“Things will be great when you’re Downtown…”

October 14, 2009

As you may recall, there’s more of my time in Lebanon that I haven’t written about yet, so here we go… This time with a focus on Downtown Beirut!

downtown rolex clock

I’m so proud of my Cousin Sami and what he’s accomplished so far with his lounge/restaurants, Element and Fly. Fly in particular really won me over–it’s on the rooftop of the Virgin Megastore, so you can enjoy a scrumptious dinner ‘n’ fabulous drinks outdoors in a tastefully decorated space with a kickass soundtrack. Here’s a pic just to give you an idea…

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Sami was a most gracious host to my friends and me, and filled us in on all the hotspots to check out later on in the evening such as Sky Bar. All I can say is “Wow!” This photo doesn’t do it justice but imagine, if you will, perfectly balmy evening weather coupled with some great beats and pyrotechnics thrown in–amazing… Oh, and did I mention that it’s along the Mediterranean Sea?!

sky bar

And finally, what would my trip to Lebanon be without capturing a photo of a Starbucks sign–in Arabic.

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Tabouli wishes and fattouche dreams,

Joyce

(Photo of Fly courtesy of http://starscene.dailystar.com.lb)

Interesting documentary about how Arabs are depicted in films…

September 27, 2009

This past Friday, I had the wonderful opportunity to check out a screening of Dr. Jack Shaheen’s “Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People” at my alma mater NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

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It was a real eye opener! Dr. Shaheen gladly answered questions following it and stressed how important it is for the next generation of Arab-Americans to help make a difference in how Arabs are portrayed in the movies. (Hey, why not produce an upbeat and humorous film like “My Big Fat Middle Eastern Wedding,” as Dr. Shaheen proposed?) Well, one positive way we’ve been doing this is through initiatives like the New York Arab American Comedy Festival, which I’ve had the pleasure of performing in and is now in its sixth year, and the first annual Middle Eastern Comedy Festival, which just wrapped up out in L.A. and has received some good press coverage.

Fortunately, there are more encouraging initiatives and projects coming down the pike, and if you have any suggestions for or would like to be a part of them, do let me know (info@joyceartinian.com) and let’s help continue making a positive difference!  

Tabouli wishes and fattouche dreams,

Joyce

(Photo courtesy of http://www.reelbadarabs.com/)

Move over baklava and sfouf, and make room for…cupcakes?!

September 23, 2009

Purty cool–this guy Fadi Jaber’s on to something and I can’t believe I didn’t know about this while I was in Beirut. Doh! Oh well, will just have to check it out next time I visit 😉

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Tabouli wishes and fattouche dreams (and now cupcakes, too!) ,

Joyce

(Photo courtesy of http://www.nytimes.com/)

Welcome to Anjar!

September 5, 2009

Welcome to Anjar

This past week’s been a whirlwind with biz meetings and family time, but I felt compelled to give at least some morsels of info this evening, so here goes…

The sign you see up top is what greeted my Uncle Paul and me when we reached Anjar, a mountain village with Armenian flavor, where he and the Artinian clan go on the weekends during the summer. (It’s quite typical for folks who live in Beirut to have a summer home of some sort in the mountains to escape the hustle and bustle–and heat!–of the city.)

In any case, I was especially excited about this trip as he showed me lots of things along the way relating to my dad and their childhood, etc. Plus, when we reached our destination, I got to reunite with relatives I hadn’t seen in about 18 years–as well as meet some new additions to the family since then 🙂 We even took a drive to the Litani River, which entails going through the Bekaa Valley where you’ll find both the Chateau Kefraya (I’m a fan of their “Blanc de Blancs,” which I first sipped at Fly, my Cousin Sami’s restaurant/lounge in Downtown Beirut–more to come on that in a future post…) and Chateau Musar vineyards–good stuff! Here are some pics–both en route to (the McDonald’s sign is for my Cousin Shushan’s amusement ;-)) and in Anjar itself:

AGBU Medical Clinic my uncle

mcdonald's

anjar

Litani river

Tabouli wishes and fattouche dreams,

Joyce

Poolside(d) and Miss Guided…

August 30, 2009

Back in Beirut after a wonderful past few days going back and forth from there to two mountain villages, the first being Anjar and the other Barouk. More to come on them in future posts…

However, to keep things in chronological order, I shall mention last week’s beach (Well, more like poolside resort ;-)) outing with my friend Naila, who’s here from yet another fabulous city: London! We had a great time catching up at the Riviera Hotel’s Beach Lounge, and dining at their restaurant after having our fill of sun ‘n’ swim. We had their linguine with white clam sauce and kicked things off with a grilled shrimp appetizer–OMG, if you love seafood, this is the place to be!

