Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

eG Foodblog: Hassouni (2012) - Beirut and beyond


Hassouni
 Share

Recommended Posts

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.

IMG_1876.JPG

Ze oven:

IMG_1878.JPG

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:

IMG_1873.JPG

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.

IMG_1882.JPG

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

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

IMG_1887.JPG

Nice leopard spots:

IMG_1884.JPG

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" :

IMG_1881.JPG

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:

IMG_1894.JPG

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:

IMG_1893.JPG

This amuses me to no end :biggrin:

Edited by Hassouni (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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?

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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 (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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...

If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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:

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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!

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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:

IMG_1899.JPG

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.

IMG_1902.JPG

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:

IMG_1914.JPG

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:

IMG_1918.JPG

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:

IMG_1928.JPG

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:

IMG_1932.JPG

Arak, tabboule, hummus, fattoush:

IMG_1934.JPG

Calamari:

IMG_1936.JPG

Octopus aka Akhtabout:

IMG_1938.JPG

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.

IMG_1940.JPG

Fried fish. Drool.

IMG_1942.JPG

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.

IMG_1943.JPG

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

IMG_1947.JPG

IMG_1960.JPG

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

IMG_1950.JPG

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

IMG_1974.JPG

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

IMG_1983.JPG

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

IMG_2004.JPG

My friend had ashta w 'asal, or clotted cream and honey:

IMG_2005.JPG

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!

IMG_2011.JPG

Midnight snack to come....

Edited by Hassouni (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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:

IMG_2034.JPG

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

IMG_2049.JPG

The pastry station's toppings bar:

IMG_2037.JPG

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

IMG_2051.JPG

Shawarma operation:

IMG_2047.JPG

IMG_2039.JPG

Shawarma in the car:

IMG_2053.JPG

Mmm mmm garlicky good!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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 (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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:

IMG_2066.JPG

The chicken was actually the best part.

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

IMG_2069.JPG

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.

IMG_2070.JPG

IMG_2072.JPG

Lemons the size of baseballs:

IMG_2074.JPG

Loubya aka green beans - the flat kind. Delicious in loubya bi zeit (featuring in tonight's upcoming dinner at home).

IMG_2076.JPG

Cucumbers!!

IMG_2078.JPG

Green, fresh almonds:

IMG_2081.JPG

Quinces:

IMG_2083.JPG

Sweet lemons - Numi Hilou in Iraqi Arabic...no idea in Lebanese Arabic

IMG_2084.JPG

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:

IMG_2086.JPG

Oranges from trees no more than 50 miles away, probably a lot less:

IMG_2089.JPG

Zucchini with flowers:

IMG_2091.JPG

Purslane - I think this is called Ba'leh locally:

IMG_2093.JPG

Beautiful looking artichokes:

IMG_2095.JPG

Went across the street to Fakhani, a small chain of tiny grocery/convenience stores for milk, yogurt, and labne.

Their olive and pickle selection:

IMG_2097.JPG

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.

IMG_2098.JPG

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!

IMG_2103.JPG

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

IMG_2100.JPG

Eventually it'll start foaming:

IMG_2104.JPG

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.

IMG_2106.JPG

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?

IMG_2063.JPG

PS, that's mostly Kurdish, not Arabic, on the box.

Edited by Hassouni (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

IMG_2109.JPG

Rocket, cucumber, and tomato salad:

IMG_2111.JPG

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.

IMG_2115.JPG

Mujaddara - rice, lentils, cumin, and fried onions

IMG_2119.JPG

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!

IMG_2124.JPG

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.

IMG_2127.JPG

IMG_2126.JPG

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

IMG_2113.JPG

The bag is usually more full than that!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This just keeps getting better and better! My friend from Saida is following it as her grandson is going to Lebanon in May for a wedding so she is taking notes of food places he should visit.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm really enjoying your blog & photos, that grilled fish looked delicious. When you're back in DC, are there any places that are similar to the food you can find in Beirut? I know this area has a lot of kabob & falafel places, but they're all different-Lebanese, Pakistani, Afghani, chains like Maoz...what do you do to try & approximate the flavor, or do you just cook for yourself, & enjoy different stuff?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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.

Well, Margherita was like 9ish on a Friday, we were just lucky that the FCFS bar table was open.

I think I need to look at the kishk thread again. It was you who made it right?

Yeah, I normally don't put that much sugar! But tell me, has it always been the case that ahwe turkiyye is served plain with sugar on the side outside the house? In Turkey this would cause a scandal!

-for those wondering, adding sugar afterwards is a disaster, since the act of stirring kicks up all the coffee sediment and it'll never really settle out while still hot.

