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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Breakfast at The Hamptons

Dubai never ceases to amaze with what it can conjure up in the middle of what was essentially a desert, and whilst some things (ski slopes and ice bars spring to mind) seem like utter madness, others strike you as the perfect fit. So it was upon hearing about The Hamptons cafe opening in Dubai - a notion which made me tilt my head to the side, nod a little and say: 'Yeah. Bout right.'

Beachside elegance, luxe living and all things shabby chic came to this place to hang out, and whilst the location right on the roadside of one of Dubai's main streets does seem a touch bizarre on the outside, step into this place and you're transported. The interior really has been done to impeccable standards. Large throw cushions, grey birch wood and nautical stripe everything marry with luxe label brands and menu iPads, handed to you upon seating. You'll also be served by a host in a dandy suit, wearing an earpiece that makes him or her look like they are part of an intricate security operation.

So, superficially at least, everything is in order. The menu is stocked with choice breakfast fare - avocado toast, eggs multiple ways, french toast, pancakes - the whole gang's here. Service is paced well - not so fast as to make you feel rushed, but not so slow that you're tapping your feet. We ordered a Hamptons healthy breakfast (granola, croissant and orange juice) and a peanut butter French toast. Both were delicious, and presented immaculately. The french toast was crispy on the outside, fluffy and soft within, and the peanut butter was a nice contrast to the very sweet, syrupy eggy bread. The granola was tart and fresh - the yoghurt was a little warmer than I might have liked but hey, you're talking about 42 degree weather Dubai here.

And yet, I was left feeling a little... eh? This is a luxury breakfast - with a price tag to match - and whilst everything was almost immaculate, it was maybe a little soulless. A little too pristine. And I can't quite get my host's sneer out of my mind when I asked for cranberry juice ('We don't do that here') and when my mum asked for a local brand bottle of water ('We only carry Italian'). Maybe it's just me, but I like my eateries with a little more heart. Rough around the edges, like me. I might have been just a touch intimidated by the perfection of this place, and its clientele.

Would I visit again? For sure! But maybe next time I'll keep my sunnies on and just enjoy the people watching and anonymity of being another face in the beautiful crowd.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Letter to Who I Thought I'd Be

I don't know at which point we left one another, or where our paths intersected last, but I'll try to fill in the gaps.

At twenty-seven, you'll still be looking for the thing that makes you extraordinary.

You'll still disappear off to your room and dance, headphones in, no longer requiring the mammoth CD player or stack of music that you used to in your teens. You won't lock the door anymore, but you still won't let anyone be invited to that time. The man you love will accept those moments unquestioningly, with little more than a quiet 'have fun' or acknowledgement. There's an unspoken agreement between you that although you don't perform every day anymore, you still, kinda, need to perform every day. You don't know if that will ever go away. You don't know if it is meant to. You're equal parts terrified and expectant that it will.

Somewhere, in the back of your mind and despite yourself, you still believe there's an age to 'be sensible', and a time to grow up. The number is blurry and it keeps changing, going up, up, up.

You love to write, like you always have. You invest less time in it now. Somewhere along the line, writing to 'pay the bills' superseded writing about a life that you couldn't know, people that didn't really exist, at least not materially. You still keep password protected word documents filled with pieces of the same story that you don't know how to tell, or you're reluctant to complete. Your head is still filled with the strands of all of those possibilities, which never quite stay between your fingers long enough to pin down when you catch their tails.

You adore your small, warm little world that you found. It feels more your own, with friends you've made as an adult, outside of school or university or any kind of landmark moment in your life. Most of your days together feel like the tiniest little landmark moments of your life. For a while, you thought you'd never have a life that fit you as an adult - you took a long time to grow into the sleeves of adulthood. But it slips over you effortlessly now. You start to miss your beautiful cycling trivialities if you leave them for too long. It's a thought that you'd probably find ridiculous, ten years ago. Maybe even five years ago. 'Give me anything but an office desk!'

You'll start drinking tea because you'll fall in love with a man who comes from the North, who loves the chill in the air in the early days of winter, who will teach you more about yourself and what you really need, what you really value, beneath the shroud of persona you crafted for yourself. You got good at substituting acceptance and passing compliments for real, unconditional love. You had to bridge the path from home to home somehow.

