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The Corniche is one of the gems of Doha

One of the things I love about living in Qatar, is when I step out of my apartment, walk for about 20 minutes. Then find myself in the picture postcard location that is the Corniche.

In an attempt to try and stay alive a bit longer, I am walking a bit more these days. And I am lucky enough to live very close to the Corniche. A quick walk through Al Bidda Park and I am there.  On the way I pop into Woqod to buy a nice big bottle of water to keep me hydrated while out.

I can’t remember the last time I went to an art gallery, but I think it was a school trip a German Encounters Exhibitionlong, long time ago. I had mixed feelings about attending this German Encounters exhibition because I’m not much of an artie, and I wasn’t sure if I would find a German exhibition particularly interesting. However after just 45 minuets of walking around the exhibits I was a total convert. A lot of the abstract paintings didn’t float my boat because well it’s just not my thing. But the photography was really, really outstanding and inspiring.

I enjoyed this guided tour as a part of the Honorary Cultural Ambassador training program so much, that I will be returning to the Fire Station independently next Thursday for the once a year Open Studio Night.

Open Studio Night at The Fire Station

There are 20 studios containing 20 different artists of varying types within the Fire Station. And on just one night a year they have an open evening where you can visit the artists in their studios to see what they are up to and have a chat with them.

Just being in the Fire Station itself, without even seeing an exhibition is a lovely way to spend time. It’s a peaceful place with much to see. If you like taking photo’s this is a fabulous place for you to get some quality snaps.

All the images posted in this article were taken on my Galaxy S7 Edge. I will need to go back with my Sony a7 to get some better photos in and around the Fire Station soon.

This morning I was told by a colleague that a restaurant located in Doha Downtown Hotel (Al Sadd) was offering a comprehensive buffet breakfast for just QR 25. I did not believe him so he took me there. And it’s actually true, a restaurant I had never heard of called ‘Haret Jdoudna’ located within the Doha Downtown Hotel is indeed offering a full buffet breakfast for just QR 25.  And it’s good!

This is McDonald’s prices for a real, proper breakfast, and it’s unlimited. Unlimited hot drinks and cold juices, cold meats, cheeses, hot selection of… oh you get the idea. Their live cooking egg station made me a delicious cheese omelette and yes that’s unlimited as well. No hidden charges for anything, not even water. All you will pay is QR 25. I could not believe it, and I had to keep checking that it was only going to cost QR 25. It was indeed only QR 25. And at the end I was so full I couldn’t even fit in one item from the selection of cakes, croissants and pastries on offer.

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I was so impressed at the value being offered that I decided to write about it immediately. I haven’t blogged for a while, because nothing recently has been worth writing about. Until today.

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The ‘Haret Jdoudna’ has a nice comfortable family feel to it

Yesterday I was in the Mövenpick Doha for breakfast. And I had a fabulous breakfast for just QR 75 each. I considered that outstanding value for what I had. And I would recommend their breakfast to anyone. The week before I was in the ‘Indian Coffee House’ where I paid a mere QR 23 per head for unlimited breakfast buffet. But they charged QR 5 for an omelette, charged for water and only gave 1 free cup of tea and charged QR 3 for each one after that. So I ended up paying more than QR 25 per head there but considered that outstanding value as well. But ‘Haret Jdoudna’ (which I cannot pronounce) have smashed the price barrier with their breakfast. Honestly, don’t take my word for it, you have got to go and try Haret Jdoudna’s breakfast for yourself. It’s a complete bargain. You will have a fantastic breakfast and pay just QR 25. I still can’t believe my breakfast this morning was only QR 25.

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Here is a map to help you find the place. Oh, and due to the roadworks, parking may be a bit tricky at the moment. But you will find somewhere to park, and it will be worth it.

Doha Downtown Map

Breakfast is severed daily from 6:30am until 10:30am. On Saturday’s it’s served 6:30am until 1pm. And yes it costs just QR 25 per head.

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Which Ramadan Iftar Buffets am I going to this year? With so many to choose from, how can someone make up their mind. For most, I am assuming they will stick to what they know. They will plan their Iftar Buffets based upon venues they normally hang out at, or have good previous experiences. And of course they will attend those they are invited to.

