209 x AllergicFoodLover: Hassle-Free Samke Harra

209 x AllergicFoodLover: Hassle-Free Samke Harra

I think the first time I had Lebanese food, actual Lebanese food other than hummus and baba ghanoush was when I was 18 years old, that is the first time I came to Lebanon.

I still remember that day as if it was yesterday, those butterflies fluttering in your stomach as the plane is getting closer to the ocean as you see this mixture of skyscrapers and stone houses. Then you have that wall of people holding balloons and roses at the arrival waiting to welcome their missed family members or the taxis parked in double and triple line. I never had anyone teach me Lebanese cooking, then with the development of my food allergies whatever motivation my aunts may have had, somewhat vanished and my father is not a cook, he is a taster.

The first time I had 'samke harra' was up in the mountains, Baabdat to be precise, with my father and my Swedish family who had come to visit. I had eaten the sauce at a ratio of 10 spoons per tiny piece of fish, naturally, that had meant asking for second servings of sauce. It was packed with flavors, delicious and addictive.  This lunch was also the first time I had arak, and no thankfully, no embarrassing moment followed that tasting.

I suppose, like many recipes, it varies from region to region, although I believe it originates from Tripoli, for sure not the mountains! The more authentic version will use harissa, however, I did not have any on hand. I would call this version a more easy-going, little to no hassle recipe.

Recipe for Hassle-Free Samke Harra

Ingredients:
1 fish of your choice, I used arctic char.
1 onion
200ml of tahini
2 lemons
2 tbsp spicy sauce, you can use harissa,  I used Feryal's spicy tomato
Salt
Pepper
A couple of drops of your white wine, I used Chateau Khoury.
For garnish: olives, crushed nuts, and parsley.

Method
Turn the oven to 175°
Rinse the fish, salt it and bake for 15min to 20min.
While the fish is being baked, take out a bowl, add the tahini, the lemon juice. You will see that the sauce does get thicker but that's normal, keep mixing. Add 25ml of white wine and mix. Then the spicy sauce of your choice. Taste. I like the sauce slightly more liquid, if you prefer thicker then add more tahini.

Once the fish is ready, transfer it to a slightly deep dish and pour over the tahini mixture on top. Garnish with your favorite nut toppings, I used the olive makdous from Feryal as it has both the crunch and additional spice complexity.

Pair it with a glass of cold white wine, for this meal, we chose the bottle of Chateau Khoury Rêve Blanc 2018. The chardonnay and riesling soften the spiciness of the fish.
March 28, 2021 — 209 Lebanese Wine
209 x AllergicFoodLover: The Sweet Tart

209 x AllergicFoodLover: The Sweet Tart

Once a year, we dedicate a special day to our mothers, to celebrate them, their love, patience, and sacrifices they may have made for us. Just like Valentine's day, I think such days should be celebrated every day rather than once a year.

For this year, I would like to dedicate this post to a special woman in my life, I see her as a mother figure, as they do not all come with relatable blood. This woman, both beautiful inside and out, has a romantic heart, a mind as creative as the world of Alice in Wonderland, with a will and determination that would motivate anyone to paddle to Antarctica.

For me, Mother's day is not only to celebrate the biological mothers, but also the aunts, the grandmothers, the women who have shown that maternal aspect, ultimately nourished you whether it was mentally or emotionally to be a better version of yourself.

This woman did this, still does, and probably will continue doing so until the end of time. And I love her for that.
With that love declaration said, she was my inspiration for this recipe.

The Sweet Tart: with olive oil crust and limoncello filling.

(recipe for a small tart)

INGREDIENTS

For the Crust:
160gr rice flour
30gr sugar
30gr nut meal - I used Cashew flour from holiguds
50gr nut butter - I used tahini for this
50ml olive oil - I used le jardin de toto
Pinch of salt - I used the ’not himalayan salt’ from mad.in.lebanon

For the Filling:
3 lemons
125gr sugar
3 eggs
25ml of limoncello - Paolina Limoncello
25gr butter/margarine/coconut oil


Method:

Add the flour, the meal ( that is nut powder) sugar, a pinch of salt, nut butter, and oil, and mix. You can do this in a mixer if you have one. This crust is very much based on feel, it should hold together - if you feel it is too dry add more oil or nut butter.  Wheat flour can be used instead of rice flour. Cut out a circle of parchment paper to cover the base of your pie tin, spread out the crust, and let it rest for at least 30minutes.

