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Lebanon Dining


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#1 nikkib

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Posted 18 February 2010 - 02:05 PM

Any more recent advice on where to visit? Am moving there in April and would love some more recommendations.....
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#2 nikkib

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 10:14 AM

So i thought i would start updating this thread a bit - Here we have a couple of light lunches at Al Falamankis a 24hr restaurant and beautiful arguileh garden in Ashrafieh, Eastern Beirut
I was pretty hungover so very carb heavy - fried potatoes with beetroot tahini, mankoushe with spicy hakkawi cheese and the other is a bowl of foul (chickpea and bean stew) with another mankoushe this time with za'atar, tomato and onion024.JPG 023.JPG 110.JPG
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#3 nikkib

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 10:31 AM

This is the guy across the road from my appartment making mankoushe - they sell for less than 50cents - toppings usually just za atar (thyme) Jebne ( a cheese) and Labneh (cream cheese/yoghurt) here although you see other flavours elsewhere.018.JPG
Here we have another fast food - falafel which i see less frequently than i expected here, the beer and falafel wrap cost $3029.JPG 030.JPG
Lastly, mahamoura - a red pepper, chilli and walnut paste with tabbouleh and vegetable plate, Ive never tried the mahamoura before, but it is delicious and has become a firm favourite of mine017.JPG
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#4 nikkib

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 10:50 AM

And now for something completely different, Coqueley a french/nyc style brasserie in Gemmayze - Beiruts equivalent to the east village. Literally transported me out of beirut to Paris or NYC which can only be a good thing every now and again! First of many meals here - foie gras terrine with the most amazing fig bread and then a goats cheese salad with apple, i forget the exact price but the foie gras was $13 and very good indeed, especially considering the trouble and cost they have importing good quality foie from france. They bake all the bread on sight have a 80% french wine list with minimal mark ups and daily home made raviolis/quiches as specials and i love it!011.JPG 013.JPG 014.JPG 015.JPG
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#5 nikkib

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 11:03 AM

001.JPG Lastly for tonight we have Le Chef - the only place tony bourdain ate in on his 2006 No Reservations programme before the troubles. He's just been back - i missed him by two nights - to refilm the programme with as many of the original crew as possible and to revisit everywhere he should have been to last tim. Le Chef is, as everyone will tell you an institution. In Gemmayze as well, a sort of workmans cafe or greasy spoon type place. Quite touristy now and the food isnt what it was but still an authentic experience worth trying. I had something described on the menu as spicy fish, a sort of fish stew with a little spice, served with rice and vegetable plate. Perfectly palatable despite looking rather awful - all in, with 2 glasses of wine it set me back about $12 not bad002.JPG 004.JPG 003.JPG
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#6 heidih

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 03:11 PM

Can you describe the probable prep method for the fried potatoes. They look almost like pre-cooked and shaken around ones that one roasts because they have so many craggy spots. Also, the beetroot tahini is a visual stunner. Any thoughts on the prep?

#7 nikkib

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 11:38 AM

yes, i would say they were like mini roasties really and as for the beetroot tahini, I would guess that it was beetroot puree added to tahini paste, it was very tasty and i fell in love with the colour too, will definitely try making some ( will ask about the recipe next time im there!)
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#8 nikkib

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 02:21 PM

Well not much activity on here but i will plough on.... This is the souk al tayeb a local farmers market (beiruts first) and a lady making more of the ubiquitous manakoushe, selling for around $1 each. The market is great - fairly small compared to UK and US ones but really great quality, vegetables, fruit, lots of pickles, pastries, flowers and honey
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Here is a recent meal at Pepes in Jbeil (Byblos) which despite being in all the guide books and a favourite of local tour groups is a great little find and the seafood is excellent - you see surprisingly little decently priced seafood here as the water quality is so bad (there are barely any beaches either)First off is a shrimp rakakat, essentially a shrimp spring roll, then grilled tiger prawns, lebanese coffee and a little dessert they served complimentary when i asked if they just had something small to finish with, a sort of set jalab with coconut i think, delicious! 2 courses,a side order of salad a beer, gls of wine and coffee was around $30 which for tiger prawns was better value then it sounds
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Edited by nikkib, 17 June 2010 - 02:42 PM.

