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Lebanon Dining


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#61 nikkib

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 09:11 AM

yes i'll second you on the quality, never had any complaints there - and the markouok yesterday was delicious. I kind of skipped dinner as i met with a few friends for coffee which turned into wine etc etc so plenty of carrots in lemon juice and nuts but nothing exciting to report sadly so next meal is breakfast at the guest house again - cheese and zaatar croissants from nearby bread republic, labneh, pickles etc etc

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

#62 nikkib

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 09:21 AM

Followed up with a bracing walk along the corniche and a coffee from one of the street vendors en route to the AUB archaeological museum (embarrassingly my first visit!) which was wonderful then back along the corniche, bypassing the delicious looking orange juice salesman and onto DT for lunch. Dt is really one of those places taht you go to be see and be seen - you certainly dont take pictures of the food and to be honest its not worth it. I was having a girly lunch with friends who would put the real Housewives of Beverley Hills to shame - theres an idea - the Real housewives of Beirut!! Compelling and addictive viewing for sure... I had the Salad Japonais de Crevettes ( grated carrots and cabbage in a very light dressing with chopped up shrimp) and some maki sushi and edamame. That or the salad bar are what i always opted for. Sure enough between the 2 of us we knew a good 30% of the restaurant and recognised a good few others. Service on this occasion was actually outstanding so maybe i am being unfair in my leave it/take it attitude but it is one of those places you should probably visit just once to people watch...

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

#63 ChefCrash

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 10:59 AM

I hope you are having as much fun in Lebanon as I am reading this. I love the balcony photos. "Real house wives of Beirut" sounds great. Subtitles only needed for every third word:)

#64 nikkib

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 06:40 AM

My day as one of the beautiful people continued as we were leaving DT we bumped into a mutual friend who invited us for dinner at LUX, a hotter than hot new restaurant (co owned by man about town johnny farah) in the Port district. I got there on time - which of course means anything form 15minutes to one hour early where the Lebanese are concerned, so settled in to look at the very impressive cocktail list. Beirut as a general rule, does not do cocktails well. These were absolutely delicious and could hold their own almost anywhere. i stuck with classics, enjoying a sbagliato, an aperol spritz and a gin fizz ( as well as some Kefraya blanc de blancs) " of my friends are on the wagon for the month and said that the virgin mary they chose from a very well thought out non alcoholic section was the best they've ever had. The menu is designed for sharing although they spare you the patronising explanations thank god! We had mushrooms a la plancha which was a very good selection of different and unusual wild mushrooms with garlic and parsley, Squid with pancetta which was melt in the mouth tender, Crabcakes - pure white crab meat, no cheap potato filler here. As well as fish tartare - a white fish and a salmon version and a scallop and kumquat salad. This place is GREAT. It will be the hot ticket in town for the next 6 months i would say at least so if you do plan on going, make sure you book... Pricewise - i didnt pay so didnt see the final bill, but cocktails were $10-$15 and the dishes £20 + each and worth every penny. The sign is an original from before the war - apparently from an old porno cinema (!) quite beautiful, and a nice touch. We ended up leaving past midnight and taking half the guests with us to Momos for more cocktails and dancing til the small hours, spontaneity at its best!

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Edited by nikkib, 11 January 2012 - 07:29 AM.

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

#65 nikkib

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 07:24 AM

Breakfast was manouche and coffee, the weather is back to cold and dreary so we ate inside, making funny noises to the bird we are sharing the guesthose with. For lunch, i wandered down mar mikhail towards Tawlet (owned by the farmers market people)- Open buffet, arak and a coffee set me back $30.

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I chose from the selection of mezzes and tried a small amount of most dishes. The 7 wild herb salad (towards the bottom right of the plate) was delicious as was the tabbouleh and teh babaganoush was so smoky and packed full of flavour. Thats raw kebbe (kebbe nayeh)at the top left of the plate, and also some fresh zaatar salad, spicy batata hara (roast potatoes) grilled eggplant and home made markouk bread. Washed down with plenty of arak :wink:

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For the main i only had a few mouthfulls - the intestiney sausage you can see curled up, rice and vermicelli and the meat in laban (yoghurt)

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For dessert i had some fruit and a selection of the biscuits - i only know the mamaoul, not sure of the others. Suitably stuffed i rolled out for a long winding walk up through ashrafieh and into bourj ahmmoud before making my way back home.