I'm getting some free time - free from family obligations, that is - and by God, I WILL have a saaj! I think I'm gonna get at least 2 - one za'tar w kashkawan, and something else. Kishk again? Awarma? Who knows! This is the item I miss most when not here. There's only one place, fairly new, in all of DC that has a saj, and they suck.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This just keeps getting better and better! My friend from Saida is following it as her grandson is going to Lebanon in May for a wedding so she is taking notes of food places he should visit.

Be sure to make a post in the Beirut Dining thread when the time comes and I'll make a list- there are a lot of really good places I haven't had a chance to visit and document this trip.

I'm really enjoying your blog & photos, that grilled fish looked delicious. When you're back in DC, are there any places that are similar to the food you can find in Beirut? I know this area has a lot of kabob & falafel places, but they're all different-Lebanese, Pakistani, Afghani, chains like Maoz...what do you do to try & approximate the flavor, or do you just cook for yourself, & enjoy different stuff?

Ugh, this is such a sore subject. Most Lebanese food in the DC area sucks. Or, if it doesn't suck outright, it sucks by comparison to the real thing. The way I see it, the two places that really hit the mark are Neyla in Georgetown and Me Jana in Courthouse. Neyla is more traditional, Me Jana more avant garde, but they're both great. Problem is both are quite expensive (Neyla more so).

DC has yet to get decent shawarma (the places in Adams Morgan are not good), or decent Lebanese style falafel (Maoz -which was not Leb style anyway - closed because the franchise owners didnt pay their rent - ever!) As for Amsterdam Falafel, it's good, but also entirely different. There's a new place on H St NE called Shawafel but it looks very hipster-yuppie and expensive and my hopes aren't high.

As for kabab, frankly - the Persian and Afghan places are my idea of Kabab (except for Adana Kebabı, which eats Koobideh alive), and the mashawi at most places in Lebanon is not their most exciting item. So on that, it's not an issue.

I do go to Pakistani, Afghan, etc, places a lot, but not in any way to replicate the food here since it's so different. The closest we have in DC is a decent and growing number of Turkish places - my favorite is Agora, on 17th & Q - it has the most authentic vibe to an Istanbul meyhane, and is not too far off from the atmosphere here. It helps that the food is superb. Actually, the chef used to work at Me Jana, or something like that.

So basically, what I do to recreate the lovely food here is....not much. Frequent trips here have ruined me for most Lebanese restaurants abroad. There's a good Lebanese grocery in McLean that has superb waraq 'enab, loubya bizzeit, kubba, and stuff like that, so sometimes I'll get some stuff from them. Otherwise, basic things like the aforementioned loubya are quite easy to make, as is hummus (though the texture is always coarser than here). I do frequently snack on Lebanese olives (bought from the same store), breakfast on homemade labne with za'tar and the thinnest, chewiest arabic bread I can find, destroy my blood pressure with intensely salty pumpkin seeds, buy similar cucumbers from the Persian store or sometimes Trader Joe's, cut up carrots and sprinkle with salt and lemon - and smoke a lot of argile!

But really, my "home cooking" when it's not the myriad East Asian or Indian things that you can see me post in the cooking and regional forums is Iraqi food. Lately I've been going to Lebanon at least once or twice a year, so I release all my pent up cravings when I'm here. Which is one reason I was slightly annoyed that we had so-so Western food for lunch today!

It's worth noting that the first few weeks that I'm back in the States (or London, as it was last year), the Lebanese influence is at its highest - labne, za'tar, w zeit, pumpkin seeds, olives, and carrots nearly every day.

Edited by Hassouni (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

DC area people: I just remembered that the Lebanese Butcher in Falls Church has quite a decent, if unassuming restaurant. They moved around the corner, not sure of the exact address, but I ate at the old one and it was very good. The new iteration is considered at least as good, though I haven't been yet. Also, there's a place called Raouché in Merrifield that does a pretty damn good hummus.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the tips, I'll have to try Me Jana for lunch sometime. What's the grocery in McLean that has good stuff? I live in southern Fairfax county, closest to me is Mediterranean Gourmet Market, I'll be visiting this week. I make my own labneh (basically, drained yogurt, right?) & make a bastardized 'Greek grilled cheese', w/ melted provolone on pita, topped w/ yogurt, feta, marinated cukes, lettuce, tomatoes, olives. I'd like to pick up some za'tar & start baking my own pita (just because it's dead easy, & overpriced in the grocery store).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The home cooking looks just as delicious as the meals out. The kubba and green beans have made me really hungry.

