Nour Salame

Indonesia Tatler - - Life -

It was a love of Le­banese cul­ture and frus­tra­tion with the lack of in­for­ma­tion about artists in the re­gion that in­spired Nour Salamé to launch Kaph Books in 2016. In the two years since, the pub­lish­ing house has be­come one of the lead­ing voices in fine art and pho­tog­ra­phy in the Mid­dle East. Here Nour sug­gests some ac­tiv­i­ties for creatives vis­it­ing her beloved home city.


“My favourite in­de­pen­dent book­store in Beirut is the cosy, char­ac­ter­ful and ab­so­lutely charm­ing Paper­cup, which is tucked away in a quiet street in Mar Mikhael. They have a great se­lec­tion of art, de­sign, ar­chi­tec­ture and pho­tog­ra­phy books. It’s a great spot to hang out, re­lax and meet Beirut’s art crowd. They also make a great chai latte.” pa­per­cup­

Cul­tural Callings

The dy­ing wish of wealthy Le­banese aris­to­crat and art col­lec­tor Ni­co­las Ibrahim Sur­sock was that his pala­tial villa be turned into a mu­seum so the pub­lic could share his love of the arts. Af­ter his death in 1952 his wish came true and to­day the Ni­co­las Ibrahim Sur­sock Mu­seum is one of Beirut’s main cul­tural at­trac­tions, ex­hibit­ing lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary art. Book ahead if you want to have lunch in the fan­tas­tic mu­seum restau­rant, Resto, which serves tra­di­tional mezze with a twist. If the weather’s fine, re­serve a ta­ble out­side on the tree-lined court­yard and make sure you try the halva-in­spired chewy sahlab ice cream topped with tahini floss and crunchy pis­ta­chios. There’s also a great mu­seum shop sell­ing a tempt­ing se­lec­tion of art books, lo­cally made crafts and jew­ellery. “Go for the art, stay for the food,” says Nour. sur­­seum

Con­cep­tual Art

Sfeir- Sem­ler Gallery is at the cutting edge of Le­banon’s con­tem­po­rary art scene and stages thought-pro­vok­ing con­cep­tual and min­i­mal­ist mixed-me­dia exhibitions at its sprawl­ing space in the in­dus­trial neigh­bour­hood of Karantina. Its founder, An­drée Sfeir- Sem­ler, was born in Beirut and runs a sis­ter space in Ham­burg, Ger­many. “A stand­out ex­hi­bi­tion for me was Le­banese artist Rabih Mroué’s A Leap Year, which was staged at the gallery last year,” says Nour. “Kaph Books pub­lished the re­lated book, Di­ary of a Leap Year. It’s our best-sell­ing ti­tle so far.” sfeir-sem­

one of a kind

“Marfa is a small in­de­pen­dent art space which opened just two years ago in the busy port district. They rep­re­sent up-and­com­ing young artists from the re­gion, all very con­cep­tual and con­tem­po­rary. The gallery re­ally is a one of a kind in Beirut.” mar­fapro­

Home And Away

Mai­son Tarazi is run by a fam­ily of master crafts­men spe­cial­is­ing in wood­work, cop­per, mother-of-pearl and glass who have been creat­ing ex­quis­ite hand­made fur­ni­ture for the Mid­dle East’s A-list since 1862. Their show­room is a real Aladdin’s cave of lov­ingly made pieces in­flu­enced by Syr­ian, Le­banese, Ot­toman, Moroc­can and In­dian styles. “This is ar­ti­san car­pen­try at its best,” says Nour. maison­

Le­banese Break­fast

“My favourite place for an au­then­tic Le­banese break­fast is Al Soussi in Mar Elias. Try the tra­di­tional foul (fava beans with lemon, crushed gar­lic and cumin) and the scram­bled eggs with qawarma (aro­matic fried chopped lamb).”

Buzzy Brunch

Lo­cated in the hip Achrafieh neigh­bour­hood and oc­cu­py­ing the sec­ond floor of a for­mer 19th-cen­tury palace, Liza Beirut is the stylish hang­out of Beirut’s bright and beau­ti­ful, so dress to im­press. The opu­lent in­te­ri­ors have a con­tem­po­rary Mid­dle Eastern flavour­— think trop­i­cal wall­pa­per, geo­met­ric tiling, artsy hang­ing lanterns and or­nate lat­tice­work. Eli rec­om­mends the Sun­day brunch from noon to 4pm. Wash down de­li­cious Le­banese treats with a glass of Château Ke­fraya Myst Rose from the Bekaa Val­ley. liz­

Su­per Shawarma

“Restau­rant Joseph serves one of the best shawar­mas in Le­banon. It has lay­ers of per­fectly thin, de­li­cious fresh bread filled with gen­er­ous lay­ers of juicy, ten­der meat served tra­di­tional style with let­tuce and pick­les. Ev­ery­thing is the best quality, which is why it tastes so good.” This charm­ing no-frills restau­rant can be found in the heart of Sin El Fil. Just fol­low your nose.

Lunch­ing Out

An­other of Beirut’s buzzi­est hang­outs is Meat the Fish in Saifi Vil­lage. Din­ers of­ten spill out onto the pave­ment where they perch on wooden pal­lets sip­ping lo­cal craft beers. As to be ex­pected from such a cool culinary in­sti­tu­tion, the pro­duce is fresh, sea­sonal, sustainable and of tip-top quality. There’s also a mini mar­ket area sell­ing seafood. “It’s with­out a doubt the best-quality fish in town,” says Eli. meatthe­

Din­ner Talk

Baron in Mar Mikhael is a small restau­rant with a big rep­u­ta­tion. Chef Athana­sios Kar­gatzidis sources in­gre­di­ents from Beirut’s farm­ers mar­kets, Tripoli’s fish­ing boats and the fields of the Bekaa Val­ley. Ex­pect tra­di­tional recipes and lo­cal in­gre­di­ents pre­sented in an imag­i­na­tive new way. “Athana­sios is one of the most cre­ative chefs in town,” says Eli, who has been a reg­u­lar since Baron opened in 2016. Watch Athana­sios in ac­tion by se­cur­ing the chef ’s ta­ble, which seats seven and over­looks the open kitchen. tastyk­

Cul­tural Callings From top: Nour Salamé at Paper­cup; Mai­son Tarazi; Sfeir-sem­ler Gallery

a taste of beirut Clock­wise from op­po­site page: Eli Rezkallah hang­ing out at his favourite cof­fee shop, Sip; Baron restau­rant; an edi­tion of Eli's Plastik mag­a­zine; hal­loumi, sesame and tomato salad at Liza Beirut

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