Lebanese Food and Culinary Traditions

Lebanese Food and Culinary Traditions
Spring time always inspires me...

Sunday, March 1, 2015


When you engage an artisan, you buy more than a service. You buy certain hours of failure and experimentation. You buy days, weeks, and months of frustrations and pure moments of joy too. You don't buy something, you buy a piece of one's heart, a part of one's soul. More important, you buy an artisan more time to live out his passion.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Soup for Syria - Conditions in Refugee Camps

As I finish up writing the book Soup for Syria , the conditions are not better. You could say the reality is stagnant. Hatred is building up and so many people are caught in this raging war. You can order the book through Interlink Books based in the US. May this book bring a message of hope, of love, of empathy.

This my Aya. I say my Aya because I truly love her.
The war of Syria is written in her eyes, are you sensitive enough to read them. Today was hard. Very hard! People I visited last year are still living in the same misery and heartache. Babies are born, husbands are leaving and not coming back, hygiene is at its worst because of the rain and now the melting of the snow. Mud is everywhere. Humidity, hunger, pain.... I don't think I will sleep tonight.
war in syria in her eyes
A newborn who was born prematurely is in desperate need of help. The mother asked for Nursie 1 and diapers. The baby looks like he will not make it. I have never seen a baby so tiny and so fragile. Her husband left her with the baby and she is squatting with another family now who took pity on her. That family is also living in very difficult conditions but in spite of that , they took in this young desperate mother. If you can help in any way. Doctors who can help!!! Donations to buy milk would also be appreciated. I had to make sure the baby was alive because he looked so frail. It is very disturbing. I chose not to show his face because of mere superstition. I think his little feet show a lot. Help people. 
prenatal baby

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

About Reading / About Writing

When once the itch of literature comes over a man (woman), nothing can cure it but the scratching of a pen.~Samuel Lover, born today 24 Feb 1797-1868

 photo Pierre Bared

 A proud moment I will never forget, the book signing of Mouneh: Preserving Foods for the Lebanese Pantry at Tawlet, Souk el Tayeb. The setting was beautiful. My family and friends gathered to celebrate the birth of this huge baby which took 5 years to produce. It was worth it.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Walk Alone / or Not

“If you cannot find a good companion to walk with, walk alone, like an elephant roaming the jungle. It is better to be alone than to be with those who will hinder your progress.”

Culinary Trip to Kea Island, Greece

Aglaia's Table
Because we all need a break, I am organizing a culinary trip to Greece in a beautiful romantic island called KEA. I visited last year with my husband Serge Massaad and we want to share our experience with all of you. We were hosted by a wonderful couple who own a culinary school (home) and who really showed us the best of the island. Not your regular couple, Aglaia Kremezi is a famous cookbook author and her husband is her partner who is always ready to help. If you are interested to know more: please inbox me. I will be posting detailed information on my blog this week. The trip will take place in April 2015.Here is a sample 6-day tour. We can work on other recipes too. Aglaia just published a wonderful book called Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts but don't worry she cooks meat too... I am going to post some photos of our trip too... Yalla let's do a cool group and go and cook, eat, drink and soak up the peaceful mood of this beautiful island.

Aglaia and her husband Costas

I posted photos on Facebook!

According to my husband Serge, this is the best fish he has ever had
 The cost for our full 6-day programs (5 nights) is Euro 1555 per person.  This includes all program related activities and transportations on Kea.

The additional hotel cost would be either 400 for a double room with breakfast at the Keos hotel for the total of 5 nights; or 525 or more for a double with breakfast at the Porto Kea Suites (where you stayed last year). Please, note, these hotel prices are for May or September only, they go up in June.  
A happy customer
Depending on how many people you are, you can join in one of our regular programs, May 18-23, June 22-27, or September 21-26; or we can set a special date for you if you are more than 5 people.  The September program coincides with olive picking and pressing at our property.
Aglaia demonstrating her cooking techniques
Here is a brief description of the accommodations we cooperate with (prices are low season, and our discounts can't be combined with other seasonal hotel offers):

