Yee, nawwarit, nawwarit…

August 29, 2010

… said Madame Mrad as she welcomed her 6 guests to dinner at her fadstastic looking newly painted apartment.

She, in four hours after work, whipped up a scrumptious meal for her friends:

Aunty K’s Lentils with Eggplant in rib-rimmén (fry onions, add lentils and boil with cumin & salt until semi soft, then add cubes of roasted egglant, pomegranate molasses, and some chopped parsley towards the end); 

Simach w Marag (a Kuwaiti specialty: finely chopped tomatoes, loumi (dried lime), dill, garlic, coriander (fresh & ground), salt & pepper and cooked on low fire, served with fish- simach bil Kwaité). Mme Mrad likes to cook the fish in the oven and serve separately – though the Kuwaitis actually will throw a couple of small whole fish in there and cook in the sauce – your call);

 

Stir fried Shrimp and Romaine Lettuce (I couldn’t resist) – see the recipe in the previous blog entry;

Roasted Chicken Breasts with Lemony Bombay Potatoes – a recipe by Jamie Oliver and a touch by Mme Mrad who increased the amounts in the recipe, added garlic, and roasted the potatoes with rosemary, garlic & onions before adding to the chicken.

Basmati Rice to go with everything and aromatized with bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, and cloves.

Mme Mrad served two of her favorite whites that evening: we started with the 2008 Métis Sauvignon Blanc  from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand – a deep straw color this wine has a strong fruitiness which complimented the food variety; and later the Marchesi di Barolo’s Gavi 2009, from Piedmont, Italy this light green lime colored wine was the purrfectly light smooth finish to the meal. You can find them both at Vintage in Saifi Village.

Piano Mama got Lemon & Toot (blackberry) Sorbet which Mme Mrad served with chopped up green apple & peach. We spruced dessert up with a bottle of Taittinger Brut Réserve, merci M: a light yellow, this refreshing bubbly was fruity with a jasmine/gardenia nose.

Yaani, shoo hal sahra el hélwé! ‘eedooa, eh?


On a hot and sticky…

August 26, 2010

… Sunday like the last one we had, best thing to do is eat light and drink something refreshing.

We cooled off with a bottle of Pascal Jolivet’s Attitude Rosé 2009 – Vintage in Saifi (sorry to tell you I bought the last bottle today, bas they’re supposedly expecting a new batch soon, so stay tuned). The nose was grapefruit and white plum; a cool light peach color, this rosé tasted like a fresh punch of apricots and white plums with a long ripe pear finish.

Z was hungry and needed to be fed, so I went for the easiest and lightest thing that came to mind: the Stir Fried Shrimp with Romaine Lettuce (cook the shrimp in a separate pan with garlic and ginger; then, separately in a wok, heat olive & sesame oil, ginger, garlic and toss in the Romaine lettuce . Add soy sauce, oyster sauce, a little fish sauce and sesame seeds; then throw in the shrimp and stir fry). This time I added chopped coriander, which gave it a kick of aromatic freshness.

‘Mashkoura wayid’ for the ‘balah’ from your garden in Kuwait, Z! Deedeelicious!


Oh-no-lio…

August 25, 2010

Was how we felt at Olio in Gemmayze last week. We were 6 and hungry. You’d think our first waiter, ‘Fido Dido’, may have gotten the notion that we were somewhat sophisticated diners, considering our style of ordering and all the special requests we had… but nooooo, this little twat was clueless. 

So was their manager who, at one point in the evening, was surprised to hear from his staff that they ran out of ice!?!? Uh, pardon me, but aren’t you supposed to be ‘on top of things’? Puhleez Istéz, get your act together and do your job!  Eventually, Fido Dido gets replaced but “Eager-to-Please-Sari”, who tried hard to repair the damage…

We started with the cherry tomato and mushroom Bruschette (pl). The toppings on each were fine, but the bread was chewey. ‘Afwan, a bruschetta is about the bread too, eh?! Otherwise, we’d have ordered sautéed mushrooms or a cherry tomato salad on the side.

Then came the Grilled Marinated Calamari… here’s a hint Olioliolio: if you use baby calamari they’ll be more tender and taste loads better than the big chewey ones you serve… wait a minute, did I already use chewey to describe something? Hmmm… “There’s a pattern here, but wouldn’t call it consistency though,” said Deedee, tongue in cheek.

Marinated Octopus… Asian marination? Focus iza bitreed! Either stick to Italian or… stick to Italian!

The Grilled Vegetables were what Deedee would call 3B – boring, bland, and bad!

‘Pizza-wise’ (usually I like their Bresaola pizza, and I’d actually recommend that – comes with parmesan shavings and rocca) but this time we had the Bianca – goat cheese, walnuts, sundried tomatoes, olives, rosemary – though it sounds like its got potential, this pizza’s been dry every time I’ve had it (sorry G, I know you like it, bas… nashshaf ree’éh!) 

We ordered some specials, one of which was the Burrata – fresh mozzarella with a creamy inside. I have to say that was the best thing I had that night. Too bad it was the only thing the Chef at Olio didn’t make!!

The Linguini Mare was mushy… yaani, they cooked the life out of the tomatoes, pasta and seafood, ya ‘aibishshoom!

The Shrimp Risotto tasted like it was made with Maggi bouillon cubes (wallaw?!?) and the grilled shrimp was decor on the side of the dish.

We drained all that with a bottle of Chateau Kefraya – Blanc de Blanc , which I can only drink if I have at least two ice cubes in my glass… that said, I won’t describe it, so check out the link.

