Thursday, May 19, 2011

Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro-NIKKOR and Macro Ring flash Bower SFDRL14N

Got some pressies for myself, purchased from B&H Photo (USA) via CW...

Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8 VR Micro-NIKKOR
B&H Photo price paid: 800 USD
Present price (May 2011): 950 USD

Some facts from KenRockwell ...
This AF-S VR 105mm macro is popular: Nikon's made about 120,000 of them so far as of 2008.
Nikon calls this the AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Nano-Crystal Coat. (What a mouth-ful!)

Here's the tech jargon ...
AF-S and SWM: Silent Wave (focus) Motor.
VR: VR II Vibration Reduction.
Micro-NIKKOR: Nikon macro lens.
G: Gelded for cost-reduction and removing compatibility with older cameras.
IF: Internal Focusing.
ED: ED Glass.
Nano Crystal Coat (N): Nikon's latest anti-reflection coating

I was dissapointed that it was "Made in China" as the previous samples used to be Japanese-made. However, the build quality is really good, and I doubt it really has a bearing on the performance. Closest focal length is 31cm, and it weighs a hefty but manageable 720g.

Bower SFDRL14N TTL Macro Ringlight Flash (Guide No. 46'/14 m at 50mm) for Nikon with i-TTL
B&H Photo price paid: 98 USD
Present price (May 2011): 105 USD

Description from BHphoto - The Bower SFDRL14N TTL Macro Ringlight Flash provides full TTL control (including i-TTL) with both digital or film SLR cameras. This allows for accurate exposures of closeup subjects. When shooting at extremely short distances, relatively minor movement of lighting and subject results in relatively large changes of exposure. TTL metering eliminates the need for lengthy calculations of exposure, because the inherent loss of light at macro distances can automatically be accounted with ease.

Build quality is below-par, but what do you expect for a system which costs 1/6th of the equivalet Nikkor R1C1 Wireless Close-up Speedlight system! Made in Singapore, very plasticy finish, but seems to recharge quickly and does the job!

ps. Have to admit CSI:Miami and CSI inspired me to get this set-up, heh heh!

Terry Fox Run, Corniche Abu Dhabi 2011

Terry Fox run: 18th February 2011
Location: Abu Dhabi Corniche
History: This is the 16th such run in the UAE

One morning some months ago, we went for a walk at the Corniche ... and witnessed the Marathon of Hope :-) I must make an effort to actually participate next year!

Here's some history of Terry Fox, how the run began ... and my first experience with the run back in Kuala Lumpur 3 years ago. Time flies!

The t-shirt I bought ... I like it!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We like dinner time at IKEA, Yas Island - Abu Dhabi

We love IKEA at Yas Island, yes the newly opened one ... used to be convenient to travel to Marina Mall for the IKEA experience, but I have to say that it had outgrown its four walls, and the move to Yas was the right thing to do :-)

Here is a recent article in the newspaper which made me chuckle ... The National

So... here is what we ate (Yes, we travelled all the way there not to buy a new Poang, or tea-lights, but to ... have dinner!) ... Swedish meatballs (Small portion of 5, but they were generous and threw in a few more) with Cranberry sauce (Measly but so damn good!) for only 7.50 AED, and Beef Goulash (Not so yummy) for 17 AED.

bbG chose the yummy Farareej Mashwi or Arabic roast chicken, 19 AED. We also had a small bottle of water (2 AED) and unlimited-refills soft-drink (3 AED).

Best of all ... this is a seriously "family" and "child-friendly" restaurant :-)
1) Unpretentious
2) Free paper bibs
3) Microwave to heat up any bottles etc
4) Children's cutlery
5) Multiple play areas (Please take off your shoes, kiddies and ADULTS!)
6) Kiddy meals for 5 AED (RM$4 only!), chicken nuggets and chips ...

Yes... this was our trolley of food :-) All for under 54 AED or only just over RM$40 :-)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Zari Zardozi - Al Raha Mall, Abu Dhabi

We don't often stop at Al Raha Mall, but over the weekend we realise it is now our favourite Lulu supermarket, great selection of items, very fresh fruits, as well as not having to jostle with half of Abu Dhabi!

Located: On the highway to Dubai, on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi
Shopping: Zari Zardozi is located on the ground floor of Al Raha Mall
Tel: +971 2 556 5188

Interesting eatery, Zari Zardozi also runs a spa (!) as well as a clothing shop. Reminded me a little of Delicious by Ms Read in Malaysia...

It was a very windy and hot day, nearly 45C!

Not a good start, average poppadoms! At least the staff was friendly, and knowledgable ... and very child friendly as well.

We prefer the curries at Tandoori Corner ... The Briyani at Tandoori Corner is especially good! Here at Zari Zardozi, we had the Chicken Tikka-Murgh Masala, which had strange oyster sauce accents, but at least the Rogan-e-Josh (Lamb) was tended and full of flavour.

