The Birthday Boy, or Should We Say Man?

August 12, 1990 - August 12, 2014

August 12, 1990 – August 12, 2014

What can I say? I’m old! 24 is like a big number for a person who live on Earth, don’t you think?

This has been a really interesting life for the past 24 years life of Feby. Need I say more? Of course darling, I’m gonna be telling you all.

Well, since forever as far as I remember, I always got a birthday cake surprise on my birthday. I got even 2 cakes the past 2 years (You know you love me!) but here and then, on D-day of my 24th which might not be that important number but still, it’s a birthday, I was just all by myself without anyone, anyone, once again, anyone to celebrate with. As we all know I’ve been living in the Middle East for the past 10 months and I intentionally did not tell anybody from my workplace about my birthday (personal reason).

Some Birthday Cakes The Past Years

Some Birthday Cakes The Past Years

Bahrain is 4 hours behind Western Indonesia so since 8 PM of August 11th, I got tons of birthday messages already. It continued until the actual day that not just messages, pictures, and videos were also made especially for me. Sweet! But then what did those sweet wishes for if I couldn’t actually celebrate with them? But then again it’s Feby, I don’t wait for the party, I am the party! (Well, at least that’s what the horoscope said).

I took the day off that day since I planned the things I would do on my birthday since a week before. I woke up with dozens of message, including one from my Mom and my sister (God knows I miss my family). I replied all of them and I felt like I was virtually surrounded by many people who cared about me, no matter how far my distance was. I think that was also one of the highlight of my 24 years life that friendship had such a very important role for me socially and professionally. They say friends are like stars, you can’t always see them but you always know that they’re always there. Lucky me, I have much enough stars.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Fancy Box!

Fancy Box!

 

Remembering that I always got some cake every other year, I bought myself one delicious Red Velvet Cupcake from Lola’s Cupcakes the previous day. Put a candle and pour some chocolate chips, voila, there was a self-treat mini cake. And I just finished it in like, 10 seconds. Lola’s Cupcakes was always the best though.

 

 

 

 

Right after, I prepared myself to had another real birthday self-treat. But there was one problem: I wasn’t sure of which I should wear. I got the basic idea of the main look. I didn’t know why but I felt something green. Maybe just because I just had this cool olive green shorts that I really liked. Besides the shorts, the fixed items that I would wear were the boots and tote bag. There were 4 total look that I tried to mix and match and I posted it on path to ask for some friends’ opinion and decide to get a more casual look with a little touch of class.

Casual

Casual

Classy

Classy

Preppy

Preppy

The Final Outfit

The Final Outfit

I headed to Seef Mall area, my most favourite mall in the Kingdom and stopped by in Le Chocolat. It’s a really cool french cafe & restaurant with tons of desserts choice that will make you just wanna stay there forever. Totally heaven on earth. I sat at the far corner where I could seethe whole place entirely, with the scenery of Manama afternoon road on my left. What a beautiful Tuesday afternoon. I stupidly didn’t take some pictures of the place because there were just bunch of people looking at me (I thought maybe because of my shorts were little too short or something. But bitches please, it’s summer and they’re called as shorts for a reason!) and I was suddenly got a little bit uncomfortable of getting more attention by taking pictures. However, I had this picture of the outdoor area from my visit earlier around 2 months ago.

Throwback: Le Chocolat outdoor 2 Months Ago. Was I in Paris or  what?

Throwback: Le Chocolat outdoor 2 Months Ago. Was I in Paris or what?

But now is the most exciting part: The meals!

I chose my meal quite fast actually, I wanted some Garlic Breads for my appetizer and I had been craving for salmon earlier so I knew what to choose for my main dish: Grilled Salmon all the way! I ordered the french authentic creme brulee but to match my green blazer, I ordered this Pistachio Creme Brulee and whispered to the waitress: “can you please write Happy Birthday Feby with it, dear?” She smiled and said yes. Alright alright. Couldn’t wait for it.

When my appetizer arrived, I was surprised that the garlic bread came with the shape of big pizza. There were literally 8 big slices of it and it was definitely not the portion of 1 person, which was great. I had all of them for myself. Yay.

