Ultimate guide to the holidays

Deck the halls with copies of Time Out, because that’s all you’re going to need for a fabulous festive season Discuss this article

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Nothing says the holiday season is here quite like a massive turkey with all the trimmings and overindulging in festive cakes. And if you’re the type to go all out when it comes to festive feasting, exactly like us, we’ve got a brilliant list of the best brunches in town to do just that. If you want an indulgent supper just before the big holiday, we’ve got that covered, too, with our compilation of the best Eve dinners to be at. However, you don’t have to go out to be extravagant. Throw your friends and family a home dinner – we’ve got just the recipes for you. And since this season is all about spreading the cheer, we’ve also pulled together the best places to shop at for holiday décor. Whatever you want to do and however you want to spend your holiday, we’ve got you sorted. All you need to do is grab a glass of mulled grape and read every single page of this ultimate holiday guide. ’Tis the season to be jolly, and have a fantastic time out.

Festive Eve Dinners
Al Liwan

The festive celebrations here include dishes from all around the world and a bunch of seasonal favourites, too, just perfect for the entire family.
QR250 (soft drinks), QR375 (selected beverages), QR125 (children aged six to 12). Dec 24, 6.30pm-11pm. Sharq Village & Spa, Ras Abu Aboud (4425 6666).

Belgian Café
It’s the most special time of the year and if you really want a culinary celebration, head here to try the special dishes such as turkey ballotine stuffed with wild mushrooms and nuts, beef Wellington, truffle mousline, luscious dark chocolate Yule logs and some famous Belgian hops. Don’t miss the live entertainment by resident duo Elie and Richard and carols from the choir with gifts for the kids.
Prices à la carte. Dec 24, 7pm-2am. InterContinental Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4484 4919).

Bentley’s Grill
Break out the festive cheer as Radisson’s talented chefs serve up a feast with all of your favourite classics. Some of them come with a modern twist and that’s enough to be jolly. Don’t forget to dress your best.
QR390 (per person). Dec 24, 6pm-11pm. Radisson Blu Hotel Doha, Ramada Signal (4428 1555).

Coral
Indulge in a sumptuous buffet dinner filled with fresh seafood, sushi, oysters, festive roasts and irresistible Yule logs paired with live entertainment from the choir and lots of special surprises for the little ones.
QR250 (soft drinks), QR325 (festive beverages), QR145 (per child aged six to 12). Dec 24, 7pm-11.30pm. InterContinental Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4484 4919).

CUT by Wolfgang Puck
Celebrate in style with a special three-course festive menu.
QR350 (per person). Dec 24, 7pm-midnight. Mondrian Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4045 5999).

El Faro
Share a traditional meal, tapas and dessert with your family and friends with live music at El Faro’s Spanish-themed celebration.
QR320 (soft drinks), QR450 (selected beverages). Dec 24, 7pm-2am. Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl-Qatar (4035 5011).

Gemmayze
Try this festive night with an Oriental touch as Gemmayze prepares your special dinner (set menu), with live entertainment. It’s going to be Gemmayzing (geddit?).
QR185 (per person), QR90 (children). Dec 24, 7pm-2am. InterContinental Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4484 4919).

Il Teatro
While this restaurant is not regularly operational, the Four Seasons is making an exception for the holidays and you can celebrate the festive eve here. It’s for the entire family and includes a luxurious four-course set menu with plenty of festive cheer.
QR410 (set menu). Dec 24, 6.30pm-10.30pm. Four Seasons Hotel Doha, West Bay (4494 8600).

La Veranda
This beautiful outdoor location is possibly the best option to celebrate the festive season if you want incredible views and a chilly, winter setting. There’s a four-course menu for you and your family or friends to enjoy.
QR 249 (soft beverages), QR349 (selected beverages). Dec 24, 7pm-midnight. Sheraton Grand Doha Hotel, West Bay (4485 3000).

Market by Jean-Georges
Have a lively eve celebration with an exquisite four-course menu in one of Doha’s most popular restaurants. You can also opt to orderfrom the à la carte menu. There will be live entertainment, too.
QR265 (per person). Dec 24, 6pm-11.30pm. W Doha Hotel & Residences, West Bay (4453 5135).

Mykonos
Chef Konstantinos is preparing an excellent three-course Greek menu (we just hope it includes moussaka). Enjoy the soulful performances from Mykonos’ bouzouki duo. There’s a festive choir with gifts for kids, too.
QR245 (per adult), QR120 (per child). Dec 24, 7pm-11.30pm. InterContinental Doha (4484 4919).

Parisa
This incredible Persian restaurant has some breathtaking views, a special five-course family-style set menu and all the festive warmth you need. Make a booking already.
QR300 (five-course menu). Dec 24, 6.30pm-11pm. Sharq Village & Spa, Ras Abu Aboud (4425 6666).

