Where We Are Going Today: ‘Modawar’ cafeteria in Jeddah

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Updated 19 May 2024

Where We Are Going Today: ‘Modawar’ cafeteria in Jeddah

  • Modawar keeps things exciting by occasionally introducing new fillings and shapes, such as the sambusa and musakhan filling inspired by the traditional Palestinian dish

If you are in Jeddah and craving a convenient yet scrumptious breakfast, look no further than Modawar. The recently opened grab-and-go breakfast spot has come all the way from Alkhobar and promises a variety of options.

Modawar specializes in baked pastries and is modeled after a classic cafeteria. The Saudi brand lives up to its name, serving customers small circular pies loaded with a variety of contents inspired by traditional breakfast dishes.

The brand has something for everyone’s taste, including falafel with tahini, potatoes and eggplant, cheese and egg, and feta cheese with a special blend. The shakshuka pie, mixed cheese pie and chicken pie are worth trying.

But what sets the eatery apart are the diverse options for group orders. The liver and egg box, featuring eight pieces each of the two flavors, is great for sharing.

I chose a custom box of 12 pies with a combination of liver, shakshuka and egg pies. Each was bursting with flavor and the cheese melted perfectly. To top it off, every box comes with a selection of sauces, including tahini and hot sauce, along with a cup of hot karak for the perfect breakfast kick during the weekend.

Modawar keeps things exciting by occasionally introducing new fillings and shapes, such as the sambusa and musakhan filling inspired by the traditional Palestinian dish.

The outlet also offers a selection of fresh juices, including watermelon and orange, as well as iced and hot red tea.

For more information and updates, visit Instagram @modawar.sa.


What We’re Doing Today: derma transformations at ‘Skin Laundry’ in Riyadh

Updated 18 June 2024

What We’re Doing Today: derma transformations at ‘Skin Laundry’ in Riyadh

Skin Laundry has quickly become the trendiest spot to get your skincare fix since it opened in Riyadh a few months ago, luring curious customers in with its clean aesthetic and unusual skincare services. Hailing from sunny Los Angeles, championing the slogan “These are not your average facials,” the branch situated in Riyadh’s UWalk is the first to pop up in Saudi.

If you’re new to the skincare world, it’s recommended that you get a consultation before booking a service. Among their friendly staff members are Dr. Fatimah Albader, a dermatology and aesthetic consultant, and Dr. Mohammed Hamdan, an aesthetic dermatologist, who are happy to give their two cents on what your skin needs and answer any questions.

This Eid Al-Adha vacation is the perfect time to give your skin the treatment it needs to combat the exhausting heat — and to come back to work or school looking your best.

Usually administered by their lovely nurses who make you feel comfortable and right at home, the services range from hydrating facials and skin cell boosters to fillers and Botox.  

Skin Laundry specializes in innovative laser technology and aesthetic dermatology, including their HIFU Ultraformer III, which is a non-surgical high-intensity focused ultrasound method of lifting facial tissue and removing unwanted fat. Clients can opt to tighten and firm anything from loose forehead skin to sagging knees and thighs.

The international chain is known for its signature laser facials, and rightfully so. The deep-cleansing treatment removes oil, dirt, and bacteria while improving pigmentation and boosting collagen. The treatment is safe for all skin types with no downtime and leaves your skin with an immediate glow, while the fractional laser facial reduces fine lines and improves skin texture and hyperpigmentation. Both only take around 15 minutes overall.

The HydraFacial is a great way to achieve instant radiance. The process involves a water suction tool to remove all the underlying dirt and buildup under the skin’s surface, exfoliating and purifying the pores. It’s also followed up with lymphatic drainage, a blue and red LED light therapy session, and specific antioxidant and peptide products that promote healthy skin.

Aside from fillers and Botox, their injectables include Innovyal injections, which require three sessions and promise to reduce the appearance of dark circles.

Skin Laundry also offers a range of their bespoke product line as well as tiered “Laundry Club” monthly membership options. While their services are on the pricier side, the results and warm welcome of the staff make it all well worth the price.


Saudi flavors steal the show at Taste of London food festival

Updated 14 June 2024

Saudi flavors steal the show at Taste of London food festival

  • Camel milk and date ice cream among the tasty treats on offer
  • Head of Culinary Arts Commission says she hopes visitors will be inspired

LONDON: Thousands of food fans have been converging on Regent’s Park this week to sample the very best of Saudi cuisine and culture at the Taste of London food festival.

