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We visited Athens on the last week of October for a mix of personal business and pleasure. The city is great for a quick getaway not far from home (1h15 flight). As we planned our trip before our departure, I still had in mind the Athens I once knew as vibrant, full of life and happy people, and in keep-up with trends. In my head, it was still a mix of Beirut and organized European countries. The last time I was there, it was 2013. The economic crisis had just hit but it wasn’t quite obvious yet. This time around, it was pretty palpable. What the economy had done to this vibrant city was a complete shock. 

Let’s start with what’s important. I love my country, despite its flaws. I chose to live here and no one forced me to do so. I love its warmth, its people and everything truly feels like home. I won’t lie; there are times all I wish for is to pack my bags and move to a better place. Today is supposed to be one of those times, but it isn’t. I admit here and now that I’m confused. I’m scared of more rain – where instead of embracing the smell of the earth, we’ll be fighting for breath, I’m scared of History of diseases repeating itself, I’m scared of oh-so-many things but I’ll be fighting anxiety today, tomorrow and as long as it takes for us to retrieve even a tiny bit of our dignity. It is no longer a choice. Amidst the horror of what is going on, I still have hope for a better future. Some may think it is naïve, I think it is a start. We owe it to our ancestors whose Lebanon was heaven on earth, we owe it to ourselves whose Lebanon is too hard to let go, we owe it to our children whose Lebanon should be the best place to be.

To remind everyone why we’ll keep on fighting, and in light of this article, here are 20 things about Beirut.

1) How everything seems to function against all odds – yes, we do have uber, online shopping and food delivery at all times.

2) The familiarity – most of the time, people are willing to help, smile and ask about your day.

3) How the trends blend in with the old – the Mar Mikhael and Gemmayze neighborhoods are the perfect examples.


4) The sunsets.


5) Life at night – where all the city lights are on, people are out and it smells like happiness.

6) Cab drivers (although not all of them) – they have the best stories.

7) The kaak and corn vendors.

8) The smell of thyme in the morning.

9) The easy access to the sea.


10) The variety of restaurants.

11) The constant festivals and fairs.

12) Music Hall.


13) Jogging at Waterfront.

14) How you can escape the city within the city.

15) The wide choice of things to do – you can go have coffee, take a cooking class, have dinner by the sea or happy hour drinks, there’s always somewhere to go and someone to see.

16) The vegetable/fruit shops on every corner.

17) The rooftops.

18) The view on the giraffes at the port.

19) The coffeeshops, pubs and other warm and familiar places – to mention a few: urbanista, dar bistro, papercup, bar tartine, kayan, Vintage shop (and their wine tasting), Paul gemmayze, st. elmo’s, Moto, sporting beach club, and so many more.

20) Eternal Hope.

People who live in Beirut, and those of you who have visited, it would be awesome if you could post in the comment section below one thing you love about this city! That way, we can look at the full part of the glass 😉

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It’s definitely summer and getaways are fast approaching. Everyone’s making plans on where to go and which country to visit. There are obviously countless places to see and different kinds of trips to make (road trips, backpacking trips, island relaxation, or lovely Tuscany), so I thought I would start by summing up 20 things about Paris for those of you who are Euro-tripping this summer. You can check 20 things about London here, Rome here and Istanbul here. And of course, stay tuned for more. To find all the places I mention, I suggest you use the Google Maps app for addresses and for you to know your way by foot, metro, bus, or car.

paris | breadonbutter

1) The French Bistrots – A good steak, veau or fondue can be found in the typical French bistrots all around Paris. My favorites are: Boucherie Rouliere, Chez Fernand, La Petite Cour, Le St. Séverin and Chez André for a good bouillabaisse.

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2) Place Saint Michel – Head there for an early drink outside before continuing to dinner.

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3) Tour Eiffel and Champs de Mars – No matter how many times you’ve been to Paris, you must visit our beloved Dame de Fer once. If the weather is nice, a fun picnic on the champs de mars would be a perfect lunch idea.

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4) Carette and Angelina – I love Carette on a rainy day for a large macaron and black coffee. The place is ideal for a nice conversation in a cozy place. For an excellent and dense hot chocolate, head to Angelina. I even spotted their products on sale at the airport!

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5) Places for a fast and healthy lunch – For a fast but healthy lunch in the center of Paris, I fell in love with Boco (an organic place where you can eat your healthy meal without any guilt – I’ll be posting about it next week) and Twenty Peas (where your food is also measured and put in a box).

