Where We Are Going Today: Chatime

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Updated 07 August 2022

Where We Are Going Today: Chatime

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  • They offer interesting fruit-mixes in their teas too, such as mango, grapefruit, lemon, and peach passionfruit to go with green and black tea

Bubble tea is my favorite drink whatever the season, and Chatime is one of the most popular bubble tea shops in Jeddah, with a branch in Jeddah International Market in Al-Rawdah district, and another in Corniche Center in Al-Balad.

Chatime offers a variety of milk teas, fresh teas, espresso, fruit teas, tea lattes, smoothies and juices, using real tea leaves.

The milk tea flavors include Chatime milk tea, pearl milk tea (with brown sugar as an option), taro milk tea, taro red bean milk tea, superior cocoa, grass jelly milk tea, jasmine green milk tea, winter melon milk tea, QQ milk tea, hazelnut milk tea, and cocoa hazelnut milk tea.

They also offer mousse in jasmine green tea, black tea, matcha, and chocolate.

Their fresh teas and refreshing juices include jasmine green tea, black tea, lemon juice, winter melon dew, and winter lemon juice.

Chatime also offers smoothies in different flavors, such as mango, passionfruit, coffee, matcha red bean, chocolate, banana and chocolate, peach, strawberry, and mango with banana.

They offer interesting fruit-mixes in their teas too, such as mango, grapefruit, lemon, and peach passionfruit to go with green and black tea.

Chatime also offers fruity, chewy toppings, including Taiwan mango, passionfruit, grapefruit, lemon, peach, grass jelly with milk, and winter melon with milk.

Their coffee options include superior blended coffee, americano, lattes, cappuccinos, and mochas.

My favorite drink at Chatime is the taro milk tea with tapioca pearls, because taro has such a unique, balanced flavor — not too sweet but not at all bitter. The tapioca pearls are satisfyingly chewy, and add so much to the experience.


Alkhobar chill: Gioelia Cremeria offers a taste of Italy on Saudi Arabia’s east coast

Alkhobar chill: Gioelia Cremeria offers a taste of Italy on Saudi Arabia’s east coast
Updated 01 October 2022

Alkhobar chill: Gioelia Cremeria offers a taste of Italy on Saudi Arabia’s east coast

Alkhobar chill: Gioelia Cremeria offers a taste of Italy on Saudi Arabia’s east coast

A cool new ice cream cafe and shop has opened on Alkhobar City Walk, offering visitors a true taste of Italy.

Owned and run by local man Bader Al-Hussaini and his family, Gioelia Cremeria Italiana is packed full of tasty delights — from thirst-quenching fruity gelato and chocolate cakes to cookies and cannoli.

Before opening the store in mid-September — the first outlet of the famous brand in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East — Al-Hussaini and his father traveled to Italy to sample the products they would be selling.

On opening day the place was packed with happy customers young and old as they sampled the dozen or so treats on offer.

Al-Hussaini recommended we try the pistachio gelato, and it tasted like summer in a cup. The creamy texture of the ice cream combined with chips of pistachio was neither overwhelming nor too subtle. It also came with a thin wafer on the top to give it extra crunch.

As well as the desserts — available for eat-in or takeaway — the shop offers a wide range of hot and iced coffees, smoothies, frappes, and bottles of sparkling and still water from Italy.

Al-Hussaini said his personal favorite was the gelato, “because I really like it and we don’t have many gelato shops here in Alkhobar.”

He told Arab News that unlike most ice creams, gelato does not contain much water, “which makes it more creamy.”

Gioelia Cremeria Italiana is open from 4 p.m. to midnight.


Palestinian kebab shop named as one of Italy’s best street food outlets

Palestinian kebab shop named as one of Italy’s best street food outlets
Updated 30 September 2022

Palestinian kebab shop named as one of Italy’s best street food outlets

Palestinian kebab shop named as one of Italy’s best street food outlets
  • ‘The kebabs from Ciao Kebab are so good,’ says editor of Gambero Rosso food guide
  • Right-wing politicians in Italy have targeted kebab shops as foreign invaders

LONDON: A Palestinian kebab shop in Bologna has been named one of the best street food outlets in Italy by the Gambero Rosso food guide, The Times reported on Friday.