Prime
This popular Doha steakhouse has a festive set menu curated by executive chef Rami and some of the best ingredients from the land and the sea feature in it. This is just the spot for a classy night out, before the big holiday.
QR325 (per person), QR475 (grape pairing). Dec 24, 6pm-11pm. InterContinental Doha The City (7021 8803).

Sawa
Enjoy an exquisite experience at the Marsa Malaz Kempinski with your friends and family. Savour a traditional dinner feast created by the culinary team and inspired by the European Kempinski savoir faire.
QR290 (soft beverages), QR420 (selected beverages), QR145 (children aged six to 12). Dec 24, 7pm-11pm. Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl-Qatar (4035 5011).

Spice Market
A four-course menu has been designed and from what we’re hearing, it’s going to be pretty festive. And in case, like us, you need at least three items from the regular menu (do you hear us, chicken wings?), the à la carte items will be available too.
QR265 (per person for food only). Dec 24, 6pm-11.30pm. W Doha Hotel & Residences, West Bay (4453 5135).

Festive Brunches
Al Liwan

Head over to Al Liwan for a sparkly afternoon with some indulgent festive favourites and an area for the children to celebrate in, too.
QR325 (soft drinks), QR425 (selected beverages), QR160 (children aged six to 12). Dec 25, 12.30pm-3.30pm. Sharq Village & Spa, Ras Abu Aboud (4425 6666).

Coral
While you’re singing along with the festive choirs, make sure you grab some of the exquisite seasonal delights at this family- friendly brunch. The resident duo will keep you musically entertained and the little ones can keep busy with the special gifts they’ll receive.
QR325 (soft drinks), QR420 (selected beverages), QR210 (children aged six to 12). Dec 25, 12.30pm-4pm. InterContinental Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4484 4919).

Four Seasons Hotel Doha
This renowned brunch (and our favourite) takes the festive celebration up a notch and guides you through a wonderful, worldwide epicurean adventure with a widespread buffet featuring stations such as foie gras, a carving station, oyster and seafood, raclette, sushi, sashimi, caviar and many more. There’s something to keep the children occupied, too – a dedicated station filled with loads of fun activities.
QR560 (soft drinks), QR690 (selected beverages), QR280 (children aged five to 12). Dec 25, 12.30pm-5pm. Four Seasons Hotel Doha, West Bay (4494 8600).

La Veranda
La Veranda’s incredible views and the sweater weather right now make this the best option to sport your festive jumper and indulge in the Italian classics and festive delights here. Mamma Franca is home for the holidays at La Veranda, so expect loads of authentic homemade Italian dishes.
QR290 (soft drinks), QR390 (selected beverages). Dec 25, 12.30pm-4pm. Sheraton Grand Doha Hotel, West Bay (4485 3000)

La Mar Doha by Gastón Acurio
If you haven’t already been to chef Gastón Acurio’s very first and very incredible Doha venture, this is the perfect chance. La Mar is bringing Peruvian traditions to Doha, set in a stunning beachfront location. Enjoy a family-style Peruvian brunch featuring ceviches, festive roasts, tiraditos and more. There’s a festive choir and gifts for the little ones.
QR335 (soft drinks), QR465 (selected beverages), QR165 (children aged six to 12). Dec 25, 12.30pm-4pm. InterContinental Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4484 4919).

Lagoon Restaurant
Spend your afternoon at the lush Lagoon restaurant and experience an exciting festive brunch filled with sweet treats, fun decorations, activities for children, live entertainment and an appearance from the festive father himself.
QR499 (selected beverages), QR599 (enhanced beverages). Dec 25, 1pm-4pm. The Ritz-Carlton Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4484 8000).

Market by Jean-Georges
What better way to celebrate the holidays than with some of Market’s delectable sushi and seafood salads? There will be plenty of festive dishes and the live band will keep you on your feet, with a plate of food.
QR385 (soft drinks), QR450 (selected beverages), QR850 (enhanced package). Dec 25, noon-4pm. W Doha Hotel & Residences, West Bay (4453 5000).

Mykonos
Fancy something more traditional? Try the Greek lunch at Mykonos with mezze, live carving stations and a tempting dessert buffet. The lovely bouzouki duo will perform their popular tunes, just don’t be shy to get up and start kicking your feet up in the air. The children will have some surprises to look forward to.

O QR275 (per person), QR135 (children aged six to 12). Dec 25, 12.30pm-4pm. InterContinental Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4484 4919).

Santa Monica Breakfast Club

“Mele kalikamaka” is what they say on a bright Hawaiian festive day. You don’t have to go all the way to Hawaii, Santa Monica Breakfast Club is celebrating the day with an island-inspired brunch featuring tasty treats, live stations, exotic beverages and live music from DJ Whit Taylor and the resident band, Streetlife. Start practising the hula moves.
QR350 (soft drinks), QR499 (selected beverages). Dec 25, 12.30pm-3.30pm. Grand Hyatt Doha, West Bay Lagoon (4448 1195).

