Woohoo and moohoo…

January 30, 2011

… that’s right, time to celebrate cuz you can finally get a New York style burger in Leboland!

Cow and Apple – funky name! A butcher/bakery/restaurant… khalas bikaffé, this joint is hidden in an alley off Hamra Street (right before where Modca used to be). It’s actually got 2 entrances, one on Hamra main St. and another charming one through an alley as you’re going down Abdel Aziz St. opposite HSBC.

An open kitchen (bravo Walid for following the latest trend in the food biz), this place feels rugged… or at least it tries. You’re there for the burger and the apple pie… that’s if there’s still room for it in your stomach. A few booths, a communal table (beautiful plank of wood), and the bar. Not so sure about the wanabe graffiti on the walls though… who’s sense of humor was that?! Aaahh, drop it.

Deedee and Mad went there for lunch. She thought there were way too many items on the menu… considering the name implies that the concept is “straight to the point”. Besides, none of the burgers are described, and you don’t want to sit there guessing, soooo we drilled our waiter with questions and he pleasantly complied.

“Shoo ánad bira?” “Fee 961 on tap.” What?!? Why didn’t anyone tell me you could get the stuff on tap? OK guys, I want one of those in my apartment… NOW!

Kint jiáné w nseet sawwira... sorry, éh?

The service isn’t bad, bas the waiter didn’t ask us what temperature we’d like our burger… Actually, to give them credit, the menu tells you to ask for your preferred temperature, bas Deedee didn’t read it! Overall, good burger. Really. Try it.

To moo the Cow 01-740528.


Deedee went to the zoo…

January 26, 2011

…the other day and was astonished to see the Lemmings getting into a scrimmage then committing suicide for a reason they didn’t understand. The poor suckers are socially retarded… but then again, so are all the other rodents out there. Then she came upon Ammo the Orangutan who was hysterically blabbing away but no one understood what he was saying… probably because he wasn’t making any sense in the first place! The poor soul suffers from mental constipation.

She did a double take because she almost missed the cute Chameleon up in the woods, who keeps changing color… so much, that we can never find him! He’s metamorphosing all the time… and all because he’s upset that Turbanitis and PMS don’t want to play in the same cage.

Deedee looked at the animals in the zoo and said, “Chill out boys, I got a great recipe that will make you all feel giddy.” She had been to Souk el Tayyeb on Saturday and bought a cute little pumpkin, actually a butternut squash. She decided to make pumpkin soup and turned to her friend Jamie Oliver‘s recipes for assistance.

Superb Squash Soup with Parmesan Crouton. This spicy soup is the perfect twist from a regular pumpkin soup and just the right comfort-food after a trip to the zoo. Cha suggested we drizzle some Coconut Milk on top, and OMBob was he spot on with that combo! Top with a piece of parmesan bread melted in the oven; and garnish with the fried sage from the recipe. Deedeelish!

Cha was craving Fettucini Alfredo, so Deedee waved her magic wand and whipped up an Alfredo à la Fads – chopped garlic and red chili tossed in olive oil, throw in pancetta or cubes of smoked schinken. Take out the cubes to be added to the recipe later. Pour over a pack or two of crème fraiche and a spoonful of Labné (haida el secret) to give it thickness. Add your spices (salt, pepper, rosemary, basil), a handful of grated parmesan, then drop the ham cubes in at the end. Careful not to overcook the sauce otherwise it breaks up. Before you drain the fettucini, throw in fresh or frozen peas, to give Alfredo a little color and a burst of freshness. Serve topped with roasted pine nuts (for that smokey flavor) and garnish with parmesan shavings, akeed.

To wash away the stench from the zoo, they drank a bottle of Marqués de Velilla, Crianza 2006. A full bodied, elegant and complex Spanish red made from 100% Tempranillo. The palate has fine tannins and strong notes of dark berries and chocolate, with a long velvety finish. You can find this one and a 2004 vintage of the same wine at Enoteca.

“Yalla, kilkon n’dabbo ‘al beit”, said Deedee to the Lemmings, so they obediently scurried back to hide in their little holes.

You don’t want to find yourself under…

January 22, 2011

…siege and not be prepared for the occasion.

Deedee says, “It ain’t no fun hangin’ around the house if you ain’t got stuff to play with.” Other than her toys, Deedee likes to keep a stock of edibles lying around. So here’s what she thinks you should keep in that pantry:

  • Definitely stock up on wine and any other booze you like to consume… believe me you’ll need it at some point… mind you, I’m not encouraging binge drinking, but its good to have the stuff lying around to make that siege go down easier;
  • While you’re at it, make sure you have chasers, yaani tonic, soda water, juices… whatever you like in your drink;
  • Coffee & tea… for that morning hangover… ya know? mhmm;
  • Foodwise: Rice, lentils, dry hummos (chick peas), and pasta are no brainers;
  • Canned peeled tomatoes, tuna cans, hummos and foul cans… any other canned goods your heart fancies;
  • Garlic, onions, potatoes;
  • Buy your favorite bread – khibiz or a loaf from Bread Republic – make sure they slice it, then store it in the freezer;
  • Vacuum packed halloum and akkawi, they last and are fun to play with when you’re getting creative;
  • Hard cheeses usually last a while too, get some butter and put in the freezer while you’re at it;
  • Walnuts, almonds, raisins… yaani, dried fruit in general is nice at this time of year… pine nuts?
  • Then make sure to buy fresh herbs like rosemary, zaatar, sage, bay leaves, etc… and keep them around till they dry… they’re great to spice food with when you dont have the fresh thang;
  • Oh! Chocolate! How can I forget the oral pleasures!?!?

