This week, at a Christmas party at my daughter's nursery, I was chatting to another parent about unusual ingredients available at a local food shop, Phoenicia in Kentish Town. Pomegranate molasses was mentioned as he fancied the sound of it, but wasn't sure what to do with it. This took me straight back to an extraordinary holiday in Lebanon. We went as wedding guests of the Hochar family of Château Musar and spent several memorable days in this fascinating country. As soon as we arrived in Beirut we went straight out to get some food. Despite being quite late in the evening, it was still very warm and, sitting outside in a bustling street, we enjoyed a fabulous spread of mezze that included chicken livers cooked in pomegranate molasses. As it was so distinctive (and as I love offal) I have tried to recreate this dish back in London, quickly sautéing the livers in a hot pan, pouring in some of the molasses to coat and almost glaze them – delicious. As the dish is quite rich, it's probably best served with wedges of lemon with some fresh parsley sprinkled over or, if you find the pomegranate molasses too cloying, you could add a splash of balsamic vinegar during the cooking to make the dish a bit more tangy. With a slice of toasted sourdough bread and a handful of some green leaves (watercress would ideal) this is a really tasty starter or light supper.
Late-night mezze in downtown Beirut.
Woman making flatbread.
Bottles ageing in the cellar at Château Musar.
Lunch at the Hotel Palmyra after visiting Baalbek.
Late afternoon in Byblos.