Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Destination: Greek Paradise With Wild Discovery

As students, the image we form of Greece is a mythical land once home to Zeus and the gods of Mount Olympus. We read about Hades and the underworld, Prometheus carrying the earth upon his shoulders, and Dionysus cultivating his grapevines. We learn about Jason and the Argonauts and Medusa’s vile head of serpents.

But we’re never enlightened as to the natural paradise Greece was and still is. Deep blue skies, virgin forests, pale waters, and air so fresh it’ll keep you pumped up even as night falls. It’s no wonder some of the world’s fleshiest olives grow here, why plump, sweet grapes are harvested to ferment into wine.

Today when we think of Greece, our health-conscious minds conjure up visions of strained yogurt, figs and honey. Greece is where the Mediterranean diet thrives, and if you visit its lush landscape, you’ll immediately understand why.

So a month ago, I packed a solitary carry-on and boarded Aegean Airlines out of Beirut to Thessaloniki, via Athens, on a trip organized and hosted by Lebanon’s premiere travel agency, Wild Discovery. 9:30 a.m. on a Friday morning, we were already zooming across Halkidiki’s verdant terrain, destined for the tip of one of its jutting peninsulas called Kassandra.

The colors of placidity

Miraggio Thermal Spa Resort

An hour and half later, we arrived at Greece’s newest luxury resort and oasis, opened in May 2016. Miraggio is everything you’d associate with paradise, from the azure sea glistening from every angle you stand poised, to the soft sand sifting through your feet, to the amphitheatric setup of the 300 suites and rooms that frame this veritable Garden of Eden.

View from the lobby terrace

Nothing will prepare you for that walk-turned-sprint across the marble floors of Miraggio’s lobby, as you near the automatic glass doors that welcome you to the terrace and big blue yonder. This is no mirage: you’re seeing the seafront enclave 100% clearly.

The Miraggio lobby

And the suites are equally reflective of that majesty. A walk-in shower closet, a bathtub, sinks for him and her, a separate room for a toilet…you’re almost compelled to hole yourself up in your room and enjoy all the honey-based amenities. 

Double sink

Did I mention a big firm bed with a cluster of pillows representing the range of the softness scale? Or the cantilever table running the length of the room, festooned with art-worthy dessert and a bottle of spumante prosecco compliments of Miraggio? There’s a partial barrier dividing the bedroom from the salon area; slide open the door to admire your deck and plot of lawn.

Family suite

A sweet welcome treat in-room

Once you come to grips with the fact that is your room, and you can seek respite in it as often as you fancy, you allow yourself to go explore the premises. You could lounge by one of the several pools, sprawl out by the sea, take a dip, or just listen lazily to the gentle water lapping at the shore.

Down by the sea

For the ultimate pampering, Myrthia Thermal Spa is your utopia. Occupying 3,000 square meters, this space features thermal water pools with hydrotherapy jets in addition to seven modern treatment rooms to suit the needs of every guest. You feel the years sloughing off your skin as local thermal source water floods your pores and rejuvenates every iota of your being. To complete the effect, request a special fresh juice from the café situated inside the thermal spa.

Myrthia Thermal Spa with hydrotherapy jets

When it’s time to dine, Kritamo main restaurant packs in a buffet of handpicked local ingredients reflecting the Greek tradition of caring when cooking. For breakfast, expect a mind-boggling array of strained yogurts, honey, jams, cheeses, charcuterie, fresh fruit and cereals. There are omelets, pancakes and waffles being prepared à la minute, aside from over a dozen hot dishes cradling eggs, beans, steamed veggies, potatoes, and more.

A “Healthy Corner” comprises organic fruits, smoothies, gluten-free and bio products, honey from a native beekeeper, home-churned Greek yogurt, local delicacies and superfoods such as dried goji berries and flaxseeds. You’ll feel like royalty as you fill your silver tea kettle with hot water and select one of a variety of gourmet teabags.

