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Showing posts from April, 2015

Three Delicious Food & Drink Products You'd Never Guess Are Lebanese

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This year’s Horeca featured over 350 exhibitors from across the region, and while I was not able to grace each stand, I made a valiant effort to visit as many as I could. Three left a lasting impression on me, notably for being local, for being the first in their class to usher in a new product to Lebanon, and for maintaining the utmost standards in quality and taste. Trust me, if you sampled these goodies with a blindfold over your eyes, you’d surely guess they were foreign-born.

Fattoria del Sole
Fattoria del Sole translates in Italianto “factory of the sun.” This dairy company is the first and perhaps the only local producer of fresh mozzarella, ricotta, and other Italian cheeses. I've seen their products in the refrigerated section at TSC Signature, but I’d assumed they were imported from Italy. Turns out the processing plant is just up the street from Baabda, in Dahr al Wahesh, Araya.
The advantage of Fattoria’s product range is its freshness and absence of preserving agents. It…

Hospitality Etiquette: Dine & Dash or Decline?

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Friday night, we found ourselves craving a nice sushi dinner. We’d just clocked out after a grueling day of work, and, as is our norm, we convened in Beirut Souks around 7:15 pm to weigh our dining options.
We’d never before tried Kampai, and having heard mostly praise for the Japanese restaurant in Minet el Hosn, we decided we’d give it a shot. For those of you unfamiliar with Kampai, it’s one of the fancier sushi spots in Beirut, not far behind Yabani and Le Sushi Bar.
I fetched their number from an online directory and called to request a table for two at 7:30. The receptionist responded in the affirmative, mentioning a high table. Inquiring into its comfort, we were then offered a standard table or even terrace seating—suddenly the entire restaurant was accessible. Okay, fair enough—maybe the receptionist hadn't wanted to show all her cards from the get-go, but, fearing we’d turn down an inconvenient arrangement, she acceded.



As I was finalizing our booking, the receptionist sl…

The Foodie Festival of the Year: Don't Miss It!

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If you’re any degree of foodie, the annual event to look forward to in Beirut is Horeca. Formed from the words Hotels, Restaurants, and Cafés, this exhibition is the largest in the Levant for the food service and hospitality industry, attracting hundreds of exhibitors, trade visitors, internationally-renowned chefs and food experts.


The Biel Pavilion is transformed into a fair of sorts, organizing exhibitors into sections by common interest: (1) Food; (2) Beverage; (3) Coffee &Tea; (4) Maintenance & Hygiene; (5) Techzone; (6) Packaging, Catering, Supermarket & Laundry Equipment; (7) Schools & Universities; (8) International; (9) Furniture, Uniforms & Linens; and (10) Consultant & Recruiting.
To complement the stands, where visitors have the chance to explore products and services and interact with vendors, Horeca is hosting a variety of contests in which baristas, bartenders, junior chefs, and hotelier students compete neck to neck in front of spectators and ju…

My Favorite Food Delivery Joints in Beirut

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Lebanon thrives on food deliveries. In fact, a casual dining spot doesn't hold a chance of surviving without offering customers the luxury of home or office delivery. And I’m not just talking pizza, as is customary elsewhere in the world. Everything from freshly-squeezed carrot juice to a boeuf bourgignon can be delivered around these parts, and you can bet your britches restaurateurs have gotten clever with the packaging, too.
The options are innumerable--a dime a dozen, in fact--but here’s a selection of some of my favorite joints delivering within Beirut and the greater vicinity.
1. Palette If you work downtown, you've surely heard of Palette, the purveyor of all things salad, sandwich, burger, panino, and more. Don’t try following the deliveryman back to the source—this place is built around takeaway and deliveries. The freshly-baked baguettes are generous in size and substance, and you’ll have a field day trying to pick among their two dozen salads, sized in both regular a…

Pineland Health Resort: Lebanon's Best-Kept Secret

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Over the long holiday weekend, we visited Pineland Hotel and Health Resort in Deir el Harf. Pineland is so named because it is tucked in the rich pine forest dotting the Ras el Matn mountainside. The elevation there is about 1,100 meters, with levels of oxygen intoxicatingly high and beautiful flora stretching as far as the eye can wander.




