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eG Foodblog: Hassouni (2012) - Beirut and beyond

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#61 Keith_W

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 02:52 PM

This is turning out to be one of the more fascinating food blogs. Like the National Geographic of food. What is "Grill-fried service" (bottom of third picture)?
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#62 maggiethecat

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 07:18 PM

Just a beautiful blog -- transporting. To think of being able to drive to Tyre: it blows my mind. Thanks for breaking down all the history, ethnicity and flavors of one of my favorite cuisines.

(One of my dorm mates at McGill was the daughter of the former American ambassador to Turkey, and she had the full Turkish coffee setup in her room. Perhaps it's because I don't like sweet coffee, but it put me off Turkish coffee for life.)

Growing up in, of all places, Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, half my friends were Lebanese Canadian -- all those Baraketts and Aboubs and their mothers' exotic cooking.

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#63 nickrey

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 07:34 PM

Great blog, very interesting and makes me want to make the pilgrimage to Auburn in Sydney which is one of our Middle East enclaves.

Thanks to wikipedia, I've found out that foul is fava or broad beans, can you let us know how they are prepared?

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#64 Hassouni

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 02:57 AM

This is turning out to be one of the more fascinating food blogs. Like the National Geographic of food. What is "Grill-fried service" (bottom of third picture)?


So, in Arabic it's more clear, it says "grill or fry service for fish" - what's common here, especially in the port towns like Saida, is to buy your fish at the port from the fisherman, and take it to a restaurant to be cooked. My friend does this all the time, and it's quite delicious. He's badgering me into coming down for a fish lunch tomorrow so you may get to see the full splendor of a grill-fry service :smile:

Just a beautiful blog -- transporting. To think of being able to drive to Tyre: it blows my mind. Thanks for breaking down all the history, ethnicity and flavors of one of my favorite cuisines.

(One of my dorm mates at McGill was the daughter of the former American ambassador to Turkey, and she had the full Turkish coffee setup in her room. Perhaps it's because I don't like sweet coffee, but it put me off Turkish coffee for life.)

Growing up in, of all places, Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, half my friends were Lebanese Canadian -- all those Baraketts and Aboubs and their mothers' exotic cooking.


It's funny, Tyre used to be an island, which I forgot about until I realized I was surrounded on 3 sides by water....By the way, Turkish coffee doesn't have to be sweet - the standard options here and in Turkey are plain, little, medium, or lots of sugar. Quite often here, as I've mentioned, it's served plain, for you to mix in the sugar, which is all wrong, but you might like it that way!


Great blog, very interesting and makes me want to make the pilgrimage to Auburn in Sydney which is one of our Middle East enclaves.

Thanks to wikipedia, I've found out that foul is fava or broad beans, can you let us know how they are prepared?


Honestly I haven't a clue. I think it's just boiled up and simmered for ages like any other bean - I don't know a soul who doesn't make it out of a can though, though I'm sure restaurants and such make it from scratch. But be advised - there are 2 (or 3) canned products - canned plain foul (just the beans), canned foul + chickpeas (OK), and canned "foul medammes" - avoid the last one as thats the entire dish popped into a can, spices, oil, and all. What I do is either get the plain beans or the ones with chick peas, pop them into a pot with some cumin and garlic, with liquid and all, let simmer for about 15 minutes, then mash about half the beans up - I like it texturally halfway between refried beans and soup beans.

#65 Hassouni

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 03:00 AM

Sabah il-kheir! (Good morning!)

Last night featured two dinners - a light one at home, then a snack and dessert + tea and argile at Ka3kaya (see earlier post)

Dinner at home was: more pickles, more salad, some sliced beets, veal escalope (which my family seems to love), baked pasta, cheese and vegetables (ditto) - and, on the Arabic side of things - dolma aka mahshi* aka stuffed vegetables of all sorts - swiss chard leaves, tomato, onion, and tiny eggplants. Dolma is possibly my favorite food, and I could literally eat plate after plate of it, so I had to restrain myself since I knew I was going out immediately.