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#9 JTravel

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 02:36 PM

This is EXACTLY what I like best about eGullet....on the scene reporting of products and meals and anything to do with food. It reminds me of the "blog about your food life for a week" feature that first attrached me to eG. Blog on, and recipes, or techniques would be great too.
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#10 nikkib

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 10:05 AM

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not actually a shot of food but this is from a great fast food restaurant called comme ci comme saj (see what they did there?!) which sells the saj flat bread wraps with a variety of fillings meat/vegetarain and things like nutella and banana for afterwards. You can see the metal oven taht they cook them on top at the back of the shot - similar to the one the lady is cooking on at the farmers market but taller. Although we have macdonalds/starbucks/kfc here etc these are the local equivalent. As a random fact - mcdonalds also has valet parking ! Although then pretty much everywhere in beirut does so thats no great surprise.
Below are a couple of photos of the snacks you find out and about on street corners - little bread handbags that they can add cheese or just dried Za'atar to and eat as you take your evening stroll along the corniche (seafront) for around 75 cents
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"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#11 Jenni

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 12:27 PM

nikkib, I know there are not many comments on here, but please keep posting. This sort of thread is exactly what I like about egullet!

#12 nikkib

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Posted 19 June 2010 - 11:13 PM

thanks for the comments guys - will do! Probably aren't many of us egulleters out here in Beirut! Tourism is beginning to pick up again apparently which is great as The Lebanon is such a beautiful country with the most wonderful hospitality and food (as well as the history, great vineyards and weather to name just a few more!) so there should continue to be plenty for me to continue uploading
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#13 nakji

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 08:49 AM

So i thought i would start updating this thread a bit - Here we have a couple of light lunches at Al Falamankis a 24hr restaurant and beautiful arguileh garden in Ashrafieh, Eastern Beirut
I was pretty hungover so very carb heavy - fried potatoes with beetroot tahini, mankoushe with spicy hakkawi cheese and the other is a bowl of foul (chickpea and bean stew) with another mankoushe this time with za'atar, tomato and onion024.JPG 023.JPG 110.JPG



The mankoushe - is that a little like a pizza? It looks gorgeous. Lebanese food is quite popular where I grew up, but not with this kind of diversity - it was mainly limited to street-food types items like falafel and pita-wrapped meats. The beetroot tahini alone - oh, my.

Here is a recent meal at Pepes in Jbeil (Byblos) which despite being in all the guide books and a favourite of local tour groups is a great little find and the seafood is excellent -


Sometimes the guidebooks get it right, eh? The best restaurant in my neighborhood is in all the guidebooks - it even has a giant "Lonely Planet" sign out front - I expected it to be terrible the first time I visited, but it was sublime. A real happy surprise, since heavily touted restaurants so often turn out to be disappointments for whatever reason.

#14 nikkib

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 01:14 PM

Hi Nakji -the manakoushe are sort of like a pizza/flat bread cross but arent usually topped with much, great snacks though
Here are a few more recent meals 074.JPG this is labne served with its traditional accompaniments of olives, cucumber, mint and tomato along with a zaatar (lebanese thyme) flatbread and a glass of local rose
076.JPG lebanese mezze - pots of tabbouleh, moutabal and humus at the back, then rakakat ( a sort of cheese spring roll) stuffed vine leaves and fatyer with spinach ( a sort of pastry parcel or pasty usually filled with spinach)
086.JPG next up a great breakfast on the way to baalbek (- the most amzaing roman site i have seen - a true wonder of the world and absolutely worth the trip to lebanon alone)
This is Arishe - another flatbread, this time with a sweetened cream cheese with honey drizzled over it and a great cup of strong lebanese coffee
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#15 JTravel

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Posted 24 June 2010 - 01:41 PM

That breakfast bread looks great. I suppose it is easy to find and cheap so nobody bothers to make it at home. But I'd sure like to try it....crispy bread and sweet creamy cheese....wonderful.

