Places 1 comment on Bistr’eau Batroun

Bistr’eau Batroun

The new kid in town. Bistr’eau. This place holds a very special place to my heart as it is my husband’s hard earned success. If you’ve been following us for a while, you know my husband Jean (initially an electrical engineer and financial consultant) is a food lover and amateur Chef. His dream for the past few years was to have that restaurant where he would go crazy and work on his passion. This summer, he found it. Continue Reading “Bistr’eau Batroun”

Home & Kitchen 0 comments on Supermarket at your door – Spinneys Delivery

Supermarket at your door – Spinneys Delivery

I’ve always been a fan of the supermarket. Ever since I was a child, a trip to buy groceries and roaming around a huge supermarket has always been fun and kind of comforting. I especially love it when I’m in no hurry and have no list to stick to. We just walk around, inspecting aisle after aisle till we find something we need, discover a new product or even welcome products that we’d only seen abroad. Continue Reading “Supermarket at your door – Spinneys Delivery”

Uncategorized 0 comments on Himaya

Himaya

I’ve always admired people who make it a life purpose to help others, especially children. What we think only happens in movies is actually drawn from reality. Child abuse, be it physical or emotional, is a harsh part of reality. In a society governed by taboo, shame and guilt, it is even harder for kids to ask for help when abused by a parent.

Among the many NGOs we have here in Lebanon, I think that Himaya stands out. It might be because I am aware of their activities more than others’ or because I know a few people who work there, but I hold their cause close to my heart because it helps vulnerable children.

Children are truth and life. They are our hope that the future can be better. They hold the key to hard-to-find solutions in their bright minds full of creativity.

April is the month of child abuse prevention. I thought it would be great to highlight what Himaya does especially that foodies can help them make a change.

Their ongoing campaign this April is all about raising awareness and trying to erase the taboo. If you’ve noticed the “Ma tkhabe, khaber” billboards all over Lebanon and heard about their game on Virgin Radio, you must be aware of the efforts Himaya makes to spread the word.

Also, they have partnered up with Divvy for the #DVhimayaSlide challenge. Basically, people head to Divvy’s branch at The Village in Dbayeh, upload a video of them on their slide with the hashtag. For every video upload, Divvy will donate $1 to the cause Himaya strongly supports.

There are many other ways people can contribute in general. Mainly:
– You can volunteer with Himaya
– You can purchase Himaya products available on Lebelik
– You can attend their events
– You can sponsor the children of their Resilience Center through their Sponsor a Child Program
– You can donate through their website
– You can order the himaya items on the menus of their foodies4change partners; with every order of those items 1,000 LBP is donated to himaya
– You can spread the word, share their posts and just help them raise awareness
Himaya | Breadonbutter
There will never be enough words to praise the work people at Himaya do, but I hope I at least influenced some of you to spread the word!
Check their website www.himaya.org for all the details you might need to help!
Have a great positive Monday all! 🙂
Travel 1 comment on A Weekend in Tripoli

A Weekend in Tripoli

When we need an escape from our routine and a change of scenery, we immediately plan a trip to explore a new country. Yet, we more often than not stop right in the middle of that booking because we think twice about the budget.

What we rarely think of is a weekend away in our own country that has many places left to explore. Places you never thought existed a few kilometers away.

Last weekend, the lovely people of Via Mina Hotel in Tripoli, invited us over for a relaxing stay. Believe me when I tell you I woke up on Sunday morning not sure of where in the world I was. The old souks of Tripoli are the miniature reproduction of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. The pubs we visited at night were the reflection of Rome’s laid-back Trastevere. The streets around Al Mina region resemble the Old Croatian towns. This can give you a clear picture of the mixed feelings you get during your two-day stay.

That weekend was a huge eye-opener on the possibility of things to do in Lebanon. Here’s what you can do during a weekend in Tripoli.

