Review: The Southern

Posted by Mark

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Near the end of last year a friend of mine told me about a new restaurant that was opening called The Southern. I checked out their Facebook page and started following them, waiting for the day they would announce their opening. That day finally came last week so I headed out to Mahboulah to try them out.

The Southern is a small restaurant owned by a Kuwaiti couple and focuses on Southern (American) classic dishes. Both mums of the couple are American with one mum originally from North Carolina and the other from Kentucky so most of the dishes served at The Southern are based on recipes taken from their mums. The fact that their head chef is American also helps keep everything as authentic as possible. The interior of the restaurant is designed by the very talented Lab100 design studio, the same studio behind the design of Ubon and Rio. I loved everything about the way it looked and once the weather gets cooler they will even have outdoor seating.

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When I arrived to the restaurant the waitress told me I was their first lunch time customer. They had soft launched a week earlier with just dinner and they had just started opening for lunch on the day I passed by. I always prefer having lunch at a restaurant I’m reviewing just for the simple fact the photos always come out better. Their menu isn’t very big with just 3 starters, 5 main courses and 3 desserts. Since I was alone I decided to skip the starters and instead have 3 main courses and a dessert. I ended up ordering the following:

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Bayou Fried Shrimps KD3.75
Spicy Pulled BBQ Chicken Sliders KD2.95
Sloppy Joe Sliders KD2.8
Southern Biscuits (side dish) KD0.750
Baked Mashed Potatoes (side dish) KD0.750
Soft Drink KD0.500

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The first thing that arrived was the Bayou fried shrimps. I found the dish unexciting both in presentation and flavor. It was good but it just wasn’t special, it was too similar to regular breaded shrimp I could have anywhere else because there were no new flavors in it for me to explore. The portion was also small and it would make more sense having it as a starter than a main. After the fried shrimps things took a giant leap forward. The next dish that arrived was the pulled bbq chicken sliders and I fell in love. It was delicious and full of flavor, even the buns were perfect and I was just starting to think to myself how I would come back for it when they brought over the sloppy joe sliders.

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Their sloppy joe sliders were ridiculously good. Right after taking the first bite I took my beloved pulled chicken sliders dish and put it across from me on the other side of the table. Even though I had ordered three main courses I knew right away that it would be the sloppy joe sliders that I would fully consume. It was the third main course I was having but it was so good I couldn’t stop eating it (obviously I wasn’t dieting that day). Once I was done I ordered the fried blueberry pie which I just realized they didn’t charge me for (it’s KD1.750). I was having a hard time deciding between the peach cobbler and the pie but ended up going with the pie because I was looking for something sweeter. The pie took around 10 minutes to prepare and it came hot with ice cream on the side. It was pretty light and crispy but I was also curious to try their cobbler and if I wasn’t so full already I would have ordered that as well.

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Overall I had a great experience and I would go back again for sure (on a cheat day). The only negative feedback I have is with the waitress who had trouble answering some of my questions regarding some of the dishes. But, they had only been open for a week so that kinda makes it ok I guess plus she was friendly and bubbly which is always more important. Their regular timings are from 11AM to 11PM but in Ramadan they’re open from 6.30pm to 8pm and then again from 11pm to 3am. They also have a set menu for Ramadan which is KD9 per person if you prefer that. For more information including their location, check out their page on [Facebook]


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Why going gluten free isn’t a fad, its free health care

Posted by Amy Freeman

bread

Post by Amy Freeman

I thought I would follow up last weeks post with some points on why I believe gluten isn’t necessary as part of anyone’s regular diet. This kinda leads on from why I believe that the ‘Paleo’ or ‘Whole Food’ nutrition is benefiting everyone not just for improved body composition, but for overall general health and wellbeing.

Gluten free seems to be a term that is thrown around a lot these days which has some people interested and others rolling their eyes thinking it’s another fad. Gluten is the protein in wheat and cereals that gives dough it’s elasticity and therefore bread it’s addictive, soft, chewy, air light texture.

So why is gluten getting such bad press now?

