Where to get your freakshake fix in the Middle East

Get ready to indulge with the decadent milkshakes. (Shutterstock)
Updated 04 October 2017

Where to get your freakshake fix in the Middle East

DUBAI: It has been pegged as a new global food trend, and it owes much of its popularity to social media. The humble, nostalgia-tinged milkshake has been given a serious shakeup with the addition of an array of treats and toppings, turning it into an over-the-top, indulgent calorie-fest: The freakshake. From cakes and cookies to sweets and sprinkles, it seems the only limit is the imagination when it comes to these new-age milkshakes.
But unlike most such food fads, this one did not originate from a hipster American eatery, but from an innocuous Australian patisserie, Patissez, in Canberra in 2015. Thanks to Instagram, it became a worldwide phenomenon over the next couple of years, including in the Middle East, where freakshakes are available in a growing number of eateries.
Typically served in mason jars, these decadent diabetes-inducers are designed to look as outrageously sweet as they taste. Here is our hotlist of the best places to find the most indulgent shakes in the region.
The Counter
The Aussies may have invented it, but the Americans seem to have perfected it, if the signature shakes at this build-your-own-burger venue are anything to go by. At the Jeddah outlet, you can indulge in handcrafted treats such as the Birthday Cake Shake (vanilla ice cream, cake mix and rainbow sprinkles), the Caramel Apple Crumble Shake and the Banana Split Shake (vanilla ice cream, fruits, caramel and chocolate syrup), as well as build your own.
Steak n Shake
This international burger chain, with its roots in Indianapolis, is probably as popular for its milkshakes as it is for its food. The Riyadh outlet, featuring a retro diner-style environment, serves up specialty shakes with toppings such as chocolate chip cookies, cookies and cream, peanut butter and M&Ms, all handmade using quality ingredients. With more Middle East expansion plans in the pipeline — they already have outlets in Kuwait too — it is likely that you will be able to get your sugary shake fix even more easily.
Black Tap
Burgers and shakes just seem to go together, so no surprises that most of these freakshakes emerge from burger restaurants. At the Dubai outpost of this New York institution, you will find jaw-dropping concoctions that the word “shake” simply cannot do justice to.
Laden with things such as chocolate brownies, cakes, chocolate-covered pretzels and peanut butter cups, topped with M&Ms, sprinkles, cotton candy and lollipops, and served in towering glasses with frosted rims and a generous dollop of whipped cream, if there ever was a sugar overload in a glass, this is it. These self-proclaimed “crazy shakes” need at least two people to get through them.

I got my eyes on YOU #blacktapdubai #blacktapthat #cookie #shake #sweet #cream #dubai #zomatouae

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No self-respecting list of shake joints would be complete without a nod to this DIY destination where you make your own ultimate shake, choosing from over 70 flavors and toppings.
This local brand, with branches across Saudi Arabia, may not sell themselves as freakshake specialists. But when you can customize your own “drinkable dessert” with treats such as Oreo cookies, M&Ms, Snickers, Ferrero Rocher chocolates and lots of whipped cream, we think that qualifies as freakish enough.

هذا هو حل الرطوبة والحر

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Shake Shack
This well-loved American chain is known for its regular shakes which, with their whipped cream tops, are calorific indulgences in and of themselves. But they also regularly come up with limited-edition shakes that take things to the next level. Plus their “concretes” — frozen custard ice cream with all sorts of add-ons — can probably be considered the father of freakshakes. Shake Shack has outlets in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman.
Not only does this funky home-grown restaurant in Dubai do comfort food very well, they also offer a selection of monster shakes that fit in perfectly with its hip, industrial vibe. Their innovative “dessert in a drink” offerings include bro-nut (chocolate brownie, Nutella and marshmallow), popping cereal (popcorn ice cream with caramel and white chocolate), and funky cheesecake (strawberry cheesecake, biscuits and chocolate).

World’s oldest bread found at prehistoric site in Jordan

Updated 17 July 2018

World’s oldest bread found at prehistoric site in Jordan

WASHINGTON: Charred remains of a flatbread baked about 14,500 years ago in a stone fireplace at a site in northeastern Jordan have given researchers a delectable surprise: people began making bread, a vital staple food, millennia before they developed agriculture.
No matter how you slice it, the discovery detailed on Monday shows that hunter-gatherers in the Eastern Mediterranean achieved the cultural milestone of bread-making far earlier than previously known, more than 4,000 years before plant cultivation took root.
The flatbread, likely unleavened and somewhat resembling pita bread, was fashioned from wild cereals such as barley, einkorn or oats, as well as tubers from an aquatic papyrus relative, that had been ground into flour.
It was made by a culture called the Natufians, who had begun to embrace a sedentary rather than nomadic lifestyle, and was found at a Black Desert archaeological site.
“The presence of bread at a site of this age is exceptional,” said Amaia Arranz-Otaegui, a University of Copenhagen postdoctoral researcher in archaeobotany and lead author of the research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Arranz-Otaegui said until now the origins of bread had been associated with early farming societies that cultivated cereals and legumes. The previous oldest evidence of bread came from a 9,100-year-old site in Turkey.
“We now have to assess whether there was a relationship between bread production and the origins of agriculture,” Arranz-Otaegui said. “It is possible that bread may have provided an incentive for people to take up plant cultivation and farming, if it became a desirable or much-sought-after food.”
University of Copenhagen archaeologist and study co-author Tobias Richter pointed to the nutritional implications of adding bread to the diet. “Bread provides us with an important source of carbohydrates and nutrients, including B vitamins, iron and magnesium, as well as fiber,” Richter said.
Abundant evidence from the site indicated the Natufians had a meat- and plant-based diet. The round floor fireplaces, made from flat basalt stones and measuring about a yard (meter) in diameter, were located in the middle of huts.
Arranz-Otaegui said the researchers have begun the process of trying to reproduce the bread, and succeeded in making flour from the type of tubers used in the prehistoric recipe. But it might have been an acquired taste.
“The taste of the tubers,” Arranz-Otaegui said, “is quite gritty and salty. But it is a bit sweet as well.”