Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Dan Neman

The Beirut is officially a 'Best Of'

For years, Toledoans have known that the Beirut is one of the best ethnic restaurants in the state. Now the whole country will know.

A television show called The Official Best Of has determined that the Beirut has the distinction of being the Best Ethnic Restaurant in Ohio.

The independently produced show airs periodically on the Discovery Channel. It names each state's best city tour, best breakfast restaurant, best recreation center, etc. Then it shows that company's owner briefly talking about his business, with video footage of workers working there and customers enjoying themselves, all set to some of the most tuneless background music you have ever heard.

You have to wonder if any of the people shown would be smiling quite so broadly if they heard the background music.

The Beirut is known for its Middle Eastern food (be sure to get the foul madammas -- and the ara-yes -- and the roast shank-o-lamb -- and the Beirut Best) as well as its smaller selection of Italian food. For the producers of The Official Best Of, that sort of means they are getting two ethnic restaurants in one.

The restaurant is owned by Labib Hajjar, who will be featured at the beginning and end of the clip. His wife, Karyn, said a cameraman was filming in the restaurant a week ago. The show is scheduled to be aired sometime in July, she said, but "the date's changed numerous times."

So keep an eye on that schedule.

Future celebrity

With chefs now considered celebrities, you too may someday be able to say "I had (insert famous chef's name here)'s broiled red snapper back when he (or she) was just starting out."

Basking in a chef's future reflected glow, and being able to brag about it, is a distinct possibility this summer at the Owens Community College's Terrace View Cafe, which will be open for lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout July.

As always, the student-run restaurant features culinary arts students applying their classroom knowledge -- especially about healthy cooking -- to the kitchen. Seating is limited and so are the menus, but customers have their choice of eating at the cafe or getting the food to go. Each choice has its own menu option.

Thursday's entree choices are roasted pork loin with white bean and rosemary sauce (eat in) or sauteed veal with wild mushrooms and leeks (to go). On July 10, the entree options will be summer vegetable quiche (eat in) or tenderloin of beef with blue cheese and herb crust (to go). The July 12 entrees will be poached chicken breast (eat in) and Moroccan chicken pita sandwich (to go). On July 17, it will be salmon and spinach with sparkling wine butter sauce (eat in) and red snapper en papillote with julienned vegetables (to go). The same salmon-and-spinach dish will be served on July 19 (eat in), with jerk pork loin and mango salsa (to go). The July 24 options will be broiled red snapper (eat in) and chicken stir fry with soba noodles (to go), with broiled tilapia (eat in) and goat cheese ravioli (to go) on July 26.

The cafe is in College Hall Room 148 on the Toledo-area Owens campus. Seating is from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., with food served until 1 p.m. Take-out orders may be picked up from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

As always, and in defiance of all known logic, reservations for both the restaurant and the take-out orders must be made by 3 p.m. on the Tuesday prior to the Tuesday service and 3 p.m. on the Thursday prior to the Thursday service. The cost for lunch is $8.50, including a beverage, and $6 for take-out, which does not include a beverage.

For reservations or more information, including all of the ambitious side dishes and desserts, call 567-661-7359 or visit

Beer, meet wine

The July schedule of beer and wine tastings at the Beer & Wine Cave is out, and it is good news for lovers of new beers and Spanish wines (July 11 and 12), new beers from Holland and Leese Fitch wines (July 18 and 19), and Belgian-style beers and wines from both the new and old worlds (July 25 and 26). Norm Heineman of Bowling Green Beverage will be on hand to crack a few brews on July 25.

And what of this week? The store is showing its red, white, and blue by going tasting-free for the week.

The beer tastings are $10, the wine tastings are $15. The Beer & Wine Cave is in the shopping center at 4400 Heatherdowns Blvd.

German cookies

Achtung, deutsche Bäcker.

The annual German American Festival is going to have its annual German baking contest on Aug. 25, and this year they are only going to be looking for authentic German cookie recipes. Previous contests have pitted cookies against cakes against strudel, which is like comparing apples to strudel.

All contestants must register in advance, and all entries must include a printed copy of the recipe. Only a dozen cookies need to be made.

The festival is held each year at Oak Shade Grove in Oregon. The baking contest will be at 3:30 p.m., though the contestants must sign in by 2:30 p.m. at the festival's Sidewalk Cafe.

Yes, Aug. 25 is a long time away, but we want to give all bakers plenty of time to register and perfect their recipes. For registration or more information, call Diane Schmidt at 419-693-8343.

To get you in the mood, here is a simple recipe for Bitterkoekjes (though if you want to call them Almond Cookies, that's fine, too):

1/2 pound almond paste

2 egg whites, unbeaten

3/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 300°. Thoroughly grease a cookie sheet.

Mix ingredients together with a fork. Drop by teaspoon onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes and remove from sheet promptly to prevent sticking.

Items for Morsels should be submitted two weeks before an event to

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