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Some of you may actually know him, while others of you may follow his tweets or blog ‘Not Hungry Cuz I Ate’. What many people don’t know about this talented and very ambitious young chef is that he’s actually a doctor. Yes, you read the last sentence correctly, I said, doctor!
I know some people find it incomprehensible that someone would give up medicine to work in a kitchen, when they could be treating patients and charging the earth for consultations or checkups. Well Sam did.
Which I’m sure is raising another question, ‘WHY?!” I’m not going to lie to you, I asked myself the same question but then decided that the only person who could answer it, would be him. His response was honest and to the point, “I don’t like patients”.
If you think about it many parents persuade or direct their children in to a line of profession that they don’t necessarily want to do or enjoy. For Sam to come to that realization early on and know what his passion is and what he wants to do with his life is quite admirable.
For those of you who don’t live in the region, you may be shrugging your shoulders to say ‘so, what’s the big deal?” In the Middle East being a doctor, engineer or businessman are the top 3 careers that parents want their sons and daughters to be apart of. Being a chef isn’t something that is held in high regard here, which is something I find quite funny, because there are chefs who earn a handsome living.
Ever since I’ve known Sam, I have been impressed with his intellect, wit and knowledge of herbs, flavors and meat cuts. We have had many conversations where we have discussed many recipes, cooking technique and sauces.
In 2010, Sam informed us that he was a chef in a very reputable restaurant in Maadi. A few friends of mine and I went to ‘The Cellar Door’ for a meal to test Sam’s culinary skills in a restaurant. As we walked in to the restaurant we came face to face with our friend in his chef’s coat, talking to the diners and asking them how they enjoyed their meal. When he saw us come in, it looked like he got a bit nervous because we would be some of his toughest critics, especially because we all know how to cook well and have high standards when it comes to pleasing our palates.
We all ordered a range of appetizers, main dishes and deserts. I have to admit that our two-and-a-half hour journey to the restaurant across the city and through traffic was worth every bite. My mushroom, rocket salad with apple was different and enjoyable. My main dish was chicken with a Moroccan twist to it. The chicken breast was rested on a bed of perfect raisin risotto – I was in poultry heaven and would have licked the plate clean if I hadn’t been in a restaurant! Although the recipe wasn’t one of Sam’s, he did oversee the preparation of it that night. To end my dining experience at the cellar door I order the chocolate raspberry mouse cake. The combination of the two flavors complimented each other perfectly and it was as sweet as ones first kiss. My friends whom I accompanied to the restaurant were just as pleased with their dining experience. We did have a few suggestions on how to tweak a few of the dishes and Sam listened intently and appreciated the honest criticism.
Since we visited him at the Cellar Door, he has since moved to the ever popular Cairo Jazz Club, where he is the Executive Chef and is revolutionizing their menu and coming up with some new dishes to add to a brand new menu and improving on the ones that they have. Not too long ago on twitter I cam across a tweet that had been posted by someone who mentioned how great the steaks were at CJC and that they rivaled a famous steak house here in Cairo.
I am planning on paying him a visit at his new place soon to taste and try out his latest creations as soon as it’s on the menu and available to the general public.
So, if you happen to be at Cairo Jazz Club and feel a bit peckish, I recommend that you order something from the menu to go with your drink and the great music, to make the whole experience complete.

P.S just a reminder, you can follow both NotHungryCuzI8 and IrishAlexandria on twitter.

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The month of fasting known to the Muslim world is coming to an end. With less than 24 hours to go we eagerly wait for the sun to set and for the four days of festivities of Eid El Fitr to begin.

Eid El Fitr ‘The festivity of purification’, I think is the best way to translate the name of the occasion. If you haven’t read my previous writings about Ramadan or know nothing of the month, then this won’t make any sense to you. So, I will try to give you a brief summary. Ramadan, is a month where Muslims world-wide fast from sunrise to sunset, (are not allowed to consume any kind of food or beverage during sunlight hours), this strict act of discipline is to remind them of their blessings, to relate to those less fortunate of themselves, as well as time for reflecting on one’s acts and behavior for the past year. This month is special and sacred to Muslims because they are able to ask for forgiveness and erase their sins for the past year. Hence, the celebration of being ‘purified’.  

How is Eid El Fitr (or the small Eid) celebrated?

Days before the end of the fasting month, families go out and buy Eid clothes, to wear on the first day of the feast. For Non Muslim’s the best way to interpret the act is as new clothes that you receive for Christmas or wearing your Sunday best. Traffic in Egypt after Iftar and the Taraweeh Prayers is always manic! People will be shopping for gifts and clothes.

Ladies of many house holds will be preparing and baking traditional desert, (which is HIGH in calories, but very tasty) to offer visitors. The desert is called ‘Ka’ak’, which means cake in English. It doesn’t look or taste anything like the cakes you may be familiar with. Each Arabic speaking nation has its own unique way of making it. In Egypt is best described as a cookie/biscuit made out of semolina and stuffed with ground dates, nuts or some times Turkish delight. On the outside it is sprinkled with powdered sugar.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ka’ak)

On the dawn of the first day of the month after Ramadan, (Shawal), there is a special prayer, most commonly known as ‘Salat El Eid’ (Eid Prayer). “Eid prayer is performed in congregation in open areas like fields, squares etc or at mosques. No adhan or iqama (call) is to be pronounced for this Eid prayer, and it consists of only two rakaʿāt with additional 6 Takbirs. The Eid prayer is followed by the khutbah (sermon) and then a supplication (dua) asking for forgiveness, mercy and help for all living beings across the world. The khutbah also instructs Muslims as to the performance of rituals of Eid, such as the zakat.[9] Listening to the khutbah of Eid is necessary (wajib) i.e. while the khutbah is being delivered, it is haraam to talk, walk about or offer prayer.[10] It is then customary to embrace the persons sitting on either side of oneself, whilst greeting them. After the prayers, people visit their relatives, friends and acquaintances.”  (The above quoted paragraph is from wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eid_ul-Fitr )

The greeting that is said to those celebrating Eid is ‘ Eid Mubarak’, (Blessed Feast), ‘Eid Saeed’ (Happy Eid) or ‘Kul Sana Wa Inta Tayib’ (Happy New Year).