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

#66 nikkib

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 07:27 AM

I hope you are having as much fun in Lebanon as I am reading this. I love the balcony photos. "Real house wives of Beirut" sounds great. Subtitles only needed for every third word:)


Thanks Chefcrash - am having a truly fantastic time, Lebanon and Beirut especially will always be very dear to my heart! The balcony is just fab - i have been sitting out there most days, even in the rain just watching the world go by. Not sure i will make it out of Beirut this trip as all my friends are working crazy schedules but loving just wandering around and soaking it all up!
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#67 Hassouni

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 09:59 AM

I see Jabal Sannine is in full snow cover and the smog is down....


Also, Lebanon's greatest culinary contribution (given that mana'ish and all that kind of stuff is available all over the Levant): THE ZA'TAR CROISSANT. I have an idea to sell em here, I think it'll be a goldmine...

#68 nikkib

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 11:08 AM

Its beautiful isnt it Hassouni! Tell you what, i will find funding to shoot Real Housewives of Beirut and we can plug Hassounis Zaatar Croissants - i can smell the money rolling in! I was really keen on getting a portable saj and taking it to all the festivals in the Uk and selling them at $5 or so a pop -clearly nothing has come of it yet and it would take a long time to make my millions that way but its a fun idea all the same! Days like the one pictured there with Sannine in the background really do show how possible the cliched skiing/swimming in the same day is here in beirut, there were people swimming just off manara - i was surprised at how clean the water was, it was (almost) tempting!!
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#69 nikkib

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 11:28 AM

Seeing as we are literally above Frida and despite my love of both Lebanese and Mexican food and yet have never tried Lebanese/Mexican fusion as showcased here, we got a few hot mezze to have with our wine before we went out. The menu is predominatly classic lebanese, i would say 50% then 25% Mexican and 25% Fusion such as the jalapeno and cheese rakakat we chose. Also kibbe - the cooked version this time , with cherries - am i right in thinking that this is more of an Armenian dish? Never know if i have that idea from fact or if i have made it up! Anyway both were pretty good and went nicely with the bottle of Ksara Gris de Gris we knocked back! (The scond photo was taken in the kitchen with the laundry drying behind it to try and get more light into it - not in bed despite appearences!!)

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

#70 Hassouni

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 01:12 PM

Its beautiful isnt it Hassouni! Tell you what, i will find funding to shoot Real Housewives of Beirut and we can plug Hassounis Zaatar Croissants - i can smell the money rolling in! I was really keen on getting a portable saj and taking it to all the festivals in the Uk and selling them at $5 or so a pop -clearly nothing has come of it yet and it would take a long time to make my millions that way but its a fun idea all the same! Days like the one pictured there with Sannine in the background really do show how possible the cliched skiing/swimming in the same day is here in beirut, there were people swimming just off manara - i was surprised at how clean the water was, it was (almost) tempting!!


Serious question, do they sell portable Saajes? and do you know how much for?

#71 nikkib

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 11:41 PM

I'll try to find out for you while I'm here, imagine they must and can't see them as being too pricy...
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#72 LindaK

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 05:35 AM

yes i'll second you on the quality, never had any complaints there - and the markouok yesterday was delicious. I kind of skipped dinner as i met with a few friends for coffee which turned into wine etc etc so plenty of carrots in lemon juice and nuts but nothing exciting to report sadly so next meal is breakfast at the guest house again - cheese and zaatar croissants from nearby bread republic, labneh, pickles etc etc


Zaatar croissants? what an interesting idea--are there any other French/Lebanese hybrid pastries or dishes that you typically see?

