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Phoenicia
3381 Adams Avenue,
Normal Heights
(619) 282-4120

Rose water was the Coca-Cola of the Ancient World. It tastes pink and cool -- and like the smell of roses. People sold it in the summer heat on the streets of ancient Mediterranean cities such as Byblos and Tyre. Nouhad Salame, the wife of Joseph, who runs Phoenicia as a restaurant and bakery, learned the art of making rose juice from rose petals back in Lebanon, up in the mountains where roses and cedars grow. She turns them into concentrates, which she pours into dark wine bottles and sells for $8 each. "They make about ten glasses," she says. While you're there, sit down and order some food to go with the rose juice. A "Phoenicia Combination Special," including tabbouleh, hummus, bread, rice, grape roll, cabbage roll, kafta kabob, and baked eggplant ($6.95) would go well, but their specialty is kibbeh neyeh, a special for two people of "cracked wheat blended with fresh lamb, onions, and our special seasoning; $10.95." Kibbeh is the once-a-week meat dish for the otherwise vegetarian Lebanese villagers. "In Lebanon, after church on Sunday -- we're Christians -- we'd eat it, with meat -- usually goat meat, and usually raw," says Joseph. Warning: order kibbeh neyeh a day ahead.

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