Lebanese Food and Culinary Traditions & Thoughts

Lebanese Food and Culinary Traditions & Thoughts
Spring time always inspires me...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

2nd Day at Horeca


Yesterday was indeed special for everyone, especially for me! I was introduced to the fine cuisine of LePhonecian , a restaurant founded by Mr. Habib located in the city of Tyre in the South of Lebanon, with its second branch in Horsh Tabet in the suburbs of  Beirut. I sat with Mr. Habib discussing his passion for food and how the restaurant came to life many years back. According to Habib, his father loved to entertain. As a child, he would see celebrities, including the late President Camille Chamoun, sit and eat at the family house in Tyre. He would stay endless hours with his mother in the kitchen and learn the secrets of fine Lebanese cuisine. Because of the proximity of Habib's natal city to the sea, Habib was exposed to many recipes which included seafood. Based on many years of experience, he founded his restaurant. At Horeca, we got a glimpse of the food including shrimp croquettes, seafood pastry, fish kebbeh balls, cabbage tabbouleh, exotic salad, fish sausages, and finally smoked wheat “frikeh" served with fish. The tabbouleh was really delicious, flavored with grated lemon rinds and a pinch of cumin. The salad included finely chopped cabbage, parsley, tomatoes, burghul, and the whole was mixed with lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt. I have often noticed that indeed the simple things in life are often the best things in life, thus this simple but delicious dressing! I particularly liked this innovative tabbouleh because it was very refreshing and light. Habib also mentioned that his shrimp croquettes recipe was derived from a Belgium recipe he had tasted on one of his trips to Belgium. He stated, “The owner of the Belgian restaurant refused to give me the recipe of his croquettes! “. Habib determined, figured it out by tasting and testing out the recipe in his kitchen. He now serves these seafood croquettes to all his clients. I intend to go back to see Mr. Habib and his crew. They have really inspired me and I intend to learn a lot about Lebanese recipes which include seafood - a rich asset in our culinary heritage.
 The second part of our demonstration included the new restaurant / Lebanese fast food with a twist, Semsom.A  group of chefs arrived, full of energy, with many dishes to showcase to the crowd passing through the halls.Dishes included pink and green colored hummus, feta salad served in the heart of a tomato, fish kebbeh stuffed with dried fruits and nuts, kebbeh from Jezzine stuffed with goat labneh, smoked wheat served with fish, and the whole was served with an array of delicious and colorful desserts. The crowds pushed and shoved to get a share of these sweet delights.. The ambiance was very cordial and friendly, as Chef Richard animated with humor and laughter. Arak Faqra served the crowd glasses of cold arak, a perfect drink to accompany all these fine Lebanese dishes. 
 Today, IBSAR, a project dealing with sustainability, part of  the AUB project, will demonstrate favorite recipes dealing with Mouneh items. I am looking forward to this, obviously!


My new culinary friend, Chef Richard El Khoury at the Atelier Gourmand at Horeca 2010.
Photo: Anthony Rahayel - www.beirutnightlife.com