Thanks for reporting here, Beirut is fast moving up my list of "must visit" places.


 


#73 Jenni

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 07:14 AM

Fabulous thread. Please pig out on labneh for me, can't get enough of the stuff!

#74 Hassouni

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 10:50 AM

Zaatar croissants? what an interesting idea--are there any other French/Lebanese hybrid pastries or dishes that you typically see?

Thanks for reporting here, Beirut is fast moving up my list of "must visit" places.


In my experience, the Za'tar croissant is the big one. The good ones are so damn good...and you never see them outside Lebanon.

The other one of note is a saaj (technically a man'ooshi 'al saaj, to use proper Arabic) with chocolate and halawa, which the rest of the world knows as halva, a sort of chunky sweet sesame confection. The chocolate is often replaced with nutella, making it all seem like a Lebanized crêpe.

There's also the generic "rosto" which is a common sandwich or man'ooshi filling, which is just sort of western style roast beef cut in big chunks, as well as if memory serves, chicken rosto. There's also man'ooshi with mortadella and Président processed cheese, but these are abominations in my book.

#75 nikkib

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 06:38 AM

Will try to catch up on my posts this evening, have a few meals to post up and a gull 24hours until I'm due at the airport to start the long trip home :-(
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#76 nikkib

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 11:45 AM

Not quite sure where this fits into the scheme of things but here is a takeaway we got the other night. Chicken from a rotisserie with chips (french fries) garlic sauce, markouk bread (wrapped around the chicken to soak up the juices and keep it warm) and pickles. All for $12 and washed down with the fridge full of almaza i stocked up at the beginning of the week. You see roast chicken shops everywhere - when i went to visit friends in Akkar (very north of Lebanon) they were literally all i saw after Tripoli. Whenever i have visited my boyfriends family in the Bekaa we tend to pick one up en route as well.

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close up of the chicken in markouk - (again sorry for the awful photos, these are all from my iphone)

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

#77 nikkib

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 11:57 AM

Spinneys ( a major supermarket chain) was en route back from the cinema (boyfriend was working late and everyone else was working so i went to see Mission Impossible at the Cinema - possibly the cheeseiest film i have seen in a long time, i really thought the first 5 minutes were a spoof!)i wanted to take some Arak back to Singapore so thought id take a few photos as well. Only managed a few before i got asked to stop, but here is some halawi as emntioned upthread by Hassouni, Orange blossom & rose waters, grains and arak (FWIW i bought Massaya - am a huge fan of what they are doing and have met the EXTREMELY charming brothers behind it on several occasions so i have huge brand loyalty where this is concerned - if you see Massayas wine anywhere i would recommend you try it as well as they are quite different to other vineyards here)

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

#78 nikkib

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 12:03 PM

Ok so here are a few more shots from wondering around, mostly taken in the "Basta" area just by downtown.

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

#79 nikkib

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 01:12 AM

Seemed to have a few issues uploading photos - im back in Singapore now so will try to catch this up as quickly as possible - i packed a fair bit of eating into the last few days...

More food stalls/shops etc

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

#80 nikkib

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 01:17 AM

My boyfriend had an appointment in Hamra so i hopped along for the ride. As i wasnt ready to eat lunch (and it was POURING with rain) i decided to go and chill out in Cafe Hamra, a relaxed shisha lounge/restaurant/cafe serving salad bar, lebanese dishes and international snacks too. Great vibe - all ages meeting to do business, work on uni projects, smoke, eat relax with a book etc. Whilst i cant vouch for the food, its a good place to soak up the atmosphere

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

#81 nikkib

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 01:22 AM

Selection of "mouajanat" or hot mezze at Karawan in Baabda - Cheese rakakat, sambousik (almost like meat filled empanadas/cornish pasties)Kebbe and spinach fatayer. Drove up there to meet friends over a glass of wine/pot of tea

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

#82 nikkib

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 01:32 AM

AS promised, Abdel wahab restaurant just off Sodeco. This is unmissable for anyone visiting Lebanon i feel. Best appreciated at night, on the terrace in Summer but a sure fire hit whenever you go. Being on my own can make it hard to order mezze as i hate wasting food and ordering only one or two dishes can get a bit repetitive. I was in a Brunchy kind of mood as i'd had only coffee and a little arabic bread with laban for breakfast so opted for Fried eggs with Sojok sausages and fried potatoes with coriander, garlic and lemon.

