Lebanese Food / Wine and Culinary Traditions

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

Monday, November 30, 2015

Olive Oil Trail in Lebanon at Zejd Oil

This is a fantastic initiative, Youssef Fares in one of the producers mentioned in the Mouneh book. I have done this trip with him and it remains a very memorable day.  

Celebrate The Olive Picking Season  In Baino’s countryside, you will engage in a walk among the olive trees where you will be initiated to sustainable olive picking practices and organic farming. After visiting the olive extraction unit, familiarizing with the state-of-the art extraction techniques, you will practice extra virgin olive oil tasting to discover its different characteristics and explore the different culinary applications of olive oil along with its many health benefits. Later in the day you will savour a delicious home-made lunch prepared from various local specialties, and finally have a visit Baino’s natural reserve and its beautiful lake, before returning to Beirut. 

Reservation is a must as places are limited! For tickets and further info call House of Zejd (contact information below) or go to the following link:https://www.ihjoz.com/events/1374-olive-oil-trail-season-s-final-harvest


o Gathering & drop off location: Beirut (details coming soon)
o Time: 8am
o Return time from Baino: 4:30pm
o Fees:
-transportation included: USD 40.00
-transportation excluded: USD 30.00
o Reservation:
- ihjoz
- call House of Zejd (009611338003)
o Payment: Both reservations must be paid prior to friday the 4th of December 2015 at House of Zejd.
Address: Mar Mitr street - Ashrafieh (facing the Brazilian Cultural Centre) - 01.338003 | www.zejd.net


A bus will pick you up from Beirut and drive you to our village through the Northern territory of Lebanon. In Baino’s countryside, you will engage in a walk among the olive trees where you will be initiated to sustainable olive picking practices and organic farming. After visiting the olive extraction unit, familiarizing with the state-of-the art extraction techniques, you will practice extra virgin olive oil tasting to discover its different characteristics and explore the different culinary applications of olive oil along with its many health benefits.

In our specialized store you will have access to the best selection of our product. And finally, you will savour a delicious home-made lunch prepared from various local specialties, and finally have a visit Baino’s natural reserve and to its beautiful lake, before returning by bus to Beirut.

Olive Oil Tour in Baino-Akkar

Celebrate the olive picking season. From October till late December, discover Baino in Akkar, home to Zejd® olive derivative products.

Lebanon is renowned for its rich oleic history and culture dating back to centuries. The Olea Europaea tree was first cultivated in the Levant region thousands of years ago and the production of Lebanese olive oil can be traced back to the Phoenician era.

Zejd® - the ancient Phoenician term for oil - highlights the rich historical background of Lebanese olive oil.

For one day only or over a week-end, hand-pick your olives, learn about olive oil extraction and olive oil tasting, taste Baino specialties and finally stock up on local produce of olives, olive oil and mouneh for the year to come.

A family tradition …

Back in the 19th century, the Fares family began cultivating olives and pressing oil in Baino, a mountain village in the Akkar region of Northern Lebanon.

Today, the family tradition is perpetuated with Olive Trade® through the production of high quality Extra Virgin and organic olive oil. The select range of products also includes a unique line of infused oils, pickled and stuffed olives, tapenades, traditional olive oil soaps as well as caramelized chocolives.

Olive Trade® adopts exceptional standards throughout olive cultivation to the latest technology in olive oil extraction and storage conforming to the rigorous ISO 22000: 2005 standards.
Our eco label mill certification is yet another testament to our commitment to ecological standards.

Striving for social responsibility, we make a point in ensuring best practices by engaging local farmers and producers in the olive oil production, creating vocational training projects for the women.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Bread and Salt @ Makan

This week we welcome Italian food back to the Motto family!
Chef Barbara Massaad teams up with fellow slow-foodie Veronica Pecorella for a spectacular seasonal Italian menu at Makan, from Thursday to Saturday, 22-24 October. Here Veronica tells us the story of how her friendship with Barbara has brought them to Makan, and beyond:
I was 16, maybe 17, when I read an article about Beirut and Lebanon after the civil war. I was sitting at a wooden table of the old Osteria of my parents in Cormons (a small rural village in a wine region of Italy, on the border with Slovenia). 
“One day I will live there,” I thought. 

