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One of Natalie Portman’s favorite restaurants in NYC is Lebanese

One of Natalie Portman’s favorite vegan restaurants in New York City is a Lebanese restaurant called ilili.

In an interview with Timeout.com, Portman was promoting her upcoming documentary “Eating Animals” when asked about her favorite vegan eateries in New York.

Portman, who holds dual Israeli and American citizenship, said “Ilili is a great Lebanese restaurant that I love.”

Ilili, which means “tell me” in Arabic, is located in New York’s Flatiron district and serves “creative Lebanese sharing plates, entrees & cocktails served up in a trendy, modern space.”

Ilili is located on 5th Avenue in New York City. (Facebook/ilili Restaurant)
Ilili is located on 5th Avenue in New York City. (Facebook/ilili Restaurant)

Some iconic Lebanese vegan dishes that are featured in the restaurant include variations of falafel, mujadara, foul and hummus.

RELATED: 5 Lebanese vegan recipes perfect for Veganuary!

In addition to a dine in experience, ilili also offers catering and delivery options through Uber Eats, Grub Hub and Postmates.

The interior of Lebanese restaurant Ilili in New York City. (Facebook/ilili Restaurant)
The interior of Lebanese restaurant ilili in New York City. (Facebook/ilili Restaurant)

To check out their menu on their website, click here. Ilili is located at 236 5th Avenue in New York City.

Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary: Lebanese heritage influenced my career

On TV, Kevin O’Leary is a staunchly money-driven businessman known for his big investments and blunt off-the-cuff remarks. But when the cameras are off, the multimillionaire is a proud family man who has passed down his Lebanese values to his children.

O’Leary is best known for his role in the ABC television series Shark Tank, where he is one of five ‘shark’ investors who listen to entrepreneur pitches and choose whether or not to invest in their startups. He is also the co-founder of the billion-dollar tech company SoftKey Software Products.

The Canadian-born businessman was raised by an Irish salesman father and Lebanese businesswoman mother. He spoke candidly to Lebanese Examiner about his rapid success in the world of business, and how his Lebanese values still carry on to this day.

“Lebanese culture is one of the most successful entrepreneurial cultures on earth,” O’Leary says. “I’m very proud to say that because it’s true.”

All In the Family Business

Growing up, O’Leary was surrounded by business and hard work. His grandfather immigrated to Montreal, Canada from Hasbaya, Lebanon and built a successful clothing manufacturing company called Kiddie Togs.

“That’s how I learned family values, and I think those things are very important,” O’Leary says. “You don’t realize that until you get older. The work ethic in Lebanese families is legendary.”

Kevin O'Leary and his mother Georgette Bookalam. (Twitter/Kevin O'Leary)
Kevin O’Leary and his mother Georgette Bookalam. (Twitter/Kevin O’Leary)

O’Leary’s mother, aunts and uncle all worked hard to keep the family business running, but they always made time for family. His mother Georgette Bookalam died in 2008, and her sons credit their successes to her teachings.

“My mother Georgette was one of the most influential people in my career,” O’Leary says. “To this day, her wisdom and advice guide me in almost every business choice I make.”

The O’Leary home valued family. Sunday dinners were an important part of his life growing up, and it started a special tradition that continues today.

Kevin O'Leary and his family. (Facebook/Kevin O'Leary)
Kevin O’Leary and his family. (Facebook/Kevin O’Leary)

“I remember every Sunday if you didn’t show up for dinner that (my grandmother) prepared all day long, you would burn down in perpetuity,” he says. “I appreciate that because I have those same rules now. I try to get my family together no matter where we are every Sunday to keep that tradition going.”

Lebanese DNA

O’Leary once lived in Cyprus, and would visit Beirut often in the sixties before troubles broke out in the region. His experience in global investments have taken him around the world – and he always finds a Lebanese friend with an incredible business story.

“Lebanese are very smart investors,” he says. “If you go to any city in the world, you’re going to find that the core Lebanese community is very successful. Very often, they own all the real estate in town and lots of different businesses.”

Through his travels, he always finds a good Lebanese meal, too.

“It’s no surprise to me when I go to South America, Cambodia, Europe, wherever, I always go for a good meal,” he says. “I look for a good Lebanese restaurant.”

