Lebanese Food / Wine and Culinary Traditions

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Love for Lebanon

It's part of who we are, undeniably and unmistakeably Lebanese! I have lived abroad, traveled the world and yet Lebanon calls me back. Is it the food, the people (not all), the climate, the topography, the air, ... God protect our country from more destruction, corruption, and useless construction. Don't sell your country for a pocket full of gold, you will leave this earth naked as you have entered it.

Okay, me being philosophical today! I'm scared for my country, what can one woman do? As the saying goes, "Make Food not War".

Monday, February 27, 2012

961 Beer : Launching of the Lebanese Pale Ale


I was invited to the launching of a new kind of beer by 961 brewers. I asked for a press release from them because I wanted to share with you my dear readers the good news. 961 beer is now producing a beer with local herbs and spices. I like that! Take a minute to learn about the subject.



The first edition of the Brewmaster’s Select: A beer that represents the diversity of Lebanon in one sip.

The Brewmaster’s Select for 961 Beer is a modern interpretation of beer with a distinctive Lebanese background. 961 Beer is releasing its first craft brew to the public - The Lebanese Pale Ale (LPA). This specialty brew is an interpretation of the classic English India Pale Ale combined with Lebanese ingredients that symbolizes Middle Eastern intricacies.

10.000 years in the making, the LPA marks the return home for beer. From the land where beer and human civilization were born, comes a new brew that is a marriage between Western brewing tradition, Eastern complexities, and a sublime expression of the Lebanese Renaissance. It was inspired straight from the Lebanese spice markets. For decades there has been little choice in the diversity of Lebanese beers. This beer provides an alternative for the Lebanese population, with ingredients such as za’atar, sumac, mint, sage, anise, and chamomile. The use of such herbs and spices makes this distinctive craft brew truly Lebanese.

Filled with flavor and fragrance, the LPA has already received international recognition through media coverage by ARTE TV, and Brewbound. The beer was co-brewed with Anders Kissmeyer who was the brew master at Carlsberg for over ten years. Kissmeyer founded one of Europe’s most awarded microbreweries ‘Nørrebro Bryghus’, and now owns his label, Kissmeyer Beer & Brewing. He is also a judge of numerous beer competitions around the world. In August 2011, he received the award for ‘Best Master Brewer in the World’ by the Scandinavian School of Brewing.

During the siege in 2006, Mazen Hajjar and his friends began brewing beer in his kitchen. Two years on, Mazen Hajjar now runs the only microbrewery in the entire Arab world. Within six years, 961 Beer expanded tremendously from producing 200,000 bottles per year to 12,000,000 bottles. 961 Beer has expanded into global markets with orders coming in from the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Hong Kong, Spain, and many more.

Tawlet Souk el Tayeb will be hosting the launch of this craft beer. Since 2004, Souk el Tayeb has evolved from an experimental farmers’ market to a vibrant organization working on many projects that promote Lebanese food, culinary traditions, rural heritage, and natural environments. Souk el Tayeb's vision is to celebrate food and traditions that unite communities while supporting small-scale farmers and producers, and preserving the ethnicity of sustainable agriculture. Tawlet is the farmers' kitchen where a different producer/cook prepares typical food from his/her region everyday.

961 Beer brews 4 other beer styles, which include the Red Ale, Witbier, Porter, and Lager. 961 Beer is available in bottles and on tap in selected locations throughout Beirut.

Here is a closer look at the bottle

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Nowara Lebanon

This video gives you an idea about women and the production of mouneh. I have actually met some of these women from the South. I wish them all the success, nothing is ever easy but with determination and strive, one can attain a lot.

Monday, February 20, 2012

It's the Season for Baby Goats

Photo taken from a recent article on the net, hope no one minds!
This week I am going North to see the shepherd Nizar and his family with my friend Pierrot to visit new born baby goats! You probably know by now that I am in love with baby goat and that is one of the reasons that I am dedicating a book to Lebanese dairy foods. This is my excuse to spend time with shepherds from all over the country—folks who understand the basic meaning of life. It's a glimpse of a different period, of  a past very different from today. I will do my best to portray this lifestyle whilst recording local recipes dealing with the abundance of milk—cow, goat, sheep alike.

Baby Goat in the North of Lebanon

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Barbara in Baalbeck Helwe Beirut

It's a special journey to go through the old souk of Baalbeck to meet all the bakers. I particularly loved shooting this TV segment because it is a hobby of mine to just "hang out" with the bakers everywhere and anywhere. The meat in Baalbeck is indeed different from the one we buy in Beirut. Sheep graze in natural environments which make their meat tender and fatty (undeniable truth). Enjoy this trip!

Ta3mini - Lebanese Restaurant Guide

I accidentally fell upon this website last week. It made sense to me that a website like Ta3mini should exist. Makes life much easier! It is very common in the US and in Europe. It is a good initiative and I am going to collaborate with them. I believe that we, as customers, deserve to know the truth. The opinions are not biased, thus reliable. What is interesting is that you can also add your comments to make the site even more trustworthy. So drop in, it's free! The logo of the site is called Abou Zooz, cute no?

