Architectural Digest, one of the world’s top architecture magazines, visited designer May Daouk in Beirut to feature her home. She was kind enough to take the editor on a lovely tour of Beirut and introduce him to some of Lebanon’s skilled crafts people and designers. With pride, I read the article and went through the beautiful slideshow with photos taken by Simon Watson. In the article, he lists the places he visited and includes contact details for the beautiful shops and galleries. I love how Beirut is portrayed this time as a source for art and creativity.To read the article and have access to the full slideshow visit Architectural Digest.
Emirates Palace is an iconic landmark managed by Kempinski in Abu Dhabi representing luxury at its best. It is located on sandy beach spanning 1.3 km along the shores of Abu Dhabi. The architecture and design is inspired by the Emirates culture, bragging luxurious rooms, spa, restaurants, and services. Oriental elements mark every single area of this luxury destinations.
The 394 luxury rooms and suites are nestled within traditional domes which span 85 hectares of lush landscaped gardens. In addition to the Anantara Spa, there are16 internationally renowned restaurants including Haakasan and Mezlai, the UAE’s first traditional Emirati restaurant. Emirates Palace regularly welcomes celebrities, staging world class events including the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, the Laureus World Sports Awards and concerts from the likes of Andrea Bocelli and Elton John.
The Palace continually strives to set new standards for luxury and hospitality excellence, further enhanced by the resort’s Kempinski management, “As Europe’s oldest luxury hoteliers, Kempinski understands luxury. We are known for our stunning properties, and the luxury of our signature personalized service that anticipates the needs of our guests and exceeds their expectations.”
For more images check the Hotel’s website.
I can’t believe it took me this long to finally visit the restaurant and vineyards at Massaya in Taanayel, Lebanon. The funny part, is that I am originally from an area very near by and my parents live 5 minutes away, yet this summer was the first time I visit this lovely place. Upon arrival I was surprised by the number of tourists who have discovered this gem, many of which were from the GCC.
Located in the heart of the Bekaa valley, Massaya has one of the most popular vineyards in Lebanon. The name “Massaya” means Twilight in Lebanese, and due to the royal blue color of the sky when the sun sets behind Mount Lebanon, they decided to create their signature “Arak” bottle which is a beautiful elongated and very elegantly designed blue bottle. Arak, by the way, is a popular alcoholic drink in Lebanon and specially in the Bekaa Valley where anis seeds are added after the grapes are fermented and distilled; in Massaya’s case the anis seeds used are organic. The area where Massaya’s Arak is fermented is magical, you will see the photos below.
We arrived at the restaurant “Le Relais” which is located in the middle of the vineyard, you have to walk a bit to reach this charming place where all the food is cooked and prepared by housewives of neighboring villages. The menus are set seasonally, and the food was simple and amazing, it was a “back to basics” buffet specific to the Lebanese country side, with dishes like roasted chicken, kibbeh, freekeh, saj goodies,different types of salads, hommus and mtabbal, and many more. Even the sweets were very simple, all Lebanese themed.
Mr. Ramzi Ghosn, one of the owners and winemakers, was an amazing host who accompanied us throughout our visit making sure we had a great meal and a comprehensive tour of the vineyards, the wine reserves, and the boutique, he even explained to us how the Arak is made and how transparent and proud of their products they are. Massaya is one of the very few places where people have access to the entire place, because they have nothing to hide. Everything is of utmost quality. The barrels where the wine is stored is even imported from France from designated suppliers known for the best finishing.
Massaya export 85% of their production to the USA and Europe, their Rosé wine has been listed as one of the top 10 according to The Independent which was one of the reasons I wanted to try it during my visit. To my bad luck they were out of stock everywhere (due to high demand). I ended up trying their white wine which was lovely and appropriate with the meal and the warm weather.
These are the clay jars where the Arak is stored, such a lovely sight, the aroma of the anis seeds was overwhelming.
Massaya’s signature blue Arak bottles.
I wasn’t planning on writing much, I’s rather allow you to enjoy the photos accompanied with bits and pieces of information. I really hope you liked them.