Well in the 2009 study published in Gastroenterology, it showed that celiac disease has increased in 50 years from 1 in 650 people to 1 in 120 people.

This is largely down to the difference in the wheat we are now consuming compared to our parents and grandparents.

In order to meet the demand for factories with the amount of processed food, the increased population and increased general consumption, wheat farmers now use a hybridized grain that grows fast, is bug resistant and contains new proteins that were never in original wheat plants. These new proteins are not easily digested causing widespread gluten intolerance, high rates of celiac disease, increased inflammation and really bad side effects.

After seeing the transformation in many clients that had never thought gluten had been an issue for them until they cut it out and all of a sudden saw bloating disappear and health issues lessen, I believe that many people have an intolerance of some kind to it and luckily most people I know whether friends, family or clients seem to be aware that they do feel better overall when they don’t have it as part of their regular diet.

It is also very apparent in supermarkets these days with the vast amount of gluten free products this is becoming a very adopted way of living for people and I can say i have noticed that the cost of gluten free products (in Kuwait) now compared to 2-3 years ages also validates that. 2-3 years ago it was a ridiculous amount of money for quinoa and gluten free flour options and after studying the supermarkets at places like Sultan Center and SaveCo, the prices are substantially lower than they used to be because of the many more market players of gluten free products.

So for those that may not be aware of some of the classic side effects that gluten can cause on your body this may help identify some tell tail signs:

- Bloating after eating bread, pasta or wheat based products. Bread for most is a standout.

- Irritable bowel episodes

- Constipation and or diarrhea

- Inflammation in the joints. I’ve even read celiac websites that have said white specs have showed up on an MRI of a patients brain that was found to be gluten and the cause of the patients migraines.

- Severe acne

- Headaches/migraines

-Skin irritation/Eczema

Just to finish be aware that when you opt for some gluten free products, they often will have more sugar, fat and fillers in them to make up for the lack of texture and taste from real wheat so always read the ingredients and make sure you are aware of what they are using instead of wheat and don’t be blinded by the gluten free label. This is kind of the same as fat free products. When something is taken out it has to be replaced, just be aware and make sure that you aren’t replacing your wheat with a chemical concoction of god know what.

Happy Training Kuwait

Post by Amy Freeman, a Strength and Conditioning Coach from New Zealand and currently a Personal Trainer at Inspire Pure Fitness in Kuwait.

Photo by jmlpyt


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Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Center Project

Posted by Mark

museum1

Last week I posted about the demolition of the Al-Maidan Cultural Center and the construction that is taking place there. Because of the fact the construction was moving very fast I assumed the project belonged to Al-Diwan Al-Amiri, turns out I was right. A reader sent me an email with full details on this project and it turns out its going to be a museums district.

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The project that will occupy the site next to Shaab Park will house four world class museums, a fine art center, a theatre and two information centers. The project will compliment the Kuwait’s Cultural Center that’s located in Kuwait City which I previously posted about [Here]

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The project will consist of six main buildings:
- A Natural History Museum
- A Science Museum
- A Museum of Islamic History
- A Space Museum
- A Fine Arts Center
- A 350 seat Theatre

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The Natural History Museum will feature:
- Wildlife and Biodiversity
- Arabian Wildlife
- Pre-History
- Earth and Environment

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The Science Museum will feature:
- Experimental Atrium
- Technology and Transport
- Health and Medicine
- Human Body and Mind

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The Space Museum will feature:
- Planetary Science
- Space Exploration

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The project is expected to be completed in 20 months which is why the construction has been taking place day and night.

Based on my previous personal experience with Al-Diwan Al-Amiri, I have full confidence that this project will be completed on time and look spectacular. The best part about this (for me) is the fact these museums will be located down the street from my house. I’m super excited.


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Expats vs Locals Across the Gulf

Posted by Mark

watertowers

Arabian Business published some figures comparing the percentage of expats to locals across the Gulf. I’ve taken the liberty to list them below with the country with the highest percentage of locals on top and the lowest on the bottom. No surprises really except for Bahrain which I assumed had a larger expat population.

