Showing posts from July, 2017

Ogero on the Rebound: My Experience with Lebanon's Telecom Service Provider

This summer, we relocated to the Holiday Beach to make the most of the sea, summertime, and recreational living. Figuring out what to do about Wi-Fi, however, gnawed away at us, because Lord knows you can’t survive on the astronomically expensive mobile data packages available in Lebanon. Of course not. We needed broadband internet. But as any layman can attest, broadband establishes a connection to the internet over existing telephone wires. The chalet lacked a landline, so before we could even hook up Wi-Fi, we needed to apply for a phone line. Photo source My husband and I started to sweat bullets. Two decades ago, when my parents put in a request for a landline from Ogero , not only were registration fees horrifically high, but the time it took for the application to be acknowledged and a technician to be dispatched saw an entire season pass. And those of you who reside in Lebanon know I’m not exaggerating. In recent years, I’d learned that prices had s

Why You Can Never Truly Trust Online Restaurant Ratings

As a veteran food blogger, I’m often asked about the importance and reliability of online restaurant ratings. In Lebanon’s F&B landscape, Zomato has filled the role of restaurant search and discovery. Users can look up business hours, menus, photos, diners’ reviews, and contact info to learn more about a venue of interest. Online data can certainly go a long way in creating a virtual restaurant visit even before the real one transpires. And I was quoted saying that a couple years ago in an interview with Wamda on “ How Lebanon’s food scandal spurred startup solutions .” But while one can piece together an impression from the general attitude of previous diners, one would be sorely amiss to rely  exclusively  o n visitors’ remarks. In other words, Zomato is not an authoritative guide in the everlasting pursuit of outstanding restaurants. Yes, it is a warehouse of valuable data, but it suffers from a set of inherent limitations. And you’re about to be in the know. P

Atelier du Miel & The Art of Honey-Based Cooking

I’ve been following the growth of local organic honey producer L’Atelier du Miel with the same resolve of a bee pollinating a flower. And it’s blossoming. Established by the trio of an engineer, architect, and consultant , The Honey Shop, as its name translates to in English, came about as a pet project to produce local artisanal honey free from pesticides and antibiotics. Nearly a thousand beehives are moved throughout the year in synchronization with the flower-blossoming seasons. As a result, a myriad of honeys abound, from Cedar and Orange to Thyme and Lavender, each wholly untampered by heat treatment or processing. And the taste shows for it. I’ve become addicted to Caroubier , tinged with hints of carob molasses, as well as Fleur d’Oranger , aromatic of orange blossom. Each has found a place in my pantry to top granola, pancakes, peanut butter – virtually anything that could use a sweet little drizzle! The incorporation of honey into our daily cuisine might seem l

The Scoop on Bar Tartine's All-New Brunch Buffet

There’s a perfectly good explanation for why Bar Tartine is my no-brainer go-to when dining out is in the cards. To say that the cafe, restaurant, bread baker, and pastry shop in one does everything right might sound overly subjective and ambitious. And any food critic knows there’s always room for improvement. But gosh darn it, Bar Tartine scores superlative marks when it comes to a tasty purposeful menu; fresh, premium ingredients; great value at affordable prices; smart service; and smooth ambiance. New items are carefully and deliberately introduced to the menu --  the last polish occurred two summers ago , and it’s robustly withstood the test of time. In fact, all the newbies have become my regular orders. (But I’m still wondering about that divine Caprice aux Poires : O where, O where did it go?) The latest development is a weekend brunch offered exclusively in the Dbayeh outlet. You can imagine how much time, thought, market research, and kitchen experimentation the te

Sapori e Vini: Authentic Trattoria Dining in Byblos

Some of the most memorable moments from our honeymoon in Italy were stumbling across family-run trattorias in the cities and towns we visited. Tucked in calm streets away from the footfall of giddy tourists, these dining establishments—somewhere between osteria and ristorante in the scale of formalness—feature casual service, low prices, and an emphasis on steady neighborhood clientele rather than haute cuisine. I still recall those generous bowls of ribollita , or vegetable stew, followed by seafood pasta swimming in frutti di mare . Dessert comprised uneven squares of tiramisu sliced from a pan. You could wash it all down with a bottle of still or fizzy water and a cup of espresso for a very reasonable €25. In comparison, the Italian restaurants you find in Lebanon are nowhere near as merciful when it comes to price and value. A colorful collection of Italian antipasti Two brothers by the names of Jad and Imad Doumet are out to change that. Their mission? To rep