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6) La Fayette Gourmet – Enter every foodie’s heaven when you step foot in La Fayette Gourmet.

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7) Éclair de Genie – If you’re a fan of the famous éclair, do not miss this charming little place with dozens of eclairs of all possible tastes. Heavenly!

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8) Montmartre – One of my favorite places on earth, Montmartre is like stepping into happiness. It takes a while to get there (especially that we went there walking!) but it’s so worth it. The place is filled with people and great food. Make sure you pick any restaurant and sit outside while you enjoy a nice glass of wine with a plate of moules frittes, boeuf bourgignon, or coq au vin. You can also grab a Merguez baguette as an appetizer 😉

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9) Montparnasse – Known as an artistic neighbourhood, Montparnasse reminds me of my parents who used to live there for years. It has lots of waffle and crepe places to try. Make sure you try the Aligot (mashed potatoes and garlic) and the meat at Le Plomb du Cantal.

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10) Au p’tit grec – talking about crepes, this little Greek-owned place at Rue Mouffetard should not be missed!

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11) The Maille store – this place is paradise for all food and cooking lovers. It is only dedicated to the Maille mustard brand and is filled with mustard pots everywhere. You even get to taste all of them with mini grissinis to decide which ones to take back home.

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12) Le Pont des Arts – On this bridge that crosses the river Seine, lovers have taken the habit to attach love locks (padlocks) with their first name on them, then throwing the key into the Seine as a romantic and eternal love gesture.

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13) The Marais neighborhood – A historic district in Paris, it was long aristocratic before it became a popular and active commercial area. The architecture is fascinating and you can even spot Victor Hugo’s ancient house! Take a walk around the neighborhood and pass by Fleux’, a concept design store we fell in love with, and Pouchkine for French-Russian inspired patisserie. You won’t regret a bite!

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14) Colette Paris – This is for Design trends lovers. You must all have heard of Colette and the product selection (from fashion to tech and culture products).

15) Le jardin des tuileries – The ideal place to relax after a long walk in the city is le jardin des tuileries. Grab a hot chocolate and a chair and open your book for an hour of pure relaxation.

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16) The Louvre – A must-see at least once in a lifetime. I’m sure we were all identically disappointed by the size of the Mona Lisa though.

17) Pastavino – I know we’re in Paris, but this lovely Italian place was so lovely I have to recommend it. European cities are made to try different cuisines anyway, so if you have time, do try this magical Italian restaurant located on the top of an Italian delicatessen shop.

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18) Asian food – We tried La Muraille de Jade for a nice Bobun and Mme Shawn for a thai lunch.

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19) Markets – You can ask around the neighborhood you’re staying in for markets and their opening days. You’ll find anything from cheese to choucroute and aligot.

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20) Notre-Dame de Paris – Breathtaking and touching, you must visit it if only for the sake of Quasimodo.

21) Extra bonus: Breakfasts! You can choose between a simple baguette with butter and coffee or juice, and eggs and croissant. Have it all is my advice 🙂

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And voila! Anything you might want to add? I’d love to hear!

paris | breadonbutter

 

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If you’ve been reading Breadonbutter for a while, you probably know by now how much I love traveling and discovering new places and cultures. But, like I mentioned once (here), there are cities I’ve visited many times that I’ll never stop making place for in my budget and time, and one of those cities is London.

London holds a very special place in my heart as it’s where I often went when I was little to visit my uncle, it’s where I spent lots of weekends during my studies, and it’s where my sister lives now. This city has many faces. More generally, we can say it has 4 different faces: East, West, North and South, each with special things you get attached to as a tourist. I once spoke about East London (here), but today, here’s a broader list of my favorite 20 things about London.

20 things about London

1) Parks – Walking around when the weather is nice, jogging or having a little picnic in any of London’s parks is of pure enjoyment. Among many, I would pick Regents Park, Hampstead Heath and Victoria Park as my favorite.

20 things about london | breadonbutter

2) Markets – Come the weekend, there is no greater pleasure than strolling around London’s different markets. The list is long: there are Borough Market and Broadway Market; there are Brick Lane, Spitalfields and Portobello and many more. You can view a full map of all the markets and their opening hours and days on this link.

20 things about london | breadonbutter

20 things about london | breadonbutter

20 things about london | breadonbutter

3) Oxford Street at Christmas – The busy Oxford Street already has everything you need. And if you’re looking for a place to really feel the Christmas spirit, this is it.

