Category Archives: Food

Pop-up/Junkyard/YellowContainer closing down on November 10!

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Picture taken from Popup-Beirut’s [Facebook Page]

When I posted about the Junkyard back in August, I never thought I’d get so many people interested in visiting it and asking me about the place, not because I didn’t think it was a cool idea, but because I never imagined that many Lebanese would appreciate an innovative and crazy concept such as this one. These guys were so crazy they organized “Petanque” games every night starting 6 pm.

This being said, the Junkyard, also known as Pop-up Beirut, turned out to be a great idea but unfortunately a short-lived one as it will be closing down this week due to the weather but also as planned initially. So if you haven’t had the opportunity to go there yet, this week is your last chance. In fact, and in order to celebrate the last days of the POP-up, a series of Jam sessions is planned with some Lebanese artists, with all the profits going to a Lebanese NGO called Himaya (Against Child Abuse), which you can read about [Here].

You can check out the full program in the picture below:

A nice tribute to Le Castel

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Picture by Anthony Rahayel

I lived in Keserwan most of my life and most of my outings with friends as an adolescent were around Kaslik but I’d never go to Le Castel as it was a place for families or older people usually. Added to that, my parents would always take us outside Keserwan, usually Beirut or up to the mountains, on Sundays to have lunch. Nevertheless, I did end up going to Le Castel a few times in later years and I remember liking the food and the exquisite desserts.

This being said, and knowing that Le Castel closed down a few days ago, Mustapha from the BeirutSpring wrote a nice tribute about the place which I thought is worth sharing, specially that he used to be a loyal customer.

When I was a young child growing up in Tripoli, I used to believe that Beirut and Kaslik were the same place.

Ray7een 3a Beirut lyoum, “We’re going to Beirut today” was what our parents told us when they wanted to take us to Kaslik. In the early 90s the war was over but not quite so over. Things were safe enough to drive from Tripoli to Kaslik, but not safe enough to go all the way to Beirut, and Kaslik had everything.

Kaslik was the best place in the world. It had it all, the glitz, the shopping, the arcade games in Espace 2000, the movie theaters. It was unlike anything I saw in Tripoli back in those days; places with french names and women who dressed like in the movies. My adolescent self especially appreciated the ladies who sauntered around in short skirts and beachwear, a sight I had never seen in Tripoli. I was in heaven.

Le Castel

Le Castel is where my father and I would sit while my mother and sister did their all-day shopping marathons. I hated shopping, and so did dad. Le Castel was our refuge, our Kaslik home away from home. He would drink coffee, smoke his cigarettes and read Annahar. I would eat Chou à la Crème, watch the beach, the cars moving by, and stare at those strange and beautiful people. I had the best time, and this became a tradition.

Even when I grew up and started driving my own car, I didn’t stop going to Le Castel. In my drive from Tripoli to Beirut for university at the end of each weekend, Kaslik was conveniently located in the middle and Le Castel was where I had my break. I thought I was being more modern than my father because I read the International Herald Tribune instead of Annahar (the IHT came bundled with The Daily Star in those days), I also didn’t smoke and I drank cappuccino instead of espresso. Take that dad, I’m my own man now.

The end of an era

All those memories came rushing through my head when I read today that Le Castel has shut down. I was sad and melancholic, but I understood. In many ways, Le Castel resembles a Lebanon that no longer exists, a Lebanon where people lazily hung around, smoked, read real newspapers and payed outrageous amounts of money for coffee and pretentious patisserie.

It is easy to read too much into the demise of Le Castel. Old residents and cultural conservationists will bemoan merciless and vulgar gentrification and demand some sort of government assistance. The syndicate of restaurant owners will blame the smoking ban for killing the clientele and politicians and bloggers will blame the government for killing the economy.

But I’m not here to explain or to blame; I didn’t find any injustice in Le Castel’s sunsetting. All I wanted to say is that I had some very good time here, time that I hopefully will never forget. But life moves on, and I hope the new place will bring great new memories for a new generation. [Link]

Dulce n’ Banana

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The Smarties & Kit Kat Double Chocolate Birthday Cake

It was my brother’s day last week and I wanted to surprise him with an original cake, the Smarties & Kit Kat Double Chocolate Birthday Cake. It’s not really a cake but a nice idea, however I could not find anyone to do it for me before I was told about Dulce n’ Banana. It’s not a shop but just a Facebook page where you can order any cake/cookie/muffin you can think of. Everything is home-made and delicious. I already tried their muffins, a slice of the rainbow cake that one of my friends had ordered and the chocolate cookie shown in the last picture.

Rainbow cake

This idea of home-made cakes is still relatively new in Lebanon and people are not promoting it well even though it has a lot of potential. Having said that, Facebook is a very efficient and cost-effective way to kick off your business, specially that you can check out pictures and order without actually going there.

Last but not least, I was glad to know that they make apple and pecan pies. I ordered one of each and looking forwarding to trying them. I will let you know of the outcome since very few places in Lebanon make them.

For more information on Dulce n’ Banana, visit their Facebook page [Here].

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Magnolia Bakery opening soon

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I was at ABC Debayeh and I noticed that Magnolia Bakery is opening where Nestle Tollhouse used to be. I think thats really great since I stopped passing by Nestle Tollhouse once they stopped serving their chocolate chip cookies. Plus Magnolia Bakery has an amazing banana pudding and chocolate cheesecake swirl. Delicious, can’t wait.

Update: Turns out Najib already posted about this [Here]

Innocent by Al Rifai

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Innocent is a healthy snack consisting of sugar-free unsalted dry-roasted nuts. I only found out about it a week ago but it seems it’s been out for a while. It doesn’t taste that bad and is a great alternative to other salty or cholesterol-rich snacks.

Each bag costs 3000 Lebanese Liras.