Spice Market
Spice Market’s impressive selection of our all-time favourite Southeast Asian eats and the DJ on the decks together promise to make this festive Tuesday even more vibrant.
QR350 (soft drinks), QR450 (selected beverages), QR850 (enhanced package). Dec 25, noon-4pm. W Doha Hotel & Residences, West Bay (4453 5000).

The Square
The Grand Festive Brunch at The Square is going to be one massive holiday celebration. There’s a wide variety of all the classics, international dishes and plenty of surprises for everyone. Don’t miss the seafood station, truffle risotto that’s cooked à la minute and the signature stuffed turkey station. The Square’s specialty Yule logs (turn to page 21 for the exclusive recipe) are there for dessert along with a traditional spread of sweets. Children’s activities such as face painting
will bring about some holiday spirit for the little ones.
QR275 (soft drinks), QR365 (selected beverages). Dec 25, 12.30pm-4pm. InterContinental Doha The City, West Bay (7021 8803).

Toro Toro
You’ve seen the Copacabana nights on Wednesday at Toro Toro (we really hope you have), so you know this spot is serious about bringing the best crowds in. This holiday, grab your gang and head to the best Latin American festive celebration in town. We’re positive you’ll feel nothing but gratitude for us. And for all the tasty cuts.
QR350 (soft drinks), QR390 (selected beverages), QR490 (enhanced package). Dec 25, 12.30pm-4pm. Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl-Qatar (4035 5101).

Recipes
Don’t want to go out? No worries. Gather your friends and family and serve up some of our exquisite festive recipes for a super sweet ending. Recipes by Kim Wyatt.

Winter berries pavlova
Serving size: Six to eight people

Ingredients
4 egg whites
½ tsp lemon juice
1 cup castor sugar
1 tsp corn flour
300ml whipping cream
250g strawberries – washed and dried
125g raspberries – washed and dried
125g blueberries – washed and dried
Icing sugar to dust

Method
Preheat oven to 120°C (100°C fan-forced oven). Trace a 20cm circle onto a piece of large baking paper and place face down onto an oven tray.

Use an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites and lemon juice until soft peaks form. Then gradually add castor sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, beating the egg whites until thick and glossy.

Add the corn flour and fold with a large metal spoon until well combined.

Spoon the mixture onto the 20cm circle and shape well.

Place in the middle of an oven and bake for approximately 1½ hours or until dry to the touch.

Once cooked, allow to cool completely.

Using an electric mixer, whisk the whipping cream in a bowl until soft peaks form.

Transfer the cooled pavlova to a large serving plate or platter.

Top with the whipped cream and berries.

Lightly dust with icing sugar and serve.

Ultimate hot chocolate
Serving size: Two people

Ingredients
2 cups milk of your choice
2 tbsp unsweetened, good quality cocoa
2oz dark or bittersweet chocolate – finely chopped
2 tbsp castor sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
Suggested toppings – whipped cream, mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, caramel sauce

Method
Add all the ingredients (except toppings) to a medium sized saucepan. Gently heat, stirring constantly until the mixture simmers and thickens.

Pour into mugs and garnish with whipped cream plus toppings of your choice.

Gingerbread waffles
Serving size: Four to five people

Ingredients
1½ cup plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 eggs
cup castor sugar
¾ cup milk
½ cup maple syrup or molasses
¼ cup butter – melted
A pinch of salt
Non-stick cooking spray

Method

Preheat waffle iron.

In a large bowl, add the plain flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and castor sugar together until thick and foamy. Stir in the milk and maple syrup (or molasses). Add liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until well-combined. Slowly fold in the melted butter.

Spray hot waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Add mixture (follow the manufacturer’s directions for your waffle maker to measure batter). Cook waffles until finished.

Sprinkle icing sugar over waffles. Top with whipped cream, fruit and/or syrup.

Orange, hazelnut and chestnut Yule log

Executive pastry chef David Girard from InterContinental Doha – The City shares his incredible Yule log recipe and it’s all you need for a fantastic festive dinner.

Orange marmalade
Ingredients

1875g oranges
750g sugar
500g lemon juice
75g sugar
30g pectin NH

Method
Blanch the oranges in boiling water until they are soft.

Dice the oranges and put them in a pan with sugar and lemon juice.

Boil and add pectin NH with sugar for 20 minutes until texture is smooth.

Dacquoise
Ingredients

110g egg whites
130g sugar
130g hazelnut flour
86g confectionary sugar

Method
Whip the egg whites and slowly add sugar.

Mix hazelnuts and sugar together and then pour gently into the meringue.

For half sheet tray pour 450g of the mix.

