AndFarAway

A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Month: April 2010 (Page 1 of 4)

Very Non-Jordanian: O Beach

O Beach Dead Sea, Jordan

This week I went to O Beach’s pre-opening media dinner with Oula Farawati.

O Beach is the Dead Sea’s latest private beach, around 5KM away from the last hotel on the strip. It’s big, pretty, and impressive, thankfully staying away from the old Jordanian village style that the other hotels stick to to please Western tourists.

What’s interesting to me about O Beach is the concept, which is very different than anything else we have in the country. I’m not sure about pricing (reports are conflicting), but they have three kinds of “entries”:

1. The Cabbana, an open air tent with a TV, outdoor conditioning, a dining room, a living room, a private changing room, and a jacuzzi.
O Beach Dead Sea, Jordan

2. The lounging beds, for two.
O Beach Dead Sea, Jordan

3. The regular sun-bathing chair.
O Beach Dead Sea, Jordan

They have no hotel, and you can either rent out the “chairs” or whatever under two shifts: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM or 6:00 PM to 3:00 AM. This style makes me think of a hard-core party place, though I’m not sure who their target audience is exactly. I know I’m not a part of their target audience, because I do not really find the place appealing.

O Beach Dead Sea, Jordan O Beach Dead Sea, Jordan
O Beach Dead Sea, Jordan O Beach Dead Sea, Jordan

Interesting idea nonetheless. It should be fascinating to see whether such a concept succeeds in Jordan. My gut feeling tells me it won’t. I mean, the place will succeed, but they’ll change the formula a lot from what they currently have. 

Email Dreams

I have the terrible, terrible, terrible habit of obsessive compulsive email checking.

During the day it’s usually okay, thanks to G(love)Mail’s Superstars Lab.

When it is by no means okay is when I’m sleeping. I don’t even realize that I’m reaching out to my phone while three-quarters asleep to check my mail.

It’s not totally weird as one of the perks of being a member of my family is very conscious sleeping. We all sleep with our eyes open, talk in our sleep, and…wait for this… have the wonderfully powerful ability of carrying out proper conversations while completely unconscious. It was brilliantly practical when we were kids, I always used to tell my mother that I got bad grades when she was asleep. Of course I’d know she was asleep, but what could she say when I’d tell her that her eyes were open and she was talking back a couple of months later? So practical.

Naturally, 15 years later, I’m getting the even worse side of conscious sleeping. I check my email and the emails I read at night sort-of drift off as dreams. What am I supposed to tell people who later ask me why I haven’t replied? “Oh, sorry, I thought you were a figment of my imagination”?

Point is, if you’re expecting any replies from me, don’t hate me too much for not replying. I thought your email was a figment of my imagination.

P.S. A really cool part of being a conscious sleeper is that I usually wake up continuing in my head the last thought I had before I dozed. Like literally. Mid-sentence. It’s so cool.

Okay, It’s Official

My Facebook profile is more popular than my blog.
I understand why, it’s my hub. It’s automatically connected to this, so all posts are aggregated. My Twitter account is also linked to Facebook, so all my tweets turn into status updates, which are also so much more feedback on Facebook rather than Twitter. My Twitter is constantly updated, either on mental time-outs or by prescheduled tweets, resulting in the world’s most updated non-spam Facebook account.
To make matters even more appealing, Facebook’s reply-to-comments by email feature means that it’s constantly and instantly fed with comments from my side without ever leaving my favorite place in the world, which is my inbox.
It makes sense that the same content gets more reactions on a pool of 800 Facebook friends than an open URL. All my Facebook friends are either actual friends or people who added me because they like my blog. Facebook is like Friendfeed for the average user, and an aggregation is quite convenient.
My poor blog though. I told you Facebook is the center of the world. Can’t link that though as this is typed from my phone. Here’s how you find it yourself, if you’re using Firefox: ctrl+t, ctrl+k, now type: “site:andfaraway.net facebook universe” (without quotations).
Manual is the way to go. Now I go back to reading Monocle.
Anyone knows where I can find logically priced issues of Inc. and Wired?

Have you heard of Amman Tech Tuesdays?

Here’s another nifty initiative from the local tech community: Amman Tech Tuesdays, which takes place on the first Tuesday of every month.

The idea is as simple as it sounds. A day that brings tech enthusiasts in Jordan together, from the IT geek to the investor with a few thousand JDs wanting to start “the next Google”.

Here’s what the organizers say about it: “Amman Tech Tuesday (#AmmanTT) a local platform that brings engineers, business people, experts, investors, marketers, entrepreneurs, students and regular enthusiasts from the technology community together on the first Tuesday of every month in a casual but structured setting. The main goal behind the program is to organically fortify and interweave tech-ties in Amman to further our position as the region’s Silicon valley/Sahara.”

Great idea, isn’t it? You can read more about the event on the Amman Tech Tuesday Facebook page.

See you there :)

Sandwicheh Heaven

One of my favorite sandwiches ever is Halloum with veggies, probably because my dad used to make them all the time, and it was always such a feat when he made them for us.

