The Roof at Four Seasons Beirut

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What I love the most about Beirut in summer, is to watch the sun slipping below the horizon, with a frosted drink in one hand and cool music playing in the background.

With sweeping views of Downtown Beirut and the Mediterranean sea, “The Roof” perches on the Four Seasons Hotel’s 26th floor, offering a unique menu of tapas and an impressive cocktail list.

This chic rooftop lounge is a great spot to chill out enjoying some local glamour and lounging around with an A-list celebrity clientele and a live DJ spinning tracks.

Yesterday, I woke up craving for their Asian-inspired tasty bites so in the evening I slipped into one sexy dress and headed there with Serge and some friends. As soon as we arrived, we ordered a refreshing bottle of rosé to start with, while our eyes focused on that world-class sunset. We were lucky to have the manager Rita Bou Antoun on duty to visit our table and recommend a concoction from The Roof tailored menu, to inspire appetite and generate fun conversations.

Everybody around seemed to have fun, even though the venue is more of a lounge area than a party place, nevertheless some guests were swinging and dancing on the live tunes of DJ David Maouad. He was so good that turned the setting into one high-end playground for rich and famous hanging there and transforming an ordinary summer day into a terrific evening.

Finally not only the views were sensational but also the ambiance, the refined delights and the fascinating dessert. Thank you The Roof for making every night out here a most treasured experience. Can’t wait to go back!

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Watermelon Granita and a memory shared from summer

MayaOryan-Watermelon Granita

No matter what, I anticipate the summer’s arrival with equal measures of happiness and zeal. I plan each week significantly making sure not a single journey goes wasted. While filing the past couple of months pictures earlier today, I smiled and thought what a great job I did!!

Pictures of relaxed family meals and get-togethers, cheerful wedding parties, fun-filled friends gathering and beach barbecues, carefree night clubbing, leisurely kids playdates and park visits and lots of family selfies!

Well my favorite album is the one about the road trips we take during the weekends. Lebanon offers much to see. Our culture has been shaped over the years by a strategic location and intense historical events to spread worldwide and inspire so many. I try to show my kids the beauty that their seven thousands years old little country holds.

Sadly, many of my friends and my children’s friends have been to Louvre but never to Beirut National Museum, where visitors can admire a world class collection ranging from Prehistory to the 19th century AD. I sure want to travel the world with my daughters, but I also have a keen desire to show them as well all the Lebanese regions and traditions.

And what is a better way than having this over a fabulous event and lots of traditional food. This year marked the 25th anniversary of Mymoune. Mymoune produces all-natural specialties such as jams, preserves, syrups, seasonings, flower waters and other refined products made the traditional authentic way, in a small village called Ain-El-Kabou, at the foot of Mount Sannine in Lebanon and where the event was held.

The invitation was sent in a beautiful hamper full of goodies from Mymoune and a thyme plant smelling like heaven.

Mymoune Invitation

As soon as we arrived we were overwhelmed with a sumptuous outdoor venue, set in a fragrant garden surrounding an authentic Lebanese mansion where Mymoune has preserved a great history of Lebanese traditions. The stone house has an arch topped by a steep, red tiled roof, overlooking mountains and valleys. Tables were decorated with a centerpiece of seasonal yellow wildflowers (wezzal) and guests, were entertained by a live band playing local music. An array of traditional food was served, from bite size saj manakeesh, to lavish pork shawarma prepared by Michelin-starred chef Greg Malouf using Mymoune products. We drank Mymoune’s Mulberry Syrup & Arak cocktail, and finished it off with Lebanese style areesheh and candied pumpkin.

Our host Amine Ghorayeb made sure we leave with another goody bag from Mymoune products that I placed fondly in my kitchen next to the rest of the range.

The ideal way to beat the heat this week was a watermelon granita using Mymoune orange blossom water. A fresh recipe and a fun bite worthy of most any celebration. I hope you love it!

