Eating is sport. Run, dodge the traffic.
The first months I spent in Jeddah were pretty clueless as I look back in retrospect. I had no transportation. So I walked around in the high heat and ducked into any willing A/C place. Traffic is all fast. They swerve to avoid you. It’s so they don’t have to do paperwork. Guys get run over all the time. It’s a video sport too. Hit the dashing pedestrian. The ladies in their abayas are bulletproof. They step off the curb and mosey, just saunter into the street, and the traffic all swerves magically to avoid them. I like to walk with women! The malls all have food courts. And for a long while when I first arrived in Saudi, I ate in them each night. I was not cooking. You had portioned meals, vaguely healthy, and the prices were not too bad. After my first six months I have not really eaten in a mall again. It gets tiring and boring in a hurry. Also, I eat way less salt and sugary drink that way.
Recently I had to walk through this mall. Revisit. Almost four years later, this was a nostalgic trip. Most of the fast food places had closed and been replaced. One or two remained. Same place, some of it same, much of it changed, I was curious but not sad that I no longer get sustenance there. The crepe place is a standard around the world. Nice. I like chocolate and banana. Closed. Gone. Hmmm….wonder where to go?
Eating is sport. Do not underestimate the folks in Jeddah. There are those who know how and where to eat. Churrascaria is Brazilian style. Bring an appetite and expect to eat a lot of meat. It starts with an extensive salad bar. Fill up, but save room. And then there is a disc – red or green side. Red light green light. Go. They bring cuts of meat right from the grill.
The server slices it off and straight onto your plate. Eat till you are full then red light. They grilled pineapple covered in cinnamon sugar for dessert.
This night Faisal was the host. Great guy, wonderful sense of humor, He’s part of the morning exercise group. This night – eat! Keep the grill coming. For some reason it’s like a rite – men, meat, caves. There is a family section. But this is more a gathering of men and appetite – guys night out.
I love the graphics of this wall in a Manhattan restaurant that closed before I ever got a chance to eat there. Open – close, restaurants have a short survival. Some, less than others, close pretty quickly. Ambience is a big factor. So this place is stunning. Midtown Manhattan, great location, plenty of foot traffic, it is a sure fire deal. Nope! Gone in a year. I don’t know why. Bad food. Failed health inspection? Who knows? Another will replace it shortly. But I was very surprised it was shuttered the next time I passed. Of course, I had never personally been in there myself….
In Jeddah restaurants come and go too. Junk food rules. McD forever! A great concept place shuttered – Churros! They were terrific. Good stuff, great confection, fattening, sugary, cinnamon, chocolate dipping sauce – how could it possibly fail? Shuttered.
There are restaurants way overpriced. They don’t last. Two Italian restaurants sat side by side in Jeddah. The pricey one was just gone one day.
Location – if you are in the traffic pattern, lots of people see you and come to visit. My current favorite restaurant is relatively out of the traffic eye and has few customers. I hope they last. But it’s never a good sign when I am usually one of few customers eating and the waiters know you by name.
Which came first? The chicken or the egg? I confess that now when I dive I compose a post to go along with the fish I shoot (images of). 99% never make it to post. Forgot. Too many images and only one post a day. I don’t try to do more. It’s TMI. And besides, who’s looking? Thank you to you kind readers who put up with me.
This mundane photo is like Proust’s Madeleine. It’s a BLT. Uniquely of my childhood. And beside it is a latte. Uniquely of my past two years. The BLT was in my life from childhood. My mother made them. Bacon was ok to eat then. She even did deep fried shoestring potatoes in the grease. I ate them whenever we traveled to Morgantown, WV for my orthodontist appointment. There was a diner. I ate one and if I could – two. My treat. I don’t know why I needed a treat. It was someone’s mom or my own who had to drive all the miles to the dental appointment.
And second, when I was in college and off to school, my mother would make BLT’s for lunch every Sunday. It was like clockwork. A habit. And I remember them fondly enough that the method and recipe remain about the same. The essentials are the bacon, tomato, and miracle whip. Yeah, yeah…but that’s how I ate them. So change the bread and do a different lettuce….
