Monthly Archives: July 2010

  • Moallem-Philippe-252x400

Braiding onions

Moallem Philippe, as he is called (moallem in Arabic means “master” or “teacher”) is a Lebanese farmer who is helping us out with our orchard;  a seasoned farmer with over 50 years of expertise in mountain agriculture,  I asked him what he was up to: ” I am going to braid the onions”, was […]

By |July 31st, 2010|Tips|14 Comments
  • potatoes-with-kammooneh-400x284

Potato salad, Southern Lebanese-style (Batata bel-Kammooneh)


Two people in the last 24 hours have had a similar answer to my question: What is the appeal of Lebanon for you?

A  24-year old Dutch man  answered: “I  love the warmth of the people; and I enjoy watching the crazy driving”.

A  50 year-old French man said: ” Beyond the warmth of […]

By |July 29th, 2010|Salty|30 Comments
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Turkish coffee in a jiffy


Whoever thinks that money is an essential ingredient for happiness has not met Elie, the owner of REEL, internet café in Deir el-Qamar, Lebanon.

I have always known Elie as a rather quiet, serious person; one night, I noticed a small  coffee machine and asked him about it; his face lit up; he got up […]

By |July 28th, 2010|Reviews|29 Comments
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Red Pepper and cheese flatbread


For every Lebanese expat, there is always the fond recollection of buying a kaak from a cart vendor, having him fill it up with zaataror picon cheese and savoring its crunchy, sesame-laden goodness on the go.

Ever-enterprising Lebanese have now commercialized this street food and one can stop at a kaak store and […]

By |July 27th, 2010|Salty|33 Comments
  • broad-beans-in-a-salad-400x290

Broad beans in basil dressing (Fassoulia bel-salata)


Here is the breakdown of our mountain residence household by nationality: mom and dad, Lebanese (2); cousins, Danish (6); moi, son and daughter, American (3); son’s buddy and co-worker, Dutch (1); staff, Filippino (3); gardener, Egyptian (1); brother, wife and kids, French/Lebanese (4).

As a result of this convoluted set-up,tempers have flared more than once; […]

By |July 26th, 2010|Salads|25 Comments
  • madfoone-on-grape-leaf-400x290

Bulgur pilaf with zucchini and green beans(Madfoonet bel koossa)


I left the house today at 2PM; I knew that Elie, owner of the  internet café closes shop  till 5PM due to lunch and siesta. I got in the car and drove the winding mountain roads, hoping for a lit internet sign somewhere.

I am now sitting in a restaurant in a village in the […]

By |July 25th, 2010|Salty|30 Comments
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Fig balls


In the summer when we trade the noise of Beirut for mountain noise, here is what we get:

A  rooster announcing  his activity  several times during the day  starting at 5 AM; coyotes howling plaintively  in the valley at 11 PM nightly; daily fireworks for reasons ranging from the latest soccer game to […]

By |July 24th, 2010|Sweets|19 Comments
  • molasses-flavored-rice-pudding-400x283

Rice pudding with geranium leaves (Muazzabeh)


Geraniums are very popular in Lebanon; even the most modest home will adorn its doorsteps or balcony with a pot filled with these cheerful flowers; as a kid, I would  secretly pluck  the petals of our potted geraniums with a girlfriend: the idea was to blot  them onto  our 10-year-old lips hoping to […]

By |July 22nd, 2010|Sweets|35 Comments
  • wild-zaatar-salad-400x263

Wild Zaatar salad


Wild zaatar, aka zaatar barrey or wild, is a variety of zaatar (oregano) found on the Lebanese countryside; not to be confused with the zaatar mix sold in stores as a dry spice mixture; this zaatar is  eaten with chopped onions and olive oil as a mezze item; pungent and velvety-textured,  it is very […]

By |July 21st, 2010|Salads|26 Comments
  • 2-slices-of-Porag-400x262

Armenian cheese pie (Porag)


Lebanon is made up of many cultures and  the Armenian community is  particularly interesting, rich in history and traditions; yet known only superficially by most people here who have lived for generations side by side  with Armenian-Lebanese.

This is one of  my first attempts at the wide wide world of Armenian pastry; the […]

By |July 20th, 2010|Salty|32 Comments