The Duncan Adventures
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Monday, July 21, 2014

A very grand Iftar at The Grand Hyatt


Last night I had the privilege of being invited by Qatar Airways to attend an Iftar dinner all in the name of everything social media. The event took place at one of my favorite hotels in town, The Grand Hyatt Muscat.

Just incase you aren't clued up on what "Iftar" means then please let me explain - Iftar is the Arabic word for 'breakfast' and is the meal eaten when Muslims break their fast at sundown during the holy month of Ramadan. Iftar is usually a meal eaten with family and friends and is a time for bringing people together. As a Non-Muslim being invited to join such an event is an honor.


If you follow me on Instagram - find me here - then you will have seen some of my pictures already. You may also have noticed that in the past 3 weeks of Ramadan I have been to 4 Iftars already. This is my favourite thing about Ramadan for sure! The food is amazing but I also love the spirit of it and it's a time to be social together.


Recently I read a very funny blog post by Hey Fat Su called "How to dress to eat". Fat Su explains what clothing you should wear for optimum food indulgence without any fashion mishaps. She has made these mistakes so you don't have to! Iftar is a time of eating, well in my case gorging myself, so I was going to make the most of it and had to dress appropriately. On her advice I made some wise clothing choices.

This was my outfit for the evening

The Iftar tent at the Hyatt was so beautiful and dream like with the light, floaty fabrics and the ornate lamp shade leaving shadows around the room.


Goodie bags!! Whoooo!


It is traditional to break the fast with dates. There were plenty available but I chose some dried apricots instead which made a nice change. And then it was on to the real business!

The selection of different foods was extensive for all tastes and appetites. It ranged from soups and salads to fish and lamb dishes. I took Nicole's great recommendation and tried some of the Lebanese Tabouleh. 

You see the chap in the below picture? Well I'm thinking of asking him to be my best friend... He made the most amazing schwarmas and that is high praise from me - I am quite the schwarma expert don't you know!


When I looked back through my pictures it seems that I have spent more time taking pictures of the deserts than the rest of the foods. It's obvious to tell which course is my favorite!




Mr Official Camera Man appeared on front of us to take the group photos right after my third plate of food.. Moving at the pace of a slug and trying to suck my stomach in I obliged to the pictures. Why do I eat so much food?! There were pictures aplenty so I shall update the Blog, Instagram, Facebook when I see them myself- Providing I don't look like a dough ball who just ate 3 plates of food, of course.

No social media event is the same without a group selfie!
                      Can you spot any of the local Blogerati in the picture??



Meeting the guys from Qatar Airways and hearing all about their upcoming projects was a pleasure. Did you know that Qatar Airways flies from Muscat to over 125 destinations?! I certainly didn't!


It was a wonderful evening with delicious food and great company. Thank you so much to the Grand Hyatt for their hospitality and to for Qatar Airways for inviting me to be part of the event.




PS- Qatar Airways... Any time you want to give me free flights to Miami that would be lovely. Thanks! :)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Date Night - Rumba Lattina


It is not often these days that Colin & Myself manage to have a date night alone. Never mind going to an actual nice place to eat instead of junk food and asleep by 10pm. Last night we made the effort to spend some time together and headed to 'Rumba Lattina' the new Latin American restaurant at 'The Cave'. 

If you don't already know of 'The Cave' it is a new development just off the Qurum Heights road and perched on the side of the cliff overlooking Darsait. It is built with steel and concrete but great efforts have been made to camouflage the building into the surrounding landscape. I believe that there will 8 different restaurants over 3 floors and will have the capacity to seat 1,600 guests at any one time.



We had heard many positive things about Rumba Lattina so jumped at the chance for a nice meal together. 

My initial reaction of the building and location was very impressive. I expected a restaurant in a cave to be something gimmicky and tacky but this place was something very different. It had a fun, holiday feel and something very different for Oman.


