Simple, Delicious Middle Eastern Recipes from Fashion Designer Reem Acra
Fashion designer Reem Acra shares the simple Middle Eastern recipes she eats at home for breakfast, "on top of books" for lunch and with 50 guests for dinner.
There's an undeniable fabulousness to setting out 500 exquisite little mezze plates on a vast table. Designer Reem Acra has served tabbouleh this way for one of her over-the-top parties, using a parsley-heavy, bulgur-light recipe that reflects her Lebanese background. She has also been known to hire a makeup artist to transform guests to fit a Jazz Age theme; or she'll direct half a dozen handsome waiters in red fezzes to line up and offer greetings at the door. "This is now referred to as 'Reem Acra style,'" she declares in her soft voice, her sequin-toed Miu Miu sneakers hinting at her love of glamour—one that translates into the red-carpet gowns she designs for Angelina Jolie and Halle Berry, and the lacy wedding dresses she sells at her Manhattan boutique.
Acra's New York City apartment doubles as both party venue and personal hideaway. Roses fill the rooms and gold covers every possible surface: the walls, the ceiling, the one-of-a-kind plates. "I must have gold," Acra says. She often juxtaposes modern materials with something old and beautiful: A Plexiglas dining room table frames an embroidered purple velvet tapestry that is a centuries-old Turkish bedspread.
The designer eats in grand fashion, even when she's not entertaining. "You should take a look at my breakfast," she says. "See this table? Half of it would be filled with silver plates. I eat breakfast like a queen." Acra starts the day with foods from her childhood, like freshly made creamy hummus with toasted pine nuts, which she eats with a caviar spoon. Occasionally, she'll have lunch at home—perhaps luscious, cumin-spiced lentil soup—but more often, she eats at her desk, "in five minutes, on top of books." At the end of the day, she rushes back to her apartment in Chelsea. "This is how I survive the fashion world," she says. "I come home. For me, it's such a happy place."