In the heartbeat of New York, where the city's pulse meets the elegance of Upper East Side, The Pierre NY by Taj reigns supreme—a living fantasy for those who've yearned for a Gossip Girl escapade amidst the glamour of the city that never sleeps. Nestled on 61st Street and 5th Avenue, adjacent to the iconic Central Park, this distinguished establishment stands tall with its 714 rooms and forty-two stories, evoking a regal charm that captivates from the moment you arrive.“Nothing beats a New Years Eve like one in New York, and it’s always nice to have an old friend from the neighbourhood along. Luxury stores and Ai Fiori. I locked down the Fifth Avenue and became a muse to all. Meanwhile, my friend ruled the other side. Storming the coffee shops and consuming the classics at The Met. Sampling sugary snacks was part of the equation too. But to put it out there, both of our stories sizzled and fizzled. It was our rude-awakening that Upper East Side monarchs aren’t born at the top. They have to secure a residence up-there. So, we shopped at Saint Laurent, and checked in at The Pierre New York. We knew there’s no concept of a coup d’ etat from a foreign land in New York.As I stepped into the gilded, black-and-white marble-floored entrance, the air of grandeur was palpable. This was not a minimalist haven; it was a realm of old-world splendor where the porters adorned tails and top hats, and the suites, amongst the city's most spacious, exuded a timeless elegance. My personal haven was a spacious suite with ample closet space and large windows framing a breathtaking view of Central Park.The hotel, a haven of refinement, extended its commitment to excellence to its breakfast offerings. Tasteful and diverse, the breakfast menu featured a range of American classics. However, for those desiring a touch of familiarity, an array of Indian breakfast options adorned the menu. It was a delightful fusion of flavors, echoing the hotel's commitment to catering to the diverse tastes of its guests. As I sipped my coffee and indulged in a breakfast that seamlessly blended the essence of America and India, The Pierre NY by Taj continued to elevate my stay into a symphony of luxury, comfort, and personalization.“Spotted: A and Y. Chic and cheerful up on 5th Avenue. They dallied at department stores and stayed awhile at Tiffany and Co. Down a little, they courted couture at Balmain. And found the perfect outfits to Dior the competition. Then they headed to the Pulitzer Fountain. Carrying the luxury goods, the opiate of choice.”The Pierre has not merely been a witness to history; it has been a part of it. Featured in Hollywood movies, including the illustrious Ocean 13 with Anne Hathaway, the hotel exudes a cinematic charm that seamlessly blends with the picturesque backdrop of New York City. The grand ballroom, a frescoed rotunda, and a stunning rooftop with a copper crown-like roof elevate the hotel to the echelons of iconic Fifth Avenue gems.The iconic Rotunda, with its trompe l’oeil-painted charm, became my rendezvous point as the evening unfolded. A drink in hand, surrounded by the opulence of the space, it was a moment suspended in time—a prelude to the grandeur awaiting outside. As the clock ticked towards midnight, the rooftop offered a panoramic view of the city's fireworks, a spectacle that painted the night sky in hues of celebration.Beyond the grandeur, The Pierre unveiled its commitment to personalization. The attentive staff, guided by the spirit of old-world hospitality, ensured that every need was met with grace. The seamless blend of historic charm and modern comfort became a defining feature of my stay, transforming it into a curated experience that resonated with the very essence of New York City.During my two-day stay, which coincided with the most happening New Year's Eve, The Pierre proved to be a strategic haven for a citywide celebration. Its location on the Upper East Side, renowned for upscale shopping, added an allure to the stay. The proximity of luxury boutiques and iconic flagship stores turned my shopping spree into a Serena and Blair moment, with my best friend ofcourse, with everything conveniently within reach.As my stay at The Pierre NY by Taj drew to a close, it became more than a luxurious sojourn; it was a narrative woven into the fabric of New York City's illustrious history. The Pierre is not just a hotel; it's a living testament to the city's grandeur, offering a timeless elegance that resonates with every visitor.
In the media lounge at Doha Watches and Jewellery Exhibition, “She’s 15 minutes out,” says her manager, popping her head around the door, as a phalanx of assistants move silently about a fabulous, temporary, shimmering grotto of couture. It’s the tiffany powder blue jacket I see, which seems to be freshly delivered from a couture house and steamed press to perfection. Naturally, 10 minutes comes and goes, but eventually, at an indeterminate point in superstar time, the door finally opens and through it emerges a 5ft 4in figure dressed in a powder blue couture piece, statement diamond necklace and impossibly high matching Louboutins. It is a curious experience to encounter a pop culture legend giving you her most quintessential vibe, and Kareena has not disappointed. Already photographs taken moments ago of her short walk from her car into the building are pinging on social media. “Let’s talk!” she says by way of hello.There is an art to being Kareena Kapoor Khan which is to say that rising to Bollywood’s one of the most sought-after actors is not a status achieved by just bungling your exit from a limo. Everybody loves Kareena Kapoor Khan. This is a fact. Nobody in the history of the world, especially from South Asia, has ever had another take. However, the truth remains you do feel intimidated by her presence, it’s the energy!But while the initial energy is remote and flighty, it takes absolutely no time at all to become riveted by her. Astonishingly famous since her early teens, hers is a fate perhaps only understood by a handful of people during mass media’s relatively short history. One’s reductive first instinct is to interpret her thrilling lack of chill as toxic-media-induced, post- stardom neurosis. But she is having none of that. She is grounded and now after about two decades of being in Bollywood, she’s someone who’s poised. In truth, she is sage, witty and unpredictable, prone to find the whole machinery of fame ridiculous and damaging – especially for women. Growing up as the daughter of veteran Bollywood actor Randhir Kapoor and Babita, and sister Karisma Kapoor, Kareena had a vantage point on fame and cinema that few do. She knows that as she walks out the cameras will accost her however it doesn’t really bother her as she starts to chat animatedly about her visit to Qatar, being a part of DJWE and what jewellery appeals to her.“I think Doha is amazing. I had a brief visit about a decade ago, but so much has changed and it’s absolutely amazing to be here today at the 20th Edition of Doha Watches and Jewellery Exhibition,” Kareena adds, “Doha is a phenomenal city. People are obviously coming here whether to enjoy the different cultural parts of it, business, work or for Qatar’s kindness and hospitality which I’ve experienced today here at the exhibit. I think that is why everyone wants to be here. My son is a football fan, so I’m hoping to catch some football here.”There are very few actors who are able to make a name for themselves as an independent actor away from the shadow of their equally successful parents and siblings. However, that didn’t stop her from serving the characters that are deemed to be iconic. She played Poo in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (K3G) in 2001, which was her second film, but was the moment of an upward projection for her career. Since then, she has only gone from strength-to-strength for every character she has played. Poo had a duality in her that not many female characters in Hindi cinema possessed at the time – she was vain and self-indulgent, but also self-sufficient and comfortable in her skin. In today’s time if we draw a parallel, and when we watch Gossip Girl, one of the iconic TV Shows, we’re instantly reminded of Kareena in K3G although there’s quite a difference in timeline of when K3G was released and when Gossip Girl aired.Does she think that her role was way ahead of its time that really defined pop culture for South Asians? She responds, “I completely believe it was the most iconic, female led character because of the fact that you had never seen somebody be so outlandish and confident but lovable at the same time. The female characters were always about the saree clad, typical wives that were playing the part and dancing to the songs, but Poo was a character that actually stood against everything to be herself and that is the reason why you say it’s truly iconic. And we’re talking about it after about 24 years.”Kareena adds, “Nobody really thought that it will become such a craze. It was funny and fun but obviously when you look back and say Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, the first thing you say is Poo. I don’t think I can go back and do it all over again at this point. There is something of Poo in everyone and every little girl.”Over her two decade-long career, she has not only proven herself to be a fearless master of reinvention, but has also bridged the world’s of art cinema and storytelling. In 2017, many people fell in love with Geet in Jab We Met. But does it inspire Kareena as an actor to surpass her previous performance every time she’s part of a new project, she says, “I think no two characters should ever be compared because every year films change, writers change, people write different roles and actors come along ... every decade you’d have a different bunch of beautiful actresses and actors doing different roles. Few parts, in your career, if you have two or three great roles that you can look back at after 30 years and say this was it — it will still have something about me which I’ve tried to push myself. I know Geet will always be looked back upon as the best but I will obviously still try and better that. But it was a different time, and now is a different time.”DJWE has an extensive display of classic and contemporary luxury collections by internationally recognised brands and designers as well as local designers, with diamonds and emeralds taking the centre stage. Diamonds, they say, are a girl's best friend. Asked what sort of jewellery appeals to the actor, she says: “I like more statement pieces and love diamonds and emeralds.”People in South Asia consider jewellery as heirloom pieces. Coming from royalty is there a specific piece that has been passed on to the actor over the generation? Kareena Kapoor responds, “Saif has given me his great grandmother’s emerald cut piece, which we’ve made into a long neck piece. That stone has come down to four generations is close to me.”