20 Things About London | Breadonbutter

4) Burger places – Among my favorites are Dirty Burger, Five Guys and Burgers and Lobsters. You can use the Zomato app while you’re there to check out the trendiest burgers in London.

20 things about london | breadonbutter

20 things about london | breadonbutter

5) Asian Food – Vietnamese, Korean or Thai; you can all find them anywhere you go. My favorites are Busaba eathai for the best Thai meal, Bibimbap in Soho, and Cay Tre for the best ramen and pho. I had the best Vietnamese food experience at Cay Tre where I found the food was the most fresh, flavorsome and authentic. An absolute delight!

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6) Notting Hill and Portobello Road.

20 Things about London | Breadonbutter

7) Fortnum and Mason for a typical British tea time.

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8) Breakfasts – I just love The Breakfast Club in Angel and Albion in the South.

20 things about london | breadonbutter

20 things about london | breadonbutter

9) Shoreditch and the graffiti.

20 things about london | breadonbutter

20 things about london | breadonbutter

10) Monmouth Coffee company – You can choose your coffee beans then share a table filled with jam and bread with other customers.

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11) The Monocle Café on Baker Street.

20 things about london | breadonbutter

Photo taken from google

12) Chipotle for the best Burrito.

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13) Musicals – My favorites until now are Sound of Music, Matilda and Wizard of Oz.

20 things about london | breadonbutter

14) Covent Garden – Ideal for a warm hot chocolate in the morning after going around the market.

20 Things about london | breadonbutter

Photo taken from google.

15) Indian Food – One of my favorite Indian restaurants in London with a fun and colorful interior is Masala Zone in Covent Garden. A must try.

20 things about london | breadonbutter

Photo taken from google.

16) Tate Modern – The most visited Art Gallery in the world. You can check current exhibitions here.

20 things about london | breadonbutter
Photo taken from google.

17) Piccadilly and Leicester Square – Make sure to visit the Photographers’ gallery (click here for more details), the first independent gallery devoted solely to Photography. I can spend endless hours in there just looking at the exhibited photographers’ different perspectives on life.

20 things about london | breadonbutter

18) The National Portrait Gallery on Trafalgar Square – Check out the exhibition of the moment on this link.

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19) Carnaby Street for a colorful walk.

20 things about london | breadonbutter

Photo taken from google

20) The Lily Vanilli Bakery – This is by far my favorite place in the entire city. This little bakery is great for a warm afternoon tea and the most wonderful non-traditional desserts.

20 things about london | breadonbutter

Have you been to London? Anything to add to the list?

 

After writing 20 things about Rome last month, I have compiled another list, this time about Istanbul. As winter is fast approaching and the season of short getaways is almost here, I present you with a list of fun things to do, eat, drink and see in one of the liveliest cities of the world. Also, expect a lot more of “20 things” about many more cities 🙂 Enjoy!

1) Istanbul Modern: a museum but also a wonderful fusion restaurant at night

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2) Emirgan Sütiš in Bebek for the best Turkish breakfast experience

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3) Nišantaše: the posh neighborhood of Istanbul – have wine or coffee at House Café

4) Kümpir (i.e. jacket potatoes) in Ortaköye

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5) Bosphorus boat rides

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6) The Grand Bazaar

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7) Lahm Ajun at the Grand Bazaar

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8) Kebab and Yogurt at Saray

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9) Street Food: Kebabs and Wet Burgers in Taksim

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10) Street Food again: Mussels on Istiklal Street

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11) Pomegranate Juices: Full of vitamins

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12) Sultan Ahmet

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13) Castana in winter

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14) Simit

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15) Wine tasting and cheese at Sensus in Galata

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16) Galata Tower and the streets around it

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17) The tea, all the time, everywhere

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18) The bridges

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19) Gram for breakfastgram-1

20) And last but absolutely not least, Aya Sofia and the History behind it

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I have already talked to you about Rome in some previous posts (A Day in Rome and Dinner at Vicolo 88), so I reckon you’ve guessed how much I love that city and consider it as one of my homes (refer to Home is Where the Heart is). As most of you know by now, I was there this summer, just before going to Croatia. This trip made me realize I’ll never get bored of Rome and will always keep on going back and discovering new things. Meanwhile, I’ve compiled a list of 20 things about Rome, to see, do, eat and drink. I hope you enjoy it!

