4 Interesting Apps to have on your Mobile Phone

So, it’s been a long while since I wrote a post. However, this one marks the post’s anniversary.

For today, I am going to discuss 4 Applications that I use daily. I got introduced to them by chance yet found them extremely useful and worth sharing. The beauty of this new technology (Applications in Smartphones) is that they are with you wherever you go. You have no excuse for not using them and they are accessible at any point of day, in any location and benefit from what they provide.

Let’s have a look on what I am currently using frequently!

Zomato

#1-   Zomato

It surprises me every single time when I hear people who still don’t have this application on their phones. Such a great application for everyone! Whether you’re going on a date, hanging out with friends or just want to try something new, this application is the one for you. From the top trending restaurants in town to hidden gems in the country, it has it all. Not only places, this app allows you to rate your experience or to read other people’s reviews to know what to expect, check the menu and the price list. Very helpful and beneficial for food lovers in town.

I use it almost daily and highly recommend it.

QUICK WORLD FACTS

#2-   Quick World Facts

It all started with the French Elections (2017), when things were heating up between the now President Emmanuel Macron and his main Opponent Marine Le Pen. At the same time, the American Media was focused on the accusations of Russia’s interference in the American’s elections in favor of the current president Donald Trump.

The topics got me interested and I felt the need to stay connected to know updates (especially that News sites are inaccessible in my workplace). I checked the Google Store and found out this app: Quick World Facts.

Not like any other news application, what’s cool about it is that it has it all. By All, I mean that it allows you to select many information sources (as many as you want), from BBC to CNN to Forbes etc… It also allows you to select your areas of interest, so that you receive information tailored to them. You can select Science, Comics or Video Pod-cast, etc… You name it, you get it.

Very Cool app for people constantly wired to news.

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#3- Duolingo

 This one is my favorite for the moment. This application allows you to learn a new language one step at a time. All you need is commitment, and you’re off to add a new language to your lexicon. You’d pick a language of preference as well as your mother tongue and start the learning process.

I’ve used it before and gave up too soon. I thought that I was not progressing the way I want to. But the key to such an app is perseverance. If you allocate enough time to it daily (as little as 5 minutes), you can find yourself more familiar day after day with the language.

Highly recommended and super easy to use besides the fact that it enriches you on the personal/professional level.

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#4- AudioBooks.com

This application is amazing!

If you are a long road trips lover, or you have long distances of commute every day, this app is definitely for you. Many books are offered for free. The beauty of this app is that it allows you to read books – just through listening to them. It is convenient for bookworms with a twist: the ones who value reading yet don’t allocate or have time for it. Very beneficial, develop you auditory sense and imagination as well as allows you to stay up to date with new publications and books.

Recommended if you don’t mind switching from Reading a Book to Hearing it, and if you’d want to invest in your wasted time on the road.

xxx

Those were my favorite ones, any recommendations from your side?

 

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Let’s Go Indian with “Reservoir Beirut”

20170125_183126-01.jpegExperience… Experience… Experience!

Give me the most “Chichi” restaurant to find or a dime-store, I’d still pick the one with the better “experience” on its menu. (For that, I should be scoring high on the Openness to Experience, one of the Big 5 traits of Personality – also known as OCEAN Model – acronym for Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism).

[…]

Couple of days ago, I knew that “Reservoir Beirut” re-opened, with a new flair.

To those of you who don’t know, Reservoir Beirut was one of the few – actually the only – pub to exist in Ramle Bayda, Beirut. The shop was closed in early 2000s. I know about this place, because back then, when I was a young teen, pubs were still a no-no for my generation yet older people talked about it as if it was the “Hub”.

Flash forward and here I am, on the main entrance of Reservoir Beirut, the place that kept the name, yet changed the feel… Indian Style this time.

I entered the shop. Different from the images I created across the years in my head. Different yet Interesting much.

Welcomed by the co-owner, I sat with my friend waiting for the menu.

[…]

I told you earlier, it is the experience that keeps me going to such places. And that’s exactly what the co-owner managed to show me!

Here, I will highlight the main experiences that will make you want to go (or in my case, go back):

1- The Story behind this place:

When welcomed by the co-owner, the place was a bit quiet. Only two other customers were present (to be fair and square, it was 6:00, a usual dead time in Beirut – right after moving from work and just before heading to dinner).

