‘Tough times like these bring out the best in people.’
New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal
Friday, Dec.27, 2013
Byline: Ryan Melanson
Saint John- As thousands in the Greater Saint John area continue to spend their holidays without power and their homes getting colder by the day, a number of local businesses have made efforts to help.
Ehab Radwan, who owns the Taste Of Egypt restaurant on King Street, said he didn’t , know if his wife Paula was serious when she suggested sacrificing one of the couple’s two days off in the entire year to offer a free dinner to affected people.
“She just mentioned it, almost as a joke, casually, but then I said ‘OK, let’s do it,’ said the Islamic chef, who played Christmas music in his restaurant for the first time while people ate.
With no working employees and the help of a few relatives, the couple served a traditional Christmas dinner, with stuffing and veggies, for 38 people on the evening of Dec.25.
Paula Radwan said a three-person family from Grand Bay-Westfield particularly stood out, though all of those invited in were extremely grateful, making for a night filled with fun and holiday spirit.
She brought the family into the kitchen to thank her husband personally, as he cooked and washed up in the back by himself.
“She was crying and she wanted to give him a hug. It was pretty touching,” she said.
She realized many of those from the surrounding communities who ate, which included firefighters and Irving Oil workers, had the means at home to have a wonderful Christmas, and she was just trying to recreate what the power outages had taken away.
“These are people who’ve made donations, filled up the food banks, and now they’ve got no power, no heat, no water and no means to cook.”
Ehab Radwan recalled two men from Nerepis who also approached the door looking to purchase food, and were then offered a free holiday meal.
“They’re eyes bugged out of their head a bit, he joked.
His wife also pointed out the smaller, generous acts of community members who, largely using social media, have offered to open their doors, cook meals or help out those in need with whatever means they can.
A number of hotels have been offering discounted rates for those without lights, including the Travelodge on Fairville Boulevard, who served their own free holiday meal, with all the fixings, to about 50 guests on Tuesday.
It’s the time of the year to give, you’ve got people in need, they want to be somewhere warm, they need to be fed, so we fed them, ” said executive housekeeper Lynn Reynolds. They’re continuing to serve powerless guests hot food free of charge for the coming days.
At the Howard Johnson, Phil Fournier at the front desk said many from the Valley and Grand Bay-Westfield took advantage of $60 per night rooms to stay warm. Kitchen staff came in on a volunteer basis to serve a hot breakfast on Christmas morning.
“We’re filled up. Everyone’s been in good spirits, though, and pretty grateful for a place to go,” he said.
“I know we were, “said Alison Smith of Quispamsis, who checked in on Christmas Eve with her husband and two young children. They found ways to have Christmas and the Santa Claus experience away from home.
“My husband was wrapping gifts in the bathroom,” she whispered, with the kids nearby.
Even outside the city on Kingston Peninsula, where Amanda Oulette doesn’t have power herself, she opened up the restaurant she manages, Reed’s Point Pub and Grill.
“I don’t like seeing people in the cold, so we opened the doors so they can get something to eat and get washed up,” she said. A full dining room was being fed, while others were using the bathrooms to wash and outlets to charge their phones.
“I’m going to try to stay open as long as we can,” she said.
‘Taste of Egypt’ restaurant expands service to recognize Ramadan
New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal
Wed Aug 15 2012
Byline: Paul Clarke
SAINT JOHN – A Saint John restaurant has expanded its operation into the wee hours of the morning to recognize Ramadan, the most sacred month of the Islamic calendar.
On a regular day, the Taste of Egypt would have been open at noon to take advantage of the lunchtime rush. But since July 20, Paula and Ehab Radwan, owners of the King Street restaurant, have changed their hours to accommodate the holy month.
“At first we thought we would keep our regular hours,” said, Ehab, sitting at a table with his wife.
“But because of Ramadan we decided to change our hours from 4 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.”
To mark the religious occasion a single lantern hangs in the front window as the poetic rhythm of the spoken Qur’an plays quietly overhead. At about 4 p.m. every day the Radwans prepare for Iftar, the daily meal that marks the setting of the sun and the end of fasting during theholy month of Ramadan.
“During Ramadan we don’t eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset,” Ehad said.
“Here in Canada, that’s about 17 or 18 hours. Back home it’s closer to about 14 hours.”
Ramadan is a time for Muslims to focus on physical and spiritual purification and typically includes increased offerings of salat prayers and recitation of the Qur’an. The religious occasion occurs during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and lasts between 29 to 30 days, depending on the visual sightings of the crescent moon.
“It’s a time for you to become more focused on the teachings of Islam,” Paula said.
