Habsburg: A taste of royalty

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Updated 12 August 2013

Habsburg: A taste of royalty

Ever wondered what royal life looks like? Or lets rephrase. Ever wondered what it tastes like? I’ll give you my two-and-a-half hours of royal experience. You don’t have to be an expert in Jeddah’s restaurants and eateries to know that the Habsburg restaurant, located on the first floor of the 5-star Rosewood Hotel, is the crème de la crème of eateries.
From the moment you walk into the majestic hall, your senses are overtaken with images and aromas of traditional Hijazi culture that has been embodied in honor of the holy month. Hijazi cuisine, the most famous of which includes “foul,” or brown bean puree with your choice of tomatoes, onions, olive oil, cumin or green chilies, is served in an authentic copper food pot and clay bowls. This and other continental delights are served against a backdrop of images and woodwork from Jeddah’s unrivaled old town and a view of the Red Sea.
In short, being named after a dated royal castle and later house that was to produce kings across Europe did not make the management shy away from placing Eastern heritage in the spotlight to create an ambiance befitting to the holy month.
Whether it’s the wooden “rawasheen” (wooden Hijazi shutters), “fawwalah” (pot in which the brown bean puree is cooked), “fawanees” (Arabic lanterns) or waiters dressed in conventional attire, the team at Habsburg has made sure to reconcile taste and tradition in a wave of sensory delights.
Comfort is at the forefront of the seating arrangement. As such, the seating concept is based on a selection of 4 to 5 chair designs. Choose your pick of armchairs, sofas, wooden chairs or longer, modern chairs with images of the old town fitted into the back exclusively for Ramadan. The versatility in seating arrangement will most certainly differentiate it from other high-end restaurants you may have been to.
The buffet offers Eastern and Western cuisine carefully crafted by a Swiss-Egyptian-Syrian team of chefs. Smoked salmon, crepe wraps and sushi pieces come piecemeal in mini-plates, unlike the Eastern variety of “hummus” (chickpea puree), “moutabbal” (aubergine in tahini sauce), “muhammara” (hot pepper dip) and stuffed vine leaves. “Tabbouleh” (parsley salad) and “fattoush” (classic salad with fried bread) are served daily but the one choice of Western salad is changed every day.
Get your “manaeesh” (Arabic pastries made with thyme, strained yogurt or cheese) or your liver slices made on the spot.
One thing that is hard to come by in the region is succulent beef, and you’ll be sure to find it at Habsburg. Dive into stroganoff made with Australian-imported beef cutlets or the “ouzi” (locally bred lamb atop Arabic rice). Seafood dishes, from fried hammour to seafood curry, are made with produce that is brought in daily.
Dessert offers anywhere from bite-size “qatayif” (mini-pancake dough stuffed with walnuts), Arabic-style ladyfingers or crème brulee to an assortment of Western cakes. The big bonus for me, however, came with the vintage pot serving “Um Ali,” an Eastern dairy-based porridge. In short, the homely, feel-good factor runs all the way through from appetizer to end.
To ensure premier freshness, the maximum serving time of any dish is 3 hours before it is changed entirely. This, of course, is only natural given that 80 percent of the hotel’s clientele are from the royal protocol circle.
The sahoor (pre-dawn) variety is lighter than the iftar (dusk) meal since the latter is considered the main meal in Ramadan.
Want variety with originality? Want to experience taste with tradition and aroma with ambiance? Welcome to Habsburg.
Expect to pay:
SR295 for Iftar (served between 7 – 9 p.m.)
SR255 for Sahoor (served between 12 - 4 a.m.)

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Take a healthy approach to the issue of nutritional supplements

Updated 21 April 2018

Take a healthy approach to the issue of nutritional supplements

JEDDAH: There is a growing need for dietary supplements in Saudi Arabia, given the increasing popularity of junk food and the effective role supplements can play in treating diseases caused by mineral and vitamin deficiencies.

A recent study found that 22 percent of Saudi people take nutritional supplements. It is no surprise, then, that many Saudi businesses have forged partnerships with international dietary-supplement companies.

