Casbah revised 2

January 31, 2011

Third visit to Casbah this month; it's a testament to this restaurant's consistent excellence that all the different people who've eaten here with me have been impressed by the food.
For earlier entries on Casbah, click: January 11 & January 25.

Stirato (Italian grilled bread). For anyone who's leery of belly-busting pizzas, here's an alternative, with no heavy toppings needed or desired. Thinly stretched, comfortingly warm and crisp, every bite of this bread released the captivating fragrance of rosemary, tomatoes & olive oil; even a Tuscan countryside baker working with local produce might be proud.

Lebanese "patata harra" with labneh (strained yogurt). This might bear the deceptive appearance of ordinary potato wedges, but KFC's pales tragically in comparison. Piping-hot, fluffy and fried-to-order, with heady hints of garlic and a lemony scent of sumac. Let's thank heaven that potato famines are a thing of the past.

Spanakopita. Phyllo pastry, packed with feta cheese and spinach. Those of us in KL can savor this Greek delicacy at only two places: here and Giovino at Changkat Bukit Bintang.

Gazpacho trio (white with almonds, red with tomatoes, yellow with bell peppers). I rarely find versions of this cold Spanish raw soup that I enjoy, but I loved (LOVED!) this. Creamy like a milkshake but delicately flavored; perfect for reviving the spirit after a wearisome week.

Sambousek. Petite parcels of potent pleasure, stuffed with savory shanklish (a rich-textured, clean-tasting Turkish sheep's milk cheese, rather reminiscent of ricotta).

A Moroccan traditional favorite of Chicken Moghrabieh. Only chicken breast is used, but it's expertly cooked to mouthwatering tenderness. Let the meat linger on your tongue to relish its complex marinade of cinnamon and cumin. This rustic recipe comes with "Lebanese couscous" _ steamed, pea-sized balls of semolina dough.

Manchego, Idiazabal & Valdeon cheese with quince jelly. A welcome change from the typical Italian and French cheese platters at other outlets.

Barramundi with white beans, artichokes & clams. Comfort food for devotees of oceanic delights; firm yet juicy chunks of fish, exotically spiced with dukkah, an Egyptian blend of hazelnuts, sesame, mint, caraway & pepper.

Moroccan tagine of lamb merguez sausages. A hearty, slow-cooked stew, with North African couscous, almonds & dried apricots; the sausages might be slightly too salty or gamy for some, but that's a matter of preference.

Turrons. Honeyed nougat confections, with a paste-like stickiness. Supposed to be mainly a Yuletide treat in Spain, but it's Christmas all year round at Casbah.

Yogurt sorbet & stewed apricots. A tangy, seemingly guilt-free substitute for Baskin-Robbins (but by no means inferior or any less luscious).

Baklava. Boasted a freshly-made feel and aromatic nuttiness that are often absent in KL's other Arabian pastries. Crisp, flaky and not overwhelmingly sweet.

Churros (fried dough fritters with spiced chocolate). Astonishingly light and grease-free.

Yiaourtopita (lemon pound cake with Greek yogurt). Dense, but marvelously moist.

Luxury Margarita (sauza hornitos repasado tequila, fresh lime, cointreau, pomegranate foam) & Guava Cosmo (belvedere vodka, fresh lime, pink guava, cranberry).
Thanks to Cheryl of the Mandarin Oriental for hosting this particular feast.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.