So, here's my catch-up post from tea last night to breakfast this morning, with some of my favorite stuff in the middle.
Tea yesterday evening:
The cake was quite good, it was dense and chewy, but moist with crisp edges. Very nice
Sadly, the tea never got to my desired strength (like I said, I don't make ANYTHING here). The color you see is just too light.
And now, dinner. To Abdel Wahhab, possibly the best upscale traditional Lebanese restaurant in Beirut, and my absolute favorite. The place is enormous:
Went with three friends and we ordered all our favorite mezze:
Fattoush, olives, labne with garlic, waraq 'enab (grape leaves/dolma), a standard plate of garnishes (radishes, onions, hot pepper, mint), and shanklish, a seriously aged cheese crumbled and mixed with olive oil, onions, tomato, and mint
Closeup of the waraq 'enab. These actually were not as good as they usually are here. They tasted great, but were not structurally sound - by which I mean they fell apart.
Kibbe Urfaliye - spiced raw ground lamb and burghul from Urfa (Şanlıurfa - Turkey, very similar to Turkish çiğ köfte). A variation on the well known kibbe neyye, with pine nuts, fried red onion, and parsley. This was AWESOME.
Fried chicken livers (meh, not a fan of liver, but my friend loves it). Below it, fried halloum cheese, also awesome. Seriously, seared cheese, it doesn't get much better!
R'aa'aat (rkakat) jibne, known to the rest of the world as Sigara Böreği, or in Iraq, Bourag. Fried cheese stuffed filo rolls. Mmmmm. Behind it, hummus b'lahme (hummus and meat, I think it was 'aawarma, or lamb confit), and batata ma' kizbara, fried cubes of potatoes with chopped coriander, garlic, and other spices. Lebanese LOVE their potatoes. Even traditional restaurants have fries on the menu. These are a much better option.
Closeup of the hummus and potatoes
Fresh bread. There are two kinds of Arabic bread here. The ultra thin, chewy kind, which always comes pre-packaged from the store, and this, which restaurants offer, the fresh-baked kind, which is thicker and softer, but when hot, quite delicious!
We opted out of coffee and desserts, because just up the street is my other favorite place in Beirut, Al-Falamanki. A sprawling old house with a huge garden (closed for winter), it's open 24/7, has really good food, and probably the best argile in Beirut. What did we do? Got more arak, two argiles, then Turkish coffee and, Lebanon's other great item of culinary fusion - a nutella and halawe saaj.
Here's the menu
The 'arak (or as Iraqis say, 'arag)
The saaj. It's sort of like a wider, much crispier crepe. filled as I said, with nutella and halawe, which is a soft, spreadable version of what most of the world knows as halwa.
And that was that. I could literally stay at Falamanki for hours on end, but my friends all had work the next day.
This morning, breakfast at home for a change:
Left to right: bread, coffee, marmalade, strawberry jam, a bunch of cheeses, including shari, za'tar, more jam, olive oil, a KILLER plain omelette, olives, and a plate of mint, tomato, and cucumber. Not shown: ubiquitous labne.
And the Turkish coffee I made: