Showing posts from May, 2017

Culinary Rambles: Have My Taste Buds Evolved?

The other day, we were running errands in Jal el Dib, and hunger struck. An old favorite crossed my mind, and we steered our wheels in the direction of Abou Jihad. An institution since 1962 (that makes it 55 years old!), the eatery has long been dishing up modest Lebanese fare and even boasts a popular take-out/delivery sandwich service.
We put in our orders at the cashier – two kebab khachkhach and one taouk to share – and patiently awaited our turn as over half a dozen orders were executed before ours. I stood at the food counter to watch the chef – the same gentleman I recall from my first visit six years ago – deck out and roll up wraps like clockwork, admittedly rather sloppily, which many might insist is the inherent charm in Abou Jihad’s sandwiches.
A messy splatter of hummus, a couple spears of pickles, a squirt of red pepper sauce (reb el 7ar), two grilled meat kebabs, and finally crushed roasted tomato pulp crashed down on the pita before it was bound up and wedged between a w…

A Locavore's Paradise: Le Comptoir de Coco

Along the upper main street in Jal el Dib, situated between an organic bread bakery and a fancy chocolate shop, sits a quaint epicerie called Le Comptoir de Coco. Push past the glass door to enter a fresh, modern space fusing elements of a coffee bar and bookstore all in one.

To your left, an open fridge lined with chilled bottles of Chateau Marsyas and other local wines, neighbored by yogurt tubs of Goutblanc and duck delicacies from La Ferme St. Jacques. To your right, floor-to-ceiling shelves populated with everything from Zejd extra-virgin olive oil to Mymouné jams.

It’s evident that Claude Samaha, the dedicated shop owner and keeper, means business when it comes to supporting local. While you might spot the odd international find (goodies like Kashi cereal from the USA or jarred baba au rhum from Italy), Le Comptoir de Coco, presumably short for Claude, is serious about promoting Lebanese vendors on a scale I’ve never witnessed before.
Eshmoon’s prized sugar-free, gluten-free, and…

Left Behind Blues

Lately, I’ve found myself suffering from the “left behind” blues.
My dear friend and fellow blogger Farrah of is relocating to our other motherland – Los Angeles – for a good four months plus some. I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around her summer-long absence. It's as if I’ve lost one of our breed to the other side, even if temporarily.

Farrah, like many of us Lebanese Diaspora who came “back” to the land of our ancestors and strived to build up a livelihood, has been wrestling with the what ifs of a foregone existence in the US. Having moved to Lebanon during the formative teenage years, she assimilated into school life and Lebanese culture as much as can be expected of an American transplant.
A graduate of AUB and LAU who put in the hours at a topnotch advertising agency before joining the family business in wholesale and grocery retail, Farrah feels stifled by the borders of the Lebanese frontier—literally and otherwise—and is swapping shawarma wra…

The Comeback Kid: Roadster Starts to Bounce Back

Let’s be honest: ever since Roadster’s reveal of a totally revamped brand identity, slogan, logo, and restaurant feel, Lebanon’s storied diner hasn’t gotten much good press. Diehard fans were a mixture of furious, dejected, puzzled, disillusioned, and even suspicious of the restaurant that once claimed the hearts of many.

Who could forget Roadster’s original slogan of “there goes my heart”? How about the quaint 50s and 60s memorabilia decking the walls at all the older outlets? Roadster’s character was one with whom every adolescent, young adult, and working professional could identify, and Lord knows their burgers always tantalized our taste buds long before any other modern Lebanese eatery did.

Like several others who endured less than awesome experiences at Roadster over the past year, I’d pretty much strayed far from their polished new playgrounds. Questionable customer service, diminishing portion sizes, and unjustifiably high prices kept me at bay, and I wondered whether the Road…

Scam Sagas: Falling Victim to a Company's Lack of Business Ethics

In early December of last year, we saw an enticing offer for a satellite dish installation and monthly subscription. For 198,000 LBP (USD 132), we would receive a dish, a receiver, installation, and a 90-day subscription. Thereafter, the rate per month would be a reasonable USD 15.

Given the fact that the provider is rather reputable in Lebanon, boasting a wide selection of high-quality channels in HD, we were more than happy to make the switch from our crappy cable arrangement.

It took a few prods and nudges to customer service before a local dealer was dispatched to our home to set up the dish. For whatever reason, he ended up requesting an additional 52,000 LBP (USD 35) in fees, claiming that the installation process on our rooftop was unusually complicated. A pile of horse manure, right?

Customer care eventually admitted that the dealer had no right to slap on his own service fees, and that we shouldn’t have paid the unwarranted surcharge. But from a moral and humane vantage point, …

Against the Grain: Encouraging the Diaspora's Return to Lebanon

Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized the 4th annual Lebanese Diaspora Energy (LDE) Conference, ushering in over 1,700 participants from around the world. The aim? To reunite emigrant Lebanese with the land of their fathers and forefathers. The means? A forum through which said Lebanese can recount their stories and import some of their outstanding successes to Lebanon.

Indeed, the conference was a high-brow affair, attracting the President of the Lebanese Republic General Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Foreign Affairs Minister Gebran Bassil, and a slate of other public officials.

Panels tackled a range of topics, from banking and financial systems to branding Lebanon and the role of social media. Locals and expats alike debated the extent to which Lebanon can retain and develop talents and how equipped the infrastructure is to handle an injection of investments from prospectors.

I was invited to attend the two-day gathering on behalf of my company and LDE Pla…

My No-Brainer Casual Food Favorites

Nothing new or earth-shattering has been going on in my endless quest for gourmet adventure. Which is fine by me, because that means I get to call upon all my tried and true favorites.
These days, nothing says comfort like going home and stirring up a rich linguini pesto. If it’s a simple Lebanese bite I’m fancying, I craft my light take on manakish with crispy thin tannour bread, Jordanian zaatar, and countryside olive oil from Southern Lebanon. But when even that seems like an arduous affair, I’ve got a ready slate of go-to fast casual food options I like to dub my “cheat sheet.”
Allow me to introduce my delicious darlings.

Breakfast at TSC Signature with Pizzaiolo Hassan Akkary
You’ve all heard me wax poetic every time it comes to the inimitable Hassan Akkary, who splits his days between TSC Signature in Beirut Souks and Casa dell’Olivo just off the Tayouneh roundabout. Nearly every morning until noon, catch him at the bakery inside TSC, bustling to fill customers’ demands for his secr…