#16 nikkib

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 10:04 AM

042.JPG so today was spent on a trip to the marsyas vineyards in the bekaa valley,the vineyards have only been going since 2005 but they produce some very drinkable wines - a blend of chardonnay and sav blanc and then a blend of syrah, merlot and cab sav - both high in alcohol (the white i was told is 14 % and the red tops 15%)but smooth. I dont imagine you see much, if any outside of lebanon as they produce just 30,000 btles a year but that just means all the more for me then!
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the vines - those are the barouk mountains in the background
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depite it being 38degrees centigrade they had this wonderful lady making saj with zaatar or jebne to start us off with, then a mezze buffet of which i selected
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a rather huge plate, theres hummus, tabbouleh and fattoush as well as a tomato and feta salad - although the lebanese feta is almost like a cross between feta and halloumi in terms of texture here (although they have literally hundreds of variations) and also some white bean salad. Absolutely delicious and i completely forgot about the bbq i had seen
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so i only had a little kafta (lamb)as i had rather overfaced myself.... You can see the shish taouk, kafta, and if you look closely there are marinated lamb skewers somewhere there too, along with sojouk, a type of slightly spiced blood sausage. I should add we were on a trade lunch, i don't think they are set up for visitors usually however you can visit chateau keffraya which is literally next door, along with ksara, massaya, wardy and mussar should you be interested. They co own bargylus, a great syrian red so hopefully i will be able to post some pictures later in the summer of a planned visit there too. Just to finish, i made a rare trip to the supermarket on the way back and thought i would share the HUMUNGOUS grapefruits and tiger prawns on offer.
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The prawns are around 75 dollars a kilo (not sure how that relates to US prices) 076.JPG I bought 1/2 a kilo of cherries for around a $1.50 and a local melon ( abit like a cantaloupe) for under 50 cents - delicious!
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oops - almsot forgot the dessert today, you should be able to see some more of the arishe i posted eearlier about, drizzled with honey and some apricot preserve, along with cherries and some local sweet, similar to turkish delight but i havent found a name for it yet....
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#17 david goodfellow

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 10:17 AM

I love this thread

Keep up the good work nikkib.

Looks like you have plenty to do and are not missing London by the looks of things

Its true what they say "Every picture tells a story"

#18 nikkib

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 11:40 AM

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Ok so a guilty late night supper while watching the world cup final at Chillis - "Mexican Beer" or a Chelada as i more usually know it which is quite a popular drink here and onion string fries with bbq sauce. I have never been to Chillis before ( i dont think we have them in the UK?) but it was my favoured hang out to watch the world cup in despite the abuse heaped on me for being an England supporter and my steadfast refusal to support the favoured teams over here (like germany and argentina!)and whilst it's not the kind of place i would usually choose to eat in, what they do they do well and i think it will remain a preferred sporting venue of mine
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#19 FoodMan

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 01:24 PM

You are doing a great job nikki. Keep up the posts. I just came back from visiting my family in Lebanon about 3 weeks ago and I miss it sorely (I visit every 3 years or so). I've been too lazy to post much pictures and most of the places I visited are the same as the ones I posted about here somewhere in 2007. Maybe I'll get a few up anyways.

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#20 JTravel

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Posted 19 July 2010 - 02:28 PM

You are doing a great job nikki. Keep up the posts. I just came back from visiting my family in Lebanon about 3 weeks ago and I miss it sorely (I visit every 3 years or so). I've been too lazy to post much pictures and most of the places I visited are the same as the ones I posted about here somewhere in 2007. Maybe I'll get a few up anyways.