We drove from Mansourieh to Pineland via Monteverde, scaling a winding yet scenic mountain road, but the entire trip proved to be a mere half-hour’s drive. You’d never imagine a lush green paradise could be had so near to suburbia ruckus, and that’s the beauty of Pineland. It’s far enough from Beirut to be considered an escape but still near enough that you can slate it in over a weekend.
Our lodging consisted of a private 75-sqm. cave constructed from rock and resembling an igloo. In fact, it was inspired by the Flintstones, but the features inside are modern-day: an in-house Jacuzzi, a fireplace, and a kitchenette outfitted with microwave, mini-frid…

Beware of Copycat Blogs: It Happened to Me!

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A little over a month ago, I was attempting to fetch an article I’d written on my blog last year. The easiest thing, naturally, was to google “beirutista” with a few keywords representing the article’s content. Sure enough, the first item in the yield nailed it.
But as my eyes quickly scanned the list, I noticed something strange. The third entry retrieved was an exact replica of my article, but the source was not my blog. In fact, it was a different blog sharing the “blogspot” domain. The blog’s name? Ironically, the title of one of my own posts: “The Long Awaited Verdict on Shake Shack.”
My heart sunk, and numbness soon elevated to fury. How dare he? How dare this Blogger profile by the name of Khan replicate my blog article for article, picture for picture, impersonating me and passing it off to the world as his own! He probably had in mind to introduce AdSense to the blog in order to generate revenue from ads.



I did a couple searches on the Google help forum to see if anyone had e…

Guess Who's Coming to Beirut? Quandoo, That's Who

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Quandoo is a Berlin-based online reservation system used by over 6,000 restaurants in 13 countries across Europe, South Africa, Singapore, and now, Lebanon. Founded in 2012, the company poses as a major European rival to OpenTable and claims to be particularly effective in Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Turkey and Poland.



Here’s how the site works. Customers can log on to book a table at a specified date and time for a restaurant of their choosing, granted it’s subscribed to Quandoo, of course. 
The restaurant, when it purchases space on Quandoo, optimizes its profile with meaningful content, such as a description, high resolution pictures, a map and an excerpt from the menu. “Qualified reviews,” not quite sure who’s supplying those, allow the restaurant to exhibit its “expertise and excellence.” There's also a rating based out of five stars and likely amalgamated from said reviews.
In return, Quandoo offers restaurateurs a modular commerce platform, including a reservation ma…

My Newfound Love for Roadster's Angus Beef Burgers

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It’d been sometime since I’d last eaten at Roadster Diner. (I can imagine the massive Roadster following in Lebanon gaping with disbelief.) We’d visited sister restaurant Deek Duke during the Lenten season to sample the fish burger, which proved simply delicious. But a trip to Roadster was long overdue.



So on Monday, we made the drive to the new outlet in Jbeil and waited a few minutes as a table on the outdoor deck was cleared. Inside, there’re two floors overlooking the street that leads down to the main souk. That day, Roadster was abuzz with customers young and old huddled over food and chitchat.
We ordered the chicken quesadilla (LBP 19,750) as a prelude to our prime Angus beef burgers. Four folded quarters of soft warmed wheat tortilla bread came layered with roasted bell peppers and onions, melted mozzarella and slender strips of marinated chargrilled chicken. The TexMex specialty at Roadster is deliriously good and no doubt figures as a healthy dish. Sides of guacamole, sour cr…

Ever Think to Dine at Venezia? Well, You Should.

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I don’t understand why some restaurants don’t get the buzz they deserve. Places where the food is consistently delicious, where the service is more than doting, and the venue, pleasant and soothing. This review relates to Venezia, an Italian ristorante adjunct to the Hilton Metropolitan Hotel in Horch Tabet.
As you exit from the Sin el Fil roundabout and careen behind the hotel, you’ll notice a beautiful Venetian villa complete with moat, gondola, arches, a veranda, and lamp posts. You’d think surely this elegant venue would charge an arm and a leg for its cuisine, which happens to be southern Italian and overseen by Executive Chef Paolo Rocco.
Bizarrely enough, it’s no pricier than many of the Italian restaurants passing as casual in this city. In fact, it’s rather affordable, given it’s situated inside a five-star hotel and that the space is as charming as it is. Friday nights, a lavish buffet can be had for LBP 70,000 (USD 47), and if it’s anything like the brunch buffet I was treat…