Sunday Funday at Gefinor Rotana

I have definitively found Lebanon’s tastiest, fluffiest “sfouf,” or turmeric sponge cake and, in so doing, stumbled upon one of the best-value Sunday lunch buffets Beirut has to offer.

Let me unpack that statement bit by bit. My favorite Lebanese dessert isn’t shockingly baklawa, or knefeh, or even 7alewet el jibn. Blasphemous, right? I actually worship the Lent-friendly, yellow-tinted treat called sfouf, not specifically because it’s so darn healthy, unfettered by butter and eggs. That’s just an added bonus. The real reason is in the crumb's consistency: if done right, it’s dense, but not chalky; fluffy, but not airy; sweet, but not decadent. It pairs perfectly with cafĂ© blanc, tea, and coffee.
I wasn’t actively seeking out sfouf last Sunday at the Gefinor Rotana hotel. In fact, we were enjoying a sumptuous buffet, the kind that requires you fast for at least 16 hours leading up to it. And the first impression as we waltzed down the lobby corridor to Olive Garden, wherein it was ho…

The Changing Face of Beirut

Last weekend, I took my toddler for a stroll in downtown Beirut. It dawned on me as we were scaling the corridors of Beirut Souks that it had been nearly a year and a half since I last graced the area.

I worked in the Riad el Solh stronghold of a leading local bank for exactly five years. Believe me when I say no one has paced the historic downtown as often as I have. I’d arrive a good half hour before the 8 AM business day commenced, packing in a brisk 3-km walk from Zaitunay Bay and into Minet el Hosn, weaving through Beirut Souks before I crossed over to Banks Street. At lunch time, I would pace the shop-lined streets of Foch and the Souks, sloughing off hours of sedentary movement intrinsic to any office job. And after work, in a bid to avoid rush hour traffic, my feet would yet again retrace many of the paths I’d exacted during the day, as I tucked inside the TSC Signature gourmet supermarket for a snack or shawarma wrap and a chat with the friendly staff.

Those were the days, my f…

Flying Under the Foodie Radar: 3 Hidden Gems You Need to Try

These days, if you navigate the “foodie” social media accounts popular in your community, you'll be swamped with restaurants that are trending. And by trending, I mean eateries that have either newly opened and are hosting those foodies over free meals or sponsoring content on their pages to reap exposure. I’m not bashing or criticizing this practice, per se. Such is the pervasive marketing agenda du jour.

But what about an honest-to-goodness recommendation about a hidden gem independently stumbled upon? Who remembers the good old days of yore when bloggers (you know, that nearly obsolete breed of niched experts who write) followed their own hearts (and tummies) in search of the best, tastiest, most memorable item or experience?
I come from that old school of thought. The ideal I painted above is in fact the very cornerstone of Beirutista. My intention from day one – that’s 2012 to be exact – was to share with you outstanding food outlets that I either happened upon by chance or was…

Movie Review: "On The Basis of Sex"

“On The Basis of Sex” tells the story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her challenging debut in the United States legal arena. For those who don’t know, Ginsburg is the second of four females to ever be appointed as Justice to the Supreme Court. She was sworn in under former president Bill Clinton in 1993, at 60 years of age.
Back to the movie, which delves into her early beginnings, starting with her first year at Harvard Law School. One of only nine women admitted to her class, Ruth confesses at a dean’s dinner party that she got into law to learn to be more patient and understanding of her husband Martin, ahead of her by one year at Harvard. Her response actually startled me. One would expect to hear an inspired story of how she’d dreamt of obliterating racial and gender discrimination ever since she was a precocious little child, or how passionate she was about the debating art form.
No, no. Ruth was piqued about her husband’s endeavors, and fortunately her smarts proved she was more than…

Early Lessons From 2019

Do you realize we’re already knee-deep in January? Just yesterday, we were ushering out 2018, welcoming in 2019, and dreaming up impossibly lofty resolutions. How’s that gym membership going?

I ended last year with a reflection on what I’d learned, so I’m jump-starting this one in similar fashion. Because believe it or not, these two weeks have already left an indelible mark on me.

Bake joyfully and frequently. I’ve earned a reputation as a food writer, which means I’m an avid admirer of the culinary arts. But do I know my way around the kitchen? If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ll find I’ve been dabbling in baking quite a little bit of late. The idea is simple: I love experimenting with recipes using healthy ingredients on hand. A few days ago, I eyed a tub of Greek yogurt in my fridge, along with a couple of fragrantly ripe navel oranges. Surely there was a low-guilt cake out there that fused the two in happy harmony, and Google led me to it. I whipped it up. The next day…

The B018 You Don't Know: Gastronomic East Asian Cuisine

My Instagram followers know me all too well.

The other week, I posted images from a dinner I enjoyed at B018, one of Lebanon’s most popular discotheques. Within minutes, direct messages poured in, conveying utter disbelief at my visit there.
It’s true: I’m not a big fan of nightclubs. My idea of reveling involves an elaborate gourmet affair, a stimulating discussion with the chef, and strutting through the city afterward to undo the pesky calories. Try beckoning me with booze against a backdrop of acid jazz, thick fumes of cigarette smoke, and patrons pressed uncomfortably up on me? Not my scene.
So what was I doing at B018 on a Wednesday evening just days before the close of 2018? Getting a jump on my New Year’s resolution to party like it’s 1969? I mean, seriously, I’ve resided in Lebanon for eight years now, and B018 was never on my bucket list.
Up until I learned that as of last month, food figures into the club’s offering. And by food, I don’t mean bland and greasy breaded halloumi s…

What 2018 Taught Me

In a matter of a few short days, our feeds are going to flood with lofty New Year’s resolutions. It’s as if folks are waiting for a bell to sound to get on their marks, get set, and go. Let’s be real: every day is an invitation to identify personal weaknesses and work to either reverse, overcome or obliterate them.

And that is the approach I adopted over the course of this past year, which witnessed major changes in my life. I abandoned a fast-paced corporate job at an Alpha bank in pursuit of full-time, unassisted motherhood. That in and of itself was a milestone decision, one that has thrown unfathomable challengesin my path. I find myself constantly stretched thin as I juggle raising a toddler, managing a household, and tending to independent projects, all while trying to remain sane and look decent. 2018 has seen a fierce warrior emerge in me, and here’s what I learned along the way.

Social media can be a massive cloud of hot air. Heard of the millennial condition FOMO? “Fear of Mis…

Holiday Gourmet Guide in Beirut

Whether you’re descending upon Beirut for a few weeks this holiday season, or you’re a valiant local braving the traffic impasses on our roads, there’s redemption yet: Lebanon’s lively gourmet scene. Heck, if we as a country can unanimously decide on a solitary national treasure to cherish and uphold, it’s the cuisine and our intense love thereof. Not only do we do it better, we share immense appreciation for food (and drink) as an art form.
I won’t sit here and wax poetic about the age-old institutions you’ll no doubt be tucking into with family. Nope. This list is a casual, contemporary roundup of cool, seasonal stuff you've gotta gorge on before we ring in 2019. None of it is here to stay, so make haste and ready your eating utensils. Mostly, just bring your appetite.

Classic Burger Joint For the past six months, I’ve been monitoring Classic Burger Joint with eagle eyes. The remarkable improvement in the quality of meat, freshness of ingredients, and all-around value for …