Food & Drink » Nosh Pit

You haven't lived until you've had the labneh from Maraya Restaurant

Nosh Pit: Our favorite tastes around town



There's a saying in Lebanon: You haven't lived until you've had labneh. OK, that isn't exactly true, but when I first tried Violette Haddad's labneh ($8.99) at Maraya Restaurant near the Florida Mall, I felt like I hadn't lived, then I nearly died from the swoon this ethereal Middle Eastern cream cheese induced.

It's wonderfully tart (but not too tart), with the texture of yogurt and a cheesy finish – and I mean that in a good way. It's typically served for breakfast with a little olive oil, pita bread and tea, or for lunch and dinner with olives, pickles, cherry tomatoes and scallions, with arak, the Levant's most potent potable.

Personally, I enjoy it as is, usually after a meal of kebabs or falafel (Maraya serves the city's best falafel, by the by) in the same vein one would enjoy an after-dinner cheese course.

The process is simple, but it takes a few days: First Haddad boils a blend of raw cow's and goat's milk, leaves it to cool, then adds yogurt, which she also makes from scratch. After the mixture cools for about eight hours, Haddad places it in cheesecloth and hangs it in the refrigerator for three days. The resulting labneh is then ready to eat, and eat it you will. It might take a while before your eyes roll back to the front of your head. Consider it a pro of this propitious probiotic.


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.