The pasta. I don't know if other Iraqi families do this, but this seems to be something of a staple with us. It's not my favorite because usually the pasta and vegetables are WAY overcooked - today it was better.

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The dolma. Droooooool. Stuffed with rice, meat, onions, and spiced. There also seems to be a stuffed potato there. Framing it are bowls of yogurt. I wish i had a better picture, but it wasn't very photogenic. Delicious, though...

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Escalope, pickles, and beets

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My plate - lots of dolma, some beets, and not shown, later, salad.

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Chez Ka3kaya:

An kashkawan "mashrouha," which is their term for an open-faced, thin ka'ak (or kalleeta as they call them. I asked my Saidawi friend, and he had no idea what this word "kalleeta" is, by the way). This was, to quote from the biography I'm reading, "insanely great." Crispy, cheesy, melty, chewy, I could eat three of these in one sitting. God. This PLUS dolma? Happy Hassouni.

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For dessert, chocolate and halawe "kalleeta" aka ka'ak. I forgot to take a pic until the last portion was left, but the whole thing is round, about 7" in diameter, and cut into quarters. It was gooey, crispy, and luscious. Did I say in the earlier post how much I love Ka3kaya? I always really liked it, but as of tonight, I love it to bits. If only they had a bar…

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Also ordered an anise tea, which came in a teabag (man, Lebanon, why must you use teabags for everything!?), but the homemade way is to lightly crush a spoonful or two of aniseed, and steep in boiling water for a few minutes, and add sugar (it needs it). That being said, the teabag version was fine.

*A note on terminology, etc: Dolma, of course, comes from the Turkish dolmak, "to stuff," and is the generic word in both Turkey and Iraq (and Iran, I guess) for stuffed vegetables, although out of context it often means grape leaves or as is more common in Iraq, swiss chard. Getting more specific, stuffed grape leaves in Turkish are called yaprak sarma, or "wrapped leaves," and in Arabic are waraq 'enab ("grape leaves"), which I've mentioned before. The generic term for what I'd call dolma in Lebanon and most other Arab countries is the Arabic word mahshi, which just means "stuffed," in the same way that mashwi just means "grilled." So you can say mahshi and mean stuffed vegetables in general, use it as an adjective after a vegetable to imply that veg. was stuffed.

For the record, while I love dolma of all kinds, with meat or vegetarian stuffing, my all time, hands down, desert island favorite is vegetarian grape leaf dolma aka waraq 'enab. To add to the linguistic fun, this is called "yalancı yaprak sarma" in Turkish, or "false/lying wrapped leaves," because of the lack of meat! Quite often in Lebanon and Syria this vegetarian version is just called yalanji, but other times, "waraq 'enab bi zeit," or, in [olive] oil. While other vegetables are fine by me with meat or without, to me, grape leaves HAVE to be vegetarian, as all but one time I've had them with meat, they sucked.

#66 Hassouni

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 03:46 AM

Breakfast today was the standard labne sandwich at the hotel, but when I got to the flat, lo! we suddenly have a cheese board!

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Halloum, shari, and some kind of sheep's cheese I guess.

And of course:

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#67 percyn

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 07:40 AM

Interesting blog and looking forward to it.

The food pics and descriptions are helping me narrow my next food-travel destination.

#68 andiesenji

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 07:49 AM

It's a good think I have a "skin" cover for my keyboard because I have been drooling on it.
I too prefer the vegetarian dolmas - usually the only kind I prepare - but I like stuffing with meat for other vegetables, zucchini, little eggplants, frying peppers, etc.

