Tag Archives: lebanon

Ivy Reviews: Prune French Bistro

prune

I just returned from a much needed 9 day stint in Europe, namely Paris and I can honestly say that I like (dine-in) French food in Lebanon more than French food in France and yes I’m generalizing.

The bar was set pretty high during a pre-trip dinner at Prune with friends, a relatively new French Bistro that set up shop in Mar Mikhael. You can call Prune cozy or you can call it tiny, both French characteristics, perhaps intended. So reservations don’t come easy and even when they do, don’t expect leg space. Nevertheless, it adds to the charm of this busy joint even on a Monday night. I didn’t know what to expect as I didn’t do much research on Prune online but I enjoyed the mystery of it all.

We started things off with a ruby red bottle of Domaines des Tourelles, one of my favorite Lebanese wines, fruity and subtle a perfect companion for red meat.

of Domaines des Tourelles,  Prune

The menu features many classic dishes one would expect a French joint to serve and every now and then the star prune makes an appearance on the menu such as the Chevre, prunes en compote, the Foie gras et chutney de Prune and the Poulet aux Prunes.

We settled for the Salade King Crab fenouil, a generous serving of succulent and fresh-as-can-be shredded crab, none of that fish imitation rubbish you’d usually expect, on a bed of crisp fenouil soaked in a delectable olive oil, lemon and what felt like paprika or sumac dressing. It was by far the best crab salad I’ve had since moving to Lebanon. And though it will set you back 38,000 LL,  worth every lira.

Prune Bistro King Crab salad

Next, we shared the Calamars et pouples grilles. I like it when calamari tastes and feels like chicken and this one did, though my friend found it a tad over-spiced. It came with a side of more fenouil and parsley.

Prune Bistro Calamari

The waiter lured us into a breaded oven cooked Australian fillet, part of Prune’s daily special, but apologized profusely minutes later when he was informed by the chef that there were none left. I was glad that happened or else I wouldn’t have had Prune’s Award Winning Steak Frites (38,000LL), yes, I’m giving them an award for that dish, because this is not some marble piece of faux filet or bavette steak, this steak felt, tasted and fell apart like a prime filet mignon coupled with a creamy sauce unlike anything I’ve had before. It’s one of those things that you’ll remember each time you have a craving for a great steak in Beirut.

Steak Frites Prune Bistro

My friend had the signature Poulet aux Prunes (36,000), a very generous portion of chicken breast in a hearty comforting sauce with prunes. This dish was a perfect companion on a cold winter night though in my opinion it was missing a much needed side of carbs such as a soothing fluffy portion of mashed potatoes that I think would go wonderfully with it.

Poulet Prune Bistro

I’m ashamed to say we didn’t have any dessert, it was late in the evening and Pain Perdu isn’t exactly good for the thighs before bed, Anthony from No Garlic No Onions describes it as one of the best he’s had in Lebanon to date. I’ll definitely be heading back to try out a selection of Prune’s desserts.

Prune is about that true gastronomic experience, giving you that lovely Parisian bistro feel but with fantastic food and great service. It’s about time something of this caliber showed up.

The Prices: Dinner for 4 with bottle of wine $200

The Verdict: One of the best (if not the best) French Bistros in town

More Restaurant review HERE

 

 

About these ads

Ivy Reviews: Sydney’s at Le Vendôme Beirut

sydneys table

Perched atop of Le Vendôme’s glassed rooftop is Sydney’s, one of Beirut’s longstanding hotspots following a recent refurbishment .

Home to stunning unrivaled views overlooking Beirut’s glistening Manara strip, this upscale yet warm spot caters to all tastes; private luxurious lounge areas for the Cuban cigar aficionados, a grandiose oak bar complete with a rare selection of cognacs and malt whiskies and a collection of the sassiest cocktails in the city for someone like me. Sydney’s has also managed to attract almost every foodie in town and rightfully so, all thanks to its diverse international menu featuring some universal favorites, from tacos to tenderloins .

photo 31

Last Wednesday my man and I were treated an unforgettable four course meal that courted our taste buds and challenged our intake capacity.

The Drinks

photo 1

We kicked things off with two of Sydney’s 7 Wonder Cocktails. My man who’s a big fan of mojitos had the fabulously refreshing Apple Mojito made with Zapaca rum and apple sour liqueur while I went with an obvious choice, the Earl Grey Fizz a genius mix of homemade tea syrup and Yellow Label Veuve Cliquot, both spot-on.

photo 2

We nibbled on some complimentary Edamame and Grissini as we sipped on our drinks.

