Tuesday, May 28, 2013

From Mountain to Seaside

   One of Lebanon’s greatest and renowned virtues is its short-time driving distance from the coastal plain to the mountains; they are so close to one another that it seems sometimes that the mountain rise abruptly from the sea.  Like I mentioned in the previous post, last Friday night I went with my friend to Faqra for the weekend supposedly, but then we ended up leaving the next afternoon. The hotel at the Faqra Club was closed for temporary renovation and repair of the sites damaged during the winter. Although we got pasta and tomato sauce we did not know how to light up the gas stove. The only restaurant close to Faqra Club was “3and Chekir” which is a Lebanese restaurant that I don’t like much. But we had no other choice that night. In addition to that, for lack of entertainment, we slept so early—which is awkward unusual. We woke up the next morning with an empty stomach so we decided to head down to Zeytuna Bay and have a king meal—queen I mean. We got there in no time; surprisingly, there was no traffic. We had lunch at the great yummy Italian restaurant at Zeytuna Bay, Signor Sassi—which I might write a review about very soon. Before we left Faqra, we took a ride in the village club to see if there were any other people around and we enjoyed taking some pictures as well, with the amazing back view we have from our panoramic spots.

   I was wearing a Massimo Dutti white linen T-shirt, True Religion stripes shorts, and Topshop “premium” leather boots, Swarovski winged heart necklace and wearing occasionally the big fat monochrome Marni jacket and holding my Marc by Marc Jacobs bag.

The sun was hitting right in my eyes and I have forgotten my sunglasses

Monday, May 27, 2013

Green Faqra

   I actually wanted to look for a good poem about spring to introduce these amazing spring pictures I shot at Faqra, but I could not find a nice, light-hearted, and not-cheeky one—too bad. Well, this past weekend I went up to Faqra again, after a long winter grief. My friend and I drove all the way from Jounieh on a Friday night—where I felt it would be more appropriate and fun for us to be elsewhere, more on that on the next post—and the roads were very obscure. Meaning we weren’t able to see the greenery of Faqra scene only after we woke up the next day. And to my surprise, it was just green, everywhere. Green forest. All trees fully packed. I wish I found you a poem, it would have been more “romantic”… I hope the pictures will do the job.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Weekly Fashion News (20/05-26/05)

   Tommy Hilfiger collaborates with Disney to launch up a collection for kids featuring the famous muppets—including Miss Piggy, Kermit the frog and Fozzie bear. "I love the pieces with moi - they're so stylish, so now, so moi," said Miss Piggy. "I also love the designs featuring Kermie and moi - and especially the top that reads 'Miss Piggy 4 Kermit'. It never hurts to advertise your intentions, n'est ce pas?"

   Moreover, Diane Von Furstenberg has teamed up with Gap for the second time to design a limited-edition collection for GapKids and BabyGap. DVF delved into her archives to find the patterns. “It had to be the essence of DVF,” the designer said. “You had to go down to the roots. One of the patterns from my archives is from a collection called Under the Volcano. I also added a few new prints and adorable printed jeans that I wish I had.”

   Another robbery at the Cannes Festival this past week occurred for a € 2 million worth Grisogono necklace. According to the jeweller, the piece went missing after its annual festival party - held at the Eden Roc Hotel - last Tuesday, despite over 80 security guards and local police being in attendance.

   Rihanna is continuing the television series of “Styled To Rock” this year with free-spirited model of Zadig & Voltaire Erin Wasson and musician Pharell Williams as advisors to the aspiring designers who will compete to dress Rihanna at an unnamed high-profile event.

   Graduate Fashion Week will host its first international showcase next month. The event, set to take place on June 3 at Earls Court, will feature designs from 16 of the world's leading fashion universities, including: Parsons The New School of Design, US; Academy of Art, US; BUNKA, Japan; Shenkar, Israel; Shih Chien, Taiwan; FIT, Italy; Istituto Marangoni, Italy; IED, Italy; Accademia di Costume e Moda, Italy; IUVA, Italy; Kolding, Denmark; Istituto Marangoni, Paris; ESMOD, Berlin; ESMOD, Oslo; Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design, Pakistan; Mima Sinan Fine Arts, Turkey.

   Qatar Holding, the giant monstruous investor and the company that owns and counts Harrods, Sainsburys and Paris Saint-Germain football club to its name, is said to be "looking carefully" at investing in Versace.