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Watermelon Granita

Ingredients

  • 6 cups seedless watermelon chunks
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tbsp Mymoune Orange Blossom water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Mint, to garnish (optional)

Directions

In a small saucepan, warm water over medium heat, add sugar and whisk until it has completely dissolved. Stir in lemon juice. Remove from heat and wait to cool.

Process watermelon chunks in a blender to a slush. Mix in the sugar syrup and the orange blossom water.

Pour into a shallow or a baking pan and freeze mixture for 1 hour. Rake mixture with fork and freeze for another hour. Repeat the procedure and freeze for one more hour.

Scrape vigorously into icy chunks and serve immediately in individual cups garnished with mint leaves.

My Valentine Red Velvet Cake

Valentine Red Velvet Cake

Kids had few days off school as part of their winter break and instead of taking them to a ski vacation we flew to sunny Dubai and stayed at one of our favorite resort Atlantis the Palm, where kids had an amazing time on the beach with mommy (myself hihihi)  and friends. We’re lucky to have so many friends living in Dubai, which always makes of our vacation an unforgettable one.

Back to my kitchen and to my baking passion, an old recipe of a red velvet cake shouted at me across the room to urgently make it; I was so powerless over its lusciousness and didn’t hesitate for a second.

I usually prefer dry cakes without any frosting on, but this combination of red velvet cake and vanilla cream cheese frosting is gorgeous and I’m sure once you try it you will stay hooked.

I had fun writing words with my children to top each slice of the cake, we wrote much more than we needed as some of them got broken while peeling them off the paper, but no one minded eating an extra piece of chocolate, they clearly have a sweet tooth like mommy.

Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp red food coloring
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking soda

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 450g / 16 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups icing sugar, sifted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g dark chocolate to make the toppers (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 185°C. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pan.

In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla.

Mix together cocoa powder and food coloring to form a paste and add it to the egg mixture.

Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Add the flour mixture, gradually to the egg mixture, alternating with the milk, beat until well incorporated, making sure to scrape down the bottom of the bowl with a spatula.

Mix baking soda and vinegar together and add.

Divide batter into prepared pans. Bake 30-40 minutes, until cake springs back when gently pressed with finger.

Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pan, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting: Whisk together cream cheese and butter until smooth.

Add, sugar, vanilla and salt and beat on medium-high speed until well combined.

Spread the cream cheese over the top of one of the cakes and on top (bottom up). Now spread the remaining cream cheese to cover the cakes from all sides, and decorate if desired.

To make the toppers: Melt chocolate over a bain-marie and fill it in a squeeze bottle or a piping bag. Write words (like love, kisses, hugs, xoxo, valentine) on a wax paper and wait few minutes to cool. Once the chocolate is hard, peel it off the paper and insert it gently in the cream.

Vintage Memories of Childhood Food

Biscuit w Raha-M.OryanBiscuit Gandour 555, Unica, Ras el Abed, Dabké, Tutti Frutti, Choco Prince, Babol!

There’s no way you lived in Lebanon and haven’t got fond memories of at least one of these iconic food brands!

Some of them got a makeover, changed their name, but most of them are still on the rise and refuse to die out.

By chance, I went to the grocer last day where I spotted the famous green and red box of Lucky biscuits, or is it 555? I call it “Biscuit Gandour” and I consume it exclusively with Turkish Delight. However, I bought one box of biscuits and one box of Turkish Delight!

As soon as I reached home, I proudly displayed my little treasure on the dining table where everyone can notice it. AND EVERYONE DID NOTICE IT☺ And everyone tucked into the biscuits and the delights, or should I say into the feast of reminiscences?

Somehow, “Biscuit and Raha” (Biscuits and Turkish Delights) not only triggers happy memories but is still considered as an enjoyable and tasty treat. I introduced it to my daughters Kaia and Axel and watched them munching their share with indulgence and joy.

I know for sure, that many of you are still loyal to nostalgic food where simple treats like “Biscuit w Ra7a”, sounded like a real feast. I can feel your taste buds drawn to the past; to some of your favorite old-fashioned food, you no longer eat. I don’t know how many hearts belong to vintage food, but I know my heart does!☺