That evening two friends and I had signed up for a Restronaut event at Spill the Bean, a coffee shop at the mall. I’d been on the Restronaut mailing list for several months but this was the first time I’d been compelled to attend an event. The email said:
The Outpost is a Beirut-based magazine about possibilities in the Arab world. The magazine was named by the Guardian as the successor to the Economist. The Editor in Chief is in town for the weekend. Join him in this gathering where he’ll talk about how stories can impact societies and cultures and the quest to create a magazine with a mission to change the world. Join this table if you’re interested in creativity, media and culture. If you’re a writer, artist, film-maker or thinker, this gathering’s for you.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? It cost AED 70 to attend which included a coffee and a selection of cakes and muffins. We got there at 7pm and met a few people at our table – we were supposed to be 11 in total but at that time we were only five. There were a few copies of The Outpost being passed around. I have to say it’s a beautifully produced quarterly magazine, the kind you would be proud to display on your coffee table. It’s printed on high quality matt paper and is very text heavy. I would buy it – and it would probably take me three months to get through each issue. The editor in chief told us that it was in its second year of publication and until now had been financed by himself and a few investors. He was looking for fundraising ideas. Or perhaps he was just looking for money – because whenever someone made a suggestion I don’t think he gave any of them much consideration. I can understand that when you’ve worked so hard and someone tells you to change it, it’s difficult – you have your own ideas of how things should be. But then why ‘invite’ people to discuss these issues? I felt a bit bad for the editor in chief – I think he came under attack by a few people who asked why, if the magazine was aimed at change in the Arab world, it was published in English? Wasn’t that considered elitist? I left at about 8:30pm. I was tired and was disappointed by the evening. I think the description of the event was misleading and didn’t think it applied to writers, artists, film-makers or thinkers. But that could just be me.
On my way home I spoke to my parents. They were having dinner at Silver Fox Steakhouse at Citywalk so I joined them. I was tired and hungry and a steak sounded so good. I ordered the 6 oz. petite filet. It was served with mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables. It was just perfect. We got home, I got into bed and passed out.
I woke up on Monday with a sore throat and fever and was home until Wednesday.
On Wednesday I decided I had to get back to the office – I had so much to do! I met a friend for lunch at the Urban Bistro. I really like that place. We shared the chicken and avocado wrap and the smoked salmon focaccia sandwich. I had a green juice to drink. I really wanted a Coke but they didn’t have any!
On Thursday night some friends and I went to Toko for dinner. I’d been thinking about the beef gyoza since the last time I’d eaten there!
It had been cloudy all day and by the evening it was drizzling. I was worried because I’d booked a table outdooors. I got there about 20 minutes early as my parents were dropping me off so I decided to have a drink at the bar while I was waiting for the others to arrive. It wasn’t very pleasant – it had that stale bar/cigarette/alcohol smell that you find in cheap bars and it really put me off. Luckily my friends showed up on time and we moved to our table.
I have to say the food was amazing. For starters we had the spicy edamame, crispy rice chips (okowa age), nasu dengaku, the warm French bean salad and the beef gyoza. We ordered one dish at a time so we could enjoy each dish without worrying about the other dishes getting cold!
After our starters we ordered some sushi – prawn tempura rolls and spicy tuna rolls.
By the time we were supposed to order main course we were quite full but we ordered the grilled avocado (excellent) and the grilled scallops.
All the food was incredible and we thoroughly enjoyed it.
For dessert we ordered the chocolate and hazelnut fondant. Once we had demolished that we ordered another. Fantastic! Our bill was a nightmare though – between us we’d had 24 vodkas. It would have been cheaper to buy a bottle!
I was home all day on Friday – I stayed in my pajamas, did some work and caught up on some TV shows.
On Saturday I was home for most of the day and then met up with a friend at Iris. They have a chill-out Saturdays where selected wines and cocktails are half price and you get free food between 5pm and 9pm. We got there at around 7pm, it wasn’t crowded and we got a table. I had the rose wine and my friend had the red wine. We were brought a platter of food to share – crudites and dip, cheese, olives, bresaola, spring rolls. It was quite substantial. We were there way beyond 9pm though and I got home at about 1.30am, already dreading having to wake up the next day.
I love my life.
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