Where to Stay:

Via Mina Hotel. This refreshing and cozy Bed & Breakfast is all you need to relax and unwind away from work and busy Beirut. What was an old inhabited house became the coziest place to stay. Just that smell of organic green tea soap gives your mind peace the entire time.

weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter

What to do:

Visit the souks in the center of Tripoli. You’ll get the same experience as visiting the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul if you’ve been. Make sure you go to “Khan el Saboun” (i.e. the soap market), where you’ll find loads of organic soaps.

weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter

weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter

Take a walk along the Mina. If you’re staying at the Via Mina Hotel, the Mina is a three-minute walk away. If you’re an early riser, you can visit the fish market  where people place bids on the freshest fish. You can also walk around the Mino area in the morning and witness fresh bread-making, live foul and hommos cooking and a joyful atmosphere.

weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter

weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter

In the evening, there are pubs two minutes away from the hotel. Timmy’s is one of the crowdiest. Its architecture is also something you don’t see every day.

weekend in tripoli | breadonbutter

If you’re craving for a nice seafood meal, Borj El Samak (which is right next to Via Mina) is a good choice.

Lately, I’ve been pessimistic about Lebanon and long to travel the world.  The most important lesson I learnt that weekend is to never make up your mind about something before you experience it yourself. We all have our made-up ideas about certain places and it’s easy to get influenced by the media, our parents’ anxieties, and even our own stubbornness.  But I promise myself, here and now, to be more positive and appreciate what we have.

Thoughts? 🙂

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Travel 2 comments on 20 things about Beirut

20 things about Beirut

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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Places, Travel 1 comment on A Weekend in Batroun: 10 Things To Do In The Region

A Weekend in Batroun: 10 Things To Do In The Region

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.

batroun | breadonbutter

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.

batroun | breadonbutter

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.

batroun | breadonbutter

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.

batroun | breadonbutter

 

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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Drinks 0 comments on Chateau Sainte Andree: When Family And Wine Mix

Chateau Sainte Andree: When Family And Wine Mix

When my sister was here visiting, we had a great day at the beach around a BBQ and excellent wine (Chateau Sainte-Andrée) brought by John-Peter, a great friend of ours. I was nicely surprised by this delicious wine and I was fascinated by its story.

Chateau Sainte Andree | Breadonbutter

John-Peter’s father Paul Sacre has been a wine amateur for as long as he can remember. He’s always had his own wine cellar filled with bottles of wine from all over the world. Some of the bottles were even very old (with one of them dating from 1947!).

Paul used to spend his summers at his aunt’s in Mradiye, a small village next to Ghbele in North Lebanon. He loves this region and that’s why he ended up buying a 25,000 square meter land there and started making his own wine. Like any success story, this started as a hobby. During the first 2 years, Paul was making wine to have fun and enjoy it with his family. He then started to sell it in fairs and wine tasting exhibitions.

The Wine

Chateau Sainte Andree | Breadonbutter

The vineyard produces almost 8,000 bottles per year: red (3 cuvées), white, rosé, fruity (peach) and 6 tastes of liquor.

The quantity they produce is not large but their aim is to produce the best quality there can be. Paul is helped by an oenologist for the mixes, the cork is wooden rather than silicon, which is better to preserve the wine’s quality and to be able to leave it in cellars for years (up to 12!).

The red wines are placed in French and Californian oak barrels for 8 to 16 months instead of aluminum or stainless steel which gives it a nice aroma.

Andree is the name of Paul’s wife (thus the name Sainte-Andrée) and each red wine cuvée has the name of his 3 children: Peter, Lynn and Laura.

Chateau Sainte Andree | Breadonbutter Chateau Sainte Andree | Breadonbutter Chateau Sainte Andree | Breadonbutter

It’s also worth mentioning that they also produce organic honey from the Jabal Moussa reserves that come from the pine trees, oak trees and fir trees. And they also produce their own vegetables (but those are not sold).

