My Latest Dessert Discoveries in Beirut

No birthday is complete without a dizzying dose of dessert, and mine was no exception! 

My colleagues had been singing the praises of Al Beik Patisserie in Koreitem for over a month now, high on the signature knefeh sandwiches the pastry shop is renowned for. I normally shy away from knefeh because it sits heavy on the stomach, but Al Beik’s is miraculously digestible.

A thin-shelled sesame-crusted pita round snugly hugs a cheese and semolina patty in what appears to be a knefeh burger! It’s even wrapped in a paper jacket as burgers are wont to and fitted inside a white Styrofoam box. The contents are delicious, but I’d definitely dial down the syrup, because a few bites and your sweet tooth will be plenty satisfied.

How neat is this packaging?

Al Beik knefeh inside a sesame kaak pocket

On Sunday, we discovered a new spot in ABC Achrafieh called Caffè Gianni (named after its Italian owner Giovanni). Tucked out of sight on the farthest reach of the terrace (where Scoozi used to be), this “bar” preserves the vibes of a true Italian caffè. There’s a long glass display with fresh gelati and sorbetti; focaccia pizza sold by the square; a deli counter for all your salumi cravings; and a pasticceria in the works that's presently limited to homemade cakes.

The brioche con gelato was generously offered to me by the owner’s Lebanese wife when she learned it was my birthday.

Brioche con gelato: here's the mandarino (mandarin) side

Brioche con gelato: here's the cioccolato nero (dark chocolate) side

Essentially, an airy brioche bun is loaded with your choice of frozen dessert—I opted for mandarin and dark chocolate sorbets (yes, there is such a thing as chocolate sorbet!)—with a squeeze of panna, or whipped cream. Delizioso.

I’d love to go back and try the pastas on offer or perhaps a frittata for brunch. Gianni’s also boasts cornetto dolce with add-in pistachio cream or apricot marmalade. At last, my wish came true!

The sugar parade continued into the next day when my coworkers ordered Ladurée pastries from the new salon du thé to officially ring in my special day. 

Pièces du gâteau from Maison Ladurée in Minet el Hosn

The Ispahan is a rose-flavored macaron which substitutes the traditional cream for fresh raspberries and a solitary lychee. Light and refreshing, it could benefit from a silky filling to bind all elements together.

Ispahan: rose-flavored macaron with fresh raspberries

The Mont Blanc layers meringue, crème Chantilly, and chestnut purée in spaghetti form for a cloyingly sweet dessert. Next time, I’ll sample the pistachio Religieuse, which resembles two distinctly-sized choux à la crème resting atop each other like a glazed snowman.

Mont Blanc

What are your new discoveries in the dessert department? I’d love to hear!

Al Beik Patisserie (01-792579)
Caffè Gianni (01-326327)
Maison Ladurée (01-992922)


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