Lebanon, the land of delicious food; Lebanon, where food is sexy, prepared with passion and dedication, the country where locals take their meals seriously, mastering the art and passing it from one generation to the other. Enjoy the tour around Lebanon’s best cuisine.
Moufattaka is this yellow paste served in porcelain plates. What makes it unique is the fact that it's served in porcelain plates and I still don't understand why. This traditional dessert served during Ramadan is mainly made of turmeric, pine nuts, tahini, and sugar. This thick paste, enjoyed with a spoon, is long awaited from one year to the next.
Fattet Hommos, Beirut
Al Soussi: He's the king, he's the master of this unique yet simple mix prepared with such finesse. It is clearly different from any other you will find in the 10452 sq. of Lebanon. Using his famous metallic pan, he fires up the strong flames under it, throws in a chunk of ghee, sprinkles some pine nuts, and prepares to add them to the main fatteh mix. Fatteh is simply grilled bread, laban, and chickpeas. What makes Al Soussi's fatteh unique is how Raji crushes bread in a bowl, adds hot chickpeas, cold Laban and again more bread... And here comes the secret, adding boiling ghee to the upper layer of toast, transforming it into fried bread while warming up the cold Laban. It's a show you surely want to save on a camera.
Not every Jellab is Jellab. Real Jellab is intense in color, sweet, served with ice and pine nuts but, most importantly, it has a strong aroma and taste of "Bakhour" (Incense). I've tried many and the best two remain those found at Al Antabli and Al Sawass.
Foul and Hummus, Tyre
For every trip, we have a foul and hummus breakfast, but one remains my favorite. He's called Mazraani and he's been serving breakfast in Tyre for the last half century. 15 hours is the time it takes to cook those fava beans. Every night, this man and his son prepare the beans in a metallic pot and leave them to cook in hot sand while they lose their crunchy, chewy texture. The love and passion, the smoothness and intense flavors are not found anywhere else. Mazraani is where I eat foul, balila, and hummus in Lebanon.
Goat Labneh, Jezzine
Big balls of goat cheese Labneh, cut one in half and put it calmly on your tongue. Press it up your palate and feel its richness. A firm Labneh infused with olive oil, aged for six months and ready to be enjoyed as is, with no bread. Not all goat cheese Labneh is good and the ones we find around town are sticky and taste commercial. You probably have to try Jezzine's to understand what I mean by the best Labneh in town.
Goat Cheese, Hrajel
As long as I could remember, we had white cheese at HOME. Balls of moist and tender cheese left to bath in their salt water. "Jebneh Baladieh" produced by local artisans, outdoor farmers who live in the forests of Keserwan. I'm not sure if you know what I'm talking about, but this cheese is like none you've bought at the supermarket. It's different in texture, shape, taste, and acidity, so tender it's enjoyed on toasted bread or wrapped with Markouk Saj bread.
Halawat el Chmaysseh, Tripoli
I've been to Tripoli ten times this year and stopping at Haddad for Halawat el Chmaysseh is much more than a ritual, I'd say it's a must. Imagine this gooey mix of rice cooked for more than seven hours, mixed in powdered sugar then stuffed with Kashta. I dream of this, I talk about this daily like it was a medication. It is a superb creation one should have at least once in a lifetime, it is a necessity.
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