I love your descriptions and translations. Very informative and I'm sure will be helpful when I next visit the local middle eastern store. Besides the canned products, they sell some great deli items, including a lovely bean salad made with foul, chickpeas, tomatoes, cukes and parsley, lemon slices and spices.
I also buy the canned foul, usually plain but I also have a can with olive oil and one with tahina. I did have a can of foul with hot peppers but used it in a combination dish with rice and chickpeas, which toned down the pepper heat.
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#69 nikkib

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 07:56 AM

Great week so far hassouni, kebabji in ashrafieh was around the corner from where I lived and I was on first name terms with their delivery men to the extent they would even deliver glasses of arak! Wish "chains" like this were more frequent elsewhere. also love the fact in
Lebanon you can get almost anything delivered at almost anytime, which for someone who works odd hours and is extremely disorganised is a life saver. Planning my next trip hopefully for may/june and will have this blog until then :-)
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#70 catdaddy

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 09:41 AM

How nice to read about Lebanon and hear about Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Syria. Beirut has always been a cultural center for the people of a huge area. Man does that food look great. All the ethnic influences and language lessons are thought provoking.

World peace through breaking bread.

Loving the blog, sir.

#71 Hassouni

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 10:26 AM

Thanks for the compliments, eGulleteers!

This afternoon went into one of the more famous mountain towns in the hills above Beirut, Beit Mery. It's a beautiful town sprawled across a ridge overlooking Beirut, with views on one side of the coast (some of the best overhead views of Beirut), and on the other side, this time of year, of an amazing valley and snowcapped mountains. One of the problems with these mountain towns, once you get outside the Beirut suburbs, which go straight uphill, is the paucity of decent casual eateries. It's either grand restuarants, often in hotels, or take away mana'ish type places. Beit Mery is no exception. Lunch today was takeaway mana'ish, plus some baked goods and sweets from a European style bakery across the road.

The mana'ish was good though, and made entirely from scratch to order - many places make a bunch and then reheat them when you order. Not here:

Getting slathered with cheese and za'tar w zeit:

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Into the oven:

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Burn baby burn! Za'tar inferno!

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And done:

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Massive quantities of za'tar:

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Goodies from across the street:

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Edited by Hassouni, 02 March 2012 - 10:29 AM.


#72 ChefCrash

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 10:50 AM

Hi Hassouni

Really enjoyed the images in Saida. Glad you were able to make it there. That road (at the castle) had been pelted by 20 ft waves the day before, and was impassable. Al Baba's Sweets (Hilwayaat El Baba) would be a good place to visit if you go back to Saida. There are two locations, one by the sea and one on the main hwy in town. The latter is better.

Kaak el qalleeta, قليطة pronounced "alleeta" refers to one of two kinds (can't remember which) of snacks peddled on the streets. One is pictured below along with a photo of what they could be served with. The other ( which I haven't seen on recent trips), is the same but without the hole, twice as thick and smaller in diameter.

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#73 Pam R

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 12:09 PM

Really enjoying your blog - thanks for taking the time to share with us. I've spent time in Israeli and Egypt but not Lebanon -- it's really interesting to see how many things are so similar, yet different.

Language question: is zeit the general word for oil or is it specifically olive oil?

#74 Keith_W

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 01:21 PM

Hi Hassouni, so "grill-fried service" is where they cook the fish for you. What a great idea. I suppose the fish you get there should be top quality, given where you are. Somehow I don't think a restaurant like that would work down here in Australia, although one might think it would.
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#75 Hassouni

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 04:48 PM

Hi Hassouni

Really enjoyed the images in Saida. Glad you were able to make it there. That road (at the castle) had been pelted by 20 ft waves the day before, and was impassable. Al Baba's Sweets (Hilwayaat El Baba) would be a good place to visit if you go back to Saida. There are two locations, one by the sea and one on the main hwy in town. The latter is better.

Kaak el qalleeta, قليطة pronounced "alleeta" refers to one of two kinds (can't remember which) of snacks peddled on the streets. One is pictured below along with a photo of what they could be served with. The other ( which I haven't seen on recent trips), is the same but without the hole, twice as thick and smaller in diameter.

P7063922.jpg
P7074011.jpg


I actually go to Saida quite a lot, typically once or twice per visit, as my best friend here is from there and lives there (though works in Beirut). I really love it. Al Baba is the BEST! And yeah, the weather here is a mess...

