episode 37 :: simply heaven


Before Americans started working their magic with the hot dog, the hamburger, and (gasp) macaroni and cheese, Syrians have been developing some of the most innovative food on earth. Heavily dependent on fresh ingredients (especially vegetables), Syrians are very particular about what goes into their food.  One ingredient that goes into their food that is undeniable however, is love.

Recently we were invited to dinner at the home of our new friends Ray & Afaf.  To call it dinner was an understatement.  I was overwhelmed with not only the quantity of dishes Afaf had prepared, but the quality as well.  Perfectly grilled kebabs, dips, fresh and cooked salads, meat, meat, and more meat — it was food overdrive.

In this week’s episode, I share my culinary experience with you.  I’m sure I didn’t nearly do it justice, and I more than likely disfigured the pronunciation of each dish (please forgive me).  But I can tell you it was a meal I will not soon forget.

In this episode:
• Dinner at the home of our newest food blogging sensation – Afaf
• McDonald’s finally did it.  They made Japan fat.
• In defense of Andrew Zimmern
• Duck bacon?  There’s only one bacon, and it comes from a pig.
• meatcards.com
Sean Paxton the home brew chef — perhaps the culinary world’s best kept secret
• Julie & Julia, coming this August

Listen to Episode 37 here.

Don’t forget to check out Afaf’s new blog Simply Heaven at www.simplyheavenfood.com

Music in this episode from Fila Brazillia.  If you like it, buy the song from Amazon.com. 89 cents and worth every single penny.


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  1. Phil!
    Ray & I can’t thank you enough for all your kind words during your podcast describing our gathering and your episode photos took me by surprise, you’re too kind. Of course the experience would not have been as fulfilling without good friends like you & Katrina. It was our utmost pleasure having you guys in our home, we feel truly blessed.
    Cheers to our new friends and may there be many many more food gathering experiences with you guys
    Ray & Afaf

  2. WOW what a meal. That sounds like a huge buffet. The pictures are amazing, and I would love to try to make some of those dishes.

    Love the show, and let me know if you start passing out those meat cards. Put me down for a few. YUM!

  3. Hey Phil-

    Thanks for sharing all the great details about your meal with Afaf. The descriptions, the pictures — it all looks and sounds amazing. I love, love, love food from that part of the world. Thanks for another fun pod cast too!



  4. Phil – another great show, thanks. Is it OK with you if I share some pictures from a Sean Paxton dinner? He’s got some good shots on his site too – along with some great recipes to cook at home.

    This is from a recent dinner of Sean’s in San Francisco.

  5. Thanks for your comments, everyone! Rick, it’s TOTALLY fine to post pics. The more you have, the better. Sean Paxton is a chef everyone who appreciates fine beer and gourmet food needs to know about. The man’s a workhorse and a magician with food.

    Everyone, Afaf’s meal was almost too hard to describe. It was wonderful. Thanks again for checking in and for listening!

  6. Awesome episode Phil! Peter got home around 10:30 tonight and after he settled in, we listened together.

    Great recap of Afaf’s AWESOME party.

    You always make us laugh, and THINK about things going on in the food world.


  7. Hey Phil, another great show. Really love that a food show can make me laugh every time.

    OK, I have to side with the anti-Zimmern crowd. She made all the same points about him that I would. He’s really annoying and he pretends to like the food he’s eating when you know he just doesn’t. Face it, this guy is no Anthony Bourdain… AZ’s Bizzare foods is nothing more than a freak show and I find his antics unsavory and childish. In the Shaman scene in Ecuador his “travel partner” translated that he wanted him to strip down to his boxers.

    How did his travel partner know he wore boxers? Hmmm… I think he likes raw external organs too.

  8. Thanks Jo and DV! Jo, I appreciate that you guys stayed up late to listen. Hope the show didn’t give you any food nightmares! 🙂

    DVegans, you are obviously not alone in your opinion of Zimmern. My wife can’t stand him, but I find it funny and educational. I think as long as people have an opinion of him, his show is working.

  9. The food looks and sounds great! I visited her site and it just looks amazing. I think you did it justice don’t worry!

    Also checked out Sean’s web site and the food there is gourmet to the max, yes. Is there a restaurant associated with this, or is it all special catering? Just wondered about that. And how can smoked duck breast sliced into pieces that are bacon shaped be called bacon? That makes no sense.

    Doing great Phil. Keep it up!

  10. Great episode Phil, loved the run down on that superb meal (you lucky dog you) and the riff on Zimmern et al.. Keep ’em coming man! Oh – good to see some beer content flowing once again as well. Nice.

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