Al-Ahram Weekly Online   17 - 23 December 2009
Issue No. 977
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875


The tallest chocolate Santa in town is 4.7m high. It took 70kg of chocolate, which is equivalent to 700 bars of chocolate, to produce this outstanding work that took 30 hours of diligent work

Run for cancer

THE MARATHON of Hope is hitting Egypt for the first time. Under the auspices of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and Sound and Light, the Canadian Embassy in Cairo, in collaboration with the Children Cancer Hospital 57357 and Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at the First Residence, sponsored the first ever Terry Fox Run on 14 November at Giza Pyramids.

The Terry Fox Run is an annual marathon held to help raise funds and awareness for finding a cure for all cancers. At the heart of the Marathon of Hope is Isadore Sharp, founder, CEO and chairman of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, who was the first corporate sponsor when Terry Fox, a young Canadian man suffering from cancer, began the event in 1980. Despite having lost his leg to cancer Fox was determined to run across Canada from coast to coast, to generate awareness and raise money for cancer research.

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts followed through on its pledge to organise an annual run in Terry's name and works closely with the Canadian Cancer Society to plan the Marathon of Hope. The hotel chain also works on an international scale by cooperating with the Canadian Embassy in every country of its operation to continue the Marathon of Hope.

The Terry Fox Run is an innovative and volunteer-led event, all-inclusive, non-competitive, with no fundraising minimums. Participants are simply encouraged to make voluntary contributions towards the fight against cancer.

No to tobacco

"TOGETHER For A Better Life" was the theme of a symposium organised by Sheraton Montazah, together with the Montazah Rotary Club and Pfizer Egypt -- the manufacturer of tablets to help smokers kick the habit. The symposium, which brandished the motto "No to Smoking, No to Shisha, No to Drugs" was attended by more than 100 people from Alexandria's business and social communities, as well as a number of university and high school students.

High-profile speakers were also in attendance, including Drugs Fighting Hotline Consultant Ismail Fekri; Executive Director of Nozha Hospital for Psychiatry and Drugs Treatment Ahmed Refaat; Chest Diseases professor at the Alexandria College of Medicine and President of the Allergy Association Samir Khedr; District Sales Director of Pfizer Egypt Ibrahim Wassef, as well as Environment Researcher at the Council of Environment Affairs/ Alexandria Sameh Riyad. Also speaking was Bakr, a 27-year-old former addict, who discussed his experience with drug abuse and his battle to recovery with the help of a strong will and his doctors.

Speakers shed light on the negative effects of smoking on the lungs and overall health, the latest treatments for drug addiction and ways to avoid addiction, and efforts by the Council of Environmental Affairs to fight cigarette and shisha smoking and make Alexandria a tobacco-free city by 2010, with the help of Alexandria governorate.

Environment basics

THE AMERICAN Chamber of Commerce in Egypt (AmCham Egypt) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) hosted the first Egyptian Business Summit on Climate Change on 28 October at the Semiramis InterContinental. A number of distinguished international experts took part, with the aim of raising awareness and exposing companies to best practices on this important subject. Most prominently, environmental activist and former US vice-president Al Gore, who is the founder and chair of the Alliance for Climate Protection.

To commemorate the summit, the hotel launched an Environmental Week, where it celebrated environmental issues and focussed on the importance of conserving the environment. Activities included a clean-up campaign in downtown Cairo, and planting a tree in the hotel garden dedicated to the people of Cairo by legendary actor Omar Sharif and the hotel's General Manager Jurgen Baumhoff.

Makany, the employee restaurant, introduced a green menu and department heads served the staff a green "welcome to work" breakfast, and later everyone participated in a general knowledge competition on the environment. "The Environmental Week is just one element of our ongoing environment strategy," explained Baumhoff. "With the help of all employees and the Association for the Protection of the Environment, we will continue to promote recycling, waste management and planting trees, as well as strive to further reduce our own carbon footprint day in, day out across every area of our business."

Green award

IBEROTEL Makadi Saraya Resort recently received the TUI Umwelt Champion Award by the prestigious European tour operator TUI. The hotel ranked 81st among the world's top best 100 hotels in terms of environmental management. The award is a special distinction presented to establishments whose business philosophies are based on sustainable hotel management and active involvement in conserving the environment.

Every year, the German tour operator presents this sought-after award to the best 100 hotels in the world. Iberotel Makadi Saraya Resort distinguished itself for its dedication to conserving the environment for future generations.

