Riyadh Food Culture Festival showcases world’s best street foods, culinary arts

Riyadh Food Culture Festival showcases world’s best street foods, culinary arts
The Food Culture Festival aims to celebrate local and international cuisines. (Culinary Arts Commission)
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Updated 01 November 2023
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Riyadh Food Culture Festival showcases world’s best street foods, culinary arts

Riyadh Food Culture Festival showcases world’s best street foods, culinary arts
  • Event organized in collaboration with the Royal Commission for Riyadh City and is supported by the Quality of Life Program
  • Festival showcases the world’s best street foods and culinary arts through four main areas

JEDDAH: The Culinary Arts Commission is organizing a Food Culture Festival in Riyadh from Nov. 8 to Nov 12. The festival aims to celebrate local and international cuisines while offering educational and cultural experiences for all sectors of society.

The event is organized in collaboration with the Royal Commission for Riyadh City and is supported by the Quality of Life Program, part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 initiative.

The festival showcases the world’s best street foods and culinary arts through four main areas. It includes an exhibitors’ section with 30 booths featuring restaurants from various countries, and 10 stores selling international food products, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Additionally, there will be workshop areas dedicated to baking, live cooking, handicrafts and the arts. These workshops will host 25 diverse sessions over five consecutive days, covering a range of topics including global dishes, beverages, cake decoration and meal presentation.

The festival features a dedicated children’s area with competitions and workshops in coloring and cake decoration. Throughout the event, there will be live artistic performances showcasing historical arts, local costumes, as well as songs from different cultures.

The Culinary Arts Commission and the Food Culture Festival aim to promote cultural exchange, celebrate local and international cuisine, and raise awareness about culinary cultures from different countries.

The festival aims to offer family-friendly experiences and opportunities to learn culinary techniques from local and international chefs. It also connects chefs and industry figures to explore investment opportunities for the growth of the culinary sector in the Kingdom.


Where We Are Going Today: OBAO restaurant in Al-Khobar

Where We Are Going Today: OBAO restaurant in Al-Khobar
Updated 28 February 2024
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Where We Are Going Today: OBAO restaurant in Al-Khobar

Where We Are Going Today: OBAO restaurant in Al-Khobar

At Khobar City Walk, OBAO’s distinct orange decor with opulent accents stands out amid a cluster of other eateries.

The Kingdom’s only branch opened two years ago, and the restaurant pays homage to Alkhobar’s vibrant gastronomy heritage by taking you on an eclectic culinary journey with each plate.

We ordered one of their signature dishes, the American crunch salad, with fresh greens, perfectly charred corn bits, kidney beans and a thoughtfully layered hill of crushed nachos on a plate that was packed with flavor and textures — all perfectly balanced and drizzled with their homemade ranch dressing. We rate it as one of the best salads in the area, and for SR 49 ($13), it was well worth the price.

We also ordered the sweet potato fries, which were well-seasoned and felt plentiful. But the best bite was from the chicken bao. At SR 42 for two buns, it was delicious with its pillow-soft dough baked in-house and a great portion of filling in between. They also have a variety of meats and pasta dishes that are wildly popular.

We really loved their theatrical signature nishikigoi drink, which comes with a temporary clear bubble atop the glass that bursts into a plume of smoke. It was a fun conversational beverage that tasted decent enough, but it was more for those wishing to capture it on video for social media posts.

They also offer a variety of desserts, coffees, and mocktails.

For updates and more details, follow them on Instagram @obao_sa.
 


Where We Are Going Today: ‘FistikLava’ in Jeddah

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Updated 26 February 2024
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Where We Are Going Today: ‘FistikLava’ in Jeddah

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  • During Ramadan, FistikLava will offer takeaway boxes of borek pastries, special baklava, ⁠and iftar. Deliveries can be ordered via the Jahez app

A taste of Turkiye is on offer to breakfast diners at FistikLava in Jeddah’s Al-Rawdah district.

The restaurant’s owners have drawn their inspiration from the vibrant Balat district of Istanbul.

Among traditional Turkish dishes included on the menu are borek, pide – which includes options such as beef cubes, mix beefy cheese, and double cheese – and baklava, all freshly made.