Traditionally after the prayer families will go to the cemetery to pay their respects to their deceased family members and then go home to enjoy breakfast together. Once home, families either exchange gifts or give money. Children often receive money from their adult family relations; this is known as ‘Eideya’. People will go and visit relatives, neighbors and friends often taking with them ka’ak, other deserts or gifts.

On the second and third day of Eid families usually go out for a meal. In Alexandria the restaurant or meal of choice would usually be fish. The reason for it is because for a whole month Alexandrian’s have avoided eating it because it’s salty and would make them feel very thirsty the following day and it would make their day of fasting more difficult.   Another popular out would be to go to the cinema, to watch the newly released Arabic movies for the feast.  A word of warning to those whom may consider venturing outside their front doors, the food courts, cinemas and arcades in the Malls will be busier than ever!

Now a days fewer people spend time visiting relatives and go away for the Eid vacation. Popular vacation spots are Alexandria and the beaches along the Red Sea. I personally try to avoid the popular vacation spots because, it will be overly crowded. When I go away, I like to go somewhere, where I can relax in peace and not have to worry about bumping in to colleagues, students and other people I know.

During the Eid most shops, banks and all businesses are closed for the first three days of the feast, much like Christmas and New Years in the West and Europe. If you aren’t going away and intend on staying in town, then I suggest you do your shopping before the holiday begins.

For those of you who celebrate Eid, I wish you all an Eid Mubarak and for those of you who don’t, just enjoy the time off!

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the 9th month in the Hijra Calendar. Ramadan for those of you who are not familiar with it is the Muslim’s holy month of fasting from sunrise to sunset. During this month Muslims world-wide go about their daily routines but while they refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and (uhmm) no hanky panky until sunset. The act of fasting is meant to be a way to teach Muslims how to be patience as well as modest. It is also a time for reflection, prayer and spirituality. In prayer Muslim’s ask God (Allah) for forgiveness for the sins that they have committed during the past year. They will also ask God to give them strength to guide them and help them stay away from temptation and evil. It is also a time for thinking of those less fortunate than themselves. You will find that people give bags filled with rice, pasta, oil, sugar, tomato paste and other things. These gifts are usually given to the hired help, bawabs (care taker of the building) and anyone whom you think is needy at the beginning of the month. There are tents that are set up across the city, to feed those who can not afford to feed themselves. The food is for free and they are often given money at a value of 10LE. The five prayers that a Muslim is expected to pray on a daily basis do not change. An additional prayer takes place only during the Month of Ramadan and that is known as the Taraweeh. You will find that after Iftar (breaking of the fast) many people will leave their homes with their prayer mats and Quraan to go to the mosque to take part in the prayer. Depending on the Sheikh of the month, the prayers could last to over an hour. Also during the month Muslim’s should read their holy book, The Quraan from beginning to end. It was during the month of Ramadan that the first verses of the Quraan were revealed to the Prophet Mohamed. So, as you can imagine, this is a VERY spiritual time in Muslim countries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramadan

What to expect during Ramadan

What I really like about the month is that it is a time when families come together to break their fast and relatives that aren’t seen often come over to break fast or to have suhour. Suhour is the late night snack/meal that people will have to help them get through the next day without being hungry. It is supposed to be a simple affair but over the years it has grown in to a BIG event, like a dinner party. During this time, it would be best that you eat at home. The restaurants will not be functioning to their full capacity and the food won’t be as good. Try not to go out to a restaurant for Iftar, because you will not be satisfied with the service or the quality of the food. Working hours (government offices, companies and schools) will start later and end earlier. You will find that most of the people who are addicted to coffee or smoking are not in the best of moods during this month, their cranky and can be quite stand offish too. A word to the wise, if you are doing renovations, work in a factory you will find that your staff will not be putting in 100% effort and are best described as lazy. They will use the excuse of fasting for their lack of concentration. When you go to supermarkets you will probably find a low supply of rice, pasta, oil and sugar. People buy all of this in BULK! If you want an easy time shopping then I suggest you wake up early on Friday morning and head over to your supermarket and shop while everyone is sound a sleep and tucked away in bed, otherwise expect to do some defense shopping. Peoples driving skills become worse and they lose their tempers a lot faster than they normally would. When it’s close to breaking their fast, people drive so fast like bats out of hell that I think that even Michael Schumacher would be terrified. At sunset the streets are deserted and peaceful! That is when everyone is home sitting around the dinning room table breaking their fast.

https://speakingupandspeakingoutfromcairo.wordpress.com/

lunch had at FratelliAlexandria is where I call home in Egypt. It’s where I spent my teenage years, graduated from High School and University and where my family still lives. There is a mysterious charm about the place and I can’t get enough of it. It has a unique mix of culture, you can still sense the European presence that once existed, and the Mediterranean laid back attitude and the Egyptian hospitality.

When I am in Cairo I long to be in Alexandria with my family and going for early Friday morning walks along the Corniche (sea road).
It is an unspoken ritual/tradition that Fridays are family days and on that day we give our mothers a rest from laboring in the kitchen and go out to eat. My Dad loves food and I think I inherited his passion for it. He enjoys trying new restaurants and cuisine.