I have always been a Gossip Girl fan, which accredits to my love for pop culture, fashion and the city of New York. And in the show was a beautiful portrayal of friendship of Serena Vander Woodsen and Blair Waldorf, played by Blake Lively and Leighton Meester respectively. It was ride-or-die friendship. They embodied preppy-chic style, ambition, bravery, and — of course — loyalty. Sure, there were times when S and B were putting the “enemies” in frenemies, but at the end of the day (and series) they were always there for each other. Similarly, they were the awesome foursome. And Just Like That...Then there were three. In the recent Sex and the City spinoff, a prominent and cherished character was conspicuously missing, mirroring a real-life situation. Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker, along with their TV alter egos Samantha Jones and Carrie Bradshaw, gained fame for their off-screen feud, reflecting a relatable adult friendship breakup. In the words of Carrie's narrator voice: "I couldn't help but ponder—how do you mend your heart when the one you lean on has shattered it? Are falling-outs with best friends more agonizing than romantic splits?"In another example would friends be the same if it wasn't for the friendship between Joey and Chandler? It was too iconic how they both were so different but actually used to come together in support of each other, in any way possible.Where lies the expiry date for a friendship far overdue? Is it etched along the lower edge—where snapshots were captured with unironic peace signs? Does it hide beneath the lid—where shared laughter lingered long after bedtime? These recollections don't materialise within the plastic molecules containing familiar late-night snacks, the kind you indulge in while seated cross-legged in front of your refrigerator. But what really does hit you at some point are the little habits you had picked up from each other. Say a drink that you never used to like, now you order just because it was of their taste palate, just as a remembrance to their existence, that they did exist.There are still moments where I catch myself reflecting on the friendships I’ve had, and lost—on the beloved ‘D’ I tacked onto the end of ‘Best Friend’ to signify ‘Forever’; promises we made to this thing we shared, that neither of us could keep. Obviously, I am terrified to get hurt again. I still hold this terribly cliché but salient belief that I’ll never be friends with someone like this again. I still hold on to the delusional hope that one day he will realize he got it all wrong.It's a strange and somewhat cruel mix of emotions. What gets to me the most is the petulance—the clinging sense of unjust discomfort. It's akin to the memories of being a child, throwing tantrums as a way to punish others by punishing oneself. Perhaps you can recall the scenario: "Fine!" says the kid. "I'll never come out of my room again!"Heartache reduces us to these basic and childlike reactions. It's a normal part of the process.However, inevitably, the kid does emerge from their room at some point. Initially reluctant, arms still crossed, lower lip set in a pout. Yet, life persists, and the cycle begins anew—joy, pain, love, and loss. The inner child isn't entirely misguided. There is indeed an inherent unfairness to the whole ordeal.The initial experience of losing a friend hit you at your core. For many, it occurs during high school, a time of adolescence filled with novel encounters. But also when it’s an adult friendship, it gets even more difficult to navigate through. Sometimes, it commences subtly and then inflates—perhaps a drifting, unprovoked remark that stings more than expected, or a significant event they couldn't attend, leaving you questioning the balance of support in your friendship. On occasion, it's a sudden and bitter disagreement that catches you off guard. In the aftermath of such intensity, you find yourself asking, "Should I reach out, or is this the conclusion?"Let’s be honest adult friendship breakups make you think about Ms Swift's Anti Hero ‘I have this thing where I get older but just never wiser?’ Is that really so? You question. Wiser in chosing people and friends you confide in.It's intriguing how we often engage in discussions about romantic break-ups far more than we do about parting ways with friends—connections that, arguably, are more widespread among the population and constitute a more substantial part of our daily lives than romantic partners. While breaking up with a romantic partner, challenging as it may be, typically comes with an abundance of advice and solace, the dissolution of a friendship tends to provide less of the same. We tend to keep our emotional pain close, protecting the hurt because, in some way, it doesn't seem as noteworthy. Such is the distinct impact of a friendship break-up—it's a silent form of devastation.Learning to heal after a friendship break-up, therefore, is something that all of us should embrace with greater seriousness. How do we deal with any initial confusion and anger we might feel? How do we move on healthily, in a way that doesn’t trivialise our experiences, and also—if circumstances permit—leaves the door open for reconciliation? Here, Hadley Wen, Psychologist and Relationship Expert, shares her advice on how to prevent break-ups, seek support if one happens, as well as offer it to another.Confront the issue head-on. While nobody enjoys awkward confrontations, it's crucial to communicate with your friend about why you're distancing yourself. If he/she remains unaware of the reasons behind your actions, they won't have the chance to address the issues or learn from any mistakes. Put yourself in their shoes—imagine being left wondering why your closest friend suddenly stopped communicating.Allow yourself time to process the loss. Losing a friend is undeniably tough, regardless of whether it was your decision or not. It's natural to feel sadness, and this time, there may not be a companion with ice cream to console you. It's okay to express your emotions, whether through tears or anger. Consider writing a heartfelt letter to your friend, articulating everything you wished to convey but couldn't. Seal the letter in an envelope and either keep it in a safe place or symbolically tear it up—it's a therapeutic step towards healing.Embrace new connections. Acknowledge your capability to form and nurture close friendships—you've done it before, and you'll continue to do so in your lifetime. Despite the potential intimidation, put yourself out there and be receptive to new people. The experiences from your past friendship have likely clarified what's essential in a new friend, such as mutual respect and shared values. You'll encounter new connections soon, and perhaps they'll even introduce you to a delightful ice cream flavor you never knew you'd love. Embrace the beauty of change—you never know what awaits around the corner.
Zafar Abbas, the compassionate force behind the JDC Foundation, emerges as a luminary in the philanthropic landscape of Pakistan, spearheading 89 welfare projects that span across crucial domains such as rescue operations, healthcare, education, and general welfare. With an unyielding commitment to uplifting the underprivileged, he initiated the JDC Charity Foundation to provide free healthcare, education, and sustenance, envisioning a future marked by positive change and dignity for the less fortunate. From its humble inception in Aisha Manzil, Karachi, Pakistan, JDC has evolved into a comprehensive organization, addressing urgent calls in disaster situations and pioneering liberation and rescue management across the province.In an exclusive conversation with Gulf Times, Abbas unveils the intricate tapestry of JDC's journey, shedding light on the organization's impactful initiatives, including the establishment of free medical camps and a groundbreaking Free Diagnostic Lab offering vital blood tests. “At JDC Free Lab, our dedicated team of staff and doctors is tirelessly perfecting our systems and services. Soon, our expanded facility will be accessible to all, ensuring top-quality care for a larger community,” says Abbas as he shared about the foundation’s aspirations to expand its impact, introducing new initiatives to address emerging needs and fostering transformative change in the communities they serve.Israel’s widening air and ground offensive in southern Gaza has displaced tens of thousands more Palestinians and worsened the territory’s already dire humanitarian conditions, with the fighting preventing the distribution of food, water and medicine outside a sliver of southern Gaza. Beyond borders, Abbas reflects on the role of charitable organizations in global crises, sharing insights on how entities like JDC can contribute to the relief of affected communities, such as those in Gaza. According to Abbas “Collaborative initiatives can maximize impact, alleviate suffering, and work towards rebuilding the affected communities, fostering hope and resilience.”JDC also recently formed an influential collaboration with renowned artist Atif Aslam to create an awareness and enhance healthcare accessibility with the power of celebrity involvement in magnifying the positive impact on the community. Can you share the inspiration behind founding JDC Charity Foundation in Pakistan and the initial motivations for its establishments.JDC Charity Foundation in Pakistan was inspired by a deep compassion for those in need. Our initial motivation was to provide free healthcare, education, and food, aiming to make a meaningful impact on the lives of the underprivileged with dignity. Our foundation is committed to fostering positive change and creating a better future for communities in Pakistan.How has JDC Foundation evolved from its early days in Aisa Manzil, Karachi, to becoming a comprehensive organization involve in liberation and rescue management across the province?Our non-profit organization has begun its journey by catering to flood disaster victims at Aish Manzil, Karachi, on 2010. Our JDC Foundation has grown to provide welfare and rehabilitation services to individuals and communities in need, with a particular focus on Sindh Province with expanding it all over the Pakistan. Our commitment to inclusivity and non-discrimination fosters unity, respect ad equal opportunities for all. In the floods of 2022, JDC, with their experience in dealing with floods, led the way by establishing temporary tent cities and safe shelters for victims.Could you elaborate on specific initiatives and projects that JDC has undertaken to address urgent calls and provide immediate aid in various disaster situations?JDC foundation has swiftly responded to disaster situations through free rescue and relief services during floods, providing food and shelter. Additionally, our teams have been actively involved in city fire incidents, offering immediate aid. In the COVID-19 pandemic, we've extended support by providing essential food supplies to those in need.During the floods in Pakistan, last year, we not only rescued people and provided temporary shelter, but also