Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the Society.

Photo

eG Foodblog: Hassouni (2012) - Beirut and beyond

Foodblog

  • This topic is locked This topic is locked
133 replies to this topic

#31 Hassouni

Hassouni
  • participating member
  • 2,018 posts
  • Location:DC Area/London/Beirut

Posted 28 February 2012 - 03:40 AM

What a fantastic blog, Chris! I am so looking forward to this week. Like Andie, I adore Lebanese food. In Richmond, where I live, all the best ‘Greek’ restaurants are owned and run by Lebanese folks. I had a Lebanese friend who once quizzed me on my favorite ‘Greek’ restaurants here and delighted in letting me know that they were all Lebanese owned! We have a wonderful Lebanese food festival here in the spring run by the Maronite Catholic church, and it is our favorite food festival in the area! I really loved your breakfast – once I found a place that sold labne, I was in heaven! Best stuff on earth!


By the way, I'll let you and everyone in on a secret. Labne is VERY easy to make at home. Just line a sieve with a coffee filter or cheesecloth, put some yogurt in it, place it over a pot, and let it drain overnight. Voila! When you buy it, it often has cream and other stuff in it to make it extra thick and creamy. Homemade labne is rather different (and healthier, I think!)

#32 nikkib

nikkib
  • participating member
  • 1,203 posts

Posted 28 February 2012 - 03:54 AM

Yes the arak is expensive but I do enjoy it as a treat, tend to order the local home made stuff on restaurant menus when I'm out of Beirut and am yet to be disappointed... The brunches at massaya are really lovely and any excuse to head into the bekaa is good enough for me! You should try to check out lux at some point, just opened down near the port - I mentioned it in my notes from my last trip, not Lebanese food so get your fill of that first! Have a great day and what I know will be a delicious dinner at abdel wahab. If it fits into your plans, tawlet are doing their Friday lunch/dinner in collaboration with chateau marsyas which should be fun. You should check out souk el tayab on Saturday down by Beirut souks too - especially for jars of pickles/honey or zataar to bring home.
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#33 Hassouni

Hassouni
  • participating member
  • 2,018 posts
  • Location:DC Area/London/Beirut

Posted 28 February 2012 - 04:45 AM

Right so, here's a Lebanese cucumber:

IMG_1278.JPG

And here are pics of the flat.

Gas-canister powered stove and oven, with ever present pot of Turkish coffee (in Lebanese Arabic: rakwe, in Iraqi Arabic: dalla, in Turkish, cezve. This is NOT an ibriq! Ibriq means pitcher)

IMG_1280.JPG

Sink and prep area

IMG_1282.JPG

More prep area

IMG_1286.JPG

Overview from laundry room

IMG_1288.JPG

All important tea cabinet, featuring Ahmad loose Ceylon and Ahmed English Tea No. 1 bags. Plus some yucky nescafe intruding among the arsenal of tea glasses.

IMG_1293.JPG

Spice cabinet (I'm actually surprised how empty it is)

IMG_1296.JPG

found on the counter: Fresh young fava beans (known in Iraqi Arabic is baagilla). This is sort of what foul looks like when it's young, I guess.

IMG_1298.JPG

Carrot juicer (used daily)

IMG_1304.JPG

Fridge and bread counter

IMG_1305.JPG

Contents of fridge. Looks like cheese, various fruits, cake, cactus fruit, and fresh lemon juice (in the pitcher), among other things. Also surprised how empty this is. In the door, mostly jams, and fresh milk (guess I was wrong about that).

IMG_1308.JPG

IMG_1310.JPG

Freezer - mostly bread and ice cream

IMG_1292.JPG

New additions to the balcony are small kumquat and lemon trees:

IMG_1311.JPG

IMG_1313.JPG

IMG_1316.JPG

IMG_1317.JPG

#34 Darienne

Darienne
  • participating member
  • 4,673 posts
  • Location:Rolling Hills of Cavan, Ontario

Posted 28 February 2012 - 07:47 AM

Is that aluminum foil lining the burners on the stove? Thanks.
Darienne


learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

#35 SylviaLovegren

SylviaLovegren
  • participating member
  • 1,060 posts
  • Location:Toronto, ON

Posted 28 February 2012 - 07:47 AM

Wow. That artichoke stew looks and sounds fabulous. I want to try it, along with the crispy rice. Isn't that rice crust also popular in China?

Looks like the cucumber is an actual cucumber. Many of the "Persian cucumbers" are actually snake melons and not botanically cucumbers, so I was curious.

