Unending Valentine’s Feast!

For a Valentine’s Day date, Scott and I went to La Marsa in Ann Arbor – and WOW, was it good! Feeling celebratory – and a bit ambitious – we got the “Sampler Platter for Two.”  Here’s the breakdown:

  • Fresh baked pita with garlic butter – divine! The store used to be a Cosi, and they bake, or at least warm, the pitas in the open hearth oven. Endless baskets are served with butter whipped with fresh crushed garlic. Ho. Lee. Cow.
  • Tabbouli – low on bulgar, heavy on parsley, with a nice dressing. Not my favorite Middle Eastern dish, but well-done
  • Hummus – very good, and not too acidic (a common flaw with a lot of restaurant hummus)
  • Baba ghannoj – perhaps the best I’ve ever had! Has a distinct grilled or roasted flavor – I wonder if they roast the eggplants in the big hearth oven?
  • Falafel – very good, crisp on the outside, with no uncooked bits inside
  • Grape leaves, both lamb and vegetarian – the veggie ones are very good; the lamb ones are absolutely luscious. Hearty, rich, and flavorful, and the leaves themselves are not too sour. Often the acidity of the pickled grape leaves overwhelms the other flavors of the dish, but these were just right.
  • Fattoush salad – lovely and well-seasoned with herbs, and not over-dressed
  • Grilled vegetables – good, though not the best I’ve had here. At other times, the vegetables have been cooked rather dry and at high heat until they were a little blackened around the edges – add a pat of the garlic butter, and you’d be happy eating just these. Tuesday’s were a little less stunning, but they were still quite tasty, and showed La Marsa’s deft hand with spices.
  • And we finally get to the entree, which was both chicken and lamb shwarma, shish tawook (skewered chicken), and shish kafta (skewered spiced lamb meatballs). It was all good; my favorites were the kafta and chicken shwarma; Scott loved the lamb shwarma and tawook.

<understatement>None of it was at all bad.</understatement>

There was also just a ton of food. It should have said “for six” – because after eating until we were stuffed, we took home (no kidding) three and a half POUNDS of leftovers.  I had two lunches out of the salads, spreads, bread, and some of the meat, and tonight, we chopped up the grilled vegetables, meat, some extra cabbage, and some cooked rice and had a really tasty stir-fry. Which will probably also be my lunch again tomorrow. 🙂

So, very tasty, and highly recommended. And hey – does anyone know if Halal rules guide how the animals were raised, or just how they are slaughtered?



  1. angela said,

    February 17, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Sounds amazing. my friends have raved about this place so now we must try.
    I have wondered the same about Halal meat. I love going to the Middle easter market off stone school. They sell hallal meats….fresh baked bread in fire oven on site so good. there is a new Italian Restaurant in same shopping center too and they make the best lasagna with roast beef not ground and buy local ingredients. Just saying……….But back to your question…she says drooling….

    The terms halal and haraam are applied to many facets of life; and one of the most common uses of these terms is in reference to meat products, food contact materials, and pharmaceuticals. In Islam there are many things that are clearly halal or haraam. There are also items which are not as clear, and for which further information is needed. Items that are not clear are called mashbooh, which means “questionable.” ‘Halal’ means permissible. ‘Haram’ means forbidden.

    In Islam, other forbidden items include pork and all its products; animals improperly slaughtered; alcoholic drinks, including all forms of intoxicants; carnivorous animals; birds of prey; and any food contaminated with any of these products.

    Ḏabīḥah (ذَبِيْحَة) is the prescribed method of slaughtering all animals excluding fish and most sea-life per Islamic law. This method of slaughtering animals consists of using a well sharpened knife to make a swift, deep incision that cuts the front of the throat, the carotid artery, wind pipe and jugular veins but leaves the spinal cord intact.[2] The head of an animal that is slaughtered using halal methods is aligned with the Qiblah. In addition to the direction, permitted animal should be slaughtered in the name of Allah (the Lord) and the person who is slaughtering should be a Muslim and he/she should be in a good mental condition and faith.

  2. Cynthia said,

    February 22, 2012 at 6:34 am

    Kosher meat is considered halal, per my Muslim friends.

  3. Tita said,

    April 8, 2012 at 8:47 am

    However, the “kosher” and “halal” slaughter process does not have any relation to how the animal was raised. Those animals slaughtered in the kosher method come from the same CAFO or other deplorable living/feeding conditions that supply the general public supply of meat. If the meat isn’t labeled “organic”, “100% pasture raised”, no GMO feed, you can bet there are going to be issues with the quality of the meat. Naturally, it’s best to know the farm and farmer that is producing the meat.

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