|heathcliffe's splendiferous mezze|
- A festival of food
- A joyous, happy meal
- A sumptuous entertainment
- Something highly agreeable, which is partaken of, or shared in, with delight
- To gratify or delight (as in to feast your eyes or your soul)
- To treat at the table bountifully
So welcome to Dalston, the new "too cool for school" area of east London, where the trendy urban hipsters, artists and musicians of Hoxton and Shoreditch have settled for a more affordable locale; where you are never more than five minutes from some form of mischief.
I had bought some supplies with me (a lamb tagine, some kisir and a few merguez sausages he asked me to track down for him from my local middle eastern deli). Heath, as I have mentioned before, is always a boy who needs food. He enjoys it. But this time, he presented me with the most glorious mezze feast for the senses; a trip around the Mediterranean; the Levant - a little bit of Greece, Turkey and the Ottoman Empire, with a good lobbing of the Lebanon and Morocco thrown in for good measure.
What exactly are mezze? Well they are small plates of tidbits, a bit like tapas or antipasti. But unlike tapas, they are not intended to tickle your taste buds, but to give them a jolly good drubbing. They can be hot or cold, salty, spicy and savoury. They are often simple and always delectable; something to relish; a sublime eating experience. What's not to like? Eating lovely food with good friends, and bite size morsels of deliciousness.
- Beyaz penir (white Turkish sheep's milk cheese - a bit like feta), marinated with lemon peel, garlic and olive oil
- Black Kalamata olives
- Cracked green olives, marinated with onion, garlic and chilli
- Pickled, roasted red peppers
- Fried halloumi cheese with fresh lemon juice
- Fried sucjuk (a spicy Turkish sausage, flavoured with cumin)
- Merguez with green peppers (a Moroccan lamb sausage flavoured with harissa)
- Hummous with olive oil and smoked paprika - this is usually made with chickpeas, but you can make a delicious version with broad beans
- Soft flatbread, such as Yufka from Turkey
The afternoon began on a warm sunny Sunday afternoon in mid July and stretched long into the evening on Heathcliffe's balcony. I cannot begin to tell you what a fabulous day it was. I met one of my dearest friends, who frankly is one of the most awe-inspiring people I have ever met. Seriously . . . he has the brain the size of a planet, yet he is funny, witty and charming - party geek genius, part creative dynamo, who loves his food and his music. Everyone should have a friend like Heath.
And that day I got to meet one of Heath's favourite people, the divine Asad. A man after my own heart who I felt as if I had known forever from the moment we said hello. Probably one of the most beautiful people I have ever met on the inside and the outside. He called me "his little red firefly" (bless his rose-tinted glasses!)and I think he looks like A Rebel With A Cause - totally heavenly!
So with truly epic food, eclectic music, lashings of wine and fabulous company (you boys know who you are), it was a most agreeable mezze feast indeed. And personally, I think a mezze feast means "there's a party going on in my mouth!"