It was the night before Christmas Eve, and we'd planned to spend it with friends at Fone of our favorite restaurants, Tanoreen in Bay Ridge. We were seven: two close friends who were headed to Ghana for the holidays, a friend from Florida who'd come to town to house- and dog-sit for them while they were away, and another couple from Jersey. We'd gotten to the neighborhood a little early, so D and I drove to Dyker Heights, a neighborhood where folks try to outdo each other every year in over-the-top lawn decorations. It's really an unbelievable sight: life-sized toy soldiers, Santas, reindeer.....D jokes that Con Ed makes a profit just from this neighborhood every year.
Tanoreen recently moved to a larger location with a liquor license. I was afraid a move like that might kill the spirit of the lovely little restaurant where the chef and owner, Palestinian and Nazareth-born Rawia Bishawa, would come out from the kitchen and check in with guests to make sure they were enjoying their meal. Bishawa still comes out, and the place is even warmer and more festive than its smaller digs down the street. Bishawa and her team cook up an amazing array of food from all over the Middle East. I am so glad that I've outgrown my childish distaste of lamb, because lamb is a huge part of Tanoreen's menu.
One of my favorite dishes is muhamarra, which is a blend of roasted red pepper, walnut, and garlic. I absolutely love it, and have vowed to make it in the New Year. D and I shared the lamb kafta roll, which the menu noted was featured on ABC news, along with the recipe. It was one of the best entrees I have ever had. We ordered several bottles of this Lebanese wine, which D really enjoyed. Our friend told us he can sometimes find it at Red, White, and Bubbly in Park Slope.