Thanks for the "2allee6a" info! (I hate the numbers, btw...but god do the Libnenis here love em). The ones without the hole are abundant in Tripoli, btw. I'm guessing sans hole is 'alleeta, since the ones at Ka3kaya are hole-less.

Really enjoying your blog - thanks for taking the time to share with us. I've spent time in Israeli and Egypt but not Lebanon -- it's really interesting to see how many things are so similar, yet different.

Language question: is zeit the general word for oil or is it specifically olive oil?


Zeit just means oil. Zeit zeitoun is olive oil - zeitoun being olive, obviously the words are connected. However, when something is referred to as "bil zeit" it almost always means olive oil as that's the one used in almost all cooking, when butter or clarified butter is not used.


Hi Hassouni, so "grill-fried service" is where they cook the fish for you. What a great idea. I suppose the fish you get there should be top quality, given where you are. Somehow I don't think a restaurant like that would work down here in Australia, although one might think it would.


Yeah, the seafood here is great. To be honest, the food quality here is superlative. So much is grown, farmed, or caught a stone's throw away. I suppose this is what produce in the Central Valley of CA must be like!

Edited by Hassouni, 02 March 2012 - 04:50 PM.


#76 Hassouni

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 05:05 PM

Dinner tonight - my mom gave my dad and me the option of going out (there's a lot of guilt piled on for not eating at home...), so go out we did - and pizza was desired, so upon the recommendation of many friends, we headed to Jemmayze (aka Gemmayzeh, but with a soft j sound), which for the last decade has been THE nightlife and artsy area of Beirut. In the summer it's impossible to even walk around at night, but now it wasn't so bad. The recommendation specifically was Margherita, often thrown about as the best proper pizza in Beirut, which is full of ho-hum pizza places.

Winter or not, the place was packed, but we got seats, or should I say, bar stools, right away.

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Ze oven:
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And the pizza menu. Despite billing itself as a pizzeria, they have quite a long menu of insalate, antipasti, primi piatti, contorni, secondi, dolci, and finally, pizze:

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But first, a starter of prosciutto di parma. Yes, pork in the Middle East. Blasphemy is so delicious! In fairness, Jemmayze is solidly Christian territory, but still, the novelty amuses me.

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It was very melt-in-the-mouth-y. Mm.

Pizza time - I ordered the Bresaola, my dad got the Diavolo:

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Nice leopard spots:

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The pizza was quite delicious. Not the best I've had but certainly the best I've had in Beirut (although another place, Olio, comes quite close), and definitely worthy of satisfying my quality pizza craving. I'd say it fell quite squarely into the Neapolitan side of things - very thin, wet center, chewy, very slightly yet not overly crispy crust - plain tomato sauce.

Had the cheap offering from Château Ksara, one of the most famous Lebanese vineyards, their "Réserve de Couvent" :

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Not world class, but quite pleasant and a good value at all of $6.

Later, unwound from some argile-related stress at Ka3kaya, with my own argile and an Almaza down the street at Café Hamra. As usual, free nuts come with alcohol:

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Almaza is a pretty unspectacular easy drinking "international lager" - it's owned by Heineken, but it's a hell of a lot better than macro American beer. It's great in warm weather, when you can order it "Mexican" - I swear to God, this is what they call it. What's a "Mexican beer" as far as the Lebanese are concerned? Beer in a glass with a salted rim and a shot of lemon juice in. Really. As absurd as it sounds, in the miserably muggy summers here, it's really quite refreshing, even if it's made with Lebanese beer! In the summer you even get asked if you want your beer " 'aadi wala Mexican?" (normal or Mexican?) However, the rest of the year, it kind of seems out of place, so a "bira 'aadi" for me.

The best part of Almaza is the label:

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This amuses me to no end :biggrin:

Edited by Hassouni, 02 March 2012 - 05:11 PM.


