Sunday, 29 April 2012

Just Breathe: Bliss Triple Oxygen for face

Triple Oxygen instant energizing range
It promises to transport the bliss spa triple oxygen treatment to your home, and although I haven't ever tried the actual treatment, I can tell you that this range does achieve impact.  I tried the energizing mask a few years ago, and was thrilled to see the eye gel and the cleansing foam on the market last year.

The face mask is claimed to increase oxygen molecules and detoxifiers, resulting in a 'super quick fix for dull tired skin'.  It pumps out in a liquid form, and then starting within around 20 seconds it gradually transforms to a thick frothy foam upon contact with damp skin. You leave it on for 5 minutes, (it will feel a bit tingly) and then rinse it off.  Within this time, it releases oxygen and no joke, it does leave your face feeling refreshed.
You are supopsed to use it not more than 3 times a week, but it is so luxurious that you will want to use it more often!

The cleansing foam is a liquid-to-foam formula that is really gentle on skin and removes face make-up effectively (I don't ever use it for my eyes- I always use an eye makeup remover for them). It smells fruity and tangy, and although does not have the same effect that the mask does, it does feel refreshing.

Face mask starts off in a gel-like form

Within secconds, it starts to foam...
... Resulting in a tingly froth in a matter of minutes!

Other bliss products are great too, including the fabulous foaming face wash and the blood orange and white pepper hand cream.  I've also seen a triple oxygen +C energizing cream, which is going to be my next purchase!

Where to buy: Most of the bliss range can be found at major department stores in the UK.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Prego at the Royal Golf Club- Bahrain Restaurant Review

It's called Prego.  But it should be called Pesto. Because they use it on just about anything and everything....

I went to Prego on a Friday for a laid-back lunch, with no expectations. The Royal Golf Club was quite busy; they serve a buffet lunch which was where most of the guests were, but Prego was also busy.  It has both indoor and terrace seating, and since the weather was really nice we sat on the terrace which overlooks the pool. The setting was lovely and relaxing, and with perfect weather you feel like you are really far away.   

Terrace seating overlooking the pool at Prego

The interior of the restaurant
The menu consists predominantly of pizzas and a smaller selection of pastas, as well as a few meat dishes.  The appetizers include bruschetta, grilled vegetables, scampi and calamari, soups and salads. There is also a kids meal for BD 4.500 consisting of either a starter size pasta dish or a small pizza, a drink and icecream. 
Bruschetta appetizer

Grilled vegetables
We ordered the bruschetta, which was quite good and crunchy with a tomato onion salsa, the grilled vegetables which had been brushed with a pesto mix and were served hot, the caprese salad and a vegetarian pizza.  Both the vegetable dish and the caprese salad tasted strongly of pesto, which was fine in the case of the vegetables but sort of killed the caprese salad as you couldn't taste the simplicity of the cheese with tomato.   The buffalo mozzarella used was also a bit rubbery, not as soft as the cheese should be. 

The pizza was really disappointing; firstly it was drowning in sauteed diced vegetables with mushrooms that I could almost swear were from a can, and secondly, even with all those vegetables there was very little taste. It went back half uneaten because it was really not worth the calories!
The vegetable pizza

Caprese salad with overpowering pesto
Though unimpressed with the food thusfar, we went ahead and ordered dessert as they had a warm chocolate cake with vanilla bean (except it wasn't) ice-cream (15 minutes preparation).  This wasn't bad, the chocolate was gooey but a bit starchy with the texture of chocolate pudding rather than chocolate molten cake.  Again, nothing to write home about. 

Warm chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice-cream

The service was also slow- there were only two waiters on duty serving the terrace and when we first got there there was a large table of families and getting the waiter's attention for my table of two was a bit of a pain. 

