Tag Archives: lebanon

Eating Light At Zaatar W Zeit

Zaatar W ZeitAfter another fruitful shopping day at Dunes Verdun I was craving some Zaatar W Zeit. So I headed down to the food court located on B2 and there it was in all its glory. But I’m still on my post-holiday health and calorie conscious resolution and though I tend to associate Zaatar W Zeit with their signature Lahme B3ajjine Man2ousheh and my all-time favorite Halloumi Bacon I wanted to give their Redefining Light menu a go. So here are my light recommendations if you still want to enjoy this classic urban eatery without sacrificing on taste and pleasure.

Zaatar w Zeit menu

Now I’ve made it no secret that I’m a huge fan Quinoa Tabbouleh, ZwZ’s own twist on the classic Lebanese tabbouleh but with quinoa instead of burghol. And having never been a fan of the original version, it allowed me to enjoy this fresh and light mix of parsley, tomatoes and onions with just the right amount of my personal favorite super food, quinoa. Mind you, replacing ingredients on the very traditional and profound source of national pride; the tabbouleh was a bold move for ZwZ, but it works so wonderfully, especially with the dressing, which consistently contains the perfect ratio of oil to lemon, one of the pillars of a successful tabbouleh.

Zaatar w zeit tabbouleh

I wanted to add some protein to my meal so I went for the Chicken Light wrap, it also pays homage to our popular chicken and garlic pairing; strips of roasted chicken with tomatoes, lettuce and pickles in a light aioli sauce bundled in a wholesome multi-cereal thin dough. So even though you’re actually having some dough, it’s not much compared to the usually heavy white one. So you have it and you don’t feel so bad, in fact, you hardly feel anything, since it sits so lightly in your tummy.

Zaatar  W Zeit cheese

And finally, the Guiltless Kafta, a much lighter take on the popular Mighty Kafta sans the mayo and cheese and instead wrapped also in a thin brown dough and light mustard sauce. It hits the spot especially if you favor their delicious kebab mix and like the name suggests, it’s not accompanied with the guilty feeling you get after you finish the original.

Zaatar w Zeit sandwhich

But whether you’re looking to keep things light or not, I have to insist you give their miniature dessert cups a try, since the portion is a controlled one. I recommend the Strawberry Cheescake but if you’re a fan of something traditionally Lebanese then go for the Vanilla Custard; crème brûlée the ZWZ way, over a layer of strawberry syrup topped with caramelized nuts, an absolute delight.

Zaatar W Zeit dessert

What I loved the most is that the ZWZ at Dunes Verdun is positioned as an express stand, so you can actually have your sandwich wrapped and to-go if you want to walk around with it in the shopping center or outside, or you can catch a movie right after at Empire Cinema also on the same floor.

Rating: 4.5/5

Casper and Gambini’s New Menu

Cannelle’s Finest Desserts

The Shogun Lounge

Prune French Bistro

Métropole Brasserie

SUD

BarTartine

Couqley

Golden Globes 2015 Best and Worst Dressed

The award season is finally upon us! And if you’re reading this too then you know the only award we’re interested in right now is the one on the red carpet. It’s been a cold winter and nothing is going to warm it up like some Hollywood couture and this Golden Globes was no exception. So many stars made it out and everybody was happy to give this fashion game a shot.

Here are my best and worst dressed

Diane Kruger Golden-Globes-Red-Carpet 2015

If this were fashion class Diane Kruger would always be that student with the full score. She never fails to embody that quintessential old Hollywood look and she nailed it again this year in this light silver metallic Emilia Wickstead gown. It fit her like a glove from the waist up and flowed so majestically down to that subtle train. She completed the look with those retro waves and a very natural contoured makeup and nude lipstick as not to compete with the shimmers on the dress.

Alison Williams Golden Globes 2015

Allison Williams was a beautiful surprise in this ruffled chiffon red Armani Privé. The off shoulder dress as you can see is intricately beaded on each layer also in red stones. She kept this super simple and was right to do so with just stud diamond earrings and again some more retro hair which we will see a lot of this year. This is most definitely one of her best looks to date and puts her on the best dressed list for this year.

