Lebanese Food / Wine and Culinary Traditions

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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tabbouleh Photo in Saveur

I just joined Pinterest . I found this photo from Saveur magazine. It is absolutely amazing! Do you like? It speaks to you and really makes you want to have tabbouleh NOW!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Know your Meal at Horeca

If you want to read about this amazing group from Italy certifying restaurants in Lebanon "Consosci il tuo pasto" read their website. There is an article in today's Daily Star which describes our event at Horeca and how restaurants and institutions are being certified locally. Some local examples include: OBOX, Bio Mass, Jrebta, La Boulangere Bio, Sanctus wine, Tawlet Souk el Tayeb, Adonis Valley, La Table de Joseph, Jouzourna, Cow and Apple, Biocaprin, Le Petit Gris.

"The Conosci il tuo pasto certification process is underpinned by the philosophy that one should know who made one’s food, where it came from, and how it has been prepared. Indeed, tracing one’s food, from source to plate, is about the best thing a vulnerable public can do to safeguard against ingesting rotten or dangerous food."

Chilhood Memories

2nd day Horeca 2012

Very talented chefs visited Atelier Gourmand today. I was really impressed by their recipes and talent, yet I was disappointed too because visitors did not pay enough attention to what they were preparing and saying. A lot of people come to the fair to eat free food, although this fair is solely for professionals ONLY!  We have so much to learn from each other. People are in pursuit of money and glory and forget the essential. For me, it was exceptional.

My first guest was Chef Mohamed Ourad from Momo.Not only is this chef talented but a true gentleman with years of experience. I am so glad that we hired a cameraman to document his teachings. The aim was to have renown international chefs revisit a Lebanese recipe. Chef Mohamed cooked for us moghrabieh and tajin. I will be posting the video very soon. I loved both dishes but preferred the tajin. According to Chef Mohamed our tajin is too heavy. He lightened the traditional tajin sauce with some fish broth and added a dollop of fresh cream. It was exceptional. His moghrabieh was innovative as he made it with fresh seafood. I loved the taste but cried out for a bit of spice (you all know how I am!). I think we can learn a lot from Chef Mohamed because he has so much experience and regional culture. I am definitely going to visit his kitchen sometime soon.

My second guest was Chef Remy Lefebvre from La Maison du Caviar. Chef Remy is a self taught chef who has traveled extensively to fulfill his passion in cooking. He is a redhead like me so we hit it off immediately! His dish was special too because he interpreted our traditional Lebanese Sayadieh his way. He reduced the fish stock a lot to become very concentrated. He made a risotto using tarrator. I really loved that! His assistant Chef Ali attended to the risotto while he grilled the fish with caramelized onions. We spoke about La Maison du Caviar in Lebanon and the perception of Lebanese towards this establishment. Some are scared to visit the restaurant because they feel it might be too expensive. Chef Remy mentioned that some of the dishes served in the restaurant are cheaper than others who pretend to be very casual and affordable. One can spend thousands of dollars at the restaurant eating very fine caviar and others can simply eat at an affordable price other menu items. Makes sense... Thanks Remy, I'll be back.

And finally, a soul mate found called Suzanne Husseini. Host of the popular cooking program "Sohbe Taibe/صحبة طيبة " and author of the bestselling cookbook "When Suzanne Cooks," highlighting the wonders of Arabian cuisine. According to Suzanne, "Love begins in the kitchen" .  She is really amazing! She reminds me of sexy Nigella Lawson but the Arabic version (so cute and more authentic!). She cooks and talks about food with a passion. She cooked her lamb and freekeh in front of audiences who couldn't wait to taste the food. You can find the recipe in her book. It is still available at the fair. It was great to see how a person with lots perseverance was able to accomplish her dreams. She is a tough cookie who loves to share her passion with her readers and TV audiences alike. "Suzanne Husseini’s love of food began at home. She cites the meals her mother made during her childhood in Canada as the source of her everyday inspiration". We understood each other because we are going through a lot of similar circumstances in our common journey. I hope to see more of her and her cooking in the future. Habibti intee!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Update on Horeca - 1st Day

Lots of energy yesterday at Horeca. I was delighted to meet Miles Irving, English forager who sells edible plants and herbs to restaurants in England. He came to discover the rich forage we have in Lebanon. According to a source, university professor at USEK Marc Berouth, there are over 400 edible plants and herbs in Lebanon and only about 40 species are being used. I think that is amazing! I think a book on the subject is so important. Miles himself has written a book on foraging, based on English plants. The book also depicts interesting recipes from famous chefs in his country. Why can't we do the same? I am going to try to find a way of getting this done, somehow! I will need the help of specialists, it will happen... A special thanks to Souk el Tayeb producers Rima Massoud and Georgina Bayeh, they made us dishes using wild Lebanese edible plants. Their presence made it all the more special.

