Showing posts from October, 2015

Sweet Reflections from My Birthday Treasure Chest

We’d been dating precisely four months when my birthday arrived. I’d never been one to make a fuss about it like some are wont to do—I didn’t let friends know the day was approaching, and I certainly didn’t plan a festive party around it. I usually let it pass like any other unremarkable day.
But early in our relationship, Jimmy had prodded me for my birthdate and proceeded to commit it to memory. What a sharp memory he had, because beginning in early October, he was perpetually reminding me that a special day was around the corner. I reddened with timidity each time he mentioned it.
That year, my birthday fell on a Tuesday. In effect, it was Tuesday, November 1st, 2011, or 11-1-11. The palindromic nature of the date captivated my mathematical mind more than the personal significance behind it—inordinately self-deprecating, I know!

Jimmy had started a new job just a month earlier, after a summer hiatus of "in between jobs." November 1st marked his first payday, and I’d been i…

A Virtual Marketplace To Unite the Lebanese Diaspora

I lived abroad most of my life, and believe me when I say I went out of my way to meet fellow Lebanese people. There’s nothing like bumping into a compatriot on foreign soil. You may not know a thing about each other, but you’re immediately united by a shared language and culture, which are powerful enough to dissipate those feelings of being a stranger. (And within mere minutes, you discover you are somehow connected—it’s a small world, isn’t it!)
In the early 2000s, I created a profile on the now-defunct, which at the time operated as a worldwide network meant to link Lebanese in all four corners of the globe. It was rather limited and inefficient, with character-capped fields for descriptions and only location info to help you find others in your area. Crude as it was, it was exhilarating to make contact with Lebanese internationally.

Which is why I wish Lebanon Business Network, the first-ever global Lebanese business community, was around back in the day. LBN provides Leba…

Birthday Wishes to My Lil Brother, the Rockstar

It was an unusual arrangement, one that drew the notice of visiting guests and friends. Why did I share a room with my younger brother, John Paul, when he could have just as easily shacked up with our older brother, Andre?
In retrospect, I imagine it was because Andre was the eldest and had already acclimated to enjoying a room on his own. I inhabited the master bedroom (such sacrificial parents!), which, being naturally more spacious, lent itself nicely to a roommate.
And the setup stuck. John Paul outgrew his crib, and twin beds were secured. We quickly became inseparable—mostly because he was afraid of the dark and couldn’t bear to be alone in the bedroom. We’d stay up late into the night, exchanging funny stories and bedtime lore, bursting into laughter every time my mother chastised us from across the hall.
On weekends, with the help of Andre, we’d erect a network of tents inside the bedroom using blankets, nightstands and the dresser.

If ever I had a schoolmate over, John Paul wo…

Harry's Bar Beirut Sets The Bar Far Out of Reach

I just didn’t know how to take it. Surely the restaurant wouldn’t be the same without him, would it?
Weeks before the start of the summer season, I learned of Executive Chef Andrea Gurzi’s departure from Harry’s Bar Beirut. Andrea, who during his six-month stay in Lebanon grew to become a personal friend, had been one of the founding members of the storied landmark that opened its doors to the public in December 2014.
I’d had the pleasure of interviewing him and tasting his visionary cuisine on numerous occasions. I’d even watched him compete and snag top honors at Horeca this spring for a masterfully executed steak platter. Andrea’s relentless mission was to educate Lebanese in the true art of Italian cuisine, free from twists, Americana adaptations and most unequivocally, quinoa.
The intense 24-year-old would be returning to his stomping grounds in Milan, and in his place, another Italian chef would seize the reins. Andrea had set the bar high, and my expectations were through the ro…

Thinking Pink: Renewed Belief in Lebanese Resilience

It’s easy for us to bash on Lebanon. I mean, truth be told, the country constantly sets itself up for mow-down with its chronic “situations,” and here I’ll refrain from listing them (mostly because the list is never-ending).
But every so often, a glint of beauty appears, a beauty that emerges from the pooled effort of numerous selfless individuals who can see past the throbbing hurt Lebanon both suffers from and induces on its denizens. These individuals remind you what our country is all about—namely warmth and empathy—and that no small exertion goes unnoticed.
I’m referring to the ubiquitous breast cancer campaigns we see brazenly seizing the country. Around the world, October is designated Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual endeavor to spotlight the disease. 
While most people are familiar with it, many neglect its grim realities and put off regular examinations for its early-stage detection. Sure, there have been major strides the world over to battle breast cancer, but there’s…

Maison Ladurée Opens Inside a Princely Beirut Villa

Ladurée has been treating the Lebanese public to their signature macarons for a couple of years now. Points of sale could be found inside a flagship store along Rue Foch as well as at kiosks nestled in ABC Achrafieh and Le Mall Dbayeh. 
Several months ago, the standalone shop shuttered, and not long thereafter, the Dbayeh station disappeared. I was crushed. Was the world-renowned house of macarons following in the fateful footsteps of other high-end pastry shops in Lebanon?

To date, Fauchon opened a corner perch in Gemmayze just a few years ago, but its destiny was downsized to the form of a counter inside City Mall Dora.
Sweet Tea was the brainchild of Michelin-starred pastry chef Yannick Alleno. The daintiest French pastries could be enjoyed inside the immaculate white space and on the garden terrace, and even when Alleno withdrew from the concept two years later, it was perpetuated by Beirut Hospitality Company under the name The Garden. The dessert items were carefully preserved, th…

Questioning Lebanon: The Critical Lens of My Vacation Overseas

I’ve been away for some time now. To my faithful readers, I apologize for the disappearing act, which also spread to my Instagram account. It seems even enjoyable hobbies like blogging require an annual leave!
The truth is I spent three weeks in the US and returned to Beirut only this Sunday. It’d been a year and a half since my previous American voyage and precisely one year since I last embraced my parents and brothers—at my wedding, in fact. A vacation and reunion were unquestionably overdue.

In all frankness, my excitement to get away from Lebanon was sky-high. Life in these parts has gotten profusely challenging, especially in light of the rubbish debacle plaguing our country coupled with a stranglehold over Beirut, constant rioting, and a dismal outlook in general. I was eager to escape.
So escape we did.
Our running grounds were Southern California, specifically my hometown of Riverside as a base, with scenic day outings to Hollywood, LA, Newport, Laguna Beach, Temecula (the basti…