“My cooking is always different and I am inspired by the people I am cooking for!” – Veronica Pecorella
Twenty years later, after working for a certification organization to develop organic agriculture in Mediterranean countries, the time came. Four years ago I moved to Beirut with my family because of work (but feel not only for that reason).
For me the first place to go when you move into a new city (after a good restaurant) is a bookstore. So I did. After grabbing a new edition of Beirut Home (the Beirut guide with all useful addresses for just-in city movers), I went to the cooking/food books section. And there it happened. The book that would have made the difference in my life called me. Mouneh by Barbara Abdeni Massad. (Now I would say that this is a must-read volume to understand the real rural spirit of the country.)
I spent all that afternoon reading and looking at the pictures, the details of the book. In that afternoon, even though it was not my first time in Lebanon, I felt the real meaning of za’tar. “No way! I must meet her.” And thanks to Zuckerberg, I asked her friendship on Facebook. 
Three days later we were sitting together in Barbara’s kitchen eating goat’s cheese with thyme and olive oil. We both grew up in restaurants, both food – slow food – cooking lovers, interested in the stories behind products and producers, plenty of ideas to share. For the first time we met, we felt one day we would do something together. 

‘From the first time we met, I knew we’d do something together.’
In July, after four  years, I left my previous job in the organic sector (even still eating it!) to stay in Beirut and to develop a new project that will connect Italian and Lebanese arts to wines, beers and of course food. Meanwhile, I’ll be finally cooking together with Barbara at Makan, sharing our passions. As she would say, the Lebanese me.  Bread and salt.

A perfect partnership in the kitchen
To book for Veronica and Barbara’s Italian dinner at Makan, SMS 70954057.  As always, pay what you think is fair.
The full menu will be announced on Wednesday via our Facebook page – or email us at mottomarmikhael@gmail.com to get all the week’s menus first, in your inbox every Monday.

Barbara and Vero sharing bread and salt at their favourite Motto table

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Motto - Angela's blog post

Chef, cookbook writer and food photographer Barbara Massaad has big, bubbly red hair and a big, bubbly personality.  Already well known in foodie circles as the author of cookbook bibles Manoushe, Mezze and Mouneh, she is also President of Slow Food Beirut.  Barbara came first to Motto for lunch one spring afternoon, and was inspired by the homey atmosphere and Nimal’s cooking, to return as a chef with her son and culinary student Albert.
This week Barbara returns with a selection of Lebanese Mezze from her cookbook, ‘Mezze: A Labor of Love’.  We caught up with her, in between shopping for Motto, TV interviews and preparations for the fundraising reception for her latest book, Soup for Syria.  She is truly a chef on a mission.
How did you choose this week’s menu at Motto, among all the delicious dishes in the book?
I chose the recipes according to what I felt like having my family eat on this special weekend. My husband and his brother are celebrating their birthday and so the whole family will come and dine to celebrate. You see Motto is my second home away from home…
How did you first come across Motto, and what were your first impressions?
I heard about it through friends, and was intrigued about the concept because it goes with the philosophy I adhere to… I think it’s nice that customers who come decide on the fee they want to pay. It also breaks down social barriers and people who could not afford to eat in a restaurant are more apt to do so with this formula.

How do you think Motto reflects the principles of Slow Food?
It’s fair… and the philosophy of Slow Food is based on good, clean and fair. The food varies at Motto, some days are better than others – but that is part of its charm too… It’s also clean because it’s not commercial, therefore guest chefs come and use good wholesome ingredients to cook as if they were cooking at home. Nimal also treats cooking personally and with care, and you can tell the difference…

We’ve heard so much about your current project, Soup for Syria. All the proceeds from the sales are going to the refugee food appeal. That is an incredible feat! What do you hope the book will achieve?
Awareness!  I hope it will break barriers of animosity among Lebanese and Syrians and create a bond that would enable Lebanese to help those who are fleeing Syria because of war.
Soup for Syria is on sale this week at Motto, and you’re holding a fundraising reception on 20 October.  

