Category Archives: Food

Beirut Shawarma Place Kicks Off A Cool Initiative To Feed The Hungry

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Al Soussa snack in Tarik el Jdeede has kicked off an initiative to feed the hungry by encouraging customers to buy and donate an extra Shawarma sandwich. Whenever you place an order, you can ask for an extra sandwich, the receipt will be placed on the “Shawarma wall” and if a hungry person is passing by, he can use one of them to claim his sandwich.

I think it’s a pretty cool initiative but the extra sandwiches should be at half the price in my opinion, that way the owner would be helping as well.


shawarma – An Online Destination For True Coffee Enthusiasts in Lebanon

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I’m not a coffee fan, I don’t need to have my morning coffee to wake up but ever since I moved to my new house and got a brewing coffee machine, I’ve enjoyed experimenting with different types of coffee beans. I also got a Nespresso and a Barista machine which I try from time to time as well, especially when I have friends or guests who are coffee enthusiasts. Needless to say, I still don’t know much about coffee and Starbucks is always a safe choice for me when it comes to coffee, but I’ll eventually get there one day and businesses like are supposed to make it easier for me.

coffee kalei


Kaleicoffee is a Lebanese specialty coffee company that gathers some of the best coffee beans from around the world, fly them home and roast them in small batches to ensure their coffee is always the freshest. Their aim is to provide coffee lovers in Lebanon with high-quality coffee and facilitate the delivery process through an online platform (and offline outlets). I was telling a friend, who’s a long-time coffee enthusiast, about Kaleicoffee and he was surprised that third wave coffee movement is picking up in Lebanon and loved the website.


Third wave coffee has been trending for quite some time in the world and “refers to a current movement to produce high-quality coffee, and consider coffee as an artisanal foodstuff, like wine, rather than a commodity”. Of course it’s more expensive as it focuses on things like artisanal and micro roastings, but it’s still affordable and worth a try.

Kaleicoffee is mainly for coffee enthusiasts but if you’re like me and wish to learn more about coffee, then you will find the website and the people behind it very helpful. I first met with them in Faqra as they had a stand during the summer festival and were about to launch I got to try their iced coffee rum drink with a delicious pecan pie slice.


Kaleicoffee is currently offering two kinds of Ethioipan coffee, Yirgacheffe and Limu Organic. You can order online (or buy from selected oulets like Aziz) and choose the grind level (beans, coarse, medium, medium fine, fine, extra fine). They also sell hardware from Japanese Bamboo utensils, paper bags, ceramic poor-over and others.

Check it out [here].

Butcher’s BBQ Joint: Soul Food In The Heart Of Mar Mikhael

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burger lamb Lamb-burger-ini; lamb patty topped with smoked brisket or smoked pulled pork

If you are looking for an authentic BBQ joint in Beirut, Butcher’s BBQ Joint in Mar Mikhael is the place to go. It’s a small and cozy place that serves mouth-watering “soul food” sandwiches, burgers and dishes. I’ve been there already 3 times and tasted almost everything on the menu. The Pulled pork sandwich, pork ribs and fried chicken with waffle topped by maple syrup are my favorites, the bacon is one of the best I’ve had in Lebanon, thick, crispy and really tasty, the Beef Brisket and Merguez burgers were good, I loved the green salad they offer as well as the sauces (try the butcher’s sauce and the gravy sauce) and the chocolate waffle dessert is a must-try. The only thing I didn’t like much were the fries to be honest.

maple Fried Chicken and Waffles with maple syrup.

Butcher’s BBQ Joint is perfect for a quick bite or a late night snack (before or after the party). Their Sunday brunch comes highly recommended but I’ve never tried it to be honest. They also serve a bacon-infused rum cocktail but I was never tempted to try it.

brunch Sunday Brunch

When you go visit the first time, let the manager help you with the order. He’s very friendly and helpful. Prices are reasonable when compared to the portions and quality of food offered. Butcher’s BBQ Joint is located in Mar Mikhael next to Train Station and Secteur.