I’m eating that right now, and here’s how you do it:

Halloum cheese, sliced, and preferably from the deli guy, and not the fridge.
https://i1.wp.com/www.radio-canada.ca/regions/greg/imggreg/20061025halloum_asiette.jpg?w=629

Sliced tomatoes, cold.
https://i2.wp.com/sandiandneil.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/sliced-tomatoes-copy.jpg?resize=257%2C191

Sliced cucumbers, also cold.
http://handmadeathomestead.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/sliced-cuke-crop_3230.jpg?resize=252%2C250

All put together in something very bready. Today I’m eating in in Ka3ek, though the most universal bread that works just as yummily with is French bread.

https://i1.wp.com/www.carolscafe.com/Quickstart/ImageLib/2k9_french_bread.jpg?resize=352%2C255

Top with a drizzle of oil and toast lightly.

What’s your favorite sandwich?

The Rebranding of Mood FM

My radio dial is usually switching between two channels, Sunny and Mood, depending on which has less corny music at any given point. But while Sunny is such a cool and colorful brand, Mood’s branding has always been embarrassingly lame — the jingles, the cheap live-trace filters of Celine Dion and Lionel Richie, the weird interludes like “Where in the World?” which make me feel like a 60-year-old woman in overalls and Bingo. It almost makes me not want anyone to know that I listen to Mood!

Even worse, the spot for ugliest radio brand in Amman was passed on to Mood FM after Beat rebranded a couple of years ago. Their brand was so ugly that I almost had a heart attack when I saw the new billboard on the way home. What? No more Live Trace filters? Did they finally realize the need for a more contemporary and classy look?

Mood 92 rebranding

Apparently, they did. The typography isn’t bad, the vibe is right, though I do wish they went with monochrome. I’m glad they dropped the FM in the name and replaced it with the frequency. Their website is not such good proof, it still looks like it was done 7 years ago, but whatever, it’s a huge improvement so I’m not going to whine.

Their previous visual pollution:
Mood FM Ugly Branding

3o2bal 3end the rest of this city’s brands!

So You Need a Typeface?

This a bookmark to self, kinda, but some of you might enjoy it.

This is a flow chart designed to help people find a typeface.

https://i0.wp.com/julianhansen.com/files/infographiclarge_v2.png?resize=536%2C378

Brilliant.

(fonts, font, find font, font finer)

My Top 10 Summer Hangouts for 2010

It’s summer and the weather is gorgeous, and Amman becomes alive again after the dead winter months. To celebrate the heat, here’s a list of my favorite 10 summer hangouts in Amman, with the perfect time to visit them included.

This list is not ordered by preference.

View from La Calle
1. La Calle’s terrace, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM.
The end of Rainbow Street

While finding a good spot on La Calle’s summer terrace is no easy feat, it’s worth the hassle (it’s always crowded because 6:00-8:00 is also happy hour). The sunset is stunning, and the calm vibes of early evening Rainbow Street make La Calle one of my favorite summer places.
Try: Their pizza.

Total:

Las Tapas, Amman, Jordan
2. Las Tapas’ outdoor garden, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM.
Behind the Third Circle, 06-4615061.

While Las Tapas’ service is perhaps the worst in Amman, I’m always braving the crappy customer experience to enjoy their garden. I love their dark wooden furniture contrasted again the evergreen plants and the reddish tiles. My favorite part of the garden is the pink “Majnooneh tree” (no idea what the scientific name for it is), framing the doorway.

Try: Their risotto balls and three-kinds-of-pasta platter.

Total:

viniagrette (1)
3. Vinaigrette’s open sushi bar, Sunday dinner, 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM. 06-560528.
Shmeisani, Al-Qasr Hotel. 06-560528.

I love Vinaigrette. The view of Amman at night through their glass walls is stunning, their customer service is excellent, and their food is one of the best in Amman. For fans of sushi, I do not think sushi can get any better in Amman (I haven’t tried Yoshi yet though, to be honest), and their 20.00JD all-you-can-eat sushi deal is definitely worth the money.

Try: Their all-you-can-eat sushi.

Total:

Books@Cafe, Amman, Jordan
4. Books@Cafe, Saturday/Friday mornings and afternoons. 06-4650457.
Jabal Amman.

Books@Cafe is my favorite place in the entirety of this city. The staff are friendly, the space is awesome, the crowd is non-judgmental and eclectic, and the food is great.
I really hate how they covered their terrace, but that doesn’t make the place rock that much less.

Try: Their pizza.

Total:

https://i2.wp.com/www.gulf-life.com/images/2010/feb/062amman01-00.jpg?w=629
(Photo by Gulf Life Magazine)
5. Tche Tche, 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM.
Several locations. 06-5932020.

I actually really like Tche Tche. They have good food, logical prices, free wi-fi, and Amman’s best arageel. My only wish is that they’d have more comfortable chairs.

Try: Their salmon fillet.

Total:

IMG_2120
6. The guys’ terrace, Saturday/Friday, 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM.
Mutran Street, Jabal Amman.

While this place isn’t open to the public, I have to have in on this list because it’s one of my favorite places in town, with some of my favorite people in the world. Great company, great conversations, and a comfortable couch.