served meals for almost 2,400,000 victims in four months. JDC answered the call, setting up makeshift tent cities and distributed over 80,000 tents to those affected. We provided over 35,000 First Aid Kits to those affected, providing essential medical supplies. Cash distribution was also crucial during the flood as it allowed over 11,000 affected families to purchase essential supplies like medicine, clothing and shelter materials.In what ways has JDC Charity contributed to healthcare in the region through the establishment of free medical camps, and what impact has it had on the local community?Ans. JDC foundation has significantly contributed to healthcare in the region through the establishment of free emergency dispensaries, dialysis centers, and diagnostic labs. Our free medical camps have had a profound impact on the local community, providing accessible healthcare services, early diagnosis, and vital treatments, ultimately improving the overall health and well-being of individuals in need.Can you highlight some of the key challenges JDC has faced in its journey and how has the foundation overcome these obstacles to continue its philanthropic work?Ans. Thank you for highlighting our impactful initiatives. Initially, JDC Charity commenced its projects in a limited capacity, primarily focusing on addressing urgent needs during flood disasters. With the unwavering support of our dedicated supporters, we expanded our efforts to establish free emergency dispensaries, dialysis centers, diagnostic labs, and conduct medical camps. This collaborative approach has allowed us to make a more profound and lasting impact on the overall health and well-being of the local community.Tell us about international Free Lab. Can you provide details on how the free blood tests initiative will be implement, including the target details on how the free blood tests initiative will be implemented, including the target demographic, geographic reach, and the specific types test that will be offered?Among our various healthcare initiatives JDC Foundation takes immense pride in unveiling its state-of-the-art Diagnostic Lab, and what sets these exceptional facilities apart is their resounding promise of being entirely free of charge. Our free diagnostic lab is committed to serving humanity on a daily basis. The implementation of the free blood tests initiative involves targeting diverse demographics, reaching various geographic areas, and offering a wide range of specific tests. We aim to ensure accessibility to vital diagnostic services, promoting early detection, and contributing to the overall health and well-being of individuals across different communities. At JDC Free Lab, our dedicated team of staff and doctors is tirelessly perfecting our systems and services. Soon, our expanded facility will be accessible to all, ensuring top-quality care for a larger community. To ensure unparalleled precision and reliability, we've imported cutting-edge machinery from overseas. We understand the crippling burden that medical expenses can impose on individuals and families. At JDC, we firmly believe that access to quality healthcare is a fundamental right, not an exclusive privilege. By providing these critical services without any financial burden, we aspire to make a significant impact in the lives of those who need it most.There’s humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, Palestine, how do you think organisations worldwide like JDC can contribute at large for the cause and relief of affected Palestinians?In the face of the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and other war-torn countries, organizations worldwide, including JDC as we first taken initiative in Pakistan, and other welfare organizations, can make significant contributions by coordinating efforts to provide essential medical aid, food, shelter, and psychological support. Collaborative initiatives can maximize impact, alleviate suffering, and work towards rebuilding the affected communities, fostering hope and resilience. In particular, focusing on vulnerable groups such as children, women, and the elderly is crucial. Ensuring access to education, healthcare, and safe spaces for children, supporting women's health and empowerment, and providing special care for the elderly are pivotal aspects. Emphasizing the provision of nutritional support, especially through initiatives like supplying tin-packed food, becomes a lifeline, aiming not only to address immediate hunger but also to nourish and sustain the health of those most in need. Together, these efforts strive to bring solace and restore a sense of normalcy to the lives of those affected by the ongoing crises.In what ways do you think Atif Aslam envisions the new initiative contributing to healthcare accessibility and public well-being and are there plans for collaboration with existing healthcare institutions or organizations to maximize impact?Atif Aslam and his wife, Sara Atif, have illuminated the path of generosity with their remarkable donation to our foundation. Their benevolence stands as a beacon, setting a commendable example for philanthropy in the realm of celebrities. Their gracious support marks a momentous milestone, making them the first celebrity donors to our noble cause. We are immensely grateful for the generous contribution of Rs.2,00,00,000/= from Atif Aslam and his wife Sara Atif towards our Free Diagnostic Lab initiative. Their vision aligns with our commitment to enhancing healthcare accessibility and public well-being. With this remarkable support, we aim to collaborate with existing healthcare institutions and organizations, fostering synergies to maximize the impact of our shared goal. Their philanthropy serves as a beacon of inspiration, reflecting a deep commitment to the welfare of our community and the transformative power of collective efforts in the realm of healthcare.How do you think celebrities and people of importance taking part and affiliating themselves with such charitable organization help to reach out more people and do more positive at large for the community?The involvement of celebrities and influential individuals in charitable organizations plays a pivotal role in amplifying the reach and impact of initiatives. Their association not only brings attention to critical causes but also inspires a wider audience to contribute towards positive change. By leveraging their influence, these figures become powerful advocates, creating a ripple effect that extends the outreach of charitable efforts. Their commitment transcends philanthropy, fostering a sense of shared responsibility and unity, ultimately empowering communities and catalyzing transformative change.What future goals and aspirations does JDC Charity have in terms of expanding its impact or introducing new initiative to address emerging needs in the community?In envisioning the future, JDC Foundation aspires to continue expanding its impact by reaching more underserved communities through innovative initiatives. Our goal is to introduce new programs that address emerging needs in healthcare, education, and social welfare. By forging partnerships, leveraging technology, and staying responsive to evolving challenges, we aim to create a sustainable and far-reaching impact, transforming lives and fostering positive change in the communities we serve.
Every Wednesday, leave the beau at home. If you’re single, then perhaps the idea of beau at home as well. There is nothing better than a little pre-weekend, before the actual weekend and that too rolling deep with your best girl pack. Time to vibe, and its time to hang with your gal pals — all with a swipe of red lipstick and high dosage of estrogen. Roaring table with positive energy and laughter for days for everyone to hear. Wouldn’t you agree, the coolest groups have women in them, whether that means Spice Girls, Gossip Girl (Serena and Blair!), cast of Bridesmaids or Ms Swift’s endless squad goals with Blake Lively. And whilst you’re at it — dress for the occasion with some Instagram worthy looks.There are plenty of sartorial option that come with Ladies’ night in Doha, all mostly happening on Wednesday — but one new offering that we recently went for and couldn’t but swoon over was Ladies Night at The Highmore at The Waldorf Astoria Lusail. Where I do understand that the group energy has a lot to do with the kind of night you’re going to have — but this place is really something! Taking liberty to say that it was one of the best night outs I’ve had in Doha, actually we’ve had, would be an understatement. The food, the drinks, the weather and the service. Carpe diem!Where toast to “living, laughing and learning” and “having it all” was the order of the night, if you think about The Highmore restless indoor setting — you’re missing out on the balcony set-up they’ve just had.The atmosphere was hypnotic, illuminated by a flurry of flashing lights and pulsating beats that filled the sky. As the night transitioned into the darkest hours, the only thing that truly mattered was the fact that we were dancing the night away together, no one else in mind.In terms of food: Indulging in a culinary delight, our dining experience was a symphony of flavoirs and textures. To kick off the night, we savoured the explosive taste of Dynamite Shrimps, a spicy sensation that left our taste buds tingling with delight. The Jalapeno Poppers, oozing with melted cheese, provided a perfect balance of heat and creaminess. The Garlic Bread, astonishingly soft and reminiscent of a delicate pao bun, melted in our mouths with each bite, leaving a lingering satisfaction. As the crescendo to our meal, we succumbed to the allure of the Death by Chocolate dessert—a decadent concoction featuring gianduja, cocoa sponge, and salted caramel, offering a harmonious blend of rich and sweet and the finale, a Banoffee Pie, showcased layers of caramel, banana, and topped with velvety vanilla bean ice cream, creating a sublime conclusion to our culinary journey. Each dish unfolded a gastronomic story, leaving us satiated and with memories of a remarkable dining experience.There were no smashing hot dates or long-term partners—just the intoxicating thrill of burning beverages, the lush swatches of drinks that mixologist was preparing for us, and the collective surge of estrogen fueling the euphoria within our squad. It was an experience that had seemed almost impossible in the past five years, the time I’ve been in Doha for, but we made sure to make this night out count by pulling out all the stops—no holding back.For those seeking assistance in ensuring their evening plans are foolproof, The Highmore team always have your backs. They curate a selection of drinks, offerings that keep you feeling spritzed up throughout the night. With everything set in place, all that was left for us and our girl friends was to bust out our best moves until the thought of work the next day broke the news.No matter what you wear, once your whirlwind night is over, you’ll never feel better heading home with your best female friends on your arm—and a stellar outfit to match.