Kevin O'Leary on the set of the ABC series Shark Tank. (Disney ABC Press)
Kevin O’Leary on the set of the ABC series Shark Tank. (Disney ABC Press)

The entrepreneurial spirit flows through the Lebanese blood, he adds. Today, when he lectures at universities all over North America, he shares these stories with American and Canadian students.

“Some of us are born to create wealth, and others are meant to work there,” O’Leary says. “That’s just the way it is. They are both noble pursuits, but Lebanese have built businesses, they take risks and they support their families – they have a cultural disposition to do that.”

Kevin O'Leary and his mother Georgette Bookalam. (Twitter/Kevin O'Leary)
Kevin O’Leary and his mother Georgette Bookalam. (Twitter/Kevin O’Leary)

O’Leary believes his grandmother and mother played a central role in his career. He calls them “powerful matriarchs,” and says they exist in every Lebanese family.

“I’m a big supporter of women entrepreneurs – women are very good at business,” he adds. “I think the Lebanese culture was one of the first to support the concept of matriarchal values.”

These values, he says, are part of his career decisions, every day.

WATCH: ‘Frooza Booza’ turns any dessert into rolled ice cream

A Beirut-based ice cream shop is serving up ice cream in a unique way!

The ‘Frooza Booza’ shop in Beirut’s Mar Mikhael district will turn any of your favorite desserts into rolled ice cream.

The viral INSIDER YouTube channel featured them in 2017 for their speciality menu items.

Rolled ice cream fillings include red velvet cupcakes, Oreo cheesecake, coffee and various fruit flavors.

(Instagram/Frooza Booza)
(Instagram/Frooza Booza)

The rolled ice cream trend is already gaining popularity around the world, but ‘Frooza Booza’ put the dessert on the map in Lebanon!

It is also one of the first rolled ice cream shops in the Middle East, INSIDER reports.

The shop is run by Elias Saade and his fiancee Lea Abi Ramia, who opened the location about two years ago. They also sell ice cream sandwiches, macaron sandwiches and ice cream with Bailey’s liqueur.

Check out the video by INSIDER here:

Tickets for Tomorrowland Lebanon are on sale now for $70

Tomorrowland is returning to Lebanon on July 28, and tickets are now on sale to the general public for $70 per person!

The one day event takes place from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. at the Beirut International Exhibition and Leisure Center, near the main highway in Beirut.

Tommorrowland is the largest music festival in the world. It takes place in Belgium every year and draws thousands of people.

Lebanon is one of seven countries that will be a part of the Tomorrowland’s international festivals. The special effects at the festival will be synchronized with the show in Belgium “adding value to the global connection,” the official website says.

RELATED: Shakira to perform in Lebanon during Cedars International Festival

Last year the event took place on July 29 and UNITE Tomorrowland held festivals in Lebanon, Dubai, Germany, Israel, Malta, South Korea and Spain — and they were all connected through one world theme.

The 2018 line-up of local & international artists will be announced soon.

You can buy your tickets for Unite Tomorrowland, by clicking here.

Watch the official trailer for 2018 UNITE With Tomorrowland below:

Lebanese man wins $1 million jackpot at Dubai Duty Free for the second time

Lebanese expat Musleh Mousa Hassan won the top prize of the Dubai Duty Free Millennium Millionaire lottery during the latest draw for the second time in six years.

The June 2018 drawing took place at the Dubai International Airport. The first time Hassan won the top prize of $1 million was in November 2012.

According to Dubai Duty Free, he is the tenth Lebanese citizen to win the jackpot since it was created in 1999.

Musleh Mousa Hassan won $1 million in Dubai Duty Free drawing for the second time. (Dubai Duty Free)
Musleh Mousa Hassan won $1 million in Dubai Duty Free drawing for the second time. (Dubai Duty Free)

Hassan is a a 73-year old corporate manager of an insurance company. He was born in Lebanon, but lives in Dubai.

In a statement, he thanked the Dubai Duty Free store for the good luck — twice in six years!

“I remember when I first won $1 million in 2012 — I was over the moon, and winning again .. is just truly an unexpected surprise,” Hassan said. “Thank you, Dubai Duty Free for my amazing second win.”

After Hassan was declared the winner of the top prize, an additional three luxury vehicles were given away by the duty free store to French, Indian and Pakistani citizens.