KSA: Total population 29,595,084. 68 percent locals and 32 percent expatriates.
Oman: Total population 3,770,473. 56 percent locals and 44 percent expatriates.
Bahrain: Total population 1,217,701. 49 percent locals and 51 percent expatriates.
Kuwait: Total population 3,823,728. 30 percent locals and 70 percent expatriates.
Qatar: Total population 1,836,676. 14 percent locals and 86 percent expatriates.
UAE: Total population 9,036,488. 13 percent locals and 87 percent expatriates.


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The State of the P2BK Village Today

Posted by Mark

p2bkentrance

Yesterday a reader sent me photos he took a couple of days ago of the Proud 2 Be Kuwaiti village in Mishref. It seems after the event was over it turned into an abandoned village with no one willing to clean it up. The images of the garbage covered village had already been circulating around social media so I decided to pass by myself this morning and check it out myself.

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When I first arrived to the P2BK main gate I quickly recognized the scene from one of the photos I had been sent. Outside the village wall, the area between the P2BK village and the Remal Sand Park area looked like it had been hit by a tornado. There was trash everywhere, overturned stands, painted sculptures lying all over the place and lots of broken gypsum boards. It was a disaster.

Then I proceeded through the main gates into the P2BK village and the scene wasn’t as bad inside. The place is abandoned and it’s outdoor so obviously it’s not going to be in pristine condition.

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There was trash lying around mostly in corners or up against the walls but the majority of the space in the village was just empty. It was windy this morning so while walking around there was lots of banging of doors that hadn’t been closed. Lots of doors had fallen off their hinges even but the majority were just flapping with the wind.

Once I was done wandering around the village I decided to head across to the Remal Sand Park area. The Remal Sand Park was the largest sand sculpture park when open and even though the space is abandoned and the park long closed, majority of the sand sculptures are still up and in excellent condition. They definitely didn’t just use sand and water to build these things.

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The majority of this space like the village was empty and clean of trash except for one side, where I spotted a bunch of overturned stands and broken gypsum boards strewn across the floor. I have no idea why there is so much broken gypsum boards everywhere, I think that made up the majority of the litter at the park and village.

Generally, both areas weren’t that bad with the biggest issue being the space between the Remal Sand Park and the P2BK village. As I was about to leave in my car I noticed the wind was blowing garbage into this area from one direction. I looked in that direction and noticed two large garbage bins, one was overflowing with garbage, the other empty but there was garbage on the floor all around.

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You can also see a trail of garbage from these two bins towards the area between the P2BK and Sand Park. I realized what was happening, whenever there was strong wind, garbage was flying from these bins towards the village where they gathered outside the village walls. I continued driving past those two bins and spotted another large pile of trash in the area behind the sand park.

So is the situation bad? Yes, but just as bad as it is anywhere else in Kuwait. I think what makes this situation different is the name of the event, Proud 2 Be Kuwaiti and here you have the event over and the place looking like a junk yard. Most of it is not their fault, at least garbage wise which seems to fly towards their space from the large dumpsters nearby. But the broken gypsum boards everywhere and overturned stands and decorations, those are their fault. It shouldn’t be difficult to clean up but the question is then what? Well I think I have a solution.

P2BK Village Idea
I think this area should be turned into a paint ball park. It literally looks like a small village which ads realism and it also means lots of hiding places. A round of MILSIM there would be amazing.

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Remal Sand Park Idea
Unlike the village, the ground here is just sand so I came up with an idea which I think would work and it’s something we don’t have in Kuwait, a mountain bike park. Mountain bikes are meant for off-road trails which we really don’t have any in Kuwait (maybe just the Mutla Ridges). In the US and in Europe you can find mountain bike parks which are man-made trails with various obstacles to recreate riding your bike on a mountain trail. The picture above is an example of one. There are already some elevations and tunnels in the current sand park, all you would need to do is compound the sand in some areas, add floodlights to make it usable during the evenings, add maybe a few ramps, maybe some wooden boards here and there and you’ll end up with a great looking mountain bike park surrounded by beautiful large sand sculptures.

