When I think Zahle, the first thing that comes to mind is “Kaak bi 7alib”… I love those cookies so much that I always ask my friends to get me some whenever they’re going up t the capital of the Bekaa. Today, visiting Zahle for our next Mechwar episode, Salon des Familes was first on the list. Not only that I could get some bags with me to Beirut, but I had the chance to taste them warm, directly out of the oven.
Le Salon des Familles, or "Salone El 3a2ilat" has been producing these small fine pastry bites for more than 80 years now: A bizarre name, an awkward location, but some fine delicacies.
PS: There is no saloon and no place to sit in here but a simple old style pastry shop. Don't expect anything else. I went in and asked for three different items before running back to the car to start devouring them. Not only Kaak bi 7alib but vegetable fat kaak that crumble under the teeth like magic.
- 2ras bi Samen: Every piece is for 1000L.L: The samne, or vegetable fat biscuits, are circular cookies of 10cm in diameter each, covered with powdered sugar. Inside is an airy biscuit that crumbles under your teeth. A light feeling, a tasty finish and a sweet taste from the sugar powder. Bite into a piece, leave it on your tongue and press it up your palate to enjoy its fine consistency. I liked it despite the fact that I felt something missing in them. The start was good, like an aged wine but the finish is dull. Will skip those next time for the milk cookies.
- Asabe3 tamer: Dough without sugar. 1kg: 12,000L.L: These are good, really good. Finger-like biscuits produced from a crunchy biscuit and filled with fine tamer. What's special about them is that the biscuits are sugar-free. Sugar-free biscuits that are full of taste, sharp, airy and fresh. A slight crunch before reaching the date molasses that adds the flavor you need. Be prepared to get addicted.
- Kaak 7alib: 10,000L.L for a bag: These are unbelievably tasty. The last time I was here, I remember eating something delicious where the milk was felt in every bite, an adequate sweetness and sponginess like no other. The texture was hard, a bit chewy. That day, it seemed they were just made out of the oven. I ate bites of heaven. An airy, light dough emptied in the middle, soft and tender like a pillow and bursting with flavors. Every bite is an indescribable cocktail of emotions.
- Grilled Maakroun: Ouf! Heaven in a bite! Maa’kroun are typical of village fairs and religious feasts and surely fried which gives them their moist juicy feel. Salon des Familles managed to do them grilled not fried and tasting marvelously amazing. An envelop that crunches smoothly, a juicy heart, sugar syrup... Simply love in every bite.
Salon des Familles should be officially crowned the king of Kaak bi 7alib. I think just the way people go to Kasr El 7elou for some sweets in Tripoli, this is a place not to be missed on your next visit to the Bekaa Valley. I ate 10 pieces in seconds and had no problem eating more...
A must visit and a must try, the Kaak bi 7alib at Salon des Familles are something else. If you're not going anytime soon, but know anyone coming from the area ask for some... trust me...