A Brain is a Wonderful Thing to Taste

An intriguing alert came in over the transom a while back from Suits-Herself-Cindy:

Jon and I went to dinner tonight at the Lebanese Butcher and Market in Falls Church. It was delicious. He had lamb chops and I had a Saudi Arabian goat dish. Really, really good. Yummy rice and sauces and little pickled veggies, plus the delicious meat.

But, you should check out the sandwiches. They have some crazy lamb sandwiches — lamb liver and heart sandwich? Lamb brain sandwich?

I think Freya would like it because they have a big tacky waterfall that she would think was cool. Plus I want to check out the market which I did not do on this visit.

Lotsa labne and cans of “Luncheon Meat”. Whoa.

Wondering what to do with labne?

Labne and Mint Sandwiches (Recipe from Desert Candy)
1 sheet marquq bread (Lebanese mountain bread), or savory crepe or other very thin bread
Olive oil
Fresh mint leaves
Pitted black olives – nice ones

1. Preheat a griddle. Spread a thick layer of labne over half the bread. Drizzle with olive oil, scatter mint leaves and olives over top. Fold bottom half of bread up over filling, then fold in half to form a triangle. Place sandwich on the griddle just to briefly toast each side. Slice sandwich in half into two smaller triangles, eat immediately.

A few people I know have mentioned it. It’s in this little corner of Falls Church where there are a lot of hole-in-the-wall restaurants. I don’t know how many of them are good, but this one was great.

At one point a man walked through from the store carrying this enormous, very ornate gold platter with a lid. I think that you can probably order a whole goat for a party and it comes in something like that. Jon and I both said to each other at the same time that WE want to have a party with a goat on a huge ornate platter. We’ll have to think of an occasion.

The place is on the dingy side with, as I mentioned, a large tacky waterfall. So, the ambiance is lacking a little. But it didn’t really matter at all.

If you are interested I’ll go with you and try the liver and heart. Not sure I can do the brain one.

I could, and I do, and I did. Cindy, to her credit, took a healthy taste, and liked it. Loving seeing this sort of thing – a maligned food – on a menu and hope that it is ordered often enough to keep ’em available. After all, in the words of frequent Lunch Encounter guest David Kmetz,

“If you think about our ancient ancestors, they fed mostly on fruits, nuts, berries and greens – things that were easy to harvest and consume with a minimum of fuss. Bringing down a 3-ton mammoth or mastadon was a totally different matter, and probably was the rare exception to the omnivore diet. Plus, they used every bit of that kill – the skin for warm clothing, the bones and tusks for weapons and tools, the guts for food and casings, etc.”

And the brain for sandwiches, I betcha.

Lamb brain sandwich on the left, heart/liver/kidney on the right. We both preferred heart/liver/kidney. Enjoying brain…nature or nurture? I prefer them with nice, brown, crispy edges. Sautéed in clarified butter does the trick. You gotta play tricks on the mind to eat a brain.

Color me 40 shades of inlove with Lebanese Butcher. 40 shades of inlurve, inloaf, inlabne.

Pickled Turnips

This is an Authentic Lebanese Recipe

2 cups water
1 cup vinegar
2 tsp. salt
1 beetroot
Several garlic cloves

Big glass jars of these rose colored pickles decorate the front windows of many Arab restaurants in the Middle East. They are easily prepared and are very good with meza.

Wash turnips well and cut off a slice from the tops and bottoms. Slice lengthwise into quarter-inch slices to within a half-inch of the bottom of the turnip. Do not separate the slices entirely from each other. Soak in water overnight. Wash well in the morning. Place in glass jar with the beetroot, to give color to the pickles. Cover with the pickling solution prepared from the above ingredients.

These pickles may be eaten after three days.


5 responses to “A Brain is a Wonderful Thing to Taste

  1. suits-herself-cindy

    I had not noticed that the menu actually says “Slaughter House.” That makes me like it even better.

    I have not eaten organs since I was about 12 on my grandparents farm in Ohio. Tongue and chicken livers were the specialty there. Heart and even gizzards were also served. I liked them when I was young, but then was “too cool” to eat that gross stuff when I was a teenager. It was nice to revisit and find that they are still good.

    To be perfectly honest and put all the bragging over organ eating aside, my favorite favorite thing was the cute little pink pickled turnips. I can’t get enough of those things.

  2. Oh yeah, I meant to do some research on how those turnips are made. It can’t be difficult and they would be a good thing to have in the fridge all the time.

  3. Seems like a fun adventure you had. And one that I’m happy to read about in a blog, rather than experience myself. Although the pickled turnips sound delightful!

  4. What a colorful, evocative post. I can almost taste the post-brain sandwich burps 🙂

  5. We can all go back. Along-for-the-Ride can stick to pickles and other non-animal type stuff, Captain Scrappy can goo goo, Suits-Herself, Sorry-Birds and I can scarf up the rest. The men will have to circle the table and hope to snatch a scrap here and there.

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