Rumba Lattina is spilt into three sections - first is the outdoor seating area with palm trees, lights and soon to be shisha area. As you come in the front door past the greeting area is the main dining section with lots of seating and towards the back is the drinks bar. The bar acts as a divider between the third section which is the club area. There is a large TV screen, pool tables, dance floor, smoking room, VIP area and DJ booth.

I love the fact that Muscat has a new hang out to dance and have a good time with friends without being hidden away. When the new Colombian DJ arrives this may just be the new place to be seen in Muscat!

Before our food we headed to the bar area where the Venezualan bar tender, Johnny, was at the ready to mix us up some mocktails. After a long time studying the drinks menu I couldn't decide so I told Johnny what flavors I liked - definitely no coconut for me- and in minutes he whipped up the most amazing cocktail made just for me. 



Johnny entertained us by skillfully throwing bottles in the air and juggling fruit. 


It is clear to see that there has been a lot of thought put into the decor with lots of authentic touches, mostly imported specially from Latin America. 

The atmosphere is warm, friendly and fun. It is very easy to forget that you are in Oman at all. 

From the front of house staff to the chefs in the kitchen all the staff are from Latin America which gives it a real authentic feel.



For starters I began with a Peruvian dish of "Aguachile" - butterfly shrimps marinaded in a serrano green chilli & lime garnished with cucumber & red onion. Price 3.9 rials. Great quality shrimps and a huge portion for an appetizer!

Colin went for the Mexican "Caldo De Queso" which is a cheese broth with potatoes, bell peppers, corn & fresh mozzarella cheese. Price 3.5 rials. He really enjoyed the soup and was impressed with himself for trying something new.




For main course I chose a Brazilian dish of "Seafood Fettucini" which was an assortment of seafood with octopus, shrimp, fish, mussels, cachaca chipolte sauce tossed through fettuicine. Cost 8.4 rials. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish. The portion was huge and the flavors were great, unlike anything else I have eaten in Muscat for a long time.

Colin chose the Venezuelan "Pabellon Venezolano" - twice cooked shreaded beef served with seasoned rice, black beans and tajada. Cost 7.4 rials. I would have taken a picture of his meal but before I got the camera he had already tucked in and making very appreciative noises.

Seafood Fettucini


After the main courses we were suitably stuffed but we couldn't resist sampling some of the desserts, of course it would be rude not to!

Once again Colin and his new found enthusiasm for food chose something different to his usual preference with a desert of poached pears. By this point I forgot what the official names were and the prices - I was in a completely satisfied food daze. He was most impressed with the pears and literally ate until he couldn't take another bite.

I chose the chocolate brownie with lime ice cream on the sizzling skillet. The brownie was so chocolatey and tasty! I REALLY enjoyed it!

Sizzling hot chocolate brownie

Some advice from me to you - go with a good appetite and a stretchy waist band. The portions are large and you won't want to stop eating! The prices are all very reasonable for the large portions and quality of the food served.

The rumors are that after Ramadan & Eid they can then apply for their liquor licence. A Columbian DJ, exotic cocktails and a great atmosphere is sure to be a winning combination. Other establishments in Muscat should be following this lead!

You can visit the website page for The Cave here, hopefully they are working on a more detailed website to showcase all the different places to eat.

We had a great date night together and enjoyed taking some time out together as Husband and Wife again rather than always Mummy & Daddy. I very much look forward to the next date night. Hint, Hint Colin!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Spencer's 5 Month Update


Our little champ is already 5 months old, oh how time flies!! He is no longer a teeney tiny newborn, he is a strong little unit with a whole personality of his own and two teeth. Yes, you read that correctly - TWO teeth!

I have been meaning to do this update for a long time now. Actually I've missed out every other month so lets start a fresh from now as I know that he has Nanny, Grandad's, Aunts, Uncles and many people who love him that want updated with his progress - so here we go...


