I have been very lax about posting recently. A combination of deadlines and too much travelling but I am back now and I promise you not to forget my belly dancer of the month any longer. So, for this month, I am offering you a double bill: a beautiful dancer, Randa Makhoul, gyrating to the music of Mashrou3 Leila, my favourite Arab group. I didn’t know Makhoul but am glad to have discovered her. She is pretty, has a gorgeous body and dances beautifully. What more to ask of a belly dancer. Perhaps to have the class of a Tahiya Carioca but not many do, so, she will do, for now and at a later stage in other clips. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy her and Mashrou3 Leila as much as I do.
Every now and then, I eat in a restaurant where I have an absolutely perfect meal. Recently, it was at Lyle’s where James Lowe cooks beautiful dishes that are light, elegant and totally exquisite. A year or so ago, I finally ate at Faviken and Nilsson’s food was just as light and elegant and possibly even more pure than Lowe’s. In between, I went to Blue Hill at Stone Barns where I have been wanting to go for years but never got round to it until, that is, my new wonderful agent, Nicole, took me there to celebrate my joining her agency. Our meal there was also memorable, for the setting, the company and of course the food which was delightful, starting with this lovely arrangement of freshly picked radishes, each individually spiked onto a long wooden log. They were served alongside the crunchiest and most delicious ice lettuce (or ficoïde glaciale) which I was tasting for the first time, tiny baby carrots with their tender stalks and leaves on, asparagus, greens spiked into edible earth, a delightful drink and various delicate sauces to dip this incredibly fresh bounty into. Below, you can see some of the selection arranged on my plate — the dark blob is beetroot jerky — and I have to say vegetables never tasted so good, nor looked so pretty!
Last month I forgot to post a belly dancer. Too much travel and work but here is my choice for this month, a very young Tahiya Carioca who as you you may know is my all time favourite. It is a rare clip from a 1936 film called The Police Station (I think it is the right translation for Khafar al-Darak) where she must have just featured as a dancer as the first film mentioned in her Wikipedia entry dates from 1942. And even if she is already moving beautifully, you can see from her expression if nothing else that she is not yet an experienced dancer. Still, she is totally lovely and definitely worth watching whether you are a Tahiya fan or not!
I am just back from Beirut where I saw my beautiful mother and of course every time I visit her, I ask her to cook something delicious for me. This time I was modest in my request and asked for mujaddara, a simple lentils, onions and rice dish that is a staple of Lebanese Christians during Lent and once also a staple on spring cleaning days when the lady of the house put the lentils to cook while she and her maid/s beat the dust out of the carpets before putting them away, washed the floors and generally did a deep clean everywhere preparing the house for the summer months. I still remember the beating of the carpets although I don’t remember the mujaddara — mujaddara is the mushy version, almost like a dip while mudardarah is the dry version, a little like risotto although not at all wet – on those days! Anyhow, my mother now whizzes the lentils, rice and onions with a hand blender but in the old days she cooked them down to a mush over a low heat. And my mother being a totally wonderful woman, she obliged my whim and prepared mujaddara for me and as you see from the picture of the ingredients above it couldn’t be more frugal as a dish.