Al-Baraki in Cohoes

Physicians in this country, besides deploring the way most Americans eat, often extol the benefits of the so-called “Mediterranean diet.” We could all probably cite certain elements of this heart-healthy fare such as olive oil, fruits, vegetables, small amounts of meat, and so on. But, one might ask, what specific countries does it center on? One article I found recently suggests Italy, Spain, France, Morocco, Greece, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and Israel as sources for this type of cooking, so woohoo ! I believe we could all live with cuisine from those areas without feeling deprived. Hummus, pita bread, grape leaves, paella, and Greek salad, for example, would add up to a pretty tasty meal.

Last night we visited a pleasant medium-sized, Lebanese restaurant on Remsen Street in Cohoes called Al-Baraki. Originally situated on River Street across the Hudson in Troy, this family-run establishment is the total package: good service and good food at reasonable prices. The friendly staff from waitress, daughter Maya right up to chef Paul and his wife, all seem to want to make sure that you’re enjoying your meal. We had eaten at their Troy restaurant a couple of times and noticed the new location while on a walk through downtown Cohoes in November. Finally, we remembered to try out their new place this weekend.

After perusing the menu, we started out sharing their mezza sampler, a combination of hummus, baba ghannouj, a grape leaf with their own yummy garlic dressing, two falafel, tabouli, and some pickled radish. It was all very fresh tasting. I especially appreciated the tabouli—the best I’ve ever had, full of fresh herbs and lemon. For my main dish I took Maya’s suggestion about their oven pies. Although it was hard to pass on the one with goat cheese and mozzarella, I selected the lower-cal, lower-cholesterol spinach version. I was not at all disappointed in the small crusty pizza and highly recommend it. In fact, this total vegetarian meal did not leave me, the ultimate carnivore, wanting for meat at all. Now I really want a Lebanese cookbook! Our only splurge, calorie-wise, was the homemade baklawa for dessert, a version of what most of us consider the Greek classic which has the same combo of nuts, cinnamon, and phyllo dough.

All in all, this experience has taught me that there is a way to find and cook very healthy, delicious meals without going vegan—not that there’s anything wrong with that, if you're into it. Mediterranean cuisine does exactly what doctors and author Michael Pollan recommend: treat meat as a side; eat real food, not too much, mostly plants; don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. And, I would add, enjoy yourself while you’re eating it! Try Al-Baraki; you'll like it.


Post a Comment

Newer Post Older Post Home



Recent Comments