Total:

Blue Fig
(Photo by Gulf Life Magazine)
7. Blue Fig’s garden, Saturday, 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM.
Abdoun. 06-5928800.

Blue Fig is really cool during the morning, very laid-back and chilled out, as opposed to the vibes this place has during the evening. Their food is excellent as well.

Try: Their New Orleans Burger.

Total:

canvas amman
8. Canvas.
Weibdeh. 06-4632211.
I like Canvas a lot, because you can sit outside or inside and feel and enjoy the restaurant’s wonderful ambiance. Their menu isn’t very good, but the setting itself is worth the bad drinks.

Total:


(Photo by Debbini)
9. Champions. Weekdays, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM.
Marriot Hotel, Shmeisani. 06-5607607.

This is an almost unlikely addition to this list, and I find myself surprised at its addition. Champions is a good place to watch a game with my sports-obsessed Moose; the seating is comfortable, the food is excellent, and the noise level is always optimum.
 
Try: Their sharing platter.

Total:

IMG_0049
10. Coffee and News, the sidewalk. Weekdays. 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM.
Rainbow Street.

Coffee on the sidewalks of Rainbow Street is great, especially when combined with kaek from Abu Ghosh across the street. Coffee and News is very unassuming, and I like that a lot about it.

Total:

Urban Review: Turtle Green Tea Bar

Turtle Green, Tea Bar

There is hope for Jabal Amman yet, as the newest outery, dubbed “Turtle Green Tea Bar”, happily proves.

During the past few years, Rainbow Street has suffered from the marring attacks of crappy, non-nonsensical, tourist-seeking “village style” design. This design style (also affecting downtown Amman) is really, REALLY stupid, butchering the modern history of Amman and the ancient history of Philadelphia. It would work in a city like Damascus, but the vintage wood, “Bab Il Hara” visuals, and waiters wearing 2aba2eeb is complete historical vandalism for a city as young as Amman. Even Falafal Al-Quds, one of our modern landmarks, has succumbed to this hideous trend. Ahmad had predicted this marring back in 2008, so you can read his post here.

Turtle Green, Tea Bar

Turtle Green, Tea Bar

Turtle Green, on the other hand, half way between Old Times Cafe and Falafel Al-Quds, is the epitome of what Rainbow Street represents, historically speaking. Laid back and brilliantly modern, yet completely unassuming, Turtle Green is Amman’s first tea bar.  

Taste

Style

Vibes

Price

Parking

Staff

The interior of the place rocks. It is neither underdesigned nor overdesigned. Some additions are kitschy, and others are stunning. The mix is extremely comfortable — it’s the kind of place where you’d feel so comfortable sitting at for hours, and hours, whether working using their free Wi-fi connection or chatting with a group of very good friends.

The staff (mostly the owners at this point) did a great job at making me feel like this place can be home. The tea selection is not overwhelming, and I really enjoyed my cold jasmine tea.

This is my favorite new place since Las Tapas.

Turtle Green, Tea Bar Turtle Green, Tea Bar IMG_3381 Turtle Green, Tea Bar

Final verdict: Kick ass. Totally recommended.

Total:

Location: Jabal Amman, Rainbow Street, across from the British Council
Reservations: no
Phone: no idea
Recommended Item: Jasmine Ice Tea
Average Price: 2.5 JDs

Urban Review: Juice Bang Bang

Juice Bang Bang

Taste

Style

Price

Parking

Staff

When Moose told me about bubble tea, I immediately was dying to try it. The way he described it was heavenly, “Frozen fruit juice and tea with gummy balls at the bottom of the cup.”

Yummm!

So when I heard through Twitter that Amman’s first bubble tea shop has opened, I dragged my mother, aunt, and Moose all the way to Sweifieh to try it out.

Before you go dream of gummy candy, let me make what I discovered today quite clear: the “gummy balls” at the bottom of the drink are actually not gummy candy at all, they’re actually cooked tapioca plants (I had no idea that there was something called tapioca before!) These balls do not interfere with the taste of the juice, and they do add a much more interesting experience to bland smoothies.

While Bilal, the owner (an extremely nice guy, by the way!), recommended one of their yogurt-mixed drinks or milkshakes, I really am not a fan of milk-based drinks, so I stuck to the fruit smoothies. We tried four flavours: mango, taro (which I discovered via Wikipedia is “Qulqas”, a food I happen to really like, which we cook as a stew), strawberry with watermelon, and passionfruit. The taro and passionfruit were a little too sweet for me, so I preferred the watermelon one.

Final verdict: If you haven’t had bubble tea, I’d definitely recommend you try it. It’s quite an interesting experience, especially if Bilal is around to tell you all about the plants used :)

Total:

Juice Bang Bang Juice Bang Bang Juice Bang Bang Juice Bang Bang

Location: Sweifieh Avenue Mall, right off the Sixth Circle
Reservations: no
Phone: http://www.juicebangbang.com/index.html
Recommended Item: Watermelon and strawberry quickie
Average Price: 3 JDs

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