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A runner with an appetite for adventure!

A Tribute to Za’atar April 8, 2011

Filed under: Dubai,Food — Kelocity @ 11:20 am
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I grew up eating Za’atar. We used to eat it multiple times a week for breakfast growing up. My friends used to gag just looking at it, but it is SO good!

Zartar is an arabic word, so when it translates into english, there are multiple spellings: (Arabic: زَعْتَر‎, in english: zaatar, za’tar, zatar, zatr, zattr, zahatar, zaktar or satar).

What is it? It’s a mixture of thyme, oregano, basil, savory, salt, dried sumac and sesame seeds. We used to eat it baked onto pita bread with olive oil or butter.

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My grandparents always had it at their house (my grandfather is Lebanese).

Another variation, that we called sim sim, was also a household staple. This is a mixture of honey and sesame seeds baked into a pita. We’d always have a slice of each for good measure.

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It’s hard to find really good Za’atar around here. You have to find a really good Lebanese or Arabic market. I’ve found it a few times in LA before, but nothing quite like the bakery back in Boston.

And then I went to Dubai. Oh. My. Gosh. Za’atar EVERYWHERE! I had many za’atar croissants when I was there. I got awkwardly excited when I saw them! I even had a Za’atar mojito one night at the Burj Al Arab.

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We did a bus tour of Dubai one day that included a walking tour of the spice souks. Our guide stopped and showed us different spices and let us smell and taste some of them.

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In one particular stall, on a whim I asked “do you guys sell Za’atar?” The man smiled and said “of course!” and showed me a giant bag of my beloved spice, it must have been 1 pound or so. I was so excited! I’ve never seen it sold in that quantity before! I kept saying “oh my gosh! are you serious?” I turned to Irving. “Do you see that? They have Za’atar! Look at all that za’atar!” I don’t know why I was so shocked to see it. I mean, they do use it a lot in the middle east. I was practically jumping up and down. I asked “How much?” and he told me 120 dirhams. I didn’t do the math in my head very well, but I said “well, what if I buy three bags?” He said “oh, well if you buy 3 bags, only 100 dirhams each. Sounds like a deal! I said ok, I’ll buy three. And I made Irving fork over all the money we withdrew from the ATM that day. “Irving, I can’t believe we found it! What a good deal!”

(keep in mind, my entire tour group is watching this happen inside the little store!)

Irving smiles at me, maybe a little concerned over how excited I just got over seeing za’atar sold in bulk. He whips out our currency converter (which I highly recommend by the way) and tells me that I’ve just spent about $80 on za’atar. WHHAAA????

I mean, I love za’atar, but not THAT much! By now, our tour has moved on and we’re walking through the open market. I start bawling in the middle of the street. “How did I spend $80 on za’atar? I thought it was a good deal? What was I thinking? How did I just get ripped off? I’m so stupid. What a dumb traveler I am. Such a rookie mistake!”

I ended up going back and returning one of the bags. In the end, I spent about $45 on two bags… I gave one bag to my mom and grandparents for Christmas last year (You guys better eat that by the way!) and I kept one bag for myself.

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And today, I opened up my za’atar for the first time, and inhaled deeply to smell the sweet aroma.

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I decided to try my hand at making my own za’atar bread using authentic middle eastern flatbread. just kidding. I used Trader Joe’s brand.

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I mixed it with some a lot of olive oil to make it a pasty texture.

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I also brushed some olive oil on the bread, but I don’t think I needed to do that.

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All ready to go in the oven!

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I only baked it for 10 minutes, but next time, I’ll do it a little longer. The perfect breakfast! (as long as you floss your teeth after!)

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So there you have it. All you needed to know about my love affair with Za’atar. If you see it at the farmer’s market or in an Arabic restaurant, don’t be afraid to order it! It’s delicious.

 

Around the world: A Video! January 22, 2011

Filed under: Cairo,Dubai — Kelocity @ 2:37 pm
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I’ve been working on a little video from our trip to Egypt and Dubai.

Enjoy!

 

Video is 6 Minutes Long.
 

And the Winner is…. November 23, 2010

Filed under: Dubai — Kelocity @ 7:57 am
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Well… to be honest, only FOUR people entered the contest this time around! But we still randomly picked a winner!