#36 Hassouni

Hassouni
  • participating member
  • 2,018 posts
  • Location:DC Area/London/Beirut

Posted 28 February 2012 - 08:26 AM

Is that aluminum foil lining the burners on the stove? Thanks.


Yep

Wow. That artichoke stew looks and sounds fabulous. I want to try it, along with the crispy rice. Isn't that rice crust also popular in China?

Looks like the cucumber is an actual cucumber. Many of the "Persian cucumbers" are actually snake melons and not botanically cucumbers, so I was curious.


Rice crust is sort of a byproduct of some claypot rice in China and Vietnam as well as dolsot bibimbap, but as I understand it, in East Asia, it's sort of incidental. In Iraq and Iran it's sort of the most desired part of the meal!

I think snake melons are a different kind of thing entirely (I just looked it up), the Persian cucumbers I've seen in the States look pretty similar to what I showed.

Edited by Hassouni, 28 February 2012 - 08:29 AM.


#37 Kim Shook

Kim Shook
  • participating member
  • 2,960 posts
  • Location:Richmond, VA

Posted 28 February 2012 - 08:42 AM


What a fantastic blog, Chris! I am so looking forward to this week. Like Andie, I adore Lebanese food. In Richmond, where I live, all the best ‘Greek’ restaurants are owned and run by Lebanese folks. I had a Lebanese friend who once quizzed me on my favorite ‘Greek’ restaurants here and delighted in letting me know that they were all Lebanese owned! We have a wonderful Lebanese food festival here in the spring run by the Maronite Catholic church, and it is our favorite food festival in the area! I really loved your breakfast – once I found a place that sold labne, I was in heaven! Best stuff on earth!


By the way, I'll let you and everyone in on a secret. Labne is VERY easy to make at home. Just line a sieve with a coffee filter or cheesecloth, put some yogurt in it, place it over a pot, and let it drain overnight. Voila! When you buy it, it often has cream and other stuff in it to make it extra thick and creamy. Homemade labne is rather different (and healthier, I think!)

I do this when I have time, but for a quick fix our local Lebanese owned deli has fine labne.

#38 Hassouni

Hassouni
  • participating member
  • 2,018 posts
  • Location:DC Area/London/Beirut

Posted 28 February 2012 - 09:57 AM

Went to two Beirut landmarks today:

The first, near Downtown, is Falafel M. Sahyoun, arguably the most famous falafel shop in the city, except it's two shops. Founded by Mustafa Sahyoun in 1933, decades later his two sons got into a feud and split the shop in two. They both have the same name, same menu, as far as I can tell the same recipes, but they're now two separate entities and both have fiercely loyal followers. And they're literally next door to each other. I can't tell the difference at all, and consider their products identical, one of the two best falafels in the city (the other being Arax in the Armenian neighborhood of Burj Hammoud) - One is uphill, one is downhill, I go to whichever M Sahyoun happens to be closest to the direction I'm coming from. Today it was the downhill one.

IMG_1348.JPG

IMG_1340.JPG

IMG_1335.JPG

IMG_1322.JPG

IMG_1323.JPG

Got a "Sandwich Extra" which has falafel, mint and parsley, radish, tomatoes, and tarator

IMG_1328.JPG

IMG_1330.JPG

With some pickled peppers on the side...

IMG_1332.JPG

And 'ayran, a yogurt drink

IMG_1334.JPG

The sandwiches aren't huge, and I could easily have two, but I'm going out for a big dinner tonight...

Found myself in Hamra later at Café Younes, a roaster and coffehouse dating back to the French Mandate era. This place is SERIOUS about coffee, and they have arguably the best Western style coffee in the city - French press, espresso-based, and others.

IMG_1382.JPG

IMG_1384.JPG

IMG_1389.JPG

I wanted a Turkish, which they didn't have, but they did have espresso flavored with cardamom:

IMG_1385.JPG

Edited by Hassouni, 28 February 2012 - 10:02 AM.


#39 FrogPrincesse

FrogPrincesse
  • society donor
  • 2,928 posts
  • Location:San Diego, CA

Posted 28 February 2012 - 10:12 AM

The real Lebanese thing is to make a wrap of labne called 'aroos labne (oddly, a "labne bride"), which can contain all the things in the following picture, though usually without za'tar. I tried to make my own 'aroos, with labne, za'tar, cucumbers, mint, tomatoes, and olives, but the wedge of bread wasn't wide enough to get a tight roll. Still delicious though.