Garlic Bread with Cheese and Virgin Olive Oil

Garlic Bread with Cheese and Virgin Olive Oil

I always love bread, especially with the cheese in it and those breads were delicious. It was not like the best bread in the World, but it was totally fine. I mean, it’s kinda hard to compare things like garlic bread, isn’t it? They just taste the same everywhere for me but this is actually the first time of me having the pizza shaped garlic bread with the pizza dough. It was interesting and I liked it. The thing is it was too big and I couldn’t have more than 3 pieces because I wanted to save same space for my salmon. And also, I couldn’t eat that much if my drink hadn’t arrived yet. That was one thing that kinda bugged me. The drink should always come first when you eat anywhere, but my Iced Tea (yeah, I just ordered a simple Iced Tea!) wasn’t on my table even after they delivered my main course. It was quite upsetting that I needed to ask for it because I definitely didn’t want to start eating without my drink nearby. They finally gave it after around 5 minutes of waiting.

Grilled Salmon, and yes, that little spot bugged me!

Grilled Salmon, and yes, that little spot bugged me!

The Birthday Lunch

The Birthday Lunch

On the other hand, the salmon looked so good. There were just a simple mistake that I thought not supposed to happen. My plate wasn’t clean. No, not because of dirt, there was just this small spot of oil and something like a salmon skin on the plate. This might be alright for other people, but I wished they wiped it before they brought it to the guest. Especially because I wanted to take the picture and the clean plate was more preferred.

The salmon had some vegetables with it: potato, cucumber, carrot, and long bean. The first slice of my salmon was totally amazing, I really loved the taste of it. The second slice, I dipped it into the sauce. It was just OK. There was nothing wrong about it, I just wished the sauce is a little bit thicker. The vegetables were great too, especially the potato. Another comment was just the carrots were still a little bit hard. Just a little bit softer carrot would be great. I finished all except the sauce and the carrot by the way. This might be weird but as any fish, I loved it’s skin more than the meat (or flesh? which word should I use for fish again?) and I was pretty happy with my salmon skin!

It’s the time for the best part: Dessert!

I told the waiter for my Pistachio to be delivered. But then 3 minutes later, I heard some crowd were singing and there came the whole waiters of the restaurant singing happy birthday while bringing my cake. Oh my God that was so embarrassing for me! I mean, who went to the restaurant all by himself and ordered a birthday cake for himself? That was pathetic, I know! LOL! And then I got this idea. At first I waved at them and said “No…No…!” and they were confused. One of them came to me and asked whether it was a wrong cake or not and I had to act and said: “Oh my God I’m so sorry, I should have told you. It is my cake but I’m not the one who is having a birthday. I just wanna take the picture for my sister’s birthday.” I thought that my acting was convincing enough that they believed and laughed about it. So then they just delivered me the cake without any more singing. LOL.

Pistachio Creme Brulee

Pistachio Creme Brulee

Happy Hippie Birthday!

Happy Hippie Birthday!

The highlight of this restaurants is definitely the cake! It looked so good and tasted even better. I love the smell, and the texture of it as well. I had this called Pistachio Melo-Melo, which was kinda the same thing in Cafe Lilou but I think the one that Le Chocolat had was the champion for the taste but Cafe Lilou had more appetizing look with the chocolate layer with it. I finished it in only around 5 minutes.

Over all, experience in Le Chocolat was always fun. It was like maybe the third time I visited there and their desserts always made me happy. I absolutely will come back for more. After that, I directly headed to Seef Mall just across the street to have self-shopping treat, hunted some discount and got some amazing fashion pieces to myself. Definitely gonna wear them later and post it here.

 

That was some pieces of my lonely 24th birthday experience in the Middle East. Food, Fashion, and Fun all in one. Still couldn’t believe that time flies and I am literally a year away from being a quarter century old. I take this as the new stage which I really need to step up my game, doing something more useful for my life and others. Travel to more places, and making the plan of the whole GCC trip to be true. A lot of things have been achieved, but more things to pursue. Feby is making his mark to the World, bitches!

 

Happy Birthday, Feb!

XXOX.

 

Shorts & Boots: Topman, Belt: Bershka, Tote Bag: Zara, T-Shirt: H&M, Blazer: Pull & Bear, Jumper: Massimo Dutti, Shirt: Azzaro

 

Notes: Unlike any other fashion & food blogs, I didn’t really comfortable of showing me wearing the clothes. I’m a writer, not a model who has that amazing photographer to take my beautiful picture. I didn’t put the price of the food on purpose to make you curious. Come to Le Chocolat by yourself to have your own experience.