And the winner is… Kristen P! She was also the only one who got all 9 answers correct! I’ll be mailing you out a great prize after Thanksgiving!

Here are the answers!

 

1.) Dunkin Donuts
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2.) Cold Stone Creamery

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3.) Coach

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4.) Chilis
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5.) Romano’s Macaroni Grill
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6.) Bloomingdales
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7.) Au Bon Pain
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8.) Pizza Hut
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9.) Mountain Dew
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Thanks for playing!!

 

The Arabian Game: Round II November 17, 2010

Filed under: Dubai — Kelocity @ 9:15 pm
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It sounded like everyone loved the Arabic Signs game, we got a lot of great responses!!!

Here we go for Round 2! Same Rules apply: Email me at kelocity@gmail.com with as many answers as you can figure out by November 21st. (Don’t leave a comment with any hints, we want to see how many people can guess correctly!)

On November 22nd, we will reveal the answers and randomly pick a winner. We’re not sure what the prize will be yet, but we will send the winner something.

Ready, Set, GO!

1.)
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2.)

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3.)

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4.)
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5.)
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6.)
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7.)
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8.)
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9.)
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Good Luck Everyone! Have fun! Email me by November 21st with your guesses!

 

Arabian Contest…Winner Announced! November 14, 2010

Filed under: Dubai — Kelocity @ 10:26 pm
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Thank you all who entered the Arabian Signs contest! I hope you all enjoyed it! We were impressed by some of your answers, but no one got all of them correct! Arabic letters read right to left, so maybe that threw some of you off. Great guesses though!

We picked our winner by using the Random Integer Generator from random.org. All the entries were numbered and added to the list and one was chosen.
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The winner is…. LAURIE C. (Who also happens to be celebrating a birthday this week, but that was just a coincidence!)

Well Laurie, we promised you a sweet prize, and we hope we didn’t disappoint!!! We will be sending you this pretty awesome King Tut bottle opener. Enjoy!!
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Here are the correct answers:

1.) Ikea
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2.) Sanrio
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3.) Taco Bell
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4.) Uno’s
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5.) TGI Fridays
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6.) Gap
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7.) Aquafina (Not Dasani!)
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8.) Claire’s
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9.) Starbuck’s
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10.) Papa John’s
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11.) California Pizza Kitchen
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12.) Green Giant
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13.) Crate & Barrel (Not Pottery Barn!)
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14.) Subway
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15.) Krispy Kreme
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We were so excited that so many people wanted to participate, that we will be doing another contest, just like this one later this week! Stay tuned for some more Arabic signs… the next round has some great ones!! We’re not sure what the prize will be, (how can you beat a King Tut Bottle Opener?) but we’ll come up with something good! Stay tuned!

 

An Arabian Game….with a Prize! November 10, 2010

Filed under: Dubai,Europe — Kelocity @ 2:00 pm
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We are having an amazing time in the Middle East. We love it here so much, we wanted to invite YOU to have a little fun with us!

Below are some common companies and logos that you know in English, but can you figure them out in Arabic?

Email me at kelocity@gmail.com with as many answers as you can figure out and on November 14th, we will reveal the answers and randomly pick a winner.
(Don’t leave a comment with any hints, we want to see how many people can guess correctly!)

We bought a sweet prize in Egypt that we will mail to the winner. Good luck and have fun! Ready, Set, GO!

 

1.)
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2.)
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3.)
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4.)
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5.)
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6.)
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7.)
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8.)
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9.)
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10.)
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11.)
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12.)
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13.)
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14.)
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15.)
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Good luck! You have until November 14th to email us your answers!
The winner will be announced on the blog on November 15th.

 

Skiing? In the Desert?

Filed under: Dubai,Food — Kelocity @ 7:00 am
Tags: , , ,

Originally 10/29/2010…

We saved one of the Dubai Highlights for the last day of our trip:
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Ski Dubai is one of the largest indoor ski slopes in the world. It is inside the Mall of Emirates.
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It’s crazy how it can be 110 degrees outside in the desert, and about 20 degrees inside. It’s so cold inside that you have to bring hat and gloves and they provide you with snow suits to wear!
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How many ski slopes have you seen with an escalator to the ski lift? haha
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Since the slope is inside the mall, you ski past stores and restaurants, it’s so strange!
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The lighting is a little dark inside, it almost feels like skiing at twilight.