There you are, your own special list of life saving essentials.  Do feel free to add to the list… Just cuz we’re under siege, doesn’t mean we can’t eat well.

Merci Turbanitis and Go-Tee (aka PMS) for giving us yet another opportunity to get creative. Never a dull moment!

Hamdilla ‘as-salémé…

January 19, 2011

… said Cha to Deedee and Madame Mrad, as he walked in with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Vintage Rosé 2002 to toast 2011 with the ladies. Cha loves his Rosé’s. Yee shoo mahdoum! Léh ‘azzabit halak? This bubbly Rosé, created by Madame Clicquot in 1818, was revolutionary for its time and made from both black and white grapes. A salmon-copper colored wine, this mostly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blend is dry with an elegantly rounded balance on the palate and a nose of complex aromas. Its fine red fruitiness mainly hints at strawberries and raspberries ending with a spicy finish and a fun kick.

Cha was bearing many gifts that night, including a bag of Funghi Porcini Secchi. These dried earthy tasting mushrooms got soaked in a hot water tub before diving into the very spicy tomato sauce they cooked in. As he peeled and sliced the garlic, Cha told Madame Mrad that you should remove the green pits from the garlic cloves so they don’t give off a bitter after taste. Thanks for the tip, Cha. Wa minkom nastafeed! The garlic slices were tossed with the mushrooms and shredded red chilis in olive oil, then topped with fresh chopped and canned peeled tomatoes, seasoned to perfection, and served with Spaghetti and Garlic Bread made with rosemary flavored garlic butter.

In the end, they nibbled on a piece of Testun Al Barolo cheese that Deedee bought for Madame Mrad from TSC Signature. This pricey piece of blended cow and sheep’s milk cheese is semi-firm and covered with pressed Nebbiolo grapes (which are used to make Barolo wine). Aged in oak barrels, this Italian cheese crumbles nicely and enjoys complex flavors from the pastures of the grassy alpines.

Kteer mbasatna shifnék, ya Cha. C’est toujour un plaisir to cook with you.

Deep in the bushes…

January 16, 2011

…of lush Sri Lanka, Deedee treated Madame Mrad to a fadstastic adventure. Bas before getting on the plane, they did their usual trip up to the bar at Beirut International Airport for a Campari Soda to set the tone right for that long ride to the tear drop island (the bar is up the stairs opposite the passport control area.)

They only had 12 days in SL, but they certainly got around… the island, that is. The adventure started off in Mt. Lavinia, a small town below Colombo – an OK spot to rest for a day/night before embarking on your journey. Next day, they took the train south to the old fort town of Galle, beautiful colonial architecture and a very small community, small enough to do in one day. In the morning, they grabbed the bus to the very tiny village of Mirissa where they decided to chill by that gorgeous beach for a few days.

When at the beach, seafood and beer are your default consumables. The local brew is Lion Lager (they also have a stout that didn’t impress Deedee much). Made by Carlsberg, this beer is – if you’re lucky enough for them to serve it cold – refreshing with a bitter finish and basically the only choice you’ve got. The grilled fish at Rajeen’s Antartic View shack is one of the best meals you can have on that golden sandy cove, which btw, boasts quite a few restaurants catering to us aliens. After four days in Mirissa, Deedee looked at Mme Mrad and said: Shoo, hazzaynéha? So they took the 6 hour bus headed to Ella to check out the mountains and tea plantations.

Rice and curry is the main food in SL. The curry can be either vegetarian, seafood, chicken, or mutton and is generously served with rice, papadams and about 5-6 side dishes including a few single veggie curries (e.g. okra, pumkin, eggplant, beans), dahl, a salad, Pol Sambol, and chutney (mango mainly). Sort of like mezza or tapas, if you will. Pol Sambol  is made of shredded fresh coconut mixed with chopped onions (or shallots) and a chili mix. You sprinkle it on top of your food.

Madame Mrad was thrilled to discover new vegetables and fruit. Dambala, also called winged bean, looks like a star fruit but longer and thinner and green. She tried it in a vegetable curry. Another fruit she’s never tried was the Jackfruit, which is also served as a sidedish with the “Rice and Curry” mezza. Its texture and taste is similar to artichoke hearts.

To burn off all that food, Deedee and Mme Mrad did a couple of hikes in Ella, one short walk to Little Adam’s Peak (where you walk through fields of tea plantations) and another much tougher hike to Ella Rock which, when you reach the top, boasts magnificient views as far as the eye can see (depending on the weather and clarity, akeed). They were awestruck by the rawness of this land.

A couple of days later, after a scenic 7 hour train ride to the bustling mountain city of Kandy, Deedee found herself suddenly surrounded by these Deedivine Nénuphar – Water Lily’s. She felt right at home amongst the colorful nymphs. They were all being sold as offerings to the Buddha in the Temple of the Sacred Tooth. Deedee had a lot to offer, so she grabbed a few and went to say hi to Buddha.

They bid farewell to the lovely smily people of SL and enjoyed their last sunset of 2010 in the seaside town of Negombo which is close to the airport. They had their last supper at Lords Restaurant, an Asian fusion restaurant/gallery owned by a lively British fellow, then headed back to Leboland for some concrete.

Go and come, yaani see you later bi ‘es-Siri Lanké.