In this post I am going to recommend some of the restaurants my family and I have been to and like and others that I have tried and have gone back to several times.
Carrefour Shopping center
Makanni
Of all the Egyptian restaurant chains, Makani is my favorite. It has a western twist to its food. I am a sucker for their chicken corn salad. My sister on the other hand can’t get enough of their Sushi. The Restaurant is located in the new section of Carrefour.
Café Supremo
A Canadian chain that has opened in Carrefour is a nice place to go for a light lunch. I was there last weekend with my mother and sister and I really enjoyed my plate of Quesada’s and I heard no complaints from my mother or sister.
Supremo is the only place in Alexandria that has bagels. If you had a craving for one, then you need to head down there. It is as good as the real bagels you buy in Canada but its close enough.
12/8/2011
* My last two visits to the place were in October and in April and i found the service to be a bit slow, waiters forgetful and disorganized at times.
If none of those interest you, there is a food court in the mall too.
Spectra

The Cairo restaurant that serves food similar to Coffee Roastary and reminds me a lot of pub lunches have opened in Alexandria. It has two locations. The first is in the Downtown complex opposite Carrefour City Center and the other is inside Montazah.
My parents have gone there a few times in my absence and have enjoyed it. They especially liked the deserts that were on the menu.
I went with them on two occasions since having posted the post months ago and I have to say that I enjoyed both meals I had there.
Balbaa

Balbaa Restaurant is located in the Downtown complex opposite the Carrefour City Center shopping mall. The restaurant has two levels; the first is for more traditional food like Kofta, Kabab, Pigeon and other tantalizing dishes. The fresh basket of mini baked Arabic bread and Mezzas are served before the meal. They are so good that you find it hard to restrain yourself from eating too much before your main course arrives. Everything is cooked fresh.
The 2nd level is for sea food. I am a sea food junky!! I love fish! I enjoy picking the fresh fish that I’m going to eat, along with calamari, muscles and occasionally shrimp and instructing the attending mongers my preference on how I like it cooked. While you are waiting Mezzas and a fresh basket of bread are put down in front of you whilst you wait for your meal. I have been to many fish restaurants in Alexandria, but this I find to be the best and great value for your money. I recommend going before the restaurant gets too busy, It’s best to go at around 2pm.
Chili’s

If you like American/Mexican food, then Chili’s is the place to go for your Nachos and cheese, crispy chicken, Texas fries, Fajita’s and Burgers. I must admit that the food is good. I especially enjoy their salad selection, country fried chicken, their refill basket of salsa and chips and their chocolate molten lava cake!
De La Vega

Is a café and restaurant located above Chili’s. I like going there to chill and relax with a large number of friends. It’s open air and the seating is really comfortable. If you want to go for a snack and sheesha then I would recommend going there.
Mykonos
I love the name of the place and the décor too. The place has that Greek atmosphere about it with its white walls and blue shutters. My sister and her friends really enjoy going there for their sheesha. I treated my family for lunch there and if my father had no complaints about the service, location or the food then it has to be good. Having worked in restaurants and bakeries during his student years, he has very high expectations when it comes to where he eats out.
There are 2 other restaurants next to Mykonos that you may also enjoy. I believe all 3 are owned by the same person(s) because if you wish to order something from either of the other restaurants you can.
Weiner Café
In the same area and line as the restaurants mentioned above is Weiner Café unfortunately doesn’t serve my favorite hot dog brand, but if you like chocolate like the ladies in my family do, then this is the place in Alex to indulge. Their chocolate fondue with Belgian chocolate is not to be missed. My parents, who aren’t big coffee drinkers, do enjoy going there to have a Cappuccino and Café Late.
12/8/2011
* I went there in April and found that the standard of service has dropped and the place seems to be a bit run down. The chocolate is still good!
If you drive behind the Alexandria International Gardens you will find a string of clubs and restaurants.
Fratelli
It is a private club that mainly expats go to, to spend the day by the pool and to have lunch. You pay for the use of the facilities (Pool & Gym) each time you go there. If you aren’t interested in swimming, tanning or working out but would like to go somewhere open aired and with foliage, then you might be interested in going there for lunch. I have eaten there several times and I really enjoy the food as well as the ambiance.
Alegria (restaurant/pub)
This is a very modern and hip place to go to in the evenings. It is especially popular on Thursday and Friday nights, to guarantee a place from 9pm on wards on either of those nights, you need to book in advance. You can have a meal there or order a variety of delicious appetizers while you socialize or listen to the D.J spin some tracks.
According to their facebook group;
Sundays they have live Guitarist playing.
Tuesdays is Karaoke themed night
to reserve call; Michael, Mobile: 0182878224 , Tel: 03-3822797

Ole

The restaurant and bar is named after the Swiss owner. Christina is a Swiss trained chef, who moved to Alexandria with her husband many years ago. She lives in Agami and the restaurant is a part of the house. It is a very quaint and cozy place to go to for a meal or to have drinks with friends. There have been many occasions where people will start jamming on the piano and before you know it everyone starts belting out songs and joining in on the fun.In Kafr Abdu, Roushdy area there is a restaurant/café called Ole. It has a Spanish theme and is very nicely decorated. My mother loves going to Ole for a meal. Her favorite dish there is the fish and I have to admit that I love their sea food paella and California salad. The food is delicious and the service is friendly and old school. Their deserts are something not to be missed either.
Another good thing about Ole is that if you are having a dinner party and aren’t a very good cook, they will cater.

Cilantro


Cilantro is one of my favorite cafes to go to and hang out with friends. The juices, sandwiches and salads are made freshly every day. It has a very calm atmosphere.
The café is located next to Ole and opposite the building where the Tamarin Center (exercise) center is. There are several branches in Alexandria and Cairo.

Fresca and Blue
Both cafés are located in the newly built Four Seasons Hotel in San Stefano overlooking the sea. Fresca is on the ground floor opposite the main entrance to the hotel lobby. I like going there during the day for a light lunch. It’s a very popular place to go out to eat. Blue is located on the 2nd or 3rd floor of the hotel. It’s open air and overlooks the cornice and sea. It’s a great place to be at sunset. I haven’t eaten there but my friends enjoy going. I like going for the view and to relax and chat with friends.
The hotel sometimes has a café open on the hotels private beach.
Trianon


Is a café located on the cornich very close to the Ramada hotel. It’s a nice café to go to in the evening with friends to have sheesha, a light snack and drinks (nonalcoholic). If you sit in the outside area of the café you have a nice vie of the sea.
Down Town Alexandria
12/8/2011
The Greek Club (serves alcohol)
There are 2 Greek Clubs (that I know of) in Alexandria, one is located in the Alexandria bay area, next to the yacht club and the Qayat Bay Fort. It has recently been renovated and has an elevator that takes you up to the restaurant. The view from the restaurant terrace at any time of day is breath taking! They menu has many familiar Greek dishes, I have to say since the last time I was there a couple of years ago the standard has improved and the food is good, but not GREAT.
The second Greek Club is located next to the Azzareeta tram line, across from a gas station. If you are not a member you need to pay an entrance fee to go in. The club is nothing luxurious but it’s a great place to go to, to get away from the daily harassment that one is exposed to. The club is mostly open air and spacious. It is quiet and with all the Greek, French and Armenian that you here, you tend to forget that you’re in Egypt. There is a quaint little restaurant and bar on the premises. The owner, of the restaurant Nicolas is usually there in the evenings over seeing how things are run. The food there is fresh and tasty. A great place to go to for a brief get away.

