Lebanon Comes to Perth - theHumm November 2018
Lebanon Comes to Perth - theHumm November 2018
By Sebastian Weetabix
Downtown Perth as experienced by Weetabix is usually Gore Street with occasional rambles around Stewart Park or the Farmers’ Market. Otherwise Weetabix is not much given to urban tourism, although there is much fine architecture to be enjoyed in town. A walk along Drummond Street offers not only visual entertainment but also an opportunity to reflect on the philosophical distance between the Court House and the Hospital — both of which deal with deviations from what we hope is our normal condition. An accident of occupancy (parking places east of Foster were not available) and a small neon sign proclaiming “open” created the circumstances for discovery and lo, Gore Street extends past Foster as far as Beirut!
The time is well after lunch, but it is always falafel time, and J.J’s, for those who did not pick up the Beirut reference, specializes in Lebanese cuisine. Readers not familiar with the genre should know that Lebanon is a very distinct part of what we generally see as the Middle East. Through the intersection of multiple cultures and its position as an active centre of commerce, Lebanon developed a rich and complex culinary tradition integrating several major streams of culinary practice and ingredients with a culture of hospitality centered around leisurely meals in domestic settings. Not so much here — but traditional Lebanese dishes are also a form of fast food that surpasses the North American standard in several ways, including culinary variety and nutritional properties. Falafel, in particular, is the spearhead of a transformation in the fast food world — from cheap “empty” calories to a highly nutritious, delicious and plant-based meal that can simultaneously satisfy both physical and aesthetic hunger. Available as a platter or a sandwich (in pita of course), it provides a perfect base for a sit-down meal or a grab-and-go. Based on personal experience, Weetabix suspects that it may be addictive; it certainly is habit-forming and now it is available in Perth… which brings me back to J.J’s.
Outdoor signage and a small seating area (only five tables) suggest that the main focus of J.J’s is take-out, and a short menu on a card confirms the orientation. An open shawarma grill and a display of condiments have been laid out with both efficiency and visual appeal; there is also a larger kitchen and prep area in another room. The owner, Alain Makieh, is both chef-de-cuisine and front. Food is his passion and pride. He is happy to explain that everything in his establishment is fresh and made from scratch. Weetabix does not look for a can of scratch but can verify that Makieh has an uncompromising approach to his product. A quick decision is made to try a few items starting with a small falafel sandwich plus a stuffed vine leaf, some salad, and a piece of homemade baklava; enough for a mid-afternoon snack he thinks, correctly as it turns out. The food is ready with minimal wait and offered as requested, “ready to go” but consumed on the premises. It is very good. Lacking inhibitions about talking while eating, Weetabix engages in a short conversation with Makieh.
Perth is a long way from Beirut — and even longer since Makieh came via Australia in a multi-year odyssey which might be the subject of a separate article. He is an experienced chef with substantial experience, and after several years working in Ottawa, he decided that a smaller town offered better opportunities both in business and lifestyle. Community involvement and social action are key factors that drive him, and he is intimately and passionately committed to living a principled life. Leftover food from J.J’s goes to charity, not to a waste bin; and speaking of leftovers, my portions were generous but there weren’t any. There are, however, daily leftovers of some items since freshness is a key factor in all of Makieh’s preparations. Fresh and high-quality ingredients carefully sourced result in higher than average food costs but the results are worth it. A return trip will be made to sample the shawarma.
Falafel comes in many forms and has made its way into the North American mainstream in many variants. The basic element is a fritter/patty made from ground chick peas with a variety of spices and sometimes other legumes. This makes for a balance of protein and carbohydrates set off with a bit of fat picked up in the fryer — choice of oil is critical to the health-conscious (note: all vegetable oils are cholesterol-free) and is also an important factor in the flavour of the end product. Making a basic falafel is not difficult, but like all cooking, skilled preparation yields superior results. Together with a good selection of complementary ingredients, a falafel sandwich is truly a source of gastronomic delight — and better yet it can be enjoyed on the run with minimal risk since everything is held in place by a pita pocket. Caution is advised, however, as sauce and juices can run out the bottom. Tahini and hot sauce streaks on shirts and ties are not yet in fashion! Baklava must be sampled, not explained.
