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30
Mar

jammal -- the view copy

I had wanted to go to Jammal, a fish restaurant near Batroun north of Beirut, for a very long time but had never gotten round to it. So, when my friend Jacquot (who is a fine bouche and always takes me to great places) suggested we have lunch at Chez Maggie, not far from Jammal, I asked if we could go to Jammal instead. I had been to Maggie’s. It’s fun but I knew from Mr Dabboussi, the handsome owner of the great Silver Shore in Tripoli, that Jammal was the place there. And so it was: a fabulous location, pieds dans l’eau as the French would say with the freshest fish (all caught locally) prepared to perfection, not to mention the super charming owner. You can see him in the clip below explaining about local fish, sadly for some in Arabic, and I cut just as he was about to tell me the name of the fish that many serve as red mullet but isn’t. Oh and the lady is not Jacquot who was sitting next to me.

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27
Mar

Most people don’t like dining in an empty restaurant. I love it. I love the desolate atmosphere of an empty dining room and I love the undivided attention I get from both waiters and chefs, at least in places like Qal’at al-Rumiyeh, my favourite restaurant in the Lebanese mountains, near where my mother lives. Fortunately, the restaurant is not always empty. Only when I tend to go for midweek lunch when there isn’t a single soul there apart from the family that owns the restaurant, seated at their regular table by the door and my mother and I (I always insist we go there as soon as I arrive in Lebanon), not counting the waiters milling about with nothing to do. I don’t particularly like the place which is huge and pretty charmless, but I love the dramatic views over a deep valley and the Mediterranean in the distance and of course the excellent food.

qley'at 1 copy

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5
Mar

penis emporium-our pretty waitress copy

So, here are my tasting notes from my penis eating adventure. As I have already said, it was not a gastronomic experience but a fun and a very interesting one all the same. We ate in a private room and had our own dedicated waitress who, as you can see from the slightly hazy picture above, was very pretty. I wondered how she coped with male customers during and at the end of meals as they got more drunk and convinced of their increased strength — to become strong is the main reason for eating penis; strong is also the name or logo of the restaurant — but it wasn’t a question I felt I could ask despite being with two lovely Chinese friends who helped me find the restaurant and once there, decide what to order, translate, etc.

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23
May

ful medammes copy

Another great trip to Syria with a wonderful group. We had great fun despite being driven by possibly the most stubborn and moronic driver ever. He and his uncomfortable bus (supposedly VIP) were the low point of an otherwise lovely trip.

As usual, the food was delicious with one of the great hits being breakfast at my favourite fawwal (ful medammes specialist) where lovely Hajj Abdo makes the best ever ful medammes. Like Hanna, Hajj Abdo is a wonderful old man who’s been making ful medammes for over fifty years; and he is still personally in charge of the making and serving of his speciality. Here he is in action. What you see him doing in this clip is what he does, almost non-stop, from 7 am to 3 pm every day.

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