The Sweet Boutique That Will Whisk You Away

When Salem Akiki first invited me to come explore his new pastry shop Whisk in Naccache, I did what all modern-day stalkers and sleuths do: I jumped onto his Instagram page and carefully combed through photo after photo of edible artwork.
A stunning charlotte aux fruits rouges crowned with raspberries and dusted with confectioner’s sugar. A block of chocolate with crushed almonds peeking through the surface, topped with clouds of piped latte-tinged cream and coffee beans. A veritable mountain of cream puffs decorated with candied chestnuts and meringue in what is surely the artist’s take on Mont Blanc.
Studying these photos in complete awe, I was reminded of Cyril Lignac, France’s cherished patissier and TV celebrity chef whose sweet renderings are breathtaking and, as my last trip to Paris confirmed, worth their weight in gold.
So on a calm Saturday afternoon, I paid a visit to Whisk, which beautifully channels sunlight and minimalist d├ęcor in true Parisian spirit to display its jewel…

Daou Vineyards: Fine Californian Wine with a Lebanese Twist

Like many Lebanese who were sucked in to the ravaging Civil War, Georges and Daniel Daou’s emigration from their homeland is a common one. The brothers fled to Paris and thereafter to southern France when an errant rocket struck their family home at the start of the violence. Later, they would transplant half way across the world to pursue engineering degrees at the University of California San Diego.
What is rather uncommon, and admittedly very courageous, is how they went from being successful techies to passionate winemakers in their newfound home and heartland.
It seems the Daou duo always yearned to partake in the beauty of the land and nature. In their minds, they held sacred their grandfather’s ancient olive trees and often reveled in the vineyards from childhood visits to the family village.

When Daniel decided that the time was ripe to find a terroir conducive to producing Cabernet Sauvignon, the brothers stumbled upon a mountain in the Adelaida District, nestled in the rugged…

Learn How to Cook with Top Chef & Culinary Genius Maroun Chedid

Maroun Chedid is no rising star in the Mediterranean culinary galaxy. He is the star around which both established heavyweights and aspiring chefs strive to revolve, and today he’s scintillating more than ever.
Hailed as the “jeweler of gastronomy,” Chedid was awarded Chef of the Year by the Toques Blanches du Monde gastronomical association in 2013, in part for developing and spreading the beauty of Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisines around the world. A native of Saghbine in the Bekaa Valley, Chedid pays homage to nature by incorporating local and seasonal ingredients in his edible artwork.

More recently, you’d recognize him from his morning cooking shows on MTV Lebanon, which aired from 2012 to 2015 and showcased his ability to modernize traditional dishes with both technique and element. Presently, Chedid features in the Arabic language adaptation of the world-famous reality culinary competition TV series Top Chef Middle East, now in its second season and televised throughout the Ar…

Feel-Good Vibes at Lancaster Plaza's Prime18

One of the most charming corners of our country has to be the Raouche area. The iconic rock formations emerging off the shore; picturesque seaside surrounds; a massive sidewalk that stretches for kilometers. It’s the perfect spot to watch planes make their descent into Beirut International Airport. Seven years ago, when I moved to Lebanon, I frequented these parts thrice weekly to soak up the Mediterranean sun.
Lately, however, Raouche has fallen off my radar, and I wanted to revisit it. So on an uneventful Friday night during this inclement Beirut winter, we made our way to the newly unveiled Prime18 perched on the 18th floor of the Lancaster Plaza.
I’d never stepped foot inside the hotel before. In fact, it’s almost easy to overlook despite its prominent position on the seaboard, just opposite to the Movenpick. A doorman ushers you in to a swift security check before you’re invited to alight the elevator. Step off on the 18th, and a dim lounge engulfs you with its warmth.
To the right,…

The Secret to an Endless Summer? Sangria in a Bottle!

While on honeymoon in Italy three years ago, I made a startling discovery: the Italians take their cocktails seriously. Very seriously. Seriously enough to bottle them up and sell them in a format perfect for versatile enjoyment.
We were at the train station in Rome awaiting an outbound train to Florence when we stumbled across Campari Orange Passion, a ready-to-serve cocktail aperitif combining Campari, orange juice and brown sugar inside a glass bottle. Practically packaged. Taste on point. Perfection just a lid-snap away.
Well, it seems the Spaniards are equally as serious in the cocktail department as their neighbors to the east, because guess what? The Spanish national drink – sangria, naturally – can be had in a similar, cocktail-ready presentation.

Sangria Lolea is the brainchild of a group of friends who wanted to channel excellent sangria crafted from good wine and natural ingredients. But any mixologist knows that the traditional Spanish cocktail requires dousing fruit in win…