Pandemic hasn’t slowed China’s love for US lobster

A lobster rears its claws after being caught off Spruce Head, Maine, Aug. 31, 2021. (AP)
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A lobster rears its claws after being caught off Spruce Head, Maine, Aug. 31, 2021. (AP)
Pandemic hasn’t slowed China’s love for US lobster
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Lobsters are packed for shipment at the Lobster Company in Kennebunkport, Maine, March 13, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 18 January 2022

Pandemic hasn’t slowed China’s love for US lobster

A lobster rears its claws after being caught off Spruce Head, Maine, Aug. 31, 2021. (AP)
  • American exporters sent more than 13.2 million pounds (6 million kilograms) of lobster to China during the first 11 months of 2021

PORTLAND, Maine: China is showing no signs of slowing its demand for American lobster this year despite disruption to the supply chain and international trade caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Chinese demand for the crustaceans grew dramatically during the 2010s in part because of the expansion of the country’s middle class. The lobsters are especially sought after in winter because they are a popular delicacy on Chinese New Year, which is Feb. 1 this year.
American exporters sent more than 13.2 million pounds (6 million kilograms) of lobster to China during the first 11 months of 2021. That was about 6 percent more than the same time period the previous year.
The pandemic has made the already difficult task of sending live seafood across the globe more challenging, but Maine lobster exporters are gearing up for a decent Chinese New Year, said Bill Bruns. The operations manager at The Lobster Co. in Arundel said shipments are complicated by the fact the company can’t send lobsters to Beijing because of COVID-19 restrictions — but they are able to send to other airports, such as Shenzhen.
“Chinese New Year is always a crapshoot the last couple years,” Bruns said. “But I’m prepared for it. I have the staff. Because otherwise it’s going to be a long spring.”
China buys lobsters from the US — where the industry is based mostly in Maine — and Canada, where the industry is situated in the Atlantic provinces. Exports from Canada were up even more than the US the first 11 months of 2021 compared to 2020, said John Sackton, an industry analyst and founder of SeafoodNews.com.
Signs point to a strong season for the industry, Sackton said. Consumption of seafood could also get a boost from the Beijing Winter Olympics, which are set to start a few days after Chinese New Year, he said.
“I’ve seen nothing that consumption of lobsters at Chinese New Year this year won’t exceed last year’s,” Sackton said.
The US lobster industry weathered similar challenges during the first year of the pandemic in 2020 and ultimately had a strong export season. The value of exports was down from the record year of 2018, but still well over $100 million.
High prices for lobsters have played a role in the value of this year’s exports. The price of a live 1.25-pound hard shell lobster was $11.25 per pound in New England this month, according to business publishing company Urner Barry. That was more than a third higher than January 2021.
To send lobsters to China, American and Canadian fishermen have to trap them in the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Bad weather has made that difficult for Maine fishermen this year, but harvesters are still having a decent winter on the water, said Kristan Porter, president of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association.
“When guys get out there, they are doing OK,” Porter said. “It takes someone hardier than me to fish the wintertime.”


Where We are Going Today: Asrar Al-Nakha

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Updated 22 May 2022

Where We are Going Today: Asrar Al-Nakha

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  • The most exciting aspect of this restaurant is that it features dishes with authentic tastes that people grew up eating at their mother’s table

Sometimes you long for the food that your mother used to prepare when you were growing up. Luckily, Asrar Al-Nakha restaurant in Jeddah will transport you back to those days.

Hijazi mothers manage Asrar Al-Nakha, and every meal they serve is like a warm hug.

The restaurant specializes in homemade saleeg, a well-known dish in Saudi Arabia that consists of rice mixed with milk and boiled chicken.

Biriyani, the traditional Indian dish made from rice and chicken, is also on offer.

Asrar Al-Nakha has an unmissable dish consisting of steamed potato balls with a crispy texture and served with distinctive sauces.

There is also a selection of samboosas suitable for gatherings, such as beef, cheese, chicken, and spring rolls.

Of course, stuffed and rolled vine leaves are another familiar favorite dish from the region and at Asrar Al-Nakha they are a must-try.