The Istanbul and Trabzon breakfasts, a spread of savory and sweet dishes, are a popular choice with customers as is simit – a type of bagel – paired with shakshuka; eggs and tomato cooked together in a skillet.

The borek, a traditional layered pastry made from filo pastry and a filling, comes in several varieties including spinach, minced beef, or cheese, all of which can be washed down with Turkish coffee or tea, among other drinks.

During Ramadan, FistikLava will offer takeaway boxes of borek pastries, special baklava, ⁠and iftar. Deliveries can be ordered via the Jahez app.

More information is available on Instagram at @fistiklava_ksa.

 


Where We Are Going Today: L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele in Jeddah

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Updated 25 February 2024
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Where We Are Going Today: L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele in Jeddah

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  • L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele is more than a mere dining spot; it embodies a 150-year legacy of commitment to mastering the craft of pizza making

L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele in Jeddah is a slice of Italy brought to Saudi Arabia. Tucked inside Le Prestige Mall on King Abdulaziz Road, this pizzeria is a haven for pizza-lovers seeking an authentic Neapolitan experience.

As soon as you step inside, you are met by "L’italiano" playing in the background, the aroma of freshly baked pizza, and a feeling of Italian charm. The walls are adorned with pictures of Francesco Zimone, the legendary proprietor, and prominent individuals who have savoured the taste of Da Michele’s masterpieces, setting the tone for an unforgettable dining experience.

Established in 1870, this pizzeria remains faithful to its traditions, serving pizzas with thin dough, crispy edges, and high-quality toppings. I chose a half-and-half pizza with margherita on one side (fresh tomato sauce, basil, and cheeses) and tartufo on the other, which had delicious truffle cream and mozzarella. Watching the pizza roast in the brick oven heightened the anticipation.

The flavors were sensational, prompting me to plan a return visit. To round out the meal, I had saffron risotto with Parmesan cheese and a delightful strawberry mojito with a tinge of lemon.

Of course, no Italian meal is complete without dessert. Their tiramisu paired perfectly with a shot of espresso, completing the culinary journey on a sweet note.

L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele is more than a mere dining spot; it embodies a 150-year legacy of commitment to mastering the craft of pizza making.

For updates and more information, check their Instagram @damichele_sa.

 


Where We Are Going Today: ‘Half Million’ cafe

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Updated 24 February 2024
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Where We Are Going Today: ‘Half Million’ cafe

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  • Half Million also has a wide selection of tempting baked goods on display, all made fresh daily

Need a quick beverage before venturing back into congested city traffic? Look no further than Half Million, a specialty coffee cafe and one of the most popular spots for coffee lovers.  

Half Million has branches around the Kingdom in Riyadh, Jeddah, Sharqiyah, and even in London.

Aside from specialty coffees such as V60, iced drip, cold brew, and signature coffee, Half Million also offers iced lattes, cappuccino, iced cereal lattes, pistachio lattes, and other beverages for those who prefer milk with their coffee.

We also tried their popular hot chocolate and dark chocolate winter drinks, which has become a London branch fad. The dark chocolate is less sweet than usual and costs SR16 ($4.27).  

Half Million also has a wide selection of tempting baked goods on display, all made fresh daily.

A choice of desserts is also available, including pistachio eclairs and brownies, as well as savory delights such as cheesy and zaatar croissants.

The cafe gets its name from the amount of money the project was launched with when two friends decided to leave their hometown of Riyadh and set out on a trip to start their own business.

Filled with determination, they marched into the business world with capital of only SR500,000. However, with the support and encouragement of their local business community, their dream became a reality.

Most Half Million branches are open around the clock. They also deliver via apps such as Hunger Station and Jahez.

For seasonal specials and updates, check out their Instagram @halfmillion_sa.