#77 Smithy

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 05:30 PM

I'm loving this blog! Lebanon is on my list of places to visit, but so far my only experience in the Middle East is Egypt. However, I've learned over the years that most of my favorite restaurants in Cairo are actually Lebanese.

You mention the difficulty of getting around in Beirut with their insane traffic and expensive taxis. Is there also some sort of affordable mass transit, like a metro rail line?

And, to keep this food-related: one of my favorite dips is called (not sure about spelling) thoumeyya - an extremely garlicky white dip that seems to be Egypt's answer to aioli. Is that Lebanese? I'd love to see some discussion about that simple but oh, so potent dip.

What are the lemons there like?

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#78 Hassouni

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 05:43 PM

I'm loving this blog! Lebanon is on my list of places to visit, but so far my only experience in the Middle East is Egypt. However, I've learned over the years that most of my favorite restaurants in Cairo are actually Lebanese.

You mention the difficulty of getting around in Beirut with their insane traffic and expensive taxis. Is there also some sort of affordable mass transit, like a metro rail line?

And, to keep this food-related: one of my favorite dips is called (not sure about spelling) thoumeyya - an extremely garlicky white dip that seems to be Egypt's answer to aioli. Is that Lebanese? I'd love to see some discussion about that simple but oh, so potent dip.

What are the lemons there like?


I hear Cairo traffic is unbearable but I can't imagine anything worse than here - no public transport!

So, the answer to aioli here, that I think you mean, is just called toum (thoum = proper Arabic for garlic, toum in Leb accent). The homemade version IS basically an aioli, the commercial and restaurant version is more like mayo with a HELL of a lot of garlic in it. It's standard with any grilled chicken dish, notably shish tawouq (pron. taawou' - Arabic q is dropped and turned into a glottal stop in most of the Levant and Egypt) and chicken shawarma.

It's so intense that if you don't like garlic, don't even order tawouq or chicken shawarma, cos they slather it on like it was the apocalypse (like so much else here - they say the Lebanese lust for life is because there may not be a tomorrow, given the history here). You will definitely have garlic breath the rest of the day! No hiding from the girlfriend or wife that you haven't been snacking on chickeny treats :laugh:

Lemons...are lemons. I've never found much variance in lemons anywhere, as opposed to limes, which aren't that common here.

Edited by Hassouni, 02 March 2012 - 05:44 PM.


#79 Lior

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 02:57 AM

I feel quite at home. SO many similarities! I was looking through your blog in the staff room, and went right away to make myself a nice hot cup of "black" (mud) coffee! Nice blog !

Edited by Lior, 03 March 2012 - 02:58 AM.


#80 Genkinaonna

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 09:21 AM

Wow reading this before breakfast was a big mistake! Now I'm starving :laugh:. I LOVE Lebanese food, and I'd love to visit someday, although I might not fit through the door on the plane on the way back...

Great blog, thanks for braving the horrible traffic for us eGulleteers...
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#81 Smithy

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 02:02 PM

Are you familiar with a dish called tawouk motefa? That's another fave of mine from a Cairo Lebanese restaurant. I've made my own version of it from poor memory but would love to see how it's done by the pro's - assuming it isn't a one-off concoction.

Olives! How do they look and taste there? Oil cure, dry salt cure, tart?

What does your family make of this food-blogging business? :laugh:

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#82 Hassouni

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 02:44 AM

Are you familiar with a dish called tawouk motefa? That's another fave of mine from a Cairo Lebanese restaurant. I've made my own version of it from poor memory but would love to see how it's done by the pro's - assuming it isn't a one-off concoction.

Olives! How do they look and taste there? Oil cure, dry salt cure, tart?

What does your family make of this food-blogging business? :laugh:


Never heard of that dish, unfortunately.

Olives are often presented in oil, but I'm not sure how they're cured. They're very firm fleshed, medium sized, a nice dark brown for the black ones, and a light green-grey for the green ones. They're not tart so much as bitter, the green ones more so. I think they're the best olives in the world :biggrin:

My family...has no idea! I think it'd take too long to explain...

