Three Delicious Food & Drink Products You'd Never Guess Are Lebanese

This year’s Horeca featured over 350 exhibitors from across the region, and while I was not able to grace each stand, I made a valiant effort to visit as many as I could. Three left a lasting impression on me, notably for being local, for being the first in their class to usher in a new product to Lebanon, and for maintaining the utmost standards in quality and taste. Trust me, if you sampled these goodies with a blindfold over your eyes, you’d surely guess they were foreign-born.

Fattoria del Sole

Fattoria del Sole translates in Italian to “factory of the sun.” This dairy company is the first and perhaps the only local producer of fresh mozzarella, ricotta, and other Italian cheeses. I've seen their products in the refrigerated section at TSC Signature, but I’d assumed they were imported from Italy. Turns out the processing plant is just up the street from Baabda, in Dahr al Wahesh, Araya.

The advantage of Fattoria’s product range is its freshness and absence of preserving agents. Italian imports have a shelf-life of one to two months, whereas Fattoria’s mozzarella lasts 10 days and its ricotta, five. Add to that a selling price of nearly one-half of its Italian counterpart, and the decision is a no-brainer.

Did you know that ricotta and chocolate make a heavenly match?

Last December, Fattoria did the unthinkable: they introduced 25 buffaloes to the Bekaa valley under the supervision of a seasoned breeder named Antonio Caffi.  Pioneering new frontiers in Lebanese agriculture, Fattoria now brings us locally-produced buffalo milk mozzarella, ricotta, and provolone, all of which will soon become available for purchase in select stores.

Fresh buffalo milk cheeses

Château Qanafar

Château Qanafar caught my attention, too. One sip of the Paradis white wine and you’re transported to wine utopia. It turns out that Qanafar's rich, intense, fruity, and complex wines are all at once mouth-watering and bright thanks to their good acidity. General Manager Eddy Naim, who together with his family owns and operates the boutique winery, explained that Qanafar's vineyards get plenty of sunshine during the day, but because of the high elevation (1200 meters), cool temperatures at night preserve the grapes' inherent acidity. These two effects combined--ripening by day, cooling down by night--contribute to the high-quality composition of the wine.

I love the wild font and scribble marks adopted as Chateau Qanafar's brand

The red Château wine is wonderfully full-bodied with notes of pomegranate. It’s bold without inducing heartburn, and its smoothness is velvety. Indeed, the balance that Qanafar's wines strike between flavor, aroma, intensity, sweetness, acidity, tannins and alcohol levels make them incredibly distinctive and an absolute must-try.

Chilled white wine (Chateau)

You can find Château Qanafar for purchase at The Wine Teller (Achrafieh) and Carrefour (Beirut City Centre), in addition to several select dining establishments.

La Ferme St Jacques

Who’d have ever imagined that Lebanon would boast its own line of foie gras? La Ferme St Jacques, nestled above the hills of Batroun, is an artisanal producer of foie gras, magret de canard, pâté de canard, and other duck novelties. I recall seeing their stand in years past at Vinifest, the wine exposition that takes place every autumn at the Hippodrome. I’d thought they were a French label, given how utterly delicious the foie gras is (pair it with champagne jelly for an extraordinary treat).

Foie gras with apricot jam canapés; magret fumé in the background

The St Jacques farms breed farming ducks imported from France and raised exclusively on corn to produce the finest duck liver, duck breasts, and duck preserves. The traditions of the farming families in the French Southwest are carried on in conformity with the strictest European standards.

La Ferme St Jacques has a retail shop along Monot that features the entire range of its products, including cassoulet au confit de canard, cuisses en confit, magret fume, rillettes, and so much more. In Beirut, they supply to Aziz, Spinneys, TSC, and Goodies.

The product range of La Ferme St Jacques

I’m extremely proud of the entrepreneurs behind these three labels for their drive and self-initiative. Lebanon is all the wealthier because of them, and Lebanese gourmands have renewed license to pamper their palates with the bounties of their own soil!

My sister-in-law Tania with yours truly at the Horeca expo


Popular posts from this blog

Tantalizing Treats from the Coast to the Mountains

What’s New In & Around Beirut

Lebanon's Retail Landscape In Need of Customer Service Overhaul