Will you come and cook soup at Motto this winter?
Of course.

What are your top tips for aspiring young food writers and photographers?
JUST DO IT. Don’t think too much about it. Just follow your ideas, no matter how crazy they may be. Everyone made fun of me when I spoke of doing a book on the man’oushe – including friends. The book became a bestseller and is still selling all over the world.

You can meet Barbara this week at Motto, where she is serving her Mezze menu on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (8-10 October).  To book, SMS 70954057.  Full details and updates on our Facebook page.  As always – pay what you think is fair.

Barbara Massaad, author Soup for Syria at refugee camp Bekaa Valley

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Soup for Syria Invite

We have finally set the date. Actually it took some time for the books to get out of the port of Beirut. Don't ask me why? And frankly I don't want to know why. All I know is with the help of Library Antoine and their partners, it was done. The day I got the books, which I stocked in a room in the garage of my house. I confirmed the date of the fundraiser. We are two groups working on the launching. My friend Tina is taking care of the volunteers who will be cooking soups on that day and I am handling the photo exhibit, invitations and the drinks. Station Beirut were so generous to give up their space for that night and I am very grateful. Hopefully we will have enough people to sell all the books. This will ensure that 100% of sales will be donated for food fund relief and medical assistance. Crossing my fingers!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Syrian Refugees Don't Matter!

Syrian Refugees don't Matter! That is what I am getting lately from peers, colleagues, friends ...

A portrait of Syrian child in the Bekaa
I have started to show the book Soup for Syria and advertise the launching of the book . The whole world is talking about the refugee crisis these days. It leaves me perplexed! This situation is not new, yet it took the photo of one dead boy on a beach to manipulate the media to make it a headline story ... His death will not go in vain, I know it!

I am often criticized by people in Lebanon for helping Syrian refugees. They say to me “Why don’t you help Lebanese children instead?” I totally understand this. Refugees are a burden on a society; they bring hardship, chaos, and often drain a county’s resources. They are are unwanted in host countries. But are these reasons not to help people who have been displaced, lost everything, and have no place to go and no one to help them? In my view “no” because this could happen to us one day as a result of a natural disaster or an unnatural political disaster. Tragedy has no nationality or borders. Today the Syrians are facing a humanitarian crisis of unthinkable proportions and magnitude. I will always do what I can to help people in need, regardless of whether they happen to be Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, Nepalese, Filipino, or Sudanese.

What makes a person more worthy for aid is what I am asking myself... Is it his nationality, his sex, creed, ... Humanity is filled with hatred. We fight wars, kill innocent people in the name of God. Hypocrisy at its best. We have become totally blind!
Remember the song of John Lennon? ... The song you listen to when chilling with your friends over a glass of wine....

I will publish it to refresh your memory. I think Mr. Lennon had the right idea. The moment we brand a person is the moment we start filling our hearts with hatred - we become Godless. We become raw. I am not a philosopher but I can feel what matters (the essential: food, love, shelter, sense of belonging) which sometimes even intellectuals, powerful people, men of nations cannot perceive or acknowledge. They are caught up in their own egocentric bubble - one idea - one path, closed to empathy.
Exerts of the song Imagine...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Lennon, John

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


And finally thank God for the simple things in life!


Fade To Black

And why do I have a feeling that in Lebanon we are heading towards this bleak black pit too.... Today we are experiencing a suffocating sand storm, isn't that how we all feel today with the garbage crisis, political crisis, economic crisis, refugee crisis, civic crisis .... Nature today is depicting how Lebanese are feeling today living in Lebanon. Will we have a wave of Lebanese refugees soon in Europe and the United States? ... I wouldn't be surprised at all...

Helwa Ya Baladi - Dalida (Cover by Lina Sleibi) حلوة يا بلدي - لينا صليبي

This songs speaks to me... What happened to Lebanon? I don't recognize it anymore. It breaks my heart.

