Posted by: vlibrizzi | October 10, 2009

We ate well this week: A popular ex-pat find in Paris, and a homemade Lebanese feast

This week, C. and I have had two amazing dinner experiences that I’d like to share with you; the first was at a restaurant in Paris on Wednesday, and the second was at a friend’s house just last night (from which we’re still stuffed!). 

First, on Wednesday C. took the train into Paris (on a whim!) and met me after my class. We walked around the Latin Quarter for a bit, had a drink and some wonderful green olives at Da Rosa (one of our favorite wine bar/fine goods shops on Rue de Seine). Then, we walked a block down Rue de Seine to a restaurant that we’ve been wanting to try out for awhile: Fish. 

C. had read some really great reviews of Fish on Chowhound, so we were eager to try it out…unfortunately, so was everyone else in Paris on Wednesday night because the restaurant didn’t have any available tables. Reservations only. 😦 

Not allowing that to deter us, we sat down at the bar, ordered some drinks (for C. a glass of white Chateauneuf de Pape and for me, a glass of Sancerre), and then decided to order some dinner. I had a wonderful pasta dish with clams, garlic, and sundried tomatoes, and C. had a perfectly cooked tuna steak served with great vegetables and eggs. 

While we ate our dinner we couldn’t help but notice that a good number of around us people were speaking English. It turns out that Fish is a pretty popular ex-pat hangout.  Who knew?!?!  We discovered that the woman next to us at the bar is a regular, an American meeting some other ex-pat friends.  Most of the waiters spoke English (something that’s not too common in France), and the bartender was so helpful and informative….all in English. It was like we were eating at a nice restaurant at home in Boston. The food was wonderful and we didn’t have to worry about trying to translate our menus or get flustered with our French as we spoke to the waiter. 

We stayed later than we should have at the restaurant and had to run in the rain to catch our train back to Fontainebleau, but it was so worth it!

Our second wonderful meal of the week was last night when one of our Lebanese friends invited us over for dinner. But, to be honest, it was more than a dinner…it was a serious feast!

Everything was slowly cooked (some things even overnight) and carefully made (our friend said she had been cooking for three days!). We were in heaven!

We started with stuffed grape leaves (which take four hours to make, can you believe it?!?!), a minty chopped salad, baked cheese dumplings, za’atar (thin baked bread with spices and sesame seeds on top), a smoky baba ganoush, and of course, hummus (the best hummus I think I’ve ever had, in fact).

Then came dinner. (We were stuffed after just eating the appetizers!)

For dinner we had schwarma (pitas stuffed with beef, tomatoes, and a mildly spicy tahini) which were so flavorful. We also had slowly cooked chicken in a spicy tomato sauce—the chicken literally melted in your mouth when you ate it. 

Best of all, everything was completely  made from scratch. The hummus, the tahini, everything.  Our friend even made the cheese that went into the cheese dumplings (by using a cheesecloth…can you believe it?)

Honestly, it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had….anywhere. And, C. agrees. So now, I’m either going to have to take some cooking lessons from my friend or move to Lebanon. There’s just no other option.

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