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Fast becoming one of the world’s premier cuisines, the gastronomy of Lebanon will offer the intrepid traveller something completely new. Just like the spirit of the Lebanese people during recent tumultuous times, the country’s cuisine is strong and distinctive, yet open to fruition. Fresh garlic, herbs and lemon are often used to season both meat and seafood dishes; for many Lebanese chefs, from the buzzing capital of Beirut to the rural village of Ehden, freshness equals flavour.
When in Lebanon, do as the Lebanese do: while enjoying a glass of arak, the aniseed-tasting Lebanese liqueur, share a mezze with your new Lebanese bar friends. Pickled or raw vegetables, hummus, baba ghanoush (aubergine and olive oil) or even grilled marinated seafood can form part of this Lebanese platter. If it’s a hearty meal you’re after, a yakhneh (stew) is a fantastic and flavoursome choice, particularly when soaked up with Lebanese flat bread.
Arak is not the only delicious drink available; Lebanon is also one of the world’s oldest sites for wine production. In the lush vineyards of the Beqaa valley, many Châteaux create world-renowned wines with local grapes: namely, the Musar White, and French grapes such as Cabernet Sauignon and Merlot. For a truly grandiose experience, visit Ksara; not only are its natural caves delightful, this Chateau also produces 70% of the country’s wine. While in the charming Beqaa valley, pay a visit to the remarkable Roman ruins of Baalbek, and leave the wonderful winery region with complete cultural contentment.
After all that arak and wine tasting, you will undoubtedly fancy something a little sweeter. While baklava is the most globally famous, it is a mere drop in the ocean of Lebanese desserts. Whether you want almond, cheese or pistachio dough, or a filling of sweet-cheese, dates or ashta (Lebanese cream), indulge in a mouth-watering treat just right for you.
For an all-compassing, historically rich experience, there is no country that can rival the ancient land of Lebanon. One taste of arak, one sip of Muskar White, one bite from a mezze, one nibble of a Lebanese sweet: that is all it will take to fall head over heels with this wonderful country.