A food critic feeds his love for Lebanese cuisine at the source

It’s no secret that food critic @BillAddison loves Lebanese food. So of course a 9-day trip to Lebanon was inevitable. He ate and he ate hard. Read about the trip here:

8/17/2019 11:53:00 PM

It’s no secret that food critic BillAddison loves Lebanese food. So of course a 9-day trip to Lebanon was inevitable. He ate and he ate hard. Read about the trip here:

Restaurant critic Bill Addison details his recent trip to Beirut and asks for Lebanese restaurant recommendations in Los Angeles, in this week's Tasting Notes newsletter.

together in Los Angeles.As Caline and I have become closer over the years, and I grew to love her family, a trip to Beirut became inevitable. We finally planned the trip this summer as a preamble to her brother Nadim’s wedding, which took place in Estonia. (Tallinn, Estonia, is a story for another time, but:

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bread.)The definition of vacation for a control-freak food critic is to let someone else plan your eating. The Jarudis — particularly Natalie, who had handwritten a day-by-day schedule — handled nearly everything during my time in Lebanon. Anissa had given me a long list of places to try. Everyone I met in Beirut, especially other writers, was opinionated to the point of fiery about their favorite restaurants and street stalls. They doled out explicit directions on where I should eat falafel and shawarma and fish and mezze and sweets and breakfast — and how late I should stay out drinking.

Man'oushe spread with kashk (reconstituted dried yogurt), tomato and sesame seeds, part of a lunch feast in the mountains of Lebanon near the Shouf cedar reserve.(Bill Addison / Los Angeles Times)Like any major world city, Beirut is complex and engulfing. Nine days were enough to viscerally grasp how much time I’d really need to spend there to even superficially understand its intricacies. The confluence of cultures, religions and languages is singular; I loved how within two sentences of conversation I’d hear Arabic, French and English words strung together instinctively. One quiet late night, after drinks at

Aniseon the bar-packed Mar Mikhael, Caline, Natalie and I walked nearly the span of the city to return home. We gazed up at the blue-domed Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque downtown and the neoclassical St. Georges Maronite Cathedral next to it, and then stared down into the ruins of the Roman baths three blocks away.

AdvertisementAl Soussiwith the enormous feast we requested, including fatteh (spiced chickpeas with yogurt, crisped pita and pine nuts), foul (cumin-scented dried fava beans simmered nearly into a puree), hummus with lamb, pickles and olives. The manti (tiny dumplings, pleated to precise squares and covered in yogurt sauce) at Armenian standard-bearer

were incredible. We debatedkibbeh nayyeh— raw, gently spiced lamb ground smooth with bulgur and drizzled with good olive oil; my favorite Lebanese dish — over brunch at Liza and lunch at Tawlet (the latter won). We toured, whose eloquent reds and orangey whites I seek out on wine lists everywhere.

For one blowout dinner of mezze and grilled meats in Beirut, the famousdelivered; I really understood there that the dough forfatayerneeds to be rolled way thinner than most varieties I’ve tasted in the States. Every food writer in town nudged us toFadel

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in the mountains above the city; even the skeptics in the group agreed the tomato salad and miniature fried kibbeh were excellent.There was a Thursday I wish I had filmed so I could recall it perfectly, to protect it from any warping twists of memory. At the center of it was a meal in the mountains shared with two women, Nadine Touma and Sivine Ariss, who run a publishing house called

Dar Onboz Read more: L.A. Times Food »

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BillAddison This mess in photo-- How can one call it food? BillAddison Maghmour - one of my favorites. Getting a good crop of eggplant from the garden this year - will be cooking up another pot soon. BillAddison Love it - I ate Lebanese last week in Minneapolis

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