Third…latte. Didn’t know what one was till a couple years ago. Starbucks, not me. Didn’t go. Immune to coffee. I like the aroma. Never drank the stuff. I either slept or stayed awake but did it without coffee. Now we have a machine. I get flavored latte. Maple syrup, chocolate, hazelnut, and all other manner of tastes. Actually, the best coffee I ever noticed was Kona. Hawaiian. Grown on the Big Island. Smooth, no after taste. Expensive. Usually sold cut. So there’s Kona with 5% real Kona. Don’t fall for it. And so I’ve become a latte fan.
Where is this all going? I take pictures of everything. So here’s the picture. I was editing my recent trip to Chicago and this is a shot from home. I’m far from home again. This is a reminder of fond memories I left behind.
Ethiopia is just across the way from the Middle East. And, I traveled to Chicago to eat in an Ethiopian restaurant. The sites on the ‘net recommended it. The food is typical. It has a pancake bread called injera. It’s a sourdough tasting spongy kind of pancake looking bread. That help? You gotta try it. My kids don’t like the taste of the bread. So you order up. The stuff comes on a large flat pan with injera as the base. You get extra injera to dip and eat with. No forks. Fingers! It’s communal. Sharing. You dip in and go. There is an option for gluten free injera. You don’t go away hungry. The place was packed and they’ve been in business a long time.
Did I tell you my birthday adventure many years ago in NY. There was an Ethiopian restaurant a few steps from where I lived. It’s still there. I’m not. I liked it – the restaurant. The family did not like the taste of the bread. So we never went after our initial adventure. On my birthday I was instructed to dress for dinner out. Then I was blindfolded, led down the elevator, and we all got into a waiting cab. The destination was whispered so I had no clue. After a few minutes we arrived in front of the restaurant. Surprise! Sometimes your family makes sacrifices. It was the last time we ate in this restaurant. Fortunately, they did not depend upon us to remain open.
Sadly, a very nice Italian restaurant has closed in Jeddah. It was expensive and had a great veal dish. Their high price was too much for them to survive. Many a night I walked past them to eat in the cheaper Italian place next door. Yeah, cheaper by half. I did have a very nice meal there before it closed. Restaurants come and go in Jeddah. You have to have customers in order to survive. Many a time I have been in places that are nearly empty. Perhaps I go to eat too early.
Conclusion: Ethiopia is a long way away. I stopped there in the airport on the way to Tanzania. I did not eat there. And otherwise my experience with Ethiopian food is less than once every ten years. Don’t bother to leave the light on for me.
Everyone enjoys a good meal. Around these parts are several restaurants that do a lunch special. This means extra value – usually an appetizer or dessert and a drink. It’s usually available on the weekdays. That means Sunday to Thursday around here. Neat trick the afternoon prayer time is near 4PM so the hours are from around noon to 5PM. I won’t do the addresses. Some places have more than one location. Use your Google map. Unfortunately these are all local Jeddah restaurants. So unless you are in Saudi Arabia, you may look but you can’t have.
Romano’s Macaroni Grill
This place is my current favorite. It hasn’t had its grand opening yet. Nice place. Good food. Hot. Attentive excellent service. 52SAR – appetizer, main course, and drink. Lots of choices. Tastes great. I know I said that already, but, I mean it. Really.
This restaurant closed a year or so ago and reopened in the same area but with a nicer space. Lunch is 49 or 59SAR with entrée, salad, drink, dessert, and coffee. Service is great.
Food is good. The entrée varies. The lower price is for pizza. Entrée can be good or so so. The rest is fun. It’s great to find this restaurant again.
I just noticed the lunch special. The place was packed with people eating lunch special and a la carte. I’m single. And at this hour most places are empty. Ah! That’s why they try to get you to come! There are multiple entrees to choose from. One side dish. Peanuts, Bread. And a drink. You will not be hungry after this. Once again the price is below 100SAR
Business lunch is a good buy. There are multiple entrees to choose from. Side dish, noodles or rice, and drink included. There are small extras brought complementary as well. It is a good meal. I have enjoyed it several times.
