Oh what fun – last night on House Hunters International, I got to search for an apartment in Doha. Well, not really, but virtually. Here is what the episode description says on HGTV:
Just after getting married to Meena, architect Ken jumped at the chance to help design Doha’s new international airport. So, they’re trading in the golden state of California for the golden lands of Qatar. But as these newlyweds discover each other, the new city of Doha is also discovering its own identity as it moves towards the future. From sleek new development to traditional neighborhoods, real estate agent Ana Figueiredo will help them navigate Doha’s changing landscape. Watch as House Hunters International uncovers all that glitters in Doha, Qatar.
I checked YouTube; the episode is not yet up. It was so much fun, seeing this young couple in the Souks, down near Al Saad in Mirqab, and out at the Pearl. The apartment they settled on was in Al Ashmak, near the Corniche; I think it was one of the Bilal apartment buildings.
We’ve had three sets of houseguests in a very short time span, and today is our first day of ‘normal.’ We saw our friends off at 0430 (we used to call it oh-dark-hundred) and I couldn’t get back to sleep, so by the grace of God (and I mean that literally) I got up and walked.
I know I need to walk. I’ve always walked. I used to run, but I suffered for it – the knees – and decided I didn’t want to pay that price. But when my sister was here, we decided to take a walk and I said “don’t worry, I walk fast” and she said “I don’t, I am so slow now, my body has to warm up.” Confidently I started – and starting is uphill from my house. Very shortly, I discovered my fast was her slow, and I was HUFFING and puffing, and so embarrassed because I guess it’s been a while since I did this walk . . . but we did it. It felt good. And I was happy for a nice cool morning so I could do it again.
I ran into a neighbor, ignored that she was in her nightgown, we both pretended she was as fully dressed as I, had a brief conversation and she went inside with her newspaper and I carried on. About halfway through my walk, as I puffed along, I heard it.
The baboon coughed.
I could even smell a faint drift of wood burning fire. I could hear the doves. But it was only very briefly, very intangential, and I quickly realized it must have been a dog barking distantly; I could still hear him. For one brief moment I was back in Zambia, and while I love the magic of Zambia, I would not be out for a mile long hike early in the morning while the lions prowl for a last meal before they settle down for their day-long snooze.
We are off this morning to a grand plant sale across the bay in Milton. Symphony tonight. Back to “normal” for Pensacola.
The Liturgical Calendar: The Church Remembers
Today the church remembers Gregory the Illuminator, Bishop and Missionary of Armenia, c. 332.
Armenia, the first Christian kingdom in history, was converted through the efforts of Gregory. This kingdom came to an unhappy end as an independent state in 430, yet some two and one-half million persons today are still culturally Armenians. They enjoy a racial, linguistic, and religious heritage which is one of the world’s oldest and richest. Their community has endured fifteen hundred years of dispersion, harassment, and often severe persecution.
The truly marvelous story of Christian Armenia began when the infant Gregory, who was a prince by birth, was exiled by enemies and reared by a compassionate Christian family in Cappadocia (modern central Turkey). As an adult and a Christian he returned to Armenia and converted the king, Tiridates, heir of Gregory’s old enemies. This was not done easily. Indeed, many legends have grown up around the tradition of Gregory’s great difficulties, hardships, and sufferings in effecting the conversion of the king and subsequently the kingdom. For this work he is called the “Illuminator.” Gregory was eventually consecrated Bishop of Echmiadzin and was the organizer of the Armenian Church.
The Episcopal Church has enjoyed a warm and friendly relationship with the Armenian Church for many years. Offer thanks for that friendship.
We thank you, O God, for the witness of Gregory the Illuminator and for the people of Armenia. Amen.
Almighty God, whose will it is to be glorified in all your saints, and who raised up your servant Gregory the Illuminator to be a light in the world, and to preach the Gospel to the people of Armenia: Shine, we pray, in our hearts, that we also in our generation may show forth your praise, who called us out of darkness into your marvelous light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
It was another endlessly rainy Saturday when my husband asked where I would like to go for lunch.
I knew immediately where I wanted to go. I love Five Sisters almost any day, but especially on a rainy Saturday. I like it that they have live music on Sundays, and sometimes on Thursday nights, but I really like it that there is no music on a rainy, dreary Saturday, so we can talk and hear each other.