I am enjoying the reports so much, would surely be happy to see an update from you too FoodMan, I loved your food lessons.

#21 nikkib

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 10:54 AM

038.JPG Outside of Beirut this time, at a restaurant called Dorada sur mer in Jounieh. Releatively new looking and very nicely done - floor to ceiling windows which gives you the impression of sitting on the seafront, a rarity here. The spread in front us in the photo was about 2/3 what my hosts ordered for 3 of us - Lebanese bhospitality really does know no bounds... Not sure quite what you can make out clearly in the photo but we had 3 different types of octopus, one poached in lemon with parsley and cilantro, one provencale style and one grilled. We also had grilled calamari, fattoush salad, smoked salmon mousse wrapped in smoked salmon, fried fish kebbe - a sort of arancini but made from grains of some sort not rice and filled with more octopus. Artichoke, grilled potatoes and what i gathered to be botargo - any ideas? 037.JPG
I have only ever had dried bottargo which is why i'm not sure if this was that, it was delicious all the same...
We visited after a tour of Chateau Musar in nearby Ghazir which is well worth braving the rush hour traffic for and i would heartily recommend
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#22 heidih

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 01:08 PM

I am a huge fan of octopus and calamari so your meal sounds absolutely delightful. How was the octopus dealt with in the kebbe- ground like in a conch fritter or did you have chewy bits? I am also curious what the custom is in Lebanon regarding the leftover food. Does one take it home or is it just left?

#23 FoodMan

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Posted 20 July 2010 - 08:34 PM

I'll split my recent Lebanon pics into two posts, savory and sweet. Here is the thread from 2007 and I visited the same places for Shawarma and Kababs of course.

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In the mostly Armenian area of Burj Hamoud in Beirut youi'll find several places that make and serve the Armenian specialties of Basterma and Sujuk. Basterma is a spiced cured beef (garlic, paprika and fenugreek dominate). It is sliced very thin like Proscuito and served in a baguette with pickles and tomatoes. Sujuk is a tyoe of semi-dried sausage with a similar type of spicing. It is grilled or pan-fried and also served in a baguette or pita bread.

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You can see the basterma lying on the meat slicer here

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Basterma sandwich


We really enjoyed our dinner at a restaurant called "Balad". There are a couple of locations and this one is in downtown Beirut. The food is fresh and very well made. It seems odd to say that but the most memorable thing they made was a perfect Fatoosh salad with pomegranate molasses.

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Fried cilantro potatoes and Hummus with Lamb

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Fatoosh

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Lamb Pie

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#24 nikkib

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 12:42 PM

Great to see your posts Foodman - i was talking to someone yesterday about heading to Bourj hammoud for the armenian specialities you've put here - the sandwich looks great! I was in Balad for lunch the other day - with a friend who hates me taking photos of the food but we had hummus, fattoush (it is great there) and a great halloumi coated in almond flakes before being fried along with kafta, you can just make out the restaurant in this photo here - its the one on the top left
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along with a fattoush and halloumi salad i had in arestaurant called massaya across the street.
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#25 nikkib

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Posted 22 July 2010 - 12:15 PM

I am a huge fan of octopus and calamari so your meal sounds absolutely delightful. How was the octopus dealt with in the kebbe- ground like in a conch fritter or did you have chewy bits? I am also curious what the custom is in Lebanon regarding the leftover food. Does one take it home or is it just left?


Heidih it was more like a thin outer shell filled with chunks of cjhewy octopus when you cut into it - great.... Doggie bag wise, everywhere does take away but i have never seen anyone ask - also its more of a status thing i feel, - the lebanese like to show off - ecesseive amounts of food show your hospitality to your guests, and the amount you, as a guest eat correlates to how you respond to their hospitality... by that (probably incorrect reasoning on my part) doggie bags would sort of insult your host and suggest you could not afford more food for home. I dont know i could be way off but thats my take
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#26 ChefCrash

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Posted 24 July 2010 - 12:46 AM

Hi Nikkib

I'm really enjoying this thread. I'm happy that you're having a good time, although Beirut is experiencing an especially warm summer and an exceptionally busy tourist season which is reeking havoc with an already congested area.