Lunch and dinner can also be had here. Pile your plate high and amble out to the terrace, where breathtaking vistas will lull you into gastronomic ecstasy.

Kritamo opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner

Sani Resort

The only consolation I had for leaving Miraggio was the mammoth resort that awaited us in Sani, about a 45-minute drive into our return route to Thessaloniki. Stretching across 1,000 acres of fragrant pine forest, olive groves, golden beaches and crystal clear waters, Sani Resort was the shared dream of two visionaries who launched Sani Beach Club in 1971. The five-star property in Halkidiki sits on a privately-owned eco reserve comprising four internationally-awarded elite hotels each with a distinctive character.

Sani Beach

Sani Beach is located by the spellbinding Cape Sani and extends to Bousoulas Beach, whose sands are fringed with 6 km of pine. For a more private setting perched among hills, Sani Club houses bungalows with magnificent views over Mount Olympus and the Aegean. Porto Sani is ideal for families and boasts a sensuous spa suite with tailor-made aromatherapy treatments, while its lagoon pool is a hit with children. And finally, Sani Asterias is all about exclusivity and intimacy, from VIP beaches to Michelin-starred executive chefs. No extraordinary request is too far-fetched here.

We stayed in a double room trimmed with contemporary design and featuring its very own balcony, peering over Bousoulas. Families with children can opt for a number of accommodation types, from multi-bedroom family suites to deluxe beachfront properties. And that’s what truly distinguishes Sani from other resorts – the sheer diversity of lodgings available to guest parties of every size and character.

Bousoulas Beach

Besides the beach, Sani Resort harbors a luxurious haven for yachts along its marina. The piazza is studded with a dizzying array of eateries (don’t miss Vosporos Grill House and its succulent kebabs), as well as a row of chic boutiques selling top international brands.

Sani Marina

Be sure to have breakfast at Ammos, a chic bar-restaurant where guests can dig into the finest Greek and international cuisine against a backdrop of water caressing the shore. Crepes, omelets, fresh fruit and yogurt figure among the edibles, and you’d do well to sample the bulbous dried figs.

Greek strained yogurt, bananas, flax seeds, goji berries and honey

If it’s greenery you long for, there is an easy path through the woods skirting the long sandy Bousoulas, with views across the wetlands and bird sanctuary. Twice a day, a biodiversity expert leads tours originating from the lobby of Sani beach and winding through the forest. Spot tortoises and beehives along the way before reaching the Sani wetlands, declared a European Important Bird Area and home to more than 180 different kinds of birds.

Reach the forest mere minutes' walking distance from Sani Beach

Sani wetlands is a bird sanctuary

The beautiful thing about Sani is that you could never tire of it. With 34 bars and restaurants, endless expanses of blue waters and clear skies, and a suite of excursions you can embark on to animate your stay, Sani is a self-sufficient community. Come here to capitalize on its natural beauty and disconnect from the duress of daily life.

Closing Remarks

For a country as steeped in history as Greece, it’s surprising so much of it feels undiscovered. Halkidiki in particular, shaped like Poseidon’s trident and poking out into the Aegean Sea, is painted with blooming forests extending to the beach; golden sunlight reflected in the turquoise waters; and endless coves adding their own pristine touch to the unique natural canvas.

The major hotel complexes nestled here only underscore this intoxicating blend of blue and green. Rather than deter, they reverence. Rather than destroy, they preserve. It is this compatibility of nature and manmade habitat that make Halkidiki so enticing.

For many, Halkidiki is an annual mecca. In fact, 60% of business at Sani Resort is repeat, and customers are known to book the following year’s getaway upon checkout. I expect Miraggio will in time reap a similar statistic, because such idyllic environments can’t be found just anywhere.

Yet somehow Halkidiki would fool you into thinking they can. Because here, every corner of land is natural nirvana. 