The second part of the event yesterday was with special guest, owner of Sultan Brahim Tony Rami and his team. It was amazing, hummus and chickpeas in all forms. I will write a post about this subject later when I have the video to show how each one is made. I was very impressed with his hummus made with filet of fish conserved in fat like awarma. Very innovative. Also, as you know, I am a huge fan of red pepper paste! Another variety I tasted was with a sauce poured on the hummus made with red pepper paste. A chef from Akkar invented the hummus "Akkarieh" with chopped pickled turnips, tomatoes, and parsley. Extraordinary! There is a lot to do with this team, I will do it! I'm very grateful for their enthusiasm and generosity. Good things ahead.

During the fair I got two marriage proposals too and one of my books was stolen, sad and disgusting! An old man screamed at me to give him hummus with a spoon.... I'm learning a lot about people every day. Mostly I am grateful to all my fans who came up to me, took photographs, and asked about my TV segment and my future shows. Don't worry I won't let you down. There are so many adventures ahead. I'm really excited!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fraud on Amazon

I am being misrepresented on AMAZON. Please don't buy my books on AMAZON. Mouneh is listed at 270 USD. Someone wants to harm me!

1st Day Horeca 2012

Today the start of HORECA, come join us. I visited the Atelier Gourmand stand yesterday - very inviting! 1st part: Special guest today author / forager Miles Irving from England with producers cooking from Souk el Tayeb. 2nd part: How many faces of hummus do you know with Al Sultan Brahim group and the Al Rami brothers. Can't wait! I will post what happened tomorrow morning.

Read this article concerning foraging in the Shouf with Miles.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Atelier Gourmand at Horeca 2012

Click on the image to read more details
Click on the image to read more details
Come join me with all these special guests this year for a special event at Horeca. I will be hosting for the 3rd consecutive year the Atelier Gourmand. Lots of surprises await with very interesting subjects. Take the time to read the details and follow the events day by day.

Forum on Social Entrepreneurship

I am going to attend this forum because I am very interested in the subject. I always tell my children that the job they should undertake when choosing their careers in life should matter to their community. I hope they will listen. One should work on making money, building a career, etc... but social responsibility is vital. I hope to get a clearer idea on how to build a business based on these principles. It's been on my mind for a while now...

“The Forum on Social Entrepreneurship …
Supporting and Promoting Social Entrepreneurship in Lebanon”
  The Forum uses practical cases from Lebanon to enable participants and experts to
define the concept and the criteria for social enterprises in Lebanon,
as well as proposing solutions to possible challenges.
On March 15th, 2012 from 3:00 to 7:30pm, 
At the Medical Sciences Campus, Auditorium C,
Saint Joseph University, Damascus Road.
Join us and share your experiences and ideas.
Register before March 14th, 2012 on:

This one-day Forum will address the concept and application of social entrepreneurship within the Lebanese context. It is intended as a first nation-wide attempt to define the criteria and
requirements for initiating and sustaining social businesses in Lebanon.
Social entrepreneurship: A new business model for social change.

What is social entrepreneurship?

Who are social entrepreneurs?

Why do we need social enterprises?

How can Social Entrepreneurship support social and economic development?

How can we promote social entrepreneurship?

Panelists: Gilbert Doumit - BRD, Georges Khalaf - Synergos, Pierre Issa - arcenciel, Dr. Khater Abi Habib - Kafalat
Moderator: Rania Baroud

Defining the criteria of a social enterprise
Speakers: 2b design, Souk el Tayeb, Responsible Mobilities, USJ

Financing a social business
Speakers: Kafalat, ADR

Enhancing the legal and tax environment
Speakers: IRAP, Municipality of Ghbaleh, USJ, Institute of Finances - Basil Fuleihan

Fostering innovation in social entrepreneurship
Speakers: Little Engineer, Berytech, LEAD, Sahbeh

Forum on social entrepreneurship in Beirut
Organized by arcenciel in collaboration with Beyond Reform & Development and Saint Joseph University.

Forum Language: Arabic.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Barbara With Pierre Bared "Helwe Beirut"

Ladies and gentlemen, it is very sad to say but this is my last report with Helwe Beirut. Why? I have no idea. The show shut down a few days ago. What you are seeing these days are reruns. According to rumors, it's because of in-house politics bla bla bla.... The producer called me the night before I was to head down to Tyre to do a report on lost forgotten recipes of the South and BOUM she hit me with this news! I was overwhelmed because these weekly segments have become part of my life and sharing all my adventures with the audience was really special to me. I am what you call a believer in a philosophy that states: "If it's meant to be, than it's probably better for me", so I say as long as I have good health, I will keep walking doing what I always do (with or without a camera to record my trips).