So thats what I’d like to see happen to the village and sand park. If you have any better ideas just leave them in the comments.

fluffy

On my way out of the fair grounds I kept spotting white fluffy stuff all over the sidewalks everywhere. At first I thought they were some kind of tacky decorations but on closer inspection I realized they were tissues, papers and white nylon bags that were caught in the weeds that had grown from the sidewalks. If anything I thought that was a bigger issue since its in everyones face on their way in and out of the fair grounds. Depressing.


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A Story About the Twenty Dinars Note

Posted by Mark

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Uwe is a well known photographer in the local advertising scene and he’s lived in Kuwait since 1983. I’ve known him for a few years and awhile back when I posted about the new Kuwaiti currency he emailed me a very interesting story regarding the photo of the Court Complex on the back of the old KD20 bank note which I thought was interesting to share. This is what he told me:

Shortly before the invasion I was contracted to photograph the Court Complex which was to be used as part of the design on the soon to be introduced KD20 bank note. I headed to the Court Complex on a Friday morning with someone from the Central Bank to shoot the building. We parked our Toyota 4-Runner on the side and I got up on top of it with my camera and tripod to take photos. A short while after two police cars with sirens on showed up and told me to get down from the roof of the car. They asked us what we were doing and when we told them they asked for our permission papers. THe person who was with me from the Central Bank had forgotten to bring the permission papers with him so the police took me into the court house and held me there until the person went and fetched the permission slip and came back. It took him 7 hours to bring that paper! From then on whenever I look at the KD20 note I remember that messed up Friday.

On a side note, why does the Central Bank of Kuwait website ask you if you want to visit their old website or their new one? Why not just automatically load the new one?


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Vintage Trucks Event

Posted by Mark

pickuptrucks

Looks like a pick-up truck event was held recently at the Kuwait Car Museum. No idea when exactly it took place or else I would have passed by myself to check it out as well as post about it. Check out the video below.


[YouTube]


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Our grandparents had it right

Posted by Amy Freeman

paleobooks

Post by Amy Freeman

I remember in the early 90’s watching my nana and pop switch from butter to margarine, whole to skim milk and where possible, full fat to low fat. The 80’s and 90’s was the start of what would become a processed food epidemic. As Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig were constantly being advertised on TV and in magazines, leading the ‘weight loss’ industry and the ‘microwave meal’ industry, woman were becoming more body conscious and diabetes was on the rise. It became a highly publicized and popular belief that calories in and calories out was all that mattered, low fat was the key and all carbohydrates were equal. Enter the diabetes and obesity epidemic!

The unfortunate thing is that the belief systems that were used for weight loss in the 80’s and 90’s are still held in high regard to this day. Trying to convince people that eating natural butter is BETTER than processed margarine is a daily battle. Trying to convince people that full fat milk or cream is BETTER for your insulin levels than low fat or skimmed milk is hard to land with a lot of people.

The reason ‘Paleo’/Whole Food nutrition (or clean eating as I call it) has been so successful, is that it is taking people back to eating a very similar diet to those that lived in our grandparents era. Home made food, unprocessed junk food, lots of fruit, veggies and meat, this style of eating is identical to how our wirery, fit and non diabetic ancestors lived. Even though I remember my nana’s baking yummy desserts, they didn’t eat it in copious amounts and binge till they burst on a Saturday night. They worked it into their active, busy lifestyles and treated food as fuel and NOT as bribery or reward on a daily basis.

When my nana passed away and we were going through her bookshelf I remember the copious amounts of nutrition books she had collected over the years. Amongst what must have been around 50 of them, there were soup diet books, detox books, vegetarian diet books, liver cleansing books and a number of diabetes books. I remember feeling really impressed and proud that my nana had been so conscientious about being informed of health and wellbeing.

The problem is that behind all these diet books is a person trying to make money. Telling people to eat natural foods with correct portions and live a balanced lifestyle isn’t going to make the authors of these nutrition books any money. Instead, what sells is ‘14 Day Detox’s’,‘Lose 10 Pounds in 5 Days’, ‘Do the Dukan Diet’ or ‘Do the Atkins Diet’. Around the time that these books started becoming popular, curvy models were out and skinny was in and magazines really started to promote size 0 as ideal.