Hazelnut crunch
Ingredients

300g feuilletine
150g milk chocolate (Jivara)
125g toasted, chopped hazelnuts
300g praline (60 percent)

Method
Melt the Jivara and praline together.
Gently add the feuilletine and chopped hazelnuts.
Spray a fine layer on the dacquoise.

Chestnut mousse
Mix together 200g sweet chestnut cream, 500g soft whipped cream, half a stick of vanilla and 2g of gelatine.

Cocoa nibs mousse
Ingredients:

360g coca nibbs
650g whole milk
450g whipping cream
215g yolk
180g sugar
19g gelatin
735g whipping cream

Method

Roast the cocoa nibs at 150°C for 15 minutes.

Boil the milk, add the nibs and leave it to infuse.

Sieve the cream and double check the weight.

Cook the cocoa, yolks and sugar at 85°C.

Add the gelatine, cool down and then add the whipping cream.

Yule log
Method

Make sure all the elements are ready. Keep in mind you will build it in reverse, or upside down.

Spray the orange marmalade on a sheet of paper or a mould in a shape that you like. This will be the centre of the log. Freeze it.

Once the dacquoise is baked, cool down and spray the hazelnut crunch. Cut on the length of your mould from the bottom end (slightly smaller for the inside where you can put one or two layers, as per your preference).

Start building with the cocoa nibs mousse, spraying all the edges of the Yule log mould.

Firmly fill up the mousse to the quarter and the edges.

Add the orange marmalade and a bit of the mousse, then the first layer of the dacquoise crunch.

Add the chestnut mousse and finish. Close with the second layer of dacquoise.

Freeze to set, then demould and serve.

Holiday décor
The city is brimming with festive décor and you’re probably confused about which stores to hit first. This list should make it easier

Ace Hardware
The newest addition to Qatar’s flourishing interiors market, Ace Hardware is like a party for holiday shoppers. You can find everything from Santa to Rudolph and the most adorable little accessories, tree ornaments, lights and much more. There are two sizes of trees available here – six feet and 12 feet. The store also has tools and equipment that can support the decoration process. Ace won’t be the easiest on your pocket, but it’s quality décor that’s most likely going to last you for a long time to come.
Umm Slal Mohammed (4424 2444).

Carrefour
Finding the right tree is possibly the most difficult part of the entire decoration process. And finding something reasonably priced is harder. Carrefour may not have the best selection of decorations, but they do have the most reasonably priced trees. A 120cm tree costs around QR29, and the quality is surprisingly good. The prices go up as the trees grow taller, but you can still find a very decent-sized one for under QR200.
All outlets.

Daiso
Daiso is like a holiday gift for budget festive shoppers. This reasonably priced Japanese retail store has almost everything holiday-themed and the creativity is incredible. From candles and Santa teddy bears to snow globes and glitter ornaments, Daiso has the most adorable stuff that won’t pinch your pockets. You can find items for as low as QR7. And it’s not just décor, you can even find homeware, pieces of clothing (yes, there’s a Santa suit) and some really funky stuff. Just don’t forget to pick up the Santa on a scooter.
Ezdan Mall Al Wakrah (4436 8311).

Home Centre
You have to be really strategic with your timing when you shop at Home Centre because they almost always have great deals inside the store and the only time you don’t find those deals is when you actually visit (true story). The outlet near Jaidah Flyover, we’ve noticed, is pretty much on sale through most of the year. Yes, even in December. Some of its Christmas decorations are literally at throwaway prices (we bought party crackers, with nice gifts inside them, for barely QR20 for six last year). Don’t look for the conventional stuff here, keep an eye out for some exciting tree ornaments (you can find boxes of 100 ornaments at very affordable rates), stars with battery operated LED lights inside them and of course, party crackers. You might even stumble upon some festive scented candles.
Jaidah Flyover (4435 5300).

IKEA
There’s never a wrong time to visit Ikea. And we will never get tired of it. The festive season is just an excuse, really. A good one though, because you’ll be spoiled for choice with Ikea’s holiday-themed stuff. You can find LED light chains for as low as QR15 (and they’re battery operated) and tree-shaped lights, snow globes, hanging décor, tea towels and even Christmas stockings. There’s something for everyone, like always. Just look out for its Vinter 2018 collection.
Umm Salal Muhammed (4406 2555).

Naaz Store
You’d be surprised as to how much this store in the Old Airport area has in terms of holiday décor. The product range here is pretty expansive and won’t break the bank. And, it’s the best place for multi-coloured ornaments, all displayed in swatches. From Santa mugs and candleholders to wreaths and wall-hangings, you’ll find everything you need and much more. You can potentially decorate your entire house with a mere budget of QR300-500. And it could look like winter wonderland.
Mattar Qadeem (4432 4235).

By Shereen D’Souza
Time Out Doha,

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