Making its second appearance at the event, the Taste of Saudi Culture pavilion is an initiative backed by the Kingdom’s Culinary Arts Commission.

“Food is the first introduction to culture and it’s how you consume a culture, how you understand the people,” Mayada Badr, the commission’s CEO, told Arab News.

“I love the curiosity I see when we have a stand. People are very curious to try … they want to learn.”

She said the aim of the initiative was “to showcase, as Saudi people, our unique and diverse culinary heritage.”

With more than 4,000 people visiting the event in the first two days, Badr, a former executive chef, said she was delighted with the turnout.

“We were here last year and we loved the feel, we loved how warm and welcoming everyone was.”

After the success of 2023, the Saudi pavilion at this year’s event is larger and since the start of the festival on Wednesday has been serving up all manner of national and regional dishes.

Among the highlights are jareesh, a crushed wheat dish served with stewed onions and black lemon, muttabaq, a spicy filled omelet pancake, and balilah, a chickpea salad.

Visitors to the pavilion can also watch live cooking demonstrations, take part in a Saudi coffee ceremony, or treat themselves to a gift, such as a cookbook, handicraft or tasty snack.

“People come for the coffee ceremony but also the dates,” Badr said. “We’re known for the best quality dates in the world.”

Saudi Arabia is home to about 400 varieties of dates, which are used to make everything from syrup to honey and maamoul, the traditional filled cookie eaten by Hajj pilgrims in Mecca.

The pavilion also aims to educate visitors about the thousands of ingredients that are grown across the Kingdom and how they are being used to change peoples lives.

Yahya Maghrebi, from Kerten Hospitality, is involved an initiative in Saudi Arabia that teaches women how to make ice cream.

“The gelato is a great example of blending traditions with innovation,” she said.

“We did Taste of Paris, now London, and we’re just showcasing what we’re doing in the region. Wherever we go, we care a lot about locality and community and we always try to bring the flavors of the area.”

For the London event, Maghrebi and her team created several new ice cream flavors, including Taif rose water, Jazan mango and the crowd-favorite camel milk with dates.

Badr said: “London is a huge melting pot of a city. People come from different cultures, different backgrounds. And what better backdrop to showcase cuisine and heritage?

“We have so much to offer, from traditional foods to all the high-end restaurants, but honestly, the homegrown traditional foods are some of the best in the world.”

She said she hoped people would be inspired by the tastes and flavors the Kingdom had to offer.

“I think it’s nice to always share techniques and flavors with the rest of the world, because you never know what they can do with it.

“It’s just sharing a piece of you and a piece of heritage. And that’s, you know, the Saudi hospitality.”

The Taste of London festival runs until Sunday.

Recipes for success: Chef Cedric Vongerichten  at The Edition in Jeddah offers advice and a tasty fritters recipe

Chef Cedric Vongerichten. (Supplied)
Updated 14 June 2024

Recipes for success: Chef Cedric Vongerichten  at The Edition in Jeddah offers advice and a tasty fritters recipe

DUBAI: “My dream wasn’t to be a soccer player or a musician or a doctor,” says Cedric Vongerichten, head chef of the French-Asian eatery Maritime at The Edition in Jeddah. “This is what I was meant to do — and to be.”  

It’s hard to argue. Vongerichten was born in Thailand to French parents who were in the country because Vongerichten’s father was head chef at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. By the time Vongerichten was two, the family had settled in New York after stints in Portugal and Boston. 

Vongerichten says his own passion for cooking starting at the age of eight or nine. “(I would finish) school and head home — which was a hotel at the time — and I’d spend my free time in the kitchen doing pastries and helping out. That was all I thought about.”  

He started serious cooking lessons in the south of France when he was 14 and has since traveled the world to learn about different cuisines and cultures.  

When you started out what was the most common mistake you made? 

I’d say overcomplicating things and not having a clear vision of the dish. Sometimes you just have to step back and look at the whole picture. The more you practice, the more things work automatically and you don’t have to think about it anymore. 

What’s your top tip for amateur chefs?  

When you’re at home it’s very easy to make your kitchen a mess and have pots and pans everywhere. That’s when it gets difficult to focus. Cooking, honestly, is 50 percent cooking and 50 percent cleaning; it’s really important to keep things clean and organized. Then when it comes to the actual cooking, keep it simple. People will be more impressed with (good quality ingredients) than with something overly complicated. 

What one ingredient can instantly improve any dish?  

Chili. I can’t live without it and nor can my family. It makes the dish very exciting from beginning to end. 

When you go out to eat, do you find yourself critiquing the food?  