 


Saudi Arabia’s citron season returns with its own culinary heritage

Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)
Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)
Updated 23 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s citron season returns with its own culinary heritage

Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)
  • Mubarak Al-Khanajer, a farmer in Wadi Al-Dawasir, told Arab News: “The citron fruit belongs to the citrus family, and it is usually harvested in January and February, making it a winter fruit that the locals are accustomed to in this season”

JEDDAH: In winter, citron, known as etrinj, returns to Saudi homes from the Kingdom’s farms, bringing with it myriad health benefits and a distinct flavor that in some regions has crafted a culinary tradition of its own.

The fruit is farmed in Jouf in the north, Wadi Al-Dawasir in Najr, and Al-Ahsa in the Eastern Province.

Part of the larger citrus family, citron particularly thrives in Jouf due to its favorable climate, water availability, and fertile land, making it one of the region’s most prevalent trees alongside olives and palms. Citron also stands out as a key agricultural crop in Al-Ahsa farms.

Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)

Mubarak Al-Khanajer, a farmer in Wadi Al-Dawasir, told Arab News: “The citron fruit belongs to the citrus family, and it is usually harvested in January and February, making it a winter fruit that the locals are accustomed to in this season.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Citron is farmed in Jouf in the north, Wadi Al-Dawasir in Najr, and Al-Ahsa in the Eastern Province.

• Farmers sell it with prices ranging from SR15 ($4) to SR20 for a basket of 10 to 12 fruits.

• In Jouf, locals enjoy citron tea during winter, prepared by peeling, extracting pulp, and infusing it in hot water with sugar, saffron, or without additives.

He noted that the success of citron farming in the region was due to climatic factors including temperature, relative humidity, light, and wind, adding that temperature was one of the most important factors determining the success of citron farming, in addition to the type of land, whether loamy yellow or heavy clay free from harmful salts.

Agricultural technician Abdulrahman Al-Sweis told Arab News that it was important for the crop to receive good agricultural care and be in a sunny area well-protected from the wind and planted in a spacious field.

Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)

He pointed out that the citron fruit was popular for its qualities and was part of the Saudi cultural heritage, adding that there was more awareness about it now through social media.

He said: “Many have started using it as a treatment to face winter diseases due to its richness in vitamins that increase the body’s immunity.”

Gifting the fruit to relatives, friends, and neighbors during harvesting season has been a cultural tradition in the Kingdom. However, the practice has diminished as some opt to sell their harvest, driven by its increasing popularity owing to its significant health benefits.

Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)

Coming in yellow, green, and occasionally orange hues, citron’s larger size, mild acidity, and delicious taste make it akin to a lemon. Packed with antioxidants, vitamins, fibers, calcium, zinc, selenium, manganese, and potassium, it boasts numerous nutritional and health benefits.

The versatile fruit has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. In Jouf and Al-Ahsa, residents relish preparing marisah, a mix of citron squares with chili, turmeric, mint, and optional additions of salt, dates, or sugar. Some enjoy it sliced or as a jam.

Mohammed Al-Masn, a farmer, said that some locals eat it or make a juice or jam from it. On the diversity of dishes that incorporate the fruit, he added: “The residents of the province do not make citron marisah as in some areas in the north of the Kingdom … they make Al-Wadma which is unique to Al-Ahsa.”

Citron is a versatile fruit that has found its way into many Saudi traditional dishes, juices, and drinks. (SPA)

Al-Wadma is a traditional Hassawi dish, made of dried small fish and citron juice, accompanied by radish, green onions, and lettuce. The fish is either ground or crushed before being combined with citron juice and pieces of citron. After letting it sit for some time, it is eaten with radish leaves.

In Jouf, locals enjoy citron tea during winter, prepared by peeling, extracting pulp, and infusing it in hot water with sugar, saffron, or without additives. Citron juices, featuring various flavors such as turmeric, ginger, and mint, are also popular.

While citron was traditionally not commercialized, recent years have seen some farmers sell it, with prices ranging from SR15 ($4) to SR20 for a basket of 10 to 12 fruits.

Al-Masn pointed out that the citron plant was also suitable for indoor cultivation.

He said: “Ensure the pot is positioned near a window receiving ample sunlight to maintain a temperature above 18 degrees Celsius. When spring concludes, the pot can be moved outdoors permanently and then returned indoors during autumn. This plant can also be seamlessly integrated into home garden settings.”