500 pounds of hummus.

Just think about how much glorious deliciousness that is…

They make it.
On the daily.

And that’s where my friend suggested we meet up for lunch.

Yea. He gets mad points for that…

(I mean…if I kept up with such things as brownie points.)

Love having the opportunity and flexibility as a business owner to visit with friends and evaluate new establishments.

This lunch meeting was a little bit of business and pleasure mixed together.

And, he owed me a beer.
It was time to collect…

Had not seen his face in forever.

Forever, in this case is defined as, oh…20 months or so.

It was time.

We decided on lunch.

He said, “Give me some ideas on cuisine. I will take it from there.”

I told him…”I eat ALL the foods.”

And then, I quickly followed up with, “I’m kidding. I mean…I do eat (almost) ALL the foods…but you know, it would be nice to eat something ethnic and cultural with yummy spices. Eating out with the kid is typically a burger or pizza situation. Even more important…a place where I don’t have to yell at you over the noise would be nice too. I’d like to actually hear what’s going on in your life instead of trying to read your lips and fill in the gaps.”

He opted for Neomonde Mediterranean Raleigh.

It was perfect.
A brilliant choice.

I’d like to think if I lived in Raleigh, this would already be a top fave place on my list.

But I don’t.

And, this was my first time.
(Not to be my last.)

I got there a little ahead of him and was immediately delighted by his choice. Both shop (there’s a grocery store at this location) and restaurant, there was plenty to feast on (with my eyes), before I even decided what to put in my mouth.

I grabbed a menu (wanting to get a “lay of the land” and not hold things up because I couldn’t make a decision) and fell in love with this place even more after a quick glance..

“If you’re a first timer…”

There it was.
The power of suggestion.
And I rested easy.

Why, yes. I am a first timer.
A meal combo that includes baklava?!
I’m allll yours.

So, Neomande has been in the area since 1977. They provide Mediterranean cuisine inspired by traditional Lebanese cooking. (YUM!) They mix traditional and contemporary fare using fresh, simple ingredients (as Cecilia, noted as the Saleh family matriarch, did back in the day), and offer various options to accommodate different diets (vegetarian, vegan, wheat-free – for example).

Their menu includes a few different FUN FACTS, but it was the amount of hummus they make daily that caught my eye.

I love hummus.

And, if you already know me, you know that I make it at home.

And I love doing that.
But I still love ordering it out.

I never seem to get it as smooth as others can.

(That might be a tool issue. Maybe my processor isn’t robust enough. But it’s fine. I enjoy the best of both worlds with little complaining.)

Anyways, my meal included 1/2 pita, two sides and a pastry.

I KNEW one of those sides was going to be hummus.

“Do you want olives and oil on your hummus?”

She asked me after my momentary sandwich indecision.

“Yaasss!”

I said.

“Please.”

I added.

Lunch was wonderful.

This location offered both indoor and outdoor seating. We sat outside under the fans and enjoyed the quick conversation that happens between two friends who only have a lunch break to cover an almost 2 year block of time.

Chicken pita.
Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad
Hummus
Pistachio Baklava

And a couple of added treats: a Blackberry seltzer and a Sesame bar.

It was sweet and savory, nutty and fresh, filling – and wholesome – the kind of lunch that fuels the body for what’s ahead.

Our time together went too quickly.

And what’s ahead differs for each of us…big, beautiful, creative futures that will require the best of what’s in us to shine through…but, at least, I’m pretty sure I won’t have to wait another 18 to 20 months to find out what his “ahead” looks like.

As I see it, he still owes me a beer.

And Raleigh offers plenty of breweries to explore.