Category: Lebanese

Birthday Kibbe

The other week, it was my birthday.

We met some friends at Mezzaluna where we enjoyed their $7 happy hour plates.

Delightfully non-greasy, fried fish served with flavorful mushy peas, spicy seared tuna, an overflowing cheese platter, and the best burger I have tasted since I don’t know when.  Jake thinks it’s as good as HoDo Lounge’s Bison Burger, but I think it’s better.

We returned to the Twin Cities the following weekend.  Between appointments, I stopped at one of my favorite NE Minneapolis haunts, Emily’s Lebanese Deli, and savored my own plate of raw kibbe nayyeh.

Kibbe is an elusive food for me.

In college, my roommate occasionally treated us to tastes of her family’s triangles of baked kibbe and pungent garlic sauce.  Once, she invited us to taste little packets of both raw kibbe and vegetarian kibbe made with potatoes.  This was my first taste of raw meat and I liked it.

Kibbe brings to mind an afternoon soon after my college graduation where I spent much of a day trying to replicate her family’s baked kibbe in my tiny, studio kitchen on Dupont Ave.  It was a time-consuming version of kibbe of which I stuffed raw layers of meat with a cooked filling before baking.  Unfortunately, it did not turn out well.  A few steps above terrible.

My last taste of raw kibbe was at Beirut in West St. Paul, where I shared a small dish with friends.  I tried to be as polite as possible by taking gentle, unhurried bites, in order to hide my intense craving for it.

But not this time.

For lunch, I chose a half order of kibbe nayyeh along with sides of tabouli, flat bread, and garlic dressing which totaled about $10 including tax and tip.

The half portion was more than substantial.  For once, I took my time and enjoyed my very own plate of kibbe nayyeh.  I read a book and watched people stroll the farmers market across the street while I used flat bread to scoop olive oil-drenched dabs of kibbe and swipe them through garlic dip.  The kibbe had a buttery texture and clean flavor.  It was nicely salted and tasted of onion, parsley and cumin.  And I liked how it contrasted with the tart tabouli.

This was my happy birthday present to myself.  Not only the whole plate of kibbe, but also the realization that I can just go order my own plate of kibbe nayyeh when the craving strikes.

Introducing Farm To Fork: A CSA Series At Simple, Good, And Tasty

This summer, I am excited to share our first CSA box experience through bi-monthly articles published by Simple, Good, and Tasty.  The first article and recipe was published June 18, 2012.

We chose to receive half-share boxes of produce from Bluebird Gardens, a farm located in Fergus Falls, MN.  Our first CSA box contained lots of early spring goodies and we feasted on Lebanese fattoush-inspired salad for days (and more days to come).  
You can find it here.  

On why I go to NE Minneapolis and a story about The Eagles

Long, long ago, Jake finished half of my leftover kibbi burger. He’s been nagging me ever since for another taste.

Last week, on the way to Emily’s Lebanese Deli, I stopped by Surdyk’s. Every time I stop at Surdyk’s, I unintentionally arrive during their giant wine sales. At 2 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, the parking lot was a chaotic mess. Am I a bad person for gravitating towards wine with pretty labels?

Surdyk’s also had a plethora of tables sampling at least five bottles of wine, each. Every time I approach an alcohol sampling table at any place of business, I am either ignored or looked at peculiarly when I ask for a taste.

It could have to do with the fact that I look like I’m 12.

Strange experience 
A few Sundays ago, I also had another strange experience. I joined my friend to visit a church close to our homes. What leveled me was that amongst the eclectic spiritual traditions of sage smudging, Jesus-less communion, Buddhist meditation, and pre-service hymn-sing from a hymnal ranging from The Beatles to protest songs, the congregation reacted with stern disapproval when a man earnestly requested “Taking It to the Limit.”

The Eagles were too much. Just too much. There was just no room for them at this table.

But you came here for the food right?

Emily’s Lebanese Deli
641 NE University Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55413
612-379-4069
emilyslebanesedeli.com

The kibbi sandwich, $6.25, came with a half-pint of lemony tabouli and stack of flat bread quarters. In comparison to other tabouli I’ve eaten, Emily’s is strikingly lemony, if a bit soggy. The baked kibbi is dense and tastes of onion, cumin and cinnamon. The special Lebanese bread called mistah is sweet and soft, yet firm enough to support the kibbi and ripe slices of tomato.

I always buy a container of garlic dressing for kibbi/flat bread-dunking. Emily’s dressing is thinner and less pungent than other versions of garlic sauce from Shish, St. Paul Flatbread, or Beirut. However, the dressing is still creamy, lemony tart, and addictive. On one hand, I miss the pungent garlic bite, but on the other, I don’t mind the fact that I feel I can still eat the dressing right before class.

What I mean is that I could still literally eat the more pungent versions before class, but like most people, I want to be liked. And by liked, I mean not avoided or winced at by others sharing a small, enclosed space for three hours.

I would like to end by saying that there is always room for The Eagles at my table.

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