The Food

For starters we shared Sydney’s Burrata served with juicy Heirloom tomatoes and basil, it was just right, the outer shell was a nice firm Mozzarella with a soft rich and creamy textured interior.

photo 3

We also had the lovely Lentil salad with some string beans and asparagus in a balsamic dressing and the Fresh Artichokes and String Bean salad, a combination we both never had before, it was an interesting first, with the grilled cauliflower and fried white onion rings though I wasn’t a big fan of the chestnuts.

Next we had two signature dishes that put Sydney’s on the map, the first being the succulent Raviolis de cèpes, with grilled wild pleurotes in a delectably rich mushroom sauce.

photo 4

It paved the way for the best, yes the BEST authentic club sandwich in the city. Layers of juicy sliced chicken, crisp bacon, hard boiled eggs with a secret basil mayonnaise sauce in 3 pairs of toasted cereal bread and a side of Parmesan fries.

photo 1As for mains we shared the Beef Tenderloin fit for a king and grilled to absolute perfection, seared on the outside and just perfectly pink and supple on the inside with a side of fresh vegetables and an exquisite sauce.

photo 3photo 4photo 5

We also split the Pan-fried Salmon with coucous and white organic quinoa salad served with a dollop of pesto sauce. The salmon was lovely but all in all this entire dish was slightly plain and dry for my liking, I tend to enjoy this particular fish drenched in sweeter sauces.

photo 2

The Dessert

photo 3

Dessert presented a dilemma; we couldn’t get ourselves to eat a sight so pretty. So for a while we just stared. I finally gathered the courage to dip my spoon and crack into the Strawberry Comfit Crème Brûlée Tartlet that tasted it exactly how it looked. Decadent.

If you love caramelized pineapples and real vanilla ice cream don’t miss out on the The Pinapple Feuillette.

photo9

And finally Sydney’s innovative take on the Baba au Rhum, two cute little babas generously soaked in none other than Cointreau and served with fluffy whipped cream.

photo 2

The Service

Impeccable. Customer is still king at Sydney’s. Yes, most five star establishments are renowned for their grade A service but let’s just say Le Vendome goes that extra mile; attentive staff, well-rounded waiters who tend to your every need without making you even feel they’re there and a whole hearted smile from just about everyone.

The Prices

Now here’s the part that will surprise you. The prices are reasonable to the extent where an appetizer costs roughly the same as it would in any mid-range restaurant in Beirut such as Casper and Gambini or Metropole, except this is one of Lebanon’s most exclusive 5 star hotels. Nothing that would break bank. The lentil salad or quinoa for example goes from (23,000 to 28,000LL) while pasta or risotto costs between (28,000 and 36,000) and the salmon is 49,000. A meal for two with appetizers and drinks can cost anywhere from 60$ to $75 per person.

The Verdict

Lives up to it’s hype and exceeds exceptions. I’m looking forward to trying out their popular brunch as well.

Enjoyed this review? Click here for more

 

 

 

 

 

An Apology Letter To Jackie Chamoun

jackie

Dear Jackie,

I’m a little late to this party, I was abroad amidst the #StripForJackie craze that took Lebanon by storm last week and was too busy to chime in on all that boob business. Actually I made the decision not to take this opportunity to jump on the “let’s milk Jackie” bandwagon. You see I too hail from this backward region we call home and understand:

1) How hard it is to be a fully dressed woman let alone a semi-naked one in the Middle East

2) Just how truly judgmental people can be, so I thought I’d be doing you a favor by just letting this “scandal” pass.

But this incident didn’t just pass, it’s went viral. I can’t hold my silence anymore, so instead I want to apologize to you on behalf of the Republic of Primates, you know the schizophrenic country we like to call Lebanon, the one we’ve been priding ourselves for years for being “The Paris of the Middle East” or for making it on some foreign media’s list of “Top World Destinations” But let’s not kid ourselves this type of moral prosecution shows that we’re no better than the Taliban or Muslim Brotherhood, in fact maybe even worse, at least they’re not pretending to be Paris.

We named and shamed you and even publicly prosecuted you like you’ve committed some sort of national honor crime, even the Minister of Youth and Sports felt compelled to take part in this character assassination by calling upon Lebanese Olympic officials to investigate your actions. How dare you expose your breasts in a public space three years ago and think you can get away with it?  Perhaps a flogging or stoning would have been in order.