Triplet culinary awards

CONRAD Cairo's chefs won three awards at the Black Box Competition, where eight teams of young chefs under 35 years, accompanied by three waiters per team, competed to mark International Chefs Day. The teams received a black box packed with surprise ingredients one day before the gala competition event, and had exactly one hour to compose a four-course menu to be submitted to the judges.

The talent and creativity of the Conrad team was complimented by a collective effort and team spirit. The teams were judged by an international culinary panel on taste, skill creativity and artistic merit. The hotel's young chefs scooped the Best Table Decoration Award, Best Soup (smoked tomato) and the silver medal of the entire competition.

Conrad Cairo celebrated the team members with special thanks to participants, who included Gede Yadnya (team leader and Kamala Chef); Mohamed Raouf (Jayda Commis 1 Chef); Atija Kahalek (Felucca Commis 1 Chef); Mustafa Lotfi (Pastry Commis 2 Chef); Mohamed Abdel-Rahman (Felucca supervisor); Sameh Ibrahim (BQT Captain); Hani Saber (Jayda supervisor); Mohamed Othman (Jayda waiter); and Shehab Mahmoud (steward).

The hotel will open several new restaurants at the end of 2009 and in early 2010 which will bring new and modern upscale dining concepts to the hotel. They include the Southeast Asian restaurant Kamala; the upscale Oak Grill; and the contemporary bar and lounge Stage One. In mid-2010, Solana will open its doors to guests, featuring a Mediterranean cuisine.

Setting sail

TRAVCOTELS, Travco Group's Nile Cruise Company officially announced the launching of the five-star Deluxe Jaz Minerva, set to sail on 25 December. With a wide array of services, the ship offers an ideal refuge for relaxation and is perfect to explore the route the Pharaohs took on their regal processions along the Nile from Luxor to Aswan.

Jaz Minerva offers luxurious cabins, a mouth- watering cuisine and a variety of entertainment and recreation on board. It houses 75 double cabins and two suites, round-the-clock reception service as well as Internet facilities, international telephone and fax, gift shop, laundry service, in addition to a meeting space if the ship is fully chartered.

Also onboard is a large restaurant to accommodate all passengers in comfort and a large sundeck with fitness equipment and massage, a pool bar and a large seating lounge. All cabins are air-conditioned and include a large panoramic sliding window, marine satellite TV reception, a mini- fridge and individual safety boxes.

Delectable dishes

THE FAMOUS Syrian Chef Fahd Bassal recently joined the team of Aladdin Restaurant at Sheraton Cairo Hotel. Chef Bassal is recognised for offering a sumptuous selection of the Lebanese mezzeh, delicious types of kibbeh and mouth-watering BBQ dishes. His experience includes 10 years at Sheraton Doha Hotel, followed by two years at Al-Shaa'ar Restaurant in Syria and another two at Sheraton Damascus. He received HACCP Certificate and Best Cold Plate Award in Sheraton Doha.

Also at Aladdin guests are treated to an exquisite early entertainment performance of belly dancer Hanady on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays between 10 and 11pm.

Say cheese

THE US DAIRY Export Council, in collaboration with the US Agricultural Trade Office in Dubai and the Emirates Culinary Guild, held the US cheese workshops and competition in Dubai. These workshops were aimed at familiarising chefs with US cheese varieties and their versatile applications.

The workshops and final competition were attended by more than 45 chefs from various regions, including Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al-Khaimah and the Sultanate of Oman. All attendees participated in first-hand observation, hands-on experimentation and recipe preparation using different US cheeses.

Iberotel Miramar Al-Aqah Beach Executive Chef Prasad and his junior chefs prepared a variety of attractive dishes all made from US cheeses, and won several awards.

caption: Executive Chef Prasad and his winning team after receiving their medals

Jingle all the way

THE RAMSES Hilton has a jam-packed programme of events to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. While the Christmas tree was lit up on 7 December accompanied by the children's choir from the British International School and Santa Claus, throughout December there are delectable Christmas confectionery at the Gingerbread House located in the lobby.

Take a break from Christmas shopping and drop into the Sherlock Holmes English Pub for a warm glass of traditional mulled wine. On Christmas Eve, Chef Dimitirios will be presenting a sumptuous choice of traditional Christmas menus at the Citadel Grill Mediterranean Restaurant and Windows on the World Roof Top Restaurant. These will be accompanied by live entertainment and a visit from Santa Claus.

