Where We Are Going Today: 'Maraya Social' restaurant at AlUla

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Updated 20 March 2023
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Where We Are Going Today: 'Maraya Social' restaurant at AlUla

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  • Atherton provides a set menu of European cuisine with inspiration derived from AlUla’s local produce. Guests can enjoy the freshness of the farm-to-table experience

If you are planning to visit AlUla’s many wonders, especially the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hegra, do not miss out on the nearby mirrored Maraya and its rooftop restaurant, Maraya Social.

The establishment is one of chef Jason Atherton’s newest restaurants and offers a refined experience.

Atherton, a popular British chef, opened his flagship restaurant Pollen Street Social in 2011 in Mayfair, and earned a Michelin star within six months.

The Social Company, Atherton’s group, has since grown into a globally renowned name, with a portfolio of restaurants now including Maraya Social.

Atherton provides a set menu of European cuisine with inspiration derived from AlUla’s local produce. Guests can enjoy the freshness of the farm-to-table experience.

Our dinner kicked off with a welcome drink, a sparkling ginger kombucha, and freshly baked rosemary focaccia with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil for dipping.

We then had seasonal vegetables served with uniquely flavored dips, an Italian salad made with tomato cubes, black olives, basil leaves, and shallots, followed by salted baked beetroot with smoked goat’s cheese and gel made from AlUla’s oranges.

Our main dishes were a salmon confit served with Moroccan couscous, a tender and juicy beef rib-eye steak with peppercorn sauce, and roasted cauliflower risotto with a pistou of green vegetables and parmesan.

For dessert we were served the AlUla date and banana pudding topped with spiced toffee sauce and crispy caramelized hazelnut and gold flakes that complemented the luxurious vibe.

Our feast concluded with a delightful cheesecake topped with lemon jelly and a layer of meringue.

Surrounded by mountains and the magnificence of ancient AlUla, Maraya Social’s spectacular outdoor ambience is relaxing, featuring a view of starry night skies.

Check out its Instagram @marayasocial for updates.

 


Saudi Arabia’s senior citizens on a mission to promote exercise, hiking

Saudi Arabia’s senior citizens on a mission to promote exercise, hiking
Updated 24 September 2023
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Saudi Arabia’s senior citizens on a mission to promote exercise, hiking

Saudi Arabia’s senior citizens on a mission to promote exercise, hiking
  • Abdulrahman Al-Bani, a team member, told Arab News: “The Southern Travelers Team was established on the 88th Saudi National Day. At that time, we walked from Baljurashi to Abha in southern Saudi Arabia”

MAKKAH: A group of elderly Saudi travelers is touring the globe to promote sports and the idea that everyone should participate in them on a regular basis to prevent diseases.

The experienced hikers range in age from 61 to 79 years old, and practice their activities year-round, most notably on public holidays. They have scaled numerous summits throughout the world.

They believe that one must exercise regularly, especially hiking, to strengthen the heart and promote good health.

Abdulrahman Al-Bani, one of the founding members of the Southern Travelers Long Distance Team, told Arab News: “The Southern Travelers Team was established on the 88th Saudi National Day. At that time, we walked from Baljurashi to Abha in southern Saudi Arabia.”

He added that on the 89th National Day the group walked a long distance from Abha to Baha and from Baha to Abha the next year. They walked from Abha to Dhahran Al-Janoub on the 91st National Day.

“On National Day 92, we made a trip along a path we called ‘Qyam and Shamam,’ which is a path similar to some European countries. It was 242 km long and passed through ancient villages, museums, and tourist attractions such as parks, mountains and valleys in the beautiful Asir region.”

The team has also started commemorating the Kingdom’s Founding Day with walking trips. Al-Bani explained: “Two years ago, on Founding Day, we walked from Baha Province to Makkah Province, passing through the migration trail from Makkah to Madinah. We made another trip from the Jazan Governorate in southern Saudi Arabia to the last governorate in Baha Province, a distance of 420 km.”

He explained that the team tours all regions and governorates of the Kingdom, holds events and encourages practicing sports through setting an example. It currently consists of 10 members.

One of the valuable aspects of their excursions has been developing a community and getting to know each other. “We got to know each other in walking and hiking activities. The team came together and became harmonious and consistent with each other. We carry a national and societal message to citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia,” Al-Bani added.

He pointed out that the Ministry of Health spends billions to treat diseases such as narrowed arteries, heart disease, diabetes, and cholesterol. These huge amounts of money could be saved if people walk for at least half an hour a day.