“Eager Sari” offered dessert on the house, which was sweet and that’s why he got a good tip. Chocolate Fondant; Lemon Sorbet in a hollowed lemon… bad kitsch; and Champagne and Strawberries Sorbet… trying too hard are we?

All that said, I have to say that I have had better meals at Olio… not often, not consistently, but their salad’s and pizzas aren’t that bad. The last time I was there service was just as appalling as Fido Dido’s service. I remember complaining to that same manager, but it seems he has recurring “unprofessional manager” syndrome.

For reservations or delivery: Gemmayzeh 01-56 39 39; Hamra 01-74 11 33.


Nothing that a couple of pills of Fuckitol wont cure…

August 13, 2010

…and to chase that nausea down, I like to stop at that row of seafood vendors in the seaside village of ‘Okaibe’ on the old road to the north, have myself a dozen or two raw scallops. They open the shells right there for you, so you can’t beat that freshness. You can squeeze some lemon on top or eat them as is. The little suckers are so succulent that adding anything is really a sacrilege. (The dozen goes for only LBP 6,000!)

Then head to Sporting Beach Club with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Brut and celebrate life with your friends. Another day, another bottle (or more!) of bubbly.

Champagna ya Abdo!


Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we th…

August 9, 2010

… oh WOW!! That was my reaction as R and I arrived at Al Jourd for a few days in the wild.  This “glorified camping” site is surrounded by prisitine nature and located in the middle of nowhere up in Northern Leboland, 2,200m above sea level. The weather is dry, hot in the sun but cool in the shade. The evenings are chilly (which is a welcome change in August) and when you look up you see the whole galaxy… ok, I’m exaggerating, but the stars are amazing!

Now, I personally know the inside story about how this place really came about and I’ve wanted to go there for years. Being there made me wish I’d done it earlier. Now I know where the picture of that slanted tree comes from.

The only sounds you hear are the wind, birds, tree leaves ruffling, and an occassional bee or fly. We were lucky there weren’t many people there during our stay, so it was relatively quiet. The camp site itself is well preserved. The tents are clean and they actually have toilets and showers (for those clean freaks out there)!

You can spend your time walking, reading, writing, thinking, napping, or just doing nothing! For those interested, they can also arrange activities like rafting in the ‘Assi River, parapont, etc… for an extra cost.

We went on a 6 hour (about 12K, I think) hike in Ghabet el Illé. This wasn’t just a walk in the park but boy was it worth a go. A steep hike up, down, and  through the cedar and fir tree filled mountains until we hit the peak where you can see all the way to the sea (almost) and all the way down to Wadi Jhannam. We continued and every time we ran out of breath, we’d get a second wind and keep going with the same rigor! The air is so clean and the energy in nature so strong that we felt physically, mentally and spiritually rejuvinated.

The landscape is almost untouched except by the assholes that cut hundred-year-old cedar trees to sell the wood – where the hell is the Lebo government and why for Bob’s sake isn’t it stopping them?!?!) Come ON people… get with the program! It’s not like this country’s all that bushy and green. So can we puhleez try to preserve what’s left of it?!

Now that that’s off my chest, let me tell you about the ‘deal’: With the tent you get three hefty meals a day: foul, eggs, cheese, labné, za’tar and ‘mrabba’ for breakfast; Salad, bourghol with tomatoes, soup, eggs with zucchini, or some such light vegetarian village food for lunch; then mezza with ‘mashéwé’ (grilled meat and fish) for dinner with arak or wine for an extra charge. After dinner you can hang out by the camp fire to stay warm while you nibble on fruit and finish up your arak. If you stay more than one night, they’ll give you a discount.

The Grand Finale: OK, so you know how a woman can make or break her man’s business (and vice-versa)? Well, in this case, the little wench is eventually going to shred this thing apart (unless it was pre-planned teamwork – which would be pathetic). After we had paid and thanked the owner (and tipped the working staff), the wife of the owner walks up to R and asks her to pay an additional LBP 20,000 for some Arak R had bought 2 weeks ago when she was doing a story on them…?!?! Enough said!

We had such a wonderful long weekend and that was the perfect ending for it. I mean it… 

Soooo, I’ve decided that I can’t wait to create a similar – yet different – place but much better!


Lost and looking for support?

August 8, 2010

Dial 961 or just email lb!

Did I ever tell you how much I luuuv the fact that Leboland actually has its own micro-brewery(!) and how much it pisses me off that people just don’t get how fabulous this beer is?!?!?

961 Beer‘s been around for about 4 years. These guys have been brewing Lager, Red Ale, Witbier, Stout, and IPA (India Pale Ale – ‘India’ because… oh just look it up!) They’ve occasionally offered seasonal specials like a Green Beer on St. Patrick’s day or a Champagne Beer at New Year’s… which (being the bubbly lover I pride myself on being) I just fell head over heals for! Oh, and that (hazelnut) Porter… dark, thick, and juicy with a long finish… no, I’m not talking about a man here, but that beer was just as good.

The Witbier (made in the tradition of Belgian white beer) is a cloudy orangy-brown color. I could’ve sworn I got a musky orange blossom and coriander in the nose, this Wit has a refreshing orange palate and a fun light kick at the end.

The Red Ale has a reddish-brown look and smells sweet like toffee with a light hint of coffee. It also has a bitter hops flavor with a creamy caramel after taste.

And boy do these guys have a surprise for you! Coming soon is their latest ingenious production: lb, and guess what? This one’s a Pilsner!! A golden honey color, the nose on this Pils is a smooth smoked caramel. It has a “hopsy” bitter flavor with a long spicy finish.

Finally we’ve got local variety. Can’t wait till this baby’s out on the market.

Get off your freakin’ Almaza fixations, people, and get wild with this stuff! That’s a Deedee order!