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Le Gray's Indigo Hits It Out of the Ballpark, Again

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When it comes to knocking things out of the ballpark, five-star property Le Gray nestled in the heart of Beirut is unmatched. It’s no surprise I’ve blogged about its prestigious dining venue, Indigo on the Roof, no less than six times over the course of the last three years. Here is an institution that takes gastronomic pleasure rather seriously, which couldn’t be more evident than now, with the introduction of a dozen menu items by the hotel’s newly appointed Executive Chef Nicolas Herbault.
Hired toward the end of last summer, the French culinary master didn’t waste a moment in brandishing his flair at the Sunday lunch buffet, as we noticed several months ago from both the artistic setup and dessert display. The former emphasizes the sheer lavishness of the food spread, while the latter points to the chef’s heritage, with delicious novelties like the Saint Honoré, macarons, and mini moelleux in the mold of Cannelés Bordelais. I remember rejoicing at the mere sight of these beauties. …

On This International Women's Day, I'm Celebrating Me!

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Today is International Women’s Day, and I’m sure all the men are muttering under their breaths that every day is her day, isn’t it?! Well, to be fair, this world would not go round without the contribution of both women and men, so any day dedicated to honoring either is utterly fantastic in my book.
I was lucky to be raised in a household that doesn’t discriminate between male and female, even though our Lebanese culture is historically steeped in patriarchy. My parents treated my two brothers and me equally. My mom accustomed us to chores around the house – traditionally marked as the woman’s realm – and my dad made sure we learned how to write a check, examine the transmission fluid, shop for groceries, and wash the car.
Tasks were never segregated based on gender, nor was our expected level of achievement in school, which is perhaps why the three of us ranked at the top of our classes, snatching up full-merit scholarships in college and completing at least one graduate degree.
I was…

Sandwiched In-Between A Diner and A Cool Place

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They say sometimes the best things in life are right under your nose. You’re just too busy looking up at the clouds to take notice.

What can I say, living on the 8th floor naturally promotes head-in-the-sky syndrome! Jokes aside, I discovered a gem of an eatery right around the block from where we live. After stumbling upon Les Chanterelles, I was content that at least a first-rate pastry destination was a stone’s throw from home. But now, a diner, too? The stars were really starting to line up in my (foodie) favor, I thought.
I’d heard of Sandwiched long ago. In fact, my husband and I were among the inaugural delivery customers of the eatery some seven years past, when we pored over the menu tucked inside the door of my father-in-law’s Zalka office. I distinctly remember “The Mighty,” two thick slices of pan-grilled sliced bread sandwiching barbecue chicken breast, barbecue bacon, deli turkey, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, melted Swiss, and sweet, bold BBQ sauce. It was euphor…

Green Junkie: Affordable Farm-to-Fork Clean Eats

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For Angela Sawan, a nutrition and dietetics graduate from the American University of Beirut, healthy eating might seem second nature. But the 30-something food science expert, who formerly worked in operations at Classic Burger Joint, will readily admit that what they teach you in the classroom holds little water in real life. The cookie cutter method that often forms academic curricula is not only tedious, it doesn’t apply to every human being. Each body is metabolically unique, and it’s important to tune in to its needs so that you become the healthiest version of yourself.

Armed with that knowledge, she and her long-time friend Cynthia Farhan, a media manager, made vast strides to eat clean, wholesome, and nourishing foods. The two started experimenting with sourcing their own produce directly from Lebanese farmers and were appalled by how readily available and affordable so-called trendy foods are. Kale, baby gem lettuce, cage-free eggs, grains, microgreens, dairy – they’re all gro…

Sunday Funday at Gefinor Rotana

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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 café 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

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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…