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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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