72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

How amazing does Emma Stone look this year in Lanvin! I have not seen anything like this from anyone on the red carpet for years yet she manages to bring just the perfect amount of glitz and casualness to this look. I LOVED the strapless silver beaded bodice and the cropped trousers and the dramatic satin over-sized floor length bow that brings this pantsuit together. Add to that her tousled short hair and the strong smokey eye and statement violet red lip color and you’ve got yourself a red carpet champion.

.Lana-Del-Rey-Golden-Globes-Red-Carpet-2015

Lana Del Ray probably watched way too much Little Mermaid over the weekend because she decided to go as Arielle. Her turquoise pleated dress looks like it came from the dollar store and hair reminds me of a terrible middle school hair style I was hoping to forget. All that was missing with was little crab Sebastian by her side.

Noami watts golden globes 2015

She has earned her ranks s ared carpet royalty and this year was no exception. Noami Watts turned heads in canary yellow number by Gucci. But it wasn’t just the dress that got us talking but the way she daringly styled it with this one-of-a-kind statement diamond Bulgari snake necklace. I don’t think I would have given a second thought to this look had it not been for this piece. It all came so beautifully together. And if that wasn’t enough she completed the look with a dramatic red lipstick.

amal-clooney-Golden Globes

She was on a winning streak with her flawless wedding week attire, but I guess fashion crimes can happen to the best people. Amal Clooney looked like she was attempting to channel her inner Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s in this borderline boring Christian Dior Couture gown. But she managed to butcher it violently with these ill-fitted oversized white gloves that make her look like a little girl playing Cinderella goes to the ball. According to her husband George Clooney she sewed them herself. *face palm*

Juliane Moore

Julianne Moore brought the drama to the red carpet this year in this breathtaking Givenchy couture metallic beaded gown with a feather bottom and train. For her age, this gown was a huge risk but I’m so pleased she took it because she looks absolutely amazing. Her fiery hair was also perfection, the length and waves make me want to chop off mine too. And her makeup was also kept minimal. On my best dressed list.

KATE MARA GOLDEN GLOBES 2015

She usually brings so much fashion fire to the red carpet but sadly not this time. I wasn’t a fan of Kate Mara in this red Mui Mui dress this year. Although the bodice fit her nicely I’m afraid it was so meh on this usually dramatic dresser and the gold belt and ruffles reminded me of Santa Clause. Her hair added to insult to injury as I’m not sure what would prompt someone with that hair length to go for a half-up do. No major crime here but most definitely a fashion fail.

jennifer-lopez Golden globes 2015

 

Let’s talk about the vision that is Jennifer Lopez in this Zuhair Murad creation and mind you I’m not usually a fan of her obvious fashion choices. The dress from his Fall 2014 collection originally featured a plunging V-shaped neckline but leave it to Jennifer Lopez to give it that exaggerated cleavage factor. The gorgeous beaded gown featured a dramatic floor length cape that adds so much volume and drama. I would have loved to see this dress sans the thigh slit as I thought it was a bit of an overkill but all in all, this look is one of my favorites on her.

amy adams golden globes 2015

Here’s another lady who almost always gets its right. Amy Adams stunned in this custom made asymmetrical ultraviolet Atelier Versace dress. She accessorized it with Tiffany drop earrings and a diamond bracelet and kept her hair in a loose retro wave. Again the barely-there makeup look which was a huge trend on the red carpet this year.

helen mirren Golden Globes 2015

She’s 69, yet Helen Mirren was still able to look every inch the vintage Italian leading lady in this age-appropriate long sleeved Dolce & Gabbana dress. The neckline was encrusted with the fashion house’s signature stones and it hugged her amazing figure in all the right places and she paired it with big drop earrings. She also paid tribute to Charlie Hebdo with that pin broche on her right shoulder.