Having said this, I do think that as a pool terrace restaurant, for families using the club facilities and wanting to grab a bite to eat, it serves its purpose, but only if you are seated outdoors (the inside is a bit dark and gloomy).  And in terms of a pool menu, it is a healthier menu than the usual burger and shake. They have also just started a delivery service to Riffa Views, so the convenience factor should get them a steady flow of customers. 

However, should you plan a dinner there and drive out to try it? I definitely wouldn't. 

Price: Our total bill was BD 24.500 (including three non-alcoholic drinks), which isn't bad but all of our dishes were vegetarian.  Appetizers are priced from BD2.400- 5.800; pizzas are around BD 4-5 and desserts are all BD 3.500. 

Contact: Royal Golf Club Prego Pizzeria on +973 17 751263.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Street Art Explodes at Alwan 338

It is the first time in Bahrain that an open space is dedicated to street art, and judging from the public response, it has been long-awaited.  

Painted camels taking pride of place

Alwan (Colors) 338 is an arts festival "bringing the reflexive potential of art out of the gallery space and into the public arena, welcoming diverse communities to engage in dialogue about a new vision for Bahrain".

Conceptualized by Al Riwaq Art Space, the block, well-known in Bahrain for its restaurants and cafes, has been transformed into festive colors, re-styled facades and re-imagined spaces.

What does this all mean? In one word: brilliance. Brilliance in both concept and execution. A focal area, "The Park", which is literally a cement park with recycled seats (made of tyres! What an ingeniously useful use of tyres!) and tables (made of traffic sign-posts), a library and a stage for outdoor performances, is where Alwan 338 all starts. At night, the Park is full of regulars, having a cup of milk tea and nikhi or bajilla, with their kids and friends.  
Art on an electricity sub-station, with shoes stuck in a trail pattern

Recycled tyres are park benches

Cheese bread and milk tea served at The Park

Stools and tables for kids
Branching off the Park into the little alleyways between Monsoon and the Meat Co strip is where much of the real color of Alwan 338 lies.  Art painted on walls, art installations, art painted on camels, art exploding in the least expected of places and the most stunning of expressions. You literally need to look at every corner in case you miss something.  It is a feast for the eyes and the fact that we have this many talented and creative artists in Bahrain is mind-boggling.

Zoe's facade in deep blues 
There are three works of art that I especially love- each of which occupies a large outer wall within the area: the huge face (is it a man? is it an ape??) the funky masked man (give me a break, I don't know its real name!) which I saw while it was being painted, and the sensational bicycle extravaganza on Bohemia's wall.  
Better than any billboard... 

An explosion of color painted onto a building

Pearl of the Mystic Seas by Caleb Aero

The inside of Bohemia is equally as impressive, with works of art by different local artists, each with their own style and message, forming an exhibition called "I am the Other".  We were greeted by one of the artists when we went, Feras Sroor, who was so super-friendly.
Fabric chandelier at Bohemia

Feras Sroor's art 

Clever use of the mirrored ceiling in Bohemia, art by Ali Hussain

Unexpected art installations are in every corner of this deserted building
An art exhibition showing opposite personalities
I cannot rave about this whole thing enough, nor can I describe everything here.  It was supposed to end on the 24th, and when this was announced, there was an uproar all over twitter until they announced that it will be extended by a week :)  So those of you who have been telling yourselves, "Will go one day", make that day TODAY before it is all taken down.

The Library at The Park

Recycled Pepsi bottles serve as plant pots

Contact: +973 17 717 441; and follow on twitter @Alriwaq and @Alwan338.
The sponsors, and the schedule of workshops held as part of Alwan 338 during the months of March and April

Location: Best starting point is to park around Monsoon by The Park and walk in a loop.

Verdict: 2 Thumz Up to Al Riwaq Art Space and to all the brilliantly cool creative artists who have allowed us the privilege to view their work.  


2 thumz DOWN to anyone and everyone who has not done enough to nurture these artists and provide them with a platform to showcase their work...  

