Monday, June 9, 2014

Abu Dhabi: Table for One, Please

Yes, table for one.

No, no one will be joining me. Thankfully.

OK, except this guy.
Esquire -- Middle East Edition. 

A glass of the 2011 Italian pinot gris, please. I'm nothing if not predictable.

For the lady:

Course 1:
Cream of cauliflower soup with garlic croutons

Course 2:
Caesar salad with the hugest anchovies I've ever had
Roasted strips of zucchini
French bread with brie and fig jam
Fatoush (Arabic salad with mixed greens, cucumbers, and toasted pita strips)
Cold calamari salad with baby potatoes

Uhmm -- sir? Unfortunately a bug has landed in my wine. A big one. Normally I would remove it. I ain't proud. But, no. Not here. Despite the relative lack of bugs here. Could I get a fresh one? Thanks so much.

Course 3:
Veal piccata
Beef medallion
Jasmine rice
Sauteed mushrooms (what is it with the sauteed mushrooms here? To die for!)
Scalloped cauliflower
Roasted potatoes
Seasoned with an assorted salt buffet:
Top row: smoke salt, lemon salt, Cyprus black sea salt, Himalayan salt, chipotle salt. Bottom row: rosemary salt, wild mushroom salt, wild garlic salt.


Course 4, clockwise:
Rice pudding with sliced pistachios and chopped dried cranberries
White cake with peach filling and icing
Blueberries and cream something-or-other
Cherry cheesecake with graham crust and a single halved blueberry atop
Chocolate ganache/cream roll 

Uhm -- sir? Hi. I'm a hillbilly from Oregon/Idaho. I dropped a peach/white cake number from the dessert cabinet, on the floor, but didn't know what to do with it, so there it sits. Even tho I've returned to my seat, could you pick it up for me, so no one gets it on their shoes? OK, I know there is a general exodus from this area in June, so there's only one other person in here, but I just wanted to make you aware of the sitch. Thanks so much!

Dessert cabinet? YES. This was a BUFFET. 

Abu Dhabi: New Hotel!

O. M. G. SERIOUSLY. I've moved to a new hotel for the conference. This hotel, the Eastern Mangroves Hotel and Spa, is where we've brought a lot of high-profile business, so we got a sweet rate on rooms. This hotel costs us less than my business hotel in the city. 
And is like a million times swankier! And while I'm just a creative peon, I did warrant a 5th-floor room...of 7, I think. Facing the highway, not the water (featuring those mangroves) but I'll take it! 
My hotel room has a doorbell. My HOUSE doesn't even have a working doorbell.
This is exactly how my husband leaves the bath mat for me at the Chicken Ranch in the morning. 

OK, I joke, but I do so appreciate that that's not really outside the realm of reason. 
My old hotel is...over there... ;) SO LUCKY to have so many fun adventures!! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Abu Dhabi: I Suspect There's No Translation for "Redneck."

I don't think this is helping our collective reputation. 

I can't believe resources are spent to translate this for a greater audience. 

Abu Dhabi: Smuggling the Creme Puff Home

I must be acclimating, I stepped outside after work today and it was only about 97 and I thought to myself, "Ooh, that breeze is a little cool..." 

As I have been going from extremes -- from 60 degrees in the office to 109 outside, my skin has been a mess, and more powder was needed. So I checked out the meager makeup offerings at the LuLu Market, and found something to get me by in the right color. 

Upon return to my hotel room, I felt like something was a little off... I used to buy the occasional Max Factor product, because I liked the historical aspect of it...Max Factor INVENTED modern makeup. But why haven't I purchase any in a while...?

Oh. That's right. Sales and promotion of it were ended in America in 2010, and can only be purchased overseas (or online at Hmph. To focus on promoting Cover Girl? Hmph.

Lemme know if you need any 2000 Calorie Mascara.

Abu Dhabi: This is Major Tom to Ground Control...

Phew! Today is Day 24, having had 3 days off since May 12. I’m generally running on fumes, but feel much better today than I have in a past few days.

It’s dead, Jim. My phone. It’s completely and utterly dead. There was a corruption in the charging port, and it will no longer charge. It’s not been a big deal here, other than it was how I was able to chat with my husband briefly.I didn’t have data turned on anyway here, so wasn’t really able to do much on my phone except when I could catch the occasional wifi, but connecting to it at the hotel on my phone was a tremendous pain. And anyway, I’m sitting in front of a computer screen 12-14 hours a day…I’m kinda connected. 

But I could always use my Kindle for Droid app and make minute progress on a book. But no more. It's been a challenge not having something with which to entertain myself in the boring in-betweens. In the taxi. Waiting for the plotter. Breakfasting alone. 

I had to resort to extreme measures...I bought...a book. A paper book. With actual pages. 

In so many ways, coming to the UAE has been like going back in time.

  • No cell phone
  • Actual books laying around
  • VH-1 and MTV actually play only videos
  • The newspaper is delivered to me every day...what!?!
  • [Sorry for this one, Brandy] While there are lots of eco-features in my hotel, the shower head is like 8 gpm. I ADORE it. I can rinse my hair in like 30 seconds, not the standard 2 minutes. It's glorious. 
It's like 1991 here. I'll let ya'all know if I decide to replace my phone. ;)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Abu Dhabi: Happy Friday!

Hey ya'all! Happy Friday! Yesterday was Thursday, my I was at...yep, you guessed!