Felicity Jones

I love statement gowns that are risky without showing skin. That’s when you know someone really dared. And we owe it to Felicity Jones this year in this beautifully tailored Cerulean blue ball gown. I loved the full neck and structured feel of the dress, and she styled it impeccably with those vintage earrings and that side parted hairdo. Not anyone can pull this look off easily but she worked it.

Seinna Miller

I missed this lady and all the amazing trends she brings to the red carpet. Sienna Miller looked AMAZING in this meticulously detailed Mui Mui number. The crème silky creation featured a plunging neckline that connected at her midriff and the floral embroidery was an absolute delight to look at. But make no mistake, the only person that can pull this look is Sienna Miller especially with that ankle hemline but the bohemian princess does. One of my favorites of the evening.

Kerry Washington

At first, I had mixed feelings about Kerry Washington in this Mary Katrantzou off the shoulder gown but then I decided I don’t like it at all. Too many risks going on, mainly the awkward length, the pink and navy color blocking and the metallic texture. It makes this otherwise beautiful actress look short and frumpy and let’s not get started with the hair? What is going on there? You can’t pull the effortless bun on thick hair, it just looks unkept. I did however like her makeup.

kate beckinsale

Wearing Elie Saab to the red carpet is a no-brainer and Kate Beckinsale dazzled in this sequin light Elie purple-gray gown. She looked absolutely effortless down to the smallest detail and I absolutely adored her over-sized effortless bun.

.Keira-Knightley-Golden-Globes-Red-Carpet 2015

Keira Knightley makes it on my worst dressed list in this Chanel butterfly print dress. To be fair I can’t imagine this dress looking good on anyone, so I’m not sure why the pregnant actress thought she can pull it off. She looks like she is wearing an Amish nightgown from the 20s and the final blow was that matchy-matchy giant butterfly bracelet she accessorized it with. Terrible.

2014 Golden Globes Red Carpet

Oscars 2014 Red Carpet

Emmys 2014 Red Carpet

2013 Golden Globes Red Carpet

Oscars 2013 Red Carpet

Murex D’or 2014 Red Carpet

Murex D’Or 2013 Red Carpet

2012 Oscars Red Carpet

 

 

 

Le Royal Beirut Spa, A Piece of Paradise

Lebanon is not the most stress-free of cities to live in- and that’s putting it mildly. So every month or two, I make it a point to treat my man and I to a spa day, where we both take a good hour or so out of our busy schedules to turn off our phones and brains and just surrender ourselves.

Le Royal Hotel and Resorts Spa Pool

My next spa stop escape happened to be at Lebanon’s luxurious hotel; Le Royal Beirut, a five star mammoth complex perched on a towering hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean Sea just 15km from Beirut.

The award winning spa is not like many you’ll come across and an incredibly huge operation, stretching out over an astounding 3-floor complex covering 3.5000 m2. It also boasts a magnificent indoor swimming pool that’s looks like something out of a Roman fable, fit for royalty with botanical vines twisted across grandiose pillars looking out at the sea, surrounded by relaxing area to unwind after a treatment or fitness session.

Le Royal Hotel and Resorts Spa Pool 2 ivy says

We were signed up for the duo Candle Massage, but first our lovely therapists escorted us to our changing rooms fully equipped with saunas and Jacuzzis intended to help us wind down before the treatment. Everything we needed was in our customized lockers waiting for us.

Le Royal Hotel and Resorts Spa Pool 2 ivy says spa 9Le Royal Hotel and Resorts Spa Pool 2 ivy says spa

After getting comfortable in our Le Royal robes, we made our way to our private massage room where the candle oil that would be used in our massage was melting into a perfect pool of massage oil and the entire area smelled of a natural fragrance that engaged our senses to the point of ultimate relaxation.

Le Royal Hotel and Resorts candle wax

The lights went off and the room was now only lightly dimmed by candle light, as our therapists administered a blend of soothing oils and warm waxes to deeply moisturize, nourish, soften and hydrate our skin. For the next 90 minutes we each drifted to our own thoughts and zen states, as our bodies released all the built-up tension and our therapists worked their magic.