The crook of your mother's hip will still be one of the most settling places to rest your head. Nothing will ever quite explain how much you miss the time that your entire worlds were wrapped around one another.

Your father's tendency towards bursts and extremes of mood and brilliance will return, and the quiet detached observer that came with Buddhist readings will surrender to his more natural state. You still see in him the ultimate in which to admire, and the ultimate of which to be afraid for.

It will take you until twenty-seven to realise how much you would have really treasured a sibling, because the three of you are split and spread over so many thousands of miles, and every time you leave them and every time they leave you, it's like more pieces of your heart shards get sprinkled across the distance there.

It will take you until twenty-seven to stop trying to please everyone, even though the instinct still fights up in your throat more often than you'd choose. But you're working on it. You're working on a lot, now.

You and I went different ways, at some point. But I am looking for you again. I'm so, so sorry that I lost you, wherever I did. I'm coming to find you, and I have become very good at seeking. Wait up for me. 
Tuesday, May 10, 2016

New Fave: Tom & Serg, Dubai

Every time I come 'home' - I use that word in the truest 'expat kid' sense - to Dubai, it feels like a thousand things have changed. A new bloom of cranes on different patches of sand, a new fee to pay for something that used to be free. There are good changes too - something else I find that I didn't know I could get here - Lululemon and Ripe organic food and craft market springs to mind. One such thing I found last week, tucked away unassumingly in Al Quoz. A little cafe-resto called Tom & Serg, that i'd heard so much about on Instagram and Twitter from those more in-the-know than me.

Let me set the scene for you - this feels like it would be at home in London, and not to use a word that rhymes with 'pipster', you get a strong vibe that this is a different kind of joint than your regular Dubai fare. Givenchy bags and oversized sunglasses are dropped at the front, warehouse style door. Indeed, the restaurant itself could easily be missed - set in an up-and-coming, new artsy district, whilst the frontage is glass and allows the place to be flooded by natural light, it does reside in a pretty quiet, unassuming shopping mall. But don't be fooled - if you're visiting Dubai, this place is worth the trek.

My mum and I came here once for breakfast - salted caramel french toast and sourdough with jam and peanut butter which we split - both of which were absolutely fantastic. The french toast had a perfect crunch to the outside, whilst being soft and fluffy within, the salted caramel just sweet and tangy enough to be mouth-watering. The sourdough was crisp and flavourful, the jam and peanut butter a gorgeous combo. I don't know what nut butter they use here/if they make their own, but it was relish. My mum was also super grateful for the variety of coffees and said that hers, whilst small, was perfectly formed. I had a chai latte, stronger than any I've ever had, but nonetheless a great compliment to quite a sweet, sugary meal. I still have dreams about that french toast. I don't think they'll ever leave me.

We returned for a quick pitstop and to grab something on the menu that had tempted us before, but we thought the double salted caramel would be overkill - their salted caramel milkshakes. These were gorgeous - malty but not too think, frothy and creamy, and the salt and caramel balance was once again, right on target. We paired this with a BLT which we were both a little underwhelmed by as it was a little on the oily side, but this could have just been too much on top of the heavy shake. Both of us agreed though - stick to breakfast. Tom & Serg have that shit on lock.

I'm a little more aware, after some Instagram research (stalking? research?) that Tom & Serg are the guys behind S.A.L.T., the food truck that kinda started the whole craze for Dubai, and they've got a couple of other irons in the fire too, including a laid-back sports bar in Mall of the Emirates. All seem stylish, minimalist, effortless and unassumingly good at what they do. T&S is a new breed of eatery for the UAE and honestly, I can't wait to see what these guys do next. 
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

What's In My Handbag: Holiday Edition

Forty degree heat + heavy handbag is maths that I don't want to do, so for today's post I thought I'd give you a very quick, very honest and unedited, whistle-stop tour of what makes the cut everyday into my Chloe Drew bag because, let's face it, a Dubai edit of products is going to be about as streamlined as I get.

