Amazingly, this little country is half the size of Wales yet a giant in the culinary world. I have explored the long thin coastline, the high mountains to some of the tiny ‘hidden’ villages and the fertile Bekaa Valley and I’ve only been here a few days! Once you could ski in the morning on Mount Lebanon looking down on the blue sea water below and swim or sail in the afternoon looking up to the snow-capped peaks.
However, weather patterns have changed and now there is rarely enough snow. Today strong winds have literally blown me from the mountain slopes into the bustling streets of Beirut. I am sitting in a smart restaurant on a leafy avenue in the heart of the city about to tuck into a delicious looking selection of mezze dishes, a special roast lamb and French cheeses.
I am told the historic French and Ottoman influences mean this is Arab food at its best! It feels like a different world from yesterday when I ate in a humble outdoor café on the river running through the little town, Zahleh, enjoying a typical kibbeh dish with simple salads and a glass of arak, the local spirit flavoured with aniseed. I am sending you the recipes…!