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hommus khawali-finished & plated copy

Today world leaders have finally called on the lion to step down. Let’s hope he does, and without delay although I am not holding my breath. Anyhow, it is a significant development and to celebrate I decided to give you a recipe from my favourite restaurant in Damascus, Khawali, for one of the best hommus ever. The Syrians don’t put garlic in hommus and if they do, they also add chopped parsley and call it hommus Beiruti. At Khawali they have the regular version and their own hommus Khawali to which they add pepper paste and pomegranate syrup.

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noma 13 copyÆbleskiver and muuiko: a brioche-like doughnut with a fried fresh water baby fish spiked into it — that and Boulette’s Larder doughnuts are the best I have ever had

I don’t normally subscribe to ‘best of’ lists. I find them rather limiting. Mind you, my blog has just been chosen by the Independent as one of the 50 best food sites and I am thrilled to be included! Anyhow, in Noma‘s case, it may just be the best in the world and if not, certainly up there with the very best. Rene Redzepi‘s food is simply spectacular: sophisticated, inventive, delicious and healthy! And you are given enough of each course to savour it fully without feeling full at the end of a meal which in our case included some 25 dishes — we had asked for the full treatment! The setting is also perfect. Simple, elegant and comfortable with lovely natural light and views over the water. As for the service, it is flawless: attentive without being intrusive and supremely knowledgeable.

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china-mongolian hotpot copy

I can’t say that I am finding London life that exciting except possibly for today when the weather was lovely and lunch at Keu, the new banh mi place next to me, sitting at the window counter was even lovelier. Other days, when the weather is dull and I am trying to work, I cheer myself up by looking at my pictures of China, wondering when I will go back to eat jian bing again and my latest discovery, a Mongolian hotpot.

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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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