She was very pleasant, introduced us to the place and told us some info on the Indian traditions and the type of food presented. The interesting part of the story is that, this co-owner was a waitress who used to work in this place long ago, before it closed. Days passed, and after studying abroad, she came back, passed by this place full of early adulthood memories for her,  and set her mind to revive the place again. And she did 🙂

When asked about the reason behind choosing Indian for a cuisine, her answer was that  through the years of study abroad,  most of her friends were from the Indian Community. As a result, she learned some recipes and discovered her “talent” in cooking.

Few years later, the entrepreneur student managed to actually co-open a place that is worth checking.

 

2- The spirit of this place:

One of the things that I liked in Reservoir Beirut when it comes to the setting and display is the actual authenticity. The place is not complicated. No extravaganza, no glitter. A simple place serving simple authentic soul food. The kind of food that doesn’t exist much in the area (Hindi being the only main Indian exception). This simplicity is rare to find in nowadays restaurants.

When I entered, I felt that like I am there, in a local Indian ‘westernized’ restaurant, with true authentic people sitting around one table. The wall dressed with beautiful local portraits and the menu is as simple.

The time we ordered and waited, the co-owner chitchatted with us, and with the other table. Few minutes later, the 5 of us (Our table, the owner and the second table), joined conversations about the place’s history. It felt authentic and real. And that is one experience I genuinely enjoyed.

3- The food inside this place:

Let me tell you something… This place is so “HOT” – take it in any sense you want, and it’ll fit – , you must try it out!

We’ve tried: The Indian Samosas, the Chicken 65, the Indian Corn (Oh my lord, that one is to die for) and the Butter Chicken. Of course, one cannot eat Indian without actually using the traditional Indian bread (Garlic Naan).

  • The Indian Samosas, quite like our Lebanese puff pastries, yet with a twist. Triangular in shape and filled with potatoes and peas, oh I can feel the crust. Very delicious and fulfilling as appetizers.

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  • The Indian Corn, I don’t know what that is… It is one of the simple yet exquisitely made items that will make visit again. Regular corn on the cob, marinated with different spices along with butter and lemon. Simply delicious. Highly recommended as a starter.

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  • The Chicken 65, small fattening cubes of chicken, marinated with spices and fried with ghee (Let’s add 2 kilos to my already overweight body :D). Quite frankly, a good average dish. Even though mixing it with the garlic naan made it even better, the dish wasn’t somewhat of a signature.I would replace it with another item next time.
  • And finally, the Butter Chicken. Okay let’s be real now. Butter + Chicken + Cashew = Deliciousness. Perfect creamy sauce watering the chicken with cashew gave the entire dish quite an identity. Full of flavor and nicely displayed. A ne pas rater!

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Cutting things short, the place is new yet one must give it a try… For the simplicity, authenticity and the good – unusual – taste.

Food Experience: “Oh My” Wok for Umai Wok!

Of all the years I lived (a tiny bit over a quarter of a century), I enjoyed “Experience” most. In Psychology, this trait, according to the Five Factors Model (OCEAN – Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism), is coined as Openness to Experience. (I noticed that I love including psychological terms in my posts).

The fun part in what I wrote earlier is that it doesn’t apply to food for me. My openness to life experiences gets translated into conservatism.

[…]

Today I chose a new restaurant to open in Beirut that is worthy of being called a “Food Experience”.

Umai Wok – The Asian Experience

Until 2 years ago, Chinese food was a big no-no to me. Lucky enough, I tried it and ever since, my taste buds crave it from time to time.

Umai Wok, or let’s just call it “OH MY” Wok is a soul experience for Asian Cuisine lovers (Chinese, Japanese and Thai).

  • The Place:

Located in Hamra – Makdessi Street, in the Courtyard or mostly known as Alleyway (For my kind of generation). Perfect place as you can have a quick happy hour after work and then hop on the second floor for a decent Asian meal.

Entering the restaurant, a zen atmosphere welcomes you. Peaceful and serene. The beauty of this place resides in its simplicity and its details. The decor is an altruistic representation of a modern Asian home, literally: An entrance, a living room, a kitchen and a dining room. The table is dressed with black monochromatic place-mats, modern and Asian-like. The menu had the same look and feel as the shop. Coherence at its best.

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  • The Food:

I tried a Teaser (Chicken Satay) and two Mains (Ponzu Beef Steak and Chicken Cashew Nuts). Japanese Sake was also on the list.

