Blog Archive: #Food

10 Things A New Food Blogger Should Know

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The decision to start blogging about food should really come from passion and lots of dedication. For those who are about to embark on this journey I would say there are main 10 things you should keep in mind:

1- Your recipes should be ones you have tried and tested and never ones you copy from other sites.

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2- Recipes should be simple and easy to follow in sequence.

3- Your credibility is part of your brand reputation, when you write about restaurants make sure you know their quality and can actually vouch for them, one time experiences cannot be the judge for any culinary experience.

4- If you smoke, you probably do not have fresh taste buds and most of your tasting would be of only sharp tastes, while the subtle flavors completely surpass you (My advice quit smoking before you blog about food coz you frankly can’t taste food)

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5- If you use ingredients that not many people can find abundantly, put alternatives that do not affect the recipes.

6- You will receive many treats to try out and test, make sure you deliver the actual experience and not feel obliged to say nice stuff just to keep people happy (this follows point 3)

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7- You will be known for what you post, take a line of food blogging and stick to it to keep your image clearly unique to your audience.

8- Use your social media platforms to spread your posts to as many people as you can (Don’t forget the hashtags)

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9- Keep up with what is new on the world food trends and try to see if you can follow that for the day on your blog or others social media channels

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10- When you go to try all that nice food remember, a bite of the right dish is better than a pile of a dish not worth it, don’t feel obliged to finish your plates when you are tasting you can even ask for a sampling portion which would keep your figure and taste palate entertained!

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Happy Blogging!

San Francisco In a Bite & a Cup (2)

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I know it took me a while before I got to write my second part of SF trip but there was a series of mishaps that happened to stop me from getting to it, but hey better late than never because this list is of a high caliber places sort of speak and definitely worth writing up.

As I recall my last post ended with me having a late breakfast at a cafe, as my sister caught up with me there we decided to enjoy the market that was set up and check the items at display which was both fun and funny (I kept losing my sister at different areas of the market and we kept texting each other our location although the whole thing was not huge). After running around the block she ended up getting famished and decided to hit Reverie Cafe for a lush Salad, I must say I didn’t try anything there but the setting of that garden was so beautiful and I enjoyed a lovely lively conversation with a sweet lady who happened to be a regular customer there and was writing her speech for a big event in that setting.

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My sister lived in a very convenient space with B Patisserie right beneath the house, which made waking up to all the yummy smelling baked goods and coffee almost torturous. My favorite there was an almond milk cappuccino that just hits the spot but doesn’t fill you with guilt, at some point I picked a few morning bakes to explore the tastes there so I hit the much raved about Kouign Amann and I must say it lived up to my expectations but to mention and be honest I have to say their sweets are much nicer than their savory creations.

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On that afternoon I went hunting for a good cup of coffee and walking around aimlessly for a while got me thinking I should use social media in order to get some directions and there it was the interesting looking account of Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters, so I followed my instinct and headed there with sure steps. The entrance being small  only made me more curious to what it had inside, I walked in and I was on the phone yet this strange feeling that it would be a good coffee hit me, I put my phone aside and I ordered a cup of black coffee to satisfy my craving. Walking in I saw the design was strangely shocking white almost like a sterile hospital ward but the famous pineapple wallpaper turned that around and made me at ease, the staff  (yes I linked you up here as I promised Brenna) was super polite and once I broke the ice I had a great conversation with the two baristas and the owner who happened to pop by, I must say I had a great afternoon there and would highly recommend it.

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I still had many places to explore and my appetite that evening was calling for something more on the mexican side of cuisines, my sister’s housemate Sam was nice enough to humor me and take me out on a night for tacos at what she described as “reliable tacos and a great atmosphere”, so we headed to Tacolicious , we had a great time, good food and a nice waitress to complete the night.

Next day I had a serious craving for a big breakfast and a good coffee, so I rummaged through the social media sites again to check out another place and I was guided to head to Sweet Maple, I must say it was value for money meal with a lot of flavors and lovely service.

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Later on that day I headed to The Mission area and walked around enjoyed the sun and the lovely creative graffiti on the walls, enjoyed going through some antique furniture stores and thrift stores. It was a lot of fun but I needed a coffee to keep me going so as I walked around I came across a place called Samovar, I walked in to find an ultra modern design with  a familiar smell of spices just enough to tackle my curiosity and after chatting to the barista he offered me a sample of their pumpkin chai with different milk bases which was lovely then something else caught my eyes, the dessert small fridge in the front, so I took a plunge and ordered a bite of a dessert that did not taste as good as it looked.