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Up the lift we go! (Notice the snow making vents on the wall?)
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The conditions were surprisingly good. If it was an outdoor mountain, I’d call them perfect. Not too icy, not too powdery.
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There are two main runs, one is a little crowded with beginners who have likely never seen real snow before. The other side is for “experts”, but all that means is that it’s a little bit steeper. Both were really good runs.
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Halfway down the mountain is a ‘ski lodge’ where you can get snacks and hot chocolate.
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We ordered hot chocolates just for fun. They were probably the most expensive hot chocolates we’ve ever had, but look at this thing!
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It had real whipped cream, cocoa powder, m&m’s and marshmallows!
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We were FREEZING by this point, and it was SOOOO good!
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We bought a 2 hour lift ticket, and with only two runs, it was more than enough time to enjoy it.

While we were skiing, there was a photographer snapping photos of everyone, and then after you’re done, you go look at them on a screen and you can buy them if you want. We didn’t intend to purchase any, but we went to look anyways. While we were scanning through, Irving pointed a photo and said, “hey, haha, doesn’t that one look like Tom Cruise?” I laughed and said “yea, that does look like him a little”. Well when we got home, we realized it WAS him! He was in Dubai all week while we were there since he was shooting the new Mission Impossible movie!!! We JUST missed him! Crazy!
He even had on the same ski suit we all did!!

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After we were finished, we were desperate for some desert heat to warm us up. We headed to the Ibn Battuta Mall via metro. We heard this mall was strange. Even our tour books called it weird and a little quirky. It’s divided up into five sections, each one represents a different country (kind of like Epcot Center?)
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The inside was really decorated, even though the stores inside were just mediocre.
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This one was the “Egypt Section”. haha
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And China!
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This one had a full scale boat inside the food court…
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It was definitely strange, and I’m not sure I’d recommend this mall, but it was pretty funny to look at.

Later that night, we had reservations at the Burj Al Arab. This is supposedly the world’s only 7-star hotel, and the only way to look around the lobby if you’re not staying there is to eat at one of the restaurants.

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When we arrived at the front gate in our taxi, at first they didn’t have our name on their guest list, and we got a little nervous, but one phone call later and they found it. We were in!
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Since we arrived early, we spent an hour walking around the hotel grounds, looking at all the fountains and gold plated walls.
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From the front of the hotel, you can see the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. Very pretty as the sun was setting.
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We wanted to walk on the white sands, but they wouldn’t let us. Apparently you have shell out the $2,000 a night for that privilege.

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It was just stunning to see the Burj Al Arab up close as the sun set below the gulf.
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We originally went back and forth deciding on which restaurant inside we should eat at. They have a bunch of different options. In the end, we decided on the “Skyview Bar”.
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The interior really does have gold plated walls. It also has the world’s tallest atrium in the lobby.
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Even the floor has some gold on it!
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Time for dinner!
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The Skyview Bar was at the top of the hotel, and we were hoping for some great views of Dubai…but they seated us at an interior table, with not much of a view. I was kind of sad because that was the whole point.
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But after asking each of of four waiters, we were finally relocated to a great window seat overlooking the bustling city of Dubai.
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We ordered two drinks to start. I had a Zartar Mojito! It was a virgin drink muddled with Zartar leaves and ginger. If you have never had Zartar before, you don’t know what you’re missing. Even Irving liked it.
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Then we each ordered some dinner. Irving had the Angus Burger with Fries and I had a Cheese, Tomato and Basin Panini on an Olive Bread. They were both fantastic (and outrageously expensive).
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But now we can say we ate on the top of the Burj Al Arab (cross that off the bucket list, right?!)
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It was the perfect way to end our vacation in the United Arab Emirates.

We loved everything about Dubai. Everyone was friendly, polite and hospitable. The city was clean, organized and has so much to offer. We will definitely be back someday.

But now… onto Egypt! Stay tuned for more!

 

 
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