Athenos (serves alcohol)
This old restaurant/café is over 100 years old. It is just a few minutes’ walk from Mahatat El Raml Square. The place isn’t as glorious as it used to be back in its day, but I have to admit that its location is nicely located. It is right on the Corniche and if you are lucky enough to have a window seat then you have an excellent view of the Mediterranean.
There aren’t many places you can go to in Alexandria where you will be served Alcoholic beverages, but you can get a cold beer there. I sometime like to go there early in the morning for breakfast to have a chocolate croissant and lemonade.
Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandria Library)
Outside on the premises of the Library grounds there is a string of cafe’s that have an outside view of the Planetarium, Library and Cornish Sea view. Hilton Cafe, Cilanto, Cinnabon and a few others.
The Cecil Hotel
One of the oldest and expensive hotels in Alexandria has still got its charm and class. Did you know that Churchill and Agatha Christi stayed there? The place has a lot of history, so much in fact that it was on CNN. On the roof of the hotel is a Chinese restaurant. I am not a huge fan of Asian food but I have to admit that it is very good. The view from the roof top at night is magical. You are sitting under a blanket of stars an can see Alexandria bay lit up and on a clear night you can see the lights from ships in the distance and if you ever think of proposing to someone, this is probably the best place to do it.
The Imperial Cafe
Is a cafe right next door to the Cecil Hotel overlooking the square. It is newly renovated and i have to admit it was my first time to set foot in the place in July and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the service and it’s over all standard. I would definitely drop by again in the near future.

Delice (has a bar, cafe and restaurant)
Is another other café that has been around for decades. I enjoy going there because when I sit and look around I can imagine myself sitting next to some of the colonials back in the 1930. This is another place where I enjoy going to have breakfast early in the morning. Their pancakes are nice, but if you want to try something different, then try the Greek cheese pie. They have a nice bakery too. I love their giant macaroons and meringues. My elderly neighbor, Madame Yamna (God rest her soul), loved their petit four biscuits from there. So when ever, I would go to visit her, I would buy her a box. This is another place you can go to, to have a beer.
St. Lucia (serves alcohol)

This fine dining restaurant is located opposite Cinema Metro and the Elite Café, where the famous Greek writer Cavafy used to sit and write. I used to go to St. Lucia when I would come to visit my Grandmother in the summers. I loved going there because the waiters spoke at least 5 to 7 languages. My Dad liked it too because he would practice his Greek with them. The restaurant has changed hands since then, the waiters are long gone but the history of the place is still there.
It has been renovated and the prices have sky rocketed. If you want to go out for a night of wine and dining this is the place. Next to the café is another old café called Asteria. It’s a very quiet place and few people go in there. My Grandmother and I used to go there together after having begged and dragged her to the Toy shop to buy the latest Barbie doll (I collected them), she would have ice cream and tea, while I would have sport cola and ice cream.
Elite Cafe
After years of being closed and undergoing renovation, it has finally reopened. I must confess, that I have not ventured in side (yet) but I fully intend to. This cafe holds a great deal of history and many childhood memories for me. At this very cafe sat some of the greatest modern day writers of the Mediterranean. One of which is the famed Greek writer Cavafy, who is best known for his poem Ethica. The old lady, who used to own the cafe, would tell you stories of when they would come in and sit and write. As a child when I used to come on holidays, this was one of the cafe’s we would sit at in the evenings and I would drink my 7 Up and have a bowl of ice cream.
Abu Sid (used to be Pastroudis)
On the corner of Cinema Amir, there used to be one of the most popular cafes, Pastroudis. I remember many summers going for a walk with my parents to this location on Fouad street, just a few minutes’ walk from my Grandmother’s house and sitting there watching the men with hantours (carriages) taking their passengers for a ride.
It has now been transformed in to the very popular oriental restaurant Abu Sid. I haven’t gone to eat there yet, but my mother went with a friend of hers for lunch recently. She said she really enjoyed the meal, but was flabbergasted at the prices.
Chez Gaby (serves alcohol)

When I first moved to Alexandria, there were very few good restaurants. The number of restaurants since I move here in the early 90s has more than quadrupled. Chez Gaby was one of the best places to go to. I remember going there after school with my friend and her mother for pizza. It was the best pizza I had had in months. To this day their pizzas are still very good. Their food reminds me a lot of Maison Thomas in Cairo. The restaurant is located very close to St. Lucia. It’s a couple of streets behind it.
* Alcohol is served
Déjà vu (serves alcohol)
Déjà vu (formally known as Far and Away) is a pub, (one of the very few in Alexandria)
it’s probably one of the most popular places to go to on a Thursday or a Friday night. If you want to go and have a bite to eat, the food there is good and if you want to go watch a football match or have a dance this is where you need to head.
It’s very close to the Said Darweesh Theater.
Grand Café, Chicken Tikka and Fish Market
The three restaurants are located in the same area. They are on the sea side of the Corniche road. The three are very popular places to go for a meal in Alexandria. The food there is always good. The staff is friendly and professional. The portion size for the price they charge is something that I don’t agree with. I don’t mind forking out the money every now and then when I want to treat myself.
Of the three, I prefer the Fish Market and Chicken Tikka.
Agami
Agami is a very old beach resort outside of the city. If you take the new road to Bianki Agami it should take you about twenty minutes driving. If you take the old route via the desert road it would take you half an hour or more.
I have spent almost 2 decades of my summers there. My Great Uncle had a villa right on the beach and when the family sold it my father bought and built his own. If you can’t afford to go abroad for the summer then you have to spend it somewhere by the sea. (Just make sure that it is private beach that you go to, otherwise you will be harassed!!!)
I met some of my closest and best friends in Bianki. The majority of them are like me of mixed ethnicity. It’s also where a lot of the old Alexandrians prefer to go during the summer. At one point Agami was like the Rivera of the Middle East. It has lost its status to the more modern and posh resorts that have been built further up the North Coast.
Two of my favorite Restaurants are in Agami.