Nestled in the beating heart of London's West End, Frog Covent Garden stands proudly as the pièce de résistance of Adam Handling's culinary empire—an establishment that had long held a coveted spot on my must-visit list. For the uninitiated, Adam Handling, a distinguished chef and restaurateur in the UK, made his mark as a finalist on Masterchef: The Professionals. In his own words, "frogs live in water, so they are either going to sink or swim. Frog is what I will call my restaurant, as this is my test." The verdict? The frog not only swam but soared to the pinnacle of acclaim, clinching its first Michelin Star in the illustrious year of 2022!My rendezvous with Frog by Adam Handling unfolded unexpectedly, turning what was meant for a special occasion into an impromptu soirée with a dear friend. It was a day of bonding and catching up, spilling the tea, quite literally, on my recent engagement in London. Serendipity favoured us as we secured a table on a nondescript weekday afternoon, thanks to the team at Frog for how they accommodated knowing it’s a short trip for me to London and I might not be able to try my ‘on top of list’ restaurant for the next few months until I visit again. The restaurant's exterior, adorned with beautiful flowers, and its brassy interiors cast an immediate spell. Despite the high echelons it occupies, Frog exudes an unexpectedly laid-back ambiance. Each table, strategically arranged to face the luminous expanse of the open kitchen, invites patrons to revel in the culinary spectacle unfolding before their eyes. It is the meticulous attention to detail that elevates the experience, from the warm towels graciously offered upon arrival to the thoughtful provision of a petite chair for my friend’s bag—an embodiment of the establishment's commitment to unparalleled hospitality. The staff, in their gracious demeanor, further elevated the entire affair, ensuring that every nuance of the dining experience was nothing short of exceptional.Set against pristine white walls and illuminated by vintage filament globes, the restaurant's design seamlessly incorporates reclaimed timber flooring, sleek dark marble tables and an ensemble of delicate glassware adorning the tabletops. Accompanied by luxuriously padded dining chairs, the ambiance at Frog by Adam Handling exudes an inviting comfort.A delightful detail catches my eye: the wines are nestled within two expansive copper coolers. This imparts an atmosphere of inviting warmth, a snug and convivial camaraderie.Frog's menu draws inspiration from the vibrant tapestry of London, weaving a narrative of theatrical delight to craft an innovative contemporary British culinary experience. In this vast and diverse city, just like Doha, where myriad influences converge, each dish on the menu is a canvas painted with emotional resonance.Moreover, the restaurant takes pride in its commitment to a zero-waste ethos—an ethos that transcends mere proclamation and is seamlessly interwoven into every dish served throughout the afternoon. In a meticulous dance of culinary craftsmanship, every ingredient is utilised to its fullest potential, from trims to off-cuts, leaving no room for the customary discarding of parts.Snacking our way:The moment you’re seated, whilst you’re just sipping on the premium beverage, settling in, watching the head chef do his magic right infront of you in the kitchen, comes little charm bombs in the form of pretty little snacks. Starting with pumpkin caviar tart, which despite its pumpkin essence, really was light on my palette. I was pleased with this tartlet, and a testimony to the amazing food that awaits us till the end of the afternoon.We were then tantalized by the Crispy Black Cod Skin Cracker, a visually stunning creation adorned with meticulously placed marigold flowers. Crafted with dried cod skin and a whipped cod’s roe emulsion, each bite delivered a savory seafood essence, reminiscent of seaweed crackers but elevated with a touch of finesse. Following this visual and flavorful delight, the Kimchi Beef Tartare took center stage as the pinnacle of our starter experience. Utilizing aged Highland Wagyu beef, the tartare was impeccably dressed with pickles, capers, chives, and chili, all wrapped in a delicate Feuille de brick tube and crowned with a kimchi emulsion. This dish proved to be a personal favourite, especially for someone who is very particular about the kind of meat I usually consumer. This Kimchi Tartare offered a burst of umami that awakened the taste buds. The exquisite layering of textures, from the outer crunch to the buttery richness within, culminated in a truly sensational culinary experience. Served back-to-back, these starters showcased the chef's artistry in crafting dishes that not only delighted the palate but also told a story with each bite.The next up:Introducing the next course, we were presented with the signature Chicken Butter & Bread. Delving into this offering, two large sourdough loaves were generously shared among the two of us, accompanied by a chicken stock-infused butter adorned with crispy chicken skin. The butter also featured a delightful combination of chicken liver parfait and chicken wings stuffed with a flavorful chicken and tarragon mousse.Commencing with the sourdough, its freshly baked perfection manifested in a beautiful crust and an airy texture. However, the chicken butter, though richly savory and undeniably unique, fell just short of the anticipated "oomph." But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t pleasant for the palette. It was! It was just that every course had really upped our expectations for the flavours bursting in our mouth.Completing the course were chicken wings stuffed with chicken and tarragon mousse, presenting tender meat lightly seasoned with fresh herbs. In contrast to the bold flavors of the chicken butter and liver parfait, this offering leaned towards subtlety. While delightful, it made an indelible impression on the palate, standing out as a truly memorable highlight of the menu.The dancing flavours:Presenting the next indulgence, The Sturgeon graced our senses—an artfully crafted heart-shaped waffle adorned with caviar, sturgeon emulsion, and a drizzle of maple syrup upon its grand entrance. This dish paid homage to the entirety of the sturgeon fish, ingeniously utilising every facet. Following the delicate extraction of caviar, the residual fish meat underwent a meticulous process of curing and hot smoking, eventually intertwining with fermented cream. In a delightful dance of flavours, the creation proved to be a playful and intriguing symphony, weaving together the salty, fishy, and sweet notes. The essence of the fishy undertones primarily emanated from the fermented cream, while the caviar introduced a luscious buttery richness. A masterstroke was the inclusion of maple syrup, skillfully employed to harmonize and counterbalance the potential overwhelming nature of the fishy flavors, adding a touch of sweetness to the culinary ensemble.How tangy:Frog by Adam Handling effortlessly achieves perfection in the art of preparing lobster tails, and the Roasted Lemon, Lobster & Chilli is a testament to that mastery. The lobster tail, cooked to perfection, boasts a tender al dente texture, remaining delicately opaque at its centre. Its flavours were a symphony of lightness and mildness, adorned with a subtle natural sweetness that harmonised seamlessly with the airy lobster foam crowning it. This culinary creation was a testament to impeccable harmony, where each element of the dish contributed to a flawless and delectable flavour combination.Gastronomic artistry:The perfectly cooked pigeon was a demonstration of culinary finesse, with a succulent texture and a rich, gamey flavour that captivated the palate. The hen of the woods mushrooms added an earthy dimension, complementing the pigeon's robust taste. The black garlic introduced a subtle sweetness, creating a symphony of flavours that danced on the taste buds. Each element was thoughtfully curated, resulting in a dish that transcended expectations. Frog by Adam Handling excels in elevating ingredients, and this dish is a true embodiment of gastronomic artistry.The main performance:Now the main for me: Indulging in the Wagyu beef with black truffle and bone marrow was an extraordinary journey into gastronomic excellence. The Wagyu, cooked to perfection, boasted a melt-in-your-mouth tenderness that was a testament to culinary mastery. Each bite unveiled layers of flavour, with the richness of the beef harmonising seamlessly with the earthy, aromatic notes of black truffle. The inclusion of bone marrow added a decadent dimension, enhancing the dish's lusciousness. This culinary ensemble was not merely a meal; it was an opulent experience, where each element contributed to a symphony of indulgence. Adam wasn’t in the kitchen for us, but he really was!The sweet notes:Embarking on the yoghurt, lemon thyme, and citrus was a refreshing divergence into the realms of culinary innovation. The yoghurt base brought a velvety, tangy note, serving as a perfect canvas for the delicate infusion of lemon thyme. The herbal essence wove elegantly through each spoonful, elevating the dessert with a harmonious blend of citrusy brightness and earthy undertones. The citrus elements, thoughtfully incorporated, provided a burst of zesty freshness that enlivens the palate. Moments before settling the bill, a delightful touch awaited us: a selection of petit fours gracefully concluded our afternoon. Arriving in an elegant box, the assortment featured enchanting chocolate frogs, dainty choux pastries, and delectable chocolate bonbons, alongside a yuzu and rhubarb jelly. Each petite indulgence showcased a refined interplay of flavors, adding a sweet note of sophistication to the conclusion of our dining experience.Frog by Adam Handling: where the plates are as impeccably styled as the Londoners, and the flavours whisper secrets only the privileged palate can decode. You know you love it. Frog is a confident, beautiful triumph. And I couldn’t be happier I could try this master-stroke of a restaurant! Here’s to the next time, hoping to dine with Adam himself! Xx
In the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, where the golden dunes meet the glistening Persian Gulf, I found myself in the midst of history, standing at the threshold of my very first Formula 1 race. The Qatar Grand Prix of 2023 was more than a sporting event; it was a symphony of speed, a ballet of technology, and an experience that set my heart racing faster than any engine on the grid. If I look back, to my early childhood or perhaps when I was in college, I would not even fathom standing at the Paddock, witnessing a moment of history making.As I made my way through the gates of the Lusail International Circuit, the anticipation hung in the air like a crescendo before a musical masterpiece. The atmosphere was electric, buzzing with the excitement of thousands of spectators who, like me, were about to witness the pinnacle of motorsport. The desert winds carried with them the unmistakable scent of burning rubber and high-octane fuel, a sensory prelude to the exhilaration that awaited us all.The moment the engines roared to life, it was as if the world itself had joined the chorus of excitement. The visceral growl of the Formula 1 cars echoed through the grandstands, vibrating through every bone in my body. The deafening roar was not just a sound; it was an adrenaline rush, a sonic wave that encapsulated the very essence of speed. In that instant, I knew I was in for an unforgettable experience.As the lights dimmed and the race began, I was spellbound by the spectacle unfolding before me. The cars, with their vibrant liveries and sleek designs, shot down the straight like bullets fired from a starting gun. Each corner was a ballet of precision, as drivers navigated their machines with the grace of dancers, all while pushing their limits at breakneck speeds.But it was the moment when the cars jostled for position, fighting wheel-to-wheel for that crucial overtake, that truly left me breathless. The scene of cars taking over each other with a lightning-fast maneuver, inches away from catastrophe, was a testament to the skill and audacity of these modern-day gladiators. The adrenaline surged through me as I watched, my heart pounding in rhythm with the roaring engines.As a journalist, I've always strived to maintain impartiality and ethical standards in my coverage for any sport or event, refraining from openly supporting any specific team or driver. However, as I stood there, amidst the sea of racing fans, I couldn't help but rot for a certain scarlet-clad driver, Charles Leclerc. I was all eyes on his every move on the track, every daring overtake and strategic pit stop. Deep down, there was a part of me silently cheering for the Ferrari driver, appreciating his finesse and determination.Yet, amidst my admiration for Leclerc, I couldn't deny the sheer brilliance of Max Verstappen's victory. It was nothing short of iconic, a testament to his tenacity and skill. Verstappen's triumph on that historic day would be etched into the annals of Formula 1 history, a moment that showcased the relentless spirit of a true racing champion. While my journalistic ethics demanded neutrality, I couldn't help but appreciate the thrill and unpredictability that Verstappen brought to the sport, reminding me once again why Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport.The Qatar Grand Prix 2023 was not just about the thrill of the race; it was also an ode to luxury and opulence. Nestled in the heart of the Lusail International Circuit, the hospitality premiere section by W Doha offered an oasis of indulgence amidst the high-octane action. As I stepped into this exclusive enclave, I was greeted by a world of sophistication and glamour.The catering by W Doha was a culinary symphony, a fusion of international flavors and local delicacies that tantalized the taste buds. From the succulent baby chicken to the delicate saffron-infused desserts, every dish was a work of art.In the midst of all the glamour and excitement, it was impossible not to be swept away by the sheer speed of the Formula 1 cars. They tore through the asphalt like shooting stars, leaving behind a trail of sound and fury. The wind whipped through my hair, and I could feel the vibrations of the engines resonating in my chest as they zoomed past.As the race entered its final laps, the tension in the air was palpable. Every pit stop, every overtaking maneuver, held the potential to alter the course of history.Attending the Qatar Grand Prix 2023 was an experience that transcended mere sport. It was a rendezvous with adrenaline, a sensory symphony of speed, and a glimpse into a world where technology and human skill converged in a breathtaking display of excellence. As I left the Lusail International Circuit, I carried with me not just memories of a race, but a profound appreciation for the artistry of Formula 1 and the unbridled thrill it brings to those lucky enough to witness it.
