113 - Gourmet Lebanese Fare

By Mary Luz Mejia

Published: August 30, 2006 

When former IT professional Isam Kaisi puts his mind to something, he gives it his all. Making the switch from the world of technology to restaurateur/chef is a leap of faith that has paid off handsomely for the owner of the elegant 93 Harbord.

His kibbeh, the national dish of Lebanon, is a delicate mix of a fine bulgur wheat shell that's stuffed with minced lamb, pine nuts, onions and pomegranate seeds. Loosely resembling a torpedo-like meatball, kibbeh can be baked, fried, eaten raw or made vegetarian -- there are about 50 ways to prepare the dish. Isam's is deep-fried, street-eat style and tastes even better than it sounds, especially when you dip it into the yogurt and pomegranate molasses!

Another Lebanese specialty is the kefta, a grilled, spiced kebab that is moist and juicy. Isam starts by mixing ground lamb with parsley, garlic, onion, black pepper, cumin, salt, nutmeg and anise. He forms small kebabs around metal skewers and cooks them to perfection on the grill. Served hot with warmed pita bread, the kebabs can be folded in the bread for a take-away sandwich.

If you plan to savour your meal, however, ordering a side of mezze, or numerous salad accompaniments is the perfect way to linger in the flavours of the Mediterranean.

If it's a nightcap you're after, try some of Lebanon's drink of choice -- Arak. Made from triple distilled white grapes and anise, this sweet, clear drink turns cloudy when water is poured into the beverage. Tasting slightly of licorice, it's the most refreshing way to end off a tour of Lebanon's culinary delights.

93 Harbord Restaurant
93 Harbord St.
Toronto, Ontario