Le Royal Hotel and Resorts Spa Pool 2 ivy says spa 7

Following our massages we were offered some herbal tea in a very stylishly-tiled oval shaped relaxation zone as we watched other guests about to embark on similar treatments before we headed out for some more down time in the Jacuzzi.

Le Royal Hotel and Resorts candle wax massageLe Royal Hotel and Resorts Spa Pool 2 ivy says spa 78

Le Royal Hotel and Resorts Spa Pool  ivy says spa

It comes as no surprise that Le Royal Hotel and Resorts Beirut was awarded with the title of 2014 Leading Spa Award as well as the certificate of Excellence from Travel Advisor. The place is nothing short of world class luxury and the staff leave a lasting impression with their attentiveness, professionalism, friendliness. This makes it on my top Must-Try Spa recommendations for 2015.

More Reviews:

Four Seasons Beirut Spa

Ivy Reviews Bioskinspa

Shiseido Day Spa

New Year’s Eve Nails by Beauty Express

Sombré Hair By Georges El Mendelek

A Night at O Monot Boutique Hotel

A Night At Monte Cassino Hotel

 

The 7 Highly Unprofessional Habits of Retail Employees in Lebanon

I don’t mean to start the new year with a rant but I’m afraid I must. We all know the Lebanese economy has seen better days, so it baffles me that customers are being treated like a nuisance. Yup, it almost seems as though shop assistants and at times assistant managers have left their basic training behind and instead decided to show us how they really feel about our business; not much. In fact, we’d be doing them a favor if we just got lost. If you’re shaking your head and thinking “oh no not MY business” think again. Everyone’s doing it from the largest retailers in the world to stand alone stores.

 

1) No greeting. Basic right? Gone are the days where the shop keeper or sales assistant would acknowledge you with a simple hello. Ironically, they now give YOU a look as though you’re the one who’s supposed to welcome them into their own store and that’s IF they’re not ignoring you.

pout

2) When the shop assistant tails you to fold and arrange the items you merely touch, but not once asks you if you need any help. In fact you almost hear her grunt in annoyance. She couldn’t give it two minutes until you were at least away from the stand to rearrange it.

really

3) The triumphant “we don’t have your size.” You could swear you almost see a smile. As though they’re relieved that they don’t have to lift a finger. No backroom double check or cross-sell. They may as well just tell you, “now LEAVE!”

bitch

4) The changing room assistant that demands you bring back all the clothes and hangers when you’re done. This has evolved from a courteous request to a conditional downright barking order. I like to catch them off guard by asking them if they would like for me to leave what I’m doing and help them hang and put the piles of clothes away.

angry funny

5) When you realize you have the wrong size and ask the changing room assistant to bring you the right one. She may as well just spit in your face.

what!

 

6) The security guard who doesn’t inform you that he’s about to check your bag but simply signals you to open it up and then shoves his grubby hands inside as though he can find anything like that. I understand our security concerns but let’s take a moment to reflect on the effectiveness of this practice.

rage

7) That moment when you just completed your purchase and don’t get a mere thank you. Instead, you’re the one thanking the cashier who remains silent at this point. And then you ask yourself, “Wait? Did I just thank them for allowing me to spend my money at their store?” Damn straight you did!

you failed

New Year’s Eve Nails by Beauty Express

ivy says new years eve nails china glaze

For my last pampering session of 2014, I wanted to get festive New Year’s nails that will go with my celebration outfit. So after some shopping I headed over to the newly opened Beauty Express branch at  Dunes Verdun to do just that. Beauty Express is a full service beauty institute across Lebanon that offers everything from facials, to makeup art and nail care. They also happen to be the exclusive distributors of China Glaze and Le Ciel, a French brand I tried for the first time and loved, so you can imagine what a range of colors I had to choose from.

