Showing posts from August, 2015

Sibling Affection: In Praise of the Birthday Boy

This piece is dedicated to my elder brother Andre, who celebrated his birthday yesterday. Sadly, I could not be with him, as we are separated by seas, continents, and ten time zones.

Every child has a mentor, someone to whom she looks up and constantly seeks approval. For me, it was and remains Andre. The eldest among the three of us—we have a younger brother named John Paul—Andre is a wizard in everything he does.
He aced every subject effortlessly, particularly math, never having to enlist the aid of our parents.
He was easily the better piano player between the two of us, practicing regularly where I procrastinated shamelessly.
He was naturally adept at playing video games, from our first console Super Nintendo to its carefully chosen successor, the Sega Dreamcast.
He was extremely tech-savvy, ensuring we were early movers and had state-of-the-art technology long before anyone else did.
And boy did he know how to fashion slingshots and bows and arrows out of backyard tree branches an…

Cuz Burgers Are The New Black: When Form Reflects Function

If you’re planning to wait for the hype to subside before sinking your canines into Roadster’s newest meaty novelty, you might want to modify your strategy. 
The black-bunned beef burger, the object behind the trending campaign #WhyGoBlack, was launched a couple of weeks ago and will only linger through mid-September. It’s made for some serious Instagram scrutiny, and while most Roadster fans are keen on trying the noir number, some find it aesthetically off-putting. After all, how much of our quotidian cuisine is pitch black?

Here's the anatomy of the burger: a succulent, moist Angus beef patty is topped with cheddar cheese and the usual suspects—lettuce, tomato, finely-diced onions, dill pickles—and slathered with a subtle savory sauce. It immediately transported me back to my delicious encounter with the Rd66, one of Roadster’s five signature Angus burgers. 

The main difference, obviously, lay in the bun which, nibbled on alone, had a sweet trace of molasses to it. I’m almost sure…

Dear Lebanon, Take Note from F&B: Reinvent and Keep it Fresh!

It’s easy to get comfy with the old. As the sayings go, “old is gold,” and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But by the same token, “if you don’t change, you don’t grow, and if you don’t grow, you cease to exist.” Looks like the folks at Bar Tartine are disciples of this philosophy, as last week they put theory to practice and amped up their food offerings.
The original menu at the three-branch stronghold has withstood the test of time, and, in the space of just two years, Bar Tartine asserts itself as one of the country’s favorite French bakeries. The meal experience commences with a basket of signature fresh bread and sea-salt-kissed olive oil, a testament to the fact that in simplicity, there is beauty.
'Tis the theme weaving through nearly every item on the menu: fresh, flavorful ingredients combine to form bold, delicious dishes. The menu encompasses breakfast, soups, salads, sandwiches (and namesake tartines), artisanal pizzas, mains and desserts, so there’s something for ev…

Weekend Escape to Dubrovnik, Crown of the Adriatic Sea

I’d never been to Eastern Europe before, but the more I dug up on the scenic sea vistas and lush greenery that is Dubrovnik, the more convinced I became of its status as an ideal weekend getaway. The touristic Old Town seemed small, quaint, and navigable, walled in on all sides to protect against the Venetian and Ottoman empires in earlier centuries. The city’s position on the southern tip of Croatia bordering the continent’s purest body of water—the Adriatic Sea—was only further testament to the natural beauty that awaited us.

And yet my vision of Dubrovnik fell considerably short of what the experience proved to be. A direct flight from Beirut in the wee hours of a Friday morning in mid-August saw us on board Croatia Airlines, and in a speedy two and a half hours, we were strutting past automated glass doors into the hot summer Dubrovnik air. A pre-arranged shuttle swept us from the airport to the hotel within 25 minutes. We’d be staying in an area called Babin Kuk, northwest of the …

Bibayti: Private Chefs For Hire In Your Home

You’re hosting friends over for dinner at your place. Either you lack the time to prepare a thoughtful meal, or you don’t have the culinary finesse to pull it off. Ordering take-out is too informal, careless even. And it falls short of the homey ambiance you’re aiming for; otherwise you’d have invited your guests out to a restaurant. So who you gonna call?
No, not Ghostbusters, although they might make for lovely dinner guests.
Bibayti is a scheme that connects chefs to individuals in the comfort of their own homes. Hence, “bi bayti,” or at my home. In short, the Bibayti website, once fully fleshed out, will showcase the profiles of in-home chefs, their level of expertise—amateur, apprentice, or professional—and the various menus they offer, with a price per guest formulated from cost of ingredients and labor.

Once you home in on a particular chef and menu that suit both your planned occasion and budget, you can request a booking for a specified date and time. The chef will show up a …

My Summer Hotlist for Delicious Treats in Lebanon

You know how the saying goes—nothing good lasts forever. And in Lebanon, this self-truth proves itself all too often. We simply don’t have a knack for permanence, and that applies to everything from the grocer’s inventory to the latest edition burger at your favorite diner: here today, gone tomorrow.
So when I spot something good, I make it my mission to enjoy it as frequently as possible before it becomes a figment of an irretrievable past. Whether you’re visiting Lebanon for the summer or you reside here (semi-)permanently, be sure to get your fill of the following foodstuffs before they become so passé.

Také sushi

I remember passing by a sushi joint in Broumana on a bend not far from the city’s renowned English high school. This was before the sushi hype seized the nation in a delirious raw seafood fit. Také has since relocated to Badaro on a street parallel to the main avenue. With a seating capacity of 20, the restaurant crafts delicious, noticeably fresh sushi, and you don’t want …

Beirutista Invited Once Again For A Live TV Broadcast

Last week, I was invited for an interview on LBC’s B-Beirut daytime TV show. This is the second time the producers at LBC request my on-air presence to discuss the blog Beirutista. 

My first television appearance back in March delved into the vision of the blog, why I created it, and what it features. I remember being stricken with apprehension in the few days and hours before the show—what would the TV hosts ask? Would I sound articulate live on air? Would my Arabic fail me? I’m fluent, but I occasionally fumble for a word and must quickly revert to English.

This time, I approached the set with more confidence and self-assurance. Two of my recent pieces—Furn Beaino in Jounieh and the up-and-coming chocolatier Pierre Abi Haila—formed the focal topics of discussion. I have to say, though, ten minutes of talk time hardly allow you to dive to the depth you desire. The questions were admittedly general, and with the scope of the interview beyond my control, I couldn’t really steer the discu…

Summertime Sadness: I Grieve for Lebanon

It’s hard to stay positive in the midst of all that’s transpiring in Lebanon. For those reading from abroad and unfamiliar with the current state of affairs here, let me pull you up to speed. Two weeks ago, the central landfill that buries most of Lebanon’s rubbish was shut down to the tune of local citizens marching in front of its gates and calling for an end to the unsightly, toxic mound polluting their environs. Indeed, the landfill had been designed as a temporary solution to the waste management problem riddling our country. It had certainly overstayed its welcome by years, and understandably, residents in the area had had enough.
With the landfill cordoned off and unable to accept or process any more garbage, Lebanon’s streets morphed into veritable mountains of trash. The stifling days of a historically hot summer became laced with an unmistakable stench in the air, and with the dank humidity, dumpster sites fostered brewing grounds for mosquitoes and other pests. Visiting Bei…