The tag on the shrimp you bought says 49,500.LL/Kilo (forty nine thousand five hundred). Either divide that number by 1500 or regard the price as 49.5LL and divide by 1.5 to get ~ $33 US/Kilo ~ $15 US/lb. Which is comparable to US prices for jumbo shrimp.

The dessert you had at the winery is called "Raha". Gelatinized simple syrup, flavored with blossom or rose water and Mastic, sometimes with pistachios or other nuts incorporated, then covered with powdered sugar. Raha is the quintessential peasant dessert, often offered with the cracker you show in your photo, the Lebanese refer to as BISCOT. A piece of Raha is placed between two Biscotis and squished to form a sandwich.

If you enjoyed Chili's, I think you'd love Sctroumpf restaurant. The one in Achrafieh.
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Has indoor and outdoor seating overlooking St. Malek Ave.
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I think Thursdays they offer all you can eat chicken wings and all the beer you can drink for twenty five thousand LL, yeah.. $15 US.
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When you've had enough Shawarma, wait! You haven't mentioned Shawarma! You're not a seafood-only-eating-vegetarian are you? No problem, you'd love "La Tabkha" in Jemmayze. Across the street from "Comsi Cosaj" which btw means: So so saj. Eh! We didn't go there.
La Tabkha is not really a vegetarian restaurant, but they serve so little meat you won't even notice:).
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A non meat buffet
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The other side
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My brother in law helped himself to this
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Then this
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While my wife had this gourmet Mujaddara (top right). It was strained and lightly flavored with basil. By the way, every thing you see in the middle, the olives, rocca, radishes, peanuts and the pitta bread, came with the beers.
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I could have ordered off the menu. Nowhere did it say hamburgers. I ate the mazza and drank a few Almaza's.
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On to Burj Hammoud.

#27 nikkib

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Posted 24 July 2010 - 08:49 AM

Thanks chefcrash - yeah, i found out about the raha, soooo yummy! I have walked past schtumpf literally like a million times but never been in, same for tabhka in gemmayze - will have to rectify that soon everything looks great! I havent really seen shwarma anywhere when i've been hungry hence the no mention, its one of those things that never seems to cross my mind at the right time... but have had plenty of kafta/kibbe etc, will have to post some images soon.... There are a lot less tourists here then everyone was expecting really this summer, hotel occupancies are more in the late 70's/80's than the 100% everyone was predicting, maybe it will pick up during ramadan....
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#28 nikkib

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Posted 28 July 2010 - 11:59 AM

so, after chefcrash's recommendation i finally decided to go to tabkha this evening for a late lunch/early dinner. I cant believe i haven't been before - i think i always thought it was a really large restaurant but it seats nearer 20-30 people. The menu is written on 2 blackboards, the usual menu offering of burgers, grilled halloumi, mixed majounat (sp?) which i chose - a selection of hot mezze, as well as shawarma and some other mains. The Daily menu was much the same as chefcrash's image. Buffet wise, i chose the wilted chicory and shallots, moutabal (really smokey and delicious) lentil salad, aranabeet (roasted cauliflower with tartor tahini sauce) and grilled courgettes. There were a couple of other options, vine leaves, another salad or two. potato and garlic salad and a tomato white bean chilled stew. With 2 beers, the buffet and the hot mezze my bill was $25 and very enjoyable. I also have attached some photos of the kibbe as heidih mentioned it before - you have here the raw casing (bulghar and minced beef) and then the tabkha cooked version as well.....
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"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#29 FoodMan

