One of the best things about a new workplace – aside from learning all the new pharmacy things – is making new friends. New friends who love to eat, and who are ready to recommend their own cast of favourite restaurants. The recommendation for Mama Manoush comes from the lovely Nadera, who’s proven that she has pretty great taste in food. Combine that with an Entertainment Book voucher, and I was pretty eager to hit up Mama Manoush.
I’m going to confess to a bad habit of mine: I stop off at Al Alamy about three mornings a week for breakfast instead of making my own like a grown-up. And the worst bit is, I can’t find anything wrong with doing that. After all, a spinach and cheese pie fresh from the oven within 2 minutes covers all 4 bases of the holy quadrilateral – healthy, cheap, tasty, and fast. When I’m peckish for middle-eastern baked goods after work however, I’m out of luck. Or so I thought. Recently I realised that just around the corner from Al Alamy sits Zaatar, which is open for all three meals of the day.
I have done something very uncharacteristic. In a combination of warm weather and serendipity, I went out and had vegan food not just once, but TWICE in a row. Mind you, I wouldn’t call Smith and Daughters ‘real’ vegan food on account of how outside of the box and non-vegan tasting it is, but still. By the end of the two meals however, I was seriously craving some animal-based protein. And no, low fat feta will not do. And what better way is there to satisfy the meat craving with some delicious Lebanese food? Meat grilled on a spit served with bread and fresh dip and salads is just what the pharmacist ordered. But Agraba is so much more than…
We made the drive out to Eltham one sunny afternoon for dinner at Maroush Lebanese Restaurant. Nestled in a suburb that is half-forest, Maroush is a world away from the gritty Sydney Road haunts that I am so fond of. My experience with Lebanese food up until this point has been huge platters of meat off the spit, fresh salads, and mountains of bread with dip. Oh and a little bit of soul food too. But all in all, I’m used to having those meals in places that either look like someone’s kitchen, or a utilitarian take-away shop.
I like Lygon Street... as long as it’s not Lygon Street. Though I’m sure there are also some good restaurants there, I just can’t get the smell of tourist trap out of my nostrils. Go a bit further north however, you’ll find the cosy and eclectic Teta Mona, with the black and white photo of Grandma Mona herself on the window, promising to fill your belly with Lebanese soul food. I’m a big fan of Lebanese food, but I have to admit that I don’t know much about it beyond the more common crowd pleasers, like shawarma and falafel. So even though the menu was short and humble, my mouth watered at the wholesome home-cooked meals on offer. Or maybe…
What’s your favourite comfort food? I personally love digging into a plate of Japanese curry, a deep bowl of golden wedges, and as ashamed I am to admit it, the very, very occasional cup of two minute noodles. But cravings like that don’t happen often; most of the time when I’m stressed out, what I really want is a fresh, hearty and balanced meal. A traditional middle-eastern platter has a soft spot inside my heart for those occasions; all that flatbread, cool dip, crisp salad, and spit-roasted meat is just what the doctor ordered.