And though I was impressed with the swiftness, humor and creativity of Lebanese brands and agencies (A for effort guys)  and while I understand that some of their intentions were to show solidarity with you I thought they did you more harm than good. Here’s why:

This is not YOUR cause. You never signed up for it, it chose you. You never thought that posing in nothing but a thong and ski boots for a calendar would suddenly make you the poster child for liberalism in your country. Actually you apologized, expressed your frustration and asked us to move on and focus on the sport. We didn’t.

What we did do instead is insist on using your name (which I’m sure caused you a huge amount of anguish and stress) as the determining reference in this debate. Liberals use you as a yardstick for progressiveness while conservatives vilified you. You on the other hand were busy training for the upcoming Olympic Games.

So I’m sorry,  please accept my apology on behalf of everyone, the people who condemned you, the government that singled you out and the brands and campaigns that used you.

Oh and Good Luck in the Sochi Olympic games.

Ivy

Ivy Says is Special Magazine’s Beautysta of the Month

For February’s issue, I had the pleasure of getting selected as Spécial Magazine Beautysta of the month. In this interview (in French) I share some of my beauty DO’s and DON’T’s and makeup tips and tricks, favorites products and more!  Take a look and don’t forget to grab your copy.

Dana BeautystaClick on the image to enlarge

Hair by Riad Khalil at Tony El Mendelek Salon

Follow Special on Facebook and Twitter

Lebanon’s 4 Unknown Heroes Who Deserve Our Respect

delivery

1)      The Delivery Guy

Through rain or shine, hail or flood, this brave man will get on that worn-out zero-safety-measure scooter sans helmet and put his life at risk just so you can get your Kafta wo Jebneh Man2ousheh fresh and on-time. You don’t really think about him or the fact that his scooter almost skid under a sixteen-wheeler truck because his insulated delivery bag is too heavy carrying more than four separate orders, who cares that he’s drenched from head to toe, what matters is your food arrived hot and you feel good about yourself when you hand him 2000LL ( less than 2 Dollars) for his effort. This guy deserves a medal so next time you see him give him a hefty tip why don’t you.

Maid in Lebanon

2)      The Washroom Attendant

This woman has to deal with your shit. Literally. She’s seen it all and most of the time people treat her like she’s invisible, no hellos no thank yous. Sometimes she even has to take the role of a peace keeper especially when two drunken males or females are having a little I was-here-first toilet face-off.  She will work up until the wee hours of the morning wiping barf of toilet seats for a measly $150/month and probably have to clean her boss’s house the next day and babysit the kids. So be nice to her, don’t make her life any harder than it should be and try to aim IN the toilet.

sukleen

 3) The Sukleen Cleaner

Never mind the politics behind Sukleen. I’m talking about that poor fellow at the very bottom of the food chain that’s picking up the cigarette bud you so unhesitantly flicked out of your car window. The guy that keeps the city you live in clean so you don’t poison yourself with your own filth, yes him, the one that escaped poverty from his own country to come and become a slave in yours.  The one that’s caught more skin rashes than you know how to pronounce just because your lazy ass  can’t be bothered to wait until you find a garbage bin. Would you throw a can of soda on the floor of your own living room? I hope not, so I don’t see why you would behave any differently outside!

red cross

4) The Red Cross Volunteer

The hero of all heroes. While most of us are throwing back cocktails on a weekend night this altruistic person volunteered his/her time, for no remuneration whatsoever, to save someone’s life because that someone made the stupid decision of drinking and driving and ended up crashing their car into a sidewalk.  The Red Cross Volunteer will administer first aid on you because he/she went through hours and hours of vigorous training while you slept in on Saturdays. All this while he juggles a part-time job to pay his way through college. So instead of spending a $100 on some drinks tonight go donate them to the Red Cross.

 

 

The 6 Annoying Dating Habits of Middle Eastern Women

jasmine

You loved The 6 Annoying Dating Habits of Middle Eastern Men, and since I’m all for equality this sequel was only fair.

