It is one year exactly since the Syrian revolution began and one year and a half since I last visited. I can no longer remember where Eskenderun is exactly and in fact, it is not exactly a diner. Simply a tiny place like many in Damascus where they serve a few mezze dishes and grilled meats (over charcoal of course) except that their food is better than even in very good upmarket restaurants. It was recommended by the wonderful Lina Sinjab although when I entered and saw what looked like a crummy take-away place with plastic sheets over the tablecloths — I have mine under! — I wondered if we really wanted to eat there. But I trusted Lina’s taste and we stayed. And boy, am I glad we did. If it wasn’t the best meal of my week there, it was definitely one of the best, made even more so by the element of surprise. As you can see from the picture we didn’t leave much on our plates. I just hope that we will soon be able to go back, after the duck and his acolytes have been booted out of the presidential palace and sent on their way to the Hague!
And here is my favourite of all Iranian breads, sangak, a large and very thin loaf that is pointed at one end and square at the other mainly because of the way the baker stretches the very wet dough as he lays it on the floor of the oven which is covered with hot pebbles. You often find sangak bakeries attached to restaurants, either dizi or simply kebabs like in this post about such a place in Dubai — there is an important Iranian community in Dubai and as a result great Iranian food. The bakery in my pictures is in Tehran, at the back of a wonderful dizi restaurant where the owner stopped looking at fashion in the late 60’s, early 70’s. He was dressed in a white and black suit with flared trousers and wore a hat. Quite unexpected in a place where everyone looks rather drab (on the street) because the women have to cover their hair and hips and most men are in grey or dark suits.
Breakfast is my favourite meal and I love eating it out when I am travelling, even when I am in London. When I lived in Paris, near the Trocadéro, I walked every morning to the place to have a grand crème and a croissant or tartine, normally at one of the cafés lining the place unless I wanted a little elegance, in which case I would go to Carette. When I am in Beirut, I go to el-Soussi for fatteh at least once and I alternate between different bakeries for manaqish. And of course, I go to Amal Bohsali for k’nafeh. And when I am in America (which was the case until yesterday) I make sure to try different places for pancakes, and I always go to Brown Sugar Kitchen for waffles. Theirs are the best. Really!
The Bay Area is one of my favourite places to eat out. There are so many good restaurants, it’s rare to have a bad meal. At worst, the meal will not be exciting but it will still be good. At least, this is my experience but I do have the right friends there who know the scene very well! And the other day, my friend Roberta took me to Cosecha, a fun Mexican cafe/restaurant situated in what seems like a covered coutrtyard with fun food shops all around. Like a mini market place. Everything was freshly made there from the corn chips (that were admittedly a little too salty) and guacamole to the delicious looking tarts and biscuits.