20150826_203456 Merguez burger

20150826_203054 Green Salad


20150914_191013 Chocolate Waffles

Rating: 4/5

20 Things To Do In Tripoli – Lebanon (Part2)

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Tall via Budkheir

I’ve finally managed to compile the second part of the “20 things to do in Tripoli” series that I started a month ago. Eid Al Adha is around the corner so it’s the perfect time to head to Tripoli enjoy the sweets, do some sightseeing or take a boat trip to Rabbits Island.

If you missed Part1, check it out [here].

Tripoli is Lebanon’s second-largest city and despite being one of its poorest, it is rich in diversity and is a beautiful city to explore. There are always new places to visit and new things to do and a sense of community in the city. I’ve been going to Tripoli for 15 years or more and I discover a new thing to do or a new place to visit almost every time so I decided to compile all these activities into two blog posts based on my past experiences and a little help from my good friends and Tripolitans Natheer, Hayat and Zaher.

11- Visit The Old Train Station:

If you like trains and a bit of history, make sure to pass by the old railway station. The station is one of the oldest in Lebanon as it started operating more than 100 years ago and used to connect to Homs in Syria and Beirut’s central station in Mar Mikhail. Unfortunately, the station was abandoned in the 1970s by the Lebanese authorities and has become a museum ever since. In fact, it’s not exactly a museum as it’s not well maintained but there’s a local organization (The Mina Peace committee) that is planning soon a rehabilitation and beatification project for the train station area. I hope they revamp the station soon because there’s a lot of history in that place.

12- Old/Vintage Style Pubs in Mina:
Talk a walk down Mina and enjoy the old/vintage and new/modern style pubs where poetry nights and artistic gatherings are usually held. If we go back to the 60s, Tripoli had a vibrant nightlife with a lot of cafes, pubs and beach clubs open in the city but things have unfortunately changed since then. Currently, Tripoli’s nightlife is nothing like Beirut or other areas but there are still pubs mainly in Mina’s Dr. Raymond al-Labban Street (Minot Street) where one can order a drink and have fun with friends.

13- Old & New Fisheries in Mina:

El Mina occupies the location of the old Phoenician city of Tripoli and the harbor is the city’s most visited site. A good idea is to head there early in the morning and see the old and new fisheries where people gather to buy fresh and affordable fish. You can also watch fishermen working while having coffee and kaak in one of the many cafes.

14- Tripoli by Bike:
tripoli-lebanon-cycling4-600x450 via BikeRumor

Tripoli doesn’t have a bike trail but it’s one of the best ways to explore the city. You can roam the city, visit traditional and cultural sites, pass by the old souks and stop at local cafes along the coast. Café Moussa, which was recently rehabilitated by the Old Souk Committee is a must visit, the different markets (clothing, vegetable) which were also recently rehabilitated by Tebbaneh Youth Council after being damaged during previous clashes. There’s also the Hara Jdide and several other areas that were rehabilitated thanks to the initiatives of civic organizations and the increasing interest of civil society in preserving and the famous traits of their town.

There’s been a lot of events to help spread the biking culture, but it’s still not popular enough in the city, even though there’s a lot of traffic in Tripoli.

15-Public Gardens (King Fahed and others):

Tripoli is a densely populated city but there’s a decent number of green areas and public spaces, especially when compared to the ones in Beirut. The work of civic organizations is also here quite noticeable as they are rehabilitating old and abandoned public gardens and spaces like the one in Malloule (Youth in Tebbaneh) and a public garden in Abou Samra (Muslim Scouts). You will also find a lot of public gardens around the mosques and in the Tripoli Expo (Niemeyer’s Maarad).

16- The Cemetries:
cemetery via LuvLebanon

Cemeteries are usually well preserved in Tripoli and very well looked after, especially the British and French military graveyards in el Mina. There are even campaigns to rehabilitate and clean up the cemeteries, like the ones in Souk el Ameh by the Tebbaneh Youth Council. Most of the cemeteries are of course Muslim ones and you will find them in random places like in the Old Souks for example. There’s an organized chaos in these graveyards and around them that is a beautiful thing, to me at least.

17 – Places To Stay:

There aren’t that many places to stay in Tripoli, at least not to my knowledge but there’s one that comes highly recommended which is Beit el Nessim in Mina, and there’s another hotel called Quality Inn in Tripoli.

