November 17, 2014

The Book of Tea (Book Review)

"The kettle sings well, for pieces of iron are so arranged in the bottom as to produce a peculiar melody in which one may hear the echoes of a cataract muffled by clouds, of a distant sea breaking among the rocks , a rainstorm sweeping through a bamboo forest, or of the soughing of pines on some farway hill " -The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura.

It is hard to write a review for a book that took more than 6 months to read. Take note it is not a long book but rather each word is almost a page on its own. This explains the length of time it took me to read.
Maybe I am a slow reader, but the book holds sophistication within its simplicity.
Some parts, I had to research them and check about a historical, or cultural story so I can feel more connected with the writer. I think the writer has such a strength in his words and stories that you can feel the flow of knowledge transferring to you without him using the technique of reprimanding. Without the Dos and Don'ts....
Philosophical book in all of the word's terms, away from the religious part.
The book dates back to 1906. Even though it was written in a old time, the writer criticises his time of being disregarding some ancient rituals.
It talks about the culture of tea, "The Teasim".

November 13, 2014

A Restaurant of Naturality

 NATURALITÉ : When a  haute cuisine restaurant, ethically resources the ingredients of each plate delicately and naturally.

NATURALITÉ from Simon Pénochet on Vimeo.

Alain Ducasse's restaurant at the Plaza Athénée has just re-opened. The Chef tells a more personal and radical story, following a path he initiated twenty-five years ago. He introduces a cuisine of naturality, that revolves around three key elements: fish, vegetables and cereals. A healthier,  organic, more sustainable and environmentally-conscious approach.

Watch this soothing video of how the plates were created and the people behind them!
While in Lebanon, people are arguing which restaurant is safe or not.
In the other part of the world, some great minds are going back to the basics of cooking, the natural, the organic, and the fair trade...
Natural is what we need these days. Not the extreme of cleanliness, and not the extreme of contamination.
Hoping we can learn and get inspired from Chef Alain Ducasse and people like him.

November 1, 2014

Souk Al Ard: Earth Market in Hamra Street

Fresh Organic Produce from the Farms, every Tuesday in Hamra
During my years studying in AUB and living in Bliss street, I discovered Souk Al Ard in Main street of Hamra. It was my escape from the street buzz,  amid the hectic studies and long working hours.
It was my pleasure to meet the local farmers, see their hand made products, and get from their fresh green treasures!! Street Lebanese Heritage food at its best!

Every time I travel back to Beirut, I make sure to visit this farmer's market. It is a blessful experience to smell the saj, and see all these fresh and organic vegetables, and the pickled jars , marmalade...etc
Lebanese heritage food at its best. My last trip in October, I made sure to visit and do some food shopping!
Home Made Food
Dont miss those tasty saj ( saj is a thin focaccia bread) 
Souk El Ard, ( Earth Market), is located in the alley facing Bread Republic.
Organized by Slow food Beirut, the market aims to offer good, clean and fair food.

October 31, 2014

The Chemistry of Candy (from Hershey's Technical Center)

" Sometimes I think that the one thing I love most about being an adult is the right to buy candy whenever and wherever I want." Ryan Gosling

We all have these life moments, when we turn crazy about candy. It is like we want to go back to the time and memory when we were kids, and where we all we had to worry about was our next trip to the store to get some candy! Candy is all about bringing out these childhood memories. The sweet taste and the multi flavors from lemon, to strawberry and chocolate...etc can bring us - adults - some joy in this hectic world!
Apart of their bad health effects ( which I will not be talking about) , candy making is extremely entertaining to learn and know about !
It is a pure science on its own . Each candy has its own recipe and technicality!

I am sharing few knowledge I learned while I was in USA for training few years ago. As part of the training, we visited the technical center of Hershey in Pennsylvania, where we had to learn about the chocolate and candy making process straight from the scientists!

October 6, 2014

Butcher Shop & Grill : From South Africa to Arabian Peninunsula

The Butcher Shop &GRILL is the iconic chain of restaurants that incorporates a meat butchery within the restaurant!  It was established in 1996 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
This distinction was the brainchild of Alan Pick, an industry veteran of over 40 years whose immense knowledge of butchery was pivotal for the Butcher Shop &GRILL's success. The concept of The Butcher Shop & GRILL  is more than just a restaurant: it allows customers to come by anytime during the day to buy superior meat from the retail butchery, or even take some meat home with them following their meal at the restaurant.