1. Porto Kea Suites, at http://www.portokea-suites.com/
RECOMMENDED:  Big luxurious comfortable rooms across from a sandy beach; the only hotel with 24-hour room service, open-air pool, breakfast included, snack bar/cafe, internet.  Special prices for Kea Artisanal guests starting at Euro 105 in May and September 2015.  
2. Keos Hotel, at www.keos.gr.  Nice rooms, overlooking the port from a distance, walking distance from two beaches.  Breakfast included.  Their rooms are great for sharing, usually having two identical beds.  Euro 80 a double; 70 a single; 90 a triple with breakfast.  
For more details about Keartisanal, please visit the website directly at http://www.keartisanal.com.  In particular, I suggest that you check the following links:
For a more concise idea of our activities, please click here.
This is the link for our dates.
Here you will find the information about the cost and what is included in it. 
For information about getting to Kea, please, inquire.
Our resumes, are on the "About Us" page. 
To read what was written in the press about Kea Artisanal, please, click here; and here is the latest post about us.  

Here are a few pictures of our programs, and you will find more here.
Click here for a video from our classes, please, click here.

Here is the link to Aglaia's food blog http://www.aglaiakremezi.com/, and here you will find her contributions to The Atlantic Monthly new food blog; see also, http://www.facebook.com/aglaia.kremezi and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kea-Artisanal/265645943484108.
A friendship for life

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Inspiring Quote for my Daughter

If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it. -Toni Morrison (born on this day, 18 Feb 1931)

I dedicate this post to my daughter Mia who inspires me and understands my inner soul who I know one day will write her own book (her life).

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Note from a Fan

Through the hardship of writing, researching, photographing, cooking and hearing criticism with endless days of sitting on my computer... Sometimes you receive a beautiful word from a fan and that makes everything worthwhile. So I would like to share this word with you from an adorable person. This gives me energy to go one despite all. 

 Note from fan:

"lets focus on solutions instead of ruminating on the past - let us see where there is hope - let us look at the small efforts - this country needs it more than anything...t embrasse e tjs fan de ton attitude et tes actions ! et pr finir cette belle photo to show how u are affecting this world by your actions (without being affected by people s opinions).

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Message of Hope

Another year has passed in my life... So many changes have occurred. I learned so much about humanity and how we are linked to each other. Unfortunately, we do what is important to the "ME" and all else is secondary. After all, we are humans.

I am aloud to write this on my blog, because it belongs to me and no one else.

Wars are continuing, people are dying, families are dispersed, politicians (not all) are playing with the masses to fill their pockets - here in Lebanon and all over the world. It kills me to see the environment destroyed, animals enslaved, natural beauty destroyed and all types of world heritage eliminated.

And yet, in spite of it all, we are programed to continue and look for a ray of hope, to keep walking and to be positive.

2015 shall be a constructive year for me. I've decided. It's in my hands now. I will mingle with the people I love most, the shepherds of the mountains who know the real meaning of life. Despite the fact that it is dangerous to roam around my country, I shall roam and discover foods and people to document our treasured culinary heritage. I will take my camera and shoot everything in sight to document my journey and to share it with my fans. I won't let the exterior break me. I will build and give back to the community, to my family and to all who need it. My projects include 3 subjects for books (sometimes you have to give it your all and work under pressure to attain greatness) and to continue building Slow Food Beirut in Lebanon, no matter how difficult that task can be sometimes.

I want to wish my readers a peaceful and loving holiday season. May we all find that special place in our hearts where we find consolation and strength to build beauty and positive all around us. (Have to remind myself this also).

May God (whichever one you believe in) bless you and your family.

Warm regards,

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Lebanese Ministry of Health Declaration

Read this : It pertains to what has been declared by the ministry of health about food in Lebanon in supermarkets and restaurants. Anyway, I am writing my opinion on this blog. If help is needed to make a thorough study and implementation on food safety in Lebanon, I'm willing to help. This is not the way that this issue should have been tackled. Lebanon is corrupted in so many ways, let's try to work on the problem instead of pointing the finger. Let's work on solutions. We know the problems are there. We've known all along. The government needs to work on a precise plan to avoid such incidences that only harm us as a country.

I wrote this on Facebook earlier when I read this...