I hope you enjoyed this story as much as I did. To order the wine, you can call Paul Sacre directly on: +961 (3) 700 267

Chateau Sainte Andree | Breadonbutter

Chateau Sainte Andree | Breadonbutter Chateau Sainte Andree | Breadonbutter

Cheers! 😉 

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Places, Places 0 comments on 10 Top Italian Restaurants in Beirut

10 Top Italian Restaurants in Beirut

Every culture has its own way of interpreting one dish. They all add their twists and spices, making it particular to their tastes and habits. Restaurants too have to gratify the palate of the people they are serving. One thing I’ve noticed about Italian restaurants in Beirut is that they add crème fraîche to a lot of their pasta sauces. Almost all Italian people I’ve met are quickly revolted by the act of adding cream to pasta sauces. They also consider the use of a spoon to roll your spaghetti as a disgrace. But here in Beirut, it is considered to be the proper practice of eating Italian food. Where did these habits come from you ask? From restaurants, of course. Who started it?  I think it’s a chicken and egg type of story.

But it’s safe to say that the way the Lebanese have adapted Italian food has somewhat strayed away from the original cuisine. So because we can’t go to Rome everyday (check out 20 Things about Rome), we’ve been on a quest for ‘real’ Italian restaurants in Beirut.

My judgment of ‘what makes a restaurant Italian’ is personal but of credible experience. I’ve been to Italy a lot, read about their food, talked to people and been in their kitchens, cooked a carbonara and more with them, and visited their restaurants accompanied by locals.

In my mind, the ones that serve the famous spritz or bellini have the knowledge, the ones that serve dishes cooked with fresh ingredients have the quality, and the ones that present the place and the dish well have the honesty and authenticity.

There are many criteria that can lead you to judge a restaurant as being typically Italian and accordingly, I’ve ranked the top 10 I’ve tried in Beirut, keeping in mind that all of their menus contain dishes adapted to the taste of the Lebanese audience (hospitality rules oblige).

#1 Harry’s Bar

harry's bar | breadonbutter

 

Harry’s Bar is my recent favorite. It is THE place to fine-dine, enjoy great wine and beautiful dishes. The staff is extremely friendly and knowledgeable. The sommelier recommends excellent wine and the service is the most professional I’ve seen in a while. When it comes to the food, you won’t regret one bite of it. Apart from being exceptionally tasty, every dish is carefully crafted and full of colors. The presentation clearly reflects their recent Michelin Star touch. Don’t hesitate to go there for a nice, romantic dinner or even for a business lunch, where you’ll find a set menu for the circumstance. Make sure to try their Fleur de Courgettes with ricotta cheese, beef carpaccio, beetroot risotto and panna cotta. An unforgettable Italian experience in the heart of Beirut.

Harry's Bar Beirut | BreadonbutterHarry's Bar Beirut | BreadonbutterHarry's Bar Beirut | BreadonbutterHarry's Bar Beirut | Breadonbutter

#2 Totò Cucina Italiana

Harry's Bar Beirut | Breadonbutter
Photo from Zomato

When walking into Totò, you’re struck by the simple yet uplifting décor. The way they managed to give an identity to the place while keeping the original charm of this old house is admirable. Waiters and staff are not only nice and helpful in your choice of dishes, but they also have a sense of humor. Their seafood risotto is one that I won’t forget. I also love their pizzas and their Totò Express concept upstairs for a more relaxed dinner experience or for takeaway and pizza night at home.

Harry's Bar Beirut | Breadonbutter
Photo from paperblog.com

#3 Marinella

Harry's Bar Beirut | Breadonbutter
Photo from their facebook page

Every time I visit Rome, I go to my favorite place (Vicolo 88) for an absolutely delicious Spaghetti al Vongole. In my mission to find it in Beirut, it’s at Marinella that I discovered one very close to the taste I never forget. The interior is refreshing and the changing menu gives you the certainty that their ingredients are freshly picked. The presentation of their dishes is lovely and the waiters are friendly and professional.

