A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Archive for the ‘Lent’ Category

the wines of Lebanon: an Easter taste test

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on April 9, 2007

I love ecumenical holidays. Growing up in Iowa, we had no extended family around – so for our family, Christmas and Easter were holidays that we celebrated with our Jewish friends. Less ham, more joy, and many warm memories, including one my father sometimes reminds me of: the grown son of Holocaust survivors sitting down on the family room steps to read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” with a very young me.

Yesterday’s gathering reminded me very much of my childhood. We were 4 Christians (one Catholic, one Greek Orthodox, one Protestant, and one hybrid) and 3 Sunni Muslims of assorted nationalities, all gathered for a delicious three course meal.

One of the big differences from my childhood (aside from the fact that no one offered to read to me) was that this holiday included a wine taste test.

My friend A had chosen three bottles for the lunch – an Italian white, to match the first course’s brilliant bowtie pasta with smoked salmon in a light cream sauce, and two Lebanese reds.


The reds were a 1997 Chateau Musar


and a 2001 Comte de M, Kefraya’s “vin de prestige”.


(I can’t find a 2001 label online so am using the 1999.)

The Wine Doctor has this to say about the Musar, from a July 2004 tasting:

Chateau Musar 1997: At the time of writing, the most recent vintage. Obvious volatile acidity on initial nosing, but this soon disappears behind some baked cherry fruit and leather, and classic gamy, animal notes. What lovely balance on the palate though – the wine positively glides. Good acidity, with some soft, ripe tannins which hardly show at all until the finish. There’s a hint of creamy richness but overall what it has is elegance. Should drink well for five to ten years, and may well keep for longer. 16.5/20

I can find nothing about the 2001 Comte de M, but Kefraya’s website describes the 2000 as follows:

Announced by a beautiful bright dark color as well as an extremely distinguished and intense bouquet reminiscent of cooked fruits, menthol, and cedar, with a certain toastiness, this wine develops firm and silky tannins that support a high-quality material with predominant menthol and black fruit flavors revealing discreet wood hints. A very open and generous wine with a marked varietal character, the Comte de M could be even more enjoyable in a couple of decades. But why wait when one can already sense the satisfaction, the power of youth and especially the good breed.

Despite the Doctor’s high praise for the Musar, our table leaned heavily in favor of the Comte de M. Even I, who drinks so little that my friend K crows about having “once, I think, seen Diamond drink one full glass of wine”, could sense the cloudiness in the Musar, and the bright full flavor in the Comte de M.

(Our host blamed the Musar’s less-than-spectacular taste on its hard life in his care. Apparently it made a summer journey from Beirut to Damascus and back again, in a dangerously warm trunk space.)

Regardless the wine tasting added a lovely note (haha) to the afternoon, making a delightful holiday lunch all the more fun.


Posted in Americans, Arab world, Beirut, family, food, friends, holidays, home, Lebanon, Lent, research | Leave a Comment »

seek and ye shall find … adiamondinsunlight

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on April 8, 2007

Today is Easter – everyone’s Easter, in fact, as this is one of the rare years when the various Christian communities’ liturgical calendars coincide. This means that I am receiving more than the usual number of holiday sms’es as friends both Orthodox and Catholic send mass “al-massi7 kam”, “joyeuses paques”, and “happy Easter” messages to all the friends in their mobiles’ phone books.

I’m looking forward to a big holiday lunch in a few hours, hosted by a dear friend of mine and his partner. He’s northern European and she is southern, so my stomach and I (and my friend K, who I invited along as well) are looking forward to a feast of beautifully turned out pastas followed by exquisite truffles. Lent is over: let the feasting begin.

Meanwhile I have been enjoying the array of eyebrow raising search engine terms that have somehow brought various viewers to my website. I can only imagine that some of them must have been just as surprised as I was to see where their searchings had taken them.

Romantic words in Lebanese was fairly logical, although I doubt that any of my dating stories would aid anyone hoping for some help with a date of his/her own.

Curfew eye dust was a bit more confusing, although certainly the dust from the past week’s khamsin rains has been irritating my eyes.

top 10 site shi3a gave me brief hope that my site had gained some kind of global sectarian popularity, but my own attempts at this search soon put a stop to my imagining.

bobotie how to pronounce made me smile to see that the dish continues to make inroads among the English-speaking world’s adventurous diners.

Amman Russian escorts made me frown – and then smile, as I realized that whoever found my blog with those search terms was about to read something much different than a “where to find” guide.

banana republic march muzak was simply puzzling – what was this person searching for? And why did he/she click through to my site?

and finally

Barilla pasta and Turandot, while equally mystifying, had the happy result of bringing me back to my Italian Easter lunch anticipation.

Happy Easter!

Posted in Americans, Arab world, blogging, food, friends, holidays, humor, Lebanon, Lent, media, words | Leave a Comment »

geek piety: new Lenten vows

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on March 2, 2007

My aunt Intlxpatr posted ten days ago about her Lenten vow: better language.

When not weathering the firestorm of publicity coming from the latest (very good, very timely, and very scary) Seymour Hersh article, the New Yorker has come up with a Lenten vow for internet geeks:


I’m not sure I could do it … this would be a tough vow to keep.


(I’m not even attempting to live a Google-less life. This update deals with the New Yorker and Seymour Hersh’s article.)

In my opinion, the Daily Star (Lebanon’s English language daily) has grown markedly more biased since it began accepting US AID money for its “Lebanon Examiner” section. It covers government and March 14 coalition members’ activities with almost as much assiduity as LBC TV covers the daily life of Ambassador Feltman.

Hence, I read the paper’s short Wednesday editorial, Imminent strife on the ground or on the pages of the New Yorker? with a rather curled lip. As a New Yorker, any attack on the New Yorker‘s fabled fact-checkers courts derisive remarks about the professionalism of the accusers.

However, after drinks with my friend R last night, I read Michael Young’s editorial in this morning’s paper, Sy Hersh: the dark side of spun a lot with a different attitude (despite its title, which is a painfully awkward dangling pun and makes rather false claims about the author’s closeness with Hersh).

In general I find Young’s editorials unbearably pompous. He blends the two sides of his heritage in a deeply unappealing way: marrying the unshakeable sense of special-ness of the Lebanese to the self-righteousness of the American. Nonetheless, he shares R’s disquiet at Hersh’s mis-understanding of Lebanese politics.

Young makes the same point that R did last night over a very rich bottle of red wine: that the actual state of affairs in Lebanon’s Palestinian camps, and the Siniora government’s relations with them, are nothing like Hersh describes.

I’m not ready to dismiss Hersh’s article out of hand, as Young is, but I did read this morning’s editorial more hermeneutically (with a big thank you to my alma mater for introducing me to Gadamer lo these many years ago!) than I usually do.

Posted in art, Beirut, blogging, family, guilt, holidays, humor, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lent, media, religion, women, words | 1 Comment »