Wednesday, 26 September 2018

SO GOOD! I DID A SECOND REVIEW!

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food!" and home cooked meals are always our first choice. Perhaps undoubtedly because, home cooked ensures only the best ingredients go in and cooking is done with great care and love. Every now and then, however, we are pleasantly surprised with meals served by food outlets that are just as great. There are some venues, we repeatedly visit for the very same reason.



One such venue for us, is halaal certified Pizza Del Forno,  situated in Killarney Mall. I have lost track of the number of times we’d eaten there. You can read up on my first experience in my previous post. Many visits later, Pizza Del Forno in Killarney, despite already having a large menu to suit a variety of taste buds, have further expanded their menu. We were invited to try out their new meals. Naturally, we were excited to eat at the venue we frequent.


We called in and booked for a Sunday afternoon. The restaurant was buzzing as usual when we got there. We were met with smiles and friendly service, as is their norm, and taken to our table that was already set up and reserved especially for us. Sundays are extra special at Pizza Del Forno, as kids eat free.


Promise, was our waiter for the afternoon. She was well acquainted with the menu, as are all the waiters at Pizza Del Forno. An informed waitress always makes ordering alot easier and fun in my experience. Promise, informed me of the new dishes as we paged through the menu. New meals are as follows:
1. Quite a few things new on the breakfast menu, such as the new and improved Americano breakfast, the Elvis, Strawberry macon stacker, Chocolate hazelnut stacker and Salmon stacker to name a few.
2. New in the appetizers, is the Dukkha crusted beef salad,
3. New in the main meals are the Three cheese gnocchi, Pasta El Greco, Chicken Tikka Pizza, the Honey rump steak, Feta Prego fillet, Souvlaki and Falafel burger.
4. New on the desserts menu is the Eton Mess, Choc chip cookie doughnut and Chocolate baklava.
5. New on the drinks menu are their unique range of Midnight Mocktails which contain activated charcoal, a range of hot teas and Choc Chai.
We ordered the Dukkha crusted beef salad for starters. The kids chose a burger combo, Margherita pizza and chicken strips with milkshakes from the dedicated kids menu. I ordered the Feta Prego fillet with a Choc Chai and my better half ordered the Honey rump steak along with an iced coffee to drink. We then shared the Chocolate Chip Cookie doughnut dessert.





Our starters arrived with the kids meals. It was picture perfect! I am definitely a salad person and this dish made a salad person out of my meat loving hubby. The crusted beef was succulent and cut easily, mild, yet flavorsome without the need for hot spices. The flavors permeated and went harmoniously with the freshly prepared salad. The Dukkha Crusted beef is an Egyptian Dukkha crusted rump, with cherry tomatoes and parmesan tossed in olive oil and definitely left us wanting more. Dukkha is generally considered to be an Egyptian condiment made of a mixture of nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. For a starter it makes a great Summer main meal.






The drinks on their own are well worth it, and this makes PDF the ideal venue for business meets or coffee breaks during the week, if you are in the vicinity. The Chocolate Chai is a hot drink topped with cream and was absolutely delicious. It nixed my Chai and chocolate craving in one go and I’m so glad to see this new addition to the menu. I really wanted to try the activated charcoal midnight Mocktails, but with the weather on the fritz, opted for a hot beverage instead. I’ll definitely give them a try on my next visit, InshaAllah. My husband was more than satisfied with the iced coffee, which according to him, had the ratio of coffee to ice just right.



Our main meals took a while, but about the average time any good restaurant would take to freshly prepare meals. When it arrived, I was chuffed that it looked as amazing as it does on the menu. I was particularly impressed with my order, The Feta Prego fillet. This is a 250g, succulent fillet steak topped with a tomato and Feta Prego sauce served with green beans on a bed of mash potato. It was as delicious as it sounds.  The mash is real, so no powdered smash here and the steak is a thick cut that was tender and easy to chew. The Feta and Prego sauce is a tangy, sweet and spicy burst of flavor. The whole meal was amazing together as was each of the parts that make it up, all the way to the tender cooked green beans. Definitely a must for beef and condiment lovers.
The Honey rump steak is just as delicious but milder, very flavorsome without chillies and a sweeter offering. My husband generally prefers the kind of meal I ordered, but loved his milder beef meal because it is big on flavor. The Honey Rump steak is a 200g succulent steak fillet with an infused butter sauce, served with green beans on a bed of Macon mash potato.