Wagihe’s Steak house.
The owner of this little restaurant is a one man show! He runs the place, cooks the food and serves. The word I would use to describe the food would be…German! I have no idea why…but I think it has a lot to do with the ambience of the place and the German memorabilia he has on the walls. The steak there is mouthwatering; the French fries are homemade steak fries! Going there once is not enough! It’s a popular place people go to when they are heading back from the beach and want to tame their hunger pains.
The restaurant is on the main street of Bianki.
Christina’s

The restaurant and bar is named after the Swiss owner. Christina is a Swiss trained chef, who moved to Alexandria with her husband many years ago.
She lives in Agami and the restaurant is a part of the house. It is a very quaint and cozy place to go to for a meal or to have drinks with friends. There
have been many occasions where people will start jamming on the piano and before you know it everyone starts belting out songs and joining in on the fun.

If there are places you have been to and liked, please recommend them to me and my readers by leaving a comment.

It’s amazing to think that there are starving people in Egypt, when eating is such a popular past time. There are restaurants, Cafes and supermarkets almost on every corner of every block. You even have food carts that sell foul (traditional bean dish), Falafel (deep friend bean patty), batata (sweet potato) and roasted corn (dur-rah). Hell you can even buy belady bread, fruit and vegetables from a cart. We are a nation obsessed about FOOD! Our outings are revolved around FOOD too. 

Mohendiseen Area

Mohendiseen is one of my least favorite places to go to.  I personally find it to be overly crowded and the thickest part of the concrete jungle we call Cairo. However, it is where most of the businesses are and it’s where the majority of the citizen’s of the Gulf states like to take up residents during the summer months. In the districts defense, I have to admit that they do have some restaurants that are worth battling traffic to go and enjoy.

If you want your steak cooked the way you want it, then Charwoods is the place to go and satisfy your craving. It’s a quaint and quiet restaurant located on Gam3at El Dewal Street.  Keep your eyes open for it because it’s very easy to miss. The interior is very simple but with a cozy atmosphere. The menu is on black chalk boards on the restaurant walls. So, feel free to get up and walk around to read what you might want to eat. Their Fillet Au Poivre is my favorite and their lemon sorbet ice cream is so perfect you could purr. I was taken there on a first date and I was impressed. If you plan on going with a large group of people, it’s bet to book ahead of time. 

Le Papillon (The Butterfly),  is quite an old restaurant but still serves great tasting Lebanese food. We went there for the first time a few months ago and we were so mesmerized by the Mezazas (oriental salads), that we kept ordering more. We never got to ordering a main dish or desert.

Crave is quite a hip place to eat. I believe the correct culinary word to describe it is fusion. They fuse two or three styles of cuisine together. Their Mixed Mushroom Appetizer is divine and their Chocolate fondant desert is enough to make you ‘crave’ it more.

Maison Thomas is my favorite pizzeria in Egypt. Thomas uses fresh ingredients on their thin crust pizzas and their cheese cakes are just as good. My advise is if you have the urge to have Pizza, don’t go for the fast food junk, be kind to your body and taste buds and either go their or have a deliver made. I’m so glad they have branches all over the city.

Spectra Cafe is a lot like Roastary in my opinion. It reminds me a lot of a pub that serves pub sized lunches. The times I have gone there was only one time, where I didn’t enjoy the meal and that was because it was really late at night and the oil they used to fry the onion rings in had been over used.

* I am sure there are others but those are the ones that I have been to.

Maadi reminds me of the suburbs. It is probably the greenest part of Cairo. Maadi is home to most of the Expat community in Cairo. The Ivy league schools are there too. They have a couple of clubs exclusively for expats and they also have several softball teams. I don’t mind venturing there from time to time, the only problem is it’s a maze for someone who doesn’t live there. The streets are not labeled or numbered clearly, so it’s easy to get lost if you don’t know where you are going.

Lluciel’s on road 9, has been written about. I believe a writer in a very prestigious magazine said that Lluciels has the best burger they have ever tried. I have tried their burgers and I have to admit that they are DAMN good. The food at Lluciels makes you feel like you’re at your Grandma’s and you are having a home cooked meal. Friday’s they serve all day breakfast.

Jareds Bagel’s is on the same road a Llucie’s. I don’t know about you, but some times when I’m here I have cravings for foods that are unavailable here. As the years roll by, more and moe of my cravings are being satisfied. Jared’s Bagels are an excellent supplement for the fresh Jewish bagels used to buying in Montreal. 

Cuba Cabana (road 7) is a very cool place to go to there are 3 different seating areas. You have the outside area, which is very pleasant. In the evenings it has romantic atmosphere. In the building are 2 other seating areas. The first one you come to is very hip and funky, if memory serves me correctly the furniture is purple velvet. For some strange reason reminds me of the new Alice in Wonderland movie. The thrid area is very comfortable. It has a ‘natural’ feel to it with big white soft couches and a coffee tables. The food there is very tasty too. I can’t pin point what genre of cuisine it is, I think it’s a mixture of many.

San Marino- Korean

I  had never tried korean food before going to San Marino. I have to admit that the food was delicious and fresh. A Korean woman owns the place and over sees every thing that is served. If Koreans and other Asian’s eat there, then you can rest assure that the food is good.