Albert ... Bocusse... Lyon

Bon voyage my boy ... Till we meet again around a table and share memories and stories of food. Fly like an eagle and learn from the best . Make the world your oyster, yet always stay true to your roots. — with Albert Massaad at Taylor's Port Cellars.

Website Soup for Syria

Soup for Syria The website is up and running. It explains it all. Take a few minutes to read it.

Tina and I eating soup for Fitr / filming for Al Hura
photo credit Mustafa Assi

Saturday, July 11, 2015

"soup for syria" cookbook to help syrian refugees in lebanon ".حساء من ...

 This is a report that was made by Alhura TV to introduce our book project Soup for Syria. I invite you to watch it. Cristina and I cooked soup for an Iftar during Ramandan at Aya's family tent.

Meatless Monday

I will be making open faced sandwiches with my homemade bread, spread with goat cheese and toppings that will leave you perplexed... salty / sweet depending on your mood. Come, it's great fun!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

I'm Cooking Indian ...

So I'm cooking Indian next week at Motto. 


Because I love Indian food / people / spices / colors... and I feel inspired. And guess, what by coincidence a friend of mine who works as a chef in India (cooks Lebanese) will help.Also, a friend from the USA, cookbook writer Beth Howard who is going on a world tour will be here to share this event.

At the Taj Mahal on my visit
 Lots happening in Beirut these days! All good!

Here is the announcement...

Mótto is moving! Summer garden pop-up.

Mótto is moving from Monday to a summer garden pop-up at Makan, a new cultural space. Makan is 500m away (map below), and has a large, quiet garden where we'll be serving all our usual great food:
Nimal’s Lebanese and Sri Lankan lunch buffet 12-4pm

Dinner among the bamboos from 8pm (M-W Nimal's Sri Lankan, Th-S Barbara's Indian)
Saturday brunch 12-4
Afternoon cakes

While you enjoy great food in our garden, we will renovate the Madrid Street restaurant - which will be closed for the works. We'll be back 'home' in a couple of weeks.

Here's the map:

Here's the menu:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cool Summer Breeze Menu @ Motto

From the 29th to the 1st of July... We are cooking at Mótto at night only... To reserve a table you have to call or SMS them at 70 954 057.

Cool Summer Breeze

• Homemade baked bread with red pepper dip on side
• Cold cucumber, mint and yogurt soup
• Quinoa and beetroot salad
• Filet chipotle sauce with fresh herbs served with organic Ratatouille
• Dessert: Orange dark chocolate with Grand Marnier with Sarah’s homemade cookie 

Barbara Abdeni Massaad is a Lebanese / American cookbook author, photographer, local and international food consultant and TV host. Massaad is currently president of Slow Food Beirut. She is also the author of award-winning books: Man’oushe: Inside the Street Corner Lebanese Bakery, Mouneh: Preserving Foods for the Lebanese Pantry, Mezze: A Labor of Love and will launch in fall 2015 Soup for Syria: Recipes to celebrate our Shared Humanity. All proceeds of the book will go to help refugees in dire needs. She is currently working on other book subjects related to food.

Albert Massaad has just graduated from high school at Notre Dame de Jamhour and is heading to Lyon, France to study at the famous Paul Bocusse Culinary Institution. His passion for food dates back to his early childhood when at the age of two he set the table to eat a chocolate bar with a fork and a knife. He has traveled often to Slow Food’s fairs and has recently been making lots of pizza in street food festivals all around Beirut.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Lebanon: a day in the life

What happens when a Lebanese man who has never lived in Lebanon returns to his roots?


Proud to have a shot of my family baking flat breads during the Beirut Street Food Festival in this short preview of Cedars in the Air. Watch it, it's really filmed well.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Soup for Syria Cover

It's finally done!