#83 nikkib

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 03:07 AM

How are you finding the snow? Is it as full on as everyone is making it out to be? We only had a little snow in central Beirut when I was there - never realised how intense it got in the Bekaa and elsewhere. I actually got stuck near zahle once and had to spend the night owing to the snow storms, really stunning if not a little inconvenient!
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#84 Hassouni

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 05:06 AM

It didn't really snow in Beirut though Saida and the north Coast got a dusting. The real snow starts pretty low though, and I got stuck in it for about 2 hrs near Aley. The main roads over the mountains into the Bekaa are all closed, as is the road to Faraya.

Back to my adventures: yesterday was one of the best days here both in terms of fun and food and drink. Went with my usual suspect dining friends to meet a mutual friend of ours in Batroun - a small, pretty old Phoenician town right on the coast, north of the even older and also fascinating Phoenician town of Jbeil aka Byblos.

The day started negotiating the MISERABLE traffic between Beirut and Jounieh, the next big place to the north - not more than about 10-15 miles but about an hour's driving time. We were comforted by mana'ish:

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I had one with kishk, which was discussed here on eG not too long ago. I'd never had it before, and was rather surprised by how it turned out - but it was quite good. I'm used to Iranian kashk, which is the same word, but is much more yogurty. This was grainy but soft, and oddly red.

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After about an hour and a half of that, we got to Batroun, where we went to Le Marin, a seafood place smack on the beach:

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The way a lot of seafood places here work is that you pick from a selection of fresh caught fish, then it's weighed for your bill, and either grilled or fried. Typically smaller fish are fried, larger fish, as well as large, head on shrimp, are grilled. Here was the selection at le Marin:

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I'm not really up on Arabic names for fish, except for those little red guys, which are called Sultan Ibrahim aka Sultan, and are probably the most beloved fish in these parts. We got some of those, fried, as well as a few of its buddies visible in the top left. We also got one of those big gray fish on the right, grilled over charcoal. I think that's lu'uz, which we had at home the other night.

Ordered a half bottle of arak (for 5 of us) - I ended up drinking probably half that. Typical drinking snacks:

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Et maintenant le mezze. A whole steamed artichoke in a very fresh lemony sauce. My family makes this a lot, and it's nice to get it in a restaurant:

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Arak, tabboule, hummus, fattoush:

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Calamari:

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Octopus aka Akhtabout:

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Very nice. My fish-hating friend even said it was good.

All the starters on the table, plus fries. Not being actually Lebanese, I will NEVER understand the Lebanese obsession with fries while eating mezze, especially when there are much better potato dishes.

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Fried fish. Drool.

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One of the aforementioned better potato dishes: fried potato cubes with a bunch of spices and garlic. If this is "batata harra" (hot potato, literally - a common menu item), it wasn't like any one I've seen.

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Poor Sultan Ibrahim was deposed from his throne, fried, and eaten.

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In all seriousness though this is a killer fish, delicious when fried, small enough that you can eat all but the backbone. Traditionally eaten with the hands. I've never had a bad fried Sultan, though today's was particularly good. It's such a good fish that on my last trip here, got another non-fish eating (American) friend to eat and quite enjoy one, breaking her "I don't like fish" policy.

The grilled lu'uz. This was superb. The flesh browned, the inside stayed moist - it was one of the best grilled fishes I've had anywhere

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For dessert, Turkish coffee (which was unspectacular, so no picture), and what I think was homemade Turkish delight AKA halqoum, and biscuits.