“We aspire to be a good role model for young people and the elderly when we walk in cities, parks, and villages,” Al-Bani said, noting that team members “do not suffer from any diseases, not even diabetes or high blood pressure, thanks to the continuous physical effort that they are always keen to do, despite the fact that most of the team members are close to 80 years of age.”

Al-Bani added: “This week, in just one day, the team covered a distance of 21 km in Al-Soudah Mountains, which rise 2,400 meters above sea level. We have extensive experience in walking and hiking. We have become professional, but our message to everyone is do not exhaust yourself. Just exercise regularly.”

He noted that the group had trekked summits such as “the Himalayas, Everest, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa, and the Elbrus Mountains, which are the highest peaks in Europe and Russia.”

He added: “We walked on the Mont Blanc Trail in France, Italy, Switzerland, and the Western Highlands as well in Scotland. The group also climbed the highest peak in the Arab world in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco — Toubkal.”

 


Where We Are Going Today: ‘Aleppo’ a Syrian restaurant in Riyadh

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Updated 24 September 2023
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Where We Are Going Today: ‘Aleppo’ a Syrian restaurant in Riyadh

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  • Customers will enjoy a variety of flavors on Aleppo’s menu including shishbarak, yabriq, and farika, which are all popular Syrian dishes

Aleppo is a Syrian restaurant located on Prince Mamdouh Bin Abdulaziz Street in Riyadh. This eatery provides a selection of authentic Syrian dishes but with an interesting twist on some of the original recipes.

Aleppo’s historic interiors, ambiance, musical playlist, and paintings by notable Syrian artists hanging on the walls all transport guests to the city of Aleppo, with its historic buildings and ancient passageways. The restaurant has created the perfect recipe for a great time with family and friends, while also satiating the appetite with delectable food.

Customers will enjoy a variety of flavors on Aleppo’s menu including shishbarak, yabriq, and farika, which are all popular Syrian dishes. If you are a fan of kebabs, you will find a variety to choose from, including kabab halabi, popular among regulars, and kabab tahinah, which is mixed with tahina sauce and other spices. Other appetizers on the menu are hummus, tabouleh, and kubbah.

One of their best items is dolma with meat, a specialty in Aleppo. It is cooked with meat unlike the usual way of making dolma where many cook it with olive oil.

The place is a bit small and finding a parking space can be challenging especially early in the evening and during peak hours. Thus, it is recommended to avoid going to the restaurant during those times to save yourself some time, and visit during lunch hours or for a late dinner.

The restaurant opens every day from 12 p.m. until 1 a.m., except on Thursdays and Fridays where they extend the time for one more hour.

 


Where We Are Going Today: ‘Cwtch’ - European dining experience

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Updated 22 September 2023
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Where We Are Going Today: ‘Cwtch’ - European dining experience

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  • Cwtch’s menu showcases elevated European flavors, with a focus on quality ingredients and meticulous attention to detail

Located in Al-Murjan district, Jeddah, Cwtch is a culinary gem that offers a refined European dining experience, taking gastronomy to new heights. The restaurant’s name, derived from the Welsh language, perfectly captures the essence of comfort and affection that every guest is meant to experience through their delightful dishes.

Some may find the overall simplicity of the place to be slightly underwhelming. However, the focus on quality ingredients and attention to detail may overshadow the desire for bold and innovative culinary creations.

Whether you visit for a regular meal or to celebrate a special occasion like Saudi National Day, Cwtch promises to delight your senses and leave a lasting impression.

Cwtch’s menu showcases elevated European flavors, with a focus on quality ingredients and meticulous attention to detail. From the starters, such as the wagyu beef tartar mixed with Cwtch’s signature tartar sauce, to the Andalusian prawns PIL PIL served with homemade baguette, and the delectable Rockefeller oysters baked with a creamy white wine sauce, each dish is a testament to the culinary expertise of the kitchen team.

The salad bar at Cwtch offers exciting choices, including the creamy burratina salad served with serrano tomato carpaccio and rocket salad, as well as the prawn and kimchi salad, which combines flavors in a unique and refreshing way. The commitment to using the finest ingredients is evident in every dish, such as the slow-cooked chicken and the oven-baked gnocchi with cream, bacon, broccoli, mushroom and parmesan.

When it comes to the main courses, Cwtch delivers exceptional flavors. The Dover Sole Meuniere, pan-fried with butter, capers, and a white wine sauce, offers a delicate and delightful seafood experience. The roasted whole corn-fed chicken Provencale, cooked with Provencale herbs and served with roasted potatoes, is a mouthwatering option.

