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Pampered at Phoenicia for a Night: Relaxation, Spa and Great Food!
Breakfast at Amethyste: Cooking with Chefs Frank & Rabih
Invited by the great team at Hotel Phoenicia to join four journalists visiting from London, we were scheduled for a cooking session with chef Frank Page and the team at Eau de Vie. A great team, Frank, Hicham, Kassem, Michel, and Kamel all renowned chefs working hand in hand behind the food reputation of Beirut’s iconic hotel.
I was happy to hear chef Frank speak highly of his team and passionate about Lebanon, a country he has been residing in for the last ten years. From Eau de Vie to Bristol and now back to the Phoenicia, this understands Lebanese and feels their cuisine.
On today’s menu, Chicken Kebbeh, traditional Lebanese tabbouleh, hummus, sautéed chicken liver and siyadieh. Lebanese with a touch of fusion a signature of chef Frank.
After rolling some Kebbeh, chef introduced us to “Tabbouleh 2020”. Served in a glass bowl, the tabbouleh has the same ingredients of this famous local salad, with the Parsley prepared like a mousse and added live with a siphon. Wow! That is really good stuff here, it’s much more than tabbouleh, a 2020 version, a gourmet tabbouleh with a touch of finesse and know-how. A kick of Lemon comes from the green mousse which is better enjoyed in the same spoon with all the ingredients below it, al dente bulgur wheat, fresh diced tomatoes and even more lemon leaving a pleasant afternote in the mouth.
The hummus! Oh My God... if Michelin starred chef Pierre Gagnaire -which I’ve tasted a hummus in Moscow- sees this, he will surely think of stopping his cooking career. Truffled hummus, a unique, one of a kind hummus, served with mushrooms and fried onion chips, again truffled and loaded with aromas. A kick of salt, rich and intense after flavors... this is much more than food, this is pure art, work of a master creator.
Fine dining Kebbeh does exist, super tender with a light crunch on a bed of Porto and veal reduction sauce. I’ve had Kebbeh, never as good. The foie gras poêlé heart is a journey by itself. The chef even tried a esmalliyeh version of the traditional Kebbeh yet with crunchy pistachio, and I loved it.
A dream come true... great food, in the kitchen... with the chefs cooking love! A priceless moment.
More was yet to come; I asked myself if I was dreaming for a second... a cocktail, an explosion, a mix and match of textures... sweet, sour, kick, love... a foie gras that melts under your palate, a beetroot purée mixed with honey, a sprinkle of pines... I screamed “wow”!
Siyadieh, the black rice siyadieh with a very juicy fish, onion chips and a load of pines. It’s not a risotto, it’s not a black cod, a simple Lebanese dish that’s prepared to perfection; I’m a fan!
Now the question would be; today I’ve experienced fantastic fusion Lebanese plates with a soul without touching the anatomy and history of the plates. Where would these creations be available? Will I see them on a restaurant’s menu soon?
Three hours passed so quickly like if they were minutes. I enjoyed having long talks with chef Michel and chef Frank about the several recipes and plates; they accepted my invitation to spend a day together around rural villages of Lebanon in January.
Mille-feuille, as the chef calls it a Whisky Mille Feuille full of emotions, a Mouthwatering dessert to end up the experience in style! Enjoyed my time while learning, thank you for having me.