The restaurant serves musakhan, a Palestinian dish made of sumac chicken and caramelized onions that look like spring rolls. This appetizer is a winner.

Desserts are not available, but on seasonal occasions like Eid, the restaurant has a special Hijazi sweet treat called debyaza made from nuts and qamaruddin.

The most exciting aspect of this restaurant is that it features dishes with authentic tastes that people grew up eating at their mother’s table.

And its slogan - “The secret of luxurious taste in the hands of women” - is no lie when it comes to the taste of its traditional plates.

The team specializes in buffets and can serve hearty spreads for any home event.

Another distinctive feature of the restaurant is its express and singular nature. It has no tables, only does takeout, and only has one branch in Jeddah in the city’s Al-Marwa district.

For more information about the restaurant, find it on Instagram @flavors_secrets.


What We Are Eating Today: Crepe and Waffle 

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Updated 20 May 2022

What We Are Eating Today: Crepe and Waffle 

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  • They are offered with all the sauces mentioned above, in addition to Oreo, Mars, Snickers and Ferrero Rocher biscuit toppings, as well as banana and strawberry toppings

Crepe and Waffle is a small, family-run dessert shop that has branches in many districts of Jeddah.
The shop offers a wide selection of crepes, waffles and pancake batter, as well as sauces.
The crepe section includes lotus, the house special (Nutella, pistachio and biscuit flakes), crunchy, Galaxy, white chocolate, Nutella, Belgian chocolate, pistachio, and Kinder.
You can order crepes that come in a sushi roll form, or in the classic triangular form.
They offer the same sauces for the waffles as well, and have a classic Dutch waffle option too.
Crepe and Waffle have an incredible mini pancake selection, with boxes that offer from 15 up to 50 pieces, which are an excellent option for gatherings.
They are offered with all the sauces mentioned above, in addition to Oreo, Mars, Snickers and Ferrero Rocher biscuit toppings, as well as banana and strawberry toppings.
They also offer what is called the “Sushi Box” which contains six different types of sushi crepe fillings: Marshmallow, brownies, cake, strawberry, banana, and Kinder along with four different dipping sauces of your choice.
Crepe and Waffle also have branches in Makkah and Taif.
They offer hot and cold drinks, from mojitos and iced teas to all kinds of coffee.
I treated myself to a crepe with Galaxy sauce and a cappuccino. I was more surprised by how good their coffee is than their main products.
Their slogan is “made with love,” and I can taste that through the high quality of their dough and generous sauce portions.
The branches in Jeddah can be found in the districts of Al-Ruhaili, Al-Hamdaniyah, Al-Waha, Al-Rawdah, Al-Nahda, Al-Marwa, Al-Fayhaa, Al-Sanabel, and Al-Waziriya. For more information, visit their Instagram page
@crepewaffle_ksa or website www.crepeandwaffless.com


EXPLAINER: Why monkeypox cases are rising in Europe

EXPLAINER: Why monkeypox cases are rising in Europe
Updated 19 May 2022

EXPLAINER: Why monkeypox cases are rising in Europe

EXPLAINER: Why monkeypox cases are rising in Europe

LONDON: A handful of cases of monkeypox have now been reported or are suspected in the United Kingdom, Portugal and Spain.
The outbreaks are raising alarm because the disease mostly occurs in west and central Africa, and only very occasionally spreads elsewhere.
Here’s what scientists know so far.

’Highly unusual’
Monkeypox is a virus that causes fever symptoms as well as a distinctive bumpy rash. It is usually mild, although there are two main strains: the Congo strain, which is more severe – with up to 10 percent mortality – and the West African strain, which has a fatality rate of more like 1 percent of cases. The UK cases are least have been reported as the West African strain.
“Historically, there have been very few cases exported. It has only happened eight times in the past before this year,” said Jimmy Whitworth, a professor of international public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who said it was “highly unusual.”
Portugal has logged five confirmed cases, and Spain is testing 23 potential cases. Neither country has reported cases before.