First up, my 'My Girl' sunglasses from Quay Australia are a firm fave now - I'm so happy I picked these up for holiday as they're the perfect blend of a vampy, statement 50s style shade, whilst still having the cool reflective mirrored lens to keep them fresh and current. Little details like the matte rubberised frames and the gold lining around the top of the lenses really make the sunglasses quite unique and luxe for a price that isn't TOO crazy (I'm looking at you, Dior So Real glasses).

My Kate Spade purse and key holder, both Bicester Village finds, rarely leave anything I'm carrying because my life is in both of them and I'm too forgetful to pare anything down. You know those people that can live with just a minimalist card holder? I envy you. Well done you. I'll be here lugging my brick around.

Three lip products were floating around in there because I'm nothing if not an option lover. Floating around in there today was Kat Von D everlasting liquid matte lipstick in Lolita, Nars Velvet Matte lipstick in Iberico and Nars Satin Finish lipstick in Descanso.

My iPhone is out of shot but obvs, I cannot be without it (sad but true - follow me on Snapchat 'tamirachats' to follow what I've been up to on hols!). And then some tissues because if you have ever met me, you know how often I spill everything and anything on my clothes. Ice cream and Tami. What a sight to behold for the Dubai public.

What makes your 'ride or die' cut for your handbag? 
Monday, May 2, 2016

If You Do One Thing... May

I'm not gonna lie... I've had worse offices than the one I'm writing to you from today. Currently, it's 30-something degrees outside, the sun is shining, and my Bank Holiday weekend has consisted of sitting poolside and getting a teeny tiny sunburn - it's good to be back in Dubai. And whilst the first half of my month is here, I'm hoping I can bring some sunshine back with me when I return back home, recharged and ready to go... But that's a little while away yet. More cocktails.

Here's a roundup of the stuff I'm most looking forward to in the upcoming month - I hope it's a gorgeous one for you. My calendar is packed full with events, trips away and outside adventuring with friends, and I can't wait. Two Bank Holidays - who can argue with that?!

SEE: There's not a whole lot I feel tremendously excited by at the cinema or on TV lately - we're still in a bit of a comedown from The People vs. OJ (incredible - go watch now) and staying loyal to our one true love, Game of Thrones. (Sidenote: THE EPISODE TODAY BLEW MY MIND). I feel like I should also recommend Lemonade here as its a visual album and the movie is just amazing, but since it's a recommendation in the 'Listen' section, I'll abstain. 

LISTEN: As expected, the new Drake and Beyonce releases were incredible, so I've been pretty much listening to Views and Lemonade exclusively for the past few weeks, and I don't see it changing anytime soon! My favourite tracks from both respectively are 'Too Good', 'Controlla' and 'Feel No Way' from Views, and 'Sorry', 'Love Drought', 'Don't Hurt Yourself' and 'Freedom' from Lemonade but BOTH ARE SO GOOD.

GO: To the sea! Obviously being in Dubai we're spending a lot of time beachside, and getting that salty air is doing me no end of good, but we'll also be spending some time along the coast of Ireland in Killiney for our close friends' wedding reception and heading down to Poole for a seaside adventure at some point. There's never been a better time to get coastal. 

EAT: All the froyo. I tried my first Yoghurtland - do we have this in the UK?! - on this holiday and I LOVED IT. This is the most ice cream-tasting frozen yoghurt ever and I love the self-serve aspect of it, plus all those different flavours... Peanut butter frozen yoghurt?! YAS PLEASE.

DRINK: Mint Lemonade is a speciality here in the Middle East and honestly, nothing else is more refreshing. Make your own with this recipe.

WEAR: This palm print jumpsuit which I have been quietly obsessed with for a while now and I FINALLY BOUGHT IT for holiday/a couple of festivals I'm attending this summer. As soon as I tried it on it was love.

I picked up 'Versions of Us' to read by the pool whilst on holiday and I'm really enjoying it so far! Next on my agenda is starting a book club with some good friends - any suggestions for what our first read should be? 

THINK: Attraction. I want to start focusing more on what I'm attracting into my life and putting positive, good vibes out into the world. It might sound a little 'woo woo' but with everything I have going on in terms of personal projects, I really want to create a motivated, forthright energy around my home and work.

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