Fuego

Bandar Mall in Maadia, has Chili’s, a bowling alley, cinema and a fancy restaurant called Fuego. Fuego is one of the Tuesday Nighters favorite places to go for a meal in Maadi. I have to admit that it is one of mine too. The cuisine is excellent. I have never had a bad experience there. The service is sterling and the management is top-notch. I was a witness to an incident where a colleague of mine had ordered sea food soup and not only did it smell fishy but it tasted too. The manager came over and apologized for the mishap, took the item of the check and gave her complimentary desert. 

Bukhara (Indian)

Karven Hotel’s Massala restaurant, in Heliopolis is the reason why I enjoy eating Indian food. Bukhara in Maadi is another place to go to if you enjoy Indian cuisine. The ambiance of the restaurant is simple, yet comfortable. I was there after having taken Grade 5 on a school trip to the Cairo Museum. Most of the children are only exposed to fast food and oriental food, so for most of them it was a new experience. The kids devoured the food on their plates and they really enjoyed the naan bread with the selected dips. Children can be the toughest food critics, so if they eat and enjoy the food then it must be good.

At least once a week  the Tuesday Nighters, used to (my friends and I) go out for dinner somewhere in Cairo. The majority of us were residence of the Heliopolis or Masr El Gideeda area, but we try to break the habit of convenience and staying close to home. We wanted to give our friends who don’t live near us a break from having to battle against Cairo traffic.  We had tried quite a variety of restaurants in Zamalek, Mohendiseen, Maadi and of course Masr Gideeda. I think if we were paid to be restaurant critiques every restaurant would dread seeing us cross the threshold of their restaurant. The majority of us all cook for ourselves and for pleasure, our pallets are quite mature and we have high expectations when it comes to our food. Our toughest critique would probably be Fat Sam, founder of Not Hungry Cuz I Ate.

So, in my latest entry I am going to give you the names of restaurants that I have enjoyed dining at. If you can think of others that you would like to recommend then please tell me and I’ll even make the effort to go and try it out myself or with my friends.

If you want a nice light breakfast or meal then I highly recommend Casper and Gambini’s. I have no complaints about the place. Every time I have been, I have enjoyed my meal. They make really nice pancakes and fritata’s

In the Heliopolis Area of Cairo, we are really spoilt for choice. The humongous mall, City Stars is home to many restaurants. When I’m there for lunch or dinner, I don’t mind  Ruby Tuesday’s because they have a fresh wholesome salad bar (I love salad!) and the quality of the meat that they use to make their burgers is really good. The service is friendly and good (located on the same floor as the cinema)

Blaze is a new restaurant/cafe and sheehsa joint that has opened. I have to admit that I like the atmosphere and the food is good too.

One of my new favorite places for a late night of dancing, spirit and cusine is CAVALLINI!! You can find this awesome place at SunCity Mallon the top floor. It reminds me of Summermoon in Agami way back in the day. Thursday and Friday’s rock!!

Opposite where Waga mama used to be is the Macaroni Grill, the times I have eaten there, I have really enjoyed my meal. I have heard mixed reviews about the place, but I have no complaints. There are 5 stone hearts hidden on the walls of the restaurant, if you find them you get a prize. I have yet to find them all. I have found 3 of the 5.

Cafe Supreme has come to Cairo and has hit the Korba area with a BANG!! If you are into healthy choices, sushi, sheesha this is the place for you!

If you like traditional Egyptian food then there is the popular restaurant Abu Sid. I haven’t tried the restaurant in the Mall, so I can’t vouch for that location but I have been to the branch in Zamalek, and I enjoyed it. It can be a bit pricey so make sure you have money with you.

If you are a fast food junky, then City Stars has all the junk you could want to satisfy your cravings. There are 2 food courts to choose from. There’s the one in the old section, the floor before the cinema and the second is on the ground floor in the new section of the mall. You can’t miss either. They are always the most crowded places in the mall and the noisiest too.

Tivoli Dome is the newest hot spot in the Masr El Gideda area. It’s an area where there are many restaurants to choose from  there is Noodle House ( i think you can guess what is on the menu),  Out Back Steak House (it’s an Australian chain, I really enjoy going there. Their steaks and burgers are very tasty, for an appetizer, you have to try the Bloom’n Onion), Crave is another restaurant that is well worth your money. The food is creative and definitely tickles your palate with its interesting flavours. Then you have Costa Coffee, Starbucks, Cilantro, Chili’s, Burger King, Cedars, Popeye and Bon Appetit. Parking there is a pain in the rear end!! So, If you don’t want to drive round and round in circles, then i recommend you walk there if you live near by or take a cab to save yourself from parking frustration!

Sonnesta Hotel

If memory serves me correctly, Sonnesta has an all you can eat Sushi night every Tuesday. I am not a big fan of Sushi, but I will eat the vegetarian rolls.

Makani is a restaurant located behind the famous Asian looking mansion called El Baron. If you are driving on Salah Salem you can’t miss it. It’s a spectacular building. Makani has an interesting array of salads and sandwiches as well as Sushi. I am a big fan of their chicken corn salad.

Le Chantilly is a swiss restaurant located in Korba. It’s very eloquent and simple in its decor but it’s food is yummy. I love their veal sausages with home-made gravy and  their breakfast buffets. There is an inside section and there’s an outdoor are too.

Karven Hotel is the place to go to have Indian food in Masr El Gideda. I used to cringe at the though of indian food before had even  tried it. For some un known reason I didn’t find it very appealing. When I tried it for the first time at Massala  I couldn’t get enough! The taste lingered in my mouth for days and I couldn’t stop dreaming about it. There is also a Chinese restaurant at the hotel. When my friends and I go to Karven, we like to go up to the Roof Garden and have our meal up there. The atmosphere is very pleasant and more spacious to take all of us.

Who doesn’t love Pizza?! I could eat it until I become round and my hear turns in to Mozeralla. I have grown tired of the fast food Pizzas and want to enjoy eating one made with fresh vegetables, herbs and close to the real Italian pizza. The closest I have come so far is Maison Thomas. I have enjoyed ever pizza and bite of their Pizzas.I especially like their Fungi Pizza

Zamalek Area

Zamalek is one of my favorite areas in Cairo. It is an Island in the Nile inhabited by some of the most cultured and influential people. In my opinion it’s the focal point of the original aristocrats that lived and ruled the land. I enjoy walking around Zamalek and looking at the fascinating Architecture, visiting art galleries  as well as going to its many restaurants.

