May 2012
Almost slicing the top of my finger off while making date slice (there was lots of blood, but David sort of coped) resulted in a weekend of eating out.  I suppose David could have cooked, but it was more fun to go out.

On Friday night we headed out to Thai Basil, which is a lovely little Thai restaurant in Al Ghubra.  It is a very gentle restaurant and has sections which can be curtained off for more privacy.  The only problem was the cigarette smoke filtering through from the cafe next door.  At first it was quite yicky, but then wafted off.  The restaurant was almost empty when we arrived - 7:30 is early for eating dinner in Oman, but had begun to fill up when we left an hour later.  The food was extremely good and the service excellent.  If you want to experiment with juice combinations, Oman is the place to be - especially the Thai Basil.  David slurped down a pumpkin coloured drink (no pumpkin in it - he couldn't resist the idea of beetroot in his juice), while I lived dangerously on Perrier.

For entrée David had vegetable tempura (if I was really clever I would have written down the actual names) and I had grilled chicken skewers with sate sauce.  You can tell how nice they were from the photo :-)


Entree was closely followed by mains.  I had a hankering for seafood, so I ordered sizzling red curry seafood and vegetables.  It was certainly sizzling, and I felt much less guilty about splashing food on the table after the red curry spat itself all over the table. Just the right amount of spice and lovely crunchy veges.

Mmmmm seafood
David, being more manly, ordered the Massaman Beef.  I have to say it looked a little unappetising, with the little pile of beef cubes surrounded by sauce.  But looks can be deceiving and they definitely were here. The beef was melt in the mouth tender and the sauce creamily delicious.

Massaman Beef
Strangely enough that was the end of our meal.  The accompanying jasmine rice was all used soaking up sauce and we were full to exploding.  We still don't eat nearly enough for Oman's to think we can stay alive. Interestingly, the bill came to the average total suggested by the tourist magazines.

Friday morning was slow, with both of us having work to do. Brunch was in order, so we took off to Ubhar Cafe at Shatti Al Bareeq a rather lovely cafe that the Women's Guild of Oman has been frequenting for their morning coffees.  By no means cheap, but the service is divine (they have very beautiful young men as waiters) and the food very Omani. 

The appetiser (yes, David was starving) was fabulous.  Four little bites (well, eight really, because we halved everything) of scruptilicious goodness sitting on a taster of three gorgeous dips - three of which we'd never had before.

 We were boring and had dull food for mains.  But by golly were they nice. David's beef hamburger was made of actual meat, that tasted like actual meat, and vegetables that were finely sliced and very fresh.

David's burger
My seafood sandwich looked even more dull.  Here in Oman they like to make pastes of things and spread them on sandwiches.  This seafood was no exception.  The surprise was that some texture had been retained and I could taste individual ingredients within the mix, as well has having an overall taste.  It was very, very filling.

My seafood sandwich

Let's just say that David did an excellent job on the chips, but couldn't manage to finish them all off.  I had one.  A gentle lie down was required once we returned home.

The rather beautiful cafe.  We really must go there at night.  There are down lights aimed at all the little dangling crystals.  I imagine it would be quite something.

April 2012

Anzac Day
Food was a big part of Anzac Day this year.  David took morning tea to work.  He made the pav and I used my Australian cookie cutters on Anzac Biscuit mix.
David's morning tea for work
Pavlova with passionfruit cream
and Australian Anzacs
Then we had dinner at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, with the Australian Business Group Oman.  I would have like slightly better wine for 50 rial/head (c$A125), but the food was divine.

Canapés were Thai roo and pickled cucumber, nam jim Crocodiles wontons, ginger and wild lime Oyster spoon and shot (not to mention the Virgin Mary oyster spoons and shots) and salt and secret spice calamari.  It was all cooked to perfection.  The kangaroo melted in you mouth, the wontons were salty heaven, the oysters delish and you barely needed teeth to bite the calamari. Accompanied by lashings of Crown Lager and Killawarra Sparkling (which was passable).

The fish course was Tempura sleepy lobster on lemon grass skewers, green papaya salad, lemon myrtle and sweet chilli sauce. Accompanied by a Yalumba Riesling, which should have stayed in the bottle, but hey, it was the only still white on the menu.

The Fish Course
The poultry course was Five spice duck, seared scallop (I didn't realise that scallops were birds, but it worked), mango salad with native tamarind.  Exquisitely delicious, this was accompanied by a very rough Tyrell's Old Winery Pinot Noir.  I'm glad I don't drink red.

The meat course was Lamb short loin, vanilla and wattle see jus, quinoa tabouli, medjool dates and chilli tomato jelly accompanied by a passable Hensche Kyneton Estate Shiraz.

Dessert was Wattle seed pavlova, a Davidson plum sorbet (which really made my taste-buds zing) and macadamia biscotti.  Mm, mmmm, mm.