Behind the Ramadhan & Eid Mubarak

It has been day 7 after Ramadhan. It might be a little bit late but I would like to say Happy Eid Mubarak for those who celebrate it. I believe most of you had a really happy celebration back then. And by most of you means not all of you. We all know that some of our brothers and sisters all over the World had to have a quite hard times during Ramadhan & Eid, if you know what I mean. Let’s have a moment together to pray of the World peace and can’t we all just be normal friends that doesn’t involve any murder for God’s sake! Mind my temper.

Anyway, speaking about Ramadhan & Eid, I didn’t had the best time either this year. I know, I know you’re all gonna be saying “Wait, aren’t you in an Arabic country? The experience must be more real over there!”

First of all let me explain to you that Arab and Islam is a two total different think. Arab is what people call some Countries around Middle East with ruling governments and their people. But Islam, is a religion that every single one in any corner of the World can believe in, not only for people in Arab Countries can be Islam. Ramadhan & Eid, is an Islamic celebration, not Arabic celebration. So make no mistake just because you don’t live in Arab countries, doesn’t mean that you can’t have what you call as the real Ramadhan & Eid experience. What’s that real experience supposed to mean, anyway? Duhhhh.

Back again to my story, this year’s Ramadhan and Eid was the very First time in my 23 years of life to be away from home. SeparatedĀ 6931 Kilometers away, I felt like there were some socially different waysĀ between Ramadhan & Eid in Bahrain and Indonesia as I will describe below.

1. Restaurants & Cafes policy

If you own a restaurant, or you work in a restaurant in Indonesia, Ramadhan will be one of the busiest time of the year, especially after Iftar. As a country which is not ruled by the syariah law and recognizeĀ some other religions other than Islam, restaurants, cafes, and any other public place to eat are legally open during the day time when Moslems are fasting, and everybody are just fine. Ramadhan is usually used as the time for gathering. It’s either family gathering, office, school, tons of reunions from your elementary until college friends. I remember IĀ hadĀ more than a half time of Ramadhan for tons of iftar invitations out of home that made my mom a little bit mad. #SorryMama. This whole thing, causes the restaurant business to be on top of their games. Imagine, wherever you go, restaurant will be busy and full booked in most of cities in Indonesia. This is the culture that I really miss. To meet some old friends while spilling some old secrets and jokes. Especially for me and my close friends, going Karaoke after iftar feast is a must!

But then in Bahrain, think later if you want to open your restaurant during daytime. Even if you just hold a bottle of water, man you’re gonna be in some serious business. Zero place to eat is open during the daytime (So stock your food if you are not fasting!). Iftar? Well, not really either. Apparently Ramadhan is the least busy time of the year in Bahrain. People here do not really have a culture that they will go out for outside iftar with their friends and relatives. Thus, some restaurants are even closed for the whole month. Many of them use this least busy “opportunity” to do some renovations to their restaurants so they will have a kinda new look for after Ramadhan. Most people are going out outside after tarawih (a special preayer that we just do in Ramadhan). Malls and Parks will be busy as they’re open until just before sahur. Interesting, eh?

Eventough the Malls were open from morning, the restaurants were closed and started to open on iftar time

Eventough the Malls were open from morning, the restaurants were closed and started to open on iftar time

2. Alcohol Banning

As a country who legalize Alcohol to be sold in permitted places, Ramadhan is an exception in Bahrain. It is extremely illegal to sell any Alcohol or anything that contains alcohol at all. This year’s Ramadhan was somehow a coincidence with the kids’ summer holiday. No alcohol, a god damn hot weather, not really much business happening, most expats chose to leave the country for a moment to escape, and maybe have some champagne šŸ˜‰

3.Ā Timing

Geographically, Indonesia is located right in the middle part of the Equator line (And I don’t understand why aren’t we called as the Middle Eastern instead). So in terms of timing, there is no significant time different throughout the years. It makes us always have the same time every year to do fasting and having prayer. Indonesian fasting is usually done from the sunrise around 4 AM until sunset before 5.45Ā PM. In the middle of summer heat, we actually had to fast longer here. The sun raised earlier around 3.15 AM and set later 6.35 PM with a hotter weather.

Also for the Eid prayer. Indonesians usually do it around 7 AM but since the Sun raised earlier in summer, they do it around 5 AM. Way too Early for the Indonesians. LOL. Luckily the Indonesian Embassy also held the Eid prayer and thank God it followed the Indonesian time at 7 AM. We were also treated some Indonesian Eid-special food by the embassy as their way to make us feel like home. Thank you Indonesian Embassy!