1)      When you first met her at a club she seemed like the most outgoing fun-loving party girl who wanted to grab life by its horns.  She made Lindsay Lohan look like a homebody. Fast forward to two dates later and she’s dropping the “M Bomb” on you. Yes, already. She brought up marriage so casually, practically implying it’s a condition. At this point you’re completely oblivious to the trap she just set for you. You would have agreed to anything just to get some . Now you’re about to drop a hefty down payment for that 700 plus wedding, jokes on you! Muhahahaha

2)      Excessive complaining followed by a chance of tantrum. Just like Australia is known for its Kangaroos, we Middle Eastern women are known for our soap opera-like tantrums when things don’t go our way. As a rule of thumb, NEVER attempt to win an argument; you will be annihilated for the mere act of trying.  And when all else fails- we’ll call in the tears. As soon as you spot them apologize IMMEDIATELY. If you’re not sure apologize anyway.

3)      Zero notion of Time. Fake lash application is more complicated and meticulous than you know. (anyone else can’t get than hang of it?) So If you need to be somewhere at 10pm just subtract that number by 3. So 7pm means 10pm.  2 mean 5. Simple math and no one’s late. I love win wins.

4)      Drama, we live for it, attract it, crave it, create it, and when all else fails, imagine it. Even if it’s a perfectly nice day and you’re having a stroll in her favourite mall, drama still lurks in the shadows. It could her over-protective mother barraging her with calls inquiring about her whereabouts or some random girl shop girl giving her attitude. They ruined her mood and now you and that unsuspecting waitress are going to pay. Brace yourself, put on your headgear and get ready to roll with the punches . Nod and agree (and nod) with everything she says and pray for the shit storm to pass.

5)      Part of what makes you a gentleman is your ability to finance everything. If you don’t then you’re either cheap or poor and both won’t do.  It’s pretty straight forward

6)      No you can not be friends with your ex-girlfriend or any other female friend for that matter even if she’s married with kids. It’s a territorial thing. And all your male friends need to pass a screen test where she will filter them out and decide which ones will do and which will not. No you do not get to have a say.

Did I miss a few?

Also See

What Men Really Want, Especially Lebanese Men

What’s With Lebanon’s Cruelty Towards Animals?

BETA Christmas banner

I spent a lot of summers in Lebanon as a kid. A good number of homes in villages had dogs. Large dogs that were never vaccinated and lived on their owner’s doorsteps or caged in the back yard. They’re main purpose was to deter strangers or thieves or entertain the household’s children.

It’s a very common arrangement here, the kind where the family claims to have a dog but under no circumstance whatsoever would that dog ever be allowed to set paw in the house. The dog slept outside, ate outside, played outside and died outside, come rain or shine.

I always tried to secretly sneak the dogs into the house, would spend all my pocket money on buying them canned corned beef while everyone laughed at me, some even told me to go feed the hungry children instead. I had to get treated myself after I attempted to shower Whiskey, the village’s alcoholic’s dog with the garden hose. You see Whiskey had never had a shower in his life, he was flea-ridden much to my mother’s dismay.

I fought other kids when they threw rocks at the poor dogs or tormented them. When I asked adults why kids in Lebanon hurt animals I was always given the same absurd answer along the lines of “ Lebanon went through years of civil war were people killed each other,  we have more important issues than animals rights”

Well, kids the war is over, and  guess what, it ended in 1990 so some of you don’t even recall it, and even if you did, how on earth does that justify animal cruelty? Really?

And why can’t we multitask? Why can’t we deal with ALL our issues at once, why does it have to be either/or? Why can’t I have compassion for both animals AND humans without feeling guilty?

I write this post after we rescued a cute dog we named “Lucky” from a dumpster next to a residential neighborhood last week. She was a sweet little soul who was clearly starving with protruding bones and weighed no more than a kilo despite her medium size. It was obvious Lucky wasn’t always a stray; she looked like an older dog that wouldn’t have been able to survive in the cruel cold Lebanese streets on her own.

IMG_1432

We gave Lucky a hot bath and her own little blanket while she cuddled up next to the heater and wolfed down 3 bowls of food. The next day I reached out to Animals Lebanon who told me to put her in a dog motel and pay for it myself since all their fosters “who are expats have traveled”, while the amazing folks at BETA (Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) told me to drop her off at the Animal Hospital where she was examined by the vet and then handed over to BETA.

IMG_1434IMG_1438

Turns out Lucky was indeed an elder dog (10-12 years) and like many cases they have seen she was most likely abandoned because of her old age and all the “nuisances” it ensued.

