Thursday 9 October 2008

Lebanese Eating

Behold, the tallest flagpole in the world!

This is located in Abu Dhabi, where I've just spent the past week visiting my sister and her boyfriend. Apparently it took the largest crane in the Middle East (which is saying something) to erect said pole, and this crane weighed a hefty 1200 tonnes. This flagpole took two years to be designed by engineers from the US, UAE and the UK.

Can you tell I spent rather a lot of time with someone working in construction?

Anyway, the first proper meal I had on our first day was Lebanese. It was a perfect introduction to the food filled week ahead, and was just the right amount of refreshing flavours to stop me from going into meltdown at the shock of the 38°C heat. 38°C! I've never been anywhere this hot - it later rose to 43°C at one point during the week. I kept scoffing at having to take taxis everywhere, but really; it was too hot to walk.

First to arrive was this tabbouleh. It was very different from any other tabbouleh I've had in that it seemed to be 90% parsley whereas others I've had used much more bulgar wheat. This and the rocket salad behind it gave refreshing relief to the deep-fried dishes that shortly followed.

The table was positively heaving before long. Calamari, olives and houmous were great, although I noticed the houmous was much milder in garlic than any I've had before. I also had kibbeh, a minced lamb ball fried, for the first time. Unfortunately I wasn't brave enough to order the 'kibbeh naye', which is raw kibbeh eaten a bit like steak tartar.

Much to my delight, they also brought us a plate of pickles. I'm not quite sure what it is about anything pickled, but I really can't get enough of them. I sometimes buy cheeseburgers from McDonalds just for the gherkins.

We couldn't identify what the pink pickled vegetable was - any ideas?

We also ordered the falafel and a mixed grill. The grill was apparently something of a let-down in size according to my Lebanese-expert companions, but it nevertheless we were no where near close to finishing it all.
We gave it a good go, though.

Al Birkeh
Le Méridien Abu Dhabi
Tourist Club Area
Abu Dhabi 46066
United Arab Emirates
Tel: (971)(2) 644 6666


Anonymous said...

Hello! firstly, you know I want to go to Dubai so I am madly jealous, despite the heat..second, I had the same thing with tabbouleh and the good ones are made with SO much parsley - so didn't realise that for ages. Finally (!) I SO hear you on the pickles, I've said this so many times but apparently when I was a child my lips used to go white from eating pickles...couldn't stop...

Browners said...

Sounds so, so hot!!! And that is a seriously tall flag-pole.

We went to the Peninsula today on your advice! And it was fantastic! It really made Cowie's birthday! We loved it. Such an experience.

Wasn't too keen on the pork knuckle covered in jellyfish which came out first! But everything that followed was brilliant.

Thanks for the brilliant recommendation.

Hollow Legs said...

Helen - I'm glad I'm not alone in the pickle addiction...

Browners - so glad you guys liked it! It's always a bit nerve-wracking when you suggest somewhere, in case people have a different experience. I love jellyfish but I've never had it with the pork knuckle... it's on the list!

Anonymous said...

Schmoof just read your post.
The pink pickles are usually turnip, made pink by the addition of a beetroot. My mum used to make this when I was younger - yum!

Love your blog!

Anonymous said...

This is my jealous face. I've got a two week half term break and will probably end up stuck in England because Andy hasn't racked up enough vacation time for us to go anywhere.

I've only looked in the windows of the Lebanese resturants around here. They're a bit intimidating as they look to be built for the LEbanese community. Perhaps I should get over my fear.