Sani aerial view

Wild Discovery offers a variety of destination packages to Greece. If you're interested in visiting Halkidiki, start making plans for a trip next year anytime between April and October. For more details, consult a travel advisor at +961 1 565646.

This trip was organized and hosted by Wild Discovery Lebanon, in partnership with Aegean Airlines.

For the purposes of this article, a selection of pictures was reproduced from the photo galleries on the Miraggio Thermal Spa Resort and Sani Resort websites.

More images from the trip can be found on my Instagram account.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Classically Homey Armenian Food Spreads Across Beirut

I first remember reading about Onno on the blog Plus961. In it, blogger Rami Fayoumi, whom I finally met last week, raves about the Armenian restaurant nestled beneath a bridge in Bourj Hammoud. He cites the delicious homemade food, family-run operation, and incomparably low prices as unique selling points of Onno. It was thus that I committed the eatery to my bucket list.

But for one reason or another, mostly my inability to find Onno and the subsequent emergence of another viable contender to the Armenian cuisine scene (Batchig), I never did consummate my promise. Onno fell further and further into the recesses of my mind, and it wasn’t until I learned it had been franchised, opening bistros in Badaro and Hamra, that the spark of interest reignited.

Last weekend, we visited the newest outlet, straddling Hamra and Makdessi on Abdul Aal Street. Given it is Hamra, the restaurant is rather spacious, with a very Americanesque indented threshold for a front door. A bar runs the length of the restaurant, which itself is informally separated into two areas of differing ceiling heights.

Very homey feel at Onno Bistro, Hamra

We found a very capable and hospitable host in Abdo, who splits his time between Badaro and Hamra. Abdo briefly recounted the history of the founder, who passed away last year, and his desire that the food served in all outlets be reflective of his original dishes both in recipe and presentation. In comparing the cuisine we sampled with Plus961’s review, I am certain the owner would have been humbled by how well his creations are preserved.

We started with the hummus and pine nuts (12,000 LL), a thick blanket of sautéed slivered almonds and pine nuts atop a creamy bed of chickpea purée. Paired with the walnut-intensive and delightfully spicy muhammara (8,000 LL), it is a match made in heaven.

Clockwise from left: muhammara, Zeytov Dolma (stuffed eggplants),
and hummus caked with almonds and pine nuts

The muhammara is decked with walnuts!

The first of the Armenian specialties to land on our table was Zeytov Dolma (12,000 LL), baby eggplants stuffed with a mix of rice, boiled chickpeas and olive oil, all bathing in yogurt. It very much resembles Lebanese “me7she batenjen 2ate3” served during Lent.

Vospov Keufteh (12,000 LL) merge lentils and bulgur molded in the fist and accompanied by a sort of Pico de Gallo with parsley. This is another pulse-rich dish that could send a bear into his annual hibernation!

Vospov Keufteh are fist-formed from lentils and bulgur

Onno’s itch (10,000 LL) is unique from others I’ve tried, in that this Armenian tabbouleh is served warm. A mélange of bulgur, onions, tomatoes, and green peppers, it can be scooped with a wedge of cabbage.

The Armenian tabbouleh itch is served warm at Onno

I’ve always been a fan of anything cheese-filled, and the soubereg is no exception. Melted cheese oozes between layers of filo pastry sheets, but I’d go a step further and add fresh oregano or thyme to really give it character (12,000 LL).

Soubereg, or cheese-filled layers of filo pastry sheet

A meal can hardly be deemed Armenian if it is devoid of basterma, so we speared our tines through folds of the air-dried beef topped with fried quail’s eggs (14,000 LL). Divine.

Basterma topped with fried quail's egg

Where Onno really diverges from Batchig is in its manti (18,000 LL). Small pockets of dough are filled with minced meat and baked in the oven to a crunchy crisp. Tableside, a few tablespoons of thick tomato salsa are then spread over the dumplings, followed by cool laban. The result doesn’t come together as homogeneously as Batchig’s, and here’s why. Batchig opts for tomato juice, which soak up the tiny envelopes to a splendid sogginess. I suppose it’s a matter of preference, but I like my manti moist.