I never thought of a labne wrap as breakfast food, but now I want one! It looks delicious.

#40 Chris Amirault

Chris Amirault
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 19,626 posts
  • Location:Rhode Island

Posted 28 February 2012 - 10:33 AM

In your opinion, what makes for the best falafel?
Chris Amirault
camirault@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics Signatory
Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

#41 sheepish

sheepish
  • participating member
  • 218 posts
  • Location:Bridgend, Wales, UK

Posted 28 February 2012 - 12:07 PM

This is great. I was in Lebanon about 10 years ago. Stayed in Beirut and drove around. Never been scared driving before or since :-) Road markings and traffic lights were definitely just there to trick foreign drivers into taking notice of them. Either that red Merc taxi is unusual or the drivers have been replacing the smashed off door mirrors since I was there.

Any chance of a trip to Byblos for a spot of fish?

I recall eating most evenings at a smart row of cafes and restaurants that must have been in walking distance from the Virgin Megastore, because I know we parked there a couple of times. Too much mezze every night. Pretty vague I know, I've been looking on a map but can't work out where they must have been.

Will keep watching, and checking out the price of flights there.

#42 kayb

kayb
  • society donor
  • 898 posts

Posted 28 February 2012 - 03:37 PM

Loving this blog.

What's tarator?

And is it heretical to eat falafel the way I love it, with labneh, sliced cucumbers, za'atar and hummus? I just love the combination of tastes and textures.
Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

#43 ChefCrash

ChefCrash
  • participating member
  • 708 posts

Posted 28 February 2012 - 11:31 PM

Hassouni, I see your bonjour and raise you one. Bonjourain 3zizi. I'm loving this blog, thanks for taking the time on such a short trip.

The view from your apartment looks like it could be at the very end (west side) of Hamra street in the old lighthouse neighborhood.

If you're in Hamra again around lunch time, you may want to try the "Istambouli" restaurant, nothing Turkish about it, they don't even serve Turkish coffee, but they have killer Lamb fat kebabs (lieh) . It is located on the street that runs parallel to Hamra on the south side. The restaurant is across the street from the Commodore Hotel and a little to the east, sort of towards the Barbar complex you spoke of earlier.

Have fun.

#44 nikkib

nikkib
  • participating member
  • 1,203 posts

Posted 28 February 2012 - 11:39 PM

Saba7o! Will you be watching the football (soccer) tonight? Crunch qualifier against UAE....
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#45 Hassouni

Hassouni
  • participating member
  • 2,018 posts
  • Location:DC Area/London/Beirut

Posted 29 February 2012 - 03:26 AM

In your opinion, what makes for the best falafel?


Very fresh, light, thin, chewy Arabic bread; moist, light, and crispy falafel balls, and bright, fresh toppings. As much as I like Amsterdam-style falafel, that tends to be a gut bomb. Lebanese style is a wrap, by the way, not stuffed into a pocket.

This is great. I was in Lebanon about 10 years ago. Stayed in Beirut and drove around. Never been scared driving before or since :-) Road markings and traffic lights were definitely just there to trick foreign drivers into taking notice of them. Either that red Merc taxi is unusual or the drivers have been replacing the smashed off door mirrors since I was there.

Any chance of a trip to Byblos for a spot of fish?

I recall eating most evenings at a smart row of cafes and restaurants that must have been in walking distance from the Virgin Megastore, because I know we parked there a couple of times. Too much mezze every night. Pretty vague I know, I've been looking on a map but can't work out where they must have been.

Will keep watching, and checking out the price of flights there.


Yes, driving and even walking here will steel you against everything in the future! Fish in Byblos is a possibility, or alternatively Saida or elsewhere. I've done both quite a lot, but I love both Saida and Jbeil (Byblos), so if push comes to shove I don't mind going back.

That smart row of cafés was the official Downtown area, renovated over the last 15 years and the center of Beirut's revived international tourism. That whole area was either levelled or completely riddled with bullets and bomb blasts from the civil war. I like downtown, there are, despite the obviousness of it, some pretty good places to eat, smoke, or have a drink, but it's best in nice weather, and is NOT nice weather now...


Loving this blog.

What's tarator?

And is it heretical to eat falafel the way I love it, with labneh, sliced cucumbers, za'atar and hummus? I just love the combination of tastes and textures.


Tarator is a sauce. In the original Turkish context it involves walnuts, but in Lebanon it's mostly tahina and lemon based.

You sound like you're combining a labne sandwich with a falafel sandwich with an odd addition of hummus. I don't think anybody will chase you out of town for it, but it's definitely strange!