Harry's Bar Beirut | Breadonbutter
Photo from their facebook page

#4 La Traviata

Harry's Bar Beirut | Breadonbutter
Photo from their facebook page

La Traviata doesn’t serve pizza but they sure make it up by serving the freshest pasta dishes in town. If I’m looking for a place to have a calm, relaxing lunch or dinner with a good dish of traditional pasta, this is the place I think of. They also have generous service, offering bites and nibbles before your order comes through, and great knowledge about Italian wine. Oh, and no ketchup allowed! Their carbonara, tiramisu and most importantly their tortellini al cioccolato are a must-try.

Harry's Bar Beirut | Breadonbutter
Photo from their facebook page

#5 Cucina – Downtown

Harry's Bar Beirut | Breadonbutter
Photo by fromagesandfridays.com

The best thing about Cucina is its location. Located in the most modern and trendy part of Beirut, it’s a good place for hip lunches in the sun and dinners. The staff is welcoming and friendly. Their appetizers and risottos are a good choice followed by pain perdu for dessert, which is worth a try. I’m heading there for a friend’s birthday tonight to enjoy a nice setting for this special occasion rather than the relatively average food.

Harry's Bar Beirut | Breadonbutter
Photo by zomato reviewer

#6 Al Dente Restaurante – Hotel Albergo

Harry's Bar Beirut | Breadonbutter
Photo from whereleb.com

Al Dente’s risottos are a must-try as well as their desserts. This hidden place gives a feel of authentic old Italy mixed with a refined character. Their appetizers include the famous Melanzane gratinate alla Parmigiana and Mozzarella di Buffala which is one of my favorite mozzarellas. It’s an excellent place for a special occasion.

#7 Dottore L’antica Pizzeria

Harry's Bar Beirut | Breadonbutter

Dottore is the type of place where you go for comfort food and good wine. Burrowed in one of Hamra’s inner streets, it’s the perfect place to spend a cozy night with a few friends. All you need is their wooden-oven baked pizzas, the spinach crepe and really good Italian wine that the staff will perfectly recommend, and you’re set for a great night.

Harry's Bar Beirut | Breadonbutter Harry's Bar Beirut | Breadonbutter

#8 Mario e Mario

Harry's Bar Beirut | Breadonbutter
Photo from their facebook page

Nestled in one of the inside streets of Mar Mikhael, Mario e Mario offers a very special menu. Get ready to taste dishes you haven’t before, as this fine-dining Italian knows how to use fresh ingredients and transform them into a beautiful and innovative dish. The place is charming and romantic and the table is set with special little touches. I also love the use of fresh ingredients in all of their dishes. You’ll also be very happy with their famous olive oil and bread served before your main order.

Harry's Bar Beirut | Breadonbutter
Photo from their facebook page

#9 La Posta

Harry's Bar Beirut | Breadonbutter
Photo from their facebook page

If you’re planning on booking a night out at La Posta, make sure you ask to be seated outside. The staff shows gusto for Italian food, and their pizza is not too thick or too thin. Their portions are generous but you can be sure you’ll get a refined presentation. Go for a seafood linguine with a nice wine or head there for Saturday brunch with friends or family.

Harry's Bar Beirut | Breadonbutter
Photo from their facebook page

#10 L’Osteria

Harry's Bar Beirut | Breadonbutter
Photo from their facebook page

If you’ve been to Italy, you must be familiar with the Aperitivo concept. L’Osteria is one of the rare Italians in Beirut that master the Spritz and its accompaniments. Their dishes are also appetizing and typically Italian. You can head there around 7 pm for a fresh Spritz and a cheese/cold cuts platter. They also serve homey dishes that will satisfy your tasty Italian food cravings.

Harry's Bar Beirut | Breadonbutter
Photo from their facebook page

Any Italian place to add to the list?

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Collaborate, Decorate, Parties & Happenings, Style 1 comment on Eat Al Fresco : How To Have The Perfect Picnic

Eat Al Fresco : How To Have The Perfect Picnic

Our generation is always complaining about the lack of things to do in our country. We claim it’s always the same things and that there aren’t enough choices out there. So in an effort to innovate your outings, we, Breadonbutter and Playing with Fashion collaborated to bring you a complete guide to having the perfect, most charming and fashionable picnic there is.

