We can all be very different in our traditions, lifestyles and ages but I personally believe that we all have a common passion in life or let me express that with more ascertainment; we all have in common, a way to celebrate and memorize each event by gathering around a table and eating! Food, is one of the most defining forces in all societies. It brings people together and spices up each one’s life with new discoveries of tastes and flavors…Enabling new social bonds that are the core of new partnerships and friendships…
In similar fashion to that description, I got the chance to discover during one of my epicurean experiences at a wine tasting session, the owner and concept developer of a notable French Bistro: “Le Petit Gris”, Makram Rabbath. Apart from sharing the same passion for food and wine, we cherish the importance of cooking from scratch using fresh and natural ingredients concurring that good food should be at the heart of every restaurant and every good restaurant should be at the heart of every street in Beirut and other Lebanese cities. Makram, graduated from the Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne and after 15 years of combined experiences in the restaurants business and events management he decided to open his own restaurant.Having worked wih a big Chef at Caviar House in Geneva in 1996, and having had a great affinity towards French cuisine he decided to focus on it. However, his big concern was the large amount of butter and fat used while cooking and thus decided to revisit some traditional recipes by eliminating fatty substances without denaturing them and succeeded at doing that! His partner Mazen Chehab who shares the same passion for food and wine joined him in this adventure a couple of months after the project’s birthdate!
Le Petit Gris is in reality a type of snails as there are more than 100 categories of snails in the world; in Paris two main ones are consumed: Le Petit Gris and L’escargot de Bourgogne. And several weeks, before the opening of his restaurant (in 2011), Makram was on a business trip in Paris and had consumed one night for dinner at a famous restaurant snails of the Petit Gris category… A couple of days later his spiritual DNA, sent him a message of naming the restaurant: Le Petit Gris after this bountiful meal! The snails are Today one of the bistro’s most famous specialty and the bistro is everything but: “Petit” (which means small) and “Gris” (which means Grey).My successive lunches and dinners leave nothing but buoyant memories of a vibrant atmosphere.
On my first visit to Le Petit Gris, located in Gemmayzeh, i gorged myself on several entrées, specialties, and main courses that I happily shared and truthfully enjoyed. As they say “Simple is beautiful”, I’d say “Simple is genuinely succulent”! There are no secret ingredients or magic weapons inside the kitchen in the chef’s hands… There is just the flare of freshness and the use of organic ingredients (upon seasonal availability) that just makes the whole difference and leaves your taste buds fully satisfied and joyfully satiated!
Contrary to people’s beliefs, the organic agriculture isn’t a recent trend… However, it is the product of the development of the biochemistry field before the second world war that gave birth to synthetic fertilizers that started being used in agriculture.
Interesting fact: Knowing that the main purpose of using fertilizers and pesticides is to increase the production rate; The Soviet Union used to provide Cuba with half the food importations as well as all the necessary fertilizers and pesticides for their agricultural productions. Within the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba became independent, producing half the agricultural production … their daily caloric intake decreased from 2800 calories to 1800 calories due to the lack of resources for their food production and thus started with the idea of farming without using fertilizers and pesticides and thus induced organic agriculture!
Reasons for buying/consuming Organic
1-It’safer since it is pesticides and insecticides free especially for pregnant women since studies have shown that insecticides and pesticides are toxic when ingested and can easily penetrate the tissue of the placenta and negatively affect the growth of the newborn.
2-It’s a healthier alternative for kids whom organs and cells are still growing. Thus, any load of toxic pesticides and insecticides will accumulate in their bodies affecting their neurons, brains development, nervous system and hormones that will negatively affect the growth of the child.
3-Comparative studies have shown that organic fruits or vegetables have 50% more nutrients than non-organic ones. Therefore, eating at least once per week organic products would definitely be beneficial.
4-It is another way to strengthen the sector of the Lebanese farming encouraging Lebanese farmers to remain in the field.
The Food experience at LPG:
Being a Dietitian and a foodie might sound controversial to many but have always entailed me to enjoy life in all its forms.The first rule to eating right when eating out is to apply the concept of sharing food as I always recommend it: ‘Always share food, never eat alone’.Secondly,always begin your meal with salads and vegetables as they provide enough fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fills up the stomach, leaving a little space for the main course. The ideal portioning of the plate should always be: 50% salad, 25% Carbohydrates and 25% Proteins.
~*Salads that You must try
Exquisite, unique in flavors and organic “Salade de Chèvre Chaud” (warm goat cheese salad)
Another mouthwatering “Organic salad”:
Le Petit Gris salad:
Fresh artichoke salad with organic greens, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, mustard and truffle oil vinaigrette… A true delicacy!
~*Entrees to be shared
One of my all-time favorite salmon tartare that’s rich in proteins, omega-3 and is tremendous.. It’s picture is just worth a thousand descriptive words..
Oeuf cocotte facon Mamie Manette is a definite must try! And I insist on that for a certain reason! Order it and share it with your loved ones… You will surprisingly detect the natural taste of an organic egg with a cream of fresh mushrooms mixed to mascarpone cheese and chives with a hint of hazelnut oil..
Croquilles d’escargots! (Recipe found in the video below)
In the beginning of the middle ages, snails enjoyed the advantage of being considered neither fish nor meat hence making them an ideal food to be consumed during the lent period! They are low in calories ( 70Cal/100g) and are rich in proteins (75% proteins) and low in fat (15%fat).They are a great source of Iron, Calcium, Phosphorus, Copper, Magnesium, Potassium and Lectin that possesses anti-cancer properties and helps in boozing the immune system…
Interesting Fact: the snails slime is extremely rich in allantonin collagen and elastin, beneficial for the treatment of skin diseases and broken bones! In addition, a copper peptide found in the secretion is used for creating creams that are useful in minimizing scars and wounds!
~*The main course
I never recommend the daily consumption of red meat and always focus on seafood but I do occasionally indulge and have a burger my way… That’s what Flexitarianism is all about! (A Flexitarian is a flexible vegetarian that could enjoy consuming red meat occasionally). Reducing the red meat consumption to less than 500g per week is recommended by the National Cancer Institute in order to reduce the risk of developing cancer…
At Le Petit Gris you will find one of the best burgers you’ll ever try… The secret in my opinion lies in the meat composition that’s at 99% purely meat without the fatty greasy white cheap substance that you find elsewhere at 50% to 60% of your burger’s meat composition..
You can remove the upper bun to save a couple of calories (around 120) and enjoy 10 to 15 fries…
Other delicious main courses can also be found and are all based on the same concept of preparing food from scratch using natural ingredients… And, soup lovers there’s a great section for you too! And a bonus recipe in the video found below!
You can also find at Le Petit Gris a wide range of local and French wines that please your palate! Remember that moderation is the key!
As today’s new definition of this bistro’s cuisine is “Bistronomie” that combines genuine methods of cooking to lighter alternatives based on freshness, natural and organic ingredients, I strongly hope that many bistro and restaurants that serve divergent cuisines will follow the same vision and belief in order to serve healthier food and rely on the use of natural and simple ingredients…
My affinity for this tendency motivated me to prepare and present an episode (on November 27th,2015) filmed at Le Petit Gris during my weekly TV segment on OTV (every Thursday at 9h10am). You could watch the details of a fun and enjoyable experience cooking with Makram and sharing recipes that could be easily prepared at home to be part of an exquisite lunch table or a warm and cozy dinner one!
Dietitian Nicole Maftoum