And overall, we much prefer the food at Damascus Flower, where we could eat a similar meal for no more then 35 AED. Yes, this compared to 180 AED at Zari Zardozi! The Garlic Naan here was good, but at over 10 AED, just too expensive. And ... 50 AED for the portion of Chicken Briyani was over the top!

The Masala Tea was rather strong, I will stick to "normal" Cha-eh next time!

ps. Aldar HQ is the landmark building, located adjacent to Al Raha Mall ... most incredible building in Abu Dhabi? You betcha!

Char siew and Kon Loh Mee - Home sweet home!

I love Kon Loh Mee. I love it so much that it is actually a food category on this, my little blog!

This is the result of bbG's incredible effort in the kitchen recently ... perfection. Pure perfection!

Recipe: Thanks to ... Suum Cuique

Hediard 1854 - Full english breakfast, Marina Mall

Located: Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi
Tel: +971 2 681 6131
Last order for breakfast: 11:45am ... Back in 18-something, Ferdinand Hediard stopped mid-Tour de France (boy, was he Frenchand stumbled across some luxury goods (teas, chocolate, biscuits and the like) in Le Havre harbour. Needless to say, he saw a gap in the market.

I always assumed Hediard = Expensive, thus never really ventured to the eatery at Marina Mall, until bbG brought me over the weekend. It wasn't expensive, in fact it was excellent value at 39 AED for the "full english breakfast". As we had an Entertainer voucher, it was TWO breakfasts for the price of one, yes ... RM$30 for our entire meal!

Part 1 - Choice of juice, the strawberries weren't good according to the manager, so I chose fresh kiwi, whilst bbG had fresh orange juice. Yes, fresh. I had a cup of good Cappucino whilst bbG chose the Japanese Green Tea.

Part 2 - The continental part of the meal ... 2 rolls, and 2 slices of nice white toast. Posh butter, and posh Bitter Orange marmalade on the side, or you can even have some of their signature strawberry jam.

And ... Part 3. Yes, a 3 part breakfast! The "hot" section, of the Full English.
Doesn't look like much, but it was actually quite yummy, especially considering that the bacon (and sausage) was non-pork! Beef me thinks ...

I thought the level of customer service was mild-ly poor, but bbG said it may have been cos' we sat next to a pillar. Hmmm, this pillar did happen to be opposite where the kitchen was and where they made coffee! I will definitely give them another go again, as the food is decent, and the portions large, and the price ... right :-)

More history ... Hediard was born of the passion of one man, Ferdinand Hediard. At the age of 13, his life changed completely when he discovered the intoxicating profusion of exotic fruit at the port of Le Havre. These delicious wonders offered him a colourful and indisputable vision of his future vocation: sharing his discoveries by becoming a fine foods merchant.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Balloons and Chinese groceries - Abu Dhabi

Two shops which offer really good customer service and interesting products gets a plug on my little blog today!

Sparks Balloons and Gift Items
Tourist Club Area, Abu Dhabi
Located: Opposite the main road, from Hyundai-Kia
Tel: +971 2 644 4492
Map (Unverified): Wikimapia

Want oriental groceries and food-stuffs? Go to ... Chinese City Grocery.
Area: Tourist Club Area, Abu Dhabi
Tel: +971 2 666 5365 (or 5305)
Map (Unverified): Click here

Monday, May 09, 2011

Sumo - Sushi and Bento, Masdar City - Abu Dhabi

This could very well be our first japanese meal in Abu Dhabi, after two years!

Tel: +971 2 557 0500
Previous review: Masdar Institute at Masdar City

bbG's BBQ Unagi Bento (Fresh water eel) was pretty good, 60 AED or RM$55. My Teriyaki Chicken Bento (36 AED, or RM$29) on the other hand, tasted like fried chicken with sweet sauce!

Crunchy Crazy Roll - 29 AED. Too sweet with an overdose of chilli-sauce and teriyaki sauce.

I enjoyed my country lemonande (Bigggg glass, 14 AED), whilst bbG had the Ohcha or hot green tea, 8 AED.

Our first visit to Masdar - The environmental city of Abu Dhabi

Masdar (Arabic: مصدر‎, maṣdar, literally source) is a project in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. Its core is a planned city, which is being built by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, a subsidiary of Mubadala Development Company, with the majority of seed capital provided by the government of Abu Dhabi.
Designed by the British architectural firm Foster + Partners, the city will rely entirely on solar energy and other renewable energy sources, with a sustainable, zero-carbon, zero-waste ecology. The city is being constructed 17 kilometres (11 mi) east-south-east of the city of Abu Dhabi, beside Abu Dhabi International Airport.

This was our first ride in the "pods" or PRT (Personal Rapid Transit) system :-)

Off we go ... to Sumo, the Japanese restaurant ...

Signs aren't the best at Masdar, we tried to figure out how to take a lift up (There is one hidden on the left side of the stairs!), when we saw this crazy stairwell!

This is the wind cooling tower at Masdar Institute, and more funky architecture ...

When will it all be ready? 2025! At a cost of nearly USD 20 billion, gulp!