order reached me in Toronto in 7 working days!

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-4-02-24-pm

Stalk me on Instagram or Facebook