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I'd never seen this done before, but apparently it's customary to make a sandwich out of them:

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The reason I think they're homemade is because they were super soft, enough to squash down between two biscuits - Turkish delight doesn't stay that soft very long

Arriving back in Beirut, my friend (who was the driver) announced she felt like tea and argile, so we went to a new place right down the street from my family's flat. It's called Beit Wared (House of Roses), and has only been open for 2 months. If any Beirut types know where Grand Café on the Corniche downhill from 'Ain al-Tine is, it's next to that. It's a huge space with a large terrace, very bright modern decor, and a lot of pink. Given its modern decor and whatnot, it was VERY surprising to see that the menu is written ONLY in Arabic. Almost everywhere except the smallest hole in the wall takeaway typically has bilingual menus, or sometimes a menu only in English or French. So those who don't read Arabic - go with an Arabic speaking friend. It seemed to be frequented by a lot of Iraqis, oddly enough.

I had an avocado "drink" that was thick enough to stand a spoon up in
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My friend had ashta w 'asal, or clotted cream and honey:
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We were so full that we didn't have more than a third of either, but we liked the place.

From there we went to a really cool bar/restaurant, Barometre near AUB. It's a laid back place with a small menu of Lebanese food, and a lot of booze options - until about 11 they play low key traditional Arabic music, and after that, more uptempo Arabic dance music. We got two bottles of Ksara rosé, which were laughably cheap. The menu said $20 each, but the bill for those, plus some other drinks was less than $40. Not gonna complain!

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Midnight snack to come....

Edited by Hassouni, 04 March 2012 - 05:18 AM.


#85 Hassouni

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 05:18 AM

Dinner, as it was, was around 1 or 2 am after the better part of a bottle of wine. My friend wanted Zaater w Zeit, I wanted Barbar.

Zaatar w Zeit is a Lebanon-wide and now international chain specializing in various kinds of mana'ish, breakfasty foods, and other treats. They tend to be open 24 hrs, and are MASSIVELY popular for post-bar and club noshing. My friend got a labne man'ooshi, as well as a cheese one:

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And then we drove to Barbar for me, where I got a lahme b'ajin and a chicken shawarma.

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The pastry station's toppings bar:

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The lahme b'ajine as snarfed down in the car:

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Shawarma operation:

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Shawarma in the car:

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Mmm mmm garlicky good!

#86 rotuts

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 05:37 AM

just fantastic.

love the way the veg are presented and the patterns in the humus etc

many thanks for yoour efforts!

#87 Hassouni

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 09:41 AM

By the way, I should point out that shawarma and falafel sandwiches here are VERY spare and rather small. Chicken falafel is basically just the meat, a massive slathering of garlic sauce (toum), and some french fries (.....). Falafel sandwiches, the "extra" ones anyway, just have some basic greens, radish, tomato, tarator, and hot sauce. Lamb falafel is sort of halfway been the two - no garlic, fries, tarator, or hot sauce, but maybe some basic garnishes. They tend to be pretty damn small - If you've got the 3 am arak munchies, 2 such sandwiches is really necessary to be satisfied. But that's still $5 or less :biggrin:

Edited by Hassouni, 04 March 2012 - 09:42 AM.


#88 Hassouni

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 10:21 AM

Late lunch today was kind of not what I wanted (I'm going to get my saaj come hell or high water!). Was in Ashrafiye with the parents, and stopped at a coffee shop for lunch. My general rule here for eats here are "if it's not Lebanese, prepare to pay for quality." What we had wasn't bad but I would've definitely preferred something local. We were at the Colombiano Coffee House on Sassine Square - probably the most Western part of Beirut. The coffee was actually seriously good - especially the filter coffee (rare here).

I had a chicken salad, which was fine, but nothing spectacular:

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The chicken was actually the best part.

My mom's omelette was quite nice though - I should've got one too:

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On the way home stopped at a local greengrocer (in Saqiet al-Janzir, Beirut peeps) to get some fruit and veg for the house. This is a pretty typical sight over Lebanon, nothing fancy, just a huge variety, great quality, and very reasonably priced.