Hassouni, I see your bonjour and raise you one. Bonjourain 3zizi. I'm loving this blog, thanks for taking the time on such a short trip.

The view from your apartment looks like it could be at the very end (west side) of Hamra street in the old lighthouse neighborhood.

If you're in Hamra again around lunch time, you may want to try the "Istambouli" restaurant, nothing Turkish about it, they don't even serve Turkish coffee, but they have killer Lamb fat kebabs (lieh) . It is located on the street that runs parallel to Hamra on the south side. The restaurant is across the street from the Commodore Hotel and a little to the east, sort of towards the Barbar complex you spoke of earlier.

Have fun.


By the lighthouse neighborhood, you mean sort of Caracas or the hill above Manara? Our place is actually in Ain al-Tineh, tahit min Verdun, hadd beit Nabbouhi....I know Istambouli, but I've never been there. I have to say, the thought of eating just liyeh is kind of not that pleasant! :biggrin:

#46 Hassouni

Hassouni
  • participating member
  • 2,018 posts
  • Location:DC Area/London/Beirut

Posted 29 February 2012 - 03:56 AM

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:

IMG_1391.JPG
The cake was quite good, it was dense and chewy, but moist with crisp edges. Very nice

IMG_1392.JPG
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:

IMG_1395.JPG

IMG_1396.JPG

IMG_1416.JPG

IMG_1415.JPG

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

IMG_1401.JPG

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.

IMG_1402.JPG

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.

IMG_1405.JPG

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!

IMG_1406.JPG

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.

IMG_1409.JPG

Closeup of the hummus and potatoes

IMG_1410.JPG

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!

IMG_1412.JPG

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.

IMG_1419.JPG

IMG_1420.JPG

Here's the menu

IMG_1423.JPG

IMG_1425.JPG

IMG_1426.JPG

The 'arak (or as Iraqis say, 'arag)

IMG_1431.JPG

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.

IMG_1429.JPG

Ze coffee:

IMG_1437.JPG

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:

IMG_1441.JPG
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:
IMG_1439.JPG

#47 nikkib

nikkib
  • participating member
  • 1,203 posts

Posted 29 February 2012 - 04:08 AM

Abdel wahab & falamankis :-) ahhh what a great night, glad you enjoyed it! I always used to go to the blue sahyoun falafel shop, not sure where I heard that one was best but it sure is good there. What a lovely week so far - mercy ktir & shukran!
"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

#48 Hassouni

Hassouni
  • participating member
  • 2,018 posts
  • Location:DC Area/London/Beirut

Posted 29 February 2012 - 04:43 AM

Yep, blue is downhill, red is uphill. I honestly can't tell a difference though, I'm sure they use the same recipe their father gave them. For anyone that's interested, on Bourdain's second, more successeful trip to Beirut, he went to one of the Sahyouns.

#49 LindaK

LindaK
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 2,899 posts
  • Location:Boston, MA

Posted 29 February 2012 - 05:20 AM

I want a place like Al-Falamanki in my neighborhood, too!

That's quite a menu. I notice that among the salads are a couple featuring "wild thyme." What kind of a salad green is that, it isn't just the herb, is it? Also, what do you get when you order "sizzling birds"?


 


#50 Hassouni

Hassouni
  • participating member
  • 2,018 posts
  • Location:DC Area/London/Beirut

Posted 29 February 2012 - 09:27 AM

I want a place like Al-Falamanki in my neighborhood, too!

That's quite a menu. I notice that among the salads are a couple featuring "wild thyme." What kind of a salad green is that, it isn't just the herb, is it? Also, what do you get when you order "sizzling birds"?


I've been wondering if falamanki wants to franchise in DC...
It's hard to know without seeing the Arabic menu, but I suspect the wild thyme is exactly what it sounds like. So are the birds. Almost guaranteed they're grilled sparrows or, less likely, something like quail

#51 johnnyd

johnnyd
  • participating member
  • 2,322 posts
  • Location:Portland, ME

Posted 29 February 2012 - 10:09 AM

Really enjoying your foodblog, Hassouni! I've always wanted to roam Beirut.

Re: The Menu item, Disciplinary Kafta sounds, well, troubling...

Carry on.
"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II
Portland Food Map.com

#52 Hassouni

Hassouni
  • participating member
  • 2,018 posts
  • Location:DC Area/London/Beirut

Posted 29 February 2012 - 10:17 AM

Yeah, I have NO idea what disciplinary kafta is!