At the heart of the W Doha, Spice Market unfurls as an exotic tapestry, weaving together the vibrant flavours of Southeast Asia with the chic and contemporary elegance that W Hotels are renowned for. My recent visit to this culinary haven, where every dish is a passport to the spices and aromas of the East, was an adventure that delighted the senses and elevated my palate.As I entered the enchanting world of Spice Market, the restaurant's interior transported me to the bustling bazaars of Southeast Asia. The décor, a harmonious blend of warm hues and intricate textures, set the stage for a dining experience that promised to be nothing short of extraordinary.For our voyage through the Spice Market, we opted for the set Lunch Menu, a remarkable value at QR98. Our culinary journey began with a tantalizing trio of starters. The Chicken Coconut Soup, a fragrant coconut broth punctuated with spring onions, was a warm embrace for the palate. With each spoonful, I was transported to a tropical paradise, where the coconut's sweetness danced in harmony with the savory notes. The Market Salad, a vibrant ensemble of cherry tomatoes, radish, and sesame vinaigrette, was a refreshing interlude. The colours and textures were a celebration of freshness, and the sesame vinaigrette added an aromatic and nutty undertone that elevated the dish.The Chicken Skewer, served with a decadent peanut dipping sauce, was a succulent delight. The tender chicken, infused with the smoky flavors of the grill, harmonized perfectly with the rich and creamy peanut sauce. Each bite was a tantalizing combination of savory and nutty, a dance of flavors on the palate.For the main course, we had the Baked Miso Salmon, a true masterpiece. The salmon, baked to perfection, was adorned with wok-charred mushrooms and asparagus. The miso glaze added a sweet and umami-rich dimension to the dish, and each bite of salmon was a silky, flavorful revelation. The Chicken Pad Thai, a classic of Thai cuisine, was another triumph. The tender chicken, tangled amidst rice noodles, tofu, and a tamarind-infused sauce, was a harmonious blend of sweet, sour, and savory. It was a dish that captured the essence of Thai street food, an explosion of flavors in every bite.To conclude our culinary voyage, we savoured the Japanese Cheese Cake, a velvety and delicate creation that melted in the mouth. It was a perfect balance of sweetness and lightness, a dessert that left us craving for more. The Cold Selection of ice cream sorbet, flavoured with zesty lemon, provided a refreshing and citrusy finish to our afternoon.Apart from the set Lunch Menu, we also indulged in the Sushi Bento Express, a feast of Japanese delights that elevated our culinary adventure. The Miso Soup, a traditional starter, set the tone with its comforting warmth. The Tuna Taki with sushi rice and ponzu was a symphony of textures and flavors, with the tuna's freshness shining through.The Salmon Katsu, a crispy and succulent creation, was a testament to the art of Japanese frying. The California Sushi Rolls and Spicy Tuna Rolls were bite-sized delights that showcased the precision and creativity of the sushi chefs.Spice Market at W Doha is not just a restaurant; it is a culinary voyage that transports diners to the vibrant and aromatic landscapes of Southeast Asia and Japan. Every dish is a testament to the dedication to authenticity and the mastery of flavors. It was an afternoon where each course unveiled a new facet of culinary excellence, leaving an indelible mark on my palate. Spice Market is a destination for those who seek an exploration of the senses through food, an unforgettable odyssey through the Spice Routes.
In a city where the extraordinary is the ordinary, Chateau Denmark located at the Denmark Street, a street that has been associated with British popular music, first via publishers and later by recording studios and music shops since 1950’s, emerges as a defiant emblem of London's unparalleled spirit. My recent escapade within this rock-inspired sanctuary transcended the conventional notion of a hotel stay, inviting me to explore a world where every corner resonated with the vivacity of London's nightlife. The street at which the hotel is located is so iconic to the music industry itself. The Rolling Stones recorded at Regent Sound Studio at No. 4 and popular musicians, including David Bowie and the Small Faces, often socialised in the Gioconda café at No. 9. Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote songs at offices on the street in the 1960s, while the Sex Pistols lived above No. 6, and recorded their first demos there.Stepping through the doors of Chateau Denmark, one is immediately struck by its audacious and avant-garde aesthetics. This is not just a hotel; it's a haven for the bold and adventurous, a deliberate departure from the mundane. Instead of the customary subdued hues, Chateau Denmark dares to embrace daring patterns and audacious design elements. It's a bold declaration of intent—a promise of an experience that mirrors the very essence of London.My room, called Hello Stranger, a haven of rock-star extravagance, was an experience that lingered long after my stay. It was as if the design had drawn inspiration from the frenetic energy of a backstage area before a rock concert. The sleek wardrobe, crowned with a cross reminiscent of a confession booth, added an unexpected touch of irreverence. The wallpaper, adorned with edgy skull patterns, whispered tales of rebellion and liberation.Yet, the pièce de résistance awaited just beyond the entrance—a colossal marble bathtub, dipped in a daring shade of blood red. It stood as a statement piece, an homage to the hotel's audacious character. Beside it, a compact but fully stocked bar, offering premium beverages and the promise of an on-demand butler and bartender, available 24/7. This was not just a room; it was an invitation to revel, to throw heavy-duty parties with friends, or to indulge in solitary rock-star fantasies.The Chateau Denmark experience extended far beyond the confines of my room. The concept of a townhouse hotel made me feel like a privileged resident of London—a temporary member of the city's elite. The personalised service was a testament to the hotel's commitment to ensuring that every whim was met with the utmost discretion. It was a nod to London's storied legacy of exclusivity.For those in search of a gastronomic adventure unlike any other, the hotel's bar, aptly named Thirteen, stood as a bastion of eclectic cuisine. Its specialisation in sushi and Japanese food was an unexpected twist that added to the hotel's enigmatic allure. The enormous chain murals that adorned its windows acted as a visual testament to the rebellious spirit that defined the essence of Chateau Denmark.The hotel's soundproof rooms, equipped with speakers that could rival those found in a nightclub, allowed me to partake in London's vibrant nightlife without ever leaving the sanctuary of my room. It was a fusion of convenience and indulgence, a testament to the hotel's dedication to ensuring that every guest's stay was both memorable and personal.In essence, Chateau Denmark London is not merely a hotel; it's an odyssey into the very heart of London's rebellious soul. It extends an invitation to embrace the vivacious spirit of the city, to explore its hidden enclaves, and to revel in the heartbeat of its nightlife. From the bold interiors that defy convention to the audacious room design that blurs the line between luxury and rebellion, every element of the hotel exudes London's undeniable charisma.As I reluctantly left Chateau Denmark, I carried with me not just the memories of an exceptional stay, but also a profound appreciation for a hotel that recognizes the essence of modern luxury lies in personalized experiences. My sojourn in this rock-inspired haven had resonated with my inner rock star, offering a journey into the heart of London's vibrant spirit. Chateau Denmark, thank you for an experience that was as unforgettable as the city itself.There are those who got burned by the heat. They just want to forget and start over. While there are others who want each moment to last forever. But everyone can agree on one thing: tans fade, highlights go dark and we all get sick of sand in our shoes. But the end of summer is the beginning of a new season: Autumn and Fall. So we find ourselves looking to the future. This place is just the right one to keep you warm. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Bisou Bisou.Visit chateaudenmark.com for bookings and more information.