Meat-filled manti are baked to a golden crisp

Manti smothered with tomato sauce and plain yogurt

Onno serves both Fishna Kebab (20,000 LL) and Ras Asfour Karaz (22,000 LL), the latter of which seems like a Lebanese spin on the former. In the traditional Armenian dish, morsels of grilled kebab are drenched in a sour cherry sauce with fried pita chips, and Onno generously throws in sautéed cashews to boot. The same dish can be had with lean cubes of beef instead of kebab, and it is excellent. I’d also spoon in some creamy yogurt to counterbalance the acidity of the cooked cherries.

Fishna Kebab in a sour cherry sauce

Ras Asfour Karaz with cubes of lean meat

In the dessert department, you can opt for pomegranate seeds in grape juice crowned with a liberal dose of nuts. Or take a trip down memory lane with a sampler of timeless Lebanese pastries, like karabij with natef and tea biscuits with lokum.

Lebanese sweets

At length, Onno’s cuisine is prepared in a classically homey style. The dishes are modest and satisfying, rejecting sophistication for simplicity and minimalism.

It would be intriguing to see how Onno tackles Lebanese mezza, which decorates half the menu. We’ll leave that for our Badaro rendezvous.

Onno Bistro
Hamra (Abdul Aal St.)
01-743 540

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

When A Company Takes Heart In Employee Health

Internationally, the month of October recognizes breast cancer awareness. The campaign for early detection, prevention, and treatment has grown exponentially strong in recent years, not only in the US, where the movement was born, but even in our tiny Lebanon.

The ads you see splashed across Lebanese media point to a surging consciousness of the disease and its potentially fatal hold of the fairer sex. But what we don’t realize is, although cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, it doesn’t top the list. In fact, and unapparent to many, it is second to coronary heart disease in both men and women.

This year, Bank of Beirut, one of Lebanon’s premier financial institutions, celebrated their female staff by hosting an informative session led by Yaduna’s Women Heart Health Center (WHHC). Founded in 2012 by former First Lady Wafaa Sleiman, Yaduna Foundation is a non-governmental, non-profit organization meant to empower underprivileged Lebanese and Arab women.

Bank of Beirut's female staff attend an info session
led by Yaduna's Women Heart Health Center

The mission is to provide quality services, foster awareness and uphold best practices. The vision is to become a reference in women development, and become they have, namely through WHCC, which today offers screening, prevention, and primary treatment for 2,550 patients at subsidized cost.

Bank of Beirut’s women tuned in to cardiologist Dr. Ziad Itani (AUBMC), who cited that 64% of women dying from coronary heart disease each year show no prior indication of poor heart health. Risk factors include age, genetics, hypertension, and diabetes, as well as avoidable culprits like an unhealthy diet, lack of physical exercise, and smoking.

Dr. Ziad Itani elucidates the factors of coronary heart disease

Yaduna’s dietitian and nutrition consultant Hana Ziad Arabi delved into the details, harping on regular consumption of vegetables, fruits, grains, low-fat and fat-free dairy, lean meats and other protein-heavy foods and oil. The trick is to limit saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars and sodium intake. 

Dark chocolate with cocoa content upward of 60% can be helpful, as can avocados and raw nuts in moderation, of course. Aim for 150 minutes of walking weekly, and attain quick wins at work like opting for the stairs and ambling about 90 seconds every hour.

Dietitian Hana Ziad Arabi presents a table on dos and don'ts in eating habits

Social worker Diana el Helou enumerated the different services Yaduna affords, including screenings, dietetic counseling, smoking cessation therapy, and lab tests. Yaduna receives women of all socioeconomic backgrounds into their auspices, to ensure equal access to education and treatment.

