Category Archives: Food

20 Things To Do In Tripoli – Lebanon (Part1)

Posted By :

Tripoli

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:
Hammam-al-jadid-119-nn
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.

stairs

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:
mosque
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:
Saboun
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

Posted By :

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

Posted By :

ns

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 :)

[YouTube]

[YouTube]

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

Posted By :

snack

“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.

price

Check out this nice report by Nawal Berry:

[YouTube]

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

Posted By :

mymoune

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.

mymoun12

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.

20150607_125336

Roadster Diner Unveils The Black Burger

Posted By :

20150806_182356

Roadster Diner is taking bizarre fast food in Lebanon to new heights with their latest burger “The Black Burger”. For a limited time starting tomorrow, Roadster will offer a burger with a black bun. Of course black burgers is not a new thing worldwide as they were introduced a couple of years back in Japan by Burger King and McDonald’s but it’s the first time a restaurant serves it here in Lebanon and I had the chance to try it out this afternoon before its launch tomorrow.

I didn’t really know what to expect honestly and I have to admit the burger wasn’t very appealing when I first got it but it was actually quite good and the black bun was softer and tastier than the original one. The bun also looked like a cake or a brownie from the inside which was pretty weird. The patty was soft and juicy with the melted cheddar on top, the sauce was quite good even though it had onions, which I don’t like and I didn’t think the tomato was needed inside. I will probably add fresh mushrooms next time.

Of course you are all wondering how did they manage to get a black bun? Well I asked RD and they told me its natural coloring that’s totally harmless or as Minister Bou Faour would say مطابق lol! Overall, I think it’s a nice idea and I love the slogans they chose for this campaign. The “Because You Can’t Enjoy Black Ops mission with an innocent burger” is quite hilarious and there’s one slogan that’s GOT-related that will be revealed tomorrow.

20150806_182402

20150806_182947

20150806_181426

BiBayti: A Cool Concept Launching Soon In Lebanon

Posted By :

bibayti

Bibayti is basically a website where you go in, select your menu and a chef and then a team will come to your house, cook and serve your guests, and leave your kitchen as if untouched. I think this is a great idea, especially when you wish to invite people over and don’t want to spend hours shopping and cleaning the kitchen and the table afterwards. Needless to say, the idea is not a new one and I’m sure catering companies already offer this service but this is the first time I hear of such a service being offered online in Lebanon which is pretty cool.

I’m planning an early dinner this Saturday with the bibayti team so I will let you know how it goes. Until then, you can check out updates on their [Facebook] page.

[YouTube]

Review: BRGRCO, Still My Favorite Burger Joint, Now Open At ABC Achrafieh

Posted By :

20150716_174703

I often brag about Brgrco and recommend it to all my friends but I’ve never done a proper review of that place surprisingly, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to do that especially that Brgrco just opened its third branch in Beirut at ABC Achrafieh. Brgrco has been my favorite burger joint in Beirut for almost 4 years now and I have yet to find a better place even though I’ve tried many, if not most of the burger places in town.

So what makes Brgrco so special?

1- Simple Burgers, Prime grain-fed Angus Beef & High-Quality Ingredients:
WP_20140428_17_21_01_Pro

Brgrco is all about the meat. The patty is 100% grain-fed Australian Black Angus beef, cooked on real charcoal grills without any sauces, spices or artificial flavors. The bigger the patty is, the juicier and more flavorful it is. All burgers are served medium and a couple of signature burgers are best served medium-rare. When I order Hussein Haddid’s signature burgers like the Butcher’s Cut, I don’t even ask for cheese on top and as I just want to enjoy this thick piece of meat served on its own. If you don’t like your meat medium or medium-rare, you can always have it well-done but you’d be ruining the burger and the whole Brgrco experience in my opinion. Of course you can add whatever you want to the burgers (pork bacon included) but I’ve never asked for anything except cheese on top.

2- Fries, Cheese Fries, Parmesan & Truffle Fries:
20150720_173113

Not every potato makes it to be Brgr.co fries. I don’t know how they pick their potatoes but their fries are quick amazing and the cheese they use on top makes them even better. Parmesan and truffle fries are a must-try!

