Showing posts from 2023

Lebanon's Retail Landscape In Need of Customer Service Overhaul

Last weekend, I found myself visiting two different retailers with which I’d previously been unfamiliar. We received housewarming gifts that I wished to exchange for something of more utility, and after being repeatedly reassured that swapping would be effortless, I embarked on said mission. The first retailer has two branches: one in Jdeideh, north of Beirut, and another in Ballouneh, in the Ajaltoun district. The gift was purchased in Ballouneh, and I was going to attempt the exchange in Jdeideh, which is considerably closer to our home. I entered the shop and presented the item – a half dozen set of tumblers – to the two ladies seated behind the cashier desk. Almost instantly I was greeted with, “that’s an old item.” “Excuse me? This was purchased 24 hours ago from your other location,” I retorted. As though we were duking it out on a tennis court, the cashier swiftly shot back that she had to check whether they even carried this item in Jdeideh, because if they did not, she wou

Caramello Delivers Divine Desserts Right To Your Doorstep

I don't usually take my chances with dessert. If you know me, you know I have a predilection for sweet over salty. And I lived in the capital of fine treats – does Paris really need an introduction? So I'm decidedly discerning when it comes to gastronomy. But I had a good feeling about Caramello. The newly launched home business is the brainchild of a homemaker and self-taught pastry aficionado with 30 years of experience under her belt. For decades she dreamt of sharing her dainty delights with the world, and that dream has finally been realized with the help of her supportive family. On offer? Her specialties are distinctly les macarons , fresh fruit tarts and cheesecakes. Among Caramello's specialties are les macarons For my son Alexander's third birthday, we homed in on a Biscoff Lotus cheesecake, fresh strawberry tartlets, and a selection of macarons. I didn't have much customer feedback or testimonials to fall back on, since the operation is new. But the

Beirutista Featured on "Malini Angelica" YouTube Travel Documentary About Beirut

A little over three months ago, on October 1, 2022, I met with video creator Malini Angelica at L’Appartement terrace in Beirut. Malini, visiting from London to film a YouTube travel documentary with her partner, had come across my blog Beirutista and wished to meet in person. We agreed to a casual rendezvous at a venue of her choosing, and conversation flowed naturally as we sipped on Qanafar rosé from the Bekaa region. Among a number of things, we spoke about my Lebanese-American upbringing in southern California, the transition to Lebanon over one decade ago, the birth of Beirutista, whether or not there is a real Lebanese identity, and the current state of affairs inside these borders. The videotaped exchange lasted an hour or so and would be incorporated in a travel doc destined for Malini’s eponymous YouTube channel. Three months later, exactly on New Year’s Day, the video was released, and you can see it here (jump to 21:30 to catch my segment). Only a few short minutes of