Ciao Kebab was singled out as the best street food outlet in Emilia Romagna, a region famous for its parmesan cheese and prosciutto ham, and considered a temple of Italian cuisine.

Opened in 1991 by a Palestinian emigre, Ciao Kebab is now run by Omar Shihadeh, 33, the founder’s son.

It offers a gourmet kebab made with beef, local vegetables, and the option of a homemade tahini or spicy tomato sauce.

“They might not admit it, but a kebab can beat a piadina,” said Shihadeh, referring to the cheese and prosciutto-stuffed flatbread that won the Gambero Rosso award last year.

“Gambero Rosso is getting more international. They saw we do a quality kebab,” he said, adding that Bologna is “surprisingly open” to “new food.”

But right-wing politicians have targeted kebab shops as pernicious foreign invaders, and officials from the anti-migrant League party have sought to shut them down.

Shihadeh’s colleague Andrea Liotta said he knew of a kebab shop in Verona, northern Italy, which had faced hostility because of its perception as a “foreign product.”

Pina Sozio, who edited the 2022 edition of Gambero Rosso, said the guide had never before given the accolade to a non-Italian food outlet in Emilia Romagna.

“It’s a region rooted in culinary traditions, but the kebabs from Ciao Kebab are so good, and this is a way to encourage people to change habits,” Sozio told The Times.

“Things are changing. Italians still argue endlessly about the right way to cook pasta carbonara, but when it comes to street food they will try other things if they are good.”


Where We Are Going Today: Caffeination cafe

Where We Are Going Today: Caffeination cafe
Updated 30 September 2022

Where We Are Going Today: Caffeination cafe

Where We Are Going Today: Caffeination cafe

Caffeination cafe, already well known in Alkhobar’s Olaya neighborhood for its bottled iced coffees and ice-cream sandwiches made from fresh cookies, has recently revamped its menu.

We tried the spicy tuna sandwich, which consisted of slices of bread layered with fresh avocado, flaky tuna marinated in hot sauce, and greens.

Caffeination’s lattes, both iced and hot, hit the spot, but their refreshing iced tea mojitos really deliver the kick you need. We tried the peach-flavored version, which was sweet, but not too overpowering. They also offer a variety of non-dairy milk for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant.

The Wi-Fi is a bit spotty, but there is plenty of seating upstairs and downstairs, as well as a few places to plug in your devices. A large picnic-style wood bench faces the wall near the stairs, and there are four smaller tables with multiple chairs.

Framed pieces of art on the walls and small potted plants add to the comfortable decor.

Soft music is played throughout the cafe, but is turned off during prayer times. A prayer rug is available for customers to use. There is only one restroom, so you might have to wait your turn.

Several full-length mirrors are ideal for a mirror selfie, or for jolting you back into working mode when you catch yourself staring into space.

Caffeination’s main Alkhobar branch is open from 5.30 a.m. till midnight most days. A soft opening was held recently for their second branch, which is located in Riyadh in Larsen Valley.

Follow @caffeinationco for the address, operating hours and special offers. They also deliver locally on most food apps.


London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors

London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors
Updated 28 September 2022

London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors

London Halal Food Festival opens its gates to 18,000 visitors
  • With 150 vendors, festival showcases 25 cuisines from around the world
  • Festival’s mission is to help support halal SMES

LONDON: The Halal Food Festival returned to the UK capital this year for its sixth edition with 25 cuisines on offer at more than 150 stalls.

At least 18,000 people attended the two-day event, which ran from Sept. 24-25 at London Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The scale and scope of the festival mean London now hosts one of the largest specifically halal food gatherings in the world, according to organizers. 

Kevin Jackson, director of Algebra Festivals, launched the festival with his partner Waleed Jahangia seven years ago. 

“We created an event that would put food at the heart of the community. There’s no better way of sharing culture than through food,” he said.

After two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers have invested heavily in infrastructure, transforming the festival into an experience that goes beyond food.

The event featured a VIP lounge, shopping stalls, live entertainment, cookery theater, picnic area, kids play area, mechanical bull and fun competitions. 

One of the highlights was a live demonstration by NHS doctor and former “MasterChef” winner Dr. Saliha Mahmood Ahmed. 

