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Let me introduce you to my friend Alan. With one Michelin Star proudly embroidered on his chest, Alan has made it on the list of the France best 600 chefs, proudly Lebanese, and happy to talk about it. Alan, born in Tripoli, has made it to France, climbing the ladder until he has accomplished his dreams. The journey which took 18 years of his life has just started... Alan dreams of his second star, and I’m sure he will be getting it soon.
Spending time with Alan and the team in the kitchen, I was honored to experience the creations few or simply no other chef on earth has ever created. Taking French cuisine to another level with Lebanese influences.
Second time and second enjoyment: last year was great, this time it’s even more than excellent. Elevated to another level of complication and perfection, the cuisine of Alan is like no book has ever described. Traditional Lebanese cuisine using the techniques of a longly-protected French culinary heritage.
Dinner starts with a manoucheh, not your conventional village Manoucheh though, but a small rounded crunchy pastry flavored and topped with a zest of Lebanese Zaatar. Lay it on your tongue and press it up to your palate: an explosion happens in the mouth while you feel the taste of Lebanese Manakish.
Plates started arriving one after the other: “Laban water drop,” Foie Gras rocher with crunchy bits and cocoa, hummus in a biscuit with caviar, and meringue with labneh! Impressive flavors of unique creations no one dared to experiment before.
Imagine a stuffed grapevine leave with lobsters and lobster ice cream accompanied by Lebanese “7osrom” (grapes concentrated lemon juice) -verjuice- wrapped in a crunchy crown of biscuit looking like “Saj.”
I was filming, writing, tasting, and running to the kitchen... I was overwhelmed and happy to be having dinner at Alan.
Falafel, black falafel with a pickled turnip in squid ink, chickpeas, and a mousse of tahini and yogurt. OMG! It’s like reinventing the wheel, reinventing Lebanese cuisine, and taking it to the next level. An experience of flavors and textures presented artistically. It’s enchanting!
Soujok and fish? I’m not sure many have wondered into this combination. A reduction of soujok spices where a filet of red mullet stands in awe, raising the bar a plate after the next... I didn’t know what to expect more!
When Lebanon meets France... the Pigeon: Famous french poultry prepared with Lebanese pomegranate molasses, cooked to perfection, the meat is so tender, and the kafta of pigeon is a premiere for me. On the side served like a diamond, pomegranate tartelette on a slice of red beet.
It’s dessert time: Arak flambé with meringue... When I thought that we were done, another dessert arrived. Baklava 5.0 if I may call it. There were even more creations coming; coffee chocolate, lemon tartelette, mouhallabiah...
A dinner that started at 07:30 pm took three hours to finish. Generous, colorful, artistic... and passionately prepared the Lebanese way. Bravo chef! Bravo, a million times! You are a pride for our country; you are the pride of the Lebanese people abroad.
Dear friend, You now deserve a second star hoping to dine at your three stars restaurant one day before my kids turn 18.