Julie Taboulie Celebrates the Lebanese Kitchen

In her new book, Julie Taboulie’s Lebanese Kitchen, Julie honors her mother, tells family stories and showcases her love of the cuisine. Her highest hope is that fans will embrace Lebanese food with the same passion she does. The host of Cooking with Julie Taboulie makes that exceptionally easy to do with 295 pages of straightforward recipes, enticing food photography, highlighted staples and a resources section designed to guide readers to speciality ingredients.

Her namesake dish can be made traditionally or loaded up with quinoa. Both versions result in a refreshing salad that is a must have for every occasion.

The Makbouseh is a summer squash stew that celebrates the bounty of the season. It can be eaten hot or cold and pairs well with homemade pasta called Macaroune b Toum (a hand rolled pasta in garlic sauce), found in the side dish section of the book. Yum.

We adore the mezza pages which showcases our favorite middle eastern small plates including a variety of flavored hummus, baba ghanouj and mouhamarah. The stuffed grape leaves, from the main meals section, can be tailored to accommodate vegetarians or omnivores whether served as a starter or main course.

And no Lebanese meal feels complete to us without a hot beverage and sweets.  For those wishing to indulge, it doesn’t get much better than diving into Maamoul, semolina cookies with a variety of fillings, between sips of Arabic coffee or spiced tea.

For those looking to further explore the Lebanese table, Julie Taboulie’s Lebanese Kitchen is a capitavting addition to the Middle Eastern section of your cooking library.

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Mouthwatering Lebanese Food at Carnival


Carnival Restaurant serves up mouthwatering Lebanese Food.  This long established hub has been one of the San Fernando Valleys prime spots for the authentic flavors of Middle Eastern cuisine.


The busy dining room is lined with murals, but customers focus on the overflowing plates in front of them.


Pickled radish, olives, spicy chili peppers and a basket of warm pita bread are laid out immediately upon arrival, beginning the hospitable service.


Patrons munch on pickles and bread while perusing the menu.  The comprehensive bill of fare showcases large plates of juicy kebabs, shawarma, poultry, soups, salads and sandwiches and we’ve yet to find a dud in the group.


Today we were enticed by the starters and chose the small combination appetizer plate. We love the fragrant, parsley-heavy tabbouli, super smokey baba ganoush, crisp spiced falafel and the smooth as silk hummus.


We also couldn’t resist the warm spinach pastry with its serious tang of lemon juice soaked greens.


The appetizers are substantial, large and filing. After licking the plate clean, all that was left to do was order dessert and the bright neon-orange knafeh was more than we could resist.  Our waiter heated the dairy based sweet and we delighted in the underlying gooey cheese, shredded pastry and sweet rose water tinged syrup.


For an enlightened adventure into delightful Middle Eastern delicacies, Carnival Restaurant is definitely high on our favorites list.

Carnival Restaurant, 4356 Woodman Avenue, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Phone – 818-784-3469     web site – carnivalrest.com


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Falafel Paradise


In business since 1982, Falafel Arax Sandwich House knows their way around middle eastern street food.  The short but comprehensive menu lists sandwiches and plates ranging in price from $6.00 to $14.00, all freshly prepared upon ordered.


We took the recommendation of a friend who visits regularly and ordered the shawourma and of course the falafel.  The shawarma here is beef that rotates on a vertical spit, turning brown and slightly charred as it revolves.  The layers of fat stacked above, drip juices onto the seasoned meat creating a flavorfilled depth and intensity that this slow cooking style is famous for.


The well cooked flesh is sheared off the rotisserie with a sharp blade and rolled into flat bread with tahinialso known as sesame paste, lettuce and tomatoes.    The result is a crusty, flavorful, juicy, beefy, hand-held meal.


We came here primarily for the namesake falafel and were thrilled with the Arax version.  The crispy crusted falafel made a serious crunch as we bit into it past the surrounding pita, lettuce, tomato and tahini.  The spices and texture are well balanced and we delighted in the experience of this vegetarian power-packed repast.


Dishes come with a side of pickled radish and yellow chilies which add the quintessential contrast to middle eastern fare.


Just a few tables and a basic kitchen provide all that this charming Lebanese family has needed to crank out some of the cities very best falafel for 33 years.  Stay and eat in or pack it all up to go, but do visit and try this falafel shop extraordinaire.


Falafel-Arax, 5101 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029                            Phone – 323-663-9687




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Little Arabia’s Heartwarming Man’oushe


Little Arabia in Orange County celebrates Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian and Palestinian amongst other Arabic cultures.  The enclave runs primarily on South Brookhurst Street from West Lincoln Avenue thru Katella in Anaheim.


Al Amir is practically a shrine to the famous Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian snack food man’oushe or flat breads.  This seemingly simple combination when done with care and quality ingredients is profound graciousness in personal pizza pie shape.  We consumed our flatbread like a pizza but saw others roll it, fold it, or cover it in pickles, always devouring them with glee.


The stunning oven packs enough heat and space to crank out flatbreads, triangles and sambousik (handheld stuffed pies) to the large community.  And crank them out they do, fresh baked on order.


We went with the traditional zaatar and cheese for $2.75, which is a thin, crisp, bubbly chewy, warm, straight from the oven wonder, topped with zaatar (a mix of herbs, sesame seed, and spices), the well guarded secret of each chef.  The cheese on top adds a creamy note that is the consummate compliment.


We also ordered the small lebneh, strained yogurt, and immediately put heaping spoonfuls on our flatbread.   The sour tang of the thick yogurt combined with the warm freshly baked bread, herbs, spices and cheese became a transcendent marriage.


The lebneh comes with its own puffy bread, but we ate all of our yogurt with the zaatar and cheese flatbread.


We were intrigued with the vegetable plate which is a deconstructed salad of mint, cucumber, tomato, pickles and olives that begs to be consumed along with what we now consider our favorite breakfast, snack or treat anytime we want to feel better about anything.


One of the joys of trying new cuisines and dishes is discovering explosions of ancient flavors on the tongue that light up the brain in the most exhillarating and affordable ways.  Al Amir certainly fulfills on this promise and delivers fresh, mouthwatering man’oushe that we can’t get enough of.

Al Amir Bakery, 905 S Brookhurst St, Unit A, Anaheim, CA 92804
Phone – 714-535-0973       web site – alamirbakery.com




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