As we continue exploring the beautiful country of Lebanon, I headed back from Baalbek to try lots of Lebanese food in the interior of the country back to Beirut, the coastal capital.
My friend and guide Nico and I started off at Laiterie Massabki,a restaurant in Chtoura said to make the best labneh. Nico is from the area, and he loves the labneh here!
They spread goat labneh on a thin flatbread called markouk and add cucumber spears, tomatoes, za’atar, olive oil, mint, and pepper, and roll it up into a sandwich.
Then, the guy made a sweet sandwich with markouk, ashta cream, and lots of honey. Then, he let me try some of their crumbly, mozzarella-like halloumi cheese!
The next sandwich contained halloumi cheese, cucumber, and tomatoes. The one with the goat labneh reminded me of a Greek salad!
We enjoyed them with some local orange juice that was so tangy, it reminded me more of passionfruit. The halloumi wasn’t that salty.
The ashta cream and honey sandwich was flakier and super sweet. It was my favorite Lebanese food at Laiterie Massabki!
Inside their store, you can also buy breads, labneh, cheeses, honey, ghee, and more. The owner has worked there for 50 years!
From there, we drove to Taanayel Park and Farms, where they raise cows to produce milk and cheese. There, we came across a monastery and paid 20,000 LL to enter the farm.
We walked a path between dead trees to a lake and saw some vineyards and the snow-covered mountains in the distance.
Then, we headed into the factory, where we saw where they store their products and their fridge. They ship their products out daily, so the fridge is small.
We saw the man who makes sure the products are high quality and another who measures and portions the products by hand. He puts the right amount in each container by sight!
Then, we saw their facilities where they make over 20 kinds of cheese, and tried some fatty Lebanese aged gouda. It was 3 months old and tasted so fresh! I love good Lebanese food, and this cheese was outstanding!
From the factory, we drove to Caves de Ksara, the best winery in Zahle. You can do a cave tour there for 40,000 LL, as well as three different wine tastings (Heritage, Icon, and Cellar).
The Heritage costs 70,000 LL, the Icon is 150,000 LL, and the Cellar costs 200,000 LL. We went with the Heritage.
While we tasted the wines, we watched an 8-minute documentary about the history of the winery. They’ve been producing wine since 1857, making it the oldest winery in Lebanon.
The white Blanc De L’Observatoire was light and tasty, while the Rose de Ksara was fruity and chilled. The red Le Prieure was spicy, fruity, and had a medium body. It contains cherries and strawberries and would go well with a steak!
Then, we visited the caves below the wineries, which they believe was used as a prison in Roman times. They store bottles and thousands of barrels down there! They produce 3 million bottles annually, which is 1/3 of the country’s production!
After the tour, we visited the gift shop and went to see the vintage collection in the caves. This was a VIP tour! They auction some of these and some are over 80 years old! I bought a bottle for my dad and drove to the Lady of Zahle tower.
We drove to Tabliyit Massaad Restaurant, where they made us a platter with hummus, coleslaw, pickles, and grilled rolled sandwiches with chicken kebabs, garlic sauce, and fries.
Then, they made us a refreshing tabbouleh! I loved the parsley, tomato, onions, lime juice, and walnut sauce!
The Tabliyit Massaad meal is served on a wooden platter. The garlic sauce and sandwich was so fresh, and the fries were nice and crispy! I loved the hummus and the bread with sesame seeds. It was a great end to our Lebanese food tour in and around Zahle!
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