BUILDING A BETTER MEZZE. Step 1: Labne

By Lucia January 27, 2017

These guys signal the beginning of what might be the best item to come out of Clover in 2017.

If you haven’t had Mezze before, it’s a way of eating that exists all over the Middle East. Creamy dips, chunky spreads, preserved vegetables, cooked vegetables, pickled things, raw salads, and pita bread. It’s often eaten while drinking alcohol, which I think is such a good idea. It’s also a wonderful way to get a lot of vegetables into a meal that feels satisfying.

We started making a Mezze Platter back in 2012. Rustic hummus plus a selection of our salads we make each day. It’s good. But we don’t think it’s nearly good enough. Ayr said he’s going to send Chris to Turkey to learn from the masters of Mezze. And while he waits for the plane tickets to come in, we are researching traditional Mezze elements and thinking about how we could make good Clover versions. I’ll be chronicling the process here, and you can see it for yourself by attending our weekly Food Development Meeting. First up: Labneh.

What is Labneh?

Labneh is a strained yogurt common in Lebanon, kind of like a cream cheese, a bit sour.

Where should we source it? Should we make our own?

We tasted 4 different types of labneh. We also tasted our favorite Mass-grown Sidehill Farm yogurt that we strained ourself (my dad makes his own thicker yogurt this way). We liked Sophia’s (Belmont, MA) and Victor’s (New York) the best. They were both rich, flavorful, and had good viscosity.
We’d ideally like to use Sophia’s. It is expensive, though. And we need to talk to Rabbi Dolinger to see if it’s Kosher.

Should we whip the yogurt with a paddle mixer before serving it?  

This makes very little difference in the final taste/viscosity. Waste of time!

How should we garnish?

We tasted a bunch of different garnishes. We loved za’atar, we loved sumac, and we loved the chopped preserved lemons the best.

What’s next?
Now that we have a Labneh we love, we can start using it as an ingredient. Carrot tzadziki, beet labne, and more.
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