Are you tempted to do much cooking yourself when you're in Lebanon, with all that gorgeous produce? Also, I was surprised to see the zucchini with the blossoms attached. How does Lebanese cuisine use the blossoms?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the tips, I'll have to try Me Jana for lunch sometime. What's the grocery in McLean that has good stuff? I live in southern Fairfax county, closest to me is Mediterranean Gourmet Market, I'll be visiting this week. I make my own labneh (basically, drained yogurt, right?) & make a bastardized 'Greek grilled cheese', w/ melted provolone on pita, topped w/ yogurt, feta, marinated cukes, lettuce, tomatoes, olives. I'd like to pick up some za'tar & start baking my own pita (just because it's dead easy, & overpriced in the grocery store).

The store in McLean is Gourmet Basket. And yeah labne is nothing but drained yogurt! I'm curious who said baking Arabic bread was easy?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The home cooking looks just as delicious as the meals out. The kubba and green beans have made me really hungry.

Are you tempted to do much cooking yourself when you're in Lebanon, with all that gorgeous produce? Also, I was surprised to see the zucchini with the blossoms attached. How does Lebanese cuisine use the blossoms?

Honestly, sort of, but not really. Because my grandmother has high blood pressure, nothing is cooked with any salt - so we all sprinkle it on at the table, but as everyone here knows, it's not the same. I've often wanted to go back and make everything salty! Especially rice. Iraqi rice should be salted like pasta. I can also think of better uses for some of the vegetables, many of which - brace yourself - are often just cut up and boiled. Thankfully in a week here that's only happened once. The thing is, the kitchen is such a tightly run ship - if I even want to make coffee or tea the housekeeper, who likes keeping busy, says no no, let me do it!

As for the zucchini blossoms, no idea, and my mom didn't know either. ChefCrash or FoodMan, thoughts?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      Note: This follows on from the Munching with the Miao topic.
       
      The three-hour journey north from Miao territory ended up taking four, as the driver missed a turning and we had to drive on to the next exit and go back. But our hosts waited for us at the expressway exit and led us up a winding road to our destination - Buyang 10,000 mu tea plantation (布央万亩茶园 bù yāng wàn mǔ chá yuán) The 'mu' is  a Chinese measurement of area equal to 0.07 of a hectare, but the 10,000 figure is just another Chinese way of saying "very large".
       
      We were in Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County, where 57% of the inhabitants are Dong.
       
      The Dong people (also known as the Kam) are noted for their tea, love of glutinous rice and their carpentry and architecture. And their hospitality. They tend to live at the foot of mountains, unlike the Miao who live in the mid-levels.
       
      By the time we arrived, it was lunch time, but first we had to have a sip of the local tea. This lady did the preparation duty.
       

       

       
      This was what we call black tea, but the Chinese more sensibly call 'red tea'. There is something special about drinking tea when you can see the bush it grew on just outside the window!
       
      Then into lunch:
       

       

      Chicken Soup
       

      The ubiquitous Egg and Tomato
       

      Dried fish with soy beans and chilli peppers. Delicious.
       

      Stir fried lotus root
       

      Daikon Radish
       

      Rice Paddy Fish Deep Fried in Camellia Oil - wonderful with a smoky flavour, but they are not smoked.
       

      Out of Focus Corn and mixed vegetable
       

      Fried Beans
       

      Steamed Pumpkin
       

      Chicken
       

      Beef with Bitter Melon
       

      Glutinous (Sticky) Rice
       

      Oranges
       

      The juiciest pomelo ever. The area is known for the quality of its pomelos.
       
      After lunch we headed out to explore the tea plantation.
       

       

       

       

       
      Interspersed with the tea plants are these camellia trees, the seeds of which are used to make the Dong people's preferred cooking oil.
       

       
      As we climbed the terraces we could hear singing and then came across this group of women. They are the tea pickers. It isn't tea picking time, but they came out in their traditional costumes to welcome us with their call and response music. They do often sing when picking. They were clearly enjoying themselves.
       

       
      And here they are:
       
       
      After our serenade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
       
       
    • By FoodMuse
      Hello everyone,
      eGullet was nice enough to invite me to write a food blog chronicling what I've made or eaten out for one week. I'm so excited about it! Thanks guys.
      About me:
      I dream about food, I wake thinking what's for dinner and I'm so excited to share it with you. I'm part of the food world in New York. By that, I just mean that I'm so fortunate enough to be invited to great events where I get to eat great food. I'm also a nerd and a part of the technology world. I produce, edit and sometimes host food related web videos and I'm also a part of the tech world.
      I'm launching a website called Please, Pass the Gravy. www.pleasepassthegravy.com We let you create a menu, invite friends and then collaborate on that menu. Never host another potluck with 8 pasta salads. You could use it now, but we're alpha launch, it works but it's ugly. It's my ugly baby. So, if you use it be kind and message me if you have improvement ideas. I thought it would be ok to write about it here because it is food related.
      I live in Brooklyn with a lovely guy who likes to eat and a small corgi mix dog. I cook pretty much every night and do a nice brunch on the weekend. I am not a crazy dog lady, but I do admit to cooking food for the dog. I have an excuse, beyond doting, he had seizures that have stopped since not feeding him dog food.
      Foods I cook:
      Spicy foods! If you look at my blog I have a simple papaya ketchup with habanero that is pretty darn good.
      I love great cheese. This may be the week for Beer Cheese Soup.
      I try to limit carbs, though I do cheat.
      In any given week C. and I probably eat cauliflower, broccoli and green beans as a side.
      Tonight's dinner will be Vietnamese inspired. We'll see how it goes. I'll post about it as soon as I can.
      Any requests? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.
      -Grace
    • By Duvel
      In these challenging times, a full summer vacation is not an easy task. For the last 1.5 years we have been mostly at home with the clear plan to visit Catalonia (or more precise my wife’s family) latest this summer. And it looked good for a while. Unfortunately, the recent rise in case numbers in Spain have resulted in …
       