On a sunny and hot Monday morning a few weeks ago, we packed our things and went up to the Bekaa to have some fun, eat some food and take nice photographs. We then hurried to compile the best way we can inspire you to go have a fun picnic yourself.

Breadonbutter was of course responsible for the food and Playing with Fashion was obviously responsible for showing you the best way to dress.

So if you’re planning on having a picnic out in nature anytime soon, this is what I think is a good checklist to follow.

picnic | breadonbutter

Food

picnic | breadonbutter

The best way to go when it comes to picnics is to make sandwiches. You can be as creative as you’d like when it comes to the toppings. Here’s the list I suggest:

  • Parma ham
  • Chorizo or Turkey slices
  • Gruyère cheese
  • A small-sized camembert cheese
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Bread of your choice

Drinks and Beverages

picnic | breadonbutter

Here, I would suggest you take only 3 kinds and get a cooler. Water is the basic thing you should think of, followed by a nice bottle of white or rosé wine and a bottle of juice that you can substitute with a soft drink if you’re a true addict.

Fruits

picnic | breadonbutter

Fruits will provide something fresh to munch on while you’re sipping your drink and having a conversation with your picnic pals. Here’s a list of fruits that can last the trip:

  • Dried:kiwi and apricots
  • Fresh: Apples, Strawberries and Sour plums

Snacks

picnic | breadonbutter

If you don’t feel like having fruits, or if you feel like biting on a variety of flavors as snacks, you can get some of these:

  • Kaak or grissinis
  • Crisps (my favorite brand is Kettle)
  • Raw nuts: walnuts, almonds, cashew nuts

Sweets

picnic | breadonbutter

Last but not least, how can a picnic end without a sweet bite? I chose:

  • Cookies
  • Dry raisin cake
  • Amaretti biscuits I had from Italy (which I highly recommend!)

Gear

picnic | breadonbutter

You’ll need a practical and useful gear to put all this food in and be comfortable throughout the picnic. What I took with me:

  • Plastic wine glasses
  • Plastic cups
  • 3 glass jars
  • Straws
  • Cutlery (I prefer wooden or plastic for such outings)
  • 1 regular knife, to cut the cheese and bread
  • A cooler
  • Tiny fun bags for the nuts
  • A board for the sandwich toppings and the bread
  • Small containers for fruits
  • A basket to carry it all up there
  • And a tablecloth to sit on of course 🙂

Now girls, to get outfits ideas, head to www.playingwithfashion.com for the picnic lookbook!

picnic | breadonbutter

Photography by: BetKet Photography (you can view her website here).

collab

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Places, Travel 2 comments on Take A Hike – A Day in the Kadisha Valley

Take A Hike – A Day in the Kadisha Valley

When it comes to exercise, the farther I can get from a gym, the better. I prefer the type of exercise where you don’t really feel you’re having it and count the minutes until it is considered enough. So let’s say that whenever I can, I consider nature to be my gym. Hikes are one of my favorite things to do on a weekend or even on a trip. I’ve also noticed it kind of restarts my brain and gives me more energy to think and start my week afresh. Not to go into too many details, I highly recommend a good hike to reduce your anxiety and stress, to boost your immunity, to give you energy, to make you more productive and help you concentrate.

kadisha valley

In Lebanon, we are spoiled with beautiful places to hike, and they’re all two hours away or less from Beirut. We spent the last two weekends hiking so today I’m sharing one of those days in the Kadisha Valley for inspiration.

The Kadisha Valley, located in Bcharre (click here for the map), is full of important Lebanese history (you can read more about it here). It was my second time hiking there and we spent approximately 6 hours walking down the valley and up again, passing by the Qannoubine monastery. Since it’s the end of winter and the snow is melting, it’s the best time to hike there as you get to see waterfalls and enjoy the perfect weather for hiking. The greenery is also impressive and striking.

kadisha valley

After a long tiring but fun hike, we headed to one of the most popular restaurants in the region, situated in Ehden, called Fardaous (meaning ‘paradise’ 🙂 ). The food was delicious – my opinion here being biased because of extreme hunger 😉 and the view was just perfect.

