Last Sunday was the grand opening of Tawlet Ammiq, Kamal Mouzawak‘s latest venture.
The restaurant is located in the Bekaa Valley, nudged between the village of Ammiq and a mountain range with a bird’s eye view of the valley beyond. The restaurant and village of Ammiq sit on a natural reserve (UN protected site). It was designed with solar chimneys, Canadian wells, and an infrastructure aimed at minimizing the use of electricity as well as saving water and recycling most of the waste; all of the furnishings are made of recycled wood and lamp fixtures are made of recycled wine bottles. The restaurant proposes in addition to a fine organic local cuisine, various activities such as hiking in the reserve as well as children’s activities (nature-related).
Most commendable, however, is Kamal’s vision which always seeks to involve and support others; in this case, the folks in the village of Ammiq as well as those living in the West Bekaa Valley would be the ones directly involved in manning the kitchen, producing the food served in the restaurant nearby, and supplying the wine grown in the valley from one of the many major wineries. After all, the Bekaa Valley is a fertile land that supplied ancient Rome with grains in its heyday, wines in Biblical times and Lebanon’s most pressing agricultural needs in modern history. This venture will help revitalize the village of Ammiq and economically support many of its residents; it will also focus on the cuisine of that particular region.
In Kamal’s world, everyone from the janitor to the chef is crucial and important and is valued equally. Kamal’s boundless energy, generosity and sensitivity seems to be contagious and everyone on staff was friendly and helpful and the guests were relaxed and happy to be there.
Hand-painted bird mobiles hang from the ceiling with names of local birds. The cuisine reflects what the Bekaa Valley produces seasonally and that day the offerings were picked fresh from the surrounding gardens and included broad bean salad, fattoush, various kibbeh, spinach and bulgur, shanklish salad, among others, as well as a vast array of desserts.
On grand opening day, we spotted many dignitaries, politicians and their wives, designers and local celebrities as well as Ammiq’s mayor (who was smiling from ear to ear) but the restaurant ambiance was down-to-earth and low-key; everyone was busy savoring that wonderful cuisine du terroir.
Famed fashion designer Rabih Kayrouz graciously smiling for the shot.
Kamal managed to exchanged niceties with everyone there.
In the foreground, candied Seville orange peels, ‘arreesh cheese served with honey (similar to ricotta), milk cookies and cookies made with grape molasses, as well as a wonderful knefe with cheese, the lightest I have ever had.
To reach Tawlet Ammiq by phone: (03) oo4481