Showing posts from December, 2016

2016 Wrap-Up & Send-Off

It’s incredible how much soul-searching and self-reflection an airport terminal inspires. Here I am, staring in interest at swarms of passengers, each with a destination, each with a purpose, each with a unique story. Some might be flying out for work in the Arab states, where the business week commences today, Sunday. Others might be heading on a quick pre-holiday getaway for some much-needed me-time before throngs of relatives threaten their privacy. Still others might be going home for the holidays, preempting Christmas to avoid the onslaught of the chaotic travel season. You can fit me in Bin #3. For the first time since 2010, I’ll be going “home” for Christmas. The use of the quotation marks is merited because (1) one might argue that I’m already home, coming up on my six-year anniversary in Lebanon. And (2) home is where the heart is, which suggests my heart is omnipresent in all the places and people I cherish. So let me fine-tune that. I’ll be going

BDL Accelerate: Steve Wozniak & My Take-Away Lessons For Lebanon

Early last month, Lebanon made conference history by attracting over 23,000 people from every corner of the world to participate in BDL Accelerate . In its third year, the Central Bank-backed affair ran for three days and featured an array of talks by entrepreneurs, techies, designers, creatives and more. Those in attendance counted government agencies, start-ups, venture capitalists, banks, university and even high school students who more and more are showing interest in alternative paths to the traditional 9-5 employment. You could say that one of the unique selling points of this year’s Accelerate summit was Steve Wozniak, who flew from Silicon Valley to deliver a one-hour narrative to a crowd of thousands. For me, being in his presence and hearing the humble words he had to relay was nothing short of a revelation.  Steve Wozniak -- does he need an introduction? The man is all engineer, a hands-on designer and builder who from a young age was bent on making peopl

Cantina Sociale: Beirut's Very Own Wine Bar-Cum-Café

For some time now, my friends and I have been searching high and low for a wine bar-cum-café. You know the type: a casual space where you can curl up with a book while sipping a cappuccino, or heck, a glass of Bordeaux. A zen outfit where you can hammer out a paper for your Psych class without a waiter constantly hovering over your shoulder, asking whether you’d fancy dessert. At long last, I'm happy to report, I've found the fit, and its name is Cantina Sociale . Located adjacent to Caribou Coffee a block from Sassine Square in Achrafieh, Cantina is a self-service café that doubles as a wine cellar housing over 300 available labels (and they start at rock bottom prices, too!). There are about 20 local and international bottles on tap, and with a single swipe of your Cantina membership card, you can opt for one of three volumes of wine: a sample, a half glass, or a full glass. Cantina boasts 300 international and local wine labels  There are also numerous

Punjabi Indian Cuisine in the Heart of Beirut

I first visited Al Hindi in the summer of 2011. It was still the wee days of our courtship, and I wanted to reciprocate his invites. Nothing tickles a man like his woman splurging on him, so ladies, be sure to wear the pants from time to time! In Boston and Paris, I'd become acquainted with Punjabi cuisine. And while it usually ended in intense heartburn and acid reflux, I was smitten and wanted to expose him to that world. Pyramid-like samosas with potatoes, peas, and cumin. Elastic naan that beautifully laps up curry. Marinated tandoori cubes of meat. And refreshing raita, similar to the Lebanese version muddling plain yogurt with mint and cucumbers.  A proper restaurant scour of the Beirut scene revealed that an Indian establishment existed in the form of Al Hindi (“the Indian” in Arabic – not very creative, but I'll grant it does the job). So go we went, and I remember it being superb (that, or the flirtatious talk was so captivating, food took a backseat!). F

Paris, Je T'aime: My Return Six Years Later

Mere mention of the city Paris, and immediately you conjure up images of romance, the Eiffel Tower, éclairs, and baguettes. But for me, the City of Light holds a certain mystique far deeper than a spring fling or a honeymoon destination. Between 2009 and 2010, I lived in the 7ème  arrondissement , or 7 th  district, as I alternated between a grueling MBA and a junior consultancy at a nuclear energy company. Like every other Parisian, I commuted by Metro; shopped at Carrefour; consumed stinky cheese; drank tap water; and went to the movies on Sundays. I learned that there are two lanes on an escalator: the fast left and the idle right. I jaywalked constantly. I discovered flan . And I bought bottles of wine for as little as €2. By the sixth month of my stay, I was enamored. The inconvenient life of a struggling student was easily outweighed by the gourmet charm of the city, and I remember thinking to myself that I hadn’t started living until I met Paris. Mirror mirr

Go Gourmet This Holiday With Wesley's Exclusive Orange Label

I think we can all agree that the holiday season is officially upon us. Festive decorations animating every street corner and shop? Check. Chilly temperatures? It's raining as I write this. Horrendous traffic conditions on account of extended Black Friday sales? Yup, we’re definitely there. The merrier side of this time of year means there’ll be plenty of gatherings, gift-giving, and good cheer as Lebanon swells with visitors from near and far. And Lord knows, as Lebanese decorum dictates, empty hands are highly unwelcome and discouraged. But how to truly dazzle this year, because that botched up bûche really isn’t going to score you brownie points. Isn't high time you became the envy of all your friends? How about distracting your critical aunt from probing into your bleak romantic outlook? Wouldn’t you love to finally be admitted into the gossip group of your condescending cousins? This Christmas, vow to wow with original gifts, goodies, and cards! Tha