My grumpy little teether finally fallen asleep on the rocking chair


Weight:
Spencer weighs 8.2kg, that's a whopping 18lbs. Yep, that is a whole stone and 4lbs. Convert it anyway you want - this guy is a heavy chunk of baby cuteness! The Baby Bjorn carrier has been packed away as I can no longer carry him like that.

Health:
He is a healthy lad with no obvious problems. Teething has been a big problem for him the past month but that is all normal for his age. His bottom two teeth have cut through the gum at the same time and I am praying that gives him some relief. I've tried Calpol, Panadol, Ashton & Parsons teething sachets, ice toys, chewy toys - can you suggest anything else?



Development:
Spencer can already stand and he will bear all his weight on his legs and with me only holding onto his hands for balance. Rolling has been mastered so we can't leave him unattended on any bed or change table anymore. He is desperate to be able to sit up on his own and often tryies to pull himself up from lying by holding onto your hands or the sides of his cot.

Sleep:
I have always felt very fortunate that this little lad loves his sleep and has slept through the night (more than 6 hours at a time) since 10 weeks. I put a lot of this down to the fact that he was in his room from a very young age, if he cries I will go to him but I won't pick him up unless he really needs me to. How do I say that without sounding like a horrible mum? I do believe in sleep training from a young age where possible. He generally takes a 40 minute nap in the morning and an hour in the afternoon.

For bedtime he will go down to sleep at 7.30pm and then have a dream feed at 11pm. Hopefully from there he will sleep right through until 6.30am or later.

By month 4 he decided that he no longer likes to sleep on his back and will always put himself onto his front or his side. I was terrified of this at first but now he is very strong and able to roll himself back over if he needs to instead of burying his face in the mattress.


For sleeping time he puts himself on his front and has started to stick his bum up up in the air


Social:
This is one smiley, happy boy who loves to meet new people and stare right into their eyes! He has an infectious gummy smile that makes people laugh.

Since he was a little baby I have introduced him to lots of new people and encouraged them to hold him so he isn't as clingy with me. Clingy babies are cute when you want a cuddle but it isn't practical for the Mum to be the only person that the baby wants to see.

Spencer loves when the gardener Raoul shows him around the garden


Diet:
In a day Spencer will have around 5 bottles of milk. We started to introduce 'Ella's Kitchen' organic pouches for breakfast and for his evening meal. Not so much to fill him up but more to get him to try new foods early on. I plan to make his meals for him at home but first I want to see what foods he likes. So far he loves apples, butternut squash, carrot and prune but has a strong dislike for blueberries.

Giraffe on the menu tonight - He is now old enough to hold and properly chew 'Sophie'


Routine:
This little guy loves a routine and some structure in his day, he must get that from me!

We found our routine naturally by following the signs he gave us when he was tired and hungry. In a day I know that he will always get up from 6.30am onwards, through the day he will have two naps and will go down for bed for 7.30pm. It is not strict and to the minute but by sticking to this loosely (give or take 15-30 minutes) helps me to have a happy and well rested little boy.

Such a smiley happy boy


Clothes: All his 3-6 month clothes are getting a big snug and is now wearing some 6-9 month clothes already. I have plenty of new clothes ready to be unpacked for him. For diapers he is in a size 4.

All ready for bed and listening to a story


Likes: Spencer is an active little boy! He loves to jump in his Fisher Price Jumperoo and has really got the hang of it. He LOVES to stand up and can bear all his weight on his legs only holding onto my hands for balance - Lying down is not an option for this boy unless he is sleeping. He loves to look at himself in the mirror thinking that it is another baby, we call him "the boy in the mirror".

Dislikes: One thing Spencer hates is being held like a baby! He will not tolerate it and instead he has to be up and standing. Loud noises upset him as does a double fright -This is when the door bell rings and makes him jump and before he has recovered from that shock the dog barks loudly in response to the doorbell. Cue the tears!