  1. For Thai: Chicken Satay was my number 1 on the Request’s list and my number last on the rating.  This Thai appetizer consisting of chicken chunks marinated with peanuts and satay sauce wasn’t impressive much. Chicken needed more marination and the tasty flavor of peanuts wasn’t just there. 20170109_205330-01.jpeg
  2. For Japanese: Ponzu Beef Steak, Char-grilled beef tenderloin with shiitake mashed potatoes on the side. I’m so coming back for this guy. Tender beef, perfectly garnished and exquisitely seasoned. Umai (Oh My) Steak! Not only the Chef’s Choice, yet so far, winning the award of Steak of the Year! (We’re in 14 January – so we’re being fair here).WhatsApp Image 2017-01-14 at 23.15.33(4).jpeg
  3. For Chinese: Chicken Cashew Nuts is a classic. I tried it as I wanted to benchmark it vis a vis Chinese restaurant in Beirut. Not bad, not bad at all. The waiter promised a succulent taste, and to be frank, he was right. Those little chicken cubes marinated with oyster sauce and cashew nuts were just as good as fancier places in town!WhatsApp Image 2017-01-14 at 23.15.33(2).jpeg
  • The service:

Well, that’s another thing that I liked about the experience. To me (and I am sure to many), the customer service is one core factor that determines how enjoyable an experience would be. The more, the better.

That’s what I felt about this place. The waiter was so attentive and made sure that the experience is as authentic as it can be. Absolute Chapeau for the great customer focus we’ve received. WhatsApp Image 2017-01-14 at 23.15.34(1).jpeg

  • The Overall Experience:

New idea. New Experience. Worth the try.

This sums it up. Having the option to juggle between different Asian Cuisines, indulging your taste buds with food from this corner of the globe and returning with an enjoyable experience is just beautiful…

From food taste to experience to quality for price, I’d give the place a solid 3.5 and I believe it would be a middle ground for Asian Cuisine Lovers, particularly Chinese (On a scale from Chopsticks to PF Chang’s in Lebanon).

 

Cantina Sociale: A Wine-Ful Discovery…

Last week, my friends and I decided to go discover a new place in Beirut. Passing by the busy streets of Ashrafieh, a new place pops up on the main way to Sassine.

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A very “chill” place with what looks like an eco-friendly atmosphere. Located next to Caribou Café, this place looks like a Café but actually for Wine lovers. A terrace with authentic brown chairs (those that remind you of the good old days) and a bike hanging on the wall are the first things you see when entering “Cantina Sociale”.

Cantina is a new concept wine Café opening in Lebanon, yet not so new abroad. It started in fact in Europe as a collaboration of farmers/wine makers to sell their harvest/wine in one place. Indeed, the place is here is wine-full of varieties from different countries in the world (Portugal, Spain, France, South Africa, etc…).

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The space is very friendly, casual and good for groups. The servings offered are more of bites, suitable for a café. Nothing too fancy, nor too light. The menu ranges from Salads to Sandwiches, Cheese… oh my… good Cheese and Charcuterie.

The best part of the place is actually the wine machines. Whether you drink or not, you must check them out! Placed in many places in the shops, each specific for a type (red, rose or white), country (France, Italy, New Zealand, Australia and MANY more), those machines operate through a pre-purchased card on the counter. All one has to do is to get a glass from the shelves, insert the card and chose what wine to order (Sip, half a glass, full glass).

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We ordered a Cheese Board and a Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

The food is good. The grilled cheese sandwich was delicious. Full of flavor, perfectly home – made.

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Cantina also offered popcorn, refilled every while.

Cantina Sociale’s Pros:

1- New Concept in Lebanon (I am sure it will be a success story) – Wine Lovers, this is the perfect hangout place.

2- Cantina’s location is ideal, on the main road, meters away from Sassine Square.

3- The space is cozy, friendly and very inviting – the decoration is simple yet peaceful.

4- The place is affordable for a café with a twist.

5- Popcorn. Better than salty crackers. Just Yummy!

Cantina Sociale’s Cons:

1- The place lacks music. Adding music (classical is the first to come to my mind), would make the stay more enjoyable.

2- Considering the concept is still new, the service was a bit slow. (Yet to be fair, the place is operating for less than a month and its crowded).

I definitely recommend this place. Cozy, good to try with good company. I enjoyed the experience and would definitely go back there!

Inviting you to try it out, whether for the food, the mood or the joy that comes with new experiences!