Sunday, August 7, 2011

Friday night and Saturday morning: 5&6 August

Shopping went well.  I couldn't get to the Halal butcher as he is closed during the days of Ramadan, so ground lamb had to be substituted with ground beef.  But I did get fresh mint, basil and zucchini.

I also managed to get a table cloth to cover our two different tables that we have to push together to seat more than 4 people.  When I say that I bought a table cloth I am being putting some positive spin on it.  Sandra and I have been looking for one but could find nothing that fitted.  Only a few shops seem to have any at all and even if we shut out eyes to the colours and design, we could hardly have 3 feet having over two sides and a strip of table showing the other two...nothing came close to fitting.  My purchase solved the problem as the shop sold table cloth material in two or three widths by the yard.  So, it was plastic with a slightly padded lining, but that gave it a Kazakh restaurant authenticity, and I chose the width that worked and then she cut the length I wanted. Sandra was very pleased.  I chose as plain as I could, so it is white with a slight embossing, but no worries about  food stains and laundry, it just needs a damp cloth to be ready for the next sitting.

After shopping I met Sandra for lunch and we went to the Pizza Club, which doesn't do pizzas at lunch it seems. Agip, with their largely Italian workforce, have been in Atyrau for about 10 years so all the restaurants have learnt to do pasta dishes, and some do pizzas.  O'Niel's, the Irish pub, has a wood burning pizza oven outside, what would they make of that in Limerick?

The restaurants have become very enterprising, so in the evening they may be a regular restaurant to start with, but later on they sometimes morph int nightclubs with music and dancing.  In a similar fashion, at lunchtime many offer a "business lunch" which is a 5 course set menu, usually quite inexpensive.  Next week I hope to go to one each day and provide you with a review at the end of the week.  That will probably be the most useless restaurant review you will ever get, not even something you can forward to a friend so they can use it. But it is threatened!

We had a business lunch at the Pizza Club (review to follow but pictures below) and then I went home to cook dinner.

We still have good cheeses, salami and chorizo from California, so I decided on an antipasto with home-baked cheese and sundried tomato bread, mushroom risotto (Californian dried mushroom stock), stuffed Zucchini in tomato sauce and poached pears with ice cream.

Here is the antipasto.

I am making my risotto on the induction hob with the high quality tablecloth behind.

The guest have arrived and we started a very enjoyable evening.
 I am pouring some wine for Lynn who is the wife (from Hartlepool) of an HP contractor working for Sandra.  Edwin (Mr Atari) is a Dutchman who is Sandra's architect.
Edwin's wife, Ester who is also Dutch and one of the key people in Outpost, helping expat. wives come to terms with Atyrau....I volunteered my services, but I'm not sure they know how to fit men in!  Albert, has moved from Agip to NCOC to NCPOC as the hardware contract specialist in Sandra's team (and Lynn again)
And this is Richard, Lynn's husband, who is the pioneering face of HP's consulting services in Atyrau.

About an hour into dinner, the lights all went out.  The hall lights were still on, but I couldn't see any tripped switches, so Sandra called reception who sent up and engineer, who then called another engineer to help.  They proceeded to dismantle the switch /fuse box, poke around and tape wires.  It was getting quite dark, they used a flash light, we had one candle.  Then the lights came back on.  The only thing of note was there was really nothing to note, "Oh, the power seems to have gone", "OK I'll call reception"...the men turn up, come and go, fix the power and nobody misses a beat, no discussion of power cuts or goes on.  We finally went to bed at about 1am.  Tomorrow it is the Curry Club.

Not quite the early start and bike ride that we had planned!  Rather tired after a late night so got up slowly and went next door to the KZ restaurant that made us feel rather ill last weekend...have to keep trying.  This time we tried to avoid greasy stuff but didn't succeed.  I had lamb chops which were not what I thought I had ordered, but were OK...must have been, I could still taste them 3 hours later.  Sandra had the chicken shashlik.

After lunch we walked down to a kitchen shop that someone told us about.  It turned out to be a commercial supplier and had professional equipment, cookers, sinks, pots and pans, storage containers, crockery and cutlery but they did have things that we could buy.  So we did.

Yes, we found another tablecloth.  It is also rather plasticy but it does fit and it has finished edges.  I think it will also wipe clean with a wet cloth.  It cost about $10.

After that we went to another larger market called Dina Market.  It has lots of stores selling pretty much everything.  We managed to find grapefruit and a draining tray, in the picture above.  This should make washing up easier as there is so little counter space.

Later Saturday night we went to the curry club at the Green Hotel.  Apparently there are a lot of Indians who stay here so they have a curry menu.  The expat. curry lovers meet each week here for a fixed price, all you can eat and drink, dinner.  It was quite edible, and Lena, a colleague of Indian heritage, vouched for the authenticity of many of the dishes.  There were about 25 people there, a good crowd and a good mix of mainly Dutch, American, Canadian and English, from Shell and Agip.  A nice evening for about $25 each.

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