In the meantime, melt the butter if using it, whisk the sugar and eggs until light and fluffy, add the juice of the lemons and lemons zest, the eggs, and limoncello. Make sure it's homogenous. Taste to see if you want more sugar or limoncello.

Put the oven at 175°C. Pour the mixture into the pie form and carefully place it in the middle of the oven, for 20min. Depending on your oven it might need an additional 10min. However, it burns very quickly so do not forget it!

Once done, take it out, let it cool down and serve it with a glass of limoncello in the sun!

In terms of food pairing, it's quite evident that limoncello would go well with a lemon tart as they are both lemon-based. Limoncello is an Italian liquor, mainly made in the South. Luckily for us, we have our very own made in Lebanon! 
Try it out HERE!
March 21, 2021 — 209 Lebanese Wine
209 X AllergicFoodLover: The Happy Salad

209 X AllergicFoodLover: The Happy Salad

Food is no longer just a source of fuel, it has become a source of enjoyment, comfort, source of self-expression, and sometimes even fear. We all have such specific and intricate relationships to food that it makes sense when you hear that phrase, you are what you eat because we are. We are that loaded second serving of dessert on a Sunday lunch or the spoon scooping ice cream directly from the pot, yet at the same time, we are the spectators when chefs become painters and create Mona Lisa interpretations of spaghetti. 

Food plating has become of such importance nowadays, especially with social media where neither taste nor smell can be experienced, heightening the visual essence. We draw with food now, which is what I felt like doing this Sunday. It's a salad but I presented as if it was a floral vine climbing its way to the top of the plate, blooming all sorts of delicious things. Naturally, I am not asking you to do the same, but rather I invite you to play around and create your little gastronomic painting. I believe the most beautiful aspect of this plate is that it's all sourced from Lebanon, including the bubbly. I was taught as a child that when you crave salty, food it meant you were in need to connect with your masculine side which was organization, structure, slightly black and white, whilst the sweet cravings were the feminine, sensitive, creative, emotional side. So now, looking at the Frizzante and the salad dish, we have a gastronomic yin and yang.

I could go on about all the different ways we can interpret food but that would take a couple of pages. So let's talk about Frizzante. One cannot call a wine that has bubbles 'champagne' if it is not made in the region of Champagne in France, that's because it's a PDO - Protected Designation of Origin. The EU with Unesco developed three labels to protect food, it's like a form of copyright. Parmigiano also falls into that category because the whole process has to be done in that region for it to be called Parmigiano Reggiano. So now we know that champagne is French, cava, the Spanish version, prosecco is Italian and sparkling, or vin mousseux is just another word for wine with bubbles that do not come from those regions. Champagne and cava are made the same way with a double fermentation. The difference with prosecco other than the grapes is that the second fermentation happens in the bottle, whilst prosecco it's done in tanks. 

Onto the food. 

THE HAPPY SALAD: Rocca salad with quince, brie, walnuts, and herbs

(can be made in a large bowl to serve the crowd)

Ingredients 
  • Handful of rocca 
  • Quince jam or pomegranate or cranberries 
  • Brie ( I got mine from Dry and Raw) You can substitute for another cheese, as long as it has that strong flavor. 
  • 50gr of crushed walnuts 
  • A mix of tried za'atar, chili flakes, salt, and pepper ( I used the spicy mix from Good Thymes). 
  • Olive oil 

Method

If you want to recreate my plate, start with the leaves, then the brie, the walnuts, herbs, and then drizzle with olive oil. If not, throw the leaves in a bowl, the pieces of cheese, crushed walnuts, herbs, and olive oil. 

The sparkling wine from Batroun Mountains sweetens the bold taste of the brie and the bitterness of the rocca. It creates balance in the mouth and brings out the flavors of the herbs with its bubbles. What's brilliant is that we have sparkling wine made in Lebanon, something that not all countries are fortunate to have. 

