OMAN Magazine meets the foodie behind two of Muscat’s tastiest venues;
Lubna Zawawi. An avid trekker, mother, tea-lover and believe it or not keen beekeeper (yes, you heard us correctly); her days are spent between Italy and Oman pursuing her love of good food, great art and the occasional pot of White Monkey Pekoe tea (Something she tells us is the silkiest, “most milkiest” tea she has discovered to date.)
Having grown up in Oman, when did the globe-trotting start?
As a child, I enjoyed visiting many countries with my parents. I can remember my father offering me a snail when I was five and I LOVED it! I did the exact same thing for my kids. My daughter has even tried a 16-course supper.
As an adult, I started travelling to more-hidden corners of the globe, and up mountains, but had lived in the US whilst studying Classics at Boston University, as well as Italian. (It was either Latin or Italian on offer, so I chose the latter). My Florentine tutor told me that I absolutely must visit Florence if I wanted to embark on a study of civilisation in ancient Rome, which made sense, so off I went. In more recent years, Florence has become my second home. I can remember house-hunting in the rain and I still loved it; that’s when I knew it was a place to stay. Very provincial and full of charm.
You have a world of teas available at Crafty Kitchen; which is your favourite and why?
Well, that’s a very hard question as I have many favourites! I would say the Assam Conghea by La Via del Té is a great choice, or perhaps the Irish Breakfast Blend when I want something stronger and full of flavour, and of course, the White Monkey Pekoe – I adore the milky texture.
What was your inspiration for the decor?
I’m a huge fan of tea rooms or as the french would say, the Salon de thé, and I suppose I drew inspiration from two of my favourite places in London and Paris. Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly and Rose Bakery at Rue des Martyrs. Rose Bakery is my absolute favourite place for too-good-to-be-true puddings; you must try it.
For Crafty Kitchen, we chose the romantic pastel colours found on tea caddies in teal, lavender and grey, and used these colours from the wall tiles to the menus. We wanted to add warmth and a sense of home. It’s not a British-themed tea room, but it’s definitely got that traditional European touch to it. The prints on book pages, which are framed across the back wall, are by ‘Coco de Paris’ and we thought they were quite unique and fun. (For the readers, try and spot our favourites John Lennon & Salvatore Dali.)
So, onto your latest venture, tell us about the inspiration behind Eat Street…
The name Eat Street is about eating street food; the really yummy stuff that you find on the sides of the road in India, Mexico, China, South America, Copenhagen, the UK; but those that don’t give you the famous ‘Delhi-belly’. My Husband Karl is all about ‘the pie, the chips, the gravy’ and had lived in Hong Kong for almost 10 years, so bringing together our favourite street foods into one kitchen, is what Eat Street is all about.
Let’s take a look at the walls at Eat Street – Who designed the interiors?
We commissioned artists through a Dubai based firm that were handpicked from different countries around the globe to represent the diversity of the menu) Countries include, south africa, Mexico, Spain & India. Together we created this really cool street art for the walls which has animated characters, animals and even an Omani Oryx. The toilet doors have been painted with famous Banksy graffitis, which were done by my talented friend Colette Mol. The group tables in the middle are up-cycled cable wheels and the roof is simple industrial mesh panelling.
Your street-food menu is so diverse (and delicious) but which do you consider as the must-trys?
Churros. Absolutely the Churros. Or the Sweet Pizza Apple Crumble with Custard. Or maybe the Eat Street Burger, which is my favourite. I think it depends on your mood, or craving! Our chef Executive Group Chef James Izzard does this amazing Vietnamese Pho, where beef bones are boiled for 24-hours to produce the stock. stock flavour.
What does 2016 have in store?
There’s a lot happening, but one thing we definitely want to create is our own private label for the Crafty Kitchen, which will feature Il Ponte honey (called ‘Miele’ in Italian) from our florence hives and the purest extra virgin olive oil which we produce in Tuscany.
For reservations and enquiries;
Phone: +968 24696660
Instagram: @thecraftykitchenmuscat @eatstreetmuscat