Transmission
The virus spreads through close contact, both in spillovers from animal hosts and, less commonly, between humans. It was first found in monkeys in 1958, hence the name, although rodents are now seen as the main source of transmission.
Transmission this time is puzzling experts, because a number of the cases in the United Kingdom — nine as of May 18 — have no known connection with each other. Only the first case reported on May 6 had recently traveled to Nigeria.
As such, experts have warned of wider transmission if cases have gone unreported.
The UK Health Security Agency’s alert also highlighted that the recent cases were predominantly among men who self-identified as gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men, and advised those groups to be alert.
Scientists will now sequence the virus to see if they are linked, the World Health Organization (WHO) said this week.

Why not?
One likely scenario behind the increase in cases is increased travel as COVID restrictions are lifted.
“My working theory would be that there’s a lot of it about in west and central Africa, travel has resumed, and that’s why we are seeing more cases,” said Whitworth.
Monkeypox puts virologists on the alert because it is in the smallpox family, although it causes less serious illness.
Smallpox was eradicated by vaccination in 1980, and the shot has been phased out. But it also protects against monkeypox, and so the winding down of vaccination campaigns has led to a jump in monkeypox cases, according to Anne Rimoin, an epidemiology professor at UCLA in California.
But experts urged people not to panic.
“This isn’t going to cause a nationwide epidemic like COVID did, but it’s a serious outbreak of a serious disease – and we should take it seriously,” said Whitworth.


Where We are Going Today: Bonny Cafe

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Updated 18 May 2022

Where We are Going Today: Bonny Cafe

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  • The food and beverage market witnessed considerable growth in Saudi Arabia after the launch Vision 2030 program

Bonny Cafe in Jeddah is a Saudi brand offering freshly made specialty coffees.
Using a range of beans such as Colombian, Ethiopian, and Yemini, the outlet regularly changes its coffee menu with tastes from around the world.
It also has a breakfast menu, with its best-seller being French toast. Other dishes, served throughout the day until midnight, include turkey bacon and egg, and chicken sandwiches, turkey rolls, and arugula salads. Fresh pineapple iced tea is a customer favorite.
Set in modern, relaxing surroundings, the cafe offers private rooms for meetings and other gatherings.
The food and beverage market witnessed considerable growth in Saudi Arabia after the launch Vision 2030 program.
With a population of more than 32 million, international and local companies are now competing to enter the market in this sector.
The entertainment industry and the increased number of sports events and concerts in the Kingdom also positively impacts the food sector.
This growth already appears in increased mobile delivery applications, food trucks, and international and local cafes in large cities such as Jeddah and Riyadh.
Cafes have proved popular, especially among millennials. For more information about Bonny Cafe, visit the cafe’s Instagram account at @bonnysplty.

 


What We Are Eating Today: The Peak

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Updated 15 May 2022

What We Are Eating Today: The Peak

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  • The box includes six slices of meat, a bottle of special sauce, cheddar cheese slices and six burger buns with or without sesame seeds, as well as salt and pepper

Summertime and the grilling is easy, so go for a burger experience with a difference at The Peak, a new restaurant in Alkhobar city.
The Peak offers healthier options than your average fast-food outlet by using fresh beef and chicken and maintaining the right balance between meat and fat to create the best flavor.
Their signature order is the cheesy peak burger with one of their special sauces — spicy, maple, ranch, or spicy peanut.
They also offer very delicious fries with the restaurant’s special seasonings.
The menu is straightforward, but this allows you to enjoy customizing your orders.
For a bigger portion, go for the double peak burger, which looks like a blooming flower of extra taste, oozing cheese and soft bun. Aside from savories and burgers, the restaurant offers a range of ice creams, such as custard and muhalabiah, inspired by Mideastern culture and garnished with crushed pistachio and dried rose petals.
As beach picnics are all the rage in the Saudi Arabian summer, The Peak offers you a barbecue box for six people to get the most from your session on the grill. The box includes six slices of meat, a bottle of special sauce, cheddar cheese slices and six burger buns with or without sesame seeds, as well as salt and pepper. All you will need is a grill and good company to enjoy the day.
For more information visit their Instagram account @thepeak.sa.