For meat lovers, the wagyu rib eye and the veal cutlet Milanese, with their golden and crunchy exteriors, are truly satisfying. The sides, including truffled mashed potatoes, asparagus and rainbow carrots, perfectly complement these main dishes. Do not forget to pair your meal with their curated drinks, such as the refreshing mojito passion fruit or the captivating blue unicorn.

The culinary delights at Cwtch are accompanied by exemplary service. The staff members are attentive, knowledgeable, and dedicated to ensuring that every guest’s needs are met. From the moment you step into the restaurant until the end of your meal, you are treated like a VIP, receiving personalized care and service that enhances the overall dining experience.

In addition to their regular menu, Cwtch offers special culinary creations to celebrate Saudi National Day. Indulge in the heavenly Pistachio White Chocolate Crisp Nebrow, a baked treat coated with luxurious white chocolate and sprinkled with pistachio slivers. The Grenisher’s Pistachio Mousse with white chocolate crumble is another must-try, with its dense and creamy texture that combines pistachio paste, fluffy egg whites, cream, and crumbles for a truly decadent experience.

 


Where We Are Going Today: Fatoosh restaurant in Dhahran

Where We Are Going Today: Fatoosh restaurant in Dhahran
Updated 21 September 2023
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Where We Are Going Today: Fatoosh restaurant in Dhahran

Where We Are Going Today: Fatoosh restaurant in Dhahran

If you find yourself at the Dhahran Mall food court and want to sink your teeth into something that isn’t wrapped in a bun or drenched in pasta sauce, consider Fatoosh. The distinct neon-green light invites you to come closer and choose one of the healthier options.

The SR12 plate of fatta is a delightful meatless medley that perfectly captures an array of flavors and textures in one perfect bite. The creamy hummus at the bottom serves as a smooth base while the cubes of cooked eggplant, bits of chickpeas, tangy pomegranate molasses drizzled atop a small layer of fried pita bread — and sprinkled in some greens — makes for a colorful and flavorful taste symphony. The plate is good for sharing but you may want to eat it all for yourself.

For the same price, there are individual plates of fatoosh salad, grape leaves, baba ghanoj, tabboulah and a few other options. If you can’t decide, then there’s an offer of any three salads for SR24.

They also serve meatballs, kushari, stuffed cabbage and several other hot dishes. If you want to mix and match between a serving of salad and one or more of the hot dishes, there’s an offer for any three (you could include a salad as a choice) for SR35.

The spot is popular with health-conscious food lovers, as it offers perfect alternative to a rice bowl or something involving meat and bread.

Fatoosh also offer freshly squeezed orange juice as an option as well as a selection of boxed juices and sodas.

There are mall branches in Kuwait and in Bahrain.


Where We Are Going Today: ‘8 Portions Pizza’ in Dhahran and Riyadh

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Updated 19 September 2023
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Where We Are Going Today: ‘8 Portions Pizza’ in Dhahran and Riyadh

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  • The waiter recommended their most popular salad, the quinoa salad, which goes for SR46

With branches in Dhahran and Riyadh, 8 Portions Pizza is making a name for itself in Saudi Arabia. We visited on a busy weeknight where service was attentive but not overbearing.

We tried the recommended cold peach habaq (basil) drink, with minty habaq syrup over sparkling peach juice. It was fragrant and aesthetically-pleasing but tasted like iced perfume, costing SR35 ($9).

The waiter recommended their most popular salad, the quinoa salad, which goes for SR46. It consisted of a bed of red and white quinoa mixed over a layer of mango puree with chopped bits of colorful vegetables and fresh avocado bits and topped with whipped feta cheese. It was topped with a layer of crisp arugula and spinach leaves drizzled with a tangy homemade citrus and balsamic dressing. It was delicious.

The pizzas, their specialty, came in two sizes, either small or medium. We tried the Isfahani option, inspired by the Persian city, which cost SR41 for the small and SR69 for the medium. The crispy crust came with a layer of mozzarella cheese sprinkled with Iranian zereshk bits, Persian spiced chicken and drizzled with a mint sauce. It was surprisingly satisfying.

We ended with the only dessert on the menu — and the only item that you can’t carry home — their tiramisu. For SR46, it is a decadent delight, served in a clear glass.

They also offer pastas and several sides.

For more details and the menu, check out their Instagram @8portionspizza.