I have fond memories of the meals we enjoyed in the town of Zahle in Lebanon. Zahle sits in a prime location in the Beqaa Valley and is the site of many well-known outdoor restaurants, where gentle breezes blow over the canopies and peaceful meandering streams flow between the walkways. Throughout the day and night, tabletops brim with an enticing selection of mezza in what always seems to be a grand feast.
Mezza are sumptuous, small finger foods that set the tone for what is to follow. What I’ve always enjoyed about mezza is the diversity of textures and flavors. These Lebanese-style tapas are a great choice for cocktail buffets, tray-passed hors d’oeuvres, or when you simply want something delectable to snack on. Spinach Triangles, Hummus with pita dippers, Thyme Pizzettas, Pumpkin Kibbi Balls, Olives, Pickles, Cheese, and Crudités, Vegetable- or Lamb-Stuffed Grape Leaves, Fried Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce … the combinations are endless. All of them are easy to pick up and delicious to eat. Add Parsley and Bulgur Wheat Salad (tabbouli), a selection of Lebanese Mixed Grill, Basmati Rice with Cumin, Lentils, and Onions, fresh fruit, and baklava, and the meal becomes a lavish event.