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Lemons the size of baseballs:
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Loubya aka green beans - the flat kind. Delicious in loubya bi zeit (featuring in tonight's upcoming dinner at home).
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Cucumbers!!
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Green, fresh almonds:
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Quinces:
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Sweet lemons - Numi Hilou in Iraqi Arabic...no idea in Lebanese Arabic
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These are really great - they're like a very thin, tight skinned orange, with flesh sort of like a pomelo but sweeter and slightly more tart, with a really amazing floral taste riding along too. If anyone has a Super H Mart back in the States near them, lately they've been selling them.

Tangerines/mandarins:
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Oranges from trees no more than 50 miles away, probably a lot less:
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Zucchini with flowers:
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Purslane - I think this is called Ba'leh locally:
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Beautiful looking artichokes:
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Went across the street to Fakhani, a small chain of tiny grocery/convenience stores for milk, yogurt, and labne.

Their olive and pickle selection:
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The whole shop. Along the back wall is a huge shelf of American cereals, which I can't imagine anyone eats what with the native breakfast being so freakin' awesome.
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Back at home, the produce was whisked away immediately by the housekeeper, so no shots of that, but here's a somewhat shoddy tutorial for making Turkish coffee! There are several ways but here's how I do it. Add an extremely heaped teaspoon or a tablespoon of coffee per serving - this is a 4 serving pot, so I added 4 tablespoons. Added to that 2 tablespoons of sugar, which in retrospect was rather too much - I typically add 1/4 - 1/3 sugar: coffee. Place on stove on medium-low and do not stir!

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The sugar will absorb the water and cause everything to sink. I stir when it's all sunk.

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Eventually it'll start foaming:

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Let it foam until it's about to break, take off the heat for a few seconds, and put it back on, and repeat so that it foams up 3 times. By the 3rd it's done. Take it off the heat, let it settle for a bit, and pour. There's a bit of an art to getting the entire top of the cup covered in foam, and if you're serving more than one cup, proper procedure is to pour little by little alternating between cups to distribute the foam equally.

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Decent, if not perfect! :rolleyes:

PS, a close up of a box of Minn al-Sima from the same maker I mentioned. Unopened. Hopefully it'll be breached tonight?
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PS, that's mostly Kurdish, not Arabic, on the box.

Edited by Hassouni, 04 March 2012 - 10:30 AM.


#89 Hassouni

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 02:19 PM

Dinner at home tonight, and delicious it was!

Beans from the previous post cooking as loubya bizzeit, or, beans in olive oil - garlic and onions are sweated in olive oil, then beans and tomatoes are added and cooked till soft. There's not much more to it than that.

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Rocket, cucumber, and tomato salad:

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Main dish: kubba (Iraqi. AKA "kibbe") bi siniyya, or, kubba in a tray, as opposed to the round, small kubba. The overall ingredients are similar - a dough of sorts made out of burghul (bulgur), and a filling of ground meat, pine nuts, and spices. This is one of my favorite dishes. Next to it are some roasted potato slices, and the finished beans.

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Mujaddara - rice, lentils, cumin, and fried onions

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Funny - there's a McDonald's billboard here that says, in Arabic - "What, mujaddara every day??"

My plate - kubba has to be eaten with yogurt in my book!

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Expensive dates from Saudi Arabia given to my family as a present. The box on top apparently costs $60 a kilo. Frankly, they weren't all that. Both varieties were very dry and hard. Soft dates are what do it for me.

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Remember the carrot juicer from a few posts ago? Voila le bag of carrots:

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The bag is usually more full than that!

#90 ChefCrash

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 02:33 PM

Just fantastic. Don't know where to start. Loved the Margherita images, was never able to get in, very small place and always so busy, even at 10 pm.

The fried fish looks great, I wish someone here would look at the fresh fish photo and tell us what kinds they are. Regarding french fries, Lebanon was a French colony for some 20 odd years.

Tomato paste is what makes Kishk pies reddish.

Love the produce store, someone up thread asked about the difference between lemons there and here in the states, the difference is: here they run 2/$1, there 2 kilos/$1:)

The coffee tutorial is dead on (minus all that sugar):)

Looking forward to more.





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