#53 Hassouni

Hassouni
  • participating member
  • 2,018 posts
  • Location:DC Area/London/Beirut

Posted 29 February 2012 - 11:04 AM

Well the agenda for today was: get stuck in snow in the mountains for several hours, finally after lots of agony bail out, attempt to go to Saida instead, and give up on that too because of the MISERABLE traffic in Beirut.

So all I did - and ate) between breakfast and now (8pm) is hit up another of my favorite places for some needed relief about 2 hrs ago:

Ka3kaya (or, as I might write it, Ka'kaya), a very homey but hip low key café in Hamra (guess what my favorite neighborhood is!), whose specialty is ka'ak, or what can best be described as the Lebanese cross between a soft pretzel and a bagel. It's round, flattish, crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, studded with sesame seeds, and can be stuffed with anything, but usually cheese or za'tar. Also, usually they're sold from street carts. Sadly I didn't have a ka'ak, or kalleeta, as they call them*, because it was getting late and I'm planning on kabab tonight. They have a pretty good menu besides ka'ak though - I got some mixed nuts plus carrots, and a ginger & steamed milk tea, while my dad got a blueberry cheesecake and cappuccino:

IMG_1451.JPG

IMG_1452.JPG

A word on the carrots and nuts: Ka3kaya doesn't serve alcohol, but these are VERY typical bar snacks in Lebanon. If you order a beer anywhere, you usually get carrots and nuts for free. The nuts usually include, at a minimum, peanuts and addictively salty pumpkin seeds in the shell (which I eat whole). The carrots are the real treat - long slices of carrots, doused in fresh lemon juice, and sprinked with salt, or in this case, cumin. I WISH bars at home did that!

I really love Ka3kaya, and hopefully this won't be my only time there.


*to those who may know more than me: what is a kalleeta? how is it different than a ka'ki? Also, how is it written? It's only in English on the menu, and I assume it's كلّيتا, but I somehow think I'm wrong.

Edited by Hassouni, 29 February 2012 - 11:08 AM.


#54 ChefCrash

ChefCrash
  • participating member
  • 708 posts

Posted 29 February 2012 - 11:04 AM

I want a place like Al-Falamanki in my neighborhood, too!

That's quite a menu. I notice that among the salads are a couple featuring "wild thyme." What kind of a salad green is that, it isn't just the herb, is it? Also, what do you get when you order "sizzling birds"?


Summer Savory, onions, Sumac, salt pepper and olive oil. Usually served with grilled meats.

#55 Hassouni

Hassouni
  • participating member
  • 2,018 posts
  • Location:DC Area/London/Beirut

Posted 29 February 2012 - 11:09 AM

Hey ChefCrash, where would you recommend in central Beirut for mashawi? My thought was (don't laugh!) Kababji, but I'm open to suggestions.

#56 FoodMan

FoodMan
  • eGullet Society staff emeritus
  • 4,316 posts

Posted 29 February 2012 - 08:23 PM

What a timely and fun blog Hassouni! We'll be in Lebanon this June and this just makes me look more forward to the visit. Have you thought of heading over to get Armenian Basturma sandwiches in burj hammoud? If you are in the area definitly stop by Bedo for some. BTW, I love the kabab mashwi sandwiches at Abu Koko in the Dora area. I posted about it a while back here. They changed locations since then, but they are still in the same general area.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com


#57 demiglace

demiglace
  • participating member
  • 242 posts
  • Location:PoCo

Posted 01 March 2012 - 12:56 AM

I would love to be able to grow a lemon or kumquat tree on my balcony..loving the blog Hassouni..thanks.

#58 Hassouni

Hassouni
  • participating member
  • 2,018 posts
  • Location:DC Area/London/Beirut

Posted 01 March 2012 - 03:27 AM

What a timely and fun blog Hassouni! We'll be in Lebanon this June and this just makes me look more forward to the visit. Have you thought of heading over to get Armenian Basturma sandwiches in burj hammoud? If you are in the area definitly stop by Bedo for some. BTW, I love the kabab mashwi sandwiches at Abu Koko in the Dora area. I posted about it a while back here. They changed locations since then, but they are still in the same general area.


Problem is Dora and Burj Hammoud are kind of far (I'm in 'Ain al-Tine, and am at the mercy of my dad for driving anywhere, and he's not used to trekking all across town -in horrific Beirut traffic - for sandwiches!). Also, it's hard for me to go to Burj Hammoud and not gorge on the falafel at Arax, which, dear readers, ties with Sahyoun.

