Temperature Restaurant: Farah Al-Ohali offers Saudis a new take on comfort food

A family eating at Temperature restaurant. (Supplied)
Updated 18 October 2018

Temperature Restaurant: Farah Al-Ohali offers Saudis a new take on comfort food

  • Al-Ohali has unusual offerings that could be called the ultimate comfort food
  • She credits her Kuwaiti genes for her innate desire to explore new palates and cuisines

DAMMAM: Turning up the temperature this summer in Al-Khobar is a “modern home cuisine” restaurant, founded and run by a young Saudi-Kuwaiti female chef, Farah Al-Ohali. Temperature is just seven months old, but Sharqawis are already familiar with Al-Ohali’s unusual offerings that could be called the ultimate comfort food.
The 22-year old credits her Kuwaiti genes for her innate desire to explore new palates and cuisines.
“The dining scene in Kuwait is much more developed; and people are much more open to experimenting with their palates, compared to other GCC countries,” she told Arab News. Coming from a family of innovative cooks — her aunt is known to cook up a notoriously delightful kabsa with turkey, instead of the traditional chicken — Al-Ohali has always loved cooking and would spend hours preparing and hosting elaborate dinner parties for friends and family.


In 2015, Al-Ohali left for Florence, to pursue the culinary arts professionally. She enrolled in an intensive certification program, learning techniques for over 250 dishes, assisting the chef in his kitchen, and working in a high-pressure environment. Coming back to the Kingdom, Al-Ohali was happy to cook for her family, but they weren’t impressed.
“The butter, cream, and flour characteristic to [what they thought] of Italian cooking was missing and they hated the ‘Italian’ I made for them,” she said with a rambunctious laugh. And thus began her journey to adapt flavors to the Saudi culture.
Her research was simple: She just asked Saudis what they ate and why they liked eating a particular dish. From there, she started an Instagram-based business and a pop-up food kiosk for public events. Some of her most popular creations have been chicken tenders in a waffle cone; nachos with chutney; mac and cheese grilled sandwiches; and coffee-marinated brisket sandwiches. Before long, Al-Ohali was approached by a marketing and talent management agency who helped her set up the restaurant.
Now, Al-Ohali is the creative force and chef behind Temperature (the most important element of every dish). The ambience reflects her effervescent personality: a snazzy beverage bar, bistro-style furniture and fittings, and rose, gold and green accents.


The breakfast menu is Al-Ohali’s personal favorite and it’s easy to see why.
First, we tried The Anita, a grilled brioche sandwich brim-full of layers of beetroot pesto, basil pesto, labnah, kashkawan and mozzarella cheese. Elevating a standard pesto sandwich, The Anita is worthy of weekend-morning indulgence. Plus points too for its Instagram-worthy pink hues.
“I use simple flavors that you would eat at home, but they are paired unusually with an ingredient that is not commonly used here or with an ingredient that you wouldn’t think of normally using,” Al-Ohali explained.
The Mushroom on Toast bears testament to her approach. Brioche bread topped with mushrooms, an in-house special cream, parmesan, arugula, sunny-side-up eggs, and, finally, balsamic vinegar drizzle. The tart vinegar offsets the sweet mushroom cream and creates an interesting fusion of flavors.
The Messy French, a crunchy brioche bread with salted caramel and maple syrup served with ice-cream, makes for a perfect accompaniment to the hazelnut latte. The menu is limited, but you can be assured that ,whatever you order, your expectations of comfort food are elevated a notch or two.
The Temperature is definitely on the rise.

 


Lebanese luxury soap brand sees boost in sales amid pandemic

Updated 27 May 2020

Lebanese luxury soap brand sees boost in sales amid pandemic

DUBAI: In 1999, Syrian-Palestinian fragrance connoisseur Hana Debs Akkari pursued her passion project in Lebanon by founding a sophisticated soap company called “Senteurs d’Orient,” or “Fragrances of the East” in French.

Akkari envisioned that her handcrafted soaps would symbolize the beloved floral essences of the Middle East, particularly the Levant, which is reportedly the world’s oldest soap-making region.

With the pandemic caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Akkari’s small, family-run luxury soap business has witnessed an increased demand in their natural products nearly twenty years since its founding.

Portrait of Sarah Akkari, CEO of Senteurs d’Orient. (Supplied)

“Since the pandemic was declared, we saw a spike in our online sales,” said Lebanese-Canadian and New Yorked-based Sarah Akkari, Hana’s daughter and CEO of Senteurs d’Orient, to Arab News. “People are washing their hands more often, and their hands are becoming drier as a consequence. So, they’re also looking for a natural soap, such as the ones we offer. Our antibacterial soaps are packed with different nourishing ingredients like glycerin, Shea butter and Vitamin E.”

Operating from Lebanon, Senteurs d’Orient’s factory is run by a diligent team of chemists and artisans, many of whom are women as female education and empowerment in the workforce is at the heart of the company’s ethos.

Engraving soaps at the Lebanon factory. (Supplied)

After mixing the chemical-free ingredients by hand, the soaps are air-dried for 10 ten days and later machine-molded and carefully hand-wrapped. True to the company’s name, the delicate floral scents of gardenia, jasmine, tuberose, and rose of Damascus draw their inspiration from eastern gardens.

To show support for the selfless medical workers, some of whom reached out to Akkari and expressed interest in Senteurs d’Orient’s soaps, she recently donated nearly 500 packages to doctors and nurses from four American hospitals — two in Los Angeles, one in New York and another in New Jersey.

Each package is an ‘Oriental Trio Box’, containing three bars of soap, the shapes and engravings of which are inspired by the decoration of ‘maamoul’, the Levant region’s quintessential pastry.

“When you’re facing this type of crisis and you’re receiving emails from doctors and nurses or anyone on the frontlines, it’s a not a request you can reject,” explained the 32-year-old entrepreneur. “It’s something that we really wanted to be part of and it brought us much satisfaction knowing we could contribute in this way.”

The company has expanded its international presence and line of therapeutic products, creating bath salts, multi-purpose oils and thinly sliced, single-use soap leaves. (Supplied)

Under the leadership of Akkari, the company has expanded its international presence and line of therapeutic products, creating Mediterranean orange blossom bath salts, multi-purpose oils and thinly sliced, single-use soap leaves of amber and tea flower.

It is the authenticity of Senteurs d’Orient’s products that Akkari hopes will come through.

“You feel the fragrance is coming straight from the flower,” she said.