   Designer Mary Katrantzou, that is renowned for her mind-bending digital prints and sculptured silhouettes, is currently preparing for significant brand expansion, including the launch of her debut e-commerce site in the coming weeks. In addition, plans to launch a leather-goods line and an interiors range in the future.

   Nearly 200 designers—including  Eliane D.S., Aude Lechère and Christofle –are coming together for the Palais de Tokyo’s “Reflet(s)– Rencontres Autour du Bijou” exhibition, which runs from May 29 to June 3. It will display around 400 pieces of jewelry chosen to reflect on the various aspects of French style and taste. The work of the artists will be divided into three principal themes: The organic, the original and the abstract.

   Crazy Fancy designer Iris Van Herpen—that I have already mentioned here—is launching a new exhibition at the International City of Lace and Fashion museum in Calais, France which runs from June 15 through December 31. The exhibition will feature some 30 pieces made by the 29-year-old Dutch designer between the years 2008 and 2012. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

St Elmos Beirut

Food lover and amateur of fine culinary wonders, I thought that it would only be right to include restaurant reviews along with my recipes on my blog. In addition, I didn’t give much thought about which one I will start with. Many factors contribute to the reputation of a restaurant, therefore, I will be discussing each of them and try to be the most elaborate possible.

St Elmos is a brasserie on the seaside of Zeytuna Bay towards the end, south, what makes of it the ultimate destination for summer.

St Elmos has indoors as well as outdoors seating, as all restaurants on the Zeytuna Bay—we sat outdoors twice, after all we cannot resist to it with an amazing spring weather. What grabbed my attention first in the décor were the sailor aspect details spread all over the wall; indeed, the décor plays a major role in the setting and atmosphere of St Elmos, and this can be seen from the ceiling to the toilet’s fancy design. When I first came in to wash my hands, I realized the sink was a bucket; and I had a laugh I did not know quite well how to flush the toilet—by pulling the rope hanging from the ceiling. Fun, right? I felt like I was in some desert island living in a wooden chalet, Robinson style. But I loved the way they actually lived the theme through the entire place. At a first glance, St Elmos will attract customers regardless of its other advantages or disadvantages.

After settling down, comes the menu. The bright side of the menu is that it is very different from what you can eat in other restaurants in Lebanon. Yet, one thing you must consider is that it only counts salads, Edamame, and a salmon bagel as a healthy alternative to the fried chicken, fish and parmesan topped chips, Mac ‘n cheese, and burgers they offer. On a personal level, this doesn’t bother me much, I pay attention to my health so I allow myself to splurge sometimes.

The first time, my friends and I tried the chicken tenders—which are the best, really, that I have ever ever had—the Edamame topped with salt and lemon zest, the Mac ‘n cheese fried balls, and we had as a platter the fish and chips that came with a bean puree. The chicken tenders crust was so crunchy and the heart was so soft it was just love at first bite. Sadly, it triggered our expectations to go higher for the fish and chips dish. And as it turned out to be, the recipe of the Fish and Chips used a different frying batter than the one used for the tenders—it wasn't crispy. Otherwise, I think it will be less of a waste to replace the bean puree with something else. But I have to say, the fish tasted good.

The second time, which was last Thursday, my friends, Tala and Antoine, and I ordered our now, “usual” chicken tenders and Edamame with the topping (no soy sauce by the way). I ordered the Salmon Bagel that goes under the heading titled burgers, Antoine ordered the shroom’ n swiss burger, and Tala the chicken breast platter (not fried). The salmon bagel included cream cheese, capre, and lemon tranche. It was hard to bite on it because the bagel was toasted and hard, moreover, the cream cheese on the bun would slide the salmon away when you grab it; and the existing whole in the bagel didn't help any better. I couldn’t finish my dish. Tala received a part breast chicken and part legs and this was not flattering to her since she wanted the chicken breasts intentionally. Antoine loved his burger, but I feel like he likes easily, he would eat anything at some point—I hope he doesn’t read this, HAHAHA.

