Monday, October 31, 2011

For every New FB page LIKE, a vote for Jeita Grotto!

For every new LIKE on My Beloved Lebanon's facebook page ( we will send a vote to Jeita Grotto to become one of the 7 wonders of the world!

Please like and share to increase the votes! 

Let us count together, as of now we have 149 likes... We will see by 11.11.11 how many Jeita Grotto votes we would have raised!

Thank you for supporting Jeita Grotto! :)

PS: you can also vote yourselves by sending an sms in Lebanon to 1070 or by logging to

Monday, October 24, 2011

Vote for Jeita grotto to Become One of the 7 Wonders of the World!

Lebanon: Send JEITA or جعيتا to 1070 (0.10 $)
Canada: Send JEITA to 77077 (0.25 Can$)
UAE: Send JEITA to 3888 (2 AED)
Poland: Send JEITA to 7155 (1 PLN)
Australia: Send JEITA to 19788555 (0.55 Aus$)
Philippines: Send N7WCONTEST JEITAGROTTO to 2861 (2.5 PHP)
South Korea: Send JEITA to 001-1588-7715 (150 KW)
Taiwan: Send N7W JEITA to 55123 (10 NTD)
South Africa: Send JEITA to 34874 (2 R)
Bangladesh: Send JEITA to 16333 (2 BDT)
Jordan: Send JEITA to 94089 (0.06 JD)
Ireland: Send JEITA to 53131 (0.3 €)
Brazil: Send JEITA to 22046 (0.42 €)
Argentina: Send JEITA to 5656

If your country is not in the list, you can still vote by international telephone:
1- Dial one of these numbers: +1 649 339 8080 or +44 758 900 1290
2- At the end of the message, after the tone, insert Jeita Grotto's code: 7714
3- When you hear the thank you message, you are all done
or log onto
Deadline to vote: 11.11.11 
More information here:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Where Do We Go Now?": Film from Lebanon win Toronto International Film Festival

TORONTO (AP) — "Where Do We Go Now?" a bittersweet comedy set in war-torn Lebanon, bested two well-received entries starring George Clooney to win the people's choice award Sunday at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Cadillac People's Choice award, which also includes a C$15,000 cash prize, is voted on by festival audiences and has typically been regarded as a bellwether for Oscar success.

Lebanese-Canadian director-actress Nadine Labaki's feminist film about village women bent on keeping their hotheaded men out of a religious war was chosen earlier this month as Lebanon's 2011 entry in the best foreign language film category for the Academy Awards.Labaki, who also stars in the film, was traveling in Europe when she heard the news, which was announced Sunday at a closing brunch for the 11-day festival. Festival programmer Rasha Salti accepted the award on the filmmaker's behalf, reading a statement sent by Labaki from an airport in Germany. "I'm thrilled, I'm happy, I'm ecstatic, I'm excited — my day that had just started on the wrong foot because of a flight cancellation has just been turned upside down," the 37-year-old Labaki said in her statement."I'm running around jumping up and down at the Frankfurt airport. Tomorrow we'll be screening 'Where Do We Go Now?' for the first time in Lebanon and I will be proud and happy to announce the news in front of my crew, my family and the Lebanese audience."

Festival director Piers Handling noted it was a surprise triumph for a film that was overshadowed by heavily promoted, star-studded Hollywood films. These included Clooney's two films, "The Descendants" and "The Ides of March." "We have some very, very high-profile films here at the festival and ones that a lot of people are talking about and I'm sure will go on to awards," said Handling. "But Nadine's film obviously connected with the public in a significant way because it was a clear, clear winner." Last year's fans' pick, "The King's Speech," went on to take four Oscars, including best picture, and the 2008 people's choice winner, "Slumdog Millionaire," took best picture and seven other Oscars. Quebec director Philippe Falardeau's "Monsieur Lazhar," about an Algerian schoolteacher in Quebec and his relationship with two students, won the award for best Canadian feature and a C$30,000 prize. The best first Canadian feature award, which includes a C$15,000 prize, went to director Nathan Morlando's period piece "Edwin Boyd," starring Scott Speedman as the notorious Canadian bank robber.

"Where Do We Go Now?" garnered rave reviews at this year's Cannes Film Festival, where it screened on the margins of the official competition. It follows Labaki's feature "Caramel," a sweet love story set in a Beirut beauty salon, which was Lebanon's entry for the 2007 best foreign language film Oscar. Set in a remote village where the church and the mosque stand side by side, "Where Do We Go Now?" follows the antics of the town's women to keep their blowhard men from starting a religious war. Women heartsick over sons, husbands and fathers lost to previous flare-ups unite to distract their men with clever ruses, from faking a miracle to hiring a troop of Ukrainian strippers.Labaki wrote the screenplay for the film which was shot on location in three remote Lebanese villages with a cast made up almost entirely of nonprofessional actors. Labaki, who is married to the film's composer, Khaled Mouzannar, also included a handful of old-school song-and-dance numbers that buoy the mood.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

وهلّأ لوين؟

Where do we go now? Et Maintenant On Va Où? 
Musique de Khaled Mouzanar
Musique originale du film: Et maintenant on va où?
Film réalisé par Nadine Labaki

(hashish of my heart)

Monday, October 03, 2011

Wine in Lebanon: the grapes of wrath

In search of a glass in a country where the wine industry dates back 5,000 years and has survived wars and intolerant religions

