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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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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/

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!