Italian Cuisine Week a draw for Jeddah foodies

Italian Cuisine Week a draw for Jeddah foodies
Celebrity Chef Marco Martini and Italian Consul General Elisabetta Martini with guests.
Updated 24 November 2016

Italian Cuisine Week a draw for Jeddah foodies

Italian Cuisine Week a draw for Jeddah foodies

The start of Italian Cuisine Week was inaugurated in Jeddah on Monday — and with the event running until Sunday Nov. 27, it is not too late to sample the special meals being created in some of the city’s top restaurants.
The opening day in Jeddah attracted more than 300 people, who came to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and delicious Italian food.
The Italian and Saudi cultures have a lot in common, including the values of family, hospitality, and traditions.
Italian Cuisine Week highlighted this – and the fact that food from the European country is both delicious and healthy, with the latter being a particularly important concern in Saudi Arabia.
“Our aim is to promote the philosophy that Italian lifestyle is simple but exclusive,” said Elisabetta Martini, Consul General of Italy in Jeddah.
“We want to promote our brand, but we also want to promote our philosophy of having a healthy diet, as it is very important when it comes to places like Saudi Arabia where people suffer from diabetes and obesity.”
The opening of the festival – which is sponsored by Saudi brands Sharbatly Fruit and Saudia Airlines — hosted special guest Chef Marco Martini from Rome. Chef Marco is owner of The Corner restaurant, and in 2013 was named the best emerging chef in Italy. He cooked two dishes on the first day of the festival, in addition to a dinner that was personally served by him.
Among the visitors who attended on the first day was Matthias Mitman, the Jeddah-based Consul General of the United States.
“It is a great opportunity by my colleague Elisabetta Martini to promote Italian food and bring it to Jeddah, as Jeddah is known as a marketplace for lots of different foods,” he said.
“Italian food is very popular in the United States, and I think it is going to be very popular with Saudis as well.
“I think food helps open people’s minds up to different tastes, different experiences and they have a better appreciation of other cultures when they sample and try their foods.”
Several social media celebrities made it to the opening day, including members of Foodies KSA, a Saudi Arabia-based group of food lovers who review restaurants, share recipes and healthy tips, and cover food events.
Speaking to Arab News, Foodies KSA member Baraa Al-Khateeb said he thought the Italian Cuisine Week was a “brilliant” initiative. “They really pushed the limit and it was a very interesting idea to bring the Italian food and culture here in my home city Jeddah. We loved how the festival stays for a week so people who missed the opening day, will get the chance to enjoy it.”
Al-Khateeb is also a food consultant and photographer at the Food Links Magazine.
The Saudi social media star who goes by the name ‘Teacher Muhammed’, known for giving English lessons on Instagram and Snapchat, was also among the visitors.
“I think the place was fantastic, the food was amazing… I have had the chance to try new dishes and some new pasta recipes,” he said. “In my opinion, Italian food is the best on earth and today’s experience proved my point!”
Teacher Muhammed stressed that, despite the language barrier, food and music can bring people together — something seen later in the evening with a musical performance by pianist Vincenzo Provenzano and singer Azad Iqbal.
There are many Italian restaurants operating here in the Kingdom, but according to Elisabetta Martini, it is important to differentiate between the authentic ones — which have Italian chefs and use Italian ingredients — and those that just have Italian names. “If someone wants to use Italian-sounding names to attract their clients, it is also good and I’m not blaming them, as it proves that the word ‘Italian’ is a symbol of quality and prestige,” Martini added.
While the opening night of Italian Cuisine Week was held at the Italian Cultural Club, events are being hosted in different restaurants for the remainder of the week, with each applying its own fees and accepting individual bookings.
On Friday, Nov. 25, there will be a brunch at the Park Hyatt in Jeddah at 1 p.m., followed by the cutting of a ribbon at the Italian corner in Manuel Supermarket (Star Avenue branch) at 7 p.m., and a dinner at 10 p.m. at Rossopomodoro Italian restaurant. On Sunday, the Intercontinental Hotel will host an Italian-inspired dinner at 6 p.m.
So it is not too late to sample some of the treats on offer, along with a slice of that “simple but exclusive” Italian lifestyle.