Using bread dough to teach women how to examine themselves for early signs of breast cancer, Ahmed aimed to overcome cultural taboos that contribute to low cancer awareness among the Muslim community in the UK. 

The new additions reflect the growing view that halal is more than just about food but is a lifestyle, too. 

Jackson recalled that when he and Jahangia launched the festival, most Muslim events in London were held in community centers or school halls. 

But the London Stadium event shows the Muslim community now has access to some of the most renowned venues in the capital. 

The festival has also evolved into a cultural melting pot, with both its cuisine and its foodies coming from around the globe. 

“We’ve got people from Manchester, Birmingham, people who came on a day trip from Paris yesterday. We’ve got people from Spain. We’ve got people from Scotland. This is such a big event for the Muslim community that they travel for miles to come to it,”  Jackson said.  

Chef Fatima El-Rify of Mama Hayam reported positive feedback from visitors tasting her Egyptian cuisine. 

“They didn’t know what it was completely. They knew a little about kosheri, but now they have a really strong idea. They’re coming back for more. They’re bringing their friends. They really love kosheri and mahshi, so that’s really good.” 

She added: “I think there is nowhere else in London that you can try all these different cuisines and just have this ease of it all being halal.” 

The festival also features the timeless and the contemporary, from Jordan’s traditional Anabtawi Sweets to London’s Lola’s Cupcakes.

Apart from catering to Muslim visitors, it aims to provide an international platform for the halal economy, while helping to nurture halal small and medium enterprises. 

“We’re building business relationships. The traders all trade with one another. The suppliers, our partners here, Tariq Halal, are providing products for our exhibitors,” Jackson said. 

Founder Shahin Bharwani of Mocktail Company, which sells non-alcoholic beverages,  said that she was fortunate to have been able to exhibit at the Halal Food Festival in 2016 within months of launching her business. 

“It was brilliant in terms of being a startup to get the brand exposure needed at this type of event.” 

Festival vendors reflected on the halal industry’s growth in the past decade. 

Bharwani said: “There’s so many variations of businesses here, particularly the food. Years ago you could never imagine halal tacos hell or gourmet burgers, that type of thing, so to have those kinds of halal options now is amazing.” 

Co-partner Abid Haider of Proper Burgers said that the event “just keeps getting bigger and bigger.” 

With the industry now worth billions, the London festival is part of a growing movement placing halal on high street.

 


Bahraini culinary star Tala Bashmi celebrates The Best Chef Awards ranking in Madrid

Bahraini culinary star Tala Bashmi celebrates The Best Chef Awards ranking in Madrid
Tala Bashmi is the chef patronne at Fusions by Tala in the Gulf Hotel, Manama. (Supplied)
Updated 26 September 2022

Bahraini culinary star Tala Bashmi celebrates The Best Chef Awards ranking in Madrid

Bahraini culinary star Tala Bashmi celebrates The Best Chef Awards ranking in Madrid
  • ‘I always saw a gap for a different version of Middle Eastern and Khaleeji cuisine,’ Bashmi previously told Arab News

DUBAI: Bahraini chef Tala Bashmi appeared in Madrid over the weekend to celebrate her ranking among the top 100 chefs in the world.

The culinary star ranked 93rd and is the only Arab on this year’s Best Chef Awards list, as well as one of just 18 women.

The gala dinner was held at the Crystal Gallery of the Palacio de Cibeles in Madrid and saw Spain’s Dabiz Muñoz named the best chef in the world for the second consecutive year.

“I do not feel like the best chef in the world, far from it. But I believe I have the best team in the world,” he said accepting the prize on the stage.

Chef patronne at Fusions by Tala in the Gulf Hotel, Manama, Tala Bashmi hit the red carpet at the event.

Bashmi grew up in Bahrain, and began her career at the Gulf Hotel, before heading to Switzerland to train at Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois and the Michelin-starred Prisma. 

She returned to Bahrain in 2014 and worked her way up through the ranks at the Gulf Hotel to eventually head Fusions by Tala, where she’s determined to reinvent Gulf cuisine. She was recently named Best Female Chef in the Middle East and North Africa by 50 Best.

“I always saw a gap for a different version of Middle Eastern and Khaleeji cuisine,” Bashmi told Arab News earlier this year. “I want to compete on a global scale by elevating our cuisine technically, visually, and flavor-wise,” she said.