Sucre e Levain – Jounieh

I was excited to find a recently opened pastry shop next to my house, and so I went to taste a sample of their products. The lady that helped me there was very friendly and the items were nicely displayed in the shop. I chose some treats for my breakfast and headed home to devour them. I started with the croissants. They were pleasantly crispy and flaky, yet very heavy on the butter, which was a shame. Then I tried the flutes with thyme, which were crunchy and surprisingly not oily, but I would opt for the ones with the cheese next time. As for the sweet confections, the chocolate sable was good. However, the soft and fluffy madeleines were my favorite, and it was difficult to stop myself from eating them all in one go. I think that I would return to try other delicacies they have to offer, as well as their bread.

Blu – Mtayleb

Chocolate cravings? In the mood for chocolate, cakes, and the like, we happened to spot Blu as we were going up the winding road home. We decided that this time we would pass by. The lady assisting us was friendly and tried to be helpful. However, the lack of training was apparent because she was not knowledgeable about the ingredients within the cake pieces and had to keep asking for information from another lady on the phone. We ended up choosing a variety of items to try and headed to the car. For me, the humble mini cupcakes were my favorite to nibble on. They were fluffy and moist, and it was difficult to stop myself from devouring all the bag’s constituents. As for the cookies, the thicker ones were better than the regular chocolate chip cookie encasing an Oreo cookie; I felt that the latter was a bit dry. Yet, the double chocolate chip cookie was the best one in that box because it was extremely chocolatey, for hiding inside was more melted chocolate. Considering the second box with the cake pieces, my first comment would be about the chocolate tart crust; it was tasty but did not crumble delicately beneath your teeth. In addition, the chocolate eclair was pleasant and not too heavy although the pastry cream inside was also chocolate. In general, the chocolate used in their cake pieces was creamy and rich. I did end up feeling overly saturated with sugar when I had tasted everything; although I am partly to blame for that because of wanting to steal a bite out of all the goodies we had bought.

Mathieu – Mar Mikhael

We went to Mathieu for dessert. A sweet crepe is always a good idea. It is a cute and casual place that is great for a quick bite to eat or to satisfy a craving. The friendly man behind the counter seemed to be busily preparing some ingredients for the day. He asked us which crepes we would like to order so that he could make them for us. We looked at the big board hanging on the wall, and decided to order a crepe filled with Kinder and the Che. The melting chocolate on one crepe and the melting butter on the other was lovely to watch, especially when a sizzling sound was emitted when the rum was drizzled on to the Che crepe. Now, it was time to eat. The crepes were crispy at the base of the triangle, and became softer as you nibbled your way up towards the edge; my personal preference is soft. The crepe with Kinder was good as expected, but the Che surpassed it in taste. The rum addition to the butter and sugar was a great idea; it gave it a kick that made it stand out from the other regular sugar and butter crepes. Although tasty, the crepe dough itself was not exceptional and truthfully, I would have loved it if the batter had been poured in liquid form onto the heat in front of us for a more fresh experience (instead of a previously prepared crepe being heated up). However, I do still need to taste their “salty side”.

Alta Taberna Paco Meralgo – Barcelona

I enjoy tapas because it is somehow like a set menu in the fact that you try several courses; the anticipation of what the next platter holds is exciting. When we arrived, we were told that since we had no reservation we had to sit at the bar instead of a regular table. It turns out that the bar seating was closer to the source; where all the action happens. I ordered a gazpacho as my drink and it was really flavorful. Embracing the red fruit, commonly known as a vegetable, we then ate the famous simple traditional Spanish dish: tomato bread. One of the tapas had all eyes on me, literally. I loved the breaded shrimps but this was one shrimp tapa I could not bear to maintain eye contact with. Finally, the Crema Catalana was the something sweet I decided to eat; pardon the rhyming. Unfortunately, the sweetness was masked by a sort of mixture of gasoline-like and something burnt taste. This is most probably due to the blow torch used to caramelize the sugar, except that the result was more burnt than caramel; Salted Caramel doesn’t appreciate being burnt.