1) The Vespas

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2) The famous Aperitivo

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3) The Sistine Chapel

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4) The beautiful Architecture

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5) The impressive Piazzas: Piazza Navona – Piazza del Popolo, Piazza di Spagna and Piazza Venezia to name just a few

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6) The fascinating Pantheon (and all its surroundings)

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7) The massive Colosseum

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8) The Tiber

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9) Ariccia: 30 minutes away from Rome by car, Ariccia is a tiny village where you absolutely have to taste the delicious Porchetta, the fresh homemade fluffy bread and the boar pasta (pâtes au sanglier or pasta con cinghiale) Y.U.M.

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10) Vicolo 88: click here for more details

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11) Trattoria Lo Scopettaro: for the best ever carbonara, an amazing tiramisu and a tasty house wine

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12) Obikà for a nice and fresh mozzarella bar experience

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13) Sant-Eustachio: a famous coffee place where even Kissinger went to have his coffee when in Rome 🙂

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14) Trastevere

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15) Illy Caffé at Piazza di Spagna

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16) And of course, let’s not forget the Gelato: morning, afternoon and evening!

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17) Campo di Fiori and its market

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18) The pizza

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19) The refreshments and snacks carts

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20) And last but absolutely not least, Villa Borghese Gardens and Gallery

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Do you have anything to add? I would love to hear your comments! 🙂

If you’re faithful readers of this blog, you’ll know that half of my heart lives in London, the city of my childhood travels and last student year. What’s more, is that my sister’s been living there for the last three years so I’ve been visiting frequently. Inspiration strikes when I’m there and we constantly find loads of things worth sharing. So if you frequently visit London for work or to visit family and friends, here’s a series destined to give you a glimpse of the city through our eyes. 

This week, it’s all about workweek lunch. Here are 5 places to grab a quick lunch in Soho/Covent Garden.

Grabbing a cheap and delicious lunch in soho / covent garden can be a bit of a struggle when you’re indecisive and looking for a good value and satisfying meal. The overwhelming choices and the fear of falling into a tourist trap can be paralysing (too dramatic?) next thing you know, it’s 2 pm and you still haven’t decided where to eat!
After months of exploring, we bring you 5 great places to eat a cheap (ish) and exciting lunch:

Koshari st (A small Egyptian shop on St Martin’s Lane which serves only a couple of dishes – perfect for a filling and cheap meal. Try the hot sauce which is not killer hot and will add flavour to your dish!)
Wellbeing kitchen (A low budget korean cafe in covent garden which serves a number of Korean favourites for a surprisingly low price. The chicken katsu curry is one of the best we’ve ever had. The free miso soup that comes with almost every meal is a real treat.)
Smack lobster (A small cafe style space on Dean street that serves a variety of lobster rolls and lobster chowder. The seven samurai lobster roll is a must. The buttery soft but slightly crunchy bun is heavenly)
Pepe (An all time favorite, also on St Martin’s Lane, serves a variety of italian food. Get a box with a combination of two different pastas and thank us later. Unless you’re on a diet, then we’re really sorry)
Tobiko (Although slightly on the more expensive side, this small sushi shop on Garrick street is well worth it. Their hand rolls are honestly the best, with a proper crispy seaweed wrap – as it should be! The crab and avocado hand roll is so good you’ll feel a bit sad when it’s over.)
Bon appetit!

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I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s. It actually always felt like pressure to go out and buy teddy bears and red piggy banks to give to my significant other. So when I learnt that Jean was a Valentine “hater” himself, I was delighted. Still, I respect the cute couples who celebrate their love on that day, so I’m presenting you today with 3 unusual and un-cheesy things to do on this big romantic weekend.

1) Bring the restaurant to your home. With Bibayti, you can book your private Chef and enjoy an amazing dinner experience in the comfort of your own dining room. Just light some candles, and they’ll take care of the rest. Check their website here.

valentine | breadonbutter

Photo by Zein el Cheikh for Bibayti

2) Invite friends over and have a huge cook-off, or buy barbecue material and find a spot in nature to enjoy it. The point is, have a group Valentine dinner, it’s kind of fun!

valentine | breadonbutter

3) Just pizza/pasta and a movie would do. Valentine’s Day is all about pampering after all 😉

valentine | breadonbutter

Any plans for Valentine’s?

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Sunny weekends are still ahead of us and we’re all looking for creative things to do. One of my favorite places in Lebanon is Batroun. The beautiful scenery brings you back refreshed and ready for another busy week after the weekend. There are so many things to do there other than lying on the rocks and soaking up the sun. Be it during summer or on sunny winter weekends, Batroun and its surroundings is a great destination for all kinds of activities.