Good news is that my US publisher found a UK publisher too to help publishing Soup for Syria. Presently the book is being printed in China! Ouf...I am planning a launch in Beirut in September. In the US there will be launch/benefit concert on September 20th in MA.Will keep you posted on developments.Thank you to all who made this book possible! Everyone worked for FREE. All proceeds will go to a fund to help Syrian refugees It feels good to have been part of this amazing experience. Hope people will understand the core message behind the book.

You can pre-order the book on Amazon or directly on the Interlink page.

Soup for Syria may be the most compelling cookbook ever created. Through her photographs and collected recipes, Barbara Massaad directly connects us with a people in dire need of our help.  Just holding this book is nourishment for the soul.”
—Jim Clancy, former CNN Correspondent and Anchor, awarded A.H. Boerma medal for coverage of food and hunger issues by F.A.O. (U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization)


The world has failed Syria's refugees and some of the world's wealthiest countries have turned their backs on this humanitarian disaster. Syria's neighbors-Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq-have together absorbed more that 3.8 million refugees. The need for food relief is great and growing.

Acclaimed chefs and cookbook authors the world over have come together to help food relief efforts to alleviate the suffering of Syrian refugees. Each has contributed a recipe to this beautifully illustrated cookbook of delicious soups from around the world. Contributors include: Yotam Ottolenghi, Sami Tamimi, Anthony Bourdain, Mark Bittman, Alice Waters, Paula Wolfert, Ana Sortiun, Sally Butcher, Claudia Roden, Greg Malouf, Alexis Coquelet, Chris Borunda,  Alexandra Stratou, Necibe Dogru, Aglaia Kremenzi, and many others.

• Celebrity chefs contribute favorite recipes to help feed Syrian refugees
• Fabulous soups from around the world-from hearty winter warmers to chilled summer soups
• Easy-to-follow instructions with stunning color photos throughout
• Recipes made with no-fuss ingredients found in your local supermarket

All profits from the sales of the cookbook will be donated to help fund food relief efforts through various nonprofit organizations. Most Syrians hope that one day they will be able to return to their country and rebuild their lives. For now, though, what we can do is listen to their pleas. Be part of this vital work of saving lives and help us deliver essential food items to the displaced refugees.

Saturday, May 30, 2015


This means a lot to me. You will never understand but it's OK because I don't want you to. Sometimes things are better left unsaid.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Baking Pizza "en Famille" at the Beirut Street Food Festival

Caramelized onion and fresh mozzarella made in Lebanon
"Mourou, this is my happiness. How can people not see it?"

"Mami, it's OK, if everyone knew it, there would me too many of us." — Albert, my son at the first Beirut Street Food Festival on the day of his 18th birthday, May 17 2015, while baking flat breads (pizza).

This was such a special evening for us as a family. It reminded me of the "restaurant" years with my own family in Florida.

I'd like to thank the organizers of this event  for doing such a great job namely Zeina Halawi and Youmna Mteiny. The only problem they had was that the festival was so in demand to so many that food stalls could not deliver so much food to such a crowd. Lesson learned .... next time will be even better. You have my full support.

It all started with Lea and the balloons
And then it suddenly filled up like mad
And we had hundreds of people waiting to EAT
And we we were very hard at work
Lea and Sarah becameperplexed on the crowd's demands
Mia finally showed off her talent
Albert baked like mad

A moment of tenderness with my youngest daughter Sarah
We watching in awe the crowd and giving thanks. This will be a memory someday.
Miou and me
Papi (dough, cut cheese, bring cheese) ... Our constant support

It was a memorable day.... 18 years ago today, I had given birth to my first child. It had been one of the happiest days of my life... Today, the happiness continues. I am lucky to have such a supportive family at my side. It's definitely my strength.May we always cook, eat and share our food together and with those who want to share it with us...Can't wait till the next one...

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Beirut Street Food Festival - Some Thoughts

To the ones who cook, cheers!
Beirut is having an awakening and it has to do with food! I'm so glad and have dreamed of this moment for a long time. It takes people who have traveled the world to come back and make a difference. So I am grateful to all those who are contributing to this amazing initiative, those who are cooking and to those who will come and taste the food. It does not matter if we make money or not. All that matters is that we live together this experience which in turn will bring many more alike. I have a feeling...