This country has some incredible products, do not be afraid to try them out, you might like them, you might not, but at least you would have tasted the products made from these lands. 
March 14, 2021 — 209 Lebanese Wine
209 X AllergicFoodLover: Her Boss Burger

209 X AllergicFoodLover: Her Boss Burger

Before we even think of talking about the burgers, let us take the time to celebrate this day. I do not believe that women's day should refrain to just a mere 24 hours, but rather it should always be celebrated. Also, I think that this year, for many of us females, has been more trying than others. For some readers, such talks might feel redundant but sadly when uncertain times arise, women generally are one of the first victims of this. It is true that there has been an increase in domestic violence as a by-product of the Covid-19 lockdown. This is for all countries. What I would like to bring forth with this short mention is that yes, things can be tough, and yes some days, it feels like hope is an imaginary word and the anxiety and frustration are consuming. However, that does not mean that one should take it out on their partner nor their child. Use that fire to create something, to change something, to put your foot down, and make a stand.

 

The first time this day was celebrated was back in 1911. There have been some incredible signs of solidarity looking back at the past, from the women's march to Versailles during the French Revolution in 1789 to the strike done by Russian women, this strike that lasted for four days, lead to the abdication of the Tsar in 1917. When women come and join hands they are a force, but the greatest strength is when everyone, both men and women join together to fight for what they believe in, that's a force to be reckoned with.

 

So on that note, do celebrate the women in your lives, celebrate your mother who brought you to life, your siblings, women you admire, and your partner. If you are a woman, then celebrate yourself. This is why we decided to do a burger. Because women, just like men, love a good burger, and just like men, do not always want wine. Women love beer, women who are coeliac ( aka gluten allergic) love cider which works just as well to refreshen the mouth after all that delicious greasiness.

 

The beauty of a burger is that at the end of the day, you can put whatever you want in it. Go all out, put your personality in it. Mine shows the creativity, the different layers one has to overcome in order to get the whole aspect of the person, the daring and courageous with a hint of the familiar. However, the best part of this delicious indulgence is that it's 100% made in Lebanon. Let's rock and roll!

 

Recipe for 2 badass Leburgers

2 hamburger bread buns ( I made gluten-free ones myself, message me for the recipe).
2 burger patties: I used the gluten-free vegan one from Dry & Raw, otherwise, it's 500gr minced meat per burger.
1 onion
1 jar of fig jam, I used Fertaike
1 jar of spreadable brie from Dry & Raw
Something green, I used spinach leaves
Dijon Mustard

Method

Cut the onions in thin slices, throw them in a pan with a drizzle of oil, splash of water on low heat, salt, and pepper, and stir until they turn golden brown. If you want you can add a small spoon of butter to enhance the flavoring of the caramelized onion. Once done, in a bowl add a spoon of fig jam to the onion and mix. Set aside. Pan fry your patty, according to your preference, that is whether it's meat or the vegan patty. Then assemble accordingly. On the bread, very lightly, spread a layer of mustard, add the mixed fig jam and onion mix, add the patty, then the cheese of your choosing, if using the brie, take a nice scoop and it'll melt on the burger, the salad leaves, and the very lightly mustard covered bread bun.

 

Sumac Fries

4 to 6 large potatoes
sumac
oil

Method

Peel the potatoes and cut them into thick match sticks.

Choice of cooking:
Frying: fill your pot with cooking oil, use a wooden spatula to check the temperature, when you see bubbles forming around it, then you can throw in the fries. Fry for 4 minutes, take out one with the spatula to check how crispy you want them.
Oven-baked: Toss the fries in oil and salt and spread them out on parchment paper, put them in the oven at 250°C for 20 to 30min.
Airfryer: Throw them in, add the spoon of oil, and wait 40min. When the fries are still hot, sprinkle them with sumac and serve warm.