On these good words or bad words, I shall go out tonight to a restaurant with my hubby in Beirut, Lebanon and eat GOOD FOOD. This is a crying shame. We should start by implementing rules and regulations then blaming those that don't abide. When I saw that Kebabji was on the list then I began to really doubt this report. I have visited the cold rooms and kitchens of Kebabji and I can tell you that a hospital kitchen may not have the standards they abide by... So did we really need this explosion now when the country is going to HELL? Did we need to chase out the few adventurous tourists? Was it the right way to handle the situation, I really don't think so. We need to educate, teach, set rules then act accordingly. This is how it is done in civilized countries. Start from the beginning not the other way around. This is my opinion. Could not keep it in. Voila! Having said that: the best way to know where your food comes from is to grow it yourself. Am I too idealistic, you bet your ass I am. This is where I am heading baby, one day, very soon! Eat local, befriend a farmer. Ask him to raise cows or sheep or anything you fancy only for you. Why do Lebanese spend so much money on cars, clothes, etc and not on good, clean and fair foods they put in their bodies. REVOLUTION! I'm ready! Abou Faour let's meet!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Gastronomy Journey in India

This is the idea... thanks to my association with Sana & Myriam Voyages (with over 25 years of experience), I will be able to be your tour guide to visit India with your palate. Please reserve early, as I don't want to take on too many people on my first culinary trip. I can't wait!!!!

Voyages Sana & Myriam & Barbara

A Gastronomy Journey in India

12 to 20 February 2015

February 12 Departure from Beirut

Departure from Beirut international

February 13 Arrival to Delhi

Arrival to Delhi. Check in at The Taj Mahal hotel. www.tajhotels.com
In the afternoon, orientation tour of New Delhi and visit of Qutab Minar monument and Dilli Haat market for ethnic shopping. Traditional Kashmiri dinner hosted by a family.

Overnight at Taj Mahal hotel.

February 14 Delhi
Tea tasting with Vikram Mittal in the morning. Visit of the handicraft museum and Humayun’s tomb. Lunch at the famous South India restaurant Sarvana Bhawan. Meet with the chefs.

Spice market visit and dinner at Manor restaurant, the best fusion Indian food of Delhi with culinary demonstration. Overnight at Taj Mahal hotel.

February 15 Delhi

In the morning, heritage and street food walk of Old Delhi. Shopping time in the afternoon and dinner at Bukhara, the best tandoori restaurant of Asia!

Overnight at Taj Mahal hotel.

February 16 Delhi – Agra

Transfer to Agra by coach (3.30 hrs drive). Arrival and check in at the Oberoi-Trident of Agra. www.tridenthotels.com

In the afternoon, visit of the sumptuous Agra Fort and of the most romantic monument dedicated to love, the Taj Mahal. Dinner and overnight at hotel.

February 17 Agra - Jaipur

Departure to Jaipur by coach (5 hrs drive). En route visit of Fatehpur Sikri, the abandoned city of the great Mogul emperor, Akbar. Lunch en route and arrival to Jaipur. Check in for two nights at hotel Oberoi -Trident www.tridenthotels.com. Dinner and overnight at hotel Trident.

February 18 Jaipur

After breakfast, visit of Amber Palace, the summer residency of Jaipur kings.

Lunch at Samode Haveli with a cooking demonstration. Rickshaw tour in the busy streets of Jaipur. Special Rajasthani dinner at Dera Mandawa. Dinner and overnight at hotel Trident.

February 19 Jaipur

Visit of the landmarks of the city of Jaipur, the City Palace, the Hawa Mahal and the observatory.

Lunch at Naila private Fort and meeting with chefs. Dinner and overnight at hotel Trident.

February 20 Back home

Early morning transfer to the airport to catch your flight back home.


US$ 3500 per person on twin sharing basis

US$ 2750 per person on twin sharing basis (without international ticket and visa fees)

Single room supplement – US$ 750

Business class supplement: upon availability

Tour cost Includes:
  • International flight tickets
  • Accommodation in mentioned hotels
  • Meals as per program
  • Transfers & tours in India by Deluxe Air Condition Large Coach
  • Accompanying English speaking guide for entire itinerary
  • Baggage carrier, parking, assistance and taxes at all places.
  • Visas fees
  • Insurance fees
  • All current taxes as of date including Govt. service tax.( 5.9%)
Excludes :

a) Any Personal Expenses like Laundry, telephone calls , liquor, etc.

b) Anything which is not included in" Includes" column.

  • A first deposit of US$ 1000 per person is required on registration with the photocopy of the passport.
  • Final payment to be made on 15 December, 2014.
  • 1000 US$ is non refundable in case of cancellation one month before departure.