Friday 21 March
Where do you take thirty people who've just spent the day discussing Phoenician child sacrifice? To a Lebanese restaurant, of course. Jo Quinn's choice was the local classic, Al-Shami, and she kindly took us along.
Once all the participants had been toasted with Lebanese red and white wines, we started on a plate of uncut salad - really. It's a whole romaine lettuce, whole tomato, whole green pepper, and some olives and radishes, just on a plate. Luckily they had cut up the carrots and pickled red cabbage, as we couldn't have dealt with that.
Then mezes started coming out, more than we could keep track of; the rather heated photo shows the scrum to grab them. There was hummus, of course, both normal and Beirut style, with cumin; felafel; tabbouleh; and fattoush. Then there were the more exotic loubieh bzeit (green beans with tomato and onion), mohammarah bil-jawz (crushed nuts in red pepper sauce); various pastries and dumplings, including fatayer sebanikh (filled with spinach and pine nuts), sanbousek biljibneh (with feta), and sanbousek bil-lahme (lamb); maqaniq and sujuq, two kinds of sausages; grilled chicken wings with garlic sauce; and fried cauliflower.
Dinner ended with coffee, mint tea, and mints, which was just fine considering all we'd eaten; no need for baby - lamb! - in a pot, Carthaginian style.
Thanks for counting us in, Jo, and good wishes to all the Topheteers!