 

Wata Cider works perfectly with anything greasy because the alcoholic apples give that refreshing somewhat mouse rinse to the taste buds when eating anything heavy in carbs and fat, although the bubbles might make you full faster, these bubbles are more delicate than fizzy water and thus give that light sourness against the fattiness of the brie and patty.
Open yourself a bottle of Wata Cider, straight from the fridge, don't pour it in a glass, just drink it from the bottle, do that 'ahhh' sound afterward, sit back, let the food coma settle in and just enjoy your Sunday.
March 07, 2021 — 209 Lebanese Wine
209 X AllergicFoodLover : Eggs Al Banadoura

209 X AllergicFoodLover : Eggs Al Banadoura

This dish, translated literally into eggs with tomatoes, is the epiphany of childhood comfort food in Italy. I still remember to this day my babysitter back when I lived in Italy would always cook this for me. The key was to keep the eggs runny, not raw, but runny. A recipe born in the region of Tuscany and often falls under the names; "Uova al livornese" or "Uova alla garibalidini", eggs of Livorno, the port city nestled in the region and garibaldi eggs was simply because the redness of the tomatoes reminisced the red jackets of Garibaldi's men ( he contributed heavily to the unification of Italy). There is a similar dish, originating from North Africa, called the shakshouka, the main difference is that this one has bell peppers.

Each dish we eat carries pieces from the past, stories, and memories, both personal and international ones. For example, did you know that when tomatoes were first brought to Italy they weren't accepted? During the Renaissance, vegetables, especially those that came from the "New World" were believed to harm the body and thus were called the devil's fruit. It wasn't until the 19th century that the tomato-related recipes emerged that the fruit gained such nationalistic status.

Take mouneh for example, it's not just cute jars filled with yumminess with a little bow tied around them. It signified the method of preservation of food in order to survive the winter. In other countries, one would salt the food to create a preservation coat, and in other countries, like Sweden, well we would make a fridge in the snow and store it there.

Let's go back to the eggs and tomatoes. A dish now cooked as a way to empty your fridge of those little leftovers. It is a dish that has no rule other than tomatoes and eggs. Through in those sad-looking zucchinis or that kale, you convinced yourself to buy, thinking you'd have that healthy salad a week ago. Add your own spice to it, make it yours, call it something and make it your signature dish! if chefs can have dishes named after them, then why can't we?

The bold flavors of the tomato with the creamy eggs were paired with a glass of arak from Abou Akl Arak. A quick history note, this arak was first made in the early 1920s in Mtein. It turned 100 years this year! With its notes of aniseed and licorice, it refreshes the mouth when eating, one of the big reasons why it's served with mezze. It clears your palate and instead of overpowering, it tones down the acidity from the tomatoes and za'atar.

Eggs Al Banadoura

(For 2 people or 4 if everyone has one egg)

Ingredients
3 ripened tomatoes
1 can of chopped tomatoes/tomato purée
2 garlic cloves
1 onion
4 eggs - if possible use organic
A couple of fresh herbs, parsley, thyme, etc.
Za'atar mix - I use the one from Jabaliyeh
Olive oil - I used Darmmess
Not mandatory: labneh balls
Method
If you are using fresh tomatoes, boil them for a couple of minutes in order to remove the skin, once peeled, dice them. Add the squeezed garlic ( can be finely chopped if you do not have the squeezer) add the chopped onion as well and drizzle with olive oil. Once the garlic and onion begin turning golden, add the chopped tomatoes, half a glass of water, some of the fresh herbs, and let it simmer for a good 10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Slowly crack the eggs into the sauce, add the labneh balls as well and let them poach - this takes about 3 to 5minutes. Serve with a sprinkle of delicious za'atar.
February 28, 2021 — 209 Lebanese Wine
209 x AllergicFoodLover : Pasta with Lebanese Pesto

209 x AllergicFoodLover : Pasta with Lebanese Pesto

Last week was a week filled with love during a lockdown, however, love shouldn’t be restrained to a 24-hour curfew, nor should you base love on that day, but rather on the other 364 days. Love comes in all shapes and forms, and it manifests itself in ways that sometimes need no words to express it. Food does that. Why is it that your grandmother’s stew is the best one on this planet? Or that someone dares say something about that 50-year-old recipe on how to cook the Christmas dinner, don’t even think about it. Nope, I said no. 

But then what do you do when you have allergies? What do you do when there is an economic crisis that stops you from being able to eat what you love? Or even worse, to make those dishes that your family loves, to have to say no to something that was a commodity. Every Christmas and every Valentine's Day my father would get a box of Ferrero Rocher. I am sure that he bought them because he loved the taste, but there was that little hint of ownership, this was his box because of course these chocolates are filled with gluten, dairy and everything I can’t have. This yearsupermarkets didn’t even import it because of the dollar rate. Its a silly example, and other situations are on a whole other level of dramatical, from the powder milk to meat, to medication and gas. It sometimes feels like everything has become a luxury. 

