Last night found us enjoying yet another one of our monthly Supper Club meetings. This time, we left the unseasonably cold, drizzly Ontario weather for a much warmer, drier place – the Middle East. Since it was my turn to be the hostess, I drew inspiration from the Easter meal prepared by my aunt (described here) and from a favourite cookbook of mine called “Flatbreads and Flavours” by Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid.
Thanks to both sources of inspiration, I learned about mezze – a particular way of eating that is similar to tapas and antipasti in that it uses numerous small and tasty dishes, served with hot flatbreads, to create a feast. Alford and Duguid describe it in this way:
“The mezze table is one of the all-time great ways of giving bread a central role in a meal, whether a simple home-style supper or a dazzling festive spread. There are no courses in a mezze meal, no rules about what must be eaten first and what later. Think of a long summer night on the Mediterranean with plenty of time to eat, to talk, and to eat some more. A mezze meal should be as informal and relaxing as it is delicious.”
And delicious it was, though replicating the ‘summer night on the Mediterranean’ experience was not terribly successful. Instead, we sat around the dining room table with candles and fine china, watching the rain soak the gray world outside the window.
The menu consisted of Marrakesh beef stew on a bed of couscous, Moroccan chicken cigars (ground chicken filling wrapped in phyllo), lentil and red pepper salad, carrot salad, labaneh (yogurt cheese), harissa (hot sauce), chopped salsa, olive salad, and hot pita breads. Fruit salad made with oranges, grapefruit, pomegranate, figs, dates, and pistachios, served with ice cream, was the perfect finish. Oh, and mint tea, of course.
For those of you unfamiliar with the project, it’s a monthly dinner club that rotates among three households. We take turns hosting, and whoever hosts chooses the theme and menu. The recipes are then distributed among guests, so no one person is responsible for cooking an entire meal. It’s a more organized form of potluck that works very well. Each host / hostess invites extra guests, so the group is always varied and interesting.