"When we started planting the vineyard, we found a cluster bomb on the ground that had been dropped on the village in 1983. The army said it would take two weeks to get here, but I had 1,000 vines that had to be in the ground immediately or else they'd die. So with a couple of brave young men, we decided to plant the vines. Thank God nobody got hurt." This isn't the kind of commentary you get on most wine tours. But this is a vineyard in Lebanon, not the Loire. On a visit to Chateau Belle-Vue, high above the heat and hustle of Beirut on the top of Mount Lebanon, its irrepressible owner Naji Boutros gives us not only a lesson in viticulture but a first-hand account of his country's troubled history, too. Boutros grew up in the village of Bhamdoun but left when it became engulfed in heavy fighting during the early 1980s. After a career as an investment banker, he returned in 2000 with his family to set up the winery in what was left of his village, naming it Chateau Belle-Vue after the hotel his grandfather ran there. My wife and I scramble to keep up with him as he shows us around the vertiginous terraces now planted with merlot and cabernet sauvignon vines. "The more hurdles you overcome, the better the result," he says, laughing off his close shave with a cluster bomb and opening a bottle whose label could not be more apt for his endeavours with Belle-Vue and the Lebanese wine industry as a whole – La Renaissance. Two decades of relative peace since Lebanon's civil war ended have allowed a wine industry that dates back more than 5,000 years to flourish. There are now 35 wineries in business, and most are more than willing to open their doors to visitors wanting to discover another side of Lebanese culture. The journey to Lebanon's extraordinary vineyards, however, requires strong nerves. The main wine region is reached by the Beirut to Damascus highway, a thunderous road that is five terrifying lanes across – two going up the mountain, two coming down, and one in the middle fought over by a simple game of chicken. Our taxi driver holds his own while we cower in the back. Just after Bhamdoun, the Bekaa Valley opens up before us. It was the Phoenicians who first discovered that the long summers, wet winters and warm temperature made this huge green plateau bordered by mountains perfect for viticulture. Our next stop is the exquisitely tasteful Massaya winery. After a tour, the enigmatic co-owner Ramzi Ghosn ushers us down through the vines to a beautiful hidden garden. Eating cherries picked from the orchard, we sip on a delightful 2010 rosé and watch the setting sun turn the eastern slopes of the valley the exact shade of pink as the wine. "In Lebanon the wine is produced to complement our food," says Ghosn. "Ask yourself where the Romans built the Temple of Bacchus, the god of wine. It's not in Tuscany, it's not in Rioja, it's not in Bordeaux. It's in Baalbek, in the Bekaa Valley, just half an hour from here." It is to this world-famous temple that we head the following morning. As we drive along the valley floor, calls to prayer from numerous mosques drift across the vineyards, and as we approach Baalbek, billboards of Shia clerics and martyrs begin to line the road.
Baalbek is the headquarters of Hezbollah, the Islamic political party whose military wing is regarded as a terrorist organisation by many countries, including Britain. You might think Islam and vineyards make uneasy bedfellows, but they seem to coexist peacefully in the Bekaa, with winemaking accepted as part of the culture of the land. The ruins at Baalbek are breathtaking, and carved vine leaves adorning the entrance to the Temple of Bacchus provide us with a direct connection to Lebanon's past glories in winemaking. Our highlight is the Palmyra Hotel, another example of Baalbek's faded grandeur. Not much has changed since the 1920s, and walking into the lobby, with ornate Ottoman furniture and arabesque tiles, is like stepping into an Agatha Christie novel. We half expect to hear murderous shrieks in the night and Hercule Poirot to appear at breakfast. The next winery on our list is another name now impressing international wine circles. Domaine des Tourelles was founded by a French engineer in 1868 and is being revived by descendants of the founding family. Here we tasted some of the best wines of our visit. "Every bottle we produce is touched by the hands of every employee. It's a personal, human business," says Faouzi Issa, one of the co-owners. "We want to keep it that way, so we keep the passion in our winemaking." She believes that Lebanon's troubled past can have a positive impact on business. "When people hear about wars in Lebanon, that there's a very bad political situation here, and then they taste a wonderful Lebanese wine, they appreciate it all the more." This has worked for Chateau Musar, the last winery we visit and perhaps the most famous outside Lebanon. It kept producing world-class wines throughout the civil war, earning it legendary status in the wine industry and making its owner, Serge Hochar, Bacchus's corporeal equivalent in today's Lebanon. Chateau Musar's vineyards in the Bekaa are stunning, the soil is terracotta red, and the vines – a luscious, almost lime green – are framed by snow-capped mountains. The winery, however, is the other side of the mountain near Beirut. So getting the grapes to the winery every year, across what was often the frontline of warring factions, was a dangerous undertaking. We meet the twinkly-eyed septugenarian Hochar, who walks us through the Musar cellar, thick with cobwebs and rows of dusty bottles. He plumps for a bottle of 1977 red. On first taste it is vinegary and sharp. He watches our grimacing faces with amusement. "If you were given that in a restaurant, you would send it back, am I right?" he says with a knowing smile. "But leave it for a few minutes and then taste it again." After 10 minutes its smell and taste had changed completely into something light and fresh that lingers deliciously on the tongue. Hochar says this lasting taste is the wine "talking" to you. "A wine that has the ability to age is like a man who ages," Hochar explains. "As you get older, you have more experience and you have more to say. A young wine can talk to you for maybe only a second or a minute, but a wine that has aged, a wine with experience, can talk to you for hours." After five days immersed in this extraordinary industry and landscape, wine has come to represent the magic of Lebanon itself. With its connection to the soil, the climate, the past – surviving conflict and religious divides – a conversation with Lebanese wine is one worth having again and again.

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