In a world where luxury has become synonymous with ostentation, Turkish Airlines offers a refreshing perspective on opulent travel. My recent journey in their business class cabin was more than just an air travel; but a lavish experience that elevated the very notion of flying. From the impeccable service to the sophisticated amenities, Turkish Airlines presents a paragon of high-altitude indulgence.The journey commenced as I stepped aboard the Turkish Airlines business class cabin, a realm where understated elegance reigns supreme. The interior design was all about luxe and comfort, exuding a sense of sophistication that was both welcoming and enchanting. The seats, swathed in sumptuous grey leather, cradled passengers in plush comfort—a cocoon of reprieve amidst the clouds. Get that blanket from the crew and you'd be sleeping in a minute, quite literally.One cannot help but admire Turkish Airlines' commitment to detail—a hallmark of their exceptional service. The cabin crew embodied a level of professionalism that is as reassuring as it is unobtrusive. Having cabin crew friends in Doha, it was heartening to see how much effort the crew possess. Standing on feet for hours whilst anticipating passengers' needs, a testament to the airline's dedication to providing a tailored experience for each traveller.But what truly sets Turkish Airlines apart is their gastronomic prowess. It was a culinary odyssey, a fusion of tradition and innovation. From delectable Turkish mezes to gourmet dishes, every offering was a revelation for the palate. Even if you don't have a stop-over in Turkey and have never tasted Turkish food, this is your cue. And if you've tasted their menu on board you'd be inclined to have that stop-over, quite lioterally just for the food experience that Turkey as a whole has to offer: an artful dining.However, the opulence didn't stop at the dining table. Turkish Airlines partnered with Salvatore Ferragamo to provide amenities that exuded luxe. It was a tactile experience that elevated the overnight journey to one of sensory indulgence. The amenities, replete with Salvatore Ferragamo products, left a lingering scent of sophistication and elegance. Confession: the amenities left are now resting at my dressing table, because I couldn't just over the scent of its Ferragamo moisturiser.Turkish Airlines understands the importance of connectivity in today's world. Their state-of-the-art entertainment system is a treasure trove of options, offering a diverse range of entertainment for every taste. The airline's commitment to keeping passengers connected extends to in-flight Wi-Fi, a boon for those who wish to remain plugged in even at 35,000 feet. And for music aficionados like myself, Turkish Airlines offers the delightful opportunity to access Taylor Swift's album—a melodic companion to the journey.As the flight neared its conclusion, I couldn't help but reflect on the journey. The luxurious experience aboard Turkish Airlines business class was a testament to the airline's ethos—a commitment to crafting moments that transcend the ordinary. Their dedication to passenger comfort, impeccable service, and gastronomic excellence had left an indelible mark.Turkish Airlines business class is not just a mode of transportation; it's an elevated experience that transcends the boundaries of traditional luxury travel. It's a reminder that opulence can be understated, that service can be both impeccable and unobtrusive. As I disembarked from my Turkish Airlines flight at Manchester Airport, I carried with me not only the memories of a lavish journey but also a profound appreciation for an airline that goes the extra mile to make every moment in the air extraordinary. Turkish Airlines, thank you for a journey that was as remarkable as the destination itself.To the twist in my travel tale: Originally planned to return from Manchester, my journey took an unexpected turn due to a train strike in the UK. Unable to take the train from London to Manchester, I found myself in a predicament. It was then that the Turkish Airlines team displayed an exceptional level of customer service, helping me swiftly change my flight to Heathrow Airport. It was a seamless transition that exemplified their commitment to ensuring passengers' convenience—a gesture that spoke volumes about the airline's dedication to their travellers.
In the tapestry of Doha's culinary landscape, Cucina at Marriott Marquis City Center stands as a veritable jewel, an Italian treasure trove that invites diners to embark on a gastronomic journey that transcends mere sustenance. It was under the expert guidance of the maestro himself, Chef Claudio, that I had the privilege of indulging in a symphony of flavors, where every dish was a testament to the artistry of Italian cuisine.As I entered Cucina, the ambiance enveloped me in a warm embrace reminiscent of an Italian trattoria. The rustic charm of exposed brick walls and vintage-inspired décor set the stage for an evening of culinary revelation. It was a space that celebrated both tradition and innovation, much like the menu that awaited us.Our culinary sojourn commenced with the Parmigiana, a classic Italian antipasto. Layers of eggplant, tomatoes, Parmesan, and mozzarella melded into a harmonious mosaic of flavors. The dish, as Chef Claudio explained, was a tribute to simplicity, where the quality of ingredients shone through in every bite. It was a delicious prelude to the delights that lay ahead.The La Palla di Mozzarela Ripiena, a handmade pasta creation with buffalo mozzarella and pesto, was a revelation of Italian craftsmanship. Each bite of pasta, delicately folded to cradle the creamy mozzarella, was a testament to Chef Claudio's dedication to his craft. The pesto, a fragrant green symphony, danced on the palate in perfect harmony.The Lasagna, a timeless classic, arrived like a masterpiece. Layers of beef ragu, béchamel, and mozzarella were a study in balance and indulgence. The beef ragu, slow-cooked to perfection, provided a rich, savory base that harmonized beautifully with the silky béchamel and gooey mozzarella. It was a comfort dish elevated to haute cuisine.The Risotto al Frutti di Mare, a sautéed seafood risotto with fresh tomatoes, was a sensory delight. The creamy risotto enveloped the tender seafood, creating a symphony of flavors that transported me to the Italian coastline. It was a testament to Chef Claudio's expertise in marrying flavors and textures.The Tagliata Di Tonno, a seared tuna fillet with sesame seeds and caponata, was a triumph of simplicity and elegance. The tuna, seared to perfection, retained its delicate interior, while the sesame seeds added a delightful crunch. The caponata, a sweet and tangy accompaniment, provided the perfect balance to the dish.As the evening drew to a close, it was time to savor the final act of our Italian opera - Tiramisu. This iconic dessert, handcrafted by Chef Claudio himself, was a heavenly crescendo to our meal. Each spoonful was a delicate dance of mascarpone, coffee-soaked ladyfingers, and cocoa dusting. It was an exquisite conclusion to an evening of culinary excellence.In conclusion, Cucina at Marriott Marquis City Center Doha is more than a restaurant; it is a voyage into the heart of Italy's culinary heritage, guided by the skilled hand of Chef Claudio. Every dish, meticulously crafted, tells a story of tradition, passion, and innovation. It was an evening where each course unfolded like a chapter in an epic tale of flavor, leaving an indelible mark on my gastronomic memory. Cucina is a destination for those who seek an Italian culinary experience that transcends expectation and transports the palate to the soul of Italy.
Nestled within the embrace of the W Doha, La Spiga by Paper Moon stands as a beacon of Italian culinary mastery, inviting discerning diners on a journey through the heart of Italy. It was a privilege to be swept away by the symphony of flavours and finesse this establishment has to offer, where every dish is a paean to the art of gastronomy.Stepping into La Spiga, one is immediately ensnared by its enchanting ambiance. The restaurant's contemporary design, with its warm wood accents and chic furnishings, exudes an understated elegance that serves as the perfect backdrop for a night of culinary indulgence.Our gastronomic voyage began with a tantalizing duo of starters. The Burrata Pugliese, a masterpiece of simplicity, featured creamy burrata cheese nestling among yellow, black, and red tomatoes, crowned with fragrant basil leaves, and drizzled with the finest extra virgin olive oil. The burst of flavours and textures was nothing short of revelatory, a testament to the quality of ingredients used.The Pizza Arabica, a delightful fusion of Italian and Arabian influences, was a medley of tomato, mozzarella, onion, beef pepperoni, and fresh chili. It was a perfect marriage of spice and indulgence, with the heat of the chili complementing the richness of the cheese and pepperoni. Each bite was a culinary adventure in itself and we couldn’t but sit in awe of what mains have to offer.Our meal continued with the Insalata Panzanella Salad, a Tuscan classic reimagined with finesse. Olives, onion, tomato, cucumber, and Tuscan bread danced together in a refreshing symphony, accentuated by the exquisite extra virgin olive oil. It was a rejuvenating pause, preparing my palate for the pasta masterpiece ahead.The Spaghetti Pomodoro was a celebration of simplicity. Adorned with cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, and a hint of spiciness, it was a plateful of pure flavors. The tomatoes burst with sweet tang, and the basil added an aromatic flourish. It was Italian comfort food at its finest.The Robespierre, a seared sirloin with rosemary and green peppercorn, served medium well, was a carnivore's delight. The succulent sirloin, kissed by the flavors of rosemary and green peppercorn, was a testimony to expert grilling and seasoning. It was medium well, but quite well-done!As the evening serenaded us toward a sweet finale, we surrendered to the allure of dessert. The Madagascar vanilla Panna Cotta, adorned with almond crumble and a raspberry sauce, was a revelation. Each spoonful was a journey through layers of creamy delight, the almond crumble providing a satisfying crunch, and the raspberry sauce a tantalizing tartness.Our culinary journey reached its zenith with a cold selection of ice-cream sorbets - lemon, mango, and strawberry - sorbets with dried fruits. Each scoop was a burst of pure, unadulterated delight, a refreshing conclusion to a night of Italian elegance.La Spiga by Paper Moon at W Doha is not just a restaurant; it is a voyage through the soul of Italy, guided by the expert hand of its culinary artisans. Every dish is a masterpiece, a testament to the dedication to quality and passion for gastronomy. It was an evening where each course was a brushstroke in a culinary masterpiece, and the dessert a sweet encore that lingered on the palate. La Spiga is a destination for those who seek an Italian dining experience that transcends the ordinary, an Italian soiree to remember.