Social work Diana el Helou invites members of the audience
to visit Yaduna and exploit its repertoire of services

At the close of the forum, Four Seasons Beirut pampered guests with a selection of wholesome snacks, including smoked salmon in whole-wheat ciabatta rolls, raw tuna and veggies wrapped in rice paper, oats with honey, fruit smoothies, and homemade granola bars. Be Different jeweler Roula Nahas gifted each lady a dainty gold-plated pendant in the shape of a heart fused with the EKG rhythm heartbeat.

The healthy range, from fruit smoothies, salads, and oats with honey,
to smoked salmon ciabatta rolls

It’s inspiring to see major Lebanese corporations and companies invest in the well-being of their employees, even if it means pulling them out of the office and sacrificing a few hours of their productivity to clue them in on self-care. Kudos to Bank of Beirut for taking heart in the health of its assets!

Yours truly!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Wrap 'n' Roll Gives Broumana Street Food Charm

Roula Khani is a bubbly 20-something foodie who, together with two close pals Wissam Maalouf and Shibl Shaikh, constantly challenged the quality of food and service at restaurants in Lebanon. Picky eaters by nature, they’d go out to eat and almost always find fault with one thing or another.

What started as a joke among friends to launch their own food truck soon morphed into reality. One afternoon, Maalouf called Khani relentlessly, interrupting her teaching lessons, to gush that he’d landed a truck. And thus the idea to offer the Lebanese a brand new food experience was born.

For nearly two years, Bucket List – the F&B company Khani, Maalouf and Shaikh formed – has seen its vision evolve from food truck enterprise to street food pioneers. The trio first opened Wrap ‘n’ Roll to serve students at the LAU Byblos campus, working closely with a seasoned chef to hammer out a menu. 

Young Lebanese chef outfits the wraps with ingredients

That menu is exclusively wraps, as the concept’s name would suggest, boasting four chicken, four beef, and three meatless options. The idea is to offer gourmet food prepared swiftly at unbeatable prices.

One of Wrap 'n' Roll's signatures, the Adobo Chicken Wrap

Nearly a month ago, Bucket List achieved a milestone they’d never even toyed with at this early stage: they opened a brick-and-mortar outlet in Broumana. Tucked beneath the seasonal Printania Villa, Wrap ‘n’ Roll neighbors another of their concepts called Juice Box, featuring smoothies, detox juices, and popsicles, as well as shawarma joint Spiced & Sliced, launched unofficially by one of Kababji's partners.

Wrap ‘n’ Roll’s central kitchen is based in Beit Meri, just a stone’s throw from their eat-in station in Broumana. When we arrived earlier this week, manager Wadih welcomed us warmly (and in perfect English!), recommending a selection of sandwiches for us newbies.

Foreground: Indian Chicken Wrap; background: Adobo Chicken Wrap

First up, the Adobo Chicken Wrap (7,500 LL), layering strips of chicken breast cooked on a flat griddle and drizzled with slightly sweet, slightly spicy, adobo sauce. Lettuce, spring onions, and coriander provide a veggie cushion to soak up all those juices, which evoke paprika, oregano, garlic, salt and vinegar.

The Indian Chicken Wrap (7,500 LL) beautifully captures the flavors of tandoori, tempered by cool raita and studded with dried cranberries and apricots. I rather like the tangy presence of fruit, hidden in a garden of spinach and rocket leaves.

Foreground: Roast Beef Wrap; background: Special Shrimp Wrap

If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path Roast Beef Wrap (8,000 LL), this one’s for you. With a teriyaki-like glaze accentuated by a lick of Dijon and a smear of eggplant caviar, Wrap ‘n’ Roll’s roast beef wonder is hefty and at least 50% larger than the preceding sandwiches.

I’ve never been keen on seafood sammies, but the wonderful thing about the Special Shrimp Wrap (9,000 LL) is that the little crustaceans are cooked on the spot. Slathered with kimchi and nestled in a bed of lettuce with rocket, this number is waist- and weight-friendly.