4. Eid Tradition

For Moslems in Indonesia, Eid is probably the most anticipated day in a year. It’s a big celebration day after a full month of fasting in Ramadhan when the whole family are gathering together. As it is most associated as a holly day and people are supposed to have zero sin (start again from the beginning as like we’re reborn), We have to make it socially too instead of just to God. People are supposed to apologize and forgive each other, especially the ones they no most so there won’t be anymore hurt inside their feeling if there was any. This moment makes Indonesian family have this tradition where they go to their family’s relatives’, and neighbors’ houses and have a nice chit chat or doing things they like together. The hype of Indonesian Eid can last to 3-4 days, can be so much more in smaller towns due to their big culture.

In Bahrain, I don’t really know exactly but as I heard, they also go to their family’s house but maybe not as intense as in Indonesia. You know how I know? Restaurants are super busy on the day of Eid! The official public holiday was 3 days and all the seats in any restaurants were full booked. It was maybe some kind of a revenge of the past month where people barely eat in the restaurant. Many restaurants were interestingly had some DJs to entertain the guests on Eid night. It is so interesting that we don’t really have those things going on. Indonesians Eid is more cultural, religious, and intimate. The province capitals will be less crowded as people will go home just for Eid in their hometown (What I understand is that Bahrain is such a small country that you can just travel the whole country in just 2 hours, so the whole land is hometown). It was a totally different feeling of having the two Eids in two different Countries. I would for sure chose to spend it home but it was also interesting to discover more tradition.

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Malls and Restaurants were the most crowded place during Eid

Overall, the experience had been just fine. It was sad that I could not make it home but you know, this heart of mine is made to travel the World. I enjoy getting a new experience in a new place and who knows in which place will I spend my Ramadhan and Eid next year (and oh yeah, I am open for any invitations. haha).

Maki Bahrain: They Say It’s Number One, We Say OK Let’s Hold On.

If you are traveling to a new city and would like something to eat, you might find it tricky to choose a place to dine in. Some people might just go to the International franchise or even fastfood restaurant.

But for a truly food lover or someone who has budget, they usually will find the best place in the entire country. There are many ways to actually find it. You can find it in the tourism brochure, ask the recommendation from the locals if you know any, read the review from the magazines, or there is a more quantitative way to figure it out: Trip Advisor.

As a really small country (780Ā km2) with only around 1 million inhabitants, Bahrain has quite a big number of restaurants all especially in the capital Manama.Ā Trip Advisor itself records 239 restaurants (the actual number must be times 3-4), ranging from a 2×2 meters street diner to more than 2 floored fine dining restaurants in premium places. And guess who’s on top of the top? Make no mistake, it won’t be an authentic Middle Eastern cuisine as -at least I- expected, it’s actually a fine Japanese restaurant called Maki

credit: olivermaki.com

credit: olivermaki.com

maki

credit: olivermaki.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Located in Bahrain World Trade Centre (Kinda Dubai’s Burj Al Arab or Toronto’s CN Tower version of Bahrain) which is well known as the most famous shopping centre in the Kingdom (Seriously, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, and the only outlet that I’m willing to spend my money in is just Caribou Coffee), Maki sets up a good standard if they want to be recognized as a prestigious restaurant. I came there last week with family for Iftar. I don’t know it’s usual or not but parking is not that much of an issue since we could park our car right in front of the restaurant.Ā 

“Irrashaimase!” greeted everyone when we entered the door. The waitress escorted us to the table as we chose the ground floor. When we sat, I was excited when we were given some iPads, that would look sophisticated and fast forward if the restaurant have their own system in the iPad for us to order by ourselves. But I guess it wasn’t that sophisticated, what they showed us was just bunch of folders of menu pictures in the iPad’s photo gallery. So actually, we still do it manually and say it to the waiters of what we want, it’s just we choose it from an expensive device instead of the usual menu paper. I think I just understand, they want it to be looked as a cool thing but they’re also afraid that it might cause too much problem due to it’s complication of using it so then they just go with this idea. But honestly my thought that it was just flop. Either you go hi-tech, or just use paper menu, there’s no in between. Duhhh!