Dr. Rowaidah Idriss, a Saudi dietitian with a Ph.D. in nutrition, said dietary supplements can be defined as substances that provide the human body with a nutrient missing from a person’s regular diet. However, she stressed that they are not intended to replace healthy eating.

She also warned against taking them without first talking to a doctor or dietitian, as some products can have side effects, especially if taken before surgery or with other medicines. 

“They can also cause problems if someone has a history of certain health issues,” she added.

A blood test can determine which nutrients we are not getting enough of in our diet, and therefore which supplements might be beneficial. Nutritional supplements are also used to help treat certain health conditions. 

“Vitamin C, for example, is often used to reduce cold symptoms,” said Idriss. “Fish oil is taken to lower elevated blood triglycerides.”

She suggested four daily essentials that can bridge nutritional gaps in our diet: a multivitamin, vitamin D, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. 

“I routinely recommend a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement to my clients after consulting with their doctors,” she said. 

“For menstruating women, who require 18 milligrams of iron each day, a daily supplement helps boost iron intake.”

She said people over the age of 50 are advised to take a multivitamin to ensure they are getting enough B12, which plays a key role in the functioning of the nervous system and the development of red blood cells. 

“Older adults are more vulnerable to B12 deficiency because they are more likely to have decreased production of stomach acid, which is needed to release B12 from the proteins in food.” said Idriss. 

“It is also a good idea to take a daily multivitamin if one is following a low-calorie diet.”

She also pointed out that a high intake of DHA and EPA, the two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, are linked with a lower risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. A deficiency of DHA might also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. 

“A daily intake of 1,000 milligrams of both DHA and EPA is equivalent to eating 12 ounces of salmon a week,” said Idriss.

The dietitian believes that the Saudis who take food supplements often do so more to benefit their appearance than their health. 

“Saudi women consume more dietary supplements than other people in Saudi Arabia,” she said. 

“They do so either to lose weight or to care for their hair and nails. Bodybuilders also take large amounts of supplements.”

However, both groups, according to Idriss, tend to take supplements on the recommendation of friends and trainers, not doctors. 

She warned that commercials and social-media rumors can persuade people to buy supplements online that may not be approved as safe by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, and advised people to get as much of their daily nutrient needs as possible from healthy eating.

Dr. Rowaidah Idriss

“Along with vitamins and minerals, a healthy diet provides fiber and hundreds of protective phytochemicals, something a supplement cannot do,” she said, adding that the body absorbs natural food more effectively than supplements.

In addition, combining supplements with medications can have dangerous, even life-threatening, effects. 

“Drugs for heart disease and depression, treatments for organ transplants, and birth-control pills are less effective when taken with herbal supplements,” she said.

“Taking an anticoagulant, aspirin, and a vitamin E supplement together may increase the potential for internal bleeding or even stroke.”


Natural sources

With the spread of fast-food restaurants and their alluring ads, the long-term health of the Saudi people is in danger, as children and young people snub natural sources of nutrients, such as fruit and vegetables. 

“This can lead to many deficiency diseases. Moreover, vegetarians can develop similar illnesses due to the absence of meat in their diet,” she said.
Dr. Ashraf Ameer, a family-medicine consultant, said the importance of nutritional supplements lies in treating mineral and vitamin deficiency, especially for pregnant women, growing children, diabetics, people with chronic diseases, and the elderly. 

“However, these products should come from reliable companies and meet Saudi food and drug requirements,”he added.

Mohammed Yaseen, who has a food supplements business, said his company works with a leading British health-care company to provide the Saudi market with high quality products.

“With this we hope we can contribute to the national transformation program by raising private-sector spending in health care from 25 percent to 35 percent, which in turn would lead to the sector’s financial sustainability and boost economic and social development in the Kingdom,” Yaseen said.


Vitamin Terms

DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid. EPA stands for eicosapentaenoic acid.  Phytochemical is a biologically active compound found in plants.