18- Damm w Farez, or Neo-Tripoli:

Damm W Farez is where you will find all the new fancy restaurants and cafes. If you want to grab a bite, smoke a Shisha or have a coffee, that’s the place to go. There are different cafes where you can relax after a long walk and the food is usually good at most of them. One of the famous cafes there is called Ahwak Ben Tafesh which serves good desserts.

19- Visit the Rabbit Islands/Palm Islands Nature Reserve:
The Rabbits Island is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage site and has been chosen as a special Mediterranean Protected Area under the 1995 Barcelona Convention. The “Rabbits” name is attributed to the large number of rabbits that were grown by the French on the Island in the 20th century. These Islands are quite amazing and some areas are accessible during the summer for swimming and snorkeling. There’s a ferry boat that transports visitors to the Islands.

20- Al Hallab Qasr el Helou:

You cannot go to Tripoli without visiting Qasr el Helou, one of Lebanon’s most visited Arabic sweets shop. Lebanese from abroad and outside Tripoli go to eat there. Kasr el Helou was founded in 1881 and is the ideal place to taste all sorts of Arab sweets. My favorites are the Halawet el Jeben and Mafrouke.


Two of the online sources I’ve used in these two posts are [Tripoli-City] and [WeLoveTripoli].

Beirut Hunger Strikers’ First Dish Is Mloukhieh

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I’m glad that the protesters have finally decided to stop their hunger strike. Their decision to go on an open-ended hunger strike was a brave one but badly timed in my opinion as it is a dangerous protest tactic that can result in death and should only be used as a last resort. They did prove however that the Environment Minister couldn’t care less about their lives (and our lives). In all cases, I’m glad all of them resume eating normally.

To end this post on a positive note, a woman called Jeanne D’arc Tarazian who lives in Dora overheard one of the hunger strikers say during the press conference that he woke up one day dreaming of a hot Mloukhieh dish, so she prepared a whole pot and headed to Martyrs Square asking for Hassan to serve him the Mloukhieh. How awesome is that :)


Eleven protesters who have been on hunger strike for two weeks to urge the environment minister to resign declared that they would resume eating as a result of “pressure” from from police and other activists.

In a news conference Thursday from their protest site in Downtown Beirut, Waref Sleiman, the group’s spokesperson, said police told him after his detention one day earlier that he would only be released if he and the others end their hunger strike. He added that their deteriorating health conditions also influenced their decision. [DailyStar]

20 Things To Do In Tripoli – Lebanon (Part1)

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Tripoli is Lebanon’s second-largest city and despite being one of its poorest, it is rich in diversity and is a beautiful city to explore. There are always new places to visit and new things to do and a sense of community in the city. I’ve been going to Tripoli for 15 years or more and I discover a new thing to do or a new place to visit almost every time so I decided to compile all these activities into two blog posts based on my past experiences and a little help from my good friends and Tripolitans Natheer, Hayat and Zaher.

1- Visit Tripoli Mina:
Mino Street Picture by Abir Kassem
Enjoy the beach and the kiosks lined up along the coast offering warm drinks and occasionally some delicious Tripolitan Ka’ak. Some of them even have chairs and tables to relax and enjoy the vast view. The old alleys in Mina in both Christian and Muslim neighborhoods, the architecture, the bright colors, the green everywhere. Restaurants in Mina that range from small no-seater sea food shops to big glamorous restaurants with fancy menus, mostly with sea food.

In this region, there are always visible aspects or events presented by the Mina Peace Committee. This organization aims to ameliorate the city on different levels, as well as encourage relationships between people in order to build a safer and more peaceful environment.

2- The potteries in Mina:
pottery Source
The potteries in Mina are considered to be the last in all of Lebanon. Unfortunately, there’s only one pottery out of these 3 that still makes its own clay these days (Abou George) while others buy the clay. I think the Ministry of Tourism should encourage and train artisans to preserve this tradition and keep the pottery trade alive.

3- The Hammams in old Tripoli:
The Hammams in old Trablos, the Turkish baths, with only one still working (Hammam al Abed) and three more open for visits. Hamman al Abed was built in the 17th century and its interior is quite impressive. Hamman Al Jadid is the largest and Tripoli’s best-preserved Hamman so make sure you visit it even though it’s not operational.

