An Afternoon in the Middle East

As promised, I am yammering about Toronto restaurants all this week. It wasn’t planned but it seems there have been plenty of occasions to eat out lately! I usually make things at home, but I also know I need to take advantage of the amazing chefs and menus at my fingertips in this grand city.

Which brings us to Saturday. Yes, I’m working backwards. Who said blogging had to take on a linear timeline? On Saturday, I had a lunch date with Lauren

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I first met Lauren while working an event for Simply Bar. Beyond being a fellow Simply Bar lover, we discovered we both have a love for all things food related. As well as exercising up an appetite to eat all things food related. 

We both decided our long overdue lunch date should take place uptown in the Yonge/Eglinton area (otherwise known as Young & Eligible). A frequently overlooked area for great restaurants. It’s also where I ate the best Indian food I’ve ever had (which ironically was not in Little India).

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Saturday’s choice ended up being Tabülè, a Middle Eastern restaurant I’ve been hearing people rave about for a while now. It should also be known that Middle Eastern food is my favourite kind of food.

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To start, the waiter brought out a little dish of pickled things to munch on. So much more fun than the traditional bread basket. I love anything pickled.

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Lauren ordered a green tea, extra points for the cute pot ;)

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Being the Tabülè pro, Lauren ordered her tried and true favourite: a salmon skewer with grilled vegetables. I tried a nibble and loved the char and seasoning of the veggies. Salmon was cooked to perfection! Which is saying a lot, as a lot of restaurants have the habit of serving overcooked chewy salmon.

I couldn’t decide on one dish alone because I wanted every single thing on the menu. I knew I wanted to keep it light because I had high hopes of a workout after. I didn’t want to still be digesting while doing barbell squats.

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First up: Kübbè. A whole wheat cracked wheat shell stuffed with ground meat and onions and pine nuts, fried and served with a garlic yogurt sauce.

I remember my parents buying something similar from the Lebanese lady at the Moncton Farmer’s Market when I was a kid. I think that Lebanese lady is actually the whole reason why I’m obsessed with Middle Eastern food.

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My tastebuds tell me the kübbè was made with lamb. Very brightly spiced and great with the yogurt sauce. How can you go wrong with meat in a deep-fried shell?

My second choice came highly recommended by Lauren: Fried Eggplant. Slices of eggplant fried and topped with a lemon garlic dressing.

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Now this is unlike anything I’ve had before and I loved it. The eggplant was soft to cut through with a rich lemony flavour.

And of course, who can forget my favourite part of Middle Eastern food – the pita bread.

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Perhaps it’s because I had such high hopes for warm fluffy pita, but it was just okay. There’s this place in Fredericton, New Brunswick called Dmitri’s that has amazing thick and fluffy Greek pita. Just an FYI.

I ended up carting home leftovers and completely forgot about them until today. What on earth was I going to do with one kübbè and four slices of eggplant?

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One of the best things to do with old leftovers is to turn them into a stir-fry. Turns soggy leftovers into a dish that’s as good as new!

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I chopped up the eggplant & kübbè and scrambled it with with eggs and frozen veggies. Stirred in a little cream cheese, garlic and lemon juice for extra flavour. Eaten out of a tupperware container, significantly less classy than the restaurant experience. And definitely not as entertaining without conversation with Lauren. But a delicious way to reuse the flavours and foods from Tabülè nonetheless ;)

 

Question of the Day: What’s your favourite kind of ethnic food? I also love Moroccan!

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Posted on January 10, 2011, in Restaurants, Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Love the pickle starter! One of my all time favorite places to eat is a little deli in Chicago that brings out a bucket of pickles as an appetizer:)

  2. Mmm, that looks like such a tasty meal. And I love your leftover stir-fry idea — helps spread out all the sodium too, since restaurant food is way saltier than what I’d make myself. I will have to try that trick next time I go out!

    As for my favorite ethnic cuisine, it is really hard to choose. I am a sucker for a big Vietnamese rice noodle bowl topped with lemongrass pork, Japanese sushi and ramen, North Indian snacks (called chaat in Hindi), Sri Lankan tempeh goreng, fried with a sweet and savory glaze . . . I really can’t pick a favorite!