But whatever though, I was more excited about the food as its big name as the number 1 restaurant in Bahrain. Wohooo. So let’s go talk about stomach thing: hit me with your best food!

credit: olivermaki.com

credit: olivermaki.com

We ordered two starters based on the recommendation of the waiter. First one was Oliver Kale Salad; salmon, crabsticks, kale, avocado, cucumber, rocca, assorted lettuce, wasabi nori flakes, with wasabi-oli sauce. I LOVED IT! I always adore salad and this signature dish of theirs was just all i wanted for my iftar. Despite of the fact that I couldn’t really tell I tasted salmon or not, everything other just blend perfectly in my mouth. We went all vegan for the second one which was Tartofu Red Quinoa Salad; Red quinoa, pine nut, dried cranberry, celery leaves, cherry tomato, avocado, rocket, coriander, truffles, with their house made extra virgin olive oil. As far as I could remember, that would be the first time I ate Red quinoa (it’s like an edible seeds from a grain crop) and I fell in love for the first time. It tasted great yet healthy, that kind of food which give you the effect of no worrying of gaining some weight at all. If they say appetizers are aimed to raise your appetite before the big party, these two salads successfully raised my appetite to the high level. So I kinda expect much for the next dishes.

Tartofu Red Quinoa Saladā„¢ Red quinoa, pine nut, dried cranberry ,celery leaves ,cherry tomato, avocado, rocket , coriander , truffles , with our house made extra virgin olive oil

Tartofu Red Quinoa Saladā„¢

Oliver Kale Saladā„¢ Salmon , crabsticks ,kale , avocado , cucumber , rocca , assorted lettuce , wasabi nori flakes , with wasabi-oli sauce

Oliver Kale Saladā„¢

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the restaurant’s name, we ordered the food that they must serve best: Maki. First one was New Wave Maki; chopped salmon, spring onion, sesame, togarashi, and crispy tempura with their spicy sauce. You know what, actually they wereĀ just fine. It’s not that theyĀ weren’t delicious, they wereĀ delicious, I mean “just fine “that you can actually meet them somewhere else. #SorryNotSorry. We had the second one called Boodai Crunchy Maki; salmon, greens, and crispy tempura with special sweet & spicy sauce. Let’s have a pause forĀ second to the word crispy. I don’t know it might be because there was the delay of the pick up or what butĀ Ā it was not crispy at all. duhhh! Besides, I could also barely taste the special sweet & spicy sauce. The Maki taste was still just fine though, we (actually I) finished all of the Maki before we left the restaurant.Ā Anyways, this might be too personal but I felt that the shoyu was just too salty.

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New Wave Makiā„¢ (8pcs)

Boodai Crunchy Makiā„¢ (5pcs) Salmon, Greens and Crispy Tempura with our Special Sweet & Spicy Sauce

Boodai Crunchy Makiā„¢ (5pcs)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We wentĀ all pescatarian without having meat or chicken by ordering two more dishes which are Mixed Tempura; prawn, vegetable, white fish, and cuttlefish, which again, I thought was just too standard compare to other places that we could get the same taste. But I did realize it was also our responsibility though, I mean what could you expect from a basket of tempura? lol. The last dish was Crispy Dragon Prawn; flavourful battered shrimp, servid with freshly cut mixed vegetables, and special sweet and chili sauces. Everyone was too full but as I liked prawn so I got the honour of finishing it. I kinda liked the sauce and the prawn, it was creamy and not that spicy. I thought it was just proper.

Mixed Tempuraā„¢ Prawn, Vegetable, White Fish and Cuttlefish .

Mixed Tempuraā„¢

Crispy Dragon Prawn ā„¢ Flavorful battered shrimp, served with our freshly cut mixed vegetables, and special sweet and chili sauces

Crispy Dragon Prawn ā„¢

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thing that needs to beĀ paid attentionĀ is the price. Even for Bahrain standard, they’re kinda pricy (I don’t put the price on purpose, go here and see by yourselves) but that was totally expected remembering their location and their big name all the way from Kuwait. The other thing from this place which I really loved was the light as I don’t really enjoy dark restaurants. It gave you the warm feeling to be inside as all lights were just perfect in Maki. The interior is not really Japanese authentic but they’re fine. In a way, it gave me home feeling instead. The service was also friendly. The manager himself came to our table and checked. The food came fast and mostly fresh to our table.

Overall, it was quite an experience to enjoy the Trip Advisor’s version Ā of number 1 restaurant in Bahrain. It was not that perfect but it was not bad at all either. It might not be that kinda restaurant that I would go to regularly (maybe will not go again until I leave Bahrain) not because it was bad, more into it’s just not my type of place. But it’s just great when people asked me whether I’ve been to Maki or not and I could say: “yeah I did, I even made my ownĀ review about it.”

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