As for the dessert, we tried the “fried Mars”, yes the chocolate Mars, which is dipped in a batter, fried, then served hot with ice cream. We also tried a chocolate chip cookie. But this cookie is not any ordinary cookie: It’s a moist half cooked cookie in a pan that comes with a scoop of vanilla in the middle of it. As for the taste, exquisite might describe it. The cookie just melts in your mouth and what helps is the buttery taste blending with the melted chocolate chips. Surprise, during our second lunch when we ordered the chocolate chip cookie again, the cookie had half-milk-chocolate and half-white-chocolate chips. This might not pose a quandary to some and even me, but, changes or surprises in restaurants don’t show a quality control standard on behalf of the manager—Speaking of which, I never saw him—and therefore this yields to a large margin for defects. I am going to pass on this little surprise, because after all the taste of the food is divine.

Yet, one aspect I am not going to spare at all, is the service—very bad, very slow. Very slow was of no excuse, because when we came both times, the place wasn't crowded much. Their service is not at all efficient. One more surprise? The last time we’ve been there, the waiter got us the wrong check. And for the funny part, it was by far a lower amount in dollars than the one for our real check. Then, my friends and I laughed about paying the low dollar amount and leave the place like thieves—which of course is not “ethical”.

If I shall conclude this, I will say that the place is amazing but the service needs deep improvement. That’s all for the time being.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Summer is Right Around the Corner

   It would be an understatement to say that I am back, I am HELL back my dear friends! I am going to enjoy the best summer with you on my blog! And you're going to love every reading of it! I know that you don't want to hear speaking of exams, but this is only to mention the last of last for this year, my exam in corporate finance. As far as I scored a 59 on the midterms, I am exploding the scores on the finals to keep up with my GPA. And I am betting on that! It's not just hope, I did study very hard. 

Besides that, today, I had lunch when I was finished, at the beautiful Zeytuna Bay, that I have mentioned before a couple of times. There was an event held there, which was mainly our purpose of going there, "Designer's Week". How good? Not up to my expectations necessarily vis-a-vis of the pret-a-porter or ready-to-wear. However, the jewellery was very exquisite, I would say if there was to eat. Before I forget, we had lunch at the very yummy St. Elmos towards the end of the bay. It's my second lunch there, I love the place, except for the not-so-great service and the cat that keeps prowling around our table. A "Garfield" cat, those orangey ones. I have to be more elaborate on the restaurant of course, but I will leave this for another reading. 
INSTAGRAM: @ak_elsa

   Going back to the art and design exhibition, there was especially one woman, or two, that marked me. The first displays unique lampshades; I heard her conversation with another woman, she said, "I actually started this after my son. my son has autism. And he started doing the electricity... and then I had the idea of designing the lampshades". I wish I had taken pictures of these lampshades, which are quite exceptional. I will try to describe them; the foot that actually supports and leads up to the lamp is an empty expensive alcoholic drink brand bottle, and the sort of hat you see that covers partly the lamp has designs of flowers, and other things that I don't remember quite well. I will show you pictures of the lampshades next time I go to the exhibition. 
Malaika  Najem

   The second woman is a contemporary handmade jewellery designer. Her name is Malaika Najem. She will be very soon a trendsetter, and I put a big deal of trust into her work and vision of her brand. So while I was happening to ask her where she will be selling her pieces of arts, she asked for my number as well as my best friend's to keep us up-to-date. So there it was, that moment, when i slipped my "business card" away from my pocket and hand it to her, "you can have my card, there's my number on it and I am actually a lifestyle blogger". There, said. Next time, I will make the first step.

My "business card"

Malaika  Najem
 Malaika Najem is also a very receptive and sweet person, I will also say that her charm and politeness to her potential customers win her big. I will compare her to a heartless owner of another exhibition stand, of jewellery as well. That last person might not be the designer, I feel her to be more as a buyer of nice things. Although I loved some of the things she has, she was there sitting in the stand talking to some woman about some future selfish plans, utterly ignoring customers, while the vendor she employed had to be kind enough to sell us the line. A few moments after we actually "stepped in" the stand, a TV reporter approached her and asked her to speak about her perhaps, or the jewellery she is selling. She dismissed her arrogantly. It's crazy, most people would love to pass on TV! I just don't understand.

Malaika  Najem designs

Other designers

   Today, I wore a Topshop crop top underneath the ZARA pajama shorts overall, my white leather Converse, Swarovski winged heart necklace, some rings, my YSL sunglasses, and my Louis Vuitton tote. I agree, not such a fashion-forward outfit but I cannot afford to do an exam in complex clothes. I'll save you that for next time!

More of Malaika  Najem

Trying on Malaika  Najem's recycled cuff

Other designers

Beach Bag?