This report above was shot just a week before this harsh ruling. It's very symbolic! I shot the segment with one of my very good friends (Pierrot) and captured life of a shepherd (Nizar) with goats (baby goats included) and the making of traditional bread in the tannur. All these elements are so special to me. The simple life, nature, friendship, family, good wholesome foodThis was my message to the Lebanese people and to the people in Arab countries who also viewed Helwe Beirut.

I would like to thank all those who worked with me especially Randa Abyad, the producer of Helwe Beirut. She was the one who pushed me to become a TV host. I will always be grateful to her for believing in me and never questioning my "trips". Roula Sidnawi is the segment director who worked on all my reports with unconditional love. She is amazing and I really would not have succeeded if I did not have her by my side. To Roula Saad and all the LBC crew with whom I worked: cameramen, sound engineers, light ... Thank you!

I asked my husband when I heard the news, "Do you think my fans are going to accept not seeing me every week in a different location in Lebanon cooking with food producers?" He answered, "Of course not, they will go down to Martyr's Square and shout... We want Barbara back!" He is silly, but it's a thought! Just kidding.

To all my dear fans, I will be back soon—I promise!

Barbabara With Marleine Matar "Helwe Beirut"

Chef Marlene Matar is a graduate from Cordon Bleu, Paris. She lives in Beirut and has written 2 cookbooks. She gives courses in her house on a regular basis. You can find her on Facebook, if you are interested. I'm very excited about her next book project dealing with recipes from Syria, especially from Aleppo. In this report, she shares two of her recipes with us. The mehamara is the quintessential Aleppo mezze item. The kebbeh recipe is delicious. It was the first time I tasted such a dish. I hope the book doesn't take too long to come out, as I am dying to discover Syrian recipes. My ancestors lived in Aleppo for a few generations, therefore I am familiar with some of the foods and culture.

Marlene's Mehamara:

1 cup of breadcrumb
5 tbs red pepper paste
2 tbs of pomegranate molasses
1 tbs of cumin
1 tbs of sugar
1/2 cup of olive oil
2 tbs lemon juice, if needed
1/3 cup of water (more or less)
1 cup walnuts
salt to taste

Barbara With Rana Salam In Basta "Helwe Beirut"

Had a great time with Rana Salam. We each live in our little world, but we meet halfway and understand each other completly. We are so taken by our Lebanese roots and have build our life's work on its traditions. Rana and I went to Basta to eat her favorite dessert. It reminds her of her childhood, that's very special. I invite you to discover this adventure taken by two passionate girls.

Proud owner of the shop
Farha wa Marha
Very exotic dessert
The Recipe in Short:

1 kg Italian rice
1 kg tehini
2 kg sugar
3 1/2 kg water
50 g turmeric
200 g pine nuts

Methods of preparation are described in the segment above. Watch it!

To visit the shop:
Makary & Hachem

Friday, March 2, 2012


Everything is moving so fast, never understood what Twitter was all about. Couldn't bother to put more in my little brain (it's overstuffed with so much information - children and food related mostly). One day, I met a very nice man who asked me if I was on Twitter. I said, "NO!" He encouraged me to get into it. With his help, a few minutes of apprenticeship—there I was tweeting away. I sometimes get weird followers (perverts, yuck!) which I immediately block. The blocking was part of my apprenticeship too. Twitter helps me link to a network of food lovers all over the world. I am now happy to be tweeting!

Want to follow me? Beware you might get hungry!


Horeca 2012

It's that time of year again! I'm very excited this year because I will be hosting again for the 3rd consecutive year a stand called the Atelier Gourmand and Lebanese Culinary Heritage. Competitions, presentations, celebrity chefs  performing live on stage will share their passion and innovation in reviving traditions and highlighting trends. Read more about Horeca and related subjects in this issue of Hospitality News.

Here are my views concerning Horeca, as quoted in this month's issue of Hospitality News.

" I have been attending Horeca for about 15 years now. I think it is an important fair, both to people in the industry and to those who are curious about the field. Personally, I find this event to be an important part of my work. Lately, since 2008, with the collaboration of the Hospitality staff, I have been involved in presenting visitors with local foods / producers from all over the country. It started with my involvement with Slow Food Beirut and now has become a personal yearly venture. Horeca gives me the chance to share my experiences with others whilst at the same time I am learning from them too. It is a place where one can exchange ideas and form solid business acquaintances which may last a lifetime."