Middle Eastern cooks gain attention
A really excellent and informative article from the NYTimes on Middle Eastern cuisine. The only thing misleading was implying that Mourad Lahlou in SF is a newcomer to Middle Eastern spices.
Lahlou is a Moroccan who came to San Francisco to attend college, and ended up cooking for his friends instead. He opened his first restaurant in 1998 and both have always been Moroccan cuisine. These days Lahlou is actually more CA fusion than Moroccan, but he still retains his Moroccan roots in the spicing of his dishes, although there is a fair amount of Asian and French influence as well.
We think Lahlou's current restaurant Aziza, opened in 2001, is one of the finest restaurants in SF. If you ever visit, Aziza is food that no one else does in a city that holds almost 4,000 restaurants within a 7-mile radius. And his pastry chef, Melissa Chou, is absolutely brilliant. We highly recommend it!
So between the Times article covering NYC and Aziza on the West Coast, you've got choices no matter which coast you visit, LOL. But do read the article if you're interested -- it's got a wealth of info on the Middle East's varied regional cuisines and what's happening with its new young chefs who are running their own restaurants and interpreting their culinary roots in new ways.
Here is a link that might be useful: NYTimes: