September 17, 2011

Nothing is more memorable than smell

"Nothing is more memorable than a smell.  One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains; another, a moonlit beach; a third, a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town.  Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years.  Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once.  A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth."  ~Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses.

For me , entering a restaurant is not just a meal occasion, it's a sensual ritual for exciting all my senses, then my nerve buds, up to my neurons , then encrypting this stimulation into my memory storage area.
And if this ritual didn't happen, then the restaurant failed in making me a memory.
And if it failed in making this memory, this simply means : " the food wasn't great".
 And, although I am a food scientist ,  where one would assume that would be easy  for me talking about a restaurant , its menu and its food. But it is not. Because I tend to talk about almost all the factors that affect eating.  You will notice that as you read below.

The couqley bistro- restaurant  experience for brunch, was one of those vivid memories that had successfully been processed and stored. As you enter, you are overwhelmed with the smell of home  made omlettes and pancakes, and so you  evocatively remember the Sunday mornings where you used to wake up late , smell something delicious and enter the kitchen to see  your mother preparing for you,  your favorite breakfast: Pancakes.  Bringing back  this picture is worth it all. 

Then comes the true experience, tasting the food. Ordering the Sud Ouest omlette was a new "trial" for me. Frankly, I never ate duck meat with omlette. The taste had this brothy,  savory taste coming from the mushroom saute , with the potatoes, and rich flavor of onions, and tomatoes with the duck confit. 
As simple as this plate seems to be, as much as it will feel leave you with an overwhelming  taste  covering all over your taste buds.I also tasted the American Omlette from my friend's plate . It had a great combination too.

And if you want try something new , try the exquisite escargot , ( cooked snails )  like my friend Mohamad tried ( but i didnt dare yet to try, atleast for now) 

With all these memories rushing through when I was there, I remembered another sweet memory of the time when my mom and I used to come down to Beirut , and get the Belgian Waffles from small stand , whose baking hovered all over Hamra's street with its inescapable smell. That made me order the belgian waffles with the fruits all over it covered with Nutella. 

Here is Elie Indulging in his pancakes

Yes, this  place might be in the crowded gemayzeh with its bars and pubs, but it definitely takes you to a Parisian dream, to a Parisian alley .
But still you will feel home .So, It will offer you the true spirit of the Gemmayzeh experience:   " The Paris in Beirut"  . Two cities intertwined in one place.

Couqley with  its rich and vivid menu, beautiful setting  will enrich your taste buds any time , and your memory of this place , and so it will make you keep coming back again. And that's indeed what I mean by a successful experience in a restaurant, not going there merely for the food but for revitalizing all your sensory neurons;  a pure mental exercise for the brain, an essential ritual for the soul.

Bon Appetite!

Interesting things to know more  :
1- CNN's very own Richard Quest visited and talked about Couqley and the AlleyWay  in Future Cities . 
2- British Ambassador Farewell Tweetup : 
Couqley, I visited this restaurant for the first time in The British Embassador Farewell tweetup, organized by Mohamad Hijazi ( President of AUB online Collaborative).
It was a pleasant tweetup . Here is a blopost about it from my friend Paty M
Photo By Weam_Al

I insisted on meeting the Chef Couqley during the British Ambassador Tweet up dinner, chatted with him about Food science and food innovations in the kitchens of restaurants ; Molecular Gastronomy.
A very friendly  chef,  offered me any  help  of his for my food career .


3- I cant remember the names of these dishes. And so one of the readers  helped me me out :) 
Salade Endives 

Quiche Of The Day 


  1. Salade Endives
    Quiche Of The Day

  2. THank you :)
    And excuse my naivety in forgetting the plates names.. :)

  3. yummm the brunch looks delicious! lek hal pancakes nom nom!

  4. Paty M!!! Paty M! You were missed!
    Next time we go there ! :D