Malfy Gin: When Life Hands You Lemons and Liquor

Isn’t it bizarre that just about everything coming out of Italy is (a) tantalizingly tasty, (b) simplistically sophisticated, and (c) absolutely amazing? Okay, so those alliterative adjectives (oops, I did it again!) may be loaded claims, but I’m 100% confident I can substantiate them. My latest discovery, Malfy Gin, will appeal not only to the spirits aficionado, but also to the refined gourmet who demands a product backstory complete with family, terroir, and a scrupulous labor of love.

Ready? Here goes.
Gigino the Flying Farmer, so dubbed because of his nimble movements in the orchard, is 83 years old. But that doesn’t stop him from tending his ancestral lemon groves as though he were a spritely man of 20. Proud to have been conceived under a lemon tree, Gigino jokes that he has the fruit juice coursing through his veins. His lemons, called “sfusato amalfitano” because of their spindle-like, tapered ends, are grown nowhere else in the world but Amalfi. Thanks to a unique micro-climat…

Making the Case for Lebanon: To Move or Not To Move Here?

A couple of weeks ago, I received a very thought-provoking inquiry from a Beirutista reader. It went to the tune of this: a family of Lebanese origin residing in Southern California was debating whether to transplant their three children aged 11, 9, and 5 to the land of their heritage. The father had immigrated as a teenager, while the mother had been born and raised in the US. Their last trip to Lebanon dated back some six years, and they were seriously contemplating a move here to immerse their kids in the culture and rigorous educational system. Seeing as I had crossed that bridge, they wanted my opinion.

My first reaction was to grimace. How would the kids feel, I immediately empathized? 20 years ago, like almost every family that fled Lebanon during the civil war, my parents faced the exact same dilemma. The post-civil war ‘90s witnessed what appeared to be a rebounding economy, the promise of a rebuilding nation, and the hope of restoring Lebanon to its once golden age. Many fami…

Mission: Impossible - Fallout is the Movie of the Summer

I very rarely dabble in film reviews. Frankly, going to the movies is strictly a recreational activity for me. I disconnect from reality, immersing myself in an alternate reality, and simply enjoy. No need to pick apart the story line, or attempt to articulate the movie’s objectives and worthy execution thereof. It’s either intensely riveting and thus a hit, or a total waste of time and thus a sunk cost.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout is definitely the former. And though I was going to abide by my mantra and refrain from analyzing, I will permit myself just a few paragraphs.
First, who can believe the Mission Impossible franchise is over two decades old? I certainly cannot, and unlike many a movie sequel, MI6 isn't plagued with monotony, far-fetched fantasy, or repetitiveness. It delivers a strong dose of action, adventure, and even emotion in the two and half hours of running time.
Tom Cruise is phenomenal and just as charming as he was 22 years ago. You'd never imagine it was h…

Your Next Date Night: Kami in Blue at Byblos Sud

Last Friday night, we voyaged to a serene, tucked-away beach community somewhere along the French Rivera. Or so it seemed. Heading north toward Byblos, we pulled off the highway just before the main exit and looped beneath to the seaside to find ourselves outside a grand gated community called Byblos Sud.

A golf cart whisked us past blocks and blocks of dim facades evocative of a sleeping beach resort. Images of the beautiful Costa Navarino in Messinia, Greece, flashed through my mind as the cart stopped abruptly at a set of stairs. We ambled out and started to descend the cliff one step at a time. I couldn’t help but stop and stare at the view of a beautiful, black sea below. If only we’d arrived in time for sunset, I thought regretfully.

At the foot of the stairs, we were ushered in to the brand new Japanese dining outlet Kami in Blue. A microcosm of the original, decade-strong establishment Kami steeped in Byblos, this beachfront property wastes no time in whetting your appetite. Wat…

Hungry for Vegan Goodness in Beirut? Look No Further.

Dining in Lebanon often feels like the scene right out of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” where Aunt Voula is stunned speechless to learn Toula’s fiancé is vegetarian. “What do you mean you don’t eat no meat?” she demands, brows arched. Seconds later, her face breaks into a wide grin as she resolves, “That’s ok. I make lamb.”

Our Mediterranean cuisine is a marvelous cornucopia of fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices. But at the same time, you can’t sit down to a Lebanese mezza without encountering at least three types of meat. Fast food revolves around shawarma – meat shaved off of a skewer – as well as lamb kabobs and chicken taouk wraps. Vegetarian, and its more extreme cousin vegan, is an austere regimen strictly reserved for the Lenten season.
Understandably, it’s a challenge finding healthy, nourishing vegan food at grocery stores across Beirut. I’m not talking about produce, beans, legumes, and seeds, though admittedly those do constitute a vegan lifestyle. We live in the 21st ce…

Six Reasons Summer in Lebanon Can Be God-Awful

“Summertime is always the best of what might be,” wrote Charles Bowden, American author and journalist. F. Scott Fitzgerald postulated that life begins “over again with the summer.” And William Shakespeare, in one of his sonnets, attempted to compare woman’s beauty to “a summer’s day.”

Clearly, they’d never experienced summer in Lebanon. Sure, it’s the season of reunions, as relatives and friends pour in from overseas. The air is laced with love, weddings dotting every hour of every day and every week. And nature’s finest fruit – watermelon, cherries, and peaches – offer themselves liberally unto us.

But that’s where the fun and frolic end. Here are six reasons why I can’t stand summers around these Mediterranean parts.

The heat. It gets ridiculously hot in Lebanon, from the seashore to the mountainside, in city dwellings to remote village abodes. For more than four months, the air is thick with humidity, and antiperspirant sticks can't fend it off. Just accept that you’ll have disgu…

Massive July 4th Sale at Wesley’s Wholesale

What does it mean to be an American? What are some of the ideals cherished by the so-called Land of Opportunity?

Let’s rewind a bit, 242 years to be exact. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was ratified by the forefathers of the United States of America, proclaiming that “all men are created equal” and that they are endowed with inalienable rights among which are “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
These premises form the basis of the American dream, the profound belief that everyone has the opportunity to prosper and succeed, regardless of social class or circumstances of birth. Every year on July 4th, Americans celebrate Independence Day and more importantly a moral standard to which the United States should strive. This year will be no exception (even if POTUS’ questionable policies are in blatant contempt of the American dream. The system will eventually correct itself, right?!)
In happy tribute to America’s most reverenced holiday, Wesley’s Wholesale – a mic…