However, Elie, if I find myself out that way, I'll definitely see what I can do! I was actually invited for coffee in Dora today but I have no clue how I'm going to get there (expensive taxi ride!)

#59 Hassouni

Hassouni
  • participating member
  • 2,018 posts
  • Location:DC Area/London/Beirut

Posted 01 March 2012 - 03:32 AM

So, with my mom and grandfather away overnight on business, I asked my dad if he wanted to go out or have dinner at home last night. Given the crappiness of earlier yesterday (see above), he chose out, and asked for kabab. Now, Iraqi kabab culture is very similar to Iranian, and not very similar at all to Lebanese. That being said, there's a famous chain called Kabab-ji (meaning "Kabab-smith," as it were) here, so I figured, "they're decent, they specialize in grilled meat, and they're cheap, so let's do it." It's interesting, a full on Lebanese meal out consists of mezze plus mashawi (grilled dishes) - two nights ago at Abdel Wahhab we filled up on mezze, so I figured kabab sounded right last night.

Kababji's a chain as I said, but it's really a good place, and has several convenient locations (which was the main impetus for the visit). Their claim to fame is numerous kinds of ground meat kabab, usually called kafta in Lebanon, but, curiously, generically referred to as kabab here as well as in Iraq. No matter. On their menu for the ground meat options are: Istanbouli, Antepli, Urfali (all Turkish, eh?) Halabi (from Aleppo), Khashkhash (not sure what that is), plus ones with pistachio mixed in, eggplant mixed in, etc etc.

So, we got some fattoush, waraq 'enab, and muhammara to start, plus chicken, istanbouli, antepli, and urfali kababs. I had what turned out to be an enormous glass of arak, and my dad had a fresh lemonade. Finished with a Turkish coffee each. Total damage before tip: $38. Not bad at all!

IMG_1455.JPG
the arak filled about 2/5 of the glass before water was poured in...

IMG_1457.JPG

The muhammara was nice, though it's not something I have that often, so don't have a huge list of reference standards; the vine leaves were really nice and quite lemony, and the fattoush was simple but good. Interestingly, it had among the greens purslane, which is not super common. Lots of nice cucumbers though!

IMG_1459.JPG
Platters of mashawi always arrive like this in Lebanon, on top of a piece of bread, garnished with grilled tomato and parsley, and topped with some bread spread with hot pepper paste and more parsley.

Peel slowly and see:

IMG_1461.JPG

I THINK the order was antepli, istanbouli, chicken, and urfali. The three lamb ones were all pretty similar though - ground lamb with various spices. All were billed as "spicy" but actually the muhammara was the hottest thing.

and on my plate:

IMG_1463.JPG

and to finish, of course:

IMG_1465.JPG

It's worth noting that Turkish coffee should ALWAYS be made to spec re: the customer's desired sugar level - but most places here don't do that, and bring you plain coffee with sugar on the side. That's a BIG no no in my book. Kabab-ji asked for my sugar preferences! Yay! So I got a nice medium-sweet one.

Breakfast this morning was more foul and labna at the hotel.

Edited by Hassouni, 01 March 2012 - 03:36 AM.


#60 Hassouni

Hassouni
  • participating member
  • 2,018 posts
  • Location:DC Area/London/Beirut

Posted 01 March 2012 - 10:41 AM

Headed South chasing the sunshine today - went to the ancient Phoenician city of Sour (Tyre), which is actually more famous for its Roman ruins than Phoenician ones, and just barely made it before the thundershower began. High-tailed it back to the Phoenician city of Saida (Sidon), where, if not raining, the weather was cold, windy, and crappy, so ducked into a covered outdoor café that I'd been to before along the Saida Corniche:

IMG_1587.JPG

IMG_1592.JPG

IMG_1590.JPG

Got hummus, mana'ish with cheese & sujuq and cheese & za'tar. Nice late afternoon snack

IMG_1603.JPG

IMG_1601.JPG

IMG_1599.JPG

IMG_1593.JPG

Oh yeah, there was a castle in view too...

IMG_1597.JPG

As I'm sure I've mentioned elsewhere, mana'ish (singular: man'ooshi) are sort of a cross between a pizza and a crepe - there are two kinds, ones made in the oven, and ones made on a saaj. The former are more pizza like, the latter more crepe-like. I prefer the latter, but that tends to be found mostly at take-away places - if a sit down place has mana'ish, it'll be from the oven. Oh well!





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Foodblog