Zoo

Blue
Yellow.
The sky…sun
Upon her face,
a soft, tender breeze.
Closes tired eyes. Sighs.
Too many loud voices sound,
her precious dream interrupted…img_2302
Peering at all the strange animals
through glass so thick to separate them
At each she gazes intently
Primped and preened are all of them.
Quickly they pass her by.
Wistfully she stares…
They can all leave
while always,
she must
stay.

******

 

We took our daughter to the wildlife sanctuary a few weekends ago and we saw a brown bear perched high on a ledge looking out of its enclosure at the world outside. For some reason, it made me very uncomfortable and I felt somewhat responsible for its captivity. 😕

This piece is what came of that feeling. It’s written in a reverse nonet style where every line has an increasing (or decreasing) number of syllables, not words, from 1 to 9 and back to 1 again.

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Restaurant Review: Vapiano

I firmly believe that for any relationship to work, you have to give each other room. Take my kitchen and I for example. Life long companions though we may be, I insist on some space from it at least once a week so when I go back to that sink full of used vessels, I don’t do it too  grudgingly. That’s why we ended up having dinner at Vapiano in Bahrain City Centre on Saturday.

The Italian cafe and restaurant has a way of beckoning unsuspecting happy shoppers in by offering a tantalizing view of their kitchen as you walk by. The seating is very casual with long high benches and low benches around tables with bottles of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and potted herbs. There is also a small area with deep red couches that is almost always occupied.

I only wish that the oils and herb station was not fixed in the middle of the table, it’s difficult to maneuver around when you want to share dishes.

The casual atmosphere extends not just to the seating but to the ordering as well – it’s self-service.

Upon arrival, diners are given a Vapiano card which, thanks to the magic of technology, records your bill as you order your pasta or pizza or salad at the different stations. Once they’re ready, you’ll have to pick the dishes up and take it to your table yourself.

We ordered a chicken Alfredo pasta and about ten minutes later a chef called out our order. Served in a pristine white bowl, it tasted as good as it looked The sauce didn’t drown the pasta but instead offered a touch of creamy garlic-y goodness as I bit into the homemade penne pasta or small pieces of tender chicken breast or mushroom.

We also ordered a pizza; capriciossa and were given a buzzer so that we could relax until it told us our pizza was ready because it takes a little longer than the pasta to prepare.

There’s nothing as satisfying as seeing a thin crust pizza appear on your table (courtesy of the husband) with cheese so hot it’s almost bubbling. With great haste I finished the pasta that was on my plate and then…cheese – mmmm! Beef ham – so delicious! Mushrooms – yum! Artichoke – why isn’t there more? Red olives – wait a minute, what are you doing here? Normally, the pizza is topped with black olives which compliment the other flavours very well. These olives however, provided nothing but a sharp pickled sting every time I bit into them. I ended up picking them out of the remaining slices and we felt that the pizza was much better for it.

All in all, it was a good meal even if the pizza was not entirely to my taste.

I find that Vapiano is a great stop after a long afternoon or evening of shopping. It’s like an up-scale food court dining experience (with the self-service and the fact that it isn’t too harsh on the pocket) except – the food is usually very delicious and the ambiance is wonderful.

My rating: 4/5

(I’m hoping to learn how to take better pictures of all the platefuls of deliciousness I see…am open to suggestions!)

Restaurant Review: Le Pain Quotidien

The Avenues Mall has finally opened in Bahrain and I now understand why it’s almost a tourist spot in nearby Kuwait. When you walk into the mall, you some how forget that’s where you are instead, your eyes and mind trick you into believing you’re walking down a bustling market lane with shops and interesting eateries every which way you look. The fact that it has a beautiful promenade by the water is a wonderful plus but, this is not a review of the mall, it’s a review of Le Pain Quotidien, or LPQ as it is commonly known to us non-French speaking folk.

A couple of days ago, I ended up having both breakfast and dinner at LPQ and was happy both times.

In the morning, I met up with some friends and we thought we would check out the new Starbucks in the mall. It’s supposed to be one of the best in the world. Not one of us were impressed. So, we backtracked to the rustic looking LPQ we had seen on the way there.

When you walk in, you are greeted by their very courteous staff and while you follow them to your table – either indoors or out – delicious looking bakes and pastries (think scones, muffins, cookies, cakes and tarts) are displayed very elegantly behind clear glass. You also see shelf after shelf of organic honey, jams, preserves and spreads which they sell to customers.

We ordered almond croissants, a raisin roll and bread and hummus to eat. We also ordered cappuccinos, hot chocolate and Moroccan mint tea to drink. The eats and drinks were fresh and tasty but not spectacular. However, the beverages are served in little bowls instead of mugs or cups. Although I was not very impressed in the beginning, I found that there was something strangely warm and comforting in holding a steaming cup of chocolate milk (or coffee or tea) to my lips to take a sip. The only draw back – since it is a wide-mouthed bowl, the drinks became cold very quickly.

97ec3322-040c-4706-99f0-3231bd1043cdLater that night, the husband, daughter and I decided to go to the mall again, and thanks to my marketing of the place, the husband insisted we stop by LPQ for a quick snack (which turned into dinner because they are quite generous with their portions). Their soup of the day was mushroom and their quiche of the day was chicken and leek. We ordered one of each and waited for about fifteen minutes before our order was served.

The soup was everything you could want from a mushroom soup. Thick, glossy, rich and earthy I would go back again and again if only to drink that soup during the winter months ahead. The quiche was also tasty, served with a side of roasted potatoes and a light salad. However, I found the flavour of the leeks was rather overpowering and I did not enjoy the quiche as much as I did the soup. The one thing missing in the menu is choice for vegetarians. Almost all their dishes have eggs or meat in them and so, if you’re a vegetarian, LPQ might not make it to your list of favourites.

It is not the cheapest place in Bahrain serving this cuisine. But, the ambience is rather special and all their ingredients are organic.

If you’re making a trip to the Avenues, stop and give it a try. I doubt you will be disappointed.

My rating: 4/5

Winter is coming

No offense Game of Thrones fans, couldn’t resist using that as my title when it is so apt for my post today. Well…I think it is anyway.

img_0719Those of you who have been reading my posts through October know that I joined a group of women as part of the Learn and Serve initiative. Well, I’ve finally completed what I set out to do early last month and I feel good. Plus, for me it was delightful (no other way to describe it) to watch absolute novices go from not knowing how to make a chain on their crochet hook to finishing sixty inch long mufflers complete with tassels! Some of the women even want to move on to making caps. I am not even their teacher but I still feel proud of them.

I don’t have photos of their work, so you’ll have to make do with just mine. For now.

The temperature is falling here in Bahrain and the days are growing shorter. Just in time for winter, we’ve completed our project and hopefully will bring a little warmth to those who need it most this season. Did I mention I feel good? 🙂