I normally treat myself to a couple of Iftar Buffets during Ramadan, and for me it’s all about a good experience along with good value. There is a limit to how much food you can sensibly eat in one sitting. If all you want to be is full, then you don’t need to spend very much money at all. But if you want to enjoy a meal with good company and have some wonderful food that is a real treat, then you have to pay a little extra.

In past years I have tried low cost Iftar Buffets, and I have also tried the extremely luxurious options. With a couple of exceptions, I have always been full and happy regardless of cost. There were however those exceptions that were either so low budget that the quality was not worth the money and those that were so expensive they could never represent good value. Thus I normally try and go somewhere in the middle.

And for me that safe middle ground has a budget of between QR 100 – QR 150. Lower than that and I can go somewhere like Ponderosa which I always consider good value, and more expensive than that and I can take a good Friday Brunch in any of the hotels I frequent all year round.

The Village Restaurant (Midmac) ticks all of my boxes. The setting is luxurious, the customer service is high end, the food is exemplary and the price represents excellent value.

What sets an Iftar Buffet apart from buffets available any other time of the year is that feeling of togetherness. You arrive a little early, take your seat and stare at the dates, fruits and juices on your table. As the time to break fast approaches some will start to load their plates from the buffet and place them on their table ready to enjoy. And then as one, everyone tucks in as soon as it is proper to do so.

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Upon arriving at the Village Restaurant, we were greeted professionally and courteously. We were shown to our table and seated. Already for me I am in a very happy place. I simply love the decor in the Village, and they always allow plenty of room between tables. I feel relaxed and the table is set beautifully. And the room slowly fills with happy groups of people.

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The service in the Village is second to none. Our servers wore welcoming smiles, and offered to bring our drink requirements and our choice of one of the two soups on offer ready for breaking fast. And then we wait for the moment to begin.

As soon as it was safe to do so, I got stuck into my Iranian soup. It was soooo good. Next was the dates on my table. And then off to the buffet to fill my plate. I’m not going to describe everything I ate. But I have to give very special mention to the Indian Grill. Some of the very best I have ever had. Soft, moist and full of flavour. I will let my photos tell the rest of the food story.

Service throughout was faultless. Our plates were cleared from the table the moment they became surplus to requirements. And we had servers at hand to look after our every need.

Sure enough after less than one hour, we were bloated and reluctant to move. So we sat there enjoying the atmosphere and discussing if we could possibly fit in one more desert. Which we could not by the way, until we decided to take our full bellies home to relax.

The Village is at the high end of my Iftar budget coming in at QR 149 for adults and QR 75 for children. But with the quality on offer that represents really good value. The restaurant captures the spirt of Ramadan, and the essence of the Iftar Buffet.

I was a guest of the Village Restaurant for this visit, but as always my opinions and comments remain my own. And although I did not pay for my meal, I would have done so very gladly.

Having recently had very bad experiences with both Pizza Hut and Domino’s, I was quite keen to try out a new kid on the block.

Located next to the Centro Hotel in Al Jazeera Street, Castello is a small restaurant with takeaway on the ground floor and a seating area upstairs.

It’s prices are good with a small salami pizza costing QR 30 and a large costing QR 40. Margarita pizza QR 24 (S) / QR 34 (L) and a further 16 other toppings available.

Quality is Good. However Trip Adviser only allow the selection of Average or Very Good (nothing in the middle). And it is neither of those, so to be fair to them I gave them very good as their Trip Adviser rating rather than average.

The bases are made from scratch and I believe are all thin and crispy. I ordered a large Seafood for QR 49. The base was perfect, the topping was good (not average and not very good) just good. Not enough basil or oregano for me, and although they asked me how spicy I would like it (I said Spicy but not too spicy) there was no hint of spicy heat to be found. But I still enjoyed it. Was it worth QR 49…. yes it was. Would I go back again…. yes I would.

I’m looking forward to trying their other more interesting toppings that are not on the big high street chain menus.

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I have been hearing good things about the Indian Coffee House for quite some time. And yesterday I decided to pop along and give it a try.

Now here is the thing, I didn’t go and try one of their unlimited buffets that I have heard so much about. It could be that when I try one of those (which I am going to do sometime soon) I will consider them better value. But based upon yesterday’s visit I consider them overpriced.

For QR 24 I would expect my Mutton Biriyani to be exceptional, but I only found it OK. I have had as good as that at half the price.