“Some people that don’t pray five times a day as they should tend to get into a better routine of prayer at this time.”
Followers of Islam believe that fasting during the month of Ramadan helps Muslims learn patience, modesty and spirituality.
During Ramadan two main meals are served: Suhoor, which is served before dawn, and Iftar, which is served after sunset.
In the Middle East, Iftar usually consists of dates, lentil soup, a main dish, salad and baklava for dessert.
“To break our fast we eat dates,” Ehab said. “The Prophet Muhammad use to break his fast with dates, so we try to follow his example.”
At the Taste of Egypt, more than a dozen people stream through the doors to break their fast. Ehab serves spicy lentil soup with chopped carrots, followed by a main dish of rice with shredded shawarma (chicken), lettuce and tomatoes. To keep with tradition, patrons finish the meal with a small piece of baklava.
“The first thing you eat must be something that is warm, because you are fasting the whole day,” Ehab said.
“If you shock your stomach with something cold it’s not good, you might feel stomach pain,” he said, adding that the main dish changes every day.
Prior to sunrise, Muslims eat another meal called Suhoor to prepare for the daily fast.
In Canada, the short nights can make it difficult to eat both Iftar and Suhoor, Edhab said.
“You can eat Shuoor at any time. Some people eat at 12 a.m. before they go to sleep, but the main thing is that before you go to sleep you eat something because you are going to wake up fasting.”
Each meal ends and begins at different times over the month of Ramadan to reflect the changing time of the sun’s rise and set.
This year Ramadan will continue for 30 days ending Aug. 18 with the culmination of Eid ul-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan and the end of fasting.
In Egypt and throughout the Muslim world, restaurants remain closed during the day and reopen once the sun has set.
“There are usually lots of lanterns and lights in the streets of Egypt, especially closer to Eid when they are celebrating,” Paula said.
The elderly, sick and mentally ill are exempt from the fasting, as are pregnant, menstruating and nursing women.
© 2012 Telegraph-Journal (New Brunswick)
The cure for late night munchies
Calm your cravings with shawarma, pizza, poutine and more
New Brunswick’s Urban Alternative Weekly
Aug 18-22, 2012
Volume 18, Issue 33
By: Hilary Paige Smith
Does anyone ever put themselves in the hot dog person’s shoes?
There they are, sitting behind the cart, as hoards of bar-goers stagger toward them like it’s the zombie apocalypse. Moncton, Fredericton, Saint John. No matter where you go, there’s someone selling hotdogs to the drunk and hungry. Hot dogs are tasty and convenient, but they aren’t your only option. Neither are the snaking Subway lines.
Here are some different spots for post-party munchies.
Taste of Egypt is the most exotic place for late night eats uptown. They serve up shawarma wraps and sisha in flavours like mango and lemon. Plus, they’re open until 3 a.m. on weekends. Taste of Egypt, 87 King St., 657-0003.
If you’re after Italian, Greek or classic Canadian poutine, hike up King Street and down Charlotte to Julius Pizza. If you’re not ordering pizza you’re in for a longer wait. They stay open until 3:30 a.m. Julius Pizza, 169 Charlotte St., 634-0988.
Whatever you’re craving, we’ve got you covered.
What’s For Supper [Q+A]
New Brunswick’s Urban Alternative Weekly
Jan 10-16, 2013
Volume 14, Issue 02
By: Hilary Paige Smith
Age: 33, Saint John
What’s the best thing you ever made?
My husband loves chocolate and also avocados, so last year on his birthday I baked him an avocado chocolate cake with avocado icing. It was rich and delicious. I’m going to do it again this year!
What would be the last meal if you were on death row?
New Brunswick lobster, white wine, gourmet chocolate and coffee.
What’s your favourite local spot to eat and favourite meal there?
I’m Lebanese so I’ve really been enjoying the Middle Eastern cuisine of Taste of Egypt on King Street. I like everything I’ve tried there, particularly the chicken shawarma, Prince of Egypt hot drink topped with coconut and nuts, the corruption kiwi and pistachio shake and the apple herb shisha.
What’s your least favourite herb or spice to cook with?
I’d say garlic, although I think it’s considered a vegetable, so probably cilantro. Really packs a fresh punch.
What’s your least favourite food?
I’ve tried liver as a child and have never had the urge to try it again.
Do you have a favourite food culture?
That’s a hard one to answer as I love so many. Right now Thai reigns supreme – spicy, sweet and salty.
What’s for supper tonight?
It’s too cold out today to go grocery shopping so I’m going to create something with what I’ve got on hand. Shrimp sautéed in butter, garlic and a pinch of crushed spicy red peppers, with a béchamel sauce made from scratch, tossed with pasta.