Imagine comfy cushions and glowing candles strewn on the sand, the aroma of olive wood-scented roasted meat wafting on a sea breeze, the sun setting in the distance and the waves of the Mediterranean lapping your feet on your own private beach…
The chefs at Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria have transported the enchanting atmosphere of a desert barbeque to the shores of the Mediterranean with Siwa Nights, an epic dining moment created solely for guests looking to soak in a quintessentially Egyptian experience.
Inspired by the cooking techniques of the Siwa Oasis — Wahat Sìwah in Arabic – a stretch of fertile land on Egypt’s border with Libya, Siwa Nights evokes the feelings associated with a land of plenty, rich in a diet of dates, olives and meat.
Guests can take in the glowing Mediterranean sunset before settling down in a traditional Arabic set-up on the beach to enjoy a night of delicious food in an atmospheric setting. The highlight of the meal is the traditional Bedouin cooking technique, Abou Mardam, which involves digging a natural oven in the sand and placing chunks of meat in a copper pot — usually a whole goat cut into pieces, although beef and lamb can also be used — to be slow roasted for around two hours until tender.
Before the roasting process begins, the meat is marinated in a special mix of locally-sourced herbs cultivated in Siwa such as rosemary, cinnamon, cumin and cardamom. A roaring fire made from olive wood is built in the oven, and when it has turned into fiery charcoal, the meat is added. The top is then covered by sand and another layer of burning wood.
The goat usually used with this technique of preparation is brought up in Siwa on a special organic diet of dates that affects the quality of the meat, making it rich and tender enough to slide off the bone.
The dinner is served with rice, oven-cooked mixed vegetables, oriental salad and a selection of mezzeh. At the end of the dinner, Siwa lemongrass tea is offered as a healthy natural digestive. The refreshing tea is made from gently boiling lemongrass in water over firewood and sweetening the result with sugar or mountain honey.
For details on the Siwa Nights dining experience, contact Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria.