Annual Lebanese Festival provides authentic tastes | Food Feature | Indy Week

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Annual Lebanese Festival provides authentic tastes

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UPDATED APRIL 3, 7:30 a.m.

Remember how the Avengers rewarded themselves after defeating Loki and his army of space aliens by having shawarma? Well, after the almost-as-daunting task of making it through another week of work or school, you can reward yourself with authentic shawarma and more for at the annual Lebanese Festival on Saturday, April 4, at Raleigh's City Plaza.

This is the 17th year of the festival. Designed to introduce you to Lebanese culture and help promote a better understanding of it, the event features dance performances, live music, games and lots of food, beer and wine.

Ah, the food. We're talking the real deal because instead of relying on large restaurants to provide the fare, the festival's cuisine is prepared by Lebanese locals using traditional Lebanese recipes, many of which have been handed down through generations. Tabouli, hummus, baklava, falafel and many more dishes will be available.

There will also be Lebanese wines and beer available at the festival. The wine can be especially difficult to find in retail outlets. Lebanese vintners tend to model their approach on the French. They also do a lot of blending of grapes. The Reserve du Couvent red that will be available at the festival has enough complexity to make it worth a taste. On the beer side, if it's a sunny, spring-like day, then a bottle of Almaza will be an excellent complement. It's a pilsner style that drinks smoothly and offers a hint of sweetness at the finish.

Performances include the U.S. national anthem by NC State's Ladies in Red at noon followed by the Lebanese national anthem by Oubayda Baytie, visiting from Texas. The Ladies in Red will also perform at 12:20 p.m. and Baytie will take stage several times throughout the day. Dancers include Layliannah, Xenia, Cristina and Gabriella. Don't be surprised if you get invited to take a turn at learning the proper way to sway and shimmy!

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