Showing posts from March, 2015

Beirutista Interviewed on Live TV Broadcast

Early this week, I was contacted by the segment producer for BBeirut on Lebanese TV station LBC Sat. BBeirut is a lifestyle and pop culture program that airs daily from 1:30 – 4 pm local time, and I was being invited to come on the show and discuss my blog Beirutista.
If I've learned anything from Sir Richard Branson, the visionary behind Virgin, it is this: “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.”
With butterflies in my stomach and very little guidance on how to prepare, I giddily accepted. I've never been featured on television before, and though public speaking is something I've grown reasonably comfortable with, I was nervous. Besides, I consider myself more eloquent in English, so holding an extended conversation on-air in Arabic gave me a little fright.

Yesterday I went to the film set of BBeirut an hour in advance, got coiffed and made up by the efficient  grooming-squad, and before I cou…

Beirut Hospitality Co: Lebanon's Troubled F&B Sector

The Beirut Hospitality Company (BHC) has recently attracted my notice. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, allow me to enumerate their restaurant portfolio: Momo at the Souks, Café M, Relais Foch, [Grid], and The Garden. If you’re not wincing yet, let me clarify further.
Momo at the Souks shut down in the second half of 2014. The high-end restaurant, serving fare inspired by Moroccan, Lebanese and French cuisines, hailed from London where it is a widely celebrated and glamorous dining venue. It shuttered for a month or two before being transformed into the winter popup, TWENTY SEVEN, a “concept pub” run by Sky Management Group—the same folks behind Sky Bar, the O1NE, and Liza.
Café M once perched at the tip of Beirut Souks facing Cinema City. A smart-chic cafe-restaurant in the grub and ambiance it dished up, it used to be a hit among families with young children, who'd streak across the adjacent plaza on scooters and tricycles. Today, its attractive two-terraced dining area i…

How Does a Foodie Survive the Meatless Fasting Season?

For the past five weeks, my husband and I have been abstaining from all varieties of meat in reverence of the Lenten season. Fish and seafood, we permit ourselves. I've gone a step further and slashed out sweets altogether. (For me, that’s probably the more impressive feat!)
I've never considered myself excessively attached to beef or chicken. I do crave a delicious burger or filet mignon as much as the next person, but I've been known to go days subsisting on a peasant’s diet—carrots, cucumbers, roasted eggplant, muesli, oat bars, cheese, and the like. Friends poke fun at me, dismissing my diet as rabbit's food. I self-smugly insist it’s healthy and wholesome.
So what have we been consuming, and has it been arduous? Admittedly, it can be sometimes, especially when you work all day, and coming home to fix dinner proves laborious. We both work in downtown Beirut, which makes the commute together a blessing. To avoid peak rush hour in the early evenings, we occasionally g…

7 Food Rituals You Grew Up On As A Lebanese-American

This post continues last week's series on growing up as a second-generation Lebanese-American. The focus of today's list is on the food aspects of the Lebanese-American upbringing. If you have any additional experiences you'd like to share, please chime in!

1. Breakfast was always, invariably, cereal with cold milk. While your cousins in Lebanon nibbled on pain au lait or markouk with picon and cucumber, you had Cheerios or Raisin Bran (we were denied the sugary cereals) every day before heading off to school. Pancakes and waffles were treats reserved for weekends, and once in a while your mother would make your favorite, scrambled eggs with chicken liver and crunchy heart. Yum!

2. At school, lunch was the best period: a welcome escape from the classroom and time to wolf down some delectable goodness. Of course your mother refused to let you eat the cafeteria’s junk, so what’d she pack in your sack? Naturally, a pita loaf stuffed with processed American cheese, Buddig lunchm…

The Best-Value Brunch in Beirut

Last weekend, I was introduced to the relatively new concept of brunch at Casper and Gambini’s Verdun. If you’ve dined at C&G, you know what their brand is about: healthy, delicious food ranging from soups, salads and sandwiches to more sophisticated platters and wood-fired oven-baked pizzas. Tea, coffee, blends, and alcohol also figure considerably into C&G’s offerings (there’s a two-page spread in the menu dedicated to beverages alone). Based on price of fare and choice of branch locations, I’d say the target clientele are casual-chic yuppies.

Back to brunch—the Verdun outlet nestled on the ground floor of Dunes Mall is spacious with both indoor and terrace seating. The brunch is set up as a buffet, with a vast range of local Levantine cheeses like halloumi, Nabulsi, Akkawi, kashkawan, and goat labneh balls in olive oil. There’s an assortment of delicatessen meats like turkey, ham, and salami; two savory vegetarian quiches; granola and yogurt; jams and peanut butter; C&G’…

Beirut's Undiscovered Pizza Genius: Hassan Akkary

My husband and I have a favorite pizza hotspot in Beirut. This pizza is crafted with love, passion, and generousness of heart and is more gourmet than it is fast food. It boasts fresh toppings, delicious flavor combinations, and constant reinvention. Who’s behind it?

Meet second-to-none pizzaiolo Hassan Akkary at TSC Signature, the man in the white toque whose smile alone will sway you to try his edible wonders.

Hassan has put in the hours kneading, curing, twirling, and slathering dough at a variety of reputable institutions: first, Aliacci in Gemmayze, then the swanky La Posta in Achrafieh, and more recently, Dottore in Hamra. At TSC Signature, where he has manned the wood-fired oven for several years, you can find him on almost any given afternoon after 3 pm. His grin is sanguine and contagious, and his movements behind the counter in black sabots are effortless.

Plant yourself on the pizza barstool, and allow Hassan to treat you to one of his specialties. Don’t even reach for the me…

Bubble Tea Aspires to Go Mainstream in Beirut

Bubble tea first descended upon Beirut in 2011, when a small hole in the wall aptly dubbed BubbleT opened next door to what was once Burger Nation in Hamra, where ZWZ presently stands. The Lebanese public was heretofore unfamiliar with the Taiwanese specialty beverage, which is tea-based and in its original format filled with tapioca balls. The tiny location in Hamra didn’t do much in the way of heightening general awareness about bubble tea, and even the kiosk that opened in City Mall Dora next to the food court never seemed to draw a crowd.
Four years have passed, and a German bubble tea brand wants to do something about mainstreaming the pearl milk tea in Lebanon. Meito was born in Munich, utilizing the smarts of engineers and robotic designers to revolutionize the way bubble tea is crafted. You pick the tea base—green tea, jasmine tea, or black milk tea; then the flavor, ranging from the fruity (e.g., blueberry, mango, passion fruit and lychee are but a few) to the more luxurious (…

7 Signs You’re A Second-Generation Lebanese-American

First, a lesson in terminology. In the United States, “second generation” refers to the U.S.-born children of foreign-born parents. As my parents emigrated from Lebanon to the United States where my brothers and I were born in the 1980s, we fit this label.
This article relates to second-generation Lebanese-Americans, a breed whose calling card is so unique, you could single them out within mere seconds. From being denied sleepover parties, to wielding pita sandwiches in school sack lunches, to responding to Arabic dialogue interminably in English, here are seven surefire signs you’re a Lebanese descendant born and raised in the good ole US of A.
Also, stay tuned for the second (foodie!) edition of this listicle due out next week. 

1. Before you could visit a schoolmate at her home, your parents insisted on making acquaintance with her parents, giving a whole new meaning to the “meet the parents” concept. Your best friend was hosting a slumber party at her house? Forget it. You could st…