"Ta3mini is a Lebanese restaurant guide, the home of every restaurant addict. It hosts quality reviews written by Souad and Jean, a gourmet couple, as well as many valuable guests.

Ta3mini has its loyal lovers, a community of reviewers who share their good and bad experiences. This army of volunteers brings precious insights and different opinions about restaurants.

Visitors can also look for restaurants, searching by location, price and cuisine. Then they can make their choice based on the rankings and reviews.

Restaurants owners also participate. Ta3mini offers them a space to interact with their customers: replying to unsatisfied customers, apologizing for a novice waiter, offering a dinner or promising better quality and service.

We launched this website in 2010 and are already seeing the effects. By opening bridges between restaurateurs and customers and by providing new means of restaurant discovery, Ta3mini and its community are helping to improve the quality of restaurants in our beloved country."

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

3al Jamal bi wasat Beirut - [official clip] Michelle & Noel Keserwany

This is so cute! It's a good initiative taken by two sisters (Keserwany family) from Beirut. Love the song!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Barbara with Chirine Visiting Abou Abdallah and Ashghalouna "Helwe Beirut"

The hummus at Abou Abdallah is delicious! I love to discover new places with my friend Cherine! Ashghlanouna was something very special and it inspired me a lot. I really admire these ladies who work to help widowers to survive. The food is really out of this world and I think that more of these places should exist. Don't you? A lot of people called LBC to know about both places when the show was aired. I'm really glad to hear that our segment is getting very popular. It motivates me to do more. If you would like for me to cover a place or visit someone, please drop a line. I am always open to suggestions.

Abou Abdallah
Dora - Pierre Gemayal Street
Mon - Sat 7:00 - 14:30

Zokak el Blat - Fares Nemr Street
Friday 13:30 - 16.:00
01-366758 - reservation is a must because the tables fill up quickly!

The Production of Halawa "Helwe Beirut"

I have always been curious on how halaweh is made.Al Kanater, a family-owned operation invited me to visit their plant in Beirut, Mkalles. The father is the one who build this business, it has become very successful. The Al Kanater brand is seen in food shelves all over the world. I was offered a batch of their products and was really surprised to taste the difference. The process takes hard work and years of knowledge. Al Kanater works on abiding to international food standards, while keeping traditional manufacturing procedures. The sesame seeds are imported from Sudan due to their superior quality (as opposed to the Chinese variation). Watch this video, you will learn a lot! Thanks Mireille and Rony, we are counting on you to keep this business flourishing.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Yesterday in Baalbeck ...

An ancient recipe baked in a traditional oven in the souk of Baalbeck
Some clients cook their meals at the baker's
My friends from the Man'oushe Book
The finished product
Apprentice at work
At Dergham Bakery
Learning to make Sfiha Baalbakieh at El Sayed Bakery
Sfiha in all its forms 

The Baker and the Dough

The special relationship of the baker with the dough (makes the whole difference)
The dough

My review of Onno - An Armenian Family Restaurant

My friend Cherine, author of Le Liban Gourmand, has been talking to me for a long time about a tiny cute restaurant under a bridge in Burj Hammoud. Knowing how much I love and treasure Armenian food, she insisted that I go and visit Onno, a brother and sister team: Carmen and Karnig. Last night, I finally made the effort (after a long trip back from Baalbeck) to dine at this Armenian restaurant. The place is very cozy, it seats about 20 persons or so. We were guided upstairs by a friendly waiter who seemed part of the family too. The menu is written in Arabic, but luckily for me, an English version is also available. We were about 8 persons, mostly Cherynne's friends. We started with Arak then a flow of dishes started to appear before our eyes: Armenian salad (chopped tomatoes, cumcumbers, onions, green pepper seasoned with a tangy sauce), stuffed grape leaves (Armenian style with a touch of spice), subureck (of course!), mehamara ( walnut dip with red pepper paste, a delight!), itch (the Armenian version of tabbouleh), spicy fried potatoes seasoned with lots of coriander, mante (with meat - although I would have liked so much to have tasted the vegetarian version made with spinach). The dishes felt and tasted homemade. I like that! In fact, I love that. The selection of music was a bit noisy but a client finally stood up and turned off the stereo (as simple as that!). When the bill arrived, we were delighted because the price was very fair. It's very rare nowadays to find good food with good prices. You leave the restaurant with a full stomach, a bit tipsy with all the arak that you consumed. The icing on the cake was the two cats cuddled at the doorstep who have become part of the Onno family because the owner's wife simply cares and feeds these adorable felines. This is something that you don't see often in Lebanon too... So bravo Onno! I will be back again and again because you inspire good, clean, and fair....

Burj Hammoud
Aghabios Street
Opening hours: 12 - 23 h
*Mon - Sat; if you are a large group the owners will open on Sun.