Let's just say that the food, while not what I personally would have chosen, definitely highlighted multicultural Australia in a fabulously delicious way.

 Much to my surprise Easter made an appearance in the shops in the week leading up to Maundy Thursday.  Not that many Easter eggs, but there were some Easter fish!

Easter in Muscat City Centre

March 2012
One of the delightful things about a new country is finding out about the food.  Oman is certainly no exception.  For the first two weeks we lived in the Royal Omani Police Apartments and ate at the club there.  The food was predominantly Omani, particularly the buffet.  You could order off the menu and that included Indian and Asian dishes.  The food was fantastic and David could have lived off the dips.  I didn't get any photos, but if you come and visit we'll take you there.  Dinner for two cost us less than 7 rial (about $18) and we were stuffed to the gills.

The hypermarkets are quite interesting.  They are sort of like Walmart, but not.  The best isle of all is the spice isle.  Bwhahahaha the spices are amazing!  The hysterical thing was deciding to make Spag Bog and having to look high and low for things like oregano; there was only one and that was labelled as pizza herbs!

The Spice Isle at Carrefour
One of the hypermarket chains

Just for Brooke
Mint and lime juice slushy

Looking for fast food in a mall, when you are collapsing with exhaustion and no blood sugar can be a bit fraught.  Muscat is full of the usual suspects: McDonalds, KFC, Subway, Cinnabon, Starbucks, Costas, random Italian places run by non Italians (it's certainly interesting watching them cook everything in a fry-pan on a grill), random grilled chicken places (you know,  pseudo KFC), Nandos (the up market one) and the occasional noodle bar. They all charge an arm and a leg.  Rarely can you get away with anything under 12 rial for two people.  Doesn't sound much, but it's really around $30.  For McDonalds?  I don't think so.

We took the eat local challenge.  In the Muscat City Centre the big names get all the custom.  When you're worms have finished devouring your stomach and are working on the rest of your gastro-intestinal tract, these are not the places to try to get food.  Too many queues, to many people.  There are however, two little gems stuck in a corner between mad chicken grillers.  The first is an Indian place (most of the labour force is Indian or Pakistani so Indian food rules) which hands out mounds of food for ridiculously little money.  David and I ordered two of their chicken grills.  The nice man carefully told us they were designed for two people.  "Cool" said we "Just give us one then".  thank goodness we just got one.  It came with salad, red onions (deliciously wonderfully raw red onions), two gigantic freshly cooked flat breads and four different types of chicken (Fist sized hunks of it.  Okay, small fist sized hunks, but still fist sized) and delicious, but completely unidentifiable dipping sauces.  We waddled away.

Indian meat feast for two 3.8 rial (less than $10)

Then I'd been charging around like a looney all day and realised that I had to pick up David to go do something busy - probably looking at furniture.  I was insanely hungry, but didn't want anything greasy or hot.  The little Omani place came to the rescue.  A salad plate.  I dinner plate sized salad plate.  Truly it looked much smaller in the picture :-)  Enough tabbouleh to sink a ship and Arabic salad to send down the life boats as well.  I have a new appreciation for iceberg lettuce, cucumber and tomato all chopped up into little pieces.  Yum.  Just to keep the salads sticking together was humus and mutabal (a creamy eggplant dip that David has fallen in love with) and to get them to your mouth...4 pieces of flat bread.  I didn't go anywhere near getting through it.  I think it needed two people also.  However, at 2 rial....

The Omani Salad plate 2 rial for more than most can eat.

Out and about in Markat al Bahja I realised that it was nearly 11am and breakfast had been at 5:30.  Mmm brunch was in order.  So, smoked salmon scrambled eggs at the Coffee Bean and  Tea Leaf it was. Washed down with fresh orange juice, a large cup of tea and followed  with jam on toast and apricot and prune in syrup.

The expensive brunch at 2 Rial
The beautiful thing was about these cheap fast foods was that they were delicious, and they tasted like food.  McDonalds, KFC, Subway.  They all taste the same the world over and have just as much food value.  We'll be doing lots of things in Oman, but starving isn't one of them.

February 2012

Tonight we popped into Block Place looking for some dinner.  We found a little Italian place, Cafe Segovia, and had some really lovely pizza, the most Italian tasting pizza I've had outside of Italy.

Lovely atmosphere

Chorizo and prawn


Well today had a visit to the National Gallery of Victoria.  We had a lovely time checking out the 14-17th century exhibits and then ate a very gentle lunch outside.  I returned to the Gallery to look at the textiles exhibit only to discover that it has been temporarily replaced by Buddha.  Darn, so I took myself off to take more photos of 16th century English ladies and then met David in the teashop for a little cup of tea.

My Paradise Tea
Not very simple, but delicious!

David's Pistachio Mousse and Iced chocolate
The heart is a wafer of white chocolate

Look at that! The only chocolate free cake.  Oh dear, someone will have to eat it

Sugar Coma!!!!!!!!!

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