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nikkib

Lebanon Dining

93 posts in this topic

So i'm here! I must say this time i have scored an absolute blinder in not booking a hotel and instead booking hayete guesthouse http://www.hayete-guesthouse.com/ in ashrafieh - it is so "old beirut", really beautifully done up, in a great location and the owners are lovely - highly recommend you look it up if you do ever make the trip here.

On the first night we got delivery from babars, a zesty tabbouleh, hummus and pickles, surprisingly good cheese rakakat (fried foods dont normally stand up to being delivered as they need to be eaten immediately i always find) and a mixed grill which included some very nice chicken koftes as well as shish taouk, lamb kofte and marinated steak pieces.

For breakfast the first morning we had manouche from the bakery across the road and labneh with some olives - a great start to my day!

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Next up i went to check out the marina development at Zaitunay Bay which opened just before Christmas, its a nice outdoor space thats for sure but the outlets are a bit "bland" for me, nevertheless i had an outstanding and quite beautiful Cappucino at "CAPPUCINO" a Spanish owned outlet that is open from breakfast through to dinner and had a very good looking cocktail list too.

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Lunch was at Falamankis as i had some time to kill and sitting with a shisha is one of the best ways to kill an hour or so - thought i would show any of you who were follwing Chefcrash's KISHK posts what the "country style" kishk looks like - i had it with the hindbe (dandelion in oil) and arabic bread to dip into it along with carrots with cumin and of course a Mexican Almaza.

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

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Wow, nikki, I've just found this thread and I'm totally in love! Please, blog on!

I have to get to Lebanon..

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Souk el tayab is a farmers market - Beiruts "first" although essentially there are plenty of street vendours selling farm goods too - this is however unmissable in my opinion. It has moved to a new sight near the Beirut souks (every saturday morning) so is hopefully thriving, it certainly deserves to be. I bought a freshly squeezed (while i waited) pomegranate juice $2 which was delicious and also a small silver charm to replace one i lost in the move to singapore so it was a successful trip, i was only disappointed not to be hungry so i could buy some of the lovely goods on sale...

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

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Yeeeesss Falamanki, my favorite! Have you had their saj? It's really good, and where else can you get a saj at 3 am?

Where exactly is the guesthouse, that yellow building looks very familiar

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:raz: i love the saj but after manoushe at breakfast felt it might take even my carb loving self to the limits of what is acceptable.. will be making a return visit for sure. The fact that it is 24 hours is just heavenly, we saw many a sunrise there (if not after seeing it at B018)The guesthouse is next to bashir gemmeyl house just as you walk down the side street fom ABC down towards st joseph - we are right above Frida restaurant which opened last year if you know that - or slightly up from bread republic if not..

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

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I went for a wander in Gemmayze, typically undecided about where to eat - pizza ay Olios/Margarita or Aliacci? The Cafe Gemmayze replacement branch of Leila? Le Chef? Walk all the way to Tawlet? Indecision got the best of me so i ended up stopping when i got too hungry and went for a glass of wine and omelette at couqley. Used to be one of my favourite haunts but theyve removed the 5 bar stools to squeeze in 3 more tables of 2 which whilst make good business sense, kind of kills the vibe and asthetic. Anyway, the bacon, basil & tomato omelette was fine - the pain perdu was divine. I would like to tell you i left half/shared it but i would be lying :rolleyes:

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

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Breakfast was inside as it was POURING with rain, suddenly my singapore summer clothes did not seem so appropriate! Boiled eggs, arabic bread, some cheese you can just about see in the background and labneh how did i forget how much i liked labneh?!as well as our remainding pickles from the delivery on my first night

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Edited by nikkib (log)

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

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Hassouni - im not such a huge fan of Leila to be honest, i used to go to the one in ABC occasionally but preferred cafe blanc in terns of chain restaurants - anyway i wanted to check it out, so gave it a shot..

The decor is pretty funky, menu what you would expect from here, mezzes, mixed grills and their range of healthy alternatives. I had a shisha which was very good and well maintained as well as babaganoush and some fried potatoes with garlic - we'd had a late breakfast so this was really something to help soak up the wine!

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

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The thing I like about Leila is that they offer some things on the menu that you don't often find, such as grilled rkakat, off the top of my head, as well as proper Arabic ice cream. I think the quality is pretty good too.

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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

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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

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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:)

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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 (log)

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

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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

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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

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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...

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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

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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

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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?

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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

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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.



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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.

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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

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