Fish Mango Curry; The gravy/sauce was delicious. Loads of flavour with just the right amount of heat. I loved it. Except that there was hardly any fish in it. It was all sauce. And because of that I consider QR 22 to be too expensive.

Kashmiri Pulae Rice; Very nice, but once again a little on the expensive side.

Meal total for 2 people QR 80 including 3 x cans of soda water. QR 40 per head! Not worth it. I could have got much better value elsewhere.

Service was warm and friendly. Ambiance was very nice, and they do have plentiful private parking which is also very nice.

I will let you know what I think of their Breakfast Buffet once I have tried it. But I really do have high expectations of that, and I do believe I am going to be singing its praises once I have.

For expats living in Qatar, one of the things that can keep them in touch with back home is the ability to watch TV content from their native country. In the past I have written about various ways of achieving this via VPN or Magic DNS. Both of which require annual subscriptions. However, there is a completely free way of streaming TV content from all over the world using a wonderful piece of software called KODI.

KODI is extremely controversial because it allows the viewing of content that would normally have to be paid for. Yet KODI itself is not illegal to download, own or use. This is because it has many completely legal and useful features. It’s a powerful media player bringing all of the content on your networked or single devices together.

Whilst KODI is legal and easy to download for free, as well as easy to use. There are numerous free Add-Ons that give you access to TV stations and the ability to stream movies (even movies still showing at theatres right now) as well. And these add-ons would most certainly be classed as pirated content. KODI can be installed on Windows computers and also on small dedicated devices running other operating systems such as Linux and Android which can easily plug into your TV using a HDMI cable. In the UK there have been arrests of vendors selling TV Box’s pre-installed with KODI which has been preconfigured to gain access to pirated content.

You can download and install KODI on your Windows computer right now if you want. Simply click on this link: https://kodi.tv/download

Follow the instructions and voilà you have a legal, powerful media player.

Now you can start installing add-on’s. Legal ones of course. If you install and use illegal ones, well that is up to you if your conscience will allow.

To install the YouTube add-on for example, click ‘Video add-ons’ and scroll down the list to YouTube. Click the install button and the add-on will download and install automatically. You will get a notification telling you that it was installed successfully. You will find your new add-on in the Add-ons section of the main menu.

Instead of adding your own add-ons one by one, you can also install what is called a ‘Build’. This is a pre-made pack of add-ons. A very popular ‘Build’ is one called Apollo.

If you are technically minded, follow the instructions located here KODI Build Install Instructions

The Mövenpick Hotel Doha is my current favorite Friday Brunch location. And yesterday we popped along for the Easter Brunch festivities. For me their British Roast Beef Dinner is one of the best in town, and yesterday it was even better with some gorgeous roast turkey added to my plate.

For the kids as well as the normal kids buffet and activities there were plenty of Easter themed attractions. And the chocolate Easter Bunnies were a lovely touch for them to take home.

I also have to give the chocolate mud pie a special mention. Absolutely delicious.

Last Thursday I was invited to take some photos at the award winning Italian restaurant ‘Antica Pesa’ located in the grounds of the Marsa Malaz Kempinski hotel, on the Pearl Qatar.

One of the things I love about doing what I do, is visiting outstanding venues, meeting extremely interesting people and trying some exceptional food. Oh wait… that’s three things. Ah well…

Anyway, take a look at the images below and you will see what I mean 😉

Click on images to make them bigger

We go to Applebee’s quite regularly here in Doha. And most of the time we very much enjoy our meal. The servers know us now and we never have a complaint about them. But their steaks can be a bit random on quality, sometimes requiring replacement. However I can strongly recommend the Applebee’s Caesar Trio Salad. This is a bargain at QR 65 and has chicken, shrimp and steak on the plate. Plenty of it as well even if you are very hungry.

Tofu House has a very good reputation here in Qatar. So I decided to give it a go. I ordered Tuna Gimbap (QR 15), Seafood Fried Noodle (QR 35) and Japchae Rice (QR 35) making a total order value of QR 85.

I was ordering for 2 people and there was plenty to eat between us. The taste was ok, but we struggled to see much difference in the taste between the two mains. They tasted so similar they simply must be using the same base stock mix.

Would I buy from them again? Humm… possibly. But I don’t think Tofu House is anything special, and in my mind doesn’t represent much more than reasonable value.

Tofu House Menu