Lebanon – Day 3: Beqaa Valley

Today is the day when our group is complete.  Two more people arrived from an extended layover in England and got to Broumanna at 5 AM.   At 8:30 we loaded into the van and headed to the mighty Baalbeck in the Beqaa Valley.

We stopped to get some man’oushe on the way. Have I talked about man’oushe yet? Basically, the Lebanese eat pizza for breakfast. They call it flatbread, but it’s basically pizza. I like mine 50/50 (Mona taught this to me.) You get half za’atar,  half cheese and then you fold the whole thing over and eat it. It’s very good.

This is my second time visiting Baalbeck.    It’s as impressive the second time as it is the first.   Unfortunately, the columns of the Temple of Jupiter are currently covered in scaffolding.   They are going through a restoration process. Our guide was someone that our driver knew.   He was ok.  There was nothing bad about him (he was better than guide I had on my first visit to Baalbeck), but he was more into telling jokes than digging deep into the history of the site.   He was the complete opposite of the guide we had in Petra.

Photo Credits: Josh Ferris, Spencer McGee, Samer Badr

We had a lunch of sfiha baalbeck at a restaurant called Lakis Farms.   This place serves ayran on tap! Sfiha is one of my favorite Lebanese foods.   They are these delicious little meat pies served fresh from the oven.   It’s like an open-faced pizza roll, but 1,000,000 times better than that.   The best I’ve ever had were in the town of Baalbeck and I would happily return to eat them there again.

The rest of the day was a departure from our itinerary. We had expected to do wine tasting in 3 vineyards near Zahle. They were: Château Nakad, Château Ksara, & Domaine Wardy.  On Friday, we found out that Domaine Wardy was closed on Sundays, but Samer’s aunt Mimi insisted on helping us.   She knew Mr. Khalil Wardy and made a call. The winery was happy to accommodate our schedule.

We arrived at about 2:30 and were pleasantly surprised to find a giant tent set up, 2 Wardy siblings, and a bottle of every wine they make!  That is 12 bottles and we tried everyone one of them.

I particularly liked: Beqaa Valley Red (2017), Beqaa Valley Rosé (2018), Sauvignon Blanc (2018), and the Arak Wardy. I found the Obeidi (2016) to be one of the most peculiar wines that I’ve ever tasted. I brought a bottle back, just so that I could try it at home one more time. I need to figure out what food to enjoy it with in the future. The obeidi grape is the local grape that is used to make arak.

 

In addition to wine, the Wardy’s are making vodka and arak.   Did we sample those?  Yes, yes we did.   We left the Wardy family around 6:30.   We stopped by the Berdawni River in Zahlé for ice cream. It’s a beautiful walk along a river.  I am not sure about everyone else, but I was drunk from the wine and soundly slept all the way home after ice cream.

Next – Lebanon – Day 4: Cedars of God

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