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A few steps down the road and I found what I was looking for Four Barrel Coffee place which immediately struck me as the place for my much needed coffee cup, on the left I noticed something called (the slow coffee bar) so walked up to it and began to explore with the help of a great barista different kinds of coffee from around the world and how each of them can give you a different finishing taste, I must say if you have time at hand you would enjoy this experience a lot and find it very informative.

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As I left the place and walked further down the road I found a small gem called Mission Cheese which looks like absolute heaven to cheese lovers like me. After a chat with the staff and some tasting here and there I was truly won by their cheesy sense of humor and cute wall drawings.

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“Let It Brie”

 

As my sister finished her work she called me up to join her for a light dinner so we headed to Green Heart Foods so we went into the place that looked a lot like an open back area of a restaurant, almost industrial but with a light spirit, I ordered a veggies soup and was good but felt like I wasn’t so hungry to finish the whole thing, but the plate looked so cute I had to take a picture of it.

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After all that we went home to rest and then I was invited out for a lovely catching up session with a relative of mine who happens to also live in SF and since the sister was busy we headed out for some all American creation for a gourmet burger. We walked to a place nearby called ROAM, after staring at that menu for a while with all the interesting items I decided to try something I’ve never tried before and went for the Bison meat burger and a mixture of different fries, the burger itself was tasty and not very fatty which made it more enjoyable, and as for the  fries the zucchini and sweet potatoes were yummy and crunchy worth every bite.

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Waking up in a sweet breakfast mode isn’t easy to tackle for someone like me who doesn’t like things too sweet or deep fried. My sister and I decided it’s time to try JANE, we head there and it was packed with a long line but the process seemed to go fairly quick as they are really organized. I ordered the figs and walnut bread with ricotta cheese and honey. To my pleasant surprise it was crunchy, creamy and subtly sweet to perfection (I must say I did order extra jam and some honey to try on different sides). All in all it was a great experience and I would recommend that loaf of bread to anyone.

Later on that day we went to explore the public library and I was quite impressed with what it offers from book collections, kids area for reading and even small meditation sessions (I went on and attended the session that was happening, it was simply calming and much needed). Out of the library and willing to grab a special lunch as it started to drizzle over our heads I headed to Rosamunde Sausage Grill and my oh my what a lovely experience that was, the person behind the counter was a very polite young man who knew exactly how to do his job. I ordered a duck sausage and a wild boar sausage, then as per the ritual around there I headed to the bar next door called Toronado to get the beer match made in heaven for what I ordered. I sat there and got myself a pint of dark beer, the taste of the sausage and that beer still mingles in my taste buds memory till this day. I met a lot of lovely people and enjoyed a great time.

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After all that eating I met with my sister again and it was time for a caffeine hit and my sister decided to take me to The Blue Bottle  I grabbed it and chit chat to the baristas for a bit as they prepared the other coffee orders, the coffee was light bodied and a bit acidic but nice. I enjoyed it while the sun warmed me up. I must say it was an awesome day all together.

 

I could say these experiences were the most remarkable but there were places that are worth mentioning like Plow breakfast place, the amazing pizza at The Mill Coffee place (only served once a week), awesome space called Cafe Trieste where the original The God Father movie was written and Sightglass Coffee Roasters which had a stunning industrial coffee house design.

 

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Have a Great Day San Francisco Lovers….

Francisco in a Bite and a Cup 1

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A quick plan and a few recommendations online by a travel/food bloggers; I head to my destination of choice San Francisco. After 21 hours of travel and a long wait to get there, I arrived to SFO on a beautiful sunny afternoon. Excited and met by my sister (moved there a few weeks prior to my visit) we head out to grab lunch after the horrors of the 12 hours flight food. First stop was “Souvla” a quick bite a crunchy fresh green salad with grilled pork loin that was just what I needed to feel finally settled on ground, the taste was a lovely mixture of greens that are dressed in a light creamy sauce and the smoky tasting pork loin that was done to perfection.

 

After that we head out for a walk and struggling to fight the jet lag I decided that I should have a big cup of coffee to stay up and awake till night comes along. We get to a lovely area called Hayes Valley with a few open booths my legs walked me up to “Ritual Roasters” where I indulged in a cup of Guatemalan coffee with notes ranging from hibiscus to a mixture of berries and cherries, it was a light brew with a slight acidic finish. What was quite funny is that the barista immediately picked up on the fact that I have a direct connection to food industry due to my detailed questions (eeek guilty as charged, but in my defense I was jetlagged).