So many Lebanese kids are going to receive pets as gifts this Christmas. By new year the novelty will wear off when they realize that the pet is not that cute anymore and will have to be housebroken before it serves it’s “purpose”, as a result most of these pets will most likely get abandoned. Please don’t get a pet if you aren’t 100% certain. BETA’s shelters are at over-capacity and they need all the help they can get.

And please don’t lecture me on where I should focus my compassion and instead redirect that energy on doing some good this Christmas.

Donate here to BETA which now accepts PayPal: donatetobeta@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

The Lebanese Valet; 2013′s Most Fearless Organized Crime Network

valet lebanon

What can I say we’re wrapping up a great year.

Everyone around town seems to be complaining about the same thing but like most things in Lebanon that’s as far as it goes. This post is not meant to undermine any of the other dire causes that need our attention, but I’ve personally reached the end of my rope with the valet mafia that have introduced an unofficial tax on us and have taken over our streets and claimed ownership of our sidewalks.

If licensed valet services want to take full possession of the parking spots right in front of establishments, then so be it, though I highly doubt those are considered private property on city maps.

What I’m ranting about is PUBLIC sidewalks that are meters and meters away or across the street from restaurants, shops and bars that are now suddenly proclaimed off-limits by some thug-like characters who may not even be wearing a uniform giving out generically numbered receipts. Some randoms looking to make a quick buck with no municipal badge and no registration acting like they’re in charge, telling us where we can and can’t park. It sounds ludicrous doesn’t it? But guess what, we are all taking orders from them. We’re all either driving away or handing them the keys to our cars, worse yet we are paying/bribing these nobodies money so that we can park it ourselves and keep the keys to OUR cars with us. Yes, we pay DOUBLE so they won’t take away the keys to our own car. Nuts

They want to call themselves a valet service, whatever. This is organized crime.

Because if you try to resist the intimidation you will find yourself in a nasty confrontation that could possibly lead to threats or altercations.

I give my car to valet drivers all the time, but only when they work directly and exclusively (licensed) for a place and even then I do it with a heavy heart since they exempt themselves from all responsibility for loss or damage to your property. I refuse to pay them if I park it myself on what is considered designated restaurant/store parking spots, and if they do complain then I complain to management. I don’t do this to save LL 5,000 I do it because I refuse to enable this entitlement mentality.

I won’t give my car to valet services that have set up camp on a street and decided to tax customers and citizens. And you shouldn’t either. Maybe if we drive these mafias out of business and walk a little bit more, (like we happily do when we travel abroad) we could rid this city of these sidewalk parasites. Or maybe we just need Batman.

Myriam Klink or Lady Gaga?

You gotta love Myriam Klink. Homegirl never ceases to amaze us with the stunts she pulls. I’m curious as to how the creative process happens on her shoots? Because this one right here is genius. I mean nearly naked men in teeny tiny underwear posing as angels as she lounges around so nonchalantly. In another shot the men are even covering their naughty bits with fabric from her outfit while she’s looking smug.

Or perhaps Myriam was inspired with Lady Gaga’s Fame Perfume campaign so much she decided to do the Klink version. You decide.

Either way those shots are really something. (Notice how one of Myriam Klink’s angel men suddenly turns uber tan in the second image below)

wtf 4wtfwtf 23

Lady Gaga’s Fame Perfume Campaign

lady gaga1lady gaga2

Check out Lebanese Celebrity Copy Cats here

Also did you know that Myriam Kink wanted to run for parliament, read more on her political ambitions here

Lady Gaga’s Lebanese Twin Sister

A Charming paRs Brunch

pars

There are two types of people in the world; the people who talk about making it happen and the people who actually make it happen. That’s Roula Nahas for you, the beauty and brains behind paRs, an inspirational (by-order only) line of charms that carry a series of empowering words you can keep next to your heart at all times: Dream, Faith, Love, Believe, Blessed, Success and Love, all towards one powerful underlying message; “Make it Happen”

photo 4 23And Roula sure did last weekend by throwing the brand’s advocates a delightful and intimate paRs-themed Champagne Brunch that was nothing short of fabulous. Guests indulged in a sugar feast by Vanilla Bean while we each rocked our favorite personalized paRs charms, mine being “Believe” in yellow gold surrounded by semi-precious stones. We also each got to go home with our own little chocolate jars designed as replicas of the charms. If you haven’t gotten your charm yet you can order it to  anywhere in the world by getting in touch with the paRs through it’s Facebook page here.

believe 3

photo 42photo 2photo 1img_4554