Both meals were served piping hot and are generous portions. Two people could easily share each of these meals, though I doubt you would want to…lol.
We weren’t planning on dessert, but our kids were keen to try the Chocolate Chip Cookie doughnut. We all dug into the deep fried Chocolate Chip Doughnuts drizzled with chocolate and a side of creamy vanilla ice cream. It was cutlery war between four sets of sweet teeth. Jokes aside, the desserts too will have you wanting to go easy on the main meal, just to get to it.
We also ordered their new Chicken Tikka Pizza to go. We were way too full from our meals, so opted to have it the next day. What’s great about PDF pizzas is that the crust is super thin and the filling is balanced, which lessens the carb load. Their pizzas taste good even the day after whether you choose to warm it in the micro or oven.




Just one restaurant and you are spoiled with the best halaal breakfast menu, attention to detail in every meal, beverage and dessert. They have it all from gourmet appetizers, to fast food and chef meals, and everything is always in stock. I’m yet to see a more varied menu or more friendly staff.
My hearty thanks and Jazak’Allah to Ms. Dilshad Parker, the founder of Hungry for Halaal for choosing me to review one of my favourite restaurants, and Mr. Azhar, owner of Pizza Del Forno for the fantastic meals and consistently  great service.

If you would like to view their full halaal menu, click here : Halaal menu for Pizza Del Forno
To make a booking contact: 011 646 5715








Thursday, 10 May 2018

ANTI POLLUTION SKINCARE AND HOW TO STOP HAIR BREAKAGE


On Monday, 23 April 2018, I attended  Beauty Warrior's  first ever "Pamper Morning" at my favourite spa, UrbanBliss Wellness in Emmarentia.

Ayesha Rajah and Chereen

Some of the topics included anti pollution Skincare, K and J beauty( nope, not the Kardashians and Jenners, though Kim did come up quite a bit...lol) as well as 2018 A/W runway makeup and hair.

Fatima Loonat (MRS SA semi Finalist/ Geometric beauty), Ayesha Rajah (owner of Urban Bliss Day Spa) and I 


I met the beautiful and charismatic Creative Director of Beauty Warriors,
Ms. Chereen, who is also the amazing Mom blogger behind "For the beauty of it!".

Beauty Warriors SA provides holistic and invaluable insight on professional beauty, treatments and more. I followed them on Instagram and have never looked back.

This premium site offers up to date, relevant and useful information for the 21st Century woman, who wants to be in the know in all things beauty.


UrbanBliss Wellness was an ideal venue to host the pamper morning. Round tables set up on deck with beautiful blooms. Delicious and exclusively made coconut samoosas from The world of Samoosas werlaid out, and freshly brewed coffee and tea, started off this pamper morning, and set the tone for some sizzling conversation.


Delicious coconut samoosas exclusive to World of Samoosas




Speakers were:
Ms. Chereen, Creative Director for Beuaty Warriors SA,
Ms. Ayesha Rajah owner of UrbanBliss Wellness Spa,
Ms. Cindy at Carlton Hair SA


Ayesha Rajah Owner of Urban Bliss SPa

Kandy Kane Makeup

Cindy, heads Carlton Hair SA Academy


The guestlist was just as captivating and included:

Mrs. South Africa semi- finalist Fatima Loonat Dadoo,
Brand owner of Matsimela Home Spa,
Media and Tv mogul Nonhle Thema,
Michelle Samuels who won a ticket to the event,
Michelle Loewenstein Digital Editor for Women and Home sa,
Rebecca Badrodin mum and blogger behind "In these Stilettos" ,
Beauty and lifestyle blogger behind Just a city girl,
YouTuber and blogger Dee-Dee for That's totally fetch_sa,
YouTuber and blogger Luna Lacey for LunaLacey.com

Nonhle Thema, Rebecca Badrodin, Fatima Loonat

Michelle Loewenstein and Michelle Samuels


BEAUTY WARRIORS:

Chereen told us alot more about Beauty Warriors and their goals, which include being at the forefront in providing South African women with the knowledge they require on cutting edge beauty technology, treatments and more.