20150716_174845

3- Redefining Gourmet Burgers & Always New Menu Items:

Every now and then, there’s a new exciting gourmet burger at Brgrco. The ones that I know of are The Raclette BRGR which is served during winter, the “Café De Paris” Burger, which consists of a fat and juicy medium-rare patty topped with a special butter-based complex sauce with over 12 ingredients and a fresh soft bun with a bit of Dijon mustard spread on it, The Falafel BRGR, the Truffle BRGR which I’ve never tried and the newly introduced Stroganov BRGR. My favorites are the Raclette and Café De Paris.

Café de Paris BRGR

Aside from burgers, Brgrco introduced last summer lobster rolls imported from Maine and Nova Scotia and boiled on a daily basis. It’s the perfect add-on to your main dish and it’s also the best lobster roll I’ve tried in Beirut.

20150112_180331

4- The Desserts:
IMG_7672

Make sure you always leave room for dessert when you’re eating at Brgrco. The Cheesecake pudding, The Banoffee cream cheese pudding, the toffee date pudding and the malted rich soft chocolate ice cream are all great choices. My favorite right now is the malted rich soft chocolate ice cream.

IMG_7684

IMG_7727

5- The Atmosphere, The Service & The Friendliness of the Staff
20150720_172119

Every time I’ve been to any of the Brgrco branches, the staff was friendly, the service was impeccable and our food was ready in less than 15 minutes. More importantly, the quality and taste are always the same. The venues, especially the ABC Achrafieh one, are also very cozy, the music is nice and the cleanliness is showing. I remember having two minor complaints over the past 3 years which were resolved quickly and on the spot. Also, smoking is forbidden inside. Price-wise, some may argue that the place is expensive but if you truly compare the quality of meat and service that you are getting vs popular diners and fancy restaurants that serve gourmet burgers, you will realize it’s pretty much the same if not less.

20150716_183706

Let’s not forget the cows of course, which are showcased in all BRGR.CO restaurants and are pretty cool. There’s also a small cow that I decorated and that is on display at Brgrco Sodeco branch. If you ever go there, check it out as there’s BlogBaladi written all over it.

All in all, these are the reasons why I appreciate Brgrco and why I keep coming back there. I have friends who fell in love with the place and others who just didn’t like the idea of having medium or medium-rare burgers. For me, burgers are all about the quality of the meat and I’m not interested in bulky burgers with burned patties, or low-quality meat topped with a zillion ingredients.

Brgrco is now located in L3 at ABC Achrafieh.

Seven Sisters: Beirut’s Newest Nightlife Venue Is Opening Tonight!

Posted By :

GOPR8633_1437495583740_high

The hottest nightlife destination this summer in Beirut is Seven Sisters and it’s opening tonight. I passed by the venue yesterday for a sneak peek visit and it’s a pretty cool concept at an ideal spot in Beirut Waterfront next to O1NE and Garten. Seven Sisters is basically an outdoor garden, a sort of green island in the skyscraper-packed capital where you can enjoy sunset drinks, listen to loungy music or a live-band, party on the weekends or even enjoy a good Sunday brunch.

Speaking of food, Seven Sisters are very keen on the food they are offering and the owners told me they will have an international menu, live cooking with Chef Danny Khairallah and a BBQ station, a show kitchen as well as a Sashimi station by Le Sushi Bar. They want their Sunday brunches to be memorable and they are working hard to achieve it.

I think this place has a lot of potential and I’m in love with the concept. It’s always a great idea to add some grenery to the city and I’m glad they are focusing on the food as it’s usually a weak point in most nightlife venues. I unfortunately missed out on the opening tonight but I’m going there for drinks sometimes this week and I’m definitely trying their Sunday brunch.

Here are few sneak peek pictures to show you how the venue looks like:

GOPR8645_1437495583740_high

GOPR8643_1437495583740_high

20150721_191558

20150721_191445

GOPR8637_1437495583740_high

Sound of Monte-Carlo will be playing on Sunday at Seven Sisters. You can check out more info [here].