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Riviera 3

As for Miss Guided, that’s the title of my friend Anissa Rafeh’s book all about “How to step into the Lebanese glam lane.” It’s a tounge-in-cheek, quick and fun read, and I’m not surprised at how popular it’s been in Lebanon–and beyond. I’m so glad I got to catch up with Anissa over some yummy desserts at Casper & Gambini’s and let her know that soon before coming here, I was at a gathering of Lebanese American University (LAU) alums in NYC, who told me that I must get a copy while I’m here because it’s so cute! They weren’t kiddin’ and it’s too bad it isn’t available in the States–at least, not yet…

miss guided

Well, all for now but stay tuned for more adventures…

Tabouli wishes and fattouche dreams,

Joyce

(Photo of book courtesy of http://www.tpbooksonline.com)

Bite me!

August 24, 2009

Kitschy pics from top to bottom: Cigarettes ‘n’ Cookies–A Match Made in Heaven?, A random cockatoo, and Bite me 😉

only in leb

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Tabouli wishes and fattouche dreams,

Joyce

Aley, etc.

August 24, 2009

Went to Aley and drove through Bhamdoun yesterday which, according to the Ministry of Tourism’s “Allo Tourist Guide,” are “two of the country’s most famous summer retreats.” Aley also happens to be the Druze village where my grandfather on my mom’s side was from and it was a relief to finally visit his and my grandmother’s resting place there–the Mounzer family’s resting place, actually, as the Druze have mausoleums arranged by their respective family names. I’m so glad I got to share this visit with my cousin Hanaa, as we miss having our grandparents on either side. I always tell folks that if they’ve still got their grandparents around, they should be grateful 🙂

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At another point in the day, we stopped by Patisserie Chehayeb Bahige (+96 1 05 555379) for a popular, sweet breakfast in Lebanon known as “knafeh bi jibn.” Sorta looks like a bagel, doesn’t it? Well, instead of me describing it, feast your eyes on this:

aley chehayeb 2

I also got to meet and reconnect with some more relatives, which was great and on the way back down captured this photo of the old “souk,” or storefronts.

old souk aley

As for today, I FINALLY got my hair did! (Back in Beirut at Lofiel Hair & Beauty [+96 1 01 800881] thanks to a tip from a “very knowledgeable about these kinds of things” friend of mine, who also happens to be an author–more details about her and her book to come…) That’s like one of the first things you have to do when you come to Lebanon and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that there are at least 10 hair salons per capita–no pun intended :-p

Other fun things today included a visit to Marrouche (+96 1 01 743199), which is only the home of the best chicken sandwich ever, and I even cooked a bit for the family by making my sorta famous pasta salad with a yogurt, mint and garlic sauce! And of course, I spotted even more kitschy things walking along Hamra et al Streets… (See next post, as I ran out of space on this one :-p) 

marrouche

marrouche 2

Finally, I really wanted to leave you with a short video of a verticle conveyor belt of bread in a bakery window (Yes, it’s true!), but WordPress ain’t cooperating with me on that one either for some reason… You’ll just have to take my word for it, I guess.

Tabouli wishes and fattouche dreams,

Joyce

MEA rules and first week all filled up!

August 22, 2009

Flew Swiss Air to Geneva, which was just “Eh” and quite disappointing, actually. But then in Geneva, connected to Middle East Airlines (MEA)–what a difference! The flight attendants were super hospitable and helpful, plus I was lucky enough that the plane wasn’t full so I could actually lie down across a row of four seats! (This is heaven after struggling to sleep sitting in an uncomforatble, cramped seat for about eight hours :-p) The menu was 10x better as well.

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As for my itinerary for the week ahead, after checking in with family and friends by phone this morning, I won’t have a free minute–and I couldn’t be happier about that 🙂 Already, I’ve caught up with my Uncle Mounzer, Aunt Sanaa and Cousin Hanaa, whom I’m staying with in Beirut, and just now we hung out with another uncle (Marwan) of mine. I’m so lucky to have such wonderful relatives and it’s so nice to see everyone again after all this time…

Hanaa and I ventured out a bit this afternoon and I inhaled the Beirut air as if it were the fragrance of a sweet flower. Some folks would laugh at me, but there’s just something about the combination of history and car/vespa exhaust etc. that make it so nostalgic for me. Perhaps it’s because it was the first scent that greeted me when I visited this country for the first time–18 years ago already! In any case, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a beautiful Hallmark store that wasn’t there before and some cheeky graffiti (an advert for http://rambojagal.com/) as well.    

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All for now; until the next post…

Tabouli wishes and fattouche dreams,

Joyce

Yalla, lezgo!

August 20, 2009

mirandaSo, I haven’t been to Lebanon in about five years. Pretty excited to see how it’s changed, my relatives, etc. And the food, oh the food! And drink. (Can y’all say Mirinda?!)

Anyway, can’t wait to share some tidbits of my trip with you and hope you may consider visiting Lebanon someday yourself!

So, “Yalla, lezgo!” (For those who don’t know Engrabic or Arablish–a hyrbrid of the English and Arabic languages–this translates to “C’mon, let’s go!”)

Tabouli wishes and fattouche dreams,

Joyce

(Photo courtesy of http://www.mirindaarabia.com/