Five Sisters is packed – it often is – with people seeking the same thing, a warm, cheery place filled with great smells and great cooking.
AdventureMan ordered the grilled shrimp platter:
And I ordered the Blackened Fish on Cheese Grits (sorry, it is a little blurry, I must have been shaking with hunger . . . )
I never get tired of Five Sisters.
We had endured water aerobics, quickly dressed and hung up our swim clothes, and driven to Mobile en route to Dauphin Island with our visiting friends from Norfolk, old travel buddies and long time friends from Germany. As we left I-10. heading south toward the Island, we are starving, and all we see are McDonalds, Arby’s, fried chicken and Asian buffets.
“No! No!” we wail, and hold out for something better.
As soon as we saw it, we all knew. This was IT:
Look at that cow’s head! You take one look, and you know this place is going to be an original. Little did we know . . .
As we drove into the parking, we asked some people leaving how the food was. “Excellent! The best!” they said, and other people leaving chimed in saying “You won’t be sorry.”
As we walked in, we were greeted by “Smokey” Dembo himself, who said “I saw you taking photos outside, don’t you want a photo with me in it?”
Yes! Yes! I do! I do!
Smokey, as it turns out, is our kind of guy. Former military, from this small little town outside of Mobile, his dream was to own a place just like this, with his father, who taught him how to grill. One day, shortly after he retired, he was driving his daughter to soccer practice and he saw a for sale sign on this building, and on his way back, stopped – and made a deal. That was 11 years ago, and he’s never looked back. This is a happy man, living his dream.
He spends Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday marinating and preparing his meats. He is only open Thursday, Friday, Saturday (maybe Sunday, I can’t remember. Or maybe not; Sunday may be for church. Actually, you’d better call, because I might have gotten it all wrong. I KNOW he is open on Fridays and Saturdays, and I know he serves breakfast on Thursdays and Fridays, but the rest is foggy . . . . )
The aromas of BBQ are killing us; we have to order right away:
As we are waiting for the food, we continue to talk with Smokey and to learn about his restaurant. He has a wonderful wall, a tribute to his family and his family history:
I apologize. We were starving. When the food arrived, we totally forgot to take any photos at all, not a single photo of the boneless BBQ pork, nor of the potato salad nor of the cole slaw, nor of the baked beans. Although we are a very talky bunch, when the food came, we ate in awed silence. It was so GOOOOOOOD.
We cannot wait to see Smokey again. This is some fine BBQ.
Yesterday, AdventureMan was on an adventure, but I knew there might be an opportunity to grab lunch with him ‘downtown’ so I suggested we try Carmen’s Lunch Bar, which has only been open four months. When I got there, it was full – inside and outside – but an ideal location opened moments later – we were in luck! I ordered a Cranberry Orange Iced Tea, just what the doctor ordered for the remnants of a bad cold still lingering, and shortly AdventureMan arrived, then another, and then two more – we couldn’t all eat together, but we found spaces for groups of two and three, oh what fun. (You can see more photos and take a look at the menu by clicking on the blue hypertext above.)
Here is how to find Carmen’s – next to the Bodacious Olive. There is seating at a large bar inside, against the window and at three or four tables outside:
In my group, we all ordered the North Carolina BBQ plate, which came with potato salad and cole slaw – all good. I loved the sauce, which had candied orange peel in it, piquant and tasty:
It’s not a large restaurant, but it has a happy buzz about it. It’s a mix, the downtown business crowd and locals dropping by for a good lunch and a good chat. They don’t rush you. The menu is concise, but offers an intriguing variety – you can’t go once, you have to go back and try those Moroccan vegetables, say, or the Chicken Tikka Masala. I’m intrigued by the Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs.
I even found a free parking spot, away from the nasty downtown ‘improvement’ board spots where you now have to pay for parking, not far away. There are also parking places behind the Bodacious Olive, which shares space with Carmen’s.
The story behind Carmen’s is also interesting. There is a couple in Pensacola, Quint and Rishy Studer, who worked hard and made a lot of money, which they are now using to benefit Pensacola. Carmen’s resulted from a contest; over 100 people submitted business plans to have this spot, Mari Josephs won. I am guessing some of the close runner ups will be featured at the Al Fresco lot nearby where airstreams are showing up with fun names, including Jerry’s Cajun, which a lot of people have missed greatly since it closed.