Here are some ideas around the region for weekends ahead. There’s a little bit of everything for everyone!

When I say Batroun, I’m also talking about its surrounding towns, like Tannourine, Chekka, Anfeh, Douma and others. So here goes:

1- Tannourine: Start with an early morning hike in the beautiful reserve. The Tannourine forest is actually the biggest one. It starts in the Batroun casa and ends in the Bechareh casa.

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2- Saydet el nourieh: On your way down from Tannourine to the beach, pass by Saydet el Nouriyyeh for a spiritual hour and a breathtaking view on the shore.

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3- Make sure to pass by ‘Helmeh’ for a nice and refreshing lemonade!

4- Visit Batroun’s old town, it’s beautiful and untouched.

5- You can now go lie down on the rocks and take a dip in the sea. There’s a lot of choice when it comes to which beach you can go to. You can choose between Bonita Bay, White Beach, and Pierre and Friends, or go to Joining beach or Dany’s Bar for a less mainstream experience and great fish.

6- Make sure you stay there till sunset, you won’t regret it a single minute. Those places are great for those who love fishing as well.

batroun | breadonbutter

7- If you choose to sleep and spend the weekend there, two of the best places I’ve been to are Beit el Batroun and Mayouli. Beit el Batroun is simply the loveliest and most relaxing place. Mayouli is a bit different than Beit el Batroun as it’s more of an ecological place, with the freedom to have barbecues in a corner of the garden.

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8- Go up to one of Batroun’s vineyards the next day for some wine tasting. Ixsir has the most magical setting, and Aurora is another great choice.

batroun | breadonbutter

9- Have a late BBQ lunch on the rocks. You can find a lot of public beaches with clear blue water and settle there.

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10- For a nice late afternoon drink, try Colonel Beer. The setting is relaxed and the beer is excellent!

batroun | breadonbutter

There you go! A perfect weekend in Batroun 🙂 I’d love to hear about your suggestions!

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Seafood is my favorite. Apart from chicken wings, fish and shrimps are on the top of my most loved protein list. It’s healthy, it’s good for the waist and it gives you endless recipe possibilities. We’ve been barbecuing loads of shrimps lately but there are other ways you can cook this sea fruit. You can boil them, grill them, bake them, sauté them, stir-fry them, deep fry them, put them in your sandwich or even sometimes have them raw (delicious when they’re really fresh!).

So today, I’ve compiled a list of 6 ways you can cook your shrimps and have a happy meal.

1) Spice it up. This one is solely for crazy spicy food lovers. If you enjoy happy spicy tears and pink eyes after a meal from time to time, check out this delicious spicy shrimp recipe: http://www.breadonbutter.com/spicy-shrimp/

healthy | breadonbutter

2) Use it in your seafood pasta dish. I say use it because, in this recipe, you not only toss the shrimps in, but you also use their heads for the sauce. Click to know more: http://www.breadonbutter.com/the-pasta-series-jeans-fresh-and-exquisite-seafood-spaghetti/

shrimp pasta

3) Shrimp up your vegetable brown rice. For me, there’s nothing better than a good bowl of rice to have a perfect meal. Brown rice is now my thing and I love to shrimp it up from time to time 🙂 Check out this easy recipe I made for Lurpak Cook’s Range: http://www.breadonbutter.com/brown-vegetable-rice-lurpak-cooks-range/

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4) As a side dish in the form of cakes. Choose this recipe for a quick and delicious add-on to your meal. You can make it healthy depending on the oil/butter you choose to cook it in. Link: http://www.breadonbutter.com/shrimp-cakes-for-a-healthy-pleasure/

shrimp cakes | breadonbutter

5) Transform it into comfort food. This shrimp and feta casserole will solve your weekday dinner dilemma in no time. For the recipe, go to this link: http://www.breadonbutter.com/healthy-shrimps-and-feta-casserole/

shrimps casserole | breadonbutter

6) Make it simple and BBQ them in skewers along with your burgers, hot dogs or grilled fish. Make sure you try this dip along with your grilled shrimps, you won’t regret it. Recipe here: http://www.breadonbutter.com/chili-sauce-go-bbq-ed-prawns/

BBQ-ED-prawns-with-lemongrass-and-chili-sauce

There you have it 🙂

 I would love to know about more ways to cook shrimps, so do share your ideas in the comment section! 

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