Yet there are waysthere are solutionsit might not be exactly what you were used to eating, but maybe this version is better? Maybe, this version has a greater impact on our community? Maybe, because you decided not to buy that jar of barilla pesto and instead go to the old man down the street that has fresh spinach and hindbehyou just made his day a little sweeter. So what ends up happening when you decide to stop buying those products that have become so expensive, for reasons of having to and wanting to, and turning towards local productsyou can create and recreate those dishes you love. The obstacle is how far your creativity will go. This is exactly what this dish stands for, taking the local and creating recreating something we love, yet our version of it. Use the various cuisines to inspire us and create something delicious. 


The storm has arrived as they predicted. They called it Hope. This can stand for many things; it can be hope for us, for better days to comeit can be hope for the various wineries that are suffering from the climate change and the delayed winter, it can be for nature to recuperate a little. When the first drops of hope began to descend, I took out my little table, lit a candleopened a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from Domaine Wardy, and witnessed Hope take over. 

 

Pasta with Lebanese Pesto 

Ingredients

Pasta of your choice, I used gluten-free penne 
( 80gr – 100gr are a good serving size) 
Salt 

Pesto
A good handful of fresh hindbeh, if you are not a fan, can be replaced with spinach or even parsley.
Four garlic cloves
Juice from one lemon 
Salt and pepper 
50 - 100ml olive oil – you really go with the feeling, the more olive oil, the creamier it will be. 
40gr of walnuts
Salt and pepper to taste
Some pasta water roughly 100ml


Cook the pasta al dente, following the instructions on the packagingtake them out when they still have a slight chew. Empty the water, while keeping some for the pestoput them back in their pot. Throw the pesto ingredients in a food processor, taste, add more olive oil or salt depending on your liking. Adding pasta water to the pesto will give it a smoother, silkier aspect, if you prefer the sticker version skip this part. Reheat the pot of pasta, low heat, add the pesto, mix together, and voila. Serve. 


Pairing: Sauvignon Blanc, Domaine Wardy 
This wine goes very well with green vegetables that have that grassier taste. The primary aromas from Sauvignon blanc are citrusy with a burst of fresh herbs, thus complements the pesto. When you pair saladsshellfish, or even sushi, sauvignon blanc will give that note of freshness for your palate. A little side note on this winethis is their first vegan wine. The only difference between normal and vegan wine in the fining process, that is the clarification processthis is the process that gets rid of the cloudiness in wine. Animal agents are used in getting rid of those tiny particles, nowadays, wineries are using more vegetable-based ways for that. If it is a natural wine, they let the particles sink to the bottom. There isn't one that is better than the othergive them a try and if you enjoy one more than the other! 

Click HERE for Wardy's Sauvignon Blanc!

February 21, 2021 — 209 Lebanese Wine
209 x AllergicFoodLover: Our Valentine's Dinner

209 x AllergicFoodLover: Our Valentine's Dinner

Happy Valentines' Day to each and everyone one of you! 
 
Just before I make you salivate over the excellent dinner 209 wines and I organized for this Sunday, let's have a little history class! 
In case you didn't already know, February 14th hasn't always been known for the chocolates and roses. The exact origin of the day is not set in stone. There is the pagan festival Lupercalia, which celebrated fertility in peculiar ways during the Roman time. It is also believed that the celebration was named after the martyr Valentine, who performed weddings for soldiers that were forbidden to wed, still during the Roman times. Then February is the month when you'll start seeing lovebirds that show the first signs of spring. However, one thing for sure is that the oldest Valentine's Day poem was written in 1412 by Geoffrey Chaucer. 
That's why I like the Swedish name for Valentine's day; it's called "allahjartans dag." 'Everyones' heart's day' celebrating the love you have for family and friends, thus, that focus on being in a relationship, or the somewhat silly feeling of embarrassment or regret of being single on this day is nonexistent. 
We can hate it for the overpriced roses or the overly cheesy romantic movies but secretly, between you and I, who would say no to some good food, good music, a couple of candles, and a delicious bottle of wine? Whether you want to that on Sunday, or any other day, or mentally lose yourself in our little virtual dinner we organized. 