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Saffron by Jena Bakery

I've always believed that I am an old soul and I think I have just discovered my natural home.  Saffron by Jena Bakery, in the newly restored Suq Al Qaisriyya in Muharraq, transports you back to the days of old Bahraini hospitality and tradition.

Situated in an alley parallel to the suq, Saffron is the "Arabic sister" of Jena Bakery, owned by Bahraini chef Narise Qambar. Serving traditional Bahraini snacks, including eggs and tomato and sweet buns with milk tea (DELICIOUS!!), as well as a selection of savory and sweet treats, Saffron's menu is modest but this place is simply not about the food. The cafe doesn't have a full-fledged kitchen due to its limited size, but plans are underway to convert one of the neighboring stores into a kitchen.

Chocolate date cake
When the site was being restored, they stumbled upon an ancient Bahraini 'madbasa' which is a traditional date-juicing site in the ground.

The madbasa is beneath the cafe flooring*

History of the madbasa*

The madbasa is the focal point of the cafe, and the floor of the cafe is transparent so that when you walk in you can see the madbissa under your feet.  This takes some getting used to but is overwhelming in its heritage.

The interior of Saffron by Jena Bakery*

The cafe is quite small, with a capacity for 20 people at a time, and has both indoor and outdoor seating. The concept is simple: be Bahraini.
Suq Al Qaisriyya*
While we were there, women and men alike were walking in, most of whom were residents of the neighborhood and all knew each other. 

Outdoor benches where we had our snacks

Narise, her sister and her kids were all there serving customers and although there were only 2 staff, they were at all times polite and efficient.

<><> <><> <><>
Adrian, our waiter... service with a smile*

Saffron's vibe is both nostalgic and new.  Many of the customers were young, from a generation whose lifestyles are very different from their parents, but whose traditions are embedded deeply within them. 

Saffron is a place to connect- for those of us who are Bahraini, with each other, our history and perhaps most poignantly, with ourselves... and for those of us who are not Bahraini, it is a place to connect with Bahrain.

Where: Saffron is in Muharraq suq off the strip that houses NBB; the best way to find it is to park and ask anyone for directions to Suq Al Qaisriyya!

Price: Extremely reasonable; between the four of us we each had tea and buns, one date cake, one order of kababs, two Turkish coffees and 2 bottles of water for BD 8.

Contact: I definitely recommend you make reservations as the cafe doesn't have a large capacity; call 39614131.

Verdict: 2 THUMZ UP!

Special mention to @RshRsho: all images with an * are taken from her instagram...

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Whimsical Mackenzie Childs Homeware

Walking into its narrow doorway on 57th Street, you would never guess what lies beyond. You feel as if you've stumbled upon the Mad Hatter's Tea Party and all you want to do is admire the crockery. Completely different from large chains like Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn, Mackenzie Childs is whimsical and colorful (and not cheap).
Mackenzie Childs store on 57th St, NYC

With contrasting stripes, polka dots and bold prints, the kitchenware here is not for the fainthearted.  Full dinnerware sets, teaware,cutlery.. if it belongs on a table then they've designed it.
Tableware in bright floral prints

Colorful hardware to brighten up a wall
Their signature black and white checkers are used freely on their products, and feels like someone took a huge brush in ceramic class and had a painting party... to be honest most of the items are too loud for you to buy more than a couple to add a splash of color, but they are undoubtedly serious conversation starters.

Home furniture collections

A range of garden furniture

I usually visit the Manhattan store just to browse; I really love seeing the colors and contemplating buying a teapot (everytime!) but both the boldness of the colors and the risjk of breakage on the way home given the prices quickly make me change my mind.  If I had a little cottage in the country with  nice garden, though, I would definitely be the proud owner of as many items as I dare!
Kitchenware for whimsical tea parties

The Manhattan store mainly carries kitchenware and houseware, but a full range of garden furniture is also available online. If you're in the City, even if you don't have the plan to buy anything, DO visit the store and take a look!

Image marked with an ** is own image- all other images taken from Mackenzie Childs

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