On the way back from…

October 16, 2011

…her secret hide-out north of Beirut, the Road Runner swerved and stopped infront of Deedee’s neighborhood grocer. Oh my Bob! Right there on the pavement was a box of burgundy red beetroots with the green leaves still on them. I remember having them sautéed with kale at The Spotted Pig in NYC. So I asked the guy to help me pick out the ones with the freshest and softest greens… naturally he looked at me perplexed and asked, “Lésh madame? Shoo baddik ta’mli fiyon??”

Deedee knew that Madame Mrad would be thrilled to toss the beetroot leaves with garlic in olive oil, then add some chopped chard, romaine lettuce, and even rocca and basil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Let’s call that Deedee’s Green Medley (inspired by the Naked Chef’s Italian Style Greens).

That Medley becomes the side dish for the lamb chops that Madame Mrad’s been marinating in olive oil, garlic, chopped dried chili, rosemary, a dash of balsamic vinegar and… are you ready for this? Black Mulberry syrup! Yep! That’s right, “Sharab el tout” (while in syrup mode) is the new red wine marinade, if you will. Let them marinate for at least a couple of hours, but much better overnight if you have the time.

Next to that are Madame Mrad’s famous potatoes. This time she drops the rosemary and goes for coriander instead. Yaani “batata bi kisbra” bas bil oven. Chop garlic and onions, toss in sliced (a la chips) potatoes, drizzle olive oil, season with salt ‘n pepper, then mix in the chopped coriander and roast in the oven for about half an hour. Always check on these babies and toss them every ten minutes so they dont stick to the pan and so they cook nicely on all sides… crunchy is good here.

All we need now is a bottle of red… “Shoo ra’yik bi Chateau Qanafar?”… “Shoo? Kind’a far? Far from where?” Well, actually Khirbit Qanafar is pretty far, yaani, you have to drive all the way to the West Bekaa, after Kefraya somewhere. George Naim and his son, Eddy, have revolutionized Lebo wine. Yes, Deedee’s actually fallen in love with a Lebanese… for a change 😉

This bottle of Chateau Qanafar 2008, a Cab/Merlot/Syrah blend, which I can only find in Bread Republic Hamra, has the most transformative character I’ve experienced in a Lebo wine. The nose is cinnamon and mulberry at first. The body starts off with a lighter consistency, then morphs into medium, and finally mutates into this smooth, full bodied, well rounded palate that leaves you lingering with a dark berries and chocolate finish.

Keep your eyes out for these guys, they’re on to something.

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So that’s where…

September 5, 2010

…all that noise comes from!! A and Deedee hadn’t hung out in a while and since they have the same birthday, Madame Mrad decided to take them out for a belated celebration. Driving along Riad El Solh, A asked if we’d ever been to Le Capitole Restaurant Lounge… ‘nTs’ (yaani, La’).

Located on the rooftop of the Asseily Building, Downtown Beirut,  Le Capitole is a bar, lounge, and restaurant with hanging out and dining areas indoors and outdoors on the terrace during summer.

We started up with a couple of glasses of bubbly, naturally. Their open champagne is Moët et Chandon (nice). For nibbles we ordered the Beef Carpaccio and Iceburg & Apple Salad with Roquefort dressing. Good but nothing to write home about.

The pleasant surprise came when we ordered a bottle of Chateau Bargylus from Syria!! Shoo haida? Ma bsaddi’! That’s right: SYRIA!  It’s full bodied, with a mineral, blackberry and pine tree nose, this tannic and metallic wine was so thick you could bite on it… just the way Deedee likes her reds. Slightly chilled so as not to be heavy in the summer, Bargylus is a combo of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Syrah and tastes of red plums, blackberries and mineral earth, with a long chocolate and velvety finish. Can’t wait to try it with game! Faja’nakun, moo?

As for the Le Capitole itself… not really Deedee’s kind of crowd. Yaani, not sure me and Madame Mrad will go there again. Besides, it turns out to be that place with the loud music which keeps me up at night! Shoo hal diversified Libnén, we have so many layers.

To each his own… aw bil Libnéné: ma ili jlédé, yistiflo.

If you want to check it out, for reservations (and believe me you need them): 01-999 339 or 70-302 402


I get fed with a little help from my friends…

May 29, 2010

J cooked for me today. Stir fried romaine lettuce – never tried it stir fried – (olive oil, garlic, onion, oyster sauce & fish sauce), you could sprinkle sesame, maybe add shrimp & eat with rice, too. We had it straight up. After that came a tomato salad with a labné, garlic and blue cheese dressing. How refreshing! And that rosemary-olive focaccia from Bread Republic in Hamra was just purrfect with it.

It was a “Massaya day with J” (I love how that rhymes). Started with the Rosé: a pale peach color, it’s fun, light, with a little grapefruit in the palate… you could add sparkling water & make it bubbly!

Then we moved on to red: the Chateau Massaya Silver Selection 2006 – honestly, I was pleasantly surprised considering I normally wouldn’t be caught dead with that stuff in my mouth. Berries and plum, then I could’ve sworn I got peaches and pomegranate!? or maybe it was too much wine! Full and slightly oaky, it’s a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Cabernet, and Mourvèdre.  With that wine came a delicious tomato & cauliflower puréed soup with Thai yellow curry paste, basil and some créme fraiche. Spicy with a kick. Thanks J, it was an ab-fab treat.

Last night at L & A’s pad. Simplicity at its best. Started of with a rocca and fennel salad, chèvre on an apple slice topped with bacon, and a roasted bell pepper ratatouille. Main course was an oven roasted rack of lamb with rosemary. Dessert: red berry, peach, and apricot fruit salad with prosecco! Nice touch, L.

We washed that down with a couple of bottles of Chateau Belle-vue 2003, a Lebanese wine (from a small vineyard with limited production). Tannic and metallic; a smooth blend with black currant and dark berries that’s full and velvety in your mouth. Impressive! Try them www.chateaubelle-vue.com