Ramzi Ghosn is very well into social media, you can find Massaya on Facebook and Twitter. In addition to that, their blog and website are updated regularly with images, events, and historical information on wine and the Bekaa Valley. You can spend hours on the website learning about the art of wine making and its history.
I HIGHLY recommend you visit Massaya and enjoy the experience, you will be glad you did.
Thank you Ramzi for an unforgettable day, I will be visiting again very soon, that’s for sure!
During July I got the chance to visit one of the most charming cities of the world, Rome in Italy. Although many people take it as more of a religious/ historical city, I found it amusing and rich in every way, street, and aspect. This is not the first time I’ve been there, yet it was the first time I had the chance to actually explore it and enjoy its food and architecture, not to mention the great shopping. Since I was snapping photos of almost everything with my iPhone, I found it hard to upload every single one, that’s why I compiled collages to summarize my trip. The collage above has photos of St. Peter’s, The Vatican, the famous Trevi fountain, I had to insert a photo of the tastiest gelato I ever had, it was from San Pietro next to the Vatican.
Blanko was the first place we tried in Rome, it was actually my first meal there. Out of my whole Italy trip, they had the best pasta dish, the Ravioli was so fresh and light I loved it.
The above collage is of the shopping areas, the Spanish steps, where all the famous brands have shops. I went there almost everyday to make sure I didn’t miss out on anything, loved the shopping there!
I found the imitation bags very funny, they were everywhere, the cool thing is that you can spot the difference from a 10 meter distance, they have nothing to do with the originals, the monograms are actually of stars.
You might wonder what is a thick juicy fillet doing in the center of the collage, well it was the best meal I had during my entire trip, not that there was anything I didn’t like. I actually consider myself lucky that I didn’t have any bad experiences. That veal fillet (with wild berries served with cherry vinegar and sour asparagus), my friends, is by chef Gaetano Costa who owns a restaurant on via Sicilia, I actually went to the place after great reviews I found on tripadvisor. The décor looks so out of place, every restaurant in Rome has some history in it, this place however was extremely modern and housed a lot of artwork, apparently part of the function of the restaurant. It’s not huge and houses around 55 people. My take was that it was too open, meaning everyone was looking at everyone else, which was a bit inconvenient. The service was amazing, the best part, was although we just ordered the fillet, the chef smothered us with mini surprises whether appetizers, biscotti, and various treats to try out, all were amazing. I definitely recommend it if you want a “non-Rome” experience yet amazing food in Rome.
One of the “Must-go-to” places in Rome is the Trastevere area. This area resembles to a great degree “Gemayze” in Lebanon. It’s a pedestrian only area with cafes, restaurants, and pubs everywhere. Good food, nice atmosphere, its also a nice walk if the weather is nice. It lies on the west bank of the Tiber, and is known for its nightlife. We were looking for a specific restaurant we saw reviews of but to our luck they close on Tuesdays (who would have guessed?), instead we headed to one of the most crowded pizzerias: Margherita. Its not any fancy place, on the contrary very down to earth full of people from all ages and walk of life. Good food, not –so-good wine, but we were starving. The Nutella pizza was a good finish especially after we walked for so long before we decided where to dine.
Above is a glimpse of the shops found at Via Dei Condotti which is at the Spanish steps, luxury at its best.And I won’t keep anything from you, but I did my part of shopping
I was never an icecream person till I visited Italy this summer. The Gelato is addictive, the flavors are amazing, the photos can explain it all.
The images in this photo are of various cultural places, churches, and museums which are a must when visiting Rome.
La Scala was the closest place to our hotel, for one reason or the other we kept putting off going there until we had our last meal in Rome there. I seriously don’t know if it was the overall ambience, or the food was that good, I can only say it was a great meal, good service, nice setting, private, and the weather that evening was beautiful after suffering from the heat during our first few days.
Rome was beautiful and I would definitely go again and again, the people were very friendly and helpful, the food was great and made from the finest and freshest ingredients, allover lovely experience away from everyday stresses. The last collage is of the views on our way from Rome to Milan. Milan is different, more realistic, expect a post on Milan soon.
Before leaving you with this post, I thought I’d take you on a breathtaking, jaw-dropping tour of Rome with this video that will leave you speechless, a video for the Lamborghini Aventador… you can thank me later, enjoy Rome…