photo 5

My aesthetician Sandy who also happens to be Beauty Express’s professional nail design artist started me off with a luxurious manicure followed by a soothing hand massage. She explained to me that in order to achieve perfectly polished nails and best results, it was vital nails were perfectly manicured first.

new years nails beauty express

But before she began painting my nails she applied a coat of their customer- favorite Le Ciel Ultra Hardener.

le ciel

I chose a color palette of hot red, black, white and silver glitter from China Glaze and Le Ciel. The base would be China Glaze’s Rouge Baiser and Liquid Leather.

photo 4

Next the fun began. Sandy carefully hand crafted two feline designs on my ring fingers, the first a cute black cat with big eyes and a diamond collar and the second, silver and white paws on a base of black.

nail  designphoto 1new years ivy nails

I have to say I’m absolutely obsessed, I already have a long list of designs I’m hoping to have done at Beauty Express soon and I promise to be sharing them with you. Also make sure you ask for Ivy’s Choice at their Dunes Verdun branch to get this design. Happy 2015!

ivy says new years eve nails

 

An Essie Affair

Holiday Makeup Must Haves from Beauty Concept

Benefit Gimme Brow Voluminizing Fiber Gel

Yves Saint Laurent Makeup Step-By-Step Review

 

 

Ivy Reviews: The Shogun Lounge

If there’s something I love more than shopping, its shopping and sushi together, in the same place. So after doing some heavy Christmas retail therapy at Dunes Verdun on Tuesday I headed over to dinner at The Shogun Lounge, my favorite sushi spot in Verdun located on the 1st floor of the mall.

the showgun lounge dunes 9

There are many things I love about this place besides just the sushi. For starters, the authentic Japanese ambiance which has garnered its fair share of loyal neighborhood regulars who dine there on a weekly basis. The friendly waitresses are sharply dressed in beautiful traditional Japanese kimonos and the sushi chefs behind the bar look like a scene right out of Tokyo- a thing I really miss at the newer lot of sushi joints popping up all over the city. I also appreciated how knowledgeable and mindful staff were about the menu, walking us through our selections meticulously and most importantly, patiently.

the showgun lounge dunes 8

We began with the Crunchy Salmon Salad, this has to be by far one of the best I’ve had in Lebanon; diced generous chunks of salmon sashimi in a fantastic spicy mayonnaise sauce with flakes of crunchy panko topped with nori.

the showgun lounge dunes 7

But the Shrimp Tempura was beyond perfection, fried golden succulent giant shrimps fried just right. The combination of crunchy warm batter on the exterior with the soft shrimp inside dipped in the hallmark thin sauce, was absolutely delightful.

the showgun lounge dunes 5

Their sushi selection was quite original and since we were feeling experimental, we went for the Fuji Maki, something I hadn’t tried before; savory cooked salmon in a spicy sauce with rice, nori and sesame, which I totally recommend. the showgun lounge dunes 4We also tried the delicious signature and my personal favorite Shogun Lounge Salmon; a layer of rice and nori topped with smaller diced salmon sashimi bits. The Sheyen Special Maki did not disappoint, and although I’ve had shrimp tempura maki many times before, this one was actually topped with a thin slice of salmon sashimi which I thought added a lovely touch to this otherwise classic roll. Last but not least we had the scrumptious Shogun Maki a lovely mix of crab and shrimp.

the showgun lounge dunes 2the showgun lounge dunes 1

And of course no Japanese meal is complete without a wonderfully seared cut of tenderloin marinated in a teriyaki sauce to share. I like my meat cooked medium-well with just a hint of pink. The stir-fried spinach and fresh mushrooms were the ideal side dish for this plate.

the showgun lounge dunes 10

Price: A meal for two like this (20 pieces of sushi in total) with soft drinks will cost you an average of $65 per person which in my opinion is very reasonable considering The Shogun Lounge is considered an upscale sushi restaurant.

Verdict: You can’t go wrong. The place definitely continues to earn its spot as one of the most reputable and iconic sushi lounges in Beirut and the best part is if your friends don’t like sushi, they serve a full blown Chinese menu.