BEAUTY AND WELLNESS:

Next was Ms. Ayesha Rajah, who updated us on current and future, beauty and wellness trends. If you would like to know more about UrbanBliss spa...click here: The Ultimate Bespoke Spa in the heart of Johannesburg
Ayesha informed us about the following:

1. UrbanBliss Wellness Spa's philosophy and its pioneering in the Spa sector, providing holistic and customised wellness. Treatments are tailored to suit individual needs and promote wellness, treating the cause rather than just the symptoms.
2. When you visit the Spa, make sure to request a bubble wrap with your next facial. Try out their City facial for a skin detox.
3. "Anti pollution Skincare"  is the current skincare buzzword. Pollution molecules, like gas, dirt, debris, are ten times smaller than a single pore size. Can you imagine, how much pollution can hide away in just one pore. This has been linked to various skin disorders. Anti pollution skicare forms a barrier on the skin, protecting the skin and preventing these molecules from entering and infecting your skin. Go check out Phytomer face and eye contour sorbet cream, it is an antipolution cream. You will love it! available at Urban Bliss.
4. She also discussed the future of makeup such as conducting individual DNA analysis to formulate makeup and skincare. Can you imagine makeup and skincare created specifically for your DNA.
5. K beauty or Korean beauty has been in the lead these past year's as they strive toward skin and beauty that is flawless, porcelain or glass like with minimised pores, and clear and radiant complexions.
6. After K beauty is J or Japanese beauty renowned for their quality skincare that is free of nasties like parabens and toxins. The rest of the world is now following suit.

MAKEUP:

Next was insanely talented YouTuber and Makeup Guru Kandy Kane. She took us through current beauty trends some of which were:

1. The monochrome eye- essentially the one main colour used on the eye is also used on the cheeks and lips.



2. Bright colours - on the eyelid such as electric blue, orange, yellow etc were spotted on both local and international runways.



3. Glitter- ranging from glitter liners to shadows and even lips and cheeks.

She then did an amazing job at demonstrating a bright monochrome makeup look.

Great news is that I had just filmed a similar tutorial the weekend before the pamper morning and you can check it out here:
Glitter eye makeup or #grwm


Kandy Kane working her magic on Chereen






completed eye look on Chereen

ALL HAIR:

The last speaker was Carlton Hair SA official hair stylists to Fashion Week SA.
She clued us up on the current hair trends and ran us through the following:

1. The 2018 A/W looks which are very low key, minimal, easy to recreate and maintain, from mid to low ponytails.


2. She also explained how modern cuts and styles are manageable, low maintenance and suitable for our personalities and lifestyles.
3. Hair treatment has also evolved like skin treatments, our scalp may require a different treatment as opposed to our hair ends.



She taught us a neat trick with 2 clips and a rubber band. Yes, we shouldn't use rubber bands,  but this nifty little trick will halt hair breakage from your ordinary hair bands. I tried it for a day and then to took it further, and slept with it on. Here's a video on how you too can use this nifty little trick...What's in the Bag???


FOOD:

We enjoyed brightly coloured and fresh chaats and puri served in bamboo style bowls. A delicious concoction, that was a colour, texture and flavour explosion. If you love Indian food, you will love this offering from Snap Chaat





Of course a pamper morning was not complete until we were all pampered. We got to choose between:

A foot or hand massage with exfoliation and a back, neck and shoulder massage.


I chose a hand massage, for a change, you won't believe how much tension we carry in our hands. It was exactly what I needed.

A beautiful end to a beautiful event.
As if we wern't spoilt enough, we took these gift hampers home!




Check out my unveiling video here:
What's in the Bag???

I will definitely be clueing you guys up on these products...because you know I got your back!;)


Xoxo




Thursday, 26 April 2018

TIPS FOR VISITING ISTANBUL ON A BUDGET!




Is Turkey or Istanbul on your bucketlist? Or are you planning, at this very moment to visit Turkey? If either one is true...this post is especially for you!




Here's my tips on visiting Istanbul on a budget and a few tidbits about our trip. 

Firstly, it helps to know exactly where in the world Turkey actually is. Its location is by far one of its unique characteristics. It borders between Europe and Asia, and has both cultural and historical connections to the ancient Greek, the Persians, the Romans, Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires. Their History is truly fascinating!


Turkey has many suburbs and cities. Ankara is the capital. Istanbul which we visited, is the largest city in Turkey and is the center of  its commerce, cultural diversity and history.

Just a heads up, if you didn't already  know....majority of the people in Turkey are fluent in Turkish and very few are well versed in English...but trust me, you will be ok!

Tip 1: Pack light! Yes you heard me... There are lots of quality clothes at amazing prices in Turkey especially at Taksim Square from LC Waikiki, and outside Hazrath Eyup Ansari Mosque alleys. Modest and modern wear for both men and women... You can buy kids clothing at the malls. I always carry an extra empty suitcase and pack light. Place your full suitcase into the empty one and check your weights on a home or travel scale. Make sure you pack flat shoes only, because there is alot of walking, heels will also damage on the cobbled paved roads.