Weetabix suggests the possibility of dining in as well as take-out, and make sure you ask Makieh to explain dishes that are unfamiliar to you. There is little risk and the flavour palate is both subtle and exotically familiar. Some North American favourites are on offer for the hard-core conservatives (aka stick-in-the-muds), so don’t worry — you do not need to get in at the deep end. For those already familiar with Lebanese food, know that it is now available in Perth and certainly worth a detour from the well beaten path. J.J’s is new in town but offers interesting and quality food at very friendly prices —overall a combination that should make it a local fixture. Go find 1 Gore Street West in downtown Perth or call 201–8700. Orders are taken by phone.
By Sally Hansen
Art… and Soul
For Perth fashion designer Cheryl Straby, designing and making original top-quality garments has become second nature. For over thirty years Straby has been perfecting her talent for creating fashions that bring out the best in her delighted clients. “Buy Less / Buy Better!” is her credo. She specializes in custom designed and made-to-measure garments, and her ever-growing success indicates she has found a niche with her eye-catching fashions that combine comfort,......
Who Let the GIRLZ Out? - theHumm November 2018
Rachelle Elie is gonna let the girlz out (guyz are most welcome too!) for an absolutely fabulous night on Friday, November 23 in Carleton Place. She is bringing her popular Rag Bag Cabaret to the CP Arena this time, with a very special line-up that is sure to please the ladies.
Hosted by Rachelle Elie and featuring music by Luke Jackson, the Rag Bag Cabaret GIRLZ Night Out will also include award-winning sketch comedy by Crush Improv, stand-up comedian Jenn Haywar......
A Sure Thing (or Three…) - theHumm November 2018
By Rob Riendeau
There aren’t that many sure things in this world, that’s for sure. Death, taxes, and an excellent beer from a local craft brewer are about it most of the time. But this month, I have three guaranteed-to-be-great shows for you to check out.
First of all, music fans should definitely make plans to catch Joey Wright with Brownstone when they play The Cove Country Inn in Westport on November 23. This show will also feature Jenny Whiteley.
You may remember Joey as one of the leading lights in the ex......
By — Judith Scott
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It’s a lot of fun to play with the words of a well-known comic song, one that features in the upcoming Mississippi Mudds production of The Mikado. This lively, funny, colourful and entertaining show opens at the Carleton Place Town Hall on November 30.
Many months ago I was invited to manage the costumes for th......
By Tony Stuart
Like many of you who are reading this column, I was thrilled when Christa Lowry was elected as the newest mayor of Mississippi Mills. Christa is a thoughtful, dedicated, and articulate individual. What some of you may not know is that Christa is also a professional trumpet player. Despite being incredibly busy in the aftermath of the municipal election, Christa took the time to thoughtfully answer some questions about how her musical journey has helped her to prepare for this new role. I’m gr......
By Miss Mills
I sure hope you’re reading this column early in the month, ‘cause you’ll want to get an early start on all the happy happenings in Mississippi Mills.
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Books for Podcast Lovers - theHumm November 2018
By — Meriah Caswell is the Manager of Library Service at the Carleton Place Public Library
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2018 CP Holiday Train Celebrating 20 years of Helping Food Banks Across North America - theHumm November 2018
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By David Rain
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May 22 - Sep 5 Head Over Heels
Jun 11 - Jul 9 Eric Uren on the Patio
Jul 1 Chris Murphy
Jul 1 Canada Day
Jul 2 Basia Bulat
Jul 2 - 3 Perth Antique Show & Sale
Jul 2 - 3 Almonte Celtfest
Jul 2 - 3 Rideau Lakes Studio Tour
Jul 4 Jason Kent
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- Hummingbird Celebrates 10 Years!
- OUTERBRIDGE — Clockwork Mysteries Canada’s Grand Masters of IllusionReturn to the Station Theatre in Smiths Falls
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- Bloomfest Garden Art Show and Sale
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