Here are some photos of the hike for you to get inspired.

kadisha valley kadisha valley hiking hiking wadi kadisha wadi kadisha wadi kadisha | breadonbutter

Don’t forget to stock up on snacks for energy as well as water to keep hydrated and to protect your muscles from cramps that can last days. Our favorite snacks when we go hiking are raw nuts, dried fruits, bananas and coconut bars. Jean has developed the pattern of having a Snickers before the hike, because you’re not you when you’re hungry 😉

Also, if you want to learn more about the region and get a guide who knows all the hiking ways well, you can contact a great guy called Jhonny Bou Ghosn on this number: +961 (3) 290 571

Who here is a fan of hiking? And where do you go? I’d love to know!

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Places, Places 2 comments on Onno: The Inspiring Story and The Great People Behind It

Onno: The Inspiring Story and The Great People Behind It

Two years ago, along with a group of friends, we came up with a tradition. Since not one of us is really into Valentine’s Day and the buzz around it, we decided to have dinner together on the 14th of February. Our first dinner was Armenian and delicious and the habit took off from there. It’s been two Valentine Armenian dinners. The very last one was at Onno. The initial plan was to head to the original one in Bourj Hammoud. But we then heard a new branch had opened its doors in Badaro so we booked our 20 (s)eaters’ table for the 14th of February. We now swear by this great and homey Armenian Bistrot.

onno | breadonbutter

When I approached the managing team over at Onno to chat with them and Karnigue Nigolian (the original person behind it), they happily accepted. So today, I bring you their story and a small glimpse of the atmosphere and the characters behind this cozy and welcoming place.

I first sat with Saadi Hamady and was later joined by Karnigue (both owners of ONNO).

onno | breadonbutter
Karnigue Nigolian (left) and Saadi Hamady (right)

Saadi first told me about his relationship with food. How he started in the food and beverage industry in the States in 1988, dealing with various domains such as dry food, groceries, delis, coffee shops, restaurants, and even airline catering. Then, like any Lebanese at heart, Saadi came back to Lebanon after spending 29 years in the States and opened up the very first fusion-cosmopolitan food places in Beirut called Cello. He quickly expanded his restaurant openings and other businesses related to the tourism industry.

His new baby is ONNO. The story is actually one of those coincidences (if they do exist) we love to hear about. Saadi’s plan for an evening out was to go fine-dine with friends somewhere upscale. But he wasn’t convinced that was the atmosphere he wanted and begged them to take him somewhere more relaxed with a proper glass of Arak. His friends, without hesitation, decided to take him to ONNO, this cozy little homey place in Bourj Hammoud where a nice glass of Arak was guaranteed. Right then and there, Saadi fell in love with the food and Karnigue’s personality, who made you eat as he pleases. He then absolutely wanted to take ONNO in his hands and expand it like it should be. Karnigue had been approached by many and had humbly refused. But Saadi managed to convince him. “I didn’t come as an investor who wanted to take. I came and told him we would work together hand in hand. We think alike a lot. Sometimes I think about something and then he comes and says it to me!” Saadi.

So a joint-venture was established and ONNO is now quickly expanding. They are open in Badaro and will be open in Hamra in June.

The Badaro branch was a great success for the ONNO team. They saw a great feedback from people who loved the food and the place.

Onno succeeded to attract the mass clientele, which was the biggest challenge. You can see people in their 60s and 70s but also in their 20s. This was basically the idea of opening up a bistro. It serves only one purpose: good food. “In our bistro, they only come to eat, not for the drinks or music, just the food.”

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For Saadi, it’s simple. It’s all due to their Bistro’s atmosphere, philosophy and values behind their work.