Tip 2: Shop owners, security personnel, and waiters are generally good with English, which is important to bare in mind when you need help finding a place, things, or just want to eat. Taxis, I'll get to later in this post.

Turkey has many international and domestic airports. If you are going to Istanbul, you will most probably go to the Istanbul Ataturk Airport. Security at the airport is tight but you will have no hassles when you arrive. Just claim your baggage and exit the international terminal. We changed some of our currency at the atm's close to baggage claim, before we exited.

When we reached Ataturk airport 


There are usually about 4 atm's in a row and are not really busy, depending on the time you arrive. Bank charges for converting depends on your bank, I paid around R56(South African rands) for my single transaction withdrawing 300 Turkish Liras (tl) (or just Over 900 South African rands) with Standard Bank...still a bit steep! 

Tip 3: If your card is approved for international purchases, it's better to swipe your card than withdraw. I checked my account after swiping, and there were no extra charges. Save on those bank charges. I didn't contact my bank, I just used my card for small purchases and it worked fine.

Some ATM's at our hotel  

Tip 4: This should probably be tip 1...change as much of your currency budgeted for spending as possible in your country, rather than withdrawing,which we did, as it was alot cheaper. You will need cash for your airport shuttle, taxis, Grand Bazaar purchases etc ( though a lot of them take cards). Be sure to shop around and find out who can give you Liras at a better rate. Family members and friends are a bonus, they won't charge you commission(;we wern't so lucky).

Grand Bazaar

A store in Grand Bazaar

Just outside Grand Bazaar


We only used tl, and not euros or dollars, there wasn't any need. When you leave Turkey the shops in the Turkish airport at the international terminals sell in euros and dollars. You will probably need it then, if you plan to make any more purchases. International brands are slightly cheaper at the airport but Turkish souvenirs are better bought at Grand Bazaar or outside Grand Bazaar (outside is cheaper than inside, but be sure to find out).

Tip 5: Organise airport shuttle with your hotel from your country. Private Shuttles will cost you a lot, so rather ask if they can organise a yellow taxi or choose one of the airport shuttle businesses, outside the international terminal on exiting the airport. We took a private shuttle from one of the airport shuttle businesses when we arrived. It was convenient and quick. They charged around 140tl. We stayed at Anthills Residence, in Fraser's place which was about 25mins out. Our driver demanded a tip in addition to the fee paid. So best keep about 5-20 liras on hand for tips.





Tip 6: Be sure to double check your hotel check in times. You want to make sure you get your rooms immediately on arrival.

We arrived around 6am with Turkish Airlines on a direct flight of 9,5hours. Our rooms were understandably not ready, so we left our bags in the care of the hotel. We were given a tag to claim it back, and took what we needed as we headed for breakfast with the hotel and then to Grand Bazaar. 

The hotels location was ok, safe with a few shops around, yet convenient as we had a Carrefour store just down stairs.

We loved our stay at Frasers Anthill!  The apartment we stayed in was 40 floors up and the view was Breathtaking!
It was neat, spacious, cleaned everyday, stocked with plenty of towels, had a washing machine with dryer and a dishwasher, stove, oven and micro in the kitchen. It was the best of self catering and a hotel.

Tip 7: Keep hotel soaps and lotions... they are often around 40-60 dollars. Make sure they are replaced everyday (the cleaners took ours... Lol) and you could go home with amazing skincare that you already paid for. I absolutely loved the Malin+Goetz vitamin b5 moisturiser the hotel gave us and the Thomas Roth cleansing bars, it was perfect for the cold Istanbul weather.



Tip 8: I found the water hard in Turkey, your skin dries easily. Your skin can also burn easily, so you should ensure you have a good body and sun protection face moisturiser or Lotion. I love Bioderma spf50 sold at Dischem.

Tip 9: Drink bottled water. We never drank tap water unless we boiled it in the kettle first. Fraser's hotel gave us at least 4 bottles a day, which we took with us and was sufficient to carry around on our tours. We also bought at restaurants or as needed.

Tip 10: Immediately check with the hotel if they offer any complimentary shuttle service to popular tourist points. They will usually have a bus which picks up at particular times and various drop off points.



Our first tour was with the hotel shuttle which dropped us close to the infamous Grand Bazaar. A real feast for the eyes and Turkish delights in all flavours, even the fussiest would enjoy. My absolute favourite Turkish delight was the blackberry with creamed nougat and pistachios, sold at the Topkapi Museum shop. It costs more at the museum but well worth it, you wouldn't want to share or waste it! Lol... and I don't even like blackberry.




