The Pop Up: Chef

It seems like I’ve been talking about this project everywhere except on my own website. I blame twitter because there is instant feedback and the pressure to write a particularly interesting post dissolves when you’re faced with 140 characters. I’m sure there’s an observation to be made about decreasing attention spans or the power of haiku styled tweets; but let’s be honest and say it: I’ve been lazy busy.

The story of the Pop up and it’s progression has been documented in a number of online and print publications, as well as on my twitter feed or the Pop-up facebook page. Please excuse the cellphone pictures of the food; my photographer friend has been too busy walking the spanish countryside.

I’ve aggregated the full list of links below; If you haven’t seen these yet, please take a look and leave a quick message about how I’ve changed your life and given your palate a purpose to keep on living.

Chef’s Table listing on Guestaurant

Big Bang Theory by David Blanks, Daily News Egypt [Review]

A Victorious Concept by Sarah Khanna, Egypt Monocle [Review]

Sit at the table of a Top Chef by Dalia Ferrer, Ahram Online [Interview]

Pulling the Strings by Wesam Masoud, Egypt Monocle [Opinion]

5 minutes, nuked.



Internet Trolling: Happy Beefgiving Day!

What the hell is beefgiving day anyway?

In true Aussie fashion – where babies are eaten by dingos (sorry bout ya baby) and its considered normal to walk upright on the bottom of the earth – Meat and Livestock Australia have concocted Beefgiving day to encourage consumers to think of beef when they take their barbies out in the hot sun this summer.

Beefgiving day, it would seem, is a day to bring together adversaries over the pleasures of the seared flesh. It is in this spirit that a video has been created by a company called Kindling Media to show two Australian politicians coming together over beef cooked in a flying kitchen over the Australian parliament house in Canberra. I wonder if the Aussies are aware that to “have beef” with someone means to “have or start agrudge against another person” – this makes the concept of the video incongruous to the little 2Pac in all of us.

Here in Egypt, Australian Beef is routinely touted as the best money can buy, with Gourmet Egypt cornering the market on upside down cattle through their mother company, AM Foods. Australian Beef is on offer at almost every 4 or 5 star hotel in Egypt, as well as a few well regarded Cairo restaurants. For flavor and consistency in quality, it stands above most other options; but being the Red, White and Black blooded Egyptian that I am, I’d prefer to see more use of Egyptian cattle at these restaurants.

We can’t expect the Egyptian Food Service Industry to recover, let alone grow, if we keep importing foreign (and faraway) ingredients while our own locally produced pantry is ignored and slighted. Keeping local means keeping costs down. And if local Egyptian producers aren’t cutting the mustard (‘scuse pun); then w should work with them and demand a better product. Eventually we’ll get there, and on the way, we just might give this industry the boost it needs.

Poached, 10 minutes

Warning: Wall of Text. Spoiler: Recipe.

There *will* be a recipe at the end of this, but I encourage you to read every bit of what I’m about to say because, well, this blog would be pointless without my pearls of wisdom. It *is* my blog, and I’m allowed to think it’s the greatest thing since my own experiments with German-style soft pretzels. More on that in a later post; but by all means, read on! Read more of this post

Asia Boutique at the Safir Hotel, Dokki

Be Warned: This is a Cellphone picture

You know the feeling. Great elation, a sense of accomplishment, of a great weight lifted up from off your shoulders. It’s the kind of feeling that demands to be celebrated and commemorated. The occasion, my friends, was my recent divorce from a particularly horrible employer; and I decided to celebrate and commemorate the event the only way I know how: by going out for a meal. Having never been to the Safir Hotel in Dokki before, I strolled around the hotel lobby and chatted with the concierge. I learned that they have an open buffet restaurant, a Lebanese restaurant and an outdoor café. But none of these were as advertised as “Asia Boutique” was; and it there that I decided to spend my patronage.

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On Egyptian flavors, and Caramelised Onions

<Originally Published in G-Mag>

Everyone is aware of the four basic taste families – Sweet, Salty, Sour and Bitter. There also happens to be a fifth, called “Umami”. This is a Japanese term which describes the “meatiness” that you taste when eating a steak or grilled mushrooms. A great tasting dish typically has at least 3 of these different taste profiles.

Egyptian food hasn’t got the most glamorous reputation, but the flavor profiles can be astounding; let’s take a look at two of them:

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JW Steakhouse at the Zamalek Marriott

My older brother was on a one day visit from Boston last month, and being an avid reader of this site, wanted to treat me to something I hadn’t tried yet. Immediately we agreed that our meal would have to be one of cooked flesh. This of course meant we were headed to a steakhouse. The JW Steakhouse was a venue I was reserving for a big occasion; but since I hadn’t seen my brother in over a year, we decided that it was worthy.

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Okashi at the Hyatt Regency

In May 2008, Egypt Today reviewed Okashi, and declared that it was Cairo’s best sushi restaurant. Last summer, a close friend (who also happened to be averse to eating meat; but quivered at the thought of eating sushi) and I decided to try it out. So, with fat wallets and empty stomachs, we made our reservations for a late afternoon meal bathed in the golden glow of the setting sun overlooking the Nile. Good conversation was guaranteed, and, so we hoped, was the food.

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