      OK, let’s skip this part. Long story short - my wife and me are fully vaccinated, as are >90% of the people we care about in Catalonia. After some discussion (after all, Germans tend to prefer to be on the safe side of things) we simply fueled up the car, got each a test (for the transit through France) and started to drive …
       
      After a leisurely 11h drive we arrived at a small fishing town somewhat north of Barcelona around 3.00am. We unloaded the car and my wife an the little one went straight to bed. 
       

       


      I found an expired beer in the elsewise pretty empty fridge and enjoyed the cool breeze on the terrace. Holidays, here we come …
       

    • By liuzhou
      Last week, Liuzhou government invited a number of diplomats from Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar/Burma, Poland, and Germany to visit the city and prefecture. They also invited me along. We spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday introducing the diplomats to the culture of the local ethnic groups and especially to their food culture.
       
      First off, we headed two hours north into the mountains of Rongshui Miao Autonomous County. The Miao people (苗族 miáo zú), who include the the Hmong, live in the mid-levels of mountains and are predominantly subsistence farmers. Our first port of call was the county town, also Rongshui (融水 róng shuǐ, literal meaning: Melt Water) where we were to have lunch. But before lunch we had to go meet some people and see their local crafts. These are people I know well from my frequent work trips to the area, but for the diplomats, it was all new.
       
      So, I had to wait for lunch, and I see no reason why you shouldn't either. Here are some of the people I live and work with.


       
      This lovely young woman is wearing the traditional costume of an unmarried girl. Many young women, including her, wear this every day, but most only on festive occasions.
       
      Her hat is made from silver (and is very heavy). Here is a closer look.
       

       
      Married women dispense with those gladrags and go for this look:
       

       
      As you can see she is weaving bamboo into a lantern cover.
       
      The men tend to go for this look, although I'm not sure that the Bluetooth earpiece for his cellphone is strictly traditional.
       

       
      The children don't get spared either
       

       
      This little girl is posing with the Malaysian Consul-General.
       
      After meeting these people we went on to visit a 芦笙 (lú shēng) workshop. The lusheng is a reed wind instrument and an important element in the Miao, Dong and Yao peoples' cultures.
       

       

       
      Then at last we headed to the restaurant, but as is their custom, in homes and restaurants, guests are barred from entering until they go through the ritual of the welcoming cup of home-brewed rice wine.
       


      The consular staff from Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia "unlock" the door.
       
      Then you have the ritual hand washing part.
       

       
      Having attended to your personal hygiene, but before  entering the dining room, there is one more ritual to go through. You arrive here and sit around this fire and wok full of some mysterious liquid on the boil.
       

       
      On a nearby table is this
       

       
      Puffed rice, soy beans, peanuts and scallion. These are ladled into bowls.
       

       
      with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok.
       
      This is  油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Tea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it.
       

      L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos.
       
      Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use.
       

       
      Let the eating, finally, begin.
       
      In no particular order:
       

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.
       

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

       
      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.
       

      Stir fried Greens
       
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
       
       
       
       
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
       
      Roll on dinner time.
       
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
    • By shain
      It's been more than a year in which international travel was challenging to impossible, but gladly this is changing, as more countries are able to vaccinate their population.
      Greece had managed to return to a state of near normality, and opted to allow vaccinated individuals to enter. And so I decided to go on a slightly spontaneous vacation (only slightly, we still had almost a month for planning). To the trip I was joined by my father, to whom I owed some good one-on-one time and was able to travel on a short-ish notice.
       
       
      Many people are yet unable to travel, and many countries are suffering quite badly from the virus, and therefore I considered if I should wait some time with this post. However, I hope that it will instead be seen with an optimistic view, showing that back-to-normal is growing ever closer.
       
       
      We returned just a few days ago, and it will take me some time to organize my photos, so this is a teaser until then.
       
       
       
       
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...