Last summer we spent quite a bit of time walking the streets of Beirut.
It was HOT and the kids wanted something to drink. Usually we would go for some water or perhaps a fresh fruit juice from a local Sawas. But today, hubby took us to Al Antabli, a place where his father took him when he was a child to have something cool to drink.
A small corner-side shop known to many locals, Al Antabli is known for their delightful drinks & desserts in Beirut. First thing he ordered for us was Jallab, a cool, refreshing drink made from the molasses of grapes, dates and rose water.
Served over ice with fresh raw almonds, this felt more like a dessert than a drink. It’s hard to explain it’s taste, but imagine drinking a sweet wine (without the alcohol) with a little bit of crunch. This drink is well-known in the Middle East and very popular drink during Ramadan, where jallab is the first thing they consume after a long day fasting. Jaf loved this drink, he loved the fresh almonds even more!
Next, he ordered Ashta and Katayif bil Ashta which are also very popular dessert items in the Middle East. Both served cold, the “ashta” which is basically full cream custard, made by skimming the top of boiling milk. It is used to “fill” many pastries in Lebanon , but we love it served with just honey, fresh raw almonds or pistachios. Most ashta has little or no sugar and is always flavored with either rose or orange blossom water to make the desserts more fragrant. Today, was the perfect day for this dessert, it was cold, light and everyone was eager to have the last spoonful!
Lou Lou opted for some gelato instead, but didn’t hesitate to dive into the ashta while we were at it!
Al Antabli you’ve won our hearts and we will definitely be back for more!