Local News

A taste of Bahrain...

November 13 - 19, 2019

Gulf Weekly Naman Arora
By Naman Arora

Gulf Weekly A taste of Bahrain...

Chef Lisa Wieland spent a few days in Bahrain and as a thank you for treating GulfWeekly to a majestic meal at the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay’s CUT by Wolfgang Puck restaurant, harkening back to her roots, this roving reporter as well as some of our colleagues spent a morning with the Austrian chef, introducing her to some of our roots.

Often when living in a place, one forgets to experience some of the more touristy sites, taking them for granted or inwardly chuckling at the tourists with their cameras and iPads taking pictures of daily minutiae. Having called multiple cities around the world my home, I have learned that at least once to do some of these gimmicky touristy things with a new or long-lost friend.

Every time I have, not only have I come to appreciate that which I take for granted but also learned something new from another person’s perspective on what I consider “the same old.”

Last week was no different as Lisa, head chef at CUT in London, joined us for a morning out at Bab Al Bahrain, starting at the famous Haji’s café. Every local and most expats in Bahrain have heard of Haji’s, formerly known as Al-Maseela, a 70-year old establishment that serves the best local fare.

Lisa noted: “The people in Bahrain have been so kind and welcoming. I have never experienced this in any other country before!”

When Chef Wolfgang Puck had visited Bahrain in 2017, GulfWeekly visited the restaurant with him then enjoyed a delightful morning where he explored the kitchen and cuisines of Bahrain.

Because of this history, we were treated to an extra special morning by Zuhair Haji, owner of the restaurant who brought a smorgasbord of their best-selling dishes. Ranging from the vegetarian-friendly split chickpea dal, the scintillating shakshuka (eggs and tomatoes), the bizarre but bountiful Balaleet (an omelette atop a bed of vermicelli noodles, a beef-potato stew as well as the trademark Khuboos bread and Haloumi cheese, everything is fresh and delicious.

Not only is the service in this place impeccable and the prices reasonable, just walking around the restaurant, one can get a slice of Bahrain’s modern history. Memorabilia from the last 70 years adorns the walls, from old maps to photos of The Late Amir, The King and countless other dignitaries and members of royalty.

Everything from the classic Arab seating to the fact that we were sitting in the very first building of Al Maseela gave Lisa a trailer of Bahraini culture. And of course, the food itself told a tale of cultural ties with India, Persian influences and a melting pot of culture that one can only experience in a trade hub like Bahrain.

After a karak tea each (and for some of us, a couple), we stepped out and explored the souq. The narrow streets which have more or less remained the same since my childhood, except for the presence of Little India, tell their own tale of community and wide availability of wares. At one time not too long ago, Bahrain was the gateway for the rest of the world to the GCC and as such, one could find a remnant of every culture that touched the island in the souq.

Lisa ended up getting lots of gifts and souvenirs for her friends and family, including a necklace, earrings, rings, spices and pashmina scarves saying: “I love the souq because it’s so unique. You don’t find markets like this in Europe.”

And with that, we wrapped up a paradigm expanding experience, as we all left having heard some great stories and having created another fond one.

Lisa, who is now back in London, also left Bahrain with a culinary prize: “I have got a very nice curry spice mix which I will definitely be using in my kitchen!”

l To have a taste of the experience, scan the QR code below.

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