Ya heik sufra ya bala…

December 20, 2010

…ma badda haki, atyab shi el-Libnéné… wil Armané kamein.

Deedee’s friend AL is visiting from Béreez (yaani, Paris) and a Leboland virgin. Sooooo, after dropping off the bags at Madame Mrad’s, they headed to Seza, a cute new Armenian restaurant in Mar Mikhael, (baad mafra’ el Tawlet, take the first right and walk up the street – it’s at the end of the block ál yameen). Deedee’s already been there with K & Bobba and enjoyed it. The food is good bas the service is a little off. Yaani, puhleez train your staff. They’re soooo sweet, but that’s not enough in the restaurant business.

Some of Deedee’s favorite dishes are: the red beet salad; the Itch – Armenian tabboulé; the raw meat and lentil kufta (like kibbé); the tomato salad; Su beoreg (a savory cheese mille feuille made with filo pastry); Muhammara (ground walnuts, red pepper and pomegranate molasses); Manti; Meatballs with sour cherries (a must). To drink, I prefer Arak and I pretty much recommend it, because they don’t have much of a wine list, and they neither know their wines nor how to serve them… sorry guys… stick to what you know… or train your staff!

Overall I like the feel of the place and the food isn’t bad. Seza Bistro Arménian is on Patriarch Arida Street, Mar Mikhael. For reservations: 01-570711 (closed Mondays).

The next day we toured Batroun and Byblos. You can never see enough sunsets, and I love how the color of the sun changes with every season. We sat down to watch the pale yellow planet sinking at Bab el Mina in the old port in Jbeil while sipping on a bottle of Chateau Musar Cuvée Réservée Blanc, a white made with 100% Obeidé grapes, an indigenous Lebo grape variety, light golden color, dry, light and not too acidic (which our whites tend to be). The palate is nuts, herbs and green apple, ending with lemon zest. Nothing to right home about but potable when considering the price-quality ratio on their wine list.

We ordered the Fish Kibbé, Tajin, Aubergine Salad (not wow), Calamari Provencial (soft and juicy, nice), and Batata Harra (a little too oily). Overall it’s mostly the ambience about this place that does it for me. Bab el Mina Seafood Restaurant, Byblos. For reservations: 09-540475.

Saturday we had brunch with Cha & Z at Tawlet Souk el Tayeb. Deedee’s third time since she’s been back, so yes it IS one of my favorites. Authentic, consistent quality, an intriguing variety, and service isn’t bad either… considering you’re serving yourself most of the time, as Z noted. For the brunch buffet they offer Fatteh, Foul, Eggs with Awarma (cured beef) or sumak, kibbé nayyé (raw meat with cracked wheat – burghol) yay shoo taybé, a variety of salads, mtabbal batinjén (aubergine mash), Lahmé b’ájeen, Chicken Wings à la Provencial, Grilled Meat, cheese and labné… to name a few! Think that’s enough for you? Then késs (or more) árak… dessert (if you still have room for it) w finjén ahwé at the end. Fun, highly recommended, w sahtein.

Later we headed to Tamatim’s new apartment with a bottle of Ruinard that AL had brought with her. Claiming to be the oldest house of champagne, this bottle of bubbly, straw yellow color, fine bubbles and a palate of pink grapefruit and vanilla. Later, off to Beirut Art Center for a silent auction fundraiser. They were serving Louis Roederer Champagne, which Deedee has been looking to try. Deedeelirious! All I gotta say is: Don’t Drink and Bid!

Next day, after a stroll through the ruins of Baalbeck, Deedee and AL drove to Hamra for a couple of beers and a manti at Regusto, in the Hamra Square Center. Later they dropped by Dany’s for a G&T and staggered back to Madame Mrad’s to crash.

Merci pour ta visite, ya AL, mbasatna. À bientôt!

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Shoo? Sporting? Yalla…

September 12, 2010

… yaani, you know when you go somewhere so often and you keep saying: “I’ll write about it baadein”? Maybe you don’t… bas that’s how many times I’ve said that about Sporting Beach Club. Guess it’s those closest to the heart that have to wait… ma heik?

Though the place itself is somewhat shabby and they just paint over the mess to make it look good, they do try to make some improvements to the facility. The view is ‘fadstastic’ (especially at sunset), the food hits the spot, and the service… well… if you’re as frequent a guest as “we” are, then the service is ‘azeem… “tikram ‘ainik, madame”.

Here’s what Deedee likes to nibble on at The Deck Café: Tabboulé (bala basal), Eggplant Feluka (fried eggplant slices with mint leaves and a special labneh spread), hummos with pine nuts or balila, Hindbé, Batata bi Kizbra (potatoes with coriander), Batrakh (more like cured fish served with a thin slice of garlic on top and to die for!!). If we’re in the mood for seafood, it’s either the oven baked Loukoz (sea bass), Bizri (fried tiny fish or sardines, if you will – only in season), fried Sultan Ibrahim, Mallifa, and/or Farridi (different kinds of smaller sized ‘Lebanese’ fish… yaani, byihko Libnéné).

There’s a lot more on the menu, but Deedee’s recommendation is: Stick to the Lebo food and don’t go “International cuisine”.

They have a full bar and are generous with their portions. Wine wise, it’s the usual Ksara and Kefraya. If I’m having wine, I’ll go for the Kefraya Blanc de Blanc and, as I said before, I’ll only drink that with ice cubes in my glass… its the only way that wine goes down with me. Arak is another option. You can also sip on a Campari Soda or a Gin & Tonic at sunset… they’re refreshing and fun to drink while you’re waiting for the big orange ball to sink into Le Grand Bleu.

Sporting Club in Manara also has two other restaurants: The Feluka Restaurant, which serves the same food as the Deck Café; and the Maharaja Indian Restaurant, which I haven’t been to in a while, but last time the food was not bad.

Entry to the swimming club is LBP 26,000 for adults. For reservations call 01-742481.


Only the good die young…

September 12, 2010

… that’s what I kept thinking as I ate those little tiny birds (‘asfour teen) at Saba’ A’youn Restaurant in West Bekaa. These little tweeties apparently feed on fig trees so they’re sooo soft you can throw the whole thing in your mouth… or at least that’s what Deedee does! I prefer them mishwé and eat them as is because they have so much flavor, but some prefer to dip them in sumac to give them a little spice, others cook them in pomegranate molasses.

G, D and me were craving proteins that day, so it was meat straight up. Kibbé and Habra Nayyé, then skewers of grilled lamb pieces (kebab), and the ‘asafeer with Tabboulé (bala basal), hummos, and batata. Simple, straight to the point, and deedeelicious! This place knows how to pick its meat. Always fresh and clean.

We had their House Arak to go with that. Very smooth and light, this creamy white arak is almost sweet and has a very light anis nose and palate… nothing too overwhelming as some araks do.

For reservations at Saba’ A’youn Restaurant (which literally means: Seven Water Springs) in West Bekaa near Sad el Karoun: 08-645453 or 03-189015

Deedee dedicates this to her friend Hrach. You will be missed, habibi.  At the risk of sounding ‘crass’: Only the good die young…