Results tagged chickpea from David Lebovitz

Lebanese Meze

labne with olive oil

The Lebanese are real “snackers”, a point brought home by Mazen Hajjar, the owner of 961, Lebanon’s first (and only) craft brewery that told me if I went into someone’s home in Lebanon and they offered a drink – but no bowl of nuts or seeds, “You should go…just get up and leave immediately.”

961 beer in Lebanon

Fortunately I never had to, because true to his word, each and every place in Lebanon where I was offered a drink, a generous bowl of bzoorat – some tasty combination of peanuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, etc. – were offered. And I always seemed to have my hand in a dish of them.

arak White Lady (gin cointreau lemon juice)

So it’s no surprise I went nuts, so to speak, at Al Rifai, considered one of the best nut roasters in Beirut. When I walked in, I was immediately drawn to the glowing glass and stainless-steel bins, radiating with the heat coming off the piles of freshly roasted nuts.

nuts

I picked up a few bags to bring home and it’s fun to choose your own from the dozens of nuts and seeds they offer. Some are plain, other spiced or glazed. And it’s fun to mix ‘em up. Showing true Lebanese hospitality, as I selected each one, the woman at the counter plunked down a little bowl of them for me to snack on while weighing and filling my bags. Good thing they didn’t weigh me on the way out, because I’m pretty sure I ate as much as I bought.

nuts, pistachios, etc

And now, I’m officially just as hooked as the Lebanese are. So it was a good thing Al Rifai has a large kiosk at the airport where I stocked up on even more bzoorat, along with all the locals, who also wanted to be as certain as I that we would have plenty of nuts and seeds while outside of the country. (Either that, or they were also looking for a way to pass their time when their plane got delayed for nine hours, too – oof.)

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The Hummus Factory

eggplant, tahini, parsley

Almost all of the people I spoke with said they rarely make their own hummus, simply because the store-bought stuff was as good – if not better – than what they could make at home. (I guess it helps to think of it like peanut butter, where the homemade is very good, but store-bought will suffice.) People have very strong opinions about hummus, like they do about other things, in Israel. And if you mention a particular brand, or a place that makes it, you’re likely going to be told – with absolute certainty – that there’s another one, or place, that’s definitely better.

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Socca Recipe

When people come to Paris, they often ask me where they can find good bouillabaisse. And when I tell them, “You can’t”, they’re always very surprised.

“Well, isn’t it French?” they’ll reply.

adding olive oil rose

Yes, it is. But to get many of the regional specialties in France, you need to go to the region. Hence my frequent visits to Nice, to get socca at the fiery source.

And although you can make it at home, making it in a home oven is like baking off a batch of S’Mores in there: it’s close, but not exactly the real thing. You really do need a wood-fire to get that blistered crust. Still, after much experimentation, I got it close in my home oven and I now make it all the time to serve with an apéritif before dinner.

mixing socca batter

Socca is basically street food, intended to be eaten off napkins to blot up all the excess olive oil, with plastic cups of frosty-cool rosé.

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Hummus Recipe

hummus1

I began my cooking career at a vegetarian restaurant in Ithaca, New York. Although you’ve probably heard of the other vegetarian restaurant in town, I worked up the hill at the Cabbagetown Café. While we weren’t as famous, the food was quite good. (I say we were better, but I’m somewhat biased). I guess the public agreed since by the time we opened the door each day for lunch and dinner, there was already a line down the sidewalk of hungry locals and regulars waiting to get in.

We cooked everything from scratch from produce brought to us by farmers in the area, directly, before it was trendy or cool to pat ourselves on that back and write an article about it.

We just did it.

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