In the opulent embrace of the Waldorf Astoria Lusail Doha, Highmore unfurls like a secret gastronomic haven, beckoning diners to partake in a culinary reverie that transcends the ordinary. It was under these enchanting auspices that I embarked on a pre-birthday celebration with a close friend, an experience that unveiled a symphony of flavours and a feast for the senses.As we were seated amidst the understated elegance of Highmore, the attentive staff made us feel like esteemed guests in a private residence. The ambiance was inviting, with warm lighting and plush furnishings that exuded modern luxury with a touch of classic charm. It set the stage for a culinary sojourn that promised to be nothing short of extraordinary.Our gastronomic voyage commenced with a duo of appetizers that served as a prelude to the crescendo of flavours that awaited. The garlic bread, a seemingly simple offering, revealed itself as an artistic creation. Melted garlic, swirled with chives, adorned a canvas of freshly baked bread. Each bite was an ode to the harmonious marriage of simplicity and excellence. The garlic sang its fragrant song, while the chives added a delicate herbaceous note.The jalapeño poppers, tantalisingly stuffed with cheddar, provided a spicy kick that awakened our palates. The creamy, molten cheese oozed from within, a counterpoint to the fiery allure of the jalapeños. This playful interplay of flavours was nothing short of exhilarating.As our appetizers bid adieu, the main courses swept in, and with them, a flurry of anticipation. The Spicy Polpeta Pizza, adorned with succulent meatballs, mozzarella, tomato sauce, and a sprinkling of oregano, was a masterpiece in every sense. The pizza crust, a perfect blend of crispy and chewy, served as a canvas for the harmonious intermixing of flavours. The meatballs, tender and brimming with savoury delight, nestled against the velvety embrace of mozzarella, creating a symphony of taste that lingered on the palate.As my friend went for the Montreal Sub Burger, which was a carnivore's dream; it showcased a towering creation of Angus steak, beef pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, and Gruyere cheese. Each bite was an epicurean journey, as the Angus steak, perfectly cooked to retain its juiciness, harmonised with the robust flavors of beef pepperoni. The mushrooms and Gruyere added depth to the ensemble, transforming a mere burger into a culinary legend. My choice: the SRB (Short Rib Burger), a veritable masterpiece of culinary innovation, that featured succulent short rib meat, tender and flavourful. Nestled within a brioche bun, it was a carnivorous delight of unparalleled proportions. The flavors and textures in this burger was nothing short of alchemical, a testament to the culinary prowess of Highmore's chefs.As we savoured each bite, our celebration took on a new dimension. It was not just a pre-birthday revelry; it was a journey into the heart of culinary artistry. The staff, who anticipated our every need, ensured that our evening flowed seamlessly, adding an air of sophistication to our celebration.We concluded our feast with a decadent flourish, savoring a Deep Fried Mars Bar paired with velvety Vanilla Ice Cream. The crispy, golden exterior of the Mars Bar concealed a molten core of caramel and nougat, a dessert that transcended the boundaries of indulgence.A single candle flickered atop our dessert, its soft glow casting a warm ambience around us. With a shared smile, my friend and I made a silent wish to the gentle flame, a heartfelt expression of gratitude for the extraordinary evening we had experienced. It was a moment of magic, where culinary excellence merged with the enchantment of a wish, a perfect ending to an unforgettable night at Highmore.Highmore at Waldorf Astoria Lusail Doha is not just a restaurant; it is a destination where gastronomy transforms into an experience, and where every dish is a canvas painted with the finest ingredients and the utmost passion. It is a gastronomic gem and it beckons all who seek an extraordinary dining experience.As the evening reached its crescendo of culinary delights at Highmore, there remained one final note to strike, a sweet and indulgent coda to our gastronomic symphony.
Naser Mestarihi is possibly the first musician to release a rock album out of Qatar, with a famous look to go with it. Born and bred in Doha, the Jordanian-Pakistani multi-instrumentalist — has become a rock and roll fame in Qatar, who is instantly recognisable thanks to his signature black Ts and flowing curly hair. His wardrobe staple of black shirts, and leather has been just as captivating as his stage presence as he picks up and shreds an electric guitar just like a Rockstar out a movie scene. With masterful skill and style, you simply can’t look away.Most people know him from his ‘1987’ single, and his early days with the group are certainly where his flair for grungy gear of instruments developed. It’s the dramatics in his performance that he rarely performs without one. Even as he has transversed into different styles of performances and music, his vocals have remained consistent which is a clear message that Naser is not an average bubblegum Rockstar. With his mixture of heartthrob good looks, pulsating riffs, and smooth vocals as if born with musical greatness, what more could anyone ask for? Naser is redefining the genre for a new generation in Qatar.But ofcourse, he’s all too modest to agree. Naser meets with Gulf Times to talk about his humble collaboration with Grammy Award winning musician Thomas Pridgen, loyalty to his roots and how eager he is to reconnect with his Doha fanbase, all whilst giving out a message of never giving up to young musicians.You’re one of the very few musicians in Doha who chose rock music to express themselves. How did that happen? And what is it about rock music that keeps you going? It all started out as a kid growing up in the early 90s. Mainstream music was different back then, you’d hear rock on the radio so I picked up records like Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Metallica, Nirvana and so on from older family members and instantly knew this was what I wanted to do when I grow up.Is music something you express yourself with?Music helps evoke emotions that are difficult to express verbally. Music being universal, I mean we got fans all over the world, some whose first language isn’t English but they connect to the music and that’s the beauty of it. It’s cathartic, you’re putting what you feel on a record and someone thousands of miles away can relate or connect to it.Music’s always been my outlet irrespective of my emotions, when I’m feeling good, uplifted or depressed, I mean with regards to the latter it really helps releasing that negative energy. It’s uplifting letting it out.Coming from Pakistan, do you think Coke Studio has an effect on the kind of music you do? Yes, being half Pakistani that has had an impact on me culturally and I obviously love a lot of music from that region, South Asia. Coke studio is great, really proud to see something like that come out of my mother’s country.Do you see yourself going to Pakistan and working with Coke Studio at some point? Absolutely. Being a musician there are no limits to where I’d travel or work, I’ve always wanted to tour Pakistan if circumstances allow it, there’s an awesome music scene there and incredible musicians. If an opportunity comes up with Coke Studio, then we’d be totally down to do it.Tell us how ‘Ivory Towers’ happen? Your collaboration with Grammy Award winning musician Thomas Pridgen. For years I’d been putting out records as a solo musician & after a while my touring band and I agreed to work under a band name, for several reasons, one of them being able to collaborate rather than me writing all the music on my own.So I basically picked the name Winterburn off a tune on my last solo record and started writing the material to “Ivory Towers.” Thomas I got in touch with via one of my close friends in LA who played with him in a band called The Memorials, obviously Thomas is a remarkable musician with so many big names & accolades under his belt so I stoked to work on the record with him.We tracked the album between the Gulf & San Francisco and it was a smooth process, mixed and mastered it in Europe with the Weislawski brothers and that was it really.You’re a guitarist, vocalist and a singer songwriter – but what is it that you enjoy the most doing? Definitely guitars, I became a singer by default when I was a teen because we couldn’t find a lead vocalist and eventually that just became another ‘instrument’ I took up. I’m a bass guitarist too, which is something I’m very passionate about.Who is your favourite musician, where you draw your inspiration from? Wow, that would be a massive list, I mean I listen to hundreds of artists across so many genres but I can list down my biggest influences in three categories.Guitarists I’d say Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Slash, Hendrix, Jake E. Lee, Nuno Bettencourt, Tony Iommi & James Hetfield.Singers would be Ray Gillen, Paul Rodgers, Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford, James Hetfield and Freddie Mercury.Bassists would be Geddy Lee, Steve Harris, Cliff Burton and Flea.Doha is becoming a new hub for musicians and artists alike. Your take on it? There’s a lot of potential but there aren’t a lot of bands putting out original music which is the one bummer about it. I mean we’ve had our own difficulties dealing with promoters who’ve basically had a chokehold on venues because they don’t want original bands, they approach things from a very corporate mindset, they see cover bands as the more lucrative approach which none of my band gets. We come from the school of nurturing and supporting original music, it’s great if you’re into playing covers, to each his own but we’ve been doing this professionally since our late teens and early twenties so we just don’t get it.I was disillusioned with this for a while but now we’re doing things on our own, our way, without someone dictating what we should play or the format of our shows.So far we’ve played quite a few shows this year with one coming up next week and the reception has been great, the crowds love it cause it’s something new and fresh and we’re really chuffed to have had such an warm reception so far.
