Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Good Things Come In Small Packages: Lebanese Coffee At Skaf's

Thanks again to Mr. Skaf, my friends and I had
yet another wonderful dining experience with smiles, friendly service and kick-ass kebabs, hummus and cabbage salad. And thanks to Mr. Skaf, I also got to try Lebanese coffee for the first time. Mr. Skaf is proud of his coffee and for good reason; he made it for the three of us on the house because we'd never ordered it before and he wanted us to try it. What a guy.

You may already be aware of the fact that
coffee does bad things to me, but I wasn't going to pass up free coffee from Mr. Skaf now, was I? Of course not, silly! As we nibbled away at our shish tawook and shish kebab, we saw him brew our after-lunch treat in a rakweh, sort of a tall, narrow pot used specifically to make Lebanese coffee. And it's not simply a Mr. Coffee drip kind of brewing process, either. No, no--Lebanese coffee takes much more care. According to several recipes I saw on the web, this coffee has to be boiled and carefully watched so that it doesn't boil over, then brought back to a boil about three times. What results is a perfect afternoon pick-me-up: a thick, strong, full-bodied coffee that's only slightly sweetened.

He brought our coffee to us, served in dainty little flowered demitasse cups, on a tray as if we were guests in his home. Each tiny cup packed enough punch to keep you going at the office and then some. But as opposed to the sugary blended mocha drinks and the like from those corporate st*rfucks, this coffee didn't send me onto some insane sugar high roller coaster. Energy highs that rise and then taper off steadily are good. Energy highs that make me act like a raving lunatic and send me crashing down half hour later are bad. This was good.
And to make it even better, Mr. Skaf threw in a couple of Lebanese pastries to go with our demitasses of Lebanese joe. I'm not sure what they're called, but they were filled with delicious figs or ground pistaschios and were reminiscent of baklava without the phyllo. We totally made a mess, powdered sugar and crumbly pastry flying everywhere; white dust got all over my face and black pants, and I wondered if I should just keep it there to trick people at the office into thinking I have a lunchtime cocaine habit. Which woulda been funny, but I just wasn't hyped up enough. The coffee was the good stuff, not the crazy stuff, remember?

Skaf's Lebanese Grill (Go. Now.)
6008 Laurel Canyon Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91606
(818) 985-5701

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