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At night my body decided that I should have something to help me not get sick, I chose to have some fresh Ramen with all the yummy vegetables and hot soup to prevent that tickling in my throat to go any further. We headed to a place in Japan Town called “Waraku” (I know Jordanians reading this now will have a smile curl at the side of their mouths). The soup was pretty hot with a medley of different types of ingredients, yet it was not the Ramen I was used to with a bigger portion of fresh veggies.

First morning I “Ubered” myself to a place that has been raved about a lot for breakfast, a place called “MyMy” a tiny place on the corner of California and Larkin Street. The host was prompt to seat me and offer me coffee, I have already scanned the menu on my way yet I still explored plates served around me. My plate arrived and I could not wait to dig in, there was a twist to the hash brown by making it paper thin and the base for the main ordered. Mine was an eggs benedict made just to perfection with some spinach and Parma ham as well as a light hollandaise sauce that complement each other in amazing harmony. The prices are San Francisco average and I would say it is a must visit.

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My next culinary adventure was heading towards a small Indian restaurant with an authentic feel, for the life of me I have forgotten the name of that place yet, it was a good experience with a nice colorful variety. After resting for a bit, my sister and I planned to watch a new movie “The Intern”, heading to Sundance Kabuki Cinema with one of the most comfortable service ideas in a cinema was giving you the freedom to bring your own food that suits you instead of being limited to what the place offers (mind you also have the option to buy a glass of alcohol if you are over 21 years old). The experience was definitely pleasurable although the place was previously booked full and we had to sit in the front seats.

Half-awake in bed wanting to find a place to have breakfast and indulge in and enjoy so I headed out to a place that had so many recommendations a place called Zazie, the line was long and I had to wait for almost an hour before I was given a table (btw that’s the case in most places in SF). As I sat down I noticed the staff was super nice and very vibrant and it’s one of the few places there that is very tightly set up, yet, it is quite cheerful. The food was good, yet I don’t believe it was up to the hype I have expected; the coffee was good and the service extremely prompt.

 

There will be a part two with more excitement to add so stay tuned people… 😉

 

 

 

Hilton (What’s Your Beef?)

I was sitting at home preparing my trip to the USA and I received an email by Hilton informing me that they would like me to be a judge at their #CareersAtHiltonLive competition. A phone call and a confirmation later I find out I am one of the chosen judges to help out find talented individuals with ideas that are out of the box in cooking an (Oyster Blade Beef Cut).

We met up and looked through the submissions till we found our lucky finalists. We gave them some time to adjust their recipes and figure out their final presentation techniques to meet again and decide the ranking of the winners. The 4 chosen finalists were already winners as three of them would get jobs at the Hilton upcoming facility in the dead sea and the person who gets the highest score would be given a job at Hilton in the UAE.

The competition atmosphere was a great experience for both competitors and judges alike and I will leave you to follow some of the moments I managed to capture:

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Laith Matalka’s Maple Orange Glazed Oyster Blade Steak with Leeks, Mashed Potato, and Thyme Butter Sauteed Vegetables

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Laith Matalka’s Maple Orange Glazed Oyster Blade Steak with Leeks, Mashed Potato, and Thyme Butter Sauteed Vegetables

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Mousa Abboud’s Braised Beef Oyster Blade with Smoked Potato Puree, Glazed Carrots and Shallots, Coffee Glaze, Pesto

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Mousa Abboud’s Braised Beef Oyster Blade with Smoked Potato Puree, Glazed Carrots and Shallots, Coffee Glaze, Pesto

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George Siryani’s Blue Cheese Oyster Blade

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George Siryani’s Blue Cheese Oyster Blade

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Motaz Zayed’s Wagyu Garden Steak

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Motaz Zayed’s Wagyu Garden Steak

The competing dishes had the personality of each of the contestants as they explained to us the ingredients and techniques they used in the kitchen, then Chef Austin from Hilton joined us in the judging room and expressed his opinion in each of the students in terms of cooking quality and cleanliness which was a part of the judging categories. All in all I could say each dish had a very strong chance, but in the end one dish creativity stood out as well as it’s design. The Wagyu Garden Steak was an absolute pleasure and very different from the rest as it looked like a bulky piece of meat at first and then you end up surprised that this was a thin layer wrapping up an unexpected bitesized well cooked meat to enjoy.

All in all I could say it was a pleasure being on that team, and I wish all the students good luck in their future career.

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Motaz Zayed’s Wagyu Garden Steak (The Top Winner)

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Judges Panel With Chef Austin

California “SB” Love 1

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On a swift trip to the United States, my taste buds were yearning to explore and wander in taste all over the new area. The city of choice was Santa Barbara, what a calm beauty and beautiful weather it was. The whole atmosphere calls you to relax, soak in the sun and enjoy an array of colourful, bursting with flavor meals.