Until Romano’s this restaurant was my favorite for business lunch. I was stuck in the Chicken Marinara which came with penne pasta in four cheese sauce. Bread, salad, dessert and drink are included. Great meal, great price, good all around. I would eat there regularly until I discovered Romano.
It’s a lunch buffet. Multiple dishes with appetizer, soup, entrée, rice, noodles, drink, dessert. It’s a very nice value. The waiters are pretty lame. I wish they were more helpful. But then again you don’t require too much help piling up a heaping plate. The menu changes daily so you will find variations when you go. All in all a good meal. And all for 45SAR.
Applebee: Tuesday’s: Paul: Steakhouse: Outback
These other places have listed business lunch specials. I’ve been in all of them. There is a time and place but I do not go there on a regular basis. Steakhouse and Outback surprisingly do poorly in grilling their steak. Paul changes their choice according to a fixed schedule. That doesn’t work for me. Tuesday’s meal was bland. Once only. Applebee is a chain. You have to like chain food. Sometimes I do. Mostly not.
It’s popular camp food. Know it? No? Been under a rock? Graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow – it has to be smushed together. And the marshmallow needs to be charred. There’s not way to get the flame so close. Yes the carbon charring adds that “je ne sais quois.” No! I didn’t say its good. I said it is traditional camp food. Ok, I didn’t say tradition in the first line. But you know it’s another priceless moment. The Californians call it “Glamping.” Glamorous camping – it was! The rain held off for 24 hours or this would have been one wet marshmallow. Oh for the “under the rock” crowd – it means s’mores – some mores? – as in after the first you want more? Ok?
When my kids had their first? …was at the Tyler place. We had a bon fire on the shore of the lake and a new sinful pleasure was introduced to them that night. We were with friends too. Susan? You reading? … four couples, lasted more than 25 years… in spite of a few conservatives among us…who knew back then?
Pearl and marvelous – Arabic names. Cats. I’ve named them. They adopted me. I’m a free meal ticket. I started with rolls. They are not vegetarian and finicky so they ate sparingly. Then I used canned tuna. I wasn’t sure if they would be back. So I did not invest in cat food.
Cats around here are stray and pretty much abandoned to the whim of people. They are painfully thin and pretty much know how to work a trash bin. There’s not much.
Two nights after I fed them from the tuna can – they licked the empty can – I found three bounding up to me when I opened my door. Pet food is located with the kitchen supplies at the grocery. There is even dog food. They are large (relatively), medium, and small. The little guy runs if I look in its direction. The large – now Badi – and medium, Lulu are braver. Badi let me touch him almost at once and Lulu is pretty ok. She will nip and scratch at me. At this point I have fed them about a week. And they now eat from my hand. They came into the villa for a visit.
Badi is dumb and started to meow and whine and climb through my curtain at the window. He doesn’t get the concept of a door or how to use it to get out. Lulu was in and out without a problem. Girls are smarter.
I finally got pictures of them both. The third guy is still missing. There are other cats lurking about. These three have adopted me. So we are getting to be buddies. I’m teaching them sharing. Everyone eats.
Amy is taking an iPhone shot of my next bird. It’s a bit more browned. Better oven and more experience. Hey, you get better with practice. My soup sure did get better. (see previous post) And we made another breast (wings included) because there were 23 people scheduled to show. Note: about a pound a person – we did not need the extra breast. Other note: when all is said and done, it is the trimmings that make the meal.
So the dishes that surrounded the meal and that were contributed by the guests really made it all great. I learned a new tradition – sauerkraut over mashed potatoes. (Hint: I could have done without ever knowing that.) I did stuffing on the outside – too heavy to transport a stuffed bird to a second location. It worked. I’m a crockpot (stuffing) fan now – not a crackpot. More family showed up and a good time was had by all. Dinner was scheduled for 6PM. We arrived at 6:08 and were the last ones in the joint. Do you think everyone was hungry? More family, more friends, more stuffing, success again!