On Christmas Day, there will be a festive lunch buffet at the Terrace Café Restaurant and a traditional set lunch menu at the Citadel Grill.

On New Year's Eve, a variety of party options are available at the hotel, including the Cairo Countdown Gala Dinner at the Ramses Ballroom or a gastronomic set menu at Windows on the World -- with a spectacular nighttime panorama of Cairo. Alternatively, a special set menu in the cosy atmosphere of the Citadel Grill will also be served, as well as a festive buffet overlooking the River Nile at the Terrace Café.

Sophisticated holidays

FOUR SEASONS Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza is gearing up to give guests and visitors a first-class hospitality experience throughout the holiday season. Nile Plaza's various restaurants are offering delicious food, served in an atmosphere of elegance and sophistication, as well as an exciting programme of events to entertain the most demanding connoisseur.

Beginning with the Lobby Lounge and Beymen Café, a superb array of seasonal specialties will be on offer including hand- made chocolate Christmas trees, snowflakes and truffles. These are all beautifully packaged for the chocoholics out there. On Christmas Eve, the hotel will offer a choice of venues including the Aqua Restaurant overlooking the Nile, and the Italian Bella Restaurant. Spice, Steaks, Beymen Café and the Bar will continue to serve their popular à la carte menus on Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Day, the Egyptian-themed buffet Zitouni will be laced with an international twist featuring a selection of hot and cold mezzeh, appetisers, soups, three carving stations, a shawerma rotisserie and a large selection of main courses. The feast will be complete with a choice of lavish desserts. The Lobby Lounge will also be serving a lavish chocolate buffet, as well as its à la carte menu.

To celebrate the arrival of 2010 in style, the hotel plans a cosmopolitan evening at Bella Restaurant. Meanwhile, seafood lovers can indulge themselves at Aqua Restaurant which will host a dinner of culinary delights. Other restaurants not holding special dinners or events will continue serving their à la carte menus throughout the holiday season.

Charming celebrations

SHERATON Sharm Hotel, Resort, Villas & Spa, promises to make this year's Christmas and New Year celebrations unforgettable. Guests will enjoy a warm exciting atmosphere and decorations which reflect the Christmas spirit, with sparkling lights, colourful ribbons, glass balls and room amenities. A spectacular Christmas tree and a large gingerbread man on display in the lobby welcome guests with Christmas cookies and chocolates. Santa promised to also pop in with many gifts.

Portofino Italian restaurant will host a Christmas Gala dinner to the tunes of favourite melodies performed live by the hotel's talented guitarist. Alternatively, Tamarind offers a flavourful array of authentic Indian dishes.

A week later, usher in the New Year in the stunning, tranquil surroundings of the terrace with its dramatic views of Tiran Island. New Year's celebrations include a Gala dinner, a White and Red Carnival, a Pharaonic Night, Trio band, live music and folklore show.

Fresh ideas

SHERATON Miramar is promoting an unrivalled dining experience to take you through a festive Christmas and New Year's Eve. Mouthwatering dishes will be served, including a range from the Italian cuisine in an extraordinary atmosphere, with amazing views of the sea or pool.

Miramar Restaurant serves delicious international buffets, while Orient 1001 offers authentic Arabic dishes and the finest Italian delicacies are presented in La Piscina. The ambiance is completed with live entertainment throughout the resort.

Outstanding features and facilities are also available, since the resort includes five private beaches, outdoor heated pools, as well as water sports and endless options for fun, fitness and fresh air activities.

A chocolate indulgence

FOUR Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza is leading the way when it comes to satisfying even the most demanding chocoholic appetites. The hotel's chic and trendy Beymen café is the place to indulge your sweetest chocolate fantasies and offers 27 separate varieties of chocolate. Yehia Ahmed, the executive pastry chef, uses the finest Valrhona chocolate directly imported from France, to recreate a recipe first devised in 1922. Valrhona is widely regarded as the best chocolatier in Europe. These delicious varieties are taken as the base from which to devise a rich and diverse pastry menu. Chef Ahmed has channelled his passion for chocolate into creations such as a fruit ganache with a variety of fillings, that includes passion fruit, raspberry, apricot, Morello cherry, among other delicacies. A rendezvous point for Cairo's chic and trendy crowd, the Beymen Café offers a light, modern take on classic cuisine. A stunning stained-glass ceiling and vibrant colours create a lively, energetic atmosphere, while intimate seating offers the chance for sparkling conversation.

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