There was a special kind of joy to wander around State Street just aimlessly watching people pass by or run their errands, but as lunch time came close I was getting hungry and I had heard of a burger joint with a very special menu called “Eureka!”

 

 

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Wandering in I was faced with a busy buzzing place, full of people who are enjoying a pint of fresh cold beer and some bruger of their choice watching one of the big World Cup games. Finding a place to sit was pretty set since there was only one sofa seat free, feeling lucky I sat down and decided to make myself comfy and wait for my soon to come menu and recommendations.

My server was absolutely attentive and explained to me the whole concept of their beer collection. Eureka has a unique concept of having guest beers around for a “Keg” amount of time and when that finishes they replace it with another in season, of course there is the set bar usuals but the seasonal beer has its own list for anyone to explore.

The menu is pretty brief and straight to the point, wings, salads, burgers and accessories of that. One thing caught my eye and I could not get myself not to try, truffle sauce. I ordered a regular burger and added some bacon to that, a side of fresh house fries and some truffle sauce to accompany that.

It wasn’t long before my server popped back with my order which was something I was very pleased with (since I was hungry), the size of the burger sort of intimidated me but it was surely tasty but to be honest I guess some ingredients would be best if thinner to make it easier to grab and enjoy without dripping everywhere (specially tomatoes and sauce). The truffle sauce was pretty intense and the fries were truly a delight.

All in all I would highly recommend that you visit Eureka at least once if you are visiting Santa Barbara, as I happened to visit for a second time after a few days and also tried their “naked” version of their burgers without the bun.

I had such a lovely time exploring the rest of SB after that and had such amazing meals that I cannot wait to share with all of you. Tip, recommendations and notes for you to explore.

Loving Wishes To All

 

Table Etiquette

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No doubt about it that we usually fall into the trap of what to put where on the table and it sort of creates this dilemma for any host, but imagine if you go to a restaurant and get mixed up with your cutlery! Is it your fault? Or is it a common service setting mistake? I looked all over the place and found some lovely resources to benefit everyone on that subject so apparently there is a formal setting and an informal setting for the table as you would have less courses in the informal. 

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That was hopefully very helpful for many, but what about the codes that were very common in the service culture that we barely pay attention to these day. What does every placement of our cutlery in the plate after finishing means? It seems very funny that most of us just leave the cutlery randomly in the plate after finishing the meal. 

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Now that we had a mini session of  table etiquette, I cannot wait to tackle other issues concerning the culinary culture and the beauty of its meanings.original_nicole-hill-gerulat-spring-summer-table-setting_s3x4_lg

 

Loving Wishes For Brilliant Meals Ahead

 

Caramelized Thoughts In Media Again

 

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Gulf Food Exhibition

Gulf Food Exhibition

EC Women E-Magazine

EC Women E-Magazine

A phone call and a long chat about the blog with a local reporter about the progress of my food blog resulted in an amazing article in the local newspaper Alghad  I was totally excited and happy about it. I would like to thank Ghaida Hammoudeh for the brilliant work she has done to describe the achievements of Caramelized Thoughts as a blog and my progress as a Jordanian blogger.

.أود ان اشكر الصحفيه اللامعة غيداء حموده على المقال الرائع عن أفكار من كاراميل في صحيفة الغد يوم الأربعاء الماضي وعن انجازاته في المنطقة

Caramelized Thoughts In Local Media

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Working on a food blog where by people won’t stop asking to try your food, you end up participating in a local festival for innovative ideas and do events that everyone enjoys!

Follow the links below to see the photos:

In Magazines 

At The New Think Festival 

It has been so much fun interacting with people and seeing the way everyone has their own way in dealing with food and everything else is connected to it.

Loving Wishes To All

Lama

Harley’s Burgers & Grill

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For some wild reason I am not a fan of junk food, fast food is definitely not my cup of tea, yet sometimes I find myself craving a good juicy burger. To me it has to be a perfect sandwich with the right amount of sauce (too much is just messy and covers the taste of the meat and too little is just dry). I would never visit a global chain restaurant that’s just out of question, I enjoy slow cooking, gourmet well thought of burgers. So my hunt for a great burger to satisfy my cravings started in Amman, to my surprise there were many local joints to choose from and many more to experience.

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Upon a great friend’s recommendation I decided to head out and visit “Harley’s Burgers & Grill” and to my sigh or relief I saw a sign that made me extremely happy. The place is smoke free! I could not help but feel home at once, although it’s a relevantly small space but the relaxing atmosphere encourages you to stay and have a good time with your friends. The wooden benches and stools give the joint a rustic look and the welcoming sweet attitude of the workers always makes you leave with a smile.