4- The big mosques and churches in both Trablos and Mina:
Picture by Natheer Halawani

The big mosques and churches in both Trablos and Mina, which are plenty. Usually mosques and churches share the same wall in mixed areas. Even streets in Muslim parts have names of saints, while others in Christian areas have Muslim names. The Great Mosque, Abu Baker Al Siddik Mosque, Al-Bertasi Mosque, the Taynal Mosque and The Cathedral of St George (Al Mina) are worth visiting. There’s also a church street where you can find the oldest Maronite church in Tripoli, St Micheal which was built in 1889. The oldest church in Tripoli is Saydet al Hara in Tabbaneh which dates back to the 13th century.

Taynal_Mosque2009a Typical of Mamluk architecture, the Taynal Mosque was built on the site of a ruined Crusader Carmelite Church – Picture via Wiki

5- The Old Souks:

The old souks that sell all sorts of merchandise: Vintage clothes, second hand clothes, soap, gold and silver, furniture, shoes, vegetables, fruits, fish & meat etc. It’s fun to walk around the souks and discover the hidden parts of the city.

For the past years, The Old souks committee (lijnat el aswak el Kadima) has been working on cheerful renovations, friendly environment ameliorations as well as fun outdoor performances in order to make the Old Souk a more enjoyable and peaceful visiting spot for all ages, especially children.


In addition to the heartwarming results caused by the old souk Committee, a band called “One Voice Team” has been nothing less than active in this northern city of Lebanon. Scared by the pain and the fear they see around them, this band of three musicians encourage the society around them through heartfelt gatherings with children of all ages, as well as, as you can see above, joyful painting of staircases across the city which aims to bring people together and make the environment friendlier.

6- The Citadel of Tripoli
Citadel The Citadel By Taha Naji
The Citadel is a huge castle that is 130 meters longs and 70 meters wide. It overlooks all of Tripoli and offers a great view of the city. The Tripoli Citadel includes an old hammam, three prayer houses, a jail, a stable for horses, wells, graveyards, 20 meter long towers and around 10 gates. The Crusaders, the Mamluks and the Ottomans occupied that citadel throughout the decades. [Source]

PS: The Lebanese Army has been using it as a base for security reasons but anyone can visit anytime.

7- The hidden mosques in old Trablos:
The hidden mosques in old Trablos, usually the entrance would be one tiny door not wider than 1 meter, but the interior is so fascinating and sometimes extremely large. You should definitely visit Al Muallaq Mosque “Hanging Mosque” that is set on top of an arched passageway and is only accessible by a flight of stairs. The Hanging Mosque was built by Mahmud ibn-Lutfi, Ottoman governor of Tripoli during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent.

8- The Soap makers:
The soap industry is considered as one of the oldest industries in Tripoli. Soap factories were essential to the city’s economy as they used to produce hand-made soap to supply the tens of Hammams. Khan Al-Saboun (Soap Khan) is a well known historical place and a popular market for olive and olive-oil based products which include soap of course. The Soap Khan was originally occupied by Yusuf al-Saifi, Tripoli’s Pasha back in the 17th century, but after Tripoli fell to Fakhr-ed-Din, the Ottoman garrison fled and the Khan stood empty and useless until it was turned into a soap factory and warehouse.

9- The MANY sweets shops:

There’s a pastry shop almost on every corner in Tripoli. Sweets shops/names are famous -each- for one or two types of sweets only. People from outside Tripoli usually go to Qasr el Helou (Hallab), which I will mention in Part 2, but Tripolitans prefer going to small shops and try each shop’s speciality, just as the Shmaysi at Haddad.

10- Niemeyer’s Maarad, or the Tripoli Expo.
Maarad Rashid 2 Maarad Rashid Karame By Hayat Chaaban
The Rashid Karameh International exhibition center may look like an abandoned place but it’s a breathtaking space designed by the famous Oskar Niemeyer. The Brazilian architect was chosen to design the Tripoli International Fair in the 1960s but he couldn’t finish his work due to the civil war. In 2006, the site was “added to the World Monuments Fund Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites after conservationists campaigned to preserve it when Tripoli’s chamber of commerce proposed turning into a tourist village theme park to be based on Disneyland. Its listing signifies the site’s historic importance, but does nothing to permanently protect it”. It’s quite an impressive “monument of architectural vision” that is totally worth visiting.