 It is rated a top restaurant in South Africa, selling an average of 8 to 12 tonnes of meat per week. 
B S&G expanded to UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain and recently KSA in the last few years.

The Butchery Display: Fresh Cut Meats served and cooked straight away to the plate.

Fillet Tenderloin Steak (240 g) for 128 Riyals.

October 3, 2014

Top 10 Things to buy from Medina


Top 10 Things to buy from Medina:

Madina is indeed as its name as "Radiant" city, full of life, colors and tranquility !
Apart of the spiritual journey one takes in the Prophet's mosque and in its other mosques, one has to do some serious shopping there! From rugs, perfumes, scarves, beads, to dates and to Gold! 

1. Arabic Perfume: wide range of authentic perfume oils made from Oud, Misk, ...etc as well as Bakhoor (woodchips soaked in frangrant oil and burnt)

2. Home Decor Items
, with religious designs for the wall or desk 

3. Dates: surely it is a city with Palms farms

4. Prayer Beads: 

5. Beautiful Scarves:

From Kashmere to Cotton and Silk Scarves, whatever suits your budget!

6.  Rugs, for prayer or Walls

7. Beautiful Ornamental Arabic Styled Faux Bijoux (Accessories) and Beads

8. Gold! It is cheaper than outside...

9. Local Mint : known as نعنع المدينة

It has long leaves and powerful smell. Try it with your tea and the flavors will be infused within seconds

10. Last but not Least, AlBaik, local chain

Though originally from Jeddah city, this local Kentucky Like chain has been booming in the last 10 years with around 50 chains in the western region only.... It is cheap and well oily food. Yet, everyone wants to try it and eat there! Plus, you can barely find a really good (clean) place to eat , apart of the hotel. So you really dont wana miss it! Your friends will def. ask you if you tried it or not! ;)

Fried Chicken , Shrimps and Fries.

OTHER: Anything Random from the Street Market: 

Me wearing a moroccon kaftan abaya

October 2, 2014

The Dates Market in Medina

1400 Years Old Dates Market 

Most Dates are sold outside on the streets, others in air conditioned shops

Medina ( اَلْمَدِينَة اَلْمَنَوَّرَة‎, or Al-Madīnah al-Munawwarah) is a modern city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia.  It is also known as The City of the Prophet", i.e., Muhammad. 
I visited Madina last month for a spiritual upliftment and to pray for the first time in the Prophet's mosque. What was remarkable about the city is the tranquility of its streets and its people. It was so peaceful - not just inside the mosque- but also in the shopping areas... You feel like everything is going smoothly.
Exciting thing too see in this city are the Palms farms all around and this explains the plenty of dates shops. Different kinds, different flavors and colors! It was like a "dates" heaven for those who love dates! This reminds me, who is excited for Mamoul this Eid?

Happy Eid Adha! :)
This type is Lagou Dates

And this one Kenta

October 1, 2014

Yokari : Affinity between Modern & Traditional Japanese Cuisine


.in Japanese means 'Affinity' .... this cultural affinity that brings together the historic Japan and modern Japan.. Perhaps that's why Yokari was named as such.
As it is clearly reflected in the meals served,  there is a lot of affinity in the type of cuisine offered.  You can taste the modern western flavors infused together with the Japanese traditional ones. Expect names of plates you have never heard of, but with some familiar ingredients like Mayonnaise, eggplant and tomate! Expect to be enthralled by an experience that will touch all your senses...because you really don't know what to expect.

Ebi Karaage  spicy dried fried shrimp!

September 7, 2014

The Sizzling Skillet Experience at AppleBee's

The best thing about cooking in home is hearing this sizzling sound of the ingredients getting infused together, under the heat of the fire... As if they are dancing in a rhythm so strong and fierce, yet so amusing and so folklorish.

When you are in a restaurant, you are are able to watch your food cooked "live" ..But can you really hear it? Hear this dance? Hear this sizzling effect?

