I spy with my little eye... Toko.

Two weeks ago, the Gentleman and I decided to pick a new restaurant to try, and we went for Toko. It took a while to find it since we parked the car at Vida, as indicated on the website, crucial error since the restaurant is not part of the hotel, and it is actually located on Mohammed Bin Rashid boulevard, next to La Serre. After a little tour of Vida's corridors and stairs, we found Toko. The interior design is very simple and uncluttered, which I loved.

We sat in the lounge, just because it was a weekday and we wanted to keep it simple. When I asked for a very dry wine, the sommelier had a look at the drinks menu and decided to offer us a wine that wasn't available by the glass. I really appreciated the gesture and the effort. They definitively went that extra mile that makes the difference. And by the way, the wine was fantastic, just what I wanted.
Now foodwise, the cheerful Serge suggested a few specialities of the house. I loved the fact that he had tried them and could properly talk about them, that makes a big difference in terms of advice. Toko is mainly japanese fusion cuisine so I was looking forward to trying something new and boy I wasn't disappointed!

The king fish carpaccio was a gustative explosion, so fresh! The crispy rice tuna tartare and truffle was very powerful, I loved it. And the best surprise was the braised waguy short rib that was so soft you can actually eat it without cutlery. Amazing cuisine.

My only disappointments were the miso, too cooked for me, I didn't see the point, and, unfortunately, the cocktails: neither the martini, old fashioned or bloody mary were memorable. That being said, we went back twice within 2 weeks and the service was equally good each time. I would definitively recommend it, just stick to the wine list. I loved the music selection and the fact that you can actually hear each other whether sitting in the lounge, the restaurant or the garden. If you ever go, ask for Serge, he is full of good advice when it comes to ordering and is a ray of sunshine!

For more information, click here.

I spy with my little eye... Fashion Backwards.

I'm always happy to support quality Couture, especially in the Middle East. I've worked with seamstresses in Paris and I have a special affection for them and the work they do, therefore I've always been interested and happy to spread the word about Fashion Forward. But this season, I have a few things that I want to put forward. As much as I like Couture, I will be boycotting the event this year and here is why:

1- The online registration process is made so complicated it puts you off. As much as I understand that they want the exposure, what's the point of asking media "what kind of coverage are you planning?' and "when will you publish it?". I've been to a few fashion weeks and I doubt that in the hectic ambiance they have time to read the answers and decide whether or not to send you invites depending on the coverage you are offering, so what's the point except making it difficult for you? I would also like to remind them that 3 seasons does not make them important on the international scene and that they still need people to show up, hence putting them off: not a good idea. The whole process gave me the impression they were getting cocky and a little bit ahead of themselves, but this is just my personal opinion.
2- Now let's talk about these invites that never really arrive to your door and that you have to collect at the entrance. I have absolutely no problem collecting my press pass at the entrance but then why tell me it will be delivered?
3- I cannot see any of these sandwiches anymore. I know fashion people  feed on beauty, but I am French, Parisian, and I demand a proper snack (please note I am not even asking for a meal) with my glass of red wine!
There I said it, bon voyage Fashion Forward, you won't see my red lips this season!

I spy with my little eye... Vintage in Qatar.

Remember my trip to Doha in January? Well between two restaurants to try, I met with the magazine Glam Qatar for a quick interview. They got the eras wrong since I consider myself more of a 40-50's gal' than a 60-70's hippie but the rest is very accurate and I can definitively recognise myself on the picture, which is always comforting!

I spy with my little eye... the slippery Ivy.

A few weeks ago I decided to invite M. and G. out. Since we had a few things to celebrate, and I hadn't been to the Ivy in ages, it was quite an obvious choice. It was a Sunday, so the ambiance was pretty calm, as refined as usual... which explains my surprise when my (well deserved) vodka martini took a solid half an hour to land on our table. I welcomed it with a smile, but also informed the very attentive waiter who had already asked twice if we were ready to order I would need as much time as it took them to mix that cocktail, to make up my mind. In other words: merci for the attention but the restaurant isn't packed so chill. As much as I appreciate attentive service, there is a fine line between being professional and harassing, and that evening, they were on the edge of the latter.