All the sandwich meat is cooked and/or finished on the flat griddle

Don’t get so caught up in the wraps that you neglect the fries, which house a soft core inside a crispy, crunchy exterior. The dipping sauce is mayo-based and absolutely irresistible, but the potato spuds fly high solo, too.

Khani speaks effusively about Wrap ‘n’ Roll’s catering business, which pulls up curbside to birthday parties and celebrations to dole out delectable specialties. There are plans to expand the network beyond Broumana’s lone branch, which is currently being decked out with Halloween flair. 

Whatever’s under wraps, I’m more than ready to roll with it! And next time, I'm going for that jumbo grilled falafel with beetroot tahini.

Next time, I'm going for the Falafel Wrap!

Wrap 'n' Roll
Printania Villa
04-960 988

Thursday, October 13, 2016

B-Qā de Marsyas: A Quality Lebanese Mid-Range Wine That Tells a Timeless Tale

I wasn’t always such an avid wine enthusiast. In fact, I didn’t enjoy my first glass of vino until I was 21, attending a wine and cheese social hosted by my university’s graduate department. I slugged it back as though it were fruit juice.

When I moved to Paris, wine became daily bread. Not only was it cheap and accessible, undercutting the price of bottled water, but heck, when in France, do as the French, right? They’ve only dedicated their entire lush soil to the cultivation of grapevines, and wine types like Bordeaux and Beaujolais are actually named for French regions. So you’d literally have to be living under a rock to ignore the cornerstone place of wine in the French day-to-day.

Believe it or not, Lebanon has honed my appreciation of the grape derivative by huge strides. Over the past decade, the country has seen a proliferation of vineyards from as north as the hills of Batroun to as south as the perches of Jezzine, and that’s besides the fertile Bekaa valley where the majority of wineries cultivate their grapes. 

B-Qā de Marsyas

Introducing Château Marsyas & the Saadé Family

There are presently three dozen active wineries, and one that I’ve highlighted in recent months, as its prominence climbs to international heights, is Château Marsyas. Owned by brothers Karim and Sandro Saadé, Marsyas was the dream of their father Johnny, who was eternally passionate about wine. Bordeaux was his favorite, and in later years, he became mesmerized with Côtes du Rhone reds.

Brothers Sandro and Karim posing with father Johnny Saadé

In 1998, the family decided to transform dream into reality. Carving out a wine enterprise in Bordeaux seemed the obvious choice, but a eureka moment convinced them to turn their attention inward, on their Levantine homeland.

They started scouring for terroirs in both Syria and Lebanon, the countries of their family heritage. Five years of study and patient reflection culminated in the selection of virgin land in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley for Château Marsyas. Sister label Domaine de Bargylus made its home in the ancient coastal city of Laodicea (modern Lattakia). With “wine is rooted in earth” as their guiding principle and renowned wine consultant Stephane Derenoncourt by their side, the Saadés embarked on their new adventure.

Marsyas sits nearly 1,000 meters above sea level, spread across 65 hectares of soil formed from red clay and limestone. Pesticides and herbicides are rejected altogether, and the soils are regularly maintained to avoid any compactions, allowing for good oxygenation and the absorption of organic materials. Grapes are harvested by hand, gathered in small crates and sorted twice before being fed by conveyor to protect the fruit. The final product comprises 65% cabernet sauvignon, 20% Syrah, 10% merlot, and 5% petit verdot.

The vineyards of Chateau Marsyas in the Bekaa Valley

B-Qā de Marsyas

In 2013, the estate witnessed a bigger yield, and it was then that the Saadé brothers decided to kickstart the production of B-Qā de Marsyas, to be positioned among quality Lebanese mid-range wines. The result of careful parcel selection for younger vines, B-Qā brings together 70% cabernet sauvignon, 20% Syrah, and 10% mourvèdre. 