Last week, I was in Apple bee's and they launched some exclusive and new menu items called : " The Sizzlers". All served on a 400C Creole-style skillet .
Good chance that I was able to try them before October . Luckily, the sizzling desserts are staying on the menu though!
Sizzling Steak

Sizzling Desserts (Video)

August 30, 2014

Vapiano : An Innovative Pasta & Pizza Concept from Germany in Riyadh

Chi va piano va sano e va lontano

“Chi va piano, va sano e va lontano” the Italian proverb which means “If you have an easy-going and relaxed approach to life, you’ll live more healthily and longer”.  
It is true for some point. If we approach the things we love like family, friends, and food, we will truly enjoy our lives happily, and this could make us survive a little bit longer than being sad or near things that makes us sad.

I learnt this proverb during my visit to Vapiono, Riyadh (KSA) this Thursday. And this is exactly the attitude that Vapiano wants to deliver to their Vapianistis (Guests &employees) during their dining in experience!

Live Pasta Making فابيانو 

The ambience & vibrant decor makes you feel like you are eating at home.
I always tell my readers that I don't like to judge a restaurant by one visit. And this was my third visit to Vapiano. My first try was in August 2012 and my next visit was May 2013. And this was the third time where I got to be invited to there.
The restaurant has greatly improved since the last time I was there. From management and staff dedication, to the quality of service and food.

The pasta display on the entrance, the big black wooden board, and the fresh pasta making & cooking stations is what got me attracted to Vapiano when I came to Riyadh city. You can rarely find this mood, ambience, , eating experience and high quality in one place!

It really defines the future of fresh, casual dining, as this European chain exhibits a vibrant atmosphere, innovative restaurant technology and delicious and affordable menu! And If I wanted to sum up my food experience at Vapiano in 3 words I’d say this “Interactive, Fresh,  & Simple ”.

( For a quick view of my whole experience, check out my slideshow)

July 20, 2014

Interview with an Olive Oil Expert (2): Sensory Aspect

Everything you need to know about Olive Oil
(Part 2)

We continue in this post, part 2 of the Interview series with the Olive Oil Expert.
This time it covers the topic of the sensory evaluation of Olive Oil.

Sensory Aspect of Olive Oil

Olive Oil tasting should be done in tapered (Dark Blue) glasses.
The color of olive oil is not an indication of quality. Choose olive oil for taste not for its color.

Interview with an Olive Oil Expert (1): Health Aspect

Everything you need to know about Olive Oil
(Part 1)

“And a tree (olive) that springs forth from Mount Sinai, that grows (produces) oil, and (it is) relish for the eaters.( Quran 23:20 )”

Today’s contribution comes straight from the Olive Oil industry!
Pearl’s interviewed an avid experienced Food scientist who has been working in the olive oil production for 6 years. It is important for consumers like us know briefly about olive oil production, the sensory characteristic of the best olive oil, and how can we detect the differences or how can they choose the best olive oil brand from the market. We will be covering a week of posts about Olive oil, so stay tuned!

Mr. Mohammad Kobayter is the Quality Assurance and Logistics Manager at KOBAYTER S.A. in Malaga -Spain. Kobayter holds a Bachelor of Science in Food Science and Management from the American University of Beirut (AUB) and he is a certified expert in virgin olive oil tasting (from the University of Jaen, Spain). He previously worked as a Production manager assistant at KOBAYTER FRERES S.A.L. in Lebanon. (Alwazir historic Ad ) 

Mohamad, undergoing a sensory test on the olive oil

July 12, 2014

The Illusion of Food Choice

The Disturbing Truth About The Food We Eat :

Did you know that:

  1. Quaker Oats, which you may view as a healthy food, is produced by PepsiCo, a company which is known for its notorious production of junk food.
  2. ​91% of the soda market is owned by only Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Group?
  3. Nestle is the world’s largest food company and owns almost 8,000 brands?
Check out from the infographic below that it actually doesn't matter which brand we choose, because at the end, it all ends up for the same company.

Do you actually have a choice on choosing?

The solution usually lies in buying local, buying from the brand that a local food factory produces, buy the fruits and vegetables from the farmer market, buy from the food prepared by local women.
Localization is a key not just for securing your health but also for empowering local and small brands.

Top Grocery Brands Comparison: Disturbing Truth About How Big Food Companies Exploit Your Shopping Habits and Monopolize the Market


Alex Hillseberg analyzed food reports from US Department of Agriculture and other credible sources and gathered the findings in our newest infographic that paints a very grim picture of the food industry today: