Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Feasting in Lebanon: Fadel at Birkfaya

with Walid M

My good friend Walid, who is as proud as any Lebanese can be...was particularly excited when I said I will visit him in Beirut. We planned several excursions, including a short drive up North to the city of Byblos...which is the oldest continuosly inhabited city...7000 years of civilization, and 17 different cultures are within the city.

But back to Beirut...this was quite a beautiful city...despite being war torn in a Civil War between the Christians and Muslims.

The city is marked with monuments and religious buildings from both...a church:

And a beautiful mosque

both right downtown, within a few hundred meters of each other. Today, Beirut is mainly a thriving, city. As I walked the city, it felt totally safe. Especially the restaurants area in a block known as Martyr's Square:

And the clock...interestingly by Rolex...ok, sponsored by Rolex:

But I digress...Walid drove me some 1800m up the mountains to a city called his favourite restaurant: Fadels.

All the vegetables, fruits and herbs are grown in-situ in the restaurant...offering a super fresh perspective.

The typical Lebanese meal starts with some starters, known as the Mezze:

The famous, and typical Tabouleh - diced parsley salad with burghul, tomato and mint, Fattoush - 'peasant' salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, and mint, and Hummus - dip of blended chickpeas, sesame tahini, lemon juice, and garlic, and typically eaten with pita bread. I particularly liked the hot chick peas dish - wonderful aroma and taste. We also had raw beef, in a dish much like steak tartare, known as Kibbeh nayye. Eaten with Lebanese unleaven bread - pita, it was quite delicious.

Of course we had to have wine...fine Lebanese wine, from Chateau Kefraya.

Le Chateau Kefraya 2002...a particularly good year, I was told...a complex mixture of Cabernet-Sauvignon, Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah, the wine presents itself a deep purple, brilliant...quite beautiful. On the nose it is light and complex, very fine liquorice. On the palate, I found it well balanced, spicy, woody, and with good body.

The lamb falafel (I am not sure what they are called...falafels are typically only made from chickpea patties, but this one has lamb. was particularly superb:

And the main courses...kebabs...

First the lamb:

Superbly tender lamb, skewered, barbecued over a charcoal fire. Very nice. Again, not as marbled or fat as we normally expect to have lamb in the West or in Asia, but nicely lean meat, a bit chewy, but very flavourful and still tender.

Chicken was breast meat:

Again, superbly tender, not a hint of dryness as grilled chicken breasts can sometimes tend to be. Smooth, flavourful meat.

A truly unique experience, and wonderful food...fresh as it can be, and prepared with a care and attention that can only come from a chef who is proud of his work, his country and his cuisine. Magnificent and highly recommended.

Dahr Street, Naas, Bikfaya
T: 04-980979 - 03-259979

1 comment:

Rob said...

Thanks for giving an insight into a usually overlooked but definitely beautiful country and its interesting culture. Love those kebabs!!