MIDDLE EASTERN MEZZE– Get Ready to Experience Mouth Magic

November 13 2017

If you #FeedYourCuriosity along with us, you’ll notice a pattern in our Flavour Forecast trends: like an award-winning sauce, depth comes from all the building of layers to create a complex, delicious profile. In our previous foreshadowing of tastes which included chilies and wanderlust-worthy flavours, in 2015 and beyond, we find ourselves at a crossroads of the two elements and end up with MIDDLE EASTERN MEZZE Our industry insiders were at the forefront of this trend to share with epicurean trailblazers.

MIDDLE EASTERN MEZZE is the intersection of ancient tastes, cultures and our love of travel. Centuries old recipes are passed down and reflect our civilizations’ exploratory nature in trading spices, herbs, and foods with one another. Today, we’re fortunate that it so easily culminates on our plates, thanks to talented chefs across the country and their inventive dishes. Perhaps the most alluring aspect is the nature of the trend itself; mezze means appetizers and it is similar to that of tapas - and just how it was the gateway to trying Spanish dishes, mezzes are doing the same for Middle Eastern cuisine. Both are also sociable in nature because the aim is to share amongst friends. It gives rise to the “try everything” culture; we can dabble in a wealth of diverse dishes - hearty dips, creamy spreads and heady spices - and indulge in hallmark tastes from Syria all the way to Morocco.

These five gastronomes offer their renditions of MIDDLE EASTERN MEZZE:

  1. Restaurant Su - Restaurant Su, nestled in Montreal’s Verdun neighbourhood - is owned and operated by Chef Fisun Ercan, a cookbook author and beloved chef praised for her Turkish fine dining fare in publications such as Montreal Gazette. She offers robust flavour profiles along with elegant presentations a la her Mezze platter which comprises of yogurt with garlic, cucumber, mint; Muhammara made of roasted red pepper spread, walnuts; homemade pita; red and bulgur lentil dumplings.
  2. JamJar - Lebanese culture and hospitality can be found at JamJar. With an emphasis on fresh and local fare, Chef Bakhos Mjalleh creates the flavours of Lebanon for Vancouverites and hungry visitors to enjoy. Hummus Beyrouti - is a winner and features their original hummus recipes which is topped with spiced minced beef & pine nuts. If you’re one to say “cheese please” then you’ll want to opt for the Cheese Za’atar rolls: crispy phyllo dough is stuffed with a mixture of this fragrant spice (which includes thyme, sumac, and toasted sesame seeds) along with spinach and feta.
  3. Market Calgary - Named 3rd Overall Best Restaurant for 2017 by Best Calgary Awards, the restaurant is founded on a “fresh ingredient philosophy” which includes baking their own breads, curing their own meats, making cheese and growing herbs and vegetables via an internal home garden. Along with a forward-thinking food vision, Executive Chef Evan Robertson executes stellar tastes, as evidenced with his pork chop dish which is first cooked in pumpkin juice and dried pepper. The meat is then encrusted with a mixture of dry pumpkin seeds and chorizo spice then seared. The dish is finished with butter prawns, pumpkin and chorizo fricassee, carrot salad, and fermented red pepper harissa veloute.
  4. Atlas Restaurant - At Atlas, the flavours pay homage to French Moroccan fare. Chef Doug Penfold (who also owns two other popular restaurants in the city - Cava and Chabrol - both with their own sets of accolades and praises), was inspired by the dishes during his travels throughout the North African country. Chef amps up flavours with his Sardine Kefta dish which features hand chopped sardines mixed in with onion and parsley. The mixture is formed into balls and slowly braised in ras el hanout and tomato sauce.
  5. Mohamed Ali’s – Owner Ali Al Haijaa is a success story on many fronts. Not only did he expand his culinary empire (with two locations in St. John’s), but he’s been profiled on CBC because his restaurants mark a victory for the former refugee who was bounced between camps in Iraq and Jordan. Locals and out-of-towners rave about his Middle Eastern fare - making his dream of own a successful food business a reality. He makes his Baba Ganoush dish from scratch with grilled eggplant, tahini paste & virgin olive oil; he blends it into a creamy consistency - best eaten with pita or dunked with falafel.

Enjoying earthy, ancient spices and flavours from the Middle East are like peering into a window of our culinary heritage - and its popularity has never been stronger than now. 

These dishes honour the legacy of our common ancestors and chefs are reviving traditions and reinventing classics with their own with unique and modernized twists. A penchant for sharing mezzes was a star flavour hallmark of 2015.

Don’t miss the next Flavour Forecast trend we unveil.