The values they follow are quite natural. According to Saadi, in all businesses and in anything we do, if there is no honesty about what you do, what you serve and give your clients, there is no success. To him, ethics are the most important thing in business. “We pick our ingredients, we have no shortcuts. The cost doesn’t matter because in the long-term, you are the winner”. “My value is my honesty.”

“I believe you are what u eat and food to me is very dear to my heart, I’ve been doing this for a long time so have good customer service, good products and value for money and then the people will come to you. It’s that simple.”

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One very important thing Saadi mentioned was the importance of the authenticity in the dishes one serves at his place.

“When I started working in Lebanon, I saw that if, let’s say we go out to eat penne arrabiatta, we notice the same taste in all of Lebanon even though it’s not a real arrabiatta. So people start thinking it is the real taste because not everyone knows the real taste. They all taste the same because it’s all the same ingredients. So this is where we said: let’s give them the real taste, the authentic taste and then let them decide if they like it or not. Give it as it is and let them decide. Every time you give something authentic, it will be liked.”

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Karnigue came to sit with us at this point. His first sentence was: “It was a dream. It was a dream to open a restaurant one day and make food for everyone.”

He went on saying he hadn’t learnt cooking in any school or institution, that his school was his home when he was younger, his mom and his grandma. But the most essential school of all is experience and love for food. Everything he learnt was from testing with his clients in his small homey restaurant in Bourj Hammoud.

“He sometimes surprises you with a dish you didn’t even order!” Saadi

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When asked why he chose ONNO, Saadi had a clear answer: “Because it’s one of the tastiest restaurants I’ve ever visited in my life and I’ve tasted a lot, everywhere. I remember the first bite I had there. This is why I chose ONNO, but also because you see something good, you want people to try it. It’s too bad if they don’t. ONNO has to be known. And I now have a belly donut.”

For Karnigue, the most important thing is to see the customer happy. “They’re happy, I’m happy. There was a couple outside just now, I said hello and gave them the menu. He asked if I was Onno, I asked how he knew, he said I speak differently. Always talk to the people.”

Onno is indeed a story. It is a story of partnership, chance and good authentic food that is just waiting to be shared with the world.

The menu is a work of 20-25 years of experience, trial and error. If you haven’t tried it yet, you must!

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Click here to watch a short video about Onno and to get an idea of the warm atmosphere and the people behind it. 🙂

Have you been to Onno? We’d love to know your thoughts!

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Opinion, Travel, Uncategorized 4 comments on Lebanon Perceived by International Media – How We Can Change That Image

Lebanon Perceived by International Media – How We Can Change That Image

All Winter, we’ve been running home every night to finally get in bed and start new episodes of The Mentalist. I know the show’s been on for 7 years but we decided to view it all in one shot. A few days ago, we reached the final episodes (very very sad I know). To our surprise, 2 episodes take place in Beirut (not sure if Patrick Jane actually came to Beirut but there were shots of our beloved city in the episodes). Not so surprisingly, it wasn’t the Beirut we know that was shown in The Mentalist. We would’ve expected more from Patrick and I must say we were disappointed. I didn’t make much of this and quickly forgot it, maybe because we became used to this bad portrayal of our country in the media. But then Jean sent me this post and it brought on new thoughts. How can we possibly change the perception of our country in the media?

1- Rely on some of the Lebanese bloggers. The internet is powerful and can convey information faster and more efficiently.

2- Expats, we know the nice job you’re doing at educating the ones who don’t know about us so thank you.

3- We have so much talent that we shouldn’t just showcase it in Lebanon. Mahrou’ Leila are on the way with their occasional international concerts, and Hiba Tawaji is making us proud.

4- Photographers and videographers, use your connections and present your work (including photos of the real Lebanon) outside the country.

5- Spread initiatives like LiveLoveBeirut, LiveLove Lebanon and Positive Lebanon.

We must fight this ugly image and show the positive side of Lebanon. Of course, I am not saying it’s flawless but picturing it like a battle field is the other extreme.

What do you think?

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and don’t forget to tag us if you try out our recipes!