Valentines' Day Menu for 2

Coq au vin with heart-shaped potatoes
Garden salad with feta and white wine vinaigrette 
Chocolate Fondant with red wine
There are endless recipes for coq au vin and trust me when you eat it in France, every restaurant and family has their version, and so this is mine, a little less fussy, a little less complicated but still packed with wonderful flavors. 
The Coq au Vin with Heart-Shaped Potatoes 
( you will need a heart-shaped cookie cutter but carving with a knife is doable, however, it will take longer)
Coq au vin
1 whole chicken cut into two or simply your favorite body parts(if you have a coq by all mean, use that instead)
2 onions 
200gr white mushrooms
Fresh thyme ( herbes de Provence works just as well)
300gr carrots
500ml wine ( any red works, I had some Chateau Fakra left)
300ml meat/chicken stock or a cube
Olive oil at your disposal 
optional: 4 garlic cloves, as its valentines day, I excluded them 
Day Prior 
Marinate the chicken in the wine, with salt, pepper, fresh thyme/herbs, the meat stock or dissolved cube, and the sliced onions for at least 12 hours in the refrigerator. I did it the evening before. 
3 hours before eating 
 Take out a pan, pour olive oil, generously, add the chicken pieces, skin down - we are doing this to get that crispy skin. Wait a couple of minutes of sizzling, add half the wine from the marinade, the onions, let it simmer a little, add some water. 
Cooking options
If you have a nice iron pot, a.k.a Creuset, etc. Put the fire on very low heat, add the chicken, vegetables, the sauce from the pan and let it simmer. You can also put it in the oven on low heat if you prefer. Both work. Check on it every hour, make sure there's always liquid. 
For those, like me, who do not have such equipment, you can use a casserole dish instead. Turn the oven on low heat, take out your dish, transfer the chicken, the onions, the chopped carrots ( wait with the mushrooms) add all sauce from the pan. Keep the leftover wine from the marinade for later. Let it cook for 2 hours, checking it every hour, and when needed add some water ( there should always be some liquid). An hour before, add the mushrooms. 20min if you want a very crispy skin - turn the grill on.
The sauce
Again, we all have our ways of doing this, I prefer having a thick sauce with the chicken but if you are happy with the sauce from the chicken, that is more liquid then skip this part. Take out a small cooking pot, add the rest of the wine, most of the sauce from the chicken dish, this should be done after the chicken is ready, leave a tiny bit, and put it back in the turned-off oven to stay warm. Let the sauce come to a boil, in a little bowl/glass put 1 tablespoon of potato starch/cornflour/ normal flour, add 3 tablespoons of water, mix until its a liquidy paste and add into the sauce. This is to thicken the sauce but without getting lumps. My aunt in Sweden taught me that years ago. Stir for a couple of seconds, and once you start feeling the sauce thicken, take it off the heat and stir. 
The Potatoes 
As many as you want, at least 4 
1 slice = 1 heart 
Peel the potato, slice it 1cm thick, use the cookie cutter to cut out the hearts, or your knife skills. Boil the hearts for 15min in salted water until soft, and then transfer them to the pan with some hot olive oil, flip them over so they get that beautiful crusty golden exterior. The leftover potato, because peeled, can be boiled and turned into mashed potatoes for another day! 
The salad
Favorite lettuce ( I used Rocca) 
Feta cheese or any similar cheese - I used the feta from the village
optional: walnuts 
dressing: 50ml white wine, 100ml olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, one teaspoon of mustard, preferably dijon. 
whisk with all the vinaigrette ingredients with a fork until homogenous, and pour it over the salad bed with crumbled feta.
Dessert
50gr dark chocolate 
2 eggs 
1 tablespoon oil ( coconut oil or any nut oil) or butter
10gr maizena/wheat flour
2 tablespoons of red wine - I used some leftover Petit Couvent 2018
Set the oven at 200°C. Melt the chocolate in a microwave-proof bowl, 30 seconds, move it around, put it back, move it again, repeat until chocolate has melted. Add the flour of your choice and mix. Separate the yolks from the whites and whisk the whites until stiff peaks form. Add the yolks to the chocolate mixture and keep mixing until homogenous. Then slowly and gently add the whites to the mixture using a spatula or big spoon, slowly incorporate one another. Pour into muffin molds and let them stay for around 8 to 10 min, the middle section should still look somewhat uncooked to get that runniness. Serve immediately. 
The  Pairing: Cave du Monastère St. Jean's Cuvée Zakher  
I would recommend opening the bottle an hour before drinking, such a wine needs a little more time to breathe. It works perfectly with the dishes because it holds a certain level of body without being too stubborn. It works with the coq au vin as well as the dessert because it isn't too high in tannins, so it won't overwork your saliva glands, which allows the food to somewhat flow more easily into your happy stomach. 
February 14, 2021 — 209 Lebanese Wine
209 x AllergicFoodLover: Carrot Risotto with Labneh - paired with Bybline Echo

