“Magazine” met Anthony Rahayel, the most gourmand among Lebanese, and the author of the blog NoGarlicNoOnions. Far from any cliché, he shows us another Lebanon, the one of delights. For him, the country of Cedars, and without any doubt, is the most beautiful country in the world and it is time to rediscover it by its flavors. A guided tour in five stopovers: Byblos, Saïda, Baalbeck and Sour.
- Byblos and its Kaak Mhammas
For Anthony Rahayel, “Byblos is Phoenicians, erstwhile Lebanon and old souk. Byblos is the contrast between old and new. It is the tourism, the world’s flavors; it is the fact of taking a drink in one old souk’s bars. Byblos is the youthfulness, Happiness! It is freshness, it is summer”.
In this first stopover, it is the breakfast that recommends the Lebanese gourmet in Byblos. “You must taste the Kaak Mhammas of Jbeil, this big crunchy ball of bread sprinkled with black sesame seeds. Try it simply with a little bit of Labneh and some olive oil, it is heaven. For fish, I recommend to drive some more kilometers and visit the beautiful city of Batroun where you can stop and taste a fish sandwich”.
- The city of Tripoli and its 1001 delights
When talking about Tripoli, literally the eyes Anthony Rahayel shine. “It is my favorite! He declares. This city is literally filled with charm and flavors of all kinds!” What a pleasure to walk around the old city and taste one of many treats which are as delicious as cheap. “Of course, Tripoli is achta, desserts, the famous halawit el-jeben or the Kaake traboulsieh, but it is also much more than that! Tripoli is the Turkish coffee for 250 Lebanese pounds (LBP) on the port; it is the fish market at 6 AM like good old days; or the surprises in series like the Moughrabieh sandwich! I invite everyone to discover this town, far from any clichés”.
- Baalbeck and the sfiha baalbakié
Undoubtedly, Baalbeck is the most generous city of Lebanon. “You will like its habitants; there, they love each other; it is great. I repeat again and again: don’t be afraid to visit Baalbeck and meet its habitants. Go and taste the most famous Sfiha of the country, and do not miss the baked Kafta on wood made in the baalbakiyeh way. The Sfiha is their national dish, the blood of the city”.
- Sour, the fishermen city
In Sour, you must absolutely not miss the best hummus and foul of the country. It is cooked for fifteen hours. The small shop opens at 2 AM, because it is fishermen’s breakfast. At 10 AM, the success is such that nothing is left to eat! Sour is summer: the outgoings, the life, a cold beer at sunset, the swimsuits… Here, everyone is happy, it is always the festivity.
- Souk el-Akel, the meet of gourmets
Every Thursday night, Downtown Beirut is bubbling with Souk el-Akel, this market of 1001 delights or more commonly known as Street Food Market. The ambition of Anthony Rahayel from this event that made a great hit is to let Lebanese rediscover the forgotten regions of Lebanon by giving them lives through these markets of epic flavors.
- To know well the wine road
Lebanon now has 55 wine producers. Of course there are the most famous, but Anthony invites the curious to look for the small producers. “For a nice jaunt, do not miss Batroun’s domains and of course those of Bekaa too. You must try the white wine of Karam and the red wine of Ixir”, Anthony Rahayel recommends.