Sunday, October 9, 2011

Break and throw at Tarek Booze

Peanut-thon night at Tarek Booze
You could say it’s always a “special night,” when Twitter friends get together. But it was just so when we met at Tarek Booze in Gemmayzeh, Beirut, a fortnight ago.
Abir Ghattas and Liliane Assaf – known as abzzyy and funkyozzi on Twitter -- organized the evening to welcome Paola Salwan Daher to Lebanon and announce “something” special! 

Tarek Booze, on Rue Pasteur in Gemmayzeh, parallel to Rue Gouraud, was a great discovery and one of those places you can only find in Lebanon. It starts with the place-name coming about from a play on words. When you describe someone in Arabic as “tareq booze,” it means the person is showing a sulky pout.

Break and throw...
... peanut shells on the floor
I don’t know whether the place is a pub, a café or a restaurant! Whatever… Tarek Booze is ingenious through its simplicity.

You can easily miss it on the ground floor of an old building at the end of Rue Pasteur. Walking into Tarek Booze is like going into a bunker or tunnel. Some paint has been slapped on, but not too much and it feels like a hideout.

Thursday nights are designated kasser ou kib – Arabic for break and throw – cacahuètes that is.

Bachar behind the bar
The bar lines the right-hand side and is known for its cocktails and affordable menu of sandwiches and salads. You can also have tea, coffee and shots of course, all served by Abir’s brother, Bachar.

Apart from peanut-thon nights on Thursdays, Tarek Booze partner and manager Sylvain Nassar said they host Zuwwedet Aline, a vegetarian night with a theme on the first Monday of each month. Aline Khokaz Ian cooks the healthy dinner on the premises for all to enjoy.

Other themes include quiz nights and acoustic live music and tarab. Michele Keserwany performs at Tarek Booze as do The Incompetents.

Paola and Joseph Daher
We were celebrating many things on the night, apart from just getting together. For one, we were welcoming Paola and her husband Joseph to Lebanon from Switzerland. The couple write the very popular Café Thawra blog that covers political, economic and social subjects in both English and French. They try to give the West a better understanding of the Middle East, to fight misconceptions and promote understanding and tolerance.

Paola recently published her first novel, “Café Noir, Café Blanc,” and writes a second blog, Myrrh and Mint – all of which are must-reads.

Paola and Maria Nachawi
The surprises didn’t stop at the Dahers. Maria Nachawi, a former Dubai resident who now lives in Paris, was in Beirut on holiday, so she dropped by to meet everyone in person. Maria is a jewelry designer who studied clinical psychology. She worked for Scintilla Monaco as a designer until 2010. Now a freelancer in art and jewelry design, Maria has been documenting her days in France with a photo each day on her blog Maria Studio. She paints too, and won the 2007 De Beers Award for the best Rayana design at the first diamond jewelry competition.

Abir Ghattas and Octavia Nasr
Octavia Nasr, who was on a brief visit to Beirut and Dubai from Atlanta, joined us as we all got into the mood and walked backwards and forwards over the peanut shells. Octavia needs no introduction I am sure. She founded and is now heading Bridges Media Consulting to bring voice to a vast “middle perspective” she believes “lacks a voice.” Through training and consulting, Octavia “assists media organizations and individuals shrink gaps that exist in conflict to create productive and successful communication.”

Jennifer celebrates
We were also cheering Jennifer Haddad’s departure from a job she hated and starting with a new company. But not before she and Liliane embarked on a holiday to Italy and Spain. This we feted with a Smurfs cake, from Gustav of course!

What else? Oh, yes… Abir announced that in November she and Liliane will be exhibiting their photography on the walls of Tarek Booze. What better place to do that?

The poets: Pascal Assaf and Mohammad Badr
What a great evening in the company of such good friends. You too can join us at Tarek Booze in these pictures.

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