Staring at the usual menus I usually get extremely confused as there is no burger in the size of my preference (they are usually too big) but the “Sportster(110gm)” seemed to be the perfect size for my desired meal, paired with a staple must of mash potatoes and gravy with a possible extra addition of boneless sweet & spicy chicken wings.

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The meat is tender, juicy and spiced to perfection, (it’s the right balance of everything) their sauce is light and not too heavy on the stomach. The buns are quite fresh and I must say I enjoyed the steak sandwiches as much as I did the burgers there too. The simple and fresh ingredients gives you just the right note of flavor and allows you to enjoy your burger without the hassle of too much on it. Their fresh Swiss mushroom is an absolute gorgeous creation, but for some reason I get too full too quick and cannot manage eating the whole thing.

When you head there I always recommend you go along with a friend just so you are able to order and share the tasty creations. The owner is usually there in the evening and always on top of his work, serving, taking orders and answering any question you need. The place is always clean and I cannot deny they won me over with their Nespresso machine to finish your meal with a great cup of coffee. One last thing I wish that more places adapt this non smoking policy, to sit and enjoy your meal in clean air atmosphere definitely makes the whole difference.

PS: The photos are not mine, I shall replace them with mine soon as they are ready.

The Spice Garden

Sometimes in Amman you can just about enter any place and bump into someone you know, but there are these days that you wish to sit and relax without eyes following you and get a lavish treat while you do some work. I happened to be invited to Sheraton Amman Hotel for business meetings several times and The Green Lounge seemed to be this place that provides a quiet atmosphere and at the same time a cozy one unlike most hotel lobbies anywhere.

As I sat there a couple of times I noticed the progress of  building a new restaurant opening “The Spice Garden”, the name itself was enough to entice me and provoke my curiosity. Spices are the main flavor changing ingredient that can create an amazing dish or destroy a sensational creation, so filled with hope I awaited the opening and watched the ratings of its guests. In January, I was looking for a special place to treat my mother on her birthday, so I did not look too far, I called up and booked the sensational Thursday offer for her and my father to enjoy a whole seafood buffet night. I did have my worries but as I passed there a few times and had a look see, I was quite sure that the food could only be good.

My parents were quite impressed by the gift voucher and excited they went on that dinner, at the end of their meal I had orchestrated a small cake to come out and that I would join to blow the candles. I sat anxiously, staring at my father’s face as he is very picky when it comes to his fish, but he was pleased and mother had that same impression, while I was totally in love with the tasty cake they had prepared (it was chocolaty creamy perfection). It was done for me, I needed to get there for a taste myself.

Something about the design of the place makes me content (maybe because I am an advocate of modern design), but the green and silver combination along with clean cut edges and twists on bamboo in the Asian hint to it makes it visually appealing. The  buffet is quite comfortable to pick from and the display gets you excited to try some of everything there.

I got my plate ready and started my trip, I was quite impressed to find a collection of “Amuse Bouche” (a small bite of a certain tone of flavors that would set your mood for the meal) I remember picking a seared tuna fish and spiced salad of these and I certainly got the right choice. I am not usually a fan of the “fix it yourself salad” but The Spice Garden has both ready and flavorful salads and the other side for those who prefer preparing their own, the variety seemed to change along with the theme of the restaurant for the night, I must say they had a killer chickpea Indian night salad that truly was a refreshing spicy addition to the meal.

As for the main courses, they have several ready made dishes for you to just serve yourself, but also they have live stations that would certainly tailor the food you want the way you fancy it done (when it comes to steaks and fish this is a certain advantage). The food all in all has a quality standard seal for sure and one cannot complain of anything as the service is there to just make everything the way you please.

After enjoying a tasty meal you can never miss their absolutely seductive sweets corner, the small bites of heaven are just a small part of the real deal on that station. There are two chefs there to take your order of a freshly made to die for chocolate fondant, waffles, pancakes or even crepes with your desired toppings to finish it off. You would get back to your table and just indulge in a sinful chocolate overdose with a  taste that would mingle in your mouth even after you leave.

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The odd part in all this that you would expect these kind of buffet dinners to be overpriced, yet this restaurant has done its best to keep it within reason. To be totally fair, I do not mind going out less if I get the chance to get myself spoiled rotten for the night. On your way out of there you would definitely feel that you have had a great time and would certainly plan to go back there again sometime soon.

Loving Spring Wishes

Lama