The amount of clients, family members and friends that I have seen fall into the trap of going on one of these unrealistic diets and rebound back from it (me included), is ridiculous. Through this a lot of people have developed unhealthy relationships’ with food from being convinced that low fat/ low carb is the only way to lose weight and then go 4 months without so much as one lick of an ice cream only to then rebound and go the other way and live in a chocolate coma for a month. Both extremes are as bad as each other and each time your body goes through this cycle is going to make it harder the next time you try to lose weight.

Being perfect, eating only grilled chicken and veggies, not socializing in case you slip up, feeling guilt when you have 2 eggs instead of 4 egg whites and doing 2 hours of cardio a day is not maintainable. Unless you are going to compete as a figure athlete and you are close to competition, quiet frankly, its stupid and absolutely unnecessary. I give it around 3-4 months before burnout and 4-6 months before you put all that weight you lost back on and then some.

Making healthy choices, eating whole foods like our grandparents and having a balanced workout routine and doing it consistently for 6-12-18 plus months is going to get you results that you can maintain forever. Yes you will need to be patient, it wont happen overnight and there will be times where you get frustrated but weight loss and well being should be treated as a marathon, not a sprint. It will be worth it when you have reached your goal and can still enjoy your life without feeling deprived of food or guilty every time you have a treat.

Happy Training Kuwait

Post by Amy Freeman, a Strength and Conditioning Coach from New Zealand and currently a Personal Trainer at Inspire Pure Fitness in Kuwait.

Image by akeelsworld


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A Walk Around Gate Mall

Posted by Mark

gatemall1

Gate Mall is a new mall that recently opened in Egaila near Al Bairaq Mall. I wasn’t really interested in the mall until I saw a photo of the building from the outside in one of my whatsapp groups and thought the mall façade looked pretty cool. So I passed by earlier today to check it out.

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First problem, there is no parking. For some reason the mall decided they didn’t need parking so the only parking I saw available was a large parking lot outside that is shared by two other surrounding malls. It was before noon on a weekday and I had trouble finding parking so I can imagine it would be near impossible to find parking on a weekend. The only alternative is to park at Al Bairaq mall and then walk through Al Bairaq towards Gate Mall.

Once you walk into the mall though things do get better. The mall is six floors and most of your favorite brands are there including the likes of Zara, Nike, Al Ostoura, Debenhams, H&M, Victoria Secret and Sephora. Food wise there was a Starbucks and Pinkberry open with a number of other places opening soon like Shake Shack, Tim Horten’s, Coldstone, Just Falafel, Cafe Baza and Margherita.

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There were no movie theaters from what I saw. Other than the major parking issue the mall should prove to be useful for the people living in the area but by no means a replacement to Avenues or 360 Mall. If you want to know how to get to it, here is the location on [Google Maps]


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What’s going on here?

Posted by Mark

hawalli-construction

There’s currently a mega project that’s currently under way in Maidan Hawalli. Just over a month ago they demolished the Al-Maidan Cultural Centre and the Abdullah Al-Salem School that were both located there and since then they’ve been working day and night (literally) at the construction site.

My guess is its one of the projects that is being led by Al-Diwan Al-Amiri, the people who are also leading the Kuwait Cultural Center project. The reason I am assuming they’re behind it is because when I last met with them they hinted there were 5 projects in the pipeline and they mentioned one of them was going to be in Hawalli. The fact that this project is also moving really fast with work taking place around the clock is another sign that this could be them.

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I was pretty upset at first when I found out they had demolished the Al-Maidan Cultural Centre but if the Al-Diwan Al-Amiri is behind this project then I know whats going to come up in its place is going to be something much better. If it’s anything like the Kuwait Culture Center I’ll be more than pleased.

If I find out what the project is I’ll post an update. The exact location of this site is near Shaab Park on the Gulf Road. Here it is on [Google Maps]


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