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. It’s part of our job. But I’m not vocal about it, whether positive or negative. I don't want to ruin someone else’s experience. Everybody wants to just have a nice dinner. 

What’s the most common issue that you find in other restaurants?  

I’d say my pet peeve is lighting. I really like light to be done well. It creates a vibe. If the light is maybe gray, or too bright, it can make you feel like you don’t want to stay too long.  

What’s your favorite cuisine? 

We can’t live without our Asian fix. We need it at least once or twice a week, whether it’s Japanese, Indonesian, or Thai. 

What’s your go-to dish if you have to cook something quickly at home? 

Seafood takes me 15 to 20 minutes. Two nights ago, I did a simple local black sea bass. You just simply sear it skin-side down in a pan. And right now it’s the season for asparagus, so we had some boiled salted asparagus with olive oil and rice. Sometimes for the kids I’ll do roast chicken, they love that. I put it in a pan with potatoes, onion, garlic, water, salt, and olive oil, and sometimes I add rosemary. I put the chicken on top and put it in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes depending on the size of the chicken. The sauce does itself because of the dripping chicken and the potatoes. It doesn’t make much of a mess and it’s pretty easy and tasty. 

What customer request or behavior most annoys you? 

I don’t like to say no, so, in terms of requests, if we have the ingredients, then we just do it. The only thing that I don’t appreciate is when the service team gets disrespected.  

What’s your favorite dish to cook and why?   

It depends on the season. Right now, I would do say a fluke — the fish. It’s very simple and very good with just olive oil, a little squeeze of lime juice, a little salt, lemon zest, and, of course, some chili on top.  

I also love to do bouillabaisse. It’s a Mediterranean fish soup. It takes a long time. On top of the fish, you have some lobster, more fish, some potato and a piece of bread. There’s also a lot of saffron inside. It’s such a fun dish. And it’s very, very tasty. 

What’s the most difficult dish for you to get right? 

Pastries can be difficult. You need to be very precise. You need to actually weigh everything by the gram. Also, from country to country, it’s completely different, because — first of all — the weather is very different. There is the factor of humidity and temperature. The products, like flour, are different. So, you have to adjust to all of that. It’s very technical.  

As a head chef, what are you like in the kitchen? 

I feel like I experienced the end of an era in France when there were still chefs yelling and throwing things around. I remember seeing that in France. But it’s definitely phased out. Did I scream a little bit at beginning of my career? Maybe, but I’m definitely not like that now. In a team, everybody reacts differently, so you have to manage people differently. Some people need a little more coaching, others have a more independent approach. As a manager and as a chef, this is where you have to be flexible. I can be laidback, but I also want to have great results and the proper product. In the long run, you can see that most people want to stay with us for a long time. So that speaks for itself. 

 RECIPE: Chef Cedric’s fritters  

Chef Cedric’s fritters. (Supplied)  ​​​​​


90g all-purpose flour; 30g rice flour; 8g baking powder; 3g salt; 130g water; 25g scallions, green tops sliced on the bias; 300g corn kernels; 10g Fresno chili; vegetable oil for frying  


1. Put the all-purpose flour, rice flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  

2. Whisk in water until just combined. 

3. Add scallions, corn kernels and Fresno chili.  

4. Pour the oil into a large heavy-bottom pan.  

5. Heat oil until it shimmers but doesn’t smoke (350°F).  

6. Pour 1 tablespoon of the batter mixture into the hot oil at a time without overcrowding (for larger fritters, use about 1⁄2 cup of batter each). 

7. Flatten fritters slightly with a spatula, then press the spatula into the fritters a few times to create indentations for crispy edges. 

10. Cook until batter turns golden brown on the bottom, then flip and cook until the other side matches (about two mins more).  

11. Remove fritters and place on a platter lined with paper towels. 

12. Serve hot with spicy kecap manis (sweet soy) dipping sauce and garnish with sliced scallions.  




Where We Are Going Today: ‘Le Vesuvio’ restaurant at Jeddah Yacht Club

AN photo by Nada Hameed
Updated 11 June 2024

Where We Are Going Today: ‘Le Vesuvio’ restaurant at Jeddah Yacht Club

  • The milk-fed veal Milanese was equally delightful, extra crispy yet tender, accompanied by a fresh rocket and cherry tomato salad and slices of parmesan cheese

Le Vesuvio, the renowned Cannes eatery established more than 50 years ago, has found a home at Jeddah Yacht Club, nestled alongside the tranquil waters of the Red Sea.

