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Showing posts from May, 2016

Ecotourism in Lebanon: A Trip to Nahr Baakline

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One of the banes of living in a major city is you seldom venture beyond it to discover new ground. When I was living in the US and visited Lebanon during summers off, my parents planned daily trips to every corner of the country. We didn’t leave a stone unturned, from the mountains of Hamana to the sandy shores of Tyr and the jam-packed chaos that is Tripoli. In fact, our relatives often joked that we knew Lebanon better than they did. 






And it’s true. We were more passionate about discovering the Lebanese terrain than tourists are, let alone yearlong residents. Anywhere my parents had even a remote contact or connection, we paid homage to, and I soaked up the Lebanese topography with thirsty zeal.
But since I moved to Lebanon and work full-time in Beirut, I rarely have leisure or leave to stray far beyond my daily trajectory. Weekends are usually reserved for R&R, and once in a great while we might make a trip to Byblos or Sidon, but that’s the extent of it.






Imagine my excitement whe…

Lebanon's Tout Berry Farms Pioneer Blueberry Farming in the Middle East

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I’m a sweet tooth in the morning. But since devouring dessert before noon just seems plain sinful, I like to start my day with fresh fruit. There’s genuinely no compare to nature’s candy, and if it’s ripe, firm, and in season, it can be sweet as honey.
The arrival of summer coincides with some of my favorite fruits, and those are far and away berries. But has anyone else noticed how wildly the taste, quality and ripeness of berries can vary from batch to batch? The worst is that you pay a pretty penny for the imported types sold in small packaged crates, only to discover that inside, they’re mushy and overripe.
A couple of weeks ago, I learned of Tout Berry Farms, a family enterprise that grows 10 different berry ranges, from raspberries and blackberries to gooseberries, red and white currants and more. Tout Berry is considered to be the pioneer of blueberry farming in the Middle East, and that’s all thanks to Talal Nassreddine and Sarah Ezzeddine.



Nassreddine owns a plot of land in Dei…

Charbel Makhlouf Is Revolutionizing Food Retail at Maison M

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When I first beheld Charbel Makhlouf inside the epicerie of Maison M in Naccache, I was caught off guard. A carefully groomed hipster beard and long hair pulled back into a man bun would have you believe he were a rock star. The Batman Joker printed Tee he donned only complemented the profile.



Never in a million years would I have guessed Charbel is in fact a passionate food retailer.
Never in another million years would I have guessed he is only 23!
You wouldn’t either if you knew he has an MSc from the Cranfield School of Management in England and created a theory about retail atmospherics. In fact, at age 19, Charbel graduated from Notre Dame University – Louaize and continued his graduate education at the London School of Economics. Taking on cumbersome course loads, he was earnest to get back to Lebanon and help run the family business, which was established in 1948 in Dora.
What started as a humble mini market in the years following WWII slowly and steadily grew, earning the trust…

Deli.co's Montreal Smoked Meat Makes the Mark

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I’ve been hearing about smoked meat sandwiches since I met my husband almost five years ago. It seems the highlight of his university education in Montreal was the sky-high smoked meat sandwiches at Reuben’s. 
Pastrami, I asked? 
Oh no, smoked meat bears no resemblance to thin-cut deli varieties, he replied smugly. It's in its own league.
A unique Montreal delicacy prepared from a time-honored recipe of peppered smoked beef brisket, each sandwich contains piles of beef expertly carved to order and served warm. A giant dill pickle accompanies it.



We’d entertained the notion of visiting Montreal to try that legendary goodness. But it's not so easy when you’re both clocking in 50-hour weeks at the office. Well, if Moses can’t go to the mountain, the mountain must come to Moses. And lucky for us, brisket heaven opened up just hundreds of meters from both of our workplaces.
I’m talking about Deli.co, the third in the family of restaurants comprising Brgr.co and Pzza.co. Located adjacent…

Welcome to Lebanon's Very Own Farmville

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If you translate every other Arabic obscenity into English, you’d think we in Lebanon live on an animal farm. 
That’s right. Not one species in Kingdom Animalia has been spared when it comes to describing the human race. Because, you know, as Lebanese we don’t believe in exclusion or prejudice. From “kalb” (dog) and “7mar” (donkey) to “tawoos” (peacock) and “jamal” (camel), every animal has its place among us, and we couldn’t be prouder for it. 



Follow me on a tour of the zoo – er, the lush Arabic language – and prepare yourself for a few tear-jerking laughs. This is how the Lebanese pay daily homage to Noah’s Ark.

2aboot (grasshopper) – When someone is likened to an “2aboot,” he’s very vertically challenged. Think Louis XIV, who invented the high heel boot to overcome his 2aboot stature.
2aranib (rabbits) – Rabbits are notorious for being prolific, and in the same way, folks who go at it daily fit under this group. See also “feeran.”
2ered (monkey) – You earn this label if you’re a jack o…

When the Buffet Craving Calls, Mosey Over to Mosaic

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Admit it. We all feel like diving into a buffet from time to time. You know, careening through the kitchen stations and stands, admiring the cheese displays, salivating over the hot mains, or stealing glances at the chef whipping up a pasta sauce from scratch. There’s something ineffably exciting about filling up your own plate with whatever tempts the eye and going back for seconds, thirds, fourths even without attracting neither frown nor judgment.
Buffets are the hallmark of hotels, but in Beirut you rarely see them outside the breakfast scene. There’s one exception, and it’s Mosaic, located on the first floor of Phoenicia Intercontinental in Ain Mreisseh.



Mosaic is exactly what its name implies, an artistic array of beautiful food arranged in neat, patterned, immaculate styles. Seven days a week, the spacious restaurant, perching on the corner of the five-star property and overlooking the St. George Bay with floor-to-ceiling glass panels, bustles with locals and foreigners, hotel gu…