Showing posts from July, 2015

Meet Pierre Abi Haila: Lebanon's Youngest Premium Chocolate Maker

As a child, Pierre Abi Haila wasn’t exactly an angel. The second of three sons born to a Lebanese father and Armenian mother in Dahr el Siwan, Pierre was rambunctious both at school and in the community where his family lived. He adored fruits, supposedly subsisting on them the first three years of his life, and was known to snag them stealthily from neighbors’ trees. In the classroom, he was every teacher’s nightmare: disobedient, inattentive, and eternally the troublemaker.

So it was no surprise when the principal of Saint Coeur Bikfaya summoned his parents and told them that Pierre would not be permitted to return for eighth grade. Grief-stricken, they threatened to place him in a technical school to learn a trade or discipline. Pierre couldn’t have been more pleased!
At the age of 12, he enrolled at École Technique Saint Joseph in Bhersaf, which proved to be more grueling than conventional school had been. Over three years, he learned 16 subjects straddling both academic coursework …

Furn Beaino: The Extraordinary Lahm Baajin Specialist in Jounieh

Toni Beaino is passionate about what he does. Six days a week, he wakes up at 3:30—even earlier than the crack of dawn—to start preparing dough and carving out meat. Fresh premium produce is sourced and delivered daily from a large market in Nahr Ibrahim. A couple lambs are slaughtered and tested for conformity to strict standards before being brought in to be trimmed and ground.
Beaino owns and operates a bakery renowned for its lahm baajin, a Lebanese pizza spread thin with a blend of ground lamb meat, onions, tomatoes and spices. It’s not Furn Beaino’s only specialty, but it’s one of the major reasons why folks from across the country trek vast distances to visit the bakery. A crispy, ethereally paper-thin flatbread serves as a vehicle to transport that peppery, lemony meat mix into your mouth cleanly without taking away from the main attraction. And one is never enough.

40 years ago, Beaino opened a small bakery in the Old Souks of Jounieh. At the young age of 20, he was eager to l…

World-Renowned Paris Tearoom "Angelina" Coming to Beirut!

Believe it or not, I was no gourmand or epicure five years ago, when I was a student residing in Paris. Pity, isn't it? I didn't discover Ladurée, Le Nôtre, or Pierre Hermé until practically the last month of my stay, and I sure wouldn't have heard of Angelina had it not been for a friend who insisted on making the trek from Rive Gauche to the premier arrondissement merely for a cup of hot chocolate. 

I was baffled. My whole life, I'd only been familiar with Nestlé and Carnation's powder form--you know, the stuff that comes in individual packets and sometimes includes microscopic marshmallows. "Simply add water," the instructions read. It was a highlight of my Southern Californian mild winters. I'd never known any other form. 
So imagine my baffled expression as my friend described Angelina's hot chocolate as though it were sweet liquid gold. I'd humor her and tag along, but internally I entertained no expectations.
How uncultured I proved to be,…

A Personal Retrospect: Looking Back On University Life Five Years On

Exactly five years have passed since I received my last academic degree. In July 2010, I graduated from Paris with an MBA in Strategic Management. I remember boarding a plane bound for Beirut just a few days afterward, my face flush with excitement and my mind filled with notions of new adventures.
I was finally free. Free from the shackles of institutionalized education. Free from the mundane and often irrelevant homework assignments. Free from an unbending and rigorous schedule.

Everyone tells you that college is the best time of your life. In so many ways, it’s true, but you get so bogged down with tedious projects and stressful exams, the experience hardly feels like pure bliss. One thing’s certain: college marks the last phase before you cross over into genuine adulthood, when you have to own up to your actions, account for your productivity, and toil in order to get paid and ultimately survive.
The enviable thing about my MBA is that it straddled academics with real-world experie…

Your Destination for Dining & Unwinding in Harissa

To be completely frank, I’ve never been enticed by the numerous snack shops and restaurant cafes dotting the Harissa highway. Maybe it’s because the high-speed straightaway doesn’t lend itself to safely pulling over and parking curbside to pop in for a bite. Or maybe it’s the cheap aura these feeding joints exude, fostered by plastic tables and chairs, vinyl drapes, and an uncanny air of desolation. Yeah, it’s likely Maybe #2.
So I was a little quizzical as I listened to my good friends at Zomato wax poetic about a restaurant called Amar situated on one of the bends before reaching Harissa. Stunning views and delicious food formed the crux of their raves, and a quick glance at diners’ feedback online seemed to corroborate this. I was curious, and last week I had the chance to put matters to rest.

For starters, the views—I believe the proper word is panorama—aren’t just stunning, they’re tremendous. The restaurant terrace offers an unobstructed vista from Nahr el Kalb up the coastline to…

Social Media Is More Than Just A Tool to Boost Egos

When you begin to grasp how powerful social media can be, you become irreversibly hooked.
I’m not talking about personal accounts where users post every iota of their mundane lives, hoping to fetch a few likes and thus validate their existences. Yes, Instagram can be an interesting platform to build your ego, and these days, many measure their self-worth by the number of followers they’ve amassed.

The focus of this piece, however, is on large corporate accounts, those that represent the face of a company or institution. Previously, when you wanted to communicate with a brand, you had to either send them postal mail or, thanks to the major advances of the digital world over the past decade and half, electronic mail.
Either way, your letter went to a black hole, and there was little guarantee you’d receive a reply. Assuming you miraculously did but the response came up short, the back and forth could drag on for months, and the mere thought of it may have prevented you from initiating a…

Five Delicious Iftars in Beirut You Don't Want to Miss

Ramadan may be more than midway complete, but there’s still plenty of time to squeeze in a scrumptious Iftar at many a select restaurant in Beirut. Whether you are observing the festive season or celebrating with Muslim friends, the capital is host to a wide spread of wonderful meals to stir the senses and satiate the belly. Here are a few that’ll make the long fast worthwhile.

Boulevard BeirutBoulevard Beirut is a new fixture on the Ain Mreisseh stretch. In fact, the entire complex where it is housed is an overhaul of predecessors La Plage and Al Dirwandi. What hasn’t changed, however, is the front-row seat to the majestic Mediterranean and an unobstructed view of the sun as it makes its plunge into the horizon. The buffet is top notch, with tabbouleh and fattouch tossed before your very eyes; dizzyingly delicious hindbeh; spiced savory pastries; and juicy cubes of chicken and beef cooking out on the grill. Save room for the assortment of ashta-based Lebanese turnovers, including sha3…

Movenpick's Iftar Is A Feast Fit For A King

The Movenpick is the only five-star luxury hotel in Beirut to be situated directly on the Mediterranean Sea. A glimpse outside the window from the main lobby on the 8th floor reveals an Olympic-sized pool, a sandy beach dotted with white parasols, and beautiful blue waves lapping against the shore. On the hotel rooftop, which if extrapolated could possibly be on par with the street level, there’s a soothing lounge called Square boasting superb views, shisha and cocktails for those eager to follow the sun’s mystical plunge into the horizon.
Spectacular sights and unrivalled recreation—well what about the food? Last week, we visited Mediterranée for a lavish Iftar buffet like none other I’ve beheld. The sheer variety of dishes, the alluring presentation, the fusion of Occidental and Oriental—“feast” doesn’t begin to capture it.

The first thing your eyes are drawn to is the cheese and cold cuts table. Whether your palate is craving Brie, cheddar, halloumi, Nabulsieh, goat labneh, or doubl…