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 12:17 PM

Here goes the "sweet" part of my trip to Lebanon this summer. I talked about the glories of the Hallab in Tripoli before in a previous post. I am specifically talking about what is now dubbed the "Sweet Palace". This place is the best place to have middle eastern sweets in the region IMO. I drove through Tripoli twice and could not resist stopping there both times. The staff is more than happy to let you take as many pictures as you want. Thank goodness I did not forget my camera on this trip. They invited me to go behind the counters and take a tour and pictures. Contrast that to the place in these picture:

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The two pictures above are from a shop in Beirut called Sibon that we went to for ice cream. They have pretty decent ice cream and some unique flavors like Kenafi, Snickers and Mafrookeh and their cakes (all European style) are ok but they flipped out when I took a couple of pictures of the display! You'd think they have some unique super top secret and very creative designs. Oh well.


As far as ice cream goes I found that the best is at the original branch of Le Cremier off the freeway in Jounieh. Unfortunately their ice cream cases are not see through (ie not camera friendly) and the place is usually packed so a few pictures that would do their stuff justice were not feasible. My favorite flavors from Le Cremier are Avocado, pistachio, Ashta and Mango. I am so craving some of that slightly chewey ice cream now.

Back to the pastry heaven known as Abdul Rahman Rifaat al Hallab aka The Sweet Palace (hopefully that's enough pictures :smile:):
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Here we have several varieties of nut filled pastries. All are very similar to Baklava but don't ask me about all their names.

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This one is Barma. Shredded kataifi (almost like extremely thin angel hair) filled with nuts. I think these are not baked, but fried before being doused in syrup.

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Hallab makes very delicious middle eastern style ice cream and they sure know how to display it.

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These are karabij. Semolina dough filled with pistachios and topped with sweet meringue (not sure it is an egg meringue though).

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Lahm b'Ajeen. In the last few years, Hallab started also serving savory dishes. I've never had any except this because this is an old favorite and dates back to before adding the savory kitchen. It used to be the only non-sweet item on the menu. It is a must have for me. Layers of very think dough and a filling of ground lamb with pomegrante molasses and pinenuts make this deliciously exotic and a good break from all the sweets we usually get. For a more decadent version, ask for a triple layered serving.

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Mafrookeh is certainly one of my top 3 favorites. A sweet semolina dough gets gently fried with syrup and butter and mixed all the time to get a sort of soft and crunchy pudding. It gets a topping of clotted cream (Ashta) and toasted almonds.

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A mixed Ashta plate. It's tastings of most of their Ashta filled pastries

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A mixed nut plate.

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Namoora. Semolina cake soaked in syrup.

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This one is Halawit el Shmaisa. It consists of a dough made of turkish delight and a filling of ashta. It is topped with powdered sugar.

Edited by FoodMan, 06 August 2010 - 12:18 PM.

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#30 nikkib

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 01:38 PM

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We must be on the same wavelength when it comes to ice cream, i was in Sibon last week, didnt bother taking a photo as i only had a single scoop - ashta flavoured, it was pretty good but no where near the ice cream in the photo above... I don't know the name of the shop but it is on a little sidestreet leading from Sassine down towards hotel de dieu. I didn't take a photo inside as the shop is tiny and there were a couple of people there but next time for sure. They add something like orchid root and something else (gum arabic?) to the icecream which makes it almost chewy, like frozwn marshmallow icecream. The flavours are amazing too, selection of about 6 - all of which were crammed into my cone for $1.50. The shopkeeper explained in french that there was milk flavour (which wiped the floor with the michelin starred milk icecreams i've had)almond - with real pieces of crunchy almond in it and rose flavoured. The other 3 were arabic and he could not explain but damn they were good... too good, i will sadly for my waistline be becoming a regular for sure!

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This is from cafe blanc a casual lebanese chain serving traditional lebanese food with a twist, here you can see my kebee, pickles and moutabal with pomegranate molasses. the kebbe are a variation with labneh and herbs inside and very tasty indeed and here is the eponymous cafe blanc - hot water with orange and rosewater to serve as a digestif

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Off for shawarma shortly - will post soon!
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man