Recently, I visited a Lebanese sweets shop with my husband and kids (I won’t name the place simply because this post isn’t about naming and shaming anyone). This wasn’t a place where I usually buy my Lebanese sweets but I’d heard about it. It seemed quite popular and was pretty busy for a Saturday night so I assumed it would be a good place to check out whilst in that area. To put it mildly, I wasn’t overly impressed.
The shop itself needed a serious make over. The tables were wobbly and the chairs were those uncomfortable plastic ones that all Arab families buy at a bargain price from Bunnings for their outdoor ‘bbq areas’ (no offence to all owners of those plastic chairs, my parents included haha). And then they had displays where they sold little Minion toys and another with deodorant gift packs. So completely random! I mean when have you ever gone out for dessert and thought, ‘I wish I’d remembered to buy deodorant!’
Back to the sweets. The kids didn’t really know what they wanted. I, on the other hand, was craving everything! So we eventually decided on a plate which had a variety of desserts to share. Perfect, I thought. Well, no, not really. The sweets themselves tasted okay but nothing to write home about.
Which brings me to my biggest disappointment of the evening…the way they just threw the sweets onto the plate with neither love nor attention.
Why I ask? Why? Everyone knows that you eat with your eyes first. I’m a firm believer in presentation and the role it plays in our food experiences. I did give them the benefit of the doubt when I saw the decor and boxes of deodorant but then they served the sweets overlapping on an old plate and my eyes did a back flip and went blah!
Going to places like this makes me increasingly passionate about what I do. Not in just food photography but also in what this blog is partly about. That is showing the world the beauty of Lebanese cuisine by adding my own creative twists and presenting it in a visually pleasing way. A way that makes you want to jump right in and eat it all!
Those of you who follow my blog would know that I’m often experimenting with new and creative ways to add some ‘bling’ to my Lebanese desserts. And that’s not because I think Lebanese desserts are bland or average and need that oomph but just because it is okay to bring them into the 21st century. To modernise them with added, freshness, sweetness, crunch and beautiful presentation.
Which brings me to the recipe I have for you today. I’ve been poaching pears in chai tea for a while now and that’s not because I’m a huge chai tea drinker. I’m not at all. I’ve just always loved the combination of that beautiful spicy aroma of cardamom, cinnamon and ginger. You can easily serve the poached pears and almonds with ice cream or freshly whipped cream, if you wish.You don’t have to have them with Mouhalabia, but please do give it a go. The spices in the poaching liquid and almonds really complement and work well together with the smoothness and creaminess of the Mohalabia (you’ll find the recipe for that here). Remember, though, you’ll need to make the Mohalabia first, maybe the night before, as it takes a few hours to set. Also try and get your hands on Bosc pears. Not only do they look nicer with their distinctive shape, they are also great for poaching because they keep that shape when cooked.
Top Mouhalabia with a poached pear and sprinkle over with the candied almonds. Spoil those you’re serving it to even more by adding Persian fairy floss and the prettiest edible flowers* you can get your hands on!
*The edible flowers used and mentioned in this post were gifted from MD Provodores.