And this is what we are doing!
This Sunday is an important date for me too personally because it is my son's 18th birthday. What a coincidence that he will be cooking at this festival on his birthday, especially that he is going off to Lyon next fall to study culinary arts. Things happen for a reason in life and we just have to accept the good and sometimes the painful to finally become better people. This is an amazing experience for me... to be cooking with my son on his birthday with all of Beirut. It's really amazing. Beirut I love you!

The future...

About Art

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Maktoob - Destiny

olives cracked one by one with a stone
Serendipity "is the effect by which one accidentally stumbles upon something fortunate, especially while looking for something entirely unrelated." You may say it is written “maktoob”, it is destiny. This is my story, the one I fell upon, the one I am still writing, the one I am struggling each day to produce, to invent, to fabricate, and most of all create. My life should have a sense. I always felt this from the very beginning. I should leave a trace — One that is significant to me, to my family, to my community, to this place we call "earth". This trace should make some kind of difference. Someone or something must be better because of my doing — of my continuous efforts. It should be like a faraway scent that produces a memory — a memory of the past, a memory of better days, a memory of the senses, a memory of man's fading goodness.

It began in my father's restaurant at the age of fifteen. Those were difficult years, but the base of my culinary education. Times passed since those days — I married, had three children and still in the back of my mind, the recurring dreams of food related journeys and adventures. A woman's role in a family is maternal. What better way to show your innermost maternal instinct than by feeding your children. Isn't it the first instinct that a child initiates when he suckles on his mother's breast? Feeding your children with your knowledge and wisdom of life's experiences is essential, but also feeding them with real wholesome food made with the most important ingredient: LOVE is imperative and sets THE example.
It was written that I would leave the USA and go searching for my roots in Lebanon, my country of origin. It was destiny, some call her fate that knocked on my door and showed me the way. It was she that led me to visit all corners of the country in search of food related subjects and matters. It was she that gave me the chance to understand this diversified group of people who have all welcomed me as one of their own. It was she that gave me the perseverance to learn a new trade to capture these moments through the use of my camera. It is she that gives me the strength to carry on to fulfill my assignment — to preserve my country's culinary traditions, to defend its authenticity, to ensure its survival.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Prophet - The Movie

I don't know if you all have noticed that all my books include a saying of Khalil Gibran somewhere. He has been an inspiration to so many of us Lebanese and non-Lebanese alike all over the world.

His words are sacred and really do make a lot of sense.

Many are asking me what I thought of the film:

The film The Prophet is wonderful. I simply loved it. It's not for everyone though. Everyone should study the book and watch the movie later. It's better like that. It might confuse those who have never read the book. The interpretation of the book is really simple and yet the different artistic styles used in different segments is really creative. Artists, who know what it takes to draw and paint, will really appreciate the work.  The music is AMAZING adding a lot to the different elements portrayed throughout the film. The story is less exciting and in my opinion could have been more elaborately developed  but again it is perfect for an all age audience. The "actors" are well chosen, although I would have preferred that Mustafa especially be of Middle-Eastern origins. The mixing of Mexican, American, Irish accents is weird to me...But I guess nowadays you need big names to get people to come and see the movie.

I will watch it again and again, for it is very inspiring and true.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Beirut Street Food Festival

Barbara (that's me) and Albert Massaad @foodyoulike  (my son) will be participating at the Street Food Festival this year representing Slow Food Beirut. We will be making flat breads with all kind of toppings: call them pizza, call them man'oushe, call them bread cooked with love. This will be a special occasion for mother and son, before Albert goes off to university at Lyon to study at Paul Bocusse to be a chef / restaurateur. Not only that but this will be a special day for Albert as he celebrates his18th birthday! Also on the agenda, the newly formed Slow Food Youth Network Lebanon will be cooking soup with vegetables which would have been dumped otherwise. Keep posted.

#beirutstreetfoodfest on Instagram
Beirut Street Food Festival on Facebook