Tip 11: when using trams, you will need to get a card from one of the tram stations located at the main tram stops. You feed the machine your liras and it loads the cash onto a card which is created for you. It costs around 3 liras per person to use the tram. You only need one card which you can swipe multiple times depending on how much you loaded on the card, and how many people you would like to swipe for. You can then continue to ride the tram for as long as you wish. If you need to switch trams, you swipe again.

Tip 12: learn the tram routes to travel well... Grab a brochure from tourist operators at museums and surrounding shops, they should include a map of the tram stations at the back. There are different colored trams which stop at different areas, and stations where you can switch trams to go the route of that specific colored tram.

If you are imagining a closed station... It's not like that at all. It's all in the open and above ground level. Cars on the road even cross over tram railways when its safe. Please be safe when crossing the tram railways, especially with kids.

Tip 13: Trams get packed really quick... It's  a squeeze, so unless you ok with the public being that close, don't use the trams. Use taxis instead. We mostly used the taxis, but it's alot more expensive, so sticking to trams is a better option financially.

Tip 14: Keep your belongings safe and donot keep your wallet in your pocket when going on trams. There are pickpocket incidents. Rather keep it in a secure bag, preferably backpack and hold and strap it to the front, rather than behind you.



Tip 15: when traveling with Taxis and I cannot stress this enough... Always check your liras in front of both the taxi driver and a family member, confirming out loud the number of liras you are giving him. My husband handed the taxi driver 2 fifty lira notes and he handed one back saying, that my husband gave him 5liras...naturally we thought we could have made a mistake. You don't focus when you getting off a taxi with sleeping kids. So my husband took the 5liras and gave him another 50liras...The taxi driver scored 50+50+50-5= 145liras for a 100 liras trip... Ofcourse second time around they tried it again and the taxi driver sped off before we could give him a mouthful. Other than that, Turkey is really relatively safe! Lol...



Taking a walk up the road from the hotel


It's chilly in the morning...he definitely agrees.
The cutie who seems to belong to everyone.

A common sight in Turkey are stray dogs and cats, but the public takes it upon themselves to leave food for them on the sidewalks. 


Tip 16: keep your Google maps or GPS on while in the taxi they often drive in circles to get more out of the taxi meter... Check the traffic as they love to say "too much traffic" . There is alot of traffic between work start and end times on weekdays though, so maybe avoid those times when taking a taxi.

Currently, it's still a little chilly and you should carry your jackets.. In April they are going into Spring but the locals still sport windbreakers, puffers or bomber jackets with fur trimming.

Tip 17: Choosing a good place to eat can be  a toss up if you are walking outside Sultan Ahmet Mosque, as the roadsides have dozens of eateries. I judged it by the menu, I looked at the state of the menu, generally neater menus, means the eatery cares about cleanliness and keeping their restaurant maintained. I couple that with prices and portion size, as well as variety which is important if you are travelling in a big group. You will find alot of the restaurants sell the same things, this is where you compare prices, go for affordable, not cheap or too high. You might be tempted to go where its busy, believing it to be popular because it's good... But sometimes the bus crowds all go to the same place, and they might just be chancing it too.

This dish is called Ali Nazik, it was my absolute favourite and I enjoyed it at Munhashir at Taksim Square on Istikhlal Street. Deliciously marinated beef with a tomato base served with yoghurt and Naan. They have a beautiful garden restaurant upstairs. From the outside though, it looks very small.

Tip 18: When visiting historical landmarks, buy combo tickets only if you are interested in visiting all places included, else rather pay for access to the individual places. It will cost less. There is no need to pre-book, unless you are going with a holiday/tour operator who is including tickets in your package. We preferred buying them while there, because you can spend alot of time in traffic and not get to visit all the places you'd like to as planned.

Tip 19: If you plan to go on Boat trips, don't place high expectations on food to be served, there usually isn't much. Rather eat an hour or two before and carry snacks. Definitely dress comfortably.

Hope I didn't lose you guys... But this is pretty much the kind of info I would have loved to have known before going there. Turkey is a beautiful country but like any other, you also need to know how to get around and be wise on how you go about things...

I wish you the very best for your trip or bucketlist trip.


Check out for my next post on our travel diary and the spots we visited in Istanbul and whether they were a hit or a miss for us and why...

Xoxo

SO GOOD! I DID A SECOND REVIEW!