As soon as you come off the 25th of July bridge, on your left hand side above Drinkies (a place to buy alcohol) is a restaurant called, La Bodega. The restaurant takes up the entire first floor. It is split in to two. One is a quiet and dimly lit dining area. While the other is semi casual and is split in to 3 sections. You have a dining area, bar area and the lounge. The food there is leaning towards French cuisine with a twist of oriental. You won’t regret eating there. I have yet to hear of anyone not having gone back again. You will find that a lot of people from the expat community in Zamalek go there. ( I hear this classly place might be closing it’s doors soon…I would go and check it out if you haven’t already)

Cairo Kitchen is the new sha3by chic! It makes traditional Egyptian dishes and drinks.

On the same block as La Bodega, Maison Thomas is a renowned and established restaurant best known for its Pizzas. This I believe is the original restaurant that has been opened since 1922. Once you try their Pizza, you may never order any other  kind again.

Just around the corner from Maison Thomas is a cluster of small pubs and restaurants. But the one many people flock to taste traditional Egyptian food is Abu Sid. If you have guests coming from abroad or have just moved to Egypt, this is where you should try Egyptian food.

Sequoia is another popular place to go in Zamalek. As soon as you come of the 25th of July  bridge, keep going straight until you come to the first set of traffic lights. Take a right at the traffic lights and keep going straight. It will be opposite you. Dinner overlooking the Nile siting in a marquis like tent. It’s a really nice place to go and chill or to watch a soccer/football game with your friends whilst you have diner. The food there isn’t top-notch but it’s good. I like their Mezza’s, salad selection and my friends like the Sushi there. If you are in to smoking Sheesha, it’s a great place to go for that.

Pub 28 is further down the road from these restaurants. It’s a small pub with wooden paneled walls. For some strange reason it reminds me of some of the small pubs you might find in villages in the UK. Not many youngsters go there to enjoy a night out, it’s for a more mature age group. However, the food there is really good.

Zamalek is where some of the AUC dorms are. To make food wholesome as well as enjoyable, students go to Dido’s. It’s a little restaurant on Ahmed Heshmat Street. It’s speciality is Pasta. The meal although cheaper than most restaurants is of good quality and portion. When I need my carb fix, this is the place to go.

On the street parallel to Ahmed Heshmat is, Mar3ashly Street. On that street you will find Tabasco Cafe and Costa Coffee. Both are usually full of students. La Toratoria is a restaurant specialized in Haute Cuisine. If you are taking your lady friend out on a date and really want to impress her with your taste in food, then this is one place you could go to.

Marriot Hotel is a beautiful palace that has since been converted in to a hotel. It’s a great place to go to spend the day in the hotel garden and another great place to bump in to celebrities. I met one of Good Morning America’s anchors there. Hotels, often have great restaurants. The two that I really like there are Roy’s Kitchen & the Italian restaurant. Roy’s’ is more  Western/Country style cooking. Their open buffet is really good and their burgers are made with good quality meat,  and are HUGE.

A long the Nile there are quite a few river boats that have many restaurants. One of my favorite boats to have diner at is Le Pacha, Le Steak. I was taken there on a first date and I just loved the place and the food. I have sensed a slight slip in the standard but not enough to not want to go back. The staff and service they provide is excellent. I recently celebrated my 32nd birthday people with over 20 people!

Blue Nile Boat  is another one of the many boats with a restaurant. Asia Bar has really good Asian food. The decor is really funky and so is the lazy Susan on the table. If you go on a Thursday or a Friday night you may find that quite a lot of the females who are, (hmmm….how should I put this politely?) are willing to provide entertainment services to gents but at a price, (if you catch my drift).

For really good sushi, go to Mori Sushi in Zamalek. Like I said, I am not a Sushi person, but I like the variety they have and it’s a very popular place.

* If you can think of other restaurants in these areas that should make this list, let me know.

Bon appetite!

As the weather in Egypt starts to climb so do the risks of getting food poisoning. I used to think that I had an iron stomach, but 7 years ago I learned the hard way. I had sever food poisoning, I had para typhoid! To this day I am unsure where I got it from, because I would go out quite a lot with my friends in the evening after spending the day on the beach in Bianki, Agami. What made it even harder to pin point was the incubation period, its approximately two weeks. Since then I have become very anal about where I eat out and when I eat out.

During the HOT season, the shelf life of produce is cut in to a quarter, food rots faster.  Any dips, sauces made of cream and especially mayonnaise will go off really quickly if it isn’t refrigerated and covered well. Flys seem to multiply during the summer and they seem to have hyper SENSORS. They can detect food from miles off and before you can tuck in, you are being bombed by kamikaze flies  left, right and center. They will pull out every trick they have just to have a chance to land and spit on your food.

Consumption of water and Sodas sky rockets during the summer too. Before you pop open a can of your favorite carbonated drink to chug down to quench your thirst, wipe the surface of the can really well or even go as far as washing it. When the cans are waiting to be shelved, the roaches have a field day climbing all over them and sometimes even lay eggs on them. When buying bottled water make sure that the plastic seal is on the bottle. If the removable seal is not there, there is a possibility that it isn’t a fresh bottle of mineral water

Restaurants and Cafes get really busy too, so the pressure on the dishwashers in the kitchens is tripled. You will often find that the plates, glasses and cutlery are not very clean. If you have an inkling that it isn’t very clean or you are uncomfortable with the way it looks, then go with your gut instincts and politely ask the waiter to change it for you. It’s better to be safe than sorry. It isn’t fun being quarantined during the summer and having typhoid isn’t anything I would wish on my worst enemy.

Just last week a friend of mine went out to satisfy his sweet tooth and bought himself ‘Ruz Bil Laban’ (Rice Pudding) and regretted it a few hours later. Luckily he only had very mild poisoning, he was fine the following day. AUC (American University of Cairo) has had to have Tobasco close on campus because of cases of food poisoning. (I wish other restaurants would do the same and have a BLITZ clean)

I try very hard to eat at home more during the summer to avoid mild or even extreme food poisoning.  Your home is the only guaranteed place you can be sure of having  well-cooked food and clean utensils.

