Lebanese Food / Wine and Culinary Traditions

Lebanese Food / Wine and Culinary Traditions
Spring time always inspires me...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Beirut: Schuhbecks Reise in die Welt der Gewürze

Chef Alfons Schuhbeck is a famous chef from Germany who came to visit Lebanon. I was introduced to him by a dear cousin from Aleppo who lives in Germany. He was treated to a faboulous array of Lebanese food in the presence of talented food producers, thanks to the hospitality of the Doumar family. Great souvenir.

For further reading (in German), read the blog.

Schuhbecks with Chef Joe Barza :)

Schuhbecks with Jean Doumar, our kind host

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Potato Kebbeh

Eating grapes from Mayrouba
Today I spent the day EATING! I visited Therese Sarkis at her mother's house in Mayrouba. We shot the segment for Helweh wa Moora : the making of apple jam. I will post the segment when it is diffused. I want to share with you a delicious recipe that Shahideh Saadeh Sarkis shared with me. She made this delicious kebbeh for us while we were at her house, among many other saj items. The recipe differs from the traditional potato kebbeh because instead of using burghul, she uses walnuts. Adding tehini also is innovative.The recipe is said to be from a neighbor in Jounieh who is originally from Deir el Ahmar in the Bekaa.

Shahida, an 87 year old woman, preparing lovingly the potato kebbeh
 Potato Kebbeh (Kebbet Patata)

1 kg potato
1 bunch of fresh mint
1 medium onion
1/4 cup of tehini
200 gr chopped walnuts

Boil the potatoes. When cooked, peel off skin while hot. Grind the potatoes in a vegetable mill in a large mixing bowl. Chop the mint leaves with a sharp knife. Do the same with the onion. Chop the walnuts or crush them with a pestle in a mortar. When potatoes cool, mix all the ingredients together. Slowly combine the tehini into the mixture. Thoroughly mix with hands. Add salt to taste.

Serve with a bunch of fresh mint leaves and onion. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

The final product

Therese, her daughter, fixing the trimmings for the kebbeh

Monday, September 19, 2011

Zaatar Prodruction with Abu Kassem in Zawtar

At this point, I think introductions are not necessary. Abu Kassem has always been a great part of my research and has become a good friend too... He originates from the Nabatieh in a small village called Zawtar. With the help of AUB and Land and People, he was able to carry on his dream (to grow zaatar from seeds). His life has changed because of this discovery. He became an authority on an important agricultural practice and has given future generations something to build on. Watch the show, it's very interesting!

Abu Kassem is always happy in midst of his zaatar plantations

Sheep in Motion

Feel the energy

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cooking Seafood in Tyre with Chef Joe Barza and Chef Habib Hadid

I had a great time shooting this segment. Not only because I was surrounded by two great chefs, but the combination of both talents in the kitchen of the restaurant "Le Phenicien" made an exceptional meal.. Both chefs are very attached to the ancient city of Tyr in South Lebanon, where they originate. With seafood, the key to delicious food  is to have simple recipes that bring out the taste of the fish or shellfish. The freekeh that Chef Joe prepared was light and yet wholesome and robust, just perfect! Chef Habib has had decades of experience cooking seafood and it certainly shows. I was impressed. The city of Tyr is currently going through major reparations. I just hope that the ancient ambiance remains and that the architecture is preserved professionally. We shall wait and see...

With Chef Joe, by the ancient fishing shore of Tyr
Very exciting to be amongst two great chefs
Chef Joe cooking his seafood freekeh
Chef Hadid's creation
Chef Joe's creation
A fisherman from Tyr

Tasting the day's creations at Le Phonecien

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Cheese 2011

Bra in all it's splendor!

16-19: Cheese (INTERNATIONAL)Bra, Italy
Cheese is organized by Slow Food International every two years in the town of Bra – the home of Slow Food’s headquarters and an important center for cheese aging and sales in northern Italy. Since its debut in 1997, it has grown to be the leading international festival for artisinal cheesemakers, attracting over 100,000 visitors to the four-day event. Cheese provides an opportunity to turn the public’s attention to important issues such as the legal battles facing raw milk cheese producers and the disappearing tradition of shepherding — not to mention hundreds of the very best cheeses from all over the world.

The wonderful world of dairy will be celebrated in all its shapes and forms at the eighth edition of Cheese this September 16–19. Since Slow Food organized the first edition of this international event in 1997, a large network of artisan cheesemakers, cheesemongers and experts has grown. Every two years they come together in Bra, Italy, taking over the streets to present their unique products, meet enthusiastic visitors and discuss the challenges of the trade and share solutions in workshops and discussions.

The theme of Cheese 2011 is milks, crafts and places. Special attention will be paid to exploring the complexity of knowledge, needs, problems and resources linked to dairy products, turning the spotlight onto these three important pillars for quality.

Milks – The complexity and variety of cheese starts with the complexity and variety of milk. Milk may come from cows, sheep, goats, yaks and other animals, with each species having a rich variety of breeds. Many of these varieties are unsuited to the living conditions imposed by industrial farming and many are at risk of extinction. Their milk produces cheeses with a unique taste and story, the result of pastures and practices that constitute an invaluable environmental and cultural heritage. Most importantly, raw milk is a guarantee of the highest possible sensory quality, displaying a close relationship to the land. Slow Food has led the battle for the recognition of raw-milk cheese quality, bringing it to an international level since the first edition.

Crafts – Herders are the guardians of the rural and mountain environments, and pasturing animals helps protect many environments from abandonment and erosion. Cheesemakers are the repositories of centuries-old empirical wisdom, refined and passed down through the generations. Affineurs, the cheese agers, guarantee an income to producers and carefully tend cheeses as their flavors and aromas improve. The Cheese event gives rightful recognition to these artisans, bringing them to center-stage.

Places – Alpine dairies, mountain pastures and rural landscapes. Sustainable development can only be driven by the creation and implementation of local micro-economies based on quality, environmental protection and the maintenance of young populations in marginal areas. Promoting local products can mean creating work and social opportunities for communities.

Alongside a spotlight on these three themes, attention will also be given to the challenges facing the dairy industry. Workshops and activities will focus on a range of issues such as: an uncertain future for youth who wish to dedicate themselves to artisan diary production; or the potential of product labeling to go beyond a list of ingredients and indicate quality through naming the breed, cheesemaker and place of production.

France is the 2011 star country of Cheese, a nation that has long protected raw-milk cheese production; promoted the work of cheesemakers and affineurs; and treasured regional differences. French producers will be joined by international producers including many Slow Food Presidia. Favorites from past editions such as Bulgarian Tcherni Vit Green Cheese, Swedish Jämtland Cellar Matured Goat Cheese and Pokot Ash Yogurt from Kenya will be joined by three Presidia participating in Cheese for the first time: traditional Salers from France, Mavrovo Reka Mountain Pasture Cheeses from Macedonia and Mascarplin from Switzerland. Along with these will be many of the Italian Slow Food Presidia Cheeses and representatives from Terra Madre food communities. The Presidia will all display their products on a dedicated street.

For further reading, read the full press kit of CHEESE.
© text Slow Food.

Today, I decided that I have to go to this very important event. I am sure it will inspire me so much to write my book on local Lebanese cheese. This will be my 2nd time to attend this fair. The first time was magical! I will have lots to say when I return. Stay tuned...