Today is Friday (my Saturday) and likely my last day off for the duration of my visit -- Day Off No. 3 for those of you counting. I am off to adventure a bit after a visit to the spa this morning. 

Happy Friday! 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Abu Dhabi: Feels Like 110

It’s hot here. Crazy hot. Melt your face off hot. Can-only-be-out-in-it-for-12-minutes-or-I’m-going-to-suffer-heat-exhaustion hot. You basically have to either be acclimated to it – which I can do, with some training – or you basically have to run from air conditioned building/car/store to air conditioned building/car/store. My sweet husband warned me, “It’s hot. Hot like you’ve never known.” Come on honey, I like it warm! I like the humidity! It’ll be fun!!


As such, you’d think there would be ice and icy drinks everywhere. Nope. I can’t find a cube to save my soul. Even at the mall I have to strongly coerce them to give me more than 3 pathetic cubes, and then they laugh like I’ve asked them to put ketchup in my soda. The hotel has no ice machines. Is that legal? But hilariously, I have been provided both gin and tonic in my minibar. WITH NO ICE? Puh-leeze.

I went without for the first week, then while grousing to Rahul, he said “Uh, there’s an ice machine on the 6th floor.” YESSSS!! Then my coworkers all remarked that my drink (in swanky reusable glass from Ikea) was more ice than drink! Hahahah! This is about as hilarious as “Uhm…do you own any clothes that aren’t black?” #realoriginal #neverheardthatonebefore #youwouldntaskverawangthat

My beloved ice machine broke 3 days later. And 4 days later, there it remains, sadly disconnected from any water source.

One room-temperature water for me, please.

Trust me, it doesn't feel like 110, it feels like 100 million.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Abu Dhabi: Enjoyed your Lobster? Here's Some Dental Floss!

So Andrew and I flew in the same flight from Frankfurt, and we both work at CH, and his birthday was Friday. We shared a driver from the hotel. So since we'd spent approximately 45 minutes together, and know almost no one else in the country, and my husband and his girlfriend are halfway around the world, I offered to help celebrate his birthday. Plus, a civilized meal out that isn't room service would be welcomed. To the Jumeirah Towers...
For a drink at Ray's the top (62nd floor) and then dinner. Guess what -- in Abu Dhabi when you ask for French 75, the server says "coming right up, ma'am!" Take that, Brickhouse.
The view was spectacular, though I only had my little camera, so spotty photography.
Then to Li Beirut for dinner! We were seated outside by this pool and the waterfront, but think there was A/C blown on us or something, because it wasn't unbearable. The view to the left.
The view to the right. Looks like something from the Jetsons.
I got seafood, so got these implements. Andrew leaned over and said "I hope you don't go all Dexter on us." Bahahah. We talked TV a lot. 
He got lamb chops, so got this little silver rest for his steak knife. So fancified.
OMG, so delish. Lobster, mussels, salmon, whitefish, giant shrimp, and clams. I might have to go back before I leave.
This is Andrew. He's from the Spartanburg, South Carolina office, and turned 29. He mentioned that his all-time fave TV show was Arrested Development. And as I was about to say it he said, "And people usually tell me i bear a striking resemblance to Michael Cera." Yep. 
After our swanky waitstaff cleared our knife rests and had zambonied the crumbs from our table, this was placed in the middle of the table. A candle? Sugar for post-dinner decaf? A lighter for a cigar?
Nope, tiny packets of dental floss. Wait. After this ridiculously formal and fancy meal, i'm gonna floss my teeth at the table? What now??? What am I, a heathen? Please. 
Not up to my normal caliber of dinner date, by any stretch of the imagination, but nice to chat with another American for a bit! 

Abu Dhabi: More Mall-ery

 So as I've outlined, I'm not a big mall person. But a coworker explained that malls are restaurant-heavy here, and that you have to go to the mall, its too hot to do anything else. Oh right. Got it. 
 There are a lot of reflective surfaces in Abu Dhabi.
This one has an ice rink AND a bowling alley! It looks reasonably sized, but is pretty small. 
Paris has her own store here. Well sure.
The escalators are pretty cool -- they use motion-sensing technology and start running when you approach them, and stop when no one is riding. Such a smart escalator!
Yes, no, and maybe hangars in the dressing room!?! These should be regulation in America.
That's Emirates Palace in back there. More on that at a later time.
And then, another taxi ride back to my hotel for a nap.

So much construction everywhere.

Abu Dhabi: Marina Mall and Tower!

So with my big day off, I cabbed it down to the Marina Mall and Observation Tower.
On the waterfront. Well, I mean obviously a marina is on the waterfront.
And has all the trappings of a tourism destination. Lovely fountains...
Rows of trimmed palm trees. You know the deal.
Then up in the elevator to the 100 meter-high observation tower. That's 328 to you Americans.
 The top floor is a swanky restaurant, the second to the top floor is a coffee shop. I have coffee shop written all over me, don't I? Iced coffee with milk. Cow's milk please, no camel milk. Goat's milk would also be accepted, incidentally. 
I asked the English-speaking folks at the table next to me to take my picture, only to discover they were from Whitefish, Montana! She had been asked to come speak on bullying in the schools at some conference. 
The marina and water was just lovely.
 The view back at the city. 
There's always this socked-in fuzziness in the air. Like the Oregon Coast except about 80 million degrees. And July is their hottest month! Yikes! 

Abu Dhabi: The National Art