I just recently celebrated my 32nd Birthday. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to spend any part of the day with family. They live in another city, (Alexandria) and I couldn’t be with them due to work. They were the first to send me birthday text messages and call me, because the date is forever engraved in their memory, (and they LOVE me to pieces). My celebration with them will be postponed until the weekend and I am truly looking forward to it.

My colleagues and friends in Cairo once they found out that is was my Birthday, they made sure that it would not be an unnoticed or quiet affair. My co-teacher told the students that she would bring in a cake, plates and candles for them to celebrate. They took the initiative to participate in the celebration and contributed as well, bringing chocolate to share, home-made cupcakes, pop corn, dozens of balloons blown and tied on the bus on the way to school as well as hand-made cards. I was deeply touched by the effort that they made and the gesture.

My Birthday fell on a Tuesday this year. Every Tuesday evening, my friends and I make a conscious effort to break the grueling routine of the week and meet up for a movie, arcades or dinner some where in Cairo. The turn out isn’t always big, due to traffic, work load, kids and other things that tie us up. That night, we were expecting around ten to twelve people to show up, but to my surprise 21 one people put everything on hold and came out to Le Pacha ( a boat on the Nile with many restaurants) to celebrate my birthday. Having my friends around me when I couldn’t be with my family was comforting and the best substitute I could have ever hoped for. I was deeply touched and as I looked around the table at all the faces that had congregated for the occasion, I couldn’t help but think ” I am lucky and I am liked”. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends or present.

The celebrations continued to the following evening where a few of my girlfriends and former work colleagues came over to my house to celebrate my birthday. Even though we had agreed that we would be ordering in food, they went out of their way to bake me some cupcakes and make a cherry cheese cake, (which is my favorite). We  sat around talking, catching up on each others news and telling each other stories as we dug in to our Thomas pizza. In the midst of their visit I also had an unexpected visitor who turned up at my house to surprise me with a gift. A colleague from work hadn’t wanted to embarrass me at work with a singing helium balloon and a gift, so she decided to pass by and give it to me in person.

It’s people like these who make your birthdays special and whom make you feel special. They keep insisting that ‘I Am Special’. I don’t see what they see in me, but I’m going to take their word for it. (I still think it’s them that make me special, because they  see something in me and they help to bring out the best in me)

I leave today, to spend the weekend with the most important people in my life and whom make every Birthday a special one.

I know some people like to go all out when they celebrate their birthdays to make them memorable, I personally find that the simpler the celebration and the lower your expectation is the more enjoyable and authentic it is.

So, I would like to thank every single person, who sent me a text message, called me and made an effort to see me for my birthday. I truly appreciate it.

Have you ever wanted to just lock yourself up in your house and shut the world out?

That’s how I felt yesterday, I woke up still peeved from Thursday Night. I had invited a group of my female friends over to my house a month ago, for a girls movie night. ( I like to plan ahead) 11 out of the 20 odd people I had invited had RSVPed that they were going to attend. So, I had paced myself with the preparations for Thursday night.

I’m a little old-fashioned, I like to take people for their word and I like to make and prepare everything from scratch. I enjoy cooking and occasionally spoiling my friends so they know and feel how much I appreciate them.

I made special dishes for the vegetarians and those that are watching their calory in take, had the house in tip-top form and only 4 people showed up! The people who came bless their hearts were GREAT and made the best of the evening and tried to eat as much as their stomaches could hold. Those that canceled at the last-minute REALLY ticked me off and some of them seriously didn’t have a good enough reason in my opinion. Leaving me a message on Fbook on the day, when they know I’m busy getting everything ready is a cowards way out in my opinion. They could have at least had the decency to call me and tell me in person.

I have a fridge full of food and tub-aware full of home-made backed goods sat on the buffet of my dinning room. I don’t feel like sharing it with anyone, because in the current frame of mind I’m in I don’t think anyone but myself deserves it! (immature I know)

I woke up Friday morning and I was so out of it that I put my phone on silent and didn’t answer anyones calls or text messages. I just wanted to be left alone. I didn’t want to see or speak to anyone. The only person I did speak to was my Mom, If I didn’t the police would have been sent to knock on my door to find out if I was o.k.

So, I stayed in doors, washed all the serving spoons, dishes and pans that I had used the day before, took a nap, had a warm bath, watched a couple of movies and went to bed.

Today, I still feel like I want to stay incommunicado and out of the line of people. It’s a bit tough when you have to work and interact with those around you.

I’m sure this will pass, but I won’t be hosting another event at my place for a while.

Hi people!  It’s a new year and a new beginning to many things. Not too long ago I wrote about my friends Fast Food Fast challenge and I’ve decided to take it up again. I’m challenging myself to try to go as long as possible without having ANY fast food, not an easy feat especially in a country where it’s people are in love with fried food and just eating!

I haven’t had any fast food since the 24th of December, when I have eaten out it hasn’t been junk food, it’s been a fish meal. I am still having cravings for burgers and fries though. I am trying my darndest not to give in to temptation and to stay on the course that I have set myself. The holiday treats on the other hand have been much harder to resist, christmas cake, mince pies, chocolates and cookies are my weakness at present.

When I go back to Cairo, I am determined to make healthy snacks to take with me to work and have healthy home cooked food at home for me to eat when I return from work. I think my feet have recovered enough for me to be able to start exercising again!!! (tendonitis of the achilles heel is VERY painful!!!) So, that will help me a great deal! I hope to see a slight change in my figure by the end of the month.

I am just tired of my belly protruding and beginning to peep over my jeans, ESPECIALLY when I sit down! The weight gain hasn’t only been my waist line, it’s the bust as well!!! I hate seeing them grow bigger and limp!! I feel so unattractive and misshapen. This year I am determined to work on me, both inside and out.

If any of you are trying to drop a few pouns and need some moral support maybe we could help each other out.