  3. “Middle Eastern food is my favourite kind of food. “–

    Please come visit me b/c on my block their is mediterrean, ethiopian, indian, thai, chinese, japanese, sushi…there is an ethnic overload within steps of my front door!

    I want that eggplant..it looks great and eggplant can be very hard to get RIGHT!

  4. My favourite go-to ethnic food is Mexican. I only just realized this a couple of years ago…but I always lean towards it if given the choice.

    During my time in Halifax one of my favourite restaurants was Mezza…Mediterranean cuisine…mostly Lebanese. Bistro style and always deeeeelish. We went there for a few girls nights out because my ex was a pickypants and wouldn’t go there. He didn’t know what he was missing!

  5. Hi Susan,
    My fav. food of all time is…..ROTI! No wait, Middle Eastern. Or maybe Ethiopian. Shucks, I can’t decide.
    I like your blog. I was wondering if you would (at some point) recommend some stretches, specifically for runners with tight hamstrings?
    Keep up the awesome blogging!
    Jill T

  6. Oh man I don’t know if I could pick a fave ethnic food. Italian? No, Greek. No, Indian. No, Thai. Hell…just let me eat my way around the world, please.

  7. I’m with the people who can’t decide, so many great ethnic foods to choose from. Plus, having lived in a few places, you get that emotional connection to certain items as well… but Middle Eastern/North African is definitely in the top five. Your meals looked delicious. I might have to hit up the Lebanese Deli tomorrow :)

  8. I had a blog date with sophia yesterday! We didn’t do ethnic food but we sure got lost in “ethnic” areas!

    I love Cuban and Brazilian food! My mom was israeli so I’m biased to love middle eastern food. If only I had a brazilian father, I’d have a nice ass to go with it!

  9. luv the wholewheat kubbe

  10. Ohmigsoh kibbeh!!! I LOVE kibbeh, I grew up with it (I’m Syrian) and no mid eastern places seem to have it anymore! I so need to go here!! And yes, it is usually made with lamb and bulgur, sometimes beef. And it can be baked in a pan, doesn’t always have to be fried! :)

    I think it goes without saying I love middle eastern food… but I am also a huge asian food fan- especially japanese and thai!!

    xo

  11. I am a big fan of shawarma (but I am super picky – I pretty much stick to Shawarma Palace only in Ottawa). Also, I quite enjoy Mexican (does that count as ethnic?)

  12. Middle Eastern food is by far my favorite too! The Lebanese Taverna is my favorite restaurant (several locations in the D.C. area). It’s to die for! Many times I have been tempted to drive the 6 hours just to eat there. Fatteh Blahmeh and Riz Bel Djaje are my favorite entrees. I’ve tried to recreate them at home and it’s good but it doesn’t do justice to the restaurant.

  13. I lived in Brazil a year and a half ago (my parents live there) and Middle Eastern food is very popular. There’s even a Middle Eastern fast food place called Habib’s! Pretty tasty too :)

  14. INDIAN. me love love love love love me some INDIAN!

    i also love the way you used those leftovers. my favorite part of eating out is when i have leftovers and get to take things like that and putting them together in completely new ways!

  15. Yum, your lunch totally inspires me to visit my local Middle Eastern restaurant- I’ve been craving falafel like crazy! I think my favorite ethnic food is probably anything Latin American. There’s a restaurant in Chicago called Nacional 27 (a shout out to the 27 nations in Latin America) that I LOVE and try to visit every year on my birthday.

  16. I’d have to say Mediterranean (just had the hardest time spelling that!) followed closely by Mexican. I could live off of my favorite meditterranean restaurant’s hummus and pita bread, oh and their roasted cauliflower….holy yum…

  17. Tee hee young and eligible!

    The best Indian I’ve ever had was in Iceland. Go figure!!

    I’d have to say that Indian and Ethiopian are my faves- it’s a tie!

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