Thus, B-Qā, named in honor of the valley from which it issues forth, shares the same vineyards of its elder brother Marsyas and is borne from the same rigorous qualitative philosophy of manual work, green harvesting and low yields. The difference is in the maturation time of 6-8 months in French barrels, which fosters a beautiful aromatic balance and well-integrated tannins.

B-Qā de Marsyas

With red fruits on the nose followed by hints of earthy spices, B-Qā is elegant and round, with a long and savory finish on fruits and freshness. Served chilled, it vies with a white wine for its light crispness and smooth aging potential. At room temperature, B-Qā’s relatively high alcohol content (15%) is palpable.

B-Qā de Marsyas’ retail price is LBP 24,000 (USD 16), in contrast to the high-end Chateau Marsyas wine, whose reds go for LBP 40,000 and whites, for LBP 35,000. Thus, target clientele tend to be younger, sophisticated, wine-appreciating folks who are at once price- and quality-conscious.

Food Pairing

What’s the point of a great wine if you don’t know what complements it? For that, I headed to one of my favorite venues in Beirut to pick at the brains of some of the most brilliant minds in the industry.

Le Gray's sommelier Rudy Zeitouny

Examining the hue of chilled red B-Qā

At Le Gray’s Indigo on the Roof, Sommelier Rudy Zeitouny treated us to a lesson in food pairing, drawing on Executive Chef Darren Andow’s unmatched cuisine. On the menu, a creamy goat cheese and beetroot salad garnished with green apple, candied walnuts, and cress. Chèvre highlights the acidity of the wine, and the rule of thumb with younger wines is to generally opt for lighter, silky cheeses.

Creamy goat cheese mousse with beetroot and green apple

A wild mushroom risotto with barely-there truffle oil does not overwhelm the taste of B-Qā, but a citrus or heavily truffé number would. Best to stick to the mushroom and asparagus varieties.

Wild mushroom risotto

At room temperature, B-Qā de Marsyas works wondrously with rich, juicy meats like duck and veal, so we gorged on roasted canard à l’orange with carrot purée, Asian pears and gratin potatoes, followed by char-grilled veal chops with Portobello mushrooms and Roquefort cream.

Duck confit with puréed carrots

Char-grilled veal chop

In its chilled state, the red potion spellbinds with braised beef short ribs accompanied by garlic potato purée and red wine sauce.

Braised beef short ribs atop creamy potato purée in a red wine sauce

When it comes to seafood, lean white fish washes down well with room-temperature B-Qā, whereas the fattier types (e.g., salmon) are better suited to the chilled wine.

Bottom line with food and wine compatibility: neither should affect the taste profile of the other. The wine should only flush and cleanse the palate, all whilst leaving the taste buds intact.

Closing Remarks

Château Marsyas and younger brother B-Qā give us Lebanese every reason to be “so damn proud,” as Andrew Jefford of put it. Built on the tenets of perseverance, hard work, and commitment to the country’s future despite the tumult surrounding it, these wines are steeped in symbolism.

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: B-Qā will soon be welcoming a white wine to its family, due out this year, which means B-Qā will comprise one red and one white per vintage! I cannot wait to sample the new millésime.

A wine so versatile that it can be enjoyed summer or winter, chilled or at room temperature, with a host of meats, cheeses, and fish. A wine that is at once luxurious and affordable, young and elegant, light and bold.

B-Qā in all its forms is a wine to cherish, from the first swirl to the very last sip. Make sure you savor its story.

Karim and Sandro Saadé

Rooted in the Levant, the Johnny R. Saadé family translates its passion for vines into the creation of Château Marsyas in the southern part of the Bekaa Valley. Renowned for its wine culture, this ancient land reveals itself to be an exceptional place for the production of a great wine in line with the highest quality standards. Located at an altitude of 1,000 meters, Château Marsyas is a family initiative founded on the search for excellence.