Food Bloggers Qatar Meet – November ’15

Really excited about the next Qatar Food Bloggers event, and I love Spanish food

Food Bloggers Qatar

Its that time of the year again and with the fabulous weather change, we announce our second Food Bloggers Qatar Meet. As always, we aim at bringing the community a step closer as well as giving our social media followers an insight about our meet ups and word of mouth about the fantastic restaurant we will visit.

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I heart MY

Meet the grownups

I’ve been meaning to post this since returning from Malaysia, because as you can guess from the post title, I loved it. Every moment. Even the hour-long heavy showers, which offered some respite from the humid days.

It felt a little like coming home.

Or at the very least feel more acquainted with the country I’d spent a great deal of time travelling to in my imagination: my Grandmother was from Georgetown in Penang.

As a child my Mama (I couldn’t pronounce Grandma and it stuck) cooked up tasty fried rice, noodles which she referred to as Mee, marinated pork and made her own spicy pickles. She also offered you banana bread whenever you stepped in her house and was always making sure you had something to eat or drink.

Perhaps her generous hospitality stemmed from the country where she was raised. Wherever we went people were extremely kind, courteous and helpful, and I can’t wait to go back.

I just wanted to share a few highlights from the trip…

Noordin Mews in Georgetown.

You'll find much nicer photos on their site

You’ll find much nicer photos on their site

This boutique heritage house was a real find (pat on back Sian – ace choice) offers 14 rooms, which surround a small plunge pool, an eating area and small lounge to enjoy afternoon tea (which is free and comes with banana bread, not quite my mama’s standard but hey it was FREE).

Our room was lovely, the bathroom was really tastefully done (5-star standard in fact) and every night they left a small sweet treat on your bed with a little note.

The good news is that it’s cheap (£60 each/ 360QR for two nights including breakfast), the staff were brilliant, helping you book restaurants, taxis and great local street eats.

We were extremely sad to leave this place to head to Batu Ferringhi.

Our hotel in Batu had a lot to live up and failed on many points, however I’m glad we stayed in this seaside resort as I go to take a cooking class at:

Tropical Spice Gardens, Batu Ferringhi

We had a lot of time for this lady. Pearly you're a legend

We had a lot of time for this lady. Pearly you’re a legend

 I love getting in the kitchen, and here came my chance to cook up some classic Nyonya dishes. First up was a tour around the spice garden getting acquainted with regional spices and how they were traditionally used. There was a lot of information take in and the location is really special, but after an hour I was ready to get to cook.

This class was so much fun, mostly due to our teacher, Pearly, who was helpful, friendly and had a wicked laugh. We made lipstick chicken, tamarind aubergine, and vegetable curry. My curry lacked a little flavor… I should have gone heavier on the chilli and salt, but the other dishes were really good and I hope to repeat the aubergine dish soon if I can get hold of some bean paste.

The class in held within the spice gardens so you had lots of wildlife surrounding you, and I was just imagining how romantic the sound of the rain would be on the roof, when a monkey came to join our class. Unfortunately we was waaaay to quick for me.

This class was great value for money and very entertaining. Please go and take a look if you’re in this neck of the woods.

Tree Monkey Restaurant, Batu Ferringhi

We got a recommendation for this restaurant from the staff at Noordin Mews but we also spotted it whilst at our cooking class as it’s set within the Spice Garden. Set on the cliff amongst the trees (as the name suggests), this restaurant with an open deck area gives a great view of the sea, serves up tasty Thai dishes at really great prices (our mains came in under £3 each) and spiced cocktails.

It was a perfect antidote to our rather disappointed meal at the Hard Rock, and gave us a fond farewell to Penang.

Meritus Pelangi, Langkawi

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After roughing it in the Hard Rock at Batu Ferringhi (hardly, but I think I’ve become a hotel snob) where the poolside area felt cramped and noisy (loads of kids) this felt like a dreamy grownups’ retreat (although there were kids around too, they must have been drugged on relaxed vibe of this island).

oh so dreamy

oh so dreamy

Chalets were spacious, and carefully laid out around ponds, pools and beach, and ours came with a nice big balcony for the 3 of us to hang out.

We joined the Meritus Club everyday, which for 100Ringit (£20) gave us breakfast, afternoon tea, drinks, and 2 hours of cocktails with canapés – so it was well worth it.

CBA, the hotel bar that looks onto the beach had a band on each evening and also served up delicious food –with lots of local or international dishes to choose from. Sian recommends their Lamb Rendang (I stupidly went for salmon cannelloni… it must have been the sea air that got to me). But if you wanted to sniff out other food choices you could take a stroll along the beach and make your way to the main street which had lots of little eateries.

We felt very relaxed here, and only left the hotel for a nature cycle, an evening boat cruise and for a cheaper breakfast option on our last day in Langkawi.

Dev’s Nature Cycle Tour, Langkawi

My Doha-acclimatised eyes loved the greenery

My Doha-acclimatised eyes loved the greenery

Going on a group trip means that sometimes you have to do things you wouldn’t necessarily do. I put it out there that this was on top of my agenda at Langkawi and I’m so glad my friends are up for a little adventure.

Their worries – mainly about the distance we’d cover – were put aside once we met our guide, Mandy. She was great, asking us what we’d like to see and do, which was mainly to see the countryside and what life is like on the island. We got this and more as we did took on our nature tour – birds were spotted, plants were sniffed and chewed, rice paddies admired and more.

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Roti Canai has joined the top 10 breakfast list

Roti Canai has joined the top 10 breakfast list

We had a pit stop in a little roadside café, trying the roti canai with bean curry and took another to try some tropical fruits sprinkled with a delicious plum powder (I got myself some from KL which will be tested soon).

A few other snaps to help me reminisce

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There are  of course a million others reasons to visit Malaysia… the beautiful temples, the lovely landscape, the FOOD, oh the food. I have been having to get my noodle fix at Oriental Kitchen since I’ve been back, but alas I just need to get back on that plane.

I’m hoping the lure of a pootle on the bike around the island some great Char Kway Teow (Stir fired flat rice noodles) will persuade Hani into taking me.

 

Recommended for Middle East Foodies: Talabat

I was asked to review Talabat, an online and mobile app that allows you to order food from a wide range of food outlets. And as the subject was all to do with food, I couldn’t refuse.

My experience was mixed: the service from Talabat was impeccable. The intuitive website was extremely easy to use, and once I had placed my order to be delivered to a new address they called to check straightaway to confirm the details.

However, California Tortilla delivered a somewhat substandard version of what you’d eat if you were at the restaurant. Unfortunately, the salad’s crispy tortilla base had become very soggy, the sauce had spilt inside the delivery bag all over everything and the spinach quesadilla looked like somewhat anemic and unappealing. We did consider calling a search party out for the spinach: where did you run off to?

I am happy to report that both Talabat and California Tortilla did address my issues. Talabat called and apologised, which of course they didn’t need to do, and California Tortilla went the extra mile and sent me some replacements the next day for lunch. They rectified the spinach issue and provided an alternative salad that wouldn’t be affected after a journey on a delivery bike.

Would I recommend it?

For sure, it was easy to use and saved me the hassle of talking through my order a million times (you know how it can be). The site also gave me suggestions of restaurants that I hadn’t been aware of, so it’s also great if you’re keen to experience something new.