Couture embraces worlds. The week that on one side featured Elie Saab's stolid womanliness ended with Alexis Mabille’s let loose easy-breezy collection ‘Mondaines,’ a French word for charming social butterflies with a penchant for high-flying lifestyles, and for the flirty nocturnal activities that go with it, at Christie’s headquarters, whose white-walled rooms felt like a modern rendition of a classic salon de couture. The mood was compounded by the name the designer gave the collection which was a major success on its own terms: haute couture for the Instagram generation. From the full-length black dress in gazar that opened the show to a trapeze full length coat in emerald green that tied with to the tiers of ecru lace trimmed with feathers, the clothes had the spirited dressiness that you see now in Alexis’ gals, for instance. They were saccharine, either— the black gazar sheath that underpinned a sheer dress trimmed in huge organza flowers or a baby doll in ruffled tiers of ribbon bows in a multi-coloured pastel powder pink.And look closely and it was plain to see that Alexis had done his research on classic couture shapes, however abbreviated they might be here. The clothes were surely uplifting, not only because they've been constructed to be almost weightless, but also because the designer has been so focused on his clients' pleasure.The pantsuit in the collection came in a deep blue solid, and exquisite shimmer blouse meant there was little that was workaday about their button-down blouses. Where these clothes will be getting a workout is on the party circuit. One of the first to hit the red carpet will be the white voluminous shirt with the black bodice floor length skirt. The volumes were diaphanous, countrified, like the cloud of point d'esprit scattered with organza lace cutouts. The designer sought a deep lightness. It was beautifully exemplified in dresses with up to five layers of lace and organza.That caveat aside, the collection was lovely. Romantic, but with a nice sense of rawness.Truth to tell, the show could have taken an edit, a few less of the duplicated silhouettes. But then again, Alexis has so many couture customers, maybe it just means there’ll be less of a tussle between stylists.
The collection at Valentino’s Haute Couture show at Château de Chantilly where the catwalk was woven around circular bassin d’eau, with the perfect backdrop of the elegant silhouette of the 17th century manor, signposted the week's other relevant themes: youthfulness, simplicity, ease and paradoxes. Pierpaolo Piccioli has always loved a long, fluid shift and he made the case for this by showcasing a collection devoid of pyrotechnics, superfluous gimmicks and crowd-pleasing distractions. It was simple, yet elegant. Nothing complicated, nothing too voluminous.The showcase that started with a familiar basic crisp white shirt paired with a denim, interspersed with twinkling footwear, was followed with body-hugging dresses purely for the petite-waisted, a shoulder-baring blouse and capes, perennial favourites that never go out of fashion. Here, the strength in Piccioli’s collection lay in its details. The line came glittering with swirls of dainty, meticulous embroidery, placed prettily on traditional silhouettes. It was formal-wear but never OTT and quite appealing.Examined up close, the workmanship defied comprehension. The stitching was so fine it was invisible. It signaled the heart-stopping delicacy that distinguished the collection. The use of cotton amidst the lace, organza, and filigree, as in a coral separate with tone-on-tone flower print and embroidery that felt embossed. The same approach was echoed in a billowy trapeze-shaped gown, whose circular feathered ruffles were made from 500 feet of white organza. To make the feathers even more featherlight and preternaturally weightless, they were burned one by one to achieve the right quivering cadence.All of that passes the tests of mass influence, relevance, and great timing, but it’s not the ultimate thing that distinguishes and elevates the practice of haute couture to the true dream level. That resides in the uses of technique, and the application of handcrafted skills. On those points, the Roman couture workers at the Valentino ateliers surpassed themselves. Close up, the micro fan-pleating, intricately pieced together from segments of silk and jersey, the microscopically narrow lines of silver bugle beads cascading irregularly from shoulder to floor, the encrustations of three different designs of floral guipure cut-out lace—all this and very much more was just dreamy, in every case.There were flowing pleated gowns, statuesque floor-length tabards and silhouettes that caterwauled simplicity with fabric letting lose and trailing out behind as the models walked, the dresses were astoundingly beautiful in motion. The gold and black sheaves of wheat on a white dress were simple but striking. On the contrary, a coat in gold lamé embroidered in menswear with paillettes, and silk thread was as opulent as anything on the runways this week, and the same is true of a tulle toga embroidered with yet more crystals yet sheer and chic to the core.There was an easy breezy confidence to the clothes, one honed over decades of designing experience. The fabric came draped, woven polka dots moulded into careless shrugs and jackets, slinky, seductive dresses bared from a single shoulder, designs that stood out without trying too hard. He may be one of most senior designers but Piccioli’s spirit is indubitably young.Will this new collection by Piccioli be enough to redefine women’s eveningwear? Highly likely. It was unrestricted and sexy! The influence of Valentino and its easy-to-wear silhouette is bound to be a dream-fulfiller for many, when taken up by brands further down the market.
What is a fashion show but a vivacious burst of energy, a chance for designers to experiment, create magic, set trends and, above all, make inroads into retail? Did the recent Christian Dior Fall 2023 Couture fit the bill on all these counts? Yes!Maria Grazia Chiuri did what she does best — cutting and molding ball gowns like it’s nobody’s business, dabbling with the ease of a pro into draped long gowns, voluminous hems, pleats and backless numbers criss-crossed with embroidery. It was a fairytale just like every season but a notch higher as it incorporated the cultural heritage with sculptural drapes — with models serenely poised on the runway.There was substance, but there was movement. The contrast of lightness and weight was at the very core of the collection featuring dresses with vertical pleats, dryad dresses, gilded lace and lots of lattice work embroideries and the finishing of pearl beadsThe coat/cape hybrid that yielded a result as spectacular as a swingy beige crystal organza with sleeves of lustrous sable was breathtakingly beautiful. It was the construction of the silhouette that caterwauled — ‘so very classic!’.Chiuri’s take on the heritage of Dior suit was also like a breath of fresh air — she used separates and paired jackets over matching long skirts and dresses — revamping the idea of formality with ageless, modern chic.The weight of her outerwear was balanced by ethereal dresses composed of white, beige, silver and pale gold with rippling pleats. There was a reclusive purity in beige chiffon and triple organza dresses, and coats clutched demurely. But then there was an abstract chain mail layered over that purity, and the deep slits in coats and dresses translated into a deeply feminine appeal.Chiuri she doesn’t need to create dramatic silhouettes for her clothes to get attention. Her clothes step off the catwalk, directly on to the retail rack without any translation.The drama is very much within the design itself!The collection was so cohesive and inclusive that any woman in any part of the world can find something here and that can be accredited to Chiuri who has travelled across the continents to quite really understand a Dior woman. Her line-up created veritable heirlooms for the unabashedly bold, vivacious woman. It was sheer glamour with easy-breezy monochromatic contradictions. What it skipped was a sense of grandeur or build-up. There was no ball gown finale to answer the hanging question as to what Natalie Portman might wear to the next Academy Awards—though that’s usually arranged as a bespoke off-runway matter anyway.Chiuru’s been known for her radical arty streaks and it was as much fun seeing her toe minimalistic lines. Her strong eye for fashion brought in the accolades.
The models walked around a marble floored squared, an impression of Fendi’s headquarter in Rome. As Klaus Nomi’s ‘The Cold Song played out, it was a balmy evening, teetering towards Paris’ tropical summer, the cold winds are long gone. It was quite the apt setting for a fashion week dedicated to Fall 2023 couture.The elegant surroundings and even Mother Nature pitching in with the right weather quite did it well for Kim Jones who placed the creative synergy between himself and Delfina Delletrez this season with the inclusion of Fendi haute jewellery by Delfina. One thing one can be certain about is that Fendi is never droned on, their collection is always inspiring and usually in a cloud of pastel-coloured bling that never downslides towards the terribly gaudy.This critique is directed towards their couture show as well.Kim and Delfina had their minds primarily on commerce, showcasing retail-friendly clothes. This brings in the coin, especially when it is pastel coloured, embellished with winding trellises, fashion into flowing and easy-breezy silhouette.Fendi wielded plenty of sartorial clout. It was pure unadulterated fashion, draped and tweaked into avant-garde silhouettes, eschewing generic neoprene tailored furs that are often passed off as ‘design’. There was easy, masterful layering at play, drapes upon drapes, merging into a single silhouette; pure silk and handloomed fabric in black and metallic moulded into jackets, capes, slinky one-shoulder full length sleek dresses and skirts. The Kim Jones signature is distinctive and, as always, the designer raised the bar. He merged the 1990s minimalist aesthetics with the statuary of ancient Rome.At the other end of the spectrum, the workmanship on Delfina’s jewellery pieces was meticulous. It was minimal, exquisitely made, effortless high fashion. “There is an emotional relationship that I have with the jewellery in the collection that I hope the women who will eventually wear it will have too,” says Delfina Delettrez Fendi, Artistic Director of Jewellery for FENDI. The distinctive diamond earrings, brooches and necklaces studded with pink spinels and yellow diamonds, skillfully incorporated tiny geometric plays on the Fendi logo. Some of the compositions felt almost sci-fi, as if you were looking at a digital screen. Despite their innate opulence, there was a lightness and subtlety to the designs and this is what makes it timeless.Individualistic, with restrained elegance, pushing boundaries rather than simply pandering to a bling-smitten mass mentality, a Kim Jones show invariably serves as an example of what a designer collection should be all about. It also exemplifies what a fashion event should be all about. Unfortunately, not every designer venturing on to the runway manages to understand this. In a world churning with embroidery, large voluminous silhouettes, glitter and over-designing, it was a breath of fresh air.