Maarad Rashid Karame Maarad Rashid Karameh by Rouham Hallab

Part 2 will be up in few days.

Eat Out During August To Help Treat Children Suffering From Cancer

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cccl eat ou

Eat Out For Life campaign is back this year and will take place from the 17th till the 23rd of August. Just by visiting any of the participating restaurants mentioned [here], a percentage of your bill will go to the Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon (CCCL) to contribute to the treatment of a sick child.

Some of the restaurants mentioned are: Crepaway, Brgrco, Pzzco, Clay, Gilt, BistroBar, Tavolina, Zaatar W Zeit, Yeh!, Centrale, Babel Bay, Pepe Abed and others.

You can read more about this initiative and check out the participating restaurants [here].

Salam Kahil: The Lebanese Sandwich Nazi

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When I posted about the Saadah restaurant offering food for free to poor and needy families in Beirut, I remembered an old post from 2012 about a Lebanese immigrant called Salam Kahil who was nicknamed the Lebanese Sandwich Nazi. This guy ran away from Lebanon aged 15, lived all over Europe before he settled in Vancouver where he runs a deli that makes “The Best Sandwiches in North America”. He’s bad mouthed, he makes nasty jokes, he greets all his customers by a page of rules and warnings but he’s hilarious. He’s also very generous and gives away free sandwiches to homeless people occasionally.

Most of them know that for all his bluster, he has a mile-wide generous side, notably bagging up food to hand out to the many down-and-out denizens of the downtown area each week. Between acts of charity and vulgarity, bits of personal history spill out: He ran away from his large, disapproving Beirut family at age 15, lived all over Europe, “took advantage of a lot of people” as a stud for hire (or sometimes for free, as when female acquaintances wanted a sperm donor without a husband attached), then entered a less illicit business when he “realized my beauty was fading” at age 29. Soon he’d built up a mini-empire of stores, but the hassle of managing employees (and worrying his antics might strike them as sexual harassment) prompted eventual reduction back down to a one-man, one-deli operation. [HuffingtonPost]

Check him out and be warned it’s NSFW :)



Al Saadah (Happiness) Snack: A Free Restaurant For The Poor And Needy In Beirut

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“Bonheur du ciel” is a newly open snack in Bourj Hammoud that opens from Monday till Friday and serves food for free to the poor and needy families. The food is provided by a renowned restaurant in Beirut and the snack can welcome up to 80 customers every day. Food is served by volunteers who welcome people from all races, sects and areas. Whenever the food is not enough, nearby snacks and restaurants rush to offer free meals as well.

I love this initiative and I hope that all popular restaurants in Lebanon will figure out a way to offer free food to the needy instead of throwing it away.


Check out this nice report by Nawal Berry:


Lebanon’s Mymouné Has Won Two 2015 Great Taste Awards!

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Mymouné has been preserving excellence since 1989 and collecting awards since 2005. They recently just won two Great Taste Awards for the year 2015: the Pomegranate Molasses (Gold – 2 Stars) and the Apricot Preserve (Gold – 1 Star). Great Taste Awards are often considered as the “Oscars of the food world” where 400 judges including specially trained food writers come together from all corners of the food world, and blind-taste in teams of 4 or 5 ensuring they get a balance of expertise, age and gender.

Winning A Great Taste award is a big deal and Mymouné totally deserves it. Their products are made the old Lebanese traditional and all their ingredients are handpicked and individually selected for the best possible taste. I love their Zaatar, their rose water and the bitter orange peels in sugar the most.


On a side note, I was at Mymoune’s 25th anniversary this year and I found out that you could mix Arak with شراب التوت (mulberry) and the outcome was quite amazing! I later on decided to have an Arak mixing session with my friend and talented cook Bethany Kehdy and she came up with 5 different Arak cocktails which I will be sharing soon.