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They serve fruit to everyone after your meal, so i had another delicious pear and a clementine (which are growing everywhewre in beirut right now!) and coffee

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A few menu shots and the restaurant itself ( i was particularly taken with the 6 men next to me who ordered a portion of raw kibbe EACH as well as raw liver to go with the tabbouleh and fattoush. this would have been their first of many "courses")

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

#83 nikkib

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 01:37 AM

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Yannick Alleno, Head Chef of Le Meurice has just opened two restaurants here, a brasserie and patisserie/cafe. I wanted to squeeze in a visit so went to Sweet Tea, the patisserie. I chose a mini rum baba which was out of this world divine (although i would have struggled to eat a larger one as it was sooo sweet) and a scoop (from a long list) of homemade salt caramel icecream that was simply divine. With a glass of wine this set me back $12 - great value although a slightly sterile ambience.
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#84 nikkib

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 01:57 AM

Cocktails at Joe penas in Gemmayze, a sort of Floridita style cocktail bar/restaurant. The food is actually very decent, atmosphere is great and more importantly, cocktails are $5 during happy hour!!! You also have access to a help yourself nacho bar so it would be rude not to indulge.. A small side plate with nachos, melted cheese, salsa and lots of jalapenos. I had an Aperol Sour, my friend a Guadaloupe - white rum, cointreau, coconut, pineapple and passion fruit. Both very tasty indeed!

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

#85 nikkib

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 03:42 AM

My last breakfast :-( weather was very changeable but i was determined to sit on the balcony one last time...

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Spinach fatteyer along with all the usual suspects - absolutely delicious too. A very nice leisurely breakfast for my last day

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

#86 nikkib

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 03:48 AM

My boyfriend very sweetly cancelled his meetings so we could spend my last day together so we drove to Beit eddine (a truly spectacular sight and beautiful drive) Being winter, many restaurants en route were closed but we pulled into this great restaurant by a river - can imagine it would be stunning in the summer. There were a few other tables enjoying a late lunch like ourselves. I wanted fattoush and hummus with lamb, my boyfriend insisted on aspinaya (raw lambs liver) and we added in some extra hot mezzes and a mixed grill as well as some of their home made arak that slipped down rather well indeed.

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black & white pepper and salt for the liver

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

#87 nikkib

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 03:51 AM

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My final beer at the airport...

So thats about everything i think, hope you have enjoyed this little taste of my past week in Beirut, hopefully someone else will update this again in the coming months, i do hope to visit again before the year is up so will do my best to blog along....
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#88 prasantrin

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 06:35 PM

Thanks so much for doing this little travelblog. It almost makes up for you not doing a food blog when you were actually living there. :raz:

Lebanon is one of the countries I most want to visit, and you made me want to visit it more!

(I can't remember if you mentioned it, but were your breakfasts brought in by you, or did you order them through the hotel?)

#89 Hassouni

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 07:11 PM

Oh man Abdel Wahhab and Cafe Hamra, two of my favorites. The food at Cafe Hamra is decent if not fantastic

#90 nikkib

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 08:16 AM

Thanks so much for doing this little travelblog. It almost makes up for you not doing a food blog when you were actually living there. :raz:

Lebanon is one of the countries I most want to visit, and you made me want to visit it more!

(I can't remember if you mentioned it, but were your breakfasts brought in by you, or did you order them through the hotel?)


The housekeeper asked us what we wanted each morning before she left, electricity was a bit of an issue so didnt ask for anything too complicated but to be honest the breakfasts we ate were spot on and just what i wanted...

You really should visit Lebanon, it is the most amazing country, and the food is outstanding wherever you go...
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man