Last summer, when I was "en plein" with the book, I was asked to have lunch with Julie Andrieu, French
TV spokeswoman for a TV show called " Fourchette et sac à dos".
She was on a Gastronomic tour for the show in Lebanon. My eldest children were preparing for their exams, so I took Sarah, the youngest with me. We arrived to Naas, a beautiful village in Bikfaya to a restaurant called Fadel. Apparently, the restaurant is reputed for its extensive mezza. I arrived early to discuss with the chef and owner before we started our meal and the actual shooting. I wanted to be sure that I had the exact list of menu items that were going to be served for our lunch. The team arrived but was a bit disappointed that our table was not full of people, as a mezza lunch should be. Cherine Yazbeck, the organizer, immediately called up friends (Joumana Rayak and her family with Joumana Jamhouri) she had seen on the road up and they accepted to join us for lunch. Very typical! It's the Lebanese way of life... So our table was now filled with hungry people ready for a Sunday mezza with Julie Andrieu. We sat down with Julie and the plates of mezza started to arrive slowly, but surely... I particularly liked the bite-size tabbouleh served in large basil leaves.The menu consisted of the following: a vegetable and pickle platter, hummus (chickpea dip), foul medammas (fava beans), moutabbal (eggplant dip), a rocca salad, a thyme salad, shankleesh (spicy local cheese), artichoke, tabbouleh, labneh - with and without garlic (strained yogurt), local white cheese, fried potatoes with a spicy sauce, balila (whole chickpea with cumin), raw liver, kebbeh nayeh (raw kebbeh), sujuk (dried spiced meat sausages), makanek (meat sausages cooked in lemon), an omelet with wild asparagus, and finally an assortment of grilled meats. We drank glasses of arak which made the ambiance very convivial. I was really impressed by Julie's professionalism and her natural way of animating the show. The staff who worked with her were very professional too and they joined us after the shoot to eat. It was a nice experience and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to introduce to Julie all these interesting dishes from our country.