If you look at the photo of the exterior tables (above) you will see another building the Studers have bought and are renovating; I can’t wait to see what this building becomes. AdventureMan asked what I would do and I told him I would make two condos on the upper level, perfect for Pensacola as long as downtown remains sleepy once the sun goes down except for Gallery Night. Other than that, just a parade now and then, otherwise, fairly quiet and great location with one of those old Spanish balconies overlooking the street. What’s not to love?
It’s amazing how much more energy I have when the weather cools; yesterday was nearly 80°F and I had to force myself to work through my list of to-do’s, but as the temperatures dropped once again, we slept well, we awoke rested and energetic, and I ended up adding things to my list, for the sheer joy of feeling like doing things.
A new recipe – for me, for us – Chole – is bubbling in our crock pot. It sounded so good! I found the recipe – I think on allrecipes.com – several months ago, but today is the perfect day to put it all together. It has so many things in it which are good for us, but especially chick peas, tomatoes, ginger and turmeric.
I had no idea what it would look like, but it looks like things we used to eat at the vegetarian restaurant Greenland, down in Souk Mubarakiyya, in Kuwait. I think it is missing a few spices, probably things we have a hard time getting here. It wasn’t even easy just finding mustard seeds, if I had needed those dried lemons or other spices exotic to Pensacola, I couldn’t have attempted it. This Chole won’t be the same as the delicious, spicy, complex dishes our Indian quilters would bring to the weekly stitch meetings, but it will be a good tasty dinner on a rainy night. I wish we had the fried Indian breads that Wikipedia says are traditionally served with it.
Chole (Chickpea Stew)
• 2 cups of chickpeas soaked overnight
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 large onion, minced
• 1 red bell pepper, minced
• 2 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
• 1-inch piece ginger, minced
• 1 14 oz can of coconut milk
• 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 tsp coriander powder
• 1/2 tsp turmeric
• 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
• 1/2 tsp ground cloves
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 tsp garam masala
• 1.5 tsp mustard seeds
• 1/2 tsp salt
Blend all the ingredients but chickpeas in a food processor or a blender until liquid. Wash and drain chickpeas, place them in a slow cooker, pour the blended mixture over and cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 4-5.
Make ahead: we usually make double or triple of this recipe, since we love it. Let it cool, and store chole in freezer-safe zip-lock bags in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Just for fun, I am going to share with you the Wikipedia version. I laugh to think how intimidated I would be –
preparation time=45mins cooking time=1hour serves=4
Ingredients For the chole 1 cup kabuli chana (white chick peas), soaked overnight 1 tea bag or tsp tea leaves, tied in a muslin cloth (optional) 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera) 1 onion, finely chopped 12 mm (1/2″) piece of ginger (adrak), grated 2 cloves of garlic (lehsun), grated 2 tsp chole masala 2 tsp chilli powder 2 tsp dried mango powder (amchur) 1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi) 1 tbsp coriander (dhania) powder 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera) powder 2 tbsp oil salt to taste
For the bhature 1/2 cup plain flour (maida) 1/2 cup potatoes, boiled and grated 1 1/2 tsp oil salt to taste oil for deep-frying
For serving 1 onion, sliced 4 lemon wedge
Recipe For the chole Pressure cook the Kabuli chana with the tea bag for 3 whistles until they are soft . Drain and keep aside. Discard the tea bag. Heat the oil in a pan, add the cumin seeds. When the seeds crackle, add the onion, ginger and garlic and sauté till the onion is golden brown. Add the chole masala, chilli powder, amchur, turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin seed powder and salt and sauté for another minute. Add the Kabuli chana and 1 cup of water and mix well. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Keep aside
For the bhature Combine the flour, potato, 1½ teaspoons of oil and salt and knead into a firm dough without using any water. Knead the dough very well till it is smooth Cover with a wet muslin cloth and rest the dough for 10 minutes Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and roll out into circles of 125 mm. (5″) diameter. Deep fry in hot oil till the bhaturas puff up and both sides are golden brown. Serve hot with the chole, sliced onion and lemon wedges. Tips While frying the bhature, press the centre lightly with a frying spoon so as to help it to puff up. Chole masala is a blend of spices which is readily available at most grocery stores. 
LOL, cook with a tea bag for three whistles??? I am already way out of my league! And “Chole masala is a blend of spices which is readily available at most grocery stores” does not apply to Pensacola, Florida!