Spencer loves to look at "the boy in the mirror"



I cannot believe that next month Spencer will already be 6 months old. To celebrate we might treat him to a new baby walker to zoom about the house and put those strong legs to good use.

For the next month I am hoping that the poor little soul can have a little rest from teething now that the first two are through.




Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Future Fanatic, Spencer Loves Football


With the final games of the World Cup 2014 fast approaching I wanted to share with you my future football fanatic. As the World Cup games have progressed it seems that Spencer is quite fascinated by the sport. I've tried to deny it and tell myself that he just likes the colors and fast movement but sadly for me, being his non-sport loving Mumma, it appears that he actually likes the game. Darn it!

The below photo was taken two months ago but it is just too cute not to share! Spencer is dressed in the baby version of his Daddy's favorite team, Manchester United.



On yer head son!




Spencer & Nathan watching football together

The good thing about boys being football mad is that they can do it together and the Mum's can leave them to it. Maybe I can go shopping or get my nails done.... If only the World Cup was every year!

You can check out Spencer's blog by clicking here.



(Find all your Fanatics sports gear by clicking here)

Social Media Icons, Come Find Me!


I'm guilty of spending far too many time online and stalking through other peoples social media accounts checking what they have updated on Instagram and who pinned what where on Pinterest.

I'm giving you, Dear Reader, the chance to do the same with my crazy life. You might have noticed that I have updated my social media icons on the right hand side, I have also posted the links below so you can come join me online.

Instead of searching for my name, please come check out 'The Duncan Adventures' on Facebook and give us some likes :)

You can now follow me on:


Iftar at the Shangri La Muscat


Last night I attended an Iftar dinner at the Shangri La (Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa) as part of a social media event to meet with some of Oman's creative minds. 

Visiting the Shangri La is always a pleasurable experience where you are made to feel welcome and at ease. Back in April I attended a special lunch at the Shangri La with a Michelin Star chef, you can read it by clicking here.

The Iftar event was held in the stunning Ballroom of the Al Bandar hotel. If you haven't visited the resort, The Al Bandar is the main hotel and is one of the three hotels in the resort.


The resort is so beautiful. This was 5 minutes before sundown and Iftar began.

Iftar is the Arabic word for "Breakfast" and is the meal eaten when Muslims break their fast at sundown during the holy month of Ramadan. Iftar is usually a meal eaten with family and friends and is a time for bringing the community together. As a Non-Muslim being invited to join such an event is a great honor.



As always, the food at the Shangri La was exceptional! The meal was offered as a buffet which gave me the opportunity to sample many traditional Omani foods that I wouldn't normally choose on a menu. The lamb with saffron rice was beautiful! There was a selection mixing traditional Omani foods such as Kanafeh and date puddings with their upmarket seafood and a selection of lighter foods like soup and salads to cater to all tastes. I certainly made the most of the crab and smoked salmon on offer.




My fellow dinner guests were made up of a selection of some of Oman's creative and upcoming talents from TV Personalities, Designers, Artists, Photographers, Talent Managers and then there was little old me, the blogger from Scotland. To be included in a group with such amazing people was extremely flattering. Honestly, what a fantastic bunch of people and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting them all and learning more about how they celebrate Iftar.

The picture quality below isn't fantastic but can you spot some of Oman's famous faces?

Thank you once again to the Shangri La for providing a platform for us to come together.

Friday, July 4, 2014

"4 tips for surviving your time in the Middle East"


A friend of mine recently posted an article to the website Buzzfeed called "4 tips for surviving your time in the Middle East". It is one of those rare things in life that makes you laugh out loud, snigger like a kid and then nod in agreement. It is hilarious, ohhh so true and outlines the lovely endearing things that make us all enjoy living in the Middle East.





Please check it out by clicking here or on Buzzfeed link: http://www.buzzfeed.com/erins4b963d74b/4-tips-for-surviving-your-atimea-in-the-middle-topp