209 x AllergicFoodLover: Carrot Risotto with Labneh - paired with Bybline Echo

It is with a mixture of excitement and happiness that I write this first of many blog posts. 
Before we put our kitchen aprons on, let me share a few things about me, myself, and I and this delicious collaboration with 209 wines. Truth be told, I moved to Lebanon roughly 7 months ago and since then been on a journey to discover Lebanon through its flavors and culinary heritage. With only a few Lebanese words under my belt, I embarked on my journey that led me to 209 wines, and since then, we have been continuously exchanging our love for that undeniable culinary creativity that is seen in both the winemaking, now the spirits as well and our reemerging agriculture and "mouneh". 
And with that said, every Sunday, I will be sharing a recipe that highlights Lebanese products but with a slight twist, inspired by my various nationalities; Swedish, French, Italian, and of course Lebanese - paired with Lebanese wine, or sometimes arak, or even whiskey from 209 wines. 
Let's put aside that belief that white wine only goes with fish, red with meat and rosé for sunsets, let us show you just how fun food and wine pairing can be. 
So let's kick this Sunday off with our first meal, my kind of risotto, warm, hearty, and yet not a cement bomb. 

Carrot Risotto with Labneh garnish, paired with Bybline Echo. 

Ingredients - for 2 servings 
150g rice ( risotto rice, arborio rice, Italian rice, even Egyptian works - it has to be starchy, no basmati or jasmine) 
4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil, I use Mesk oil 
4 large carrots/ 6 medium, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 onion 
Salt and pepper 
Thick Labneh - I used the goat labneh from Terroirs du Liban (read notes for this)
Instructions:
For the carrot purée
In a pan or casserole over medium heat, add the chopped onion, garlic, and carrots with a drizzle of olive oil, a dash of salt and pepper. Once they start to caramelize, add 500ml of water. Let it cook until soft. We will be using the water for the rice. 
Once the vegetables are ready, you'll want to purée them until smooth and transfer the water to a bowl for later.
For the risotto
In a pan, on low heat, add the rice with a pinch of salt, stir, add a drizzle of olive oil, start increasing the heat to medium. Now you'll start adding the vegetable water, in small quantities. Add a soup spoon, let it evaporate, always leaving a couple of drops of liquid, add another spoon, let it evaporate. Continue like this for 15min until the rice is soft but still has a chew. 
Set aside the rice, let it rest with still a little liquid left. 
If you want a creamier purée, you can add some of the Labneh in it. Turn the heat back on; low and slowly add the puréee into the rice. Plate it, garnish with an "almond-shaped Labneh" and one last drizzle of olive oil. 
Notes: 
For the Labneh, you want one that is thick enough to make the shapes. The goat will have a stronger taste, more pronounced taste than cow milk but both work. If short of time, Labneh balls work just as well.
Serve yourself a glass of Bybline Echo, and sahtein! 


The Pairing
One could go with a white, of course, however we decided to go with the less expected choice; a red. When it comes to rice and pasta, the pairing aren’t based on the on the starch, but rather on the other ingredients you use. There is a difference between fish, meat and vegetables, those are what influences the wine choice. The Bybline Echo, with its subtle aromas and medium body, hugs the flavors from the risotto by balancing out the subtle garlic and creaminess of the Labneh, highlighting the earthy sweetness of the carrots, ultimately creating an idle marriage for the taste buds. 
February 07, 2021 — 209 Lebanese Wine