 

Casper and Gambini’s New Menu

Cannelle’s Finest Desserts

 

 

 

Christmas 2014 Gift Guide For Him and Her

Each year I know many of us draw a blank when we think of all the Christmas gifts we need to buy. It’s getting harder and harder to get more original and special ones so I’ve complied a gift guide that may just give you some ideas of what’s new for both him or her. So if you’re someone’s secret Santa or you’ve got someone who’s quite hard to please here’s my 2014 list in no particular order and with varying budgets.

sheen casio

SHEEN is Casio’s brand new watch for the ladies. The SHEEN series features exquisite materials such as titanium, ceramic, sapphire glass, leather and SWAROVSKI elements depending on a person’s style. I personally love it because it has that vintage classic Casio feel and can actually be dressed down or up easily with any look. You can find the SHEEN at all Sundial stores in Lebanon and win a gift here

The Comic Art of Guillermo Forchino

If you love comic strips and cartoons in a 3 Dimensional way, then you will love  The Comic Art of Guillermo Forchino.  These fully handmade and hand painted works of art are meticulous in detail with each figurine and scene telling satirical story complete with characters and a plot. It’s a collectors haven with different series (The Professionals, The Vehicles etc) and limited collections. I personally chose this hilarious rendition called “The PlayBoy” which tells the story of Calolo Oviedo who meets the young gold digger Delma and does the impossible for her to feel young and alive again. The Comic Art of Guillermo Forchino opened its first point of sale at Virgin Megastorelast month.

opuim by ysl

The recently released Black Opium by Yves Saint Laurent is one of my favorite fragrances to date, derived from its 1977 classic Opium perfume, this one highlights the dark and mysterious side of the brand and trust me when I say smells just as good as it looks.  It has notes of coffee, pink pepper, orange blossom, jasmine, vanilla, patchouli and cedar and is one of those fragrances that lingers even after you’ve left the room.

moto 360

The MOTOROLA Moto 360 Smart Watch. This was supposed to be a birthday gift for my man, but getting my hands on one was more of a challenge than I had imagined. It was only released in limited quantities online initially and sold out in a just a few hours and hasn’t made it to Lebanon quite yet. It’s actually a surprisingly stylish smart watch that syncs with your Android device to become a second (touch) screen where you receive emails, whatapps and all sorts of cools apps. Better yet it takes voice commands so you can even reply to conversations by simply talking to your watch. My man’s smitten and I’m coercing him into writing a detailed review here after he’s spend some more time with it next month.

lacoste show 2

Since I was a merely a toddler, Lacoste polos have always been a classic staple in my closet. But to be honest, I rarely ever wear them during the winter as I’ve never bought a long-sleeved one. Lacoste Lebanon recently held a Winter 2014/2015 fashion show I attended with some friends and we all wore these new Stretch Knit Long Sleeve Polos which I’ve come to love under sweaters in this crisp weather. You can visit them at their ABC Ashrafieh branch to find this style in many colors.

octop 3

Meet OCTOP- 3, a smart new floor and table lamp design as part of prominent architecture and design firm id.beirut’s  2014 collection and their quest to add some light and warmth into our houses. I love the innovative and modern take of their unique designs and you can find this fixture and more at their showroom.

share a coke

One of the best campaigns of 2014 is Coc aCola’s Share a Coke campaign that allows you to customize your own can of coke. I think most of us have by now received one or sent one to a friend. And it just happens that the colors go perfectly with Christmas theme. My #BFFB Najib from Blog Baladi surprised me with this cute one that symbolizes our friendship. This would make the perfect secret Santa gift.

Absolut Vodka

I love how ABSOLUT VODKA gets so creative with it’s bottle designs and this season is no exception.Take a look at the Andy Warhol edition out now. The iconic Warhol first created original artwork for ABSOLUT in 1986, and this design was inspired by that painting.  It’s the perfect bottle to take along to the endless dinner gatherings and pot lucks this Christmas. I was lucky enough to get this lovely kit and you can win your own here’s how