The restaurant offers modern Italian cuisine with a French touch, and is a place to gather, share, and celebrate friendships.

Their signature mocktail aperitivo Italiano is a refreshing mix of grapefruit, lemon, and peach, while passion’tini comes with tropical mango, tangy lemon, and passionfruit flavors.

For appetizers, we tried Le Vesuvio mista, a salad of mixed greens, radicchio, grilled squash, cherry tomatoes, rocca, feta cheese, and sunflower seeds. I added a drizzle of balsamic vinegar for extra taste.

Melanzane alla parmigiana followed, a tower of oven-cooked eggplant, Parmigiano Reggiano, fresh basil, and tomato sauce.

Since the restaurant draws inspiration from Italian cuisine, we could not resist ordering the Napoli pizza quattro stagioni, which was topped with an array of ingredients, including mushrooms, black olives, pepperoni, artichoke, and Cantal cheese.

For mains, I savored the homemade fettuccine alfredo with tender chicken and creamy sauce. The milk-fed veal Milanese was equally delightful, extra crispy yet tender, accompanied by a fresh rocket and cherry tomato salad and slices of parmesan cheese. The generous portions were more than satisfying, perfect for sharing or enjoying solo.

For desserts, we indulged in the signature pecan mille-feuille, layers of delicate pastry filled with hazelnut and almond cream, caramel, and topped with caramelized hazelnuts, pecans, and red and black berries.

The presentation, with the mille-feuille layers elegantly arranged vertically, showed off the chef’s artistry and attention to detail.

Le Vesuvio’s modern interior, featuring comfortable seating and a beautiful lemon tree centerpiece, provided a serene ambiance complemented by the stunning sea view.

For more information visit their Instagram @levesuvio.sa.


‘This is for Palestine,’ says chef Michael Rafidi after coveted James Beard Award win

Updated 11 June 2024

‘This is for Palestine,’ says chef Michael Rafidi after coveted James Beard Award win

CHICAGO: A Palestinian chef using ancient cooking techniques, a Senegalese restaurant in New Orleans and an upscale Thai restaurant in Oregon won coveted James Beard Awards Monday at a red carpet awards ceremony in Chicago.
More than 100 restaurants were finalists across 22 categories for the culinary world’s equivalent of the Oscars with diverse range of cuisine and chef experience, a recent shift following turbulent, pandemic-era years for the James Beard Foundation. Just being a finalist can bring wide recognition and boost business. The most anticipated categories included awards for outstanding restaurateur, chef and restaurant.


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Michael Rafidi, whose Washington, D.C., restaurant Albi was awarded a coveted Michelin Star in 2022, won outstanding chef among five finalists. Albi, which is Arabic for “my heart,” pays homage to Rafidi’s Palestinian roots by using Old World food preparation techniques. Everything is cooked over charcoal, including grape leaves stuffed with lamb and sfeeha, a meat pie.

“This is for Palestine and all the Palestinian people out there," Rafidi told The Associated Press after winning the award. Rafidi, who wore a traditional black-and-white checkered keffiyeh, said he kept thinking of his Palestinian grandfather, who was also a chef, and how he paved the way for him.

Restaurants apply for the awards. Judges, who mostly remain anonymous, try the cuisine before voting. Nominees are reviewed for the food, as well as for a behavioral code of ethics, including how employees are treated. On Monday, winners announced at the Lyric Opera of Chicago venue were given engraved medallions.


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The award for best new restaurant went to Dakar NOLA, a Senegalese restaurant in New Orleans.

“I always knew that West Africa has something to say,” said chef Serigne Mbaye. “That kept me going.”

The James Beard Foundation has bestowed awards since 1991, except in 2020 and 2021 when the organization scrapped them as the restaurant industry was reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic. The foundation was also facing criticism over a lack of racial diversity and allegations about some nominees’ behavior. Foundation officials vowed to improve ethical standards and be more “reflective of the industry.”


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An upscale Thai restaurant that uses Pacific Northwest ingredients, Langbaan won outstanding restaurant, while Chicago restaurant Lula Cafe, a bistro that opened in 1999 on the city's North Side, won an award for outstanding hospitality.
Erika and Kelly Whitaker, a Colorado couple, won outstanding restauranteur.

Their Id Est Hospitality Group runs several Colorado restaurants including The Wolf’s Tailor, which serves wild game like smoked venison. Its restaurants have a focus on zero waste and sustainability practices.

“We don't particularly chase these awards," Kelly Whitaker said. “But we definitely chase the platform this brings.”