Now let's get to the food. Since we went around St Patricks, we decided to go for the special Irish menu. I started with oysters with challots and vinegar, my favourite combo. Obviously you can't go wrong with oysters and they were very tasty so nothing to say here. 

Then I decided to try the Irish stew: on St Patricks, might as well go as Irish as possible! The stew was simple; a bit blend, but very traditional. Nothing exciting, nothing wtong, just a regular stew. Now I should have remembered stew meat was not my favourite but that's on me (I have this tendency of forgetting things I don't like or make me sick... quite a good trick until you're stuck on a boat being seasick for two days...). 

Finally, my favourite part of the dinner: desert! I ordered an Irish coffee cake that looked more like a mille-feuille and didn't taste like an Irish coffee. Too much cream for me and too blend. But again, this is just my taste.  To conclude, I will say that the food was proper Irish/Englsih homy and comfort food, nothing less, nothing more. The service was too eager, which would have made sense if the place was crowded and they were keeping track of the tables turnover, but it wasn't the case so unless I missed something, they played this one wrong on that special evening. I used to love the Ivy, but I was a bit disappointed, not quite sure what to think of the slippery Ivy now.
More information about the Ivy here.

I spy with my little eye... Bliss bliss!

I'm sure you will remember my hilarious experience at the Bliss Spa at the W Doha, if not, click here to read about it. Well following that energetic morning, Glambox sent me a bunch of products to review. I didn't try everything, I focused on what I usually use (clearly not dedicated enough to put my skin through treatments it doesn't need): body butter, day cream and mask. 

So here we go, let's start with the one I had the most fun with: the triple oxygen instant energising mask. As you can see on the picture above, the texture turns into foam. When it comes out of the bottle, the product looks like a normal mask with a creamy consistency so you can apply easily but 30s after you applied, it changes into foam. It is quite fun to watch your whole face disappear under bubbles, but because of the volume of the foam, the mask quickly starts dripping which is quite uncomfortable (I didn' find running back to the bathroom to make sure it's not getting all over clothes wasn't the most relaxing thing). I can't say I saw a visible difference after leaving it on for 5min as indicated. I can't really say that my skin was smoother or more luminous. So a fun product but didn't really work for me.

Same kind of applies to the triple oxygen energising skin, I suspect my skin doesn't really react to oxygen or it is already at it's oxygen maximum? Whatever it may be, this day cream didn't make any difference. It is very light and easy to apply but no visible result on my part.

Last but not least, the body butter is my favourite product, although it contains paraben, which I don't approve of. It did hydrate my dry legs with efficiency, but I would keep it as an emergency product for when you can't find your paraben/petrochemical/sulfate free daily body cream.

I spy with my little eye... hair rollers!!

In January, Tina and I met with a bunch of bloggers, models and make-up artists to work on a beauty photoshoot, remember this post? Well I particularly liked the pin-up session she had prepared for me and I juuust got the final pictures, so I'm happy to share them with you! I have to admit, as much as I like pin curls, I don't know how 1940-1950's women had the patience to wait for hours with rollers in their hair, or worse, to sleep with them! I admire their dedication. We didn't have such equipment so the lovely (and crafty!) make-up artist Amanda faked them with tissue, yes ladies and gentlemen, on these pictures I have tissue in my hair. And even with fake rollers, I couldn't wait to loosen my hair!

I want to thank the lovely Amanda for not giving up on my baby hair, she put up a very impressive fight!

I spy with my little eye... the half moon manicure.

When I have time (or rather when I decide to take it), I go for a classic half moon manicure, very 1950's. I had quite a laugh when my lovely hairdresser Salome (Carita, Zabeel Saray on the Palm, best hairdresser in Dubai, just saying) looked at me right after I did a half-moon manicure "Honey, you need to do your nails", I had to explain that it was meant to look like that, gotta love our intercultural world!

I like to keep it discreet with a small half moon but you can make a statement and adapt it's size as you please. I already wrote a tutorial here, so I won't go through the whole process again, all you need basically is: time, nailpolish, eyelets, and a good tv show to watch while it dries (may I suggest Call the Midwife or Masters of Sex?)! In vintage I trust!

Hint of Beautiful. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.