Our hotel in Luxor was next door to probably the best restaurant in town, lauded in and recommended by all of the guidebooks flashed around town: Sofra. Set in a restored 19th-century house, it was a gorgeous environment to enjoy classic Egyptian dishes. We perused the menu and elected to try the mezze platter. Mezze is the Egyptian version of tapas: a collection of small dishes that can be enjoyed individually as appetizers or together as a meal. There were about eight choices each of hot and cold dishes, and we were able to choose which ones we wanted to sample. I’ll start at 12 o’clock and go clockwise, ending in the middle.
1. Possibly our favourite dish so far in Egypt. Basterma bil bid, supposedly slices of spicy smoked beef with fried eggs, was so much more than this. It was served on what tasted like a kind of bean mixture (I’m not sure what was up with the eggs), and the mix of spices in both was heaven in every bite.
2. Salated adas: lentil salad. Tasty, with a slight bit of vinegar and fresh herbs.
3. Khiyar bil zabadi: yoghurt with cucumber, mint, and dill. Christine’s not a fan of dill, and this was a little drippy. Nice, fresh, and cool, but probably our least favourite.
4. Baba ghanough. Everyone knows this, and this tied the best that we’d had in Egypt (that being in a luxury hotel buffet). Slightly smoky and full of flavour, we loved this one.
5. Gebna wa zatoun. White cheese & olives with herbs. A little salty – that’s a basic kind of cheese here – but the fennel, coriander, and cumin add a nice bit of flavour.
6. Daoud basha. Meatballs with rice and pine nuts in a spicy tomato sauce. They may just be meatballs, but they were really well-made and tasty.
7. Sambousa (samosas). There was a meat (ground beef, I believe) and one vegetable (some kind of green – spinach?). The dough was filo, so they were really nice and light. I wish we had had more than just two.
8. Khodar mahshi: mixed grilled vegetables. Done just right in a mixture of herbs.
Add bread to all of this and we realized that we were quite full as we wiped the last dish clean. This place is definitely worth checking out if you’re in Luxor.