Cookshop, the tasting café

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Updated 02 October 2013

Cookshop, the tasting café

Imagine a taste of home away from home? Try Cookshop, a restaurant in a class of its own and which serves over 200 different items to choose from, each differing in taste and uniqueness.
Cookshop is a themed restaurant brought to the shores of Jeddah from its original birth place of Turkey, where it is already famous with eight branches across the country. Although it is still in its soft opening stage, the restaurant’s atmosphere is a welcoming one for those who are trying to find a good dining experience away from the hustle and bustle of fancy high class restaurants or busy fast food chains.
The restaurant opened in late June and is located in Astra Center in upper Tahlia Street close to Al-Malik Road, a quaint location which is easily accessible. As soon as you walk into the restaurant you are greeted upon by the vast space and the comfortable feel to it.
A cute little couch and funky looking chair with a table in the middle filled with magazines and books for all ages, catches the attention immediately. Kids are usually found fiddling around and looking at children’s books and coloring books as well.
It has a “feel like home” quality. Wooden chairs covered with cushions usually found in our mothers’ homes, long wooden tables with red and white checkered table cloths, mason jars for the drinks and a large “Magnolia” sign facing the door advertises one of the restaurant’s signature dishes.
You can actually catch a hint of plants placed on high shelves as well as hanging picture frames placed at odd angles. The décor is different and daring. Guests can enjoy the smoke-free environment with families seated downstairs (for everyone’s convenience) and singles upstairs.
At a first glance, the menu looks like a magazine. Then we realize that every page is full of pictures and information on certain items of the menu. The menu consists of 220 mouthwatering dishes that vary from breakfast to soups, salads and main meals that can be devoured all day long. There is even Turkish coffee in its beverages section.
There is a combination of international and traditional dishes such as the margherita pizza, Caesar salad, mozzarella sticks, and even spaghetti carbonara. Indigenous dishes from Turkey are the Iskender Kabab and Manti. Besides, the restaurant serves Chinese, Italian, Mexican and Austrian food. The Austrian Schnitzel is one of their famous preparations. Among the beverages, one can choose from a variety of smoothies and freshly squeezed fruit options served in large mason jars.
We were served first with the Ci-monade, a mixture of fresh strawberry and lemonade and I must say it was very refreshing. Then the good stuff started coming in. We sampled some of Cookshop’s highest recommended dishes from the Penne Arrabbiata to its Seafood Risotto. Both dishes were attractively presented and cooked.
The Arrabbiata had just about the right amount of spiciness to it and a balanced tomato/basil leaves taste, not strong like in other locations. The seafood risotto was also very good; the cream base, served with small chunks of fish, clams and squid rings, was not fishy at all. The parmesan cheese balanced the taste of both the cooked rice and the seafood.
We were then served a very tasty dish of Argentinean steak. My husband is very picky when it comes to steaks; he likes his cooked well-done with just the right amount of spices, and with a hint of that burnt taste that accompanies the steak. It was perfect according to his standards.
The steak was fresh, lean and very tender, served with mushroom cream sauce, steak fries and rice. There was a buttery taste to the steak and it was a hit from the word ‘go’. There was also the Turkish Tabouleh, a marvelous dish with different types of lettuce, mint leaves, arugula, boiled wheat and pomegranate seeds.
The texture of the salad is not like its Lebanese counterpart: citrusy or finely chopped. Instead, it’s leafy with a hint of pomegranate molasses mixed with oil and lemon. It was divine. My new favorite salad dish to date.
Our visit to the restaurant ended with a plate of three different flavors of one of its signature deserts, the Magnolia pudding. The Magnolia wasn’t really a pudding; it felt more like custard mixed with pudding kind of dish. Guests are able to choose from three different flavors such as banana, strawberry and chocolate. It’s a very light type of dessert and absolutely delicious. There were chunks of fruit inside the pudding making it very pleasurable to the taste.
The restaurant has made efforts to create a family-like atmosphere. It is a must-visit. With reasonable prices, the food is definitely worth it. Although, it is still in its early stages, there are plans to expand the franchise in Jeddah and to other locations in Saudi Arabia.

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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.