WATCH: Lebanese man wins $1 million at Dubai Duty Free:

Lebanese Forces, Kataeb and PSP call on Aoun to nullify citizenship decree

The Lebanese Forces, Progressive Socialist Party, and Kataeb Party issued a joint statement urging Lebanese President Michel Aoun to nullify his controversial decree granting Lebanese citizenship to over 400 foreigners.

The decree grants Lebanese nationality to mostly wealthy Syrians, some of which are considered close to the Syrian regime, the Daily Star reports.

In the statement, the parties called on the President to “abrogate the decree” and later added that a reasonable decree would include special cases only.

lf kataeb psp

“(A reasonable decree) includes people with very special cases and have specific humanitarian conditions that are consistent with the Lebanese Constitution provisions and the criteria for granting the Lebanese citizenship,” the statement added.

Kataeb MP Sami Gemayel requested the Lebanese Interior Minister release “full text and names” so that “we can study it and give an opinion about it in order to take any legal or constitutional steps we need to.”

Lebanese Foreign Minister-elect Gebran Bassil defended the naturalization decree, saying the President and the foreign ministry are “not involved in any suspicious acts regarding the controversial naturalization decree,” wires reported.

Although Saad Hariri is a part of the March 14 alliance with the LF, PSP and Kataeb, he sided with Aoun and signed the controversial decree into law.

Casino du Liban expects $10M in profit in 2018: Casino president Khoury

Casino du Liban president Roland Khoury projected the net profits for the establishment to be over $10 million for the fiscal year of 2018.

In 2017, the casino rebounded after Khoury took over with a $3 million profit after years of experiencing losses, the Daily Star reports.

The casino is majority owned by the government through the Intra Investment Company and is managed by London Clubs International, a subsidiary of Caesars Entertainment Corporation.

Casino Lebanon

As a result, the establishment pays lots of taxes on most of their games inside. Khoury said “We pay nearly $40 million in taxes on the slot machines.”

He called on tax reform in the country so that the casino will be able to better compete with casinos in Cyprus and around the world.

Despite his grievances, many analysts have noted that the expected revenue for 2018 is promising given the small size of Lebanon’s population and where a significant percentage of people do not gamble.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri warns Iran to stay out of Lebanon’s affairs

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has responded to an Iranian General’s comments about the most recent parliamentary elections in Lebanon and Iraq.

Video on Lebanese social media circulated of General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite fighting Quds Force, praising Hezbollah’s electoral gains stating that “Lebanese elections turned Hezbollah into a resistance government.”

Soleimani added that these victories “came at a time when some Arab countries labeled it and its leaders as terrorists.”

Saad Hariri warns Iran Beirut paraliamentary elections future party

The Iranian-backed militia group Hezbollah and allies gained a total of 29 seats in the most recent Lebanese parliamentary elections.

RELATED: Lebanese Americans vote in parliamentary elections

Hariri told reporters on Monday the statements by the general are “regrettable” and added that interfering in Lebanon’s internal affairs is “not in Iran’s interest, nor those of Lebanon or the region,” according to the Associated Press.

According to a UN-backed tribunal, five Hezbollah members were allegedly involved in the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri, Saad Hariri’s father. Hezbollah denies the allegations.

WATCH: American kids try Lebanese food for the first time!

Kids can be extremely picky eaters, especially when it comes to trying unfamiliar dishes from other parts of the world.

That’s why it’s no surprise there were mixed reactions when a group of kids tried Lebanese food for the first time!

WATCH: Kids try Lebanese food for the first time!

The YouTube channel HiHo Kids sat down with five American kids to taste-test an array of Lebanese dishes, including a zaatar manoushe, shish tawouk, a smorgasbord of mezze and halawet el jibn for dessert.

Their reactions were priceless!

manoushe

The kids were first given a zaatar manouche to munch on.

“It’s the same size of my face,” said one girl.

shish tawouk

Everyone loves chicken!

No surprise — the kids liked the shish tawouk the most.

“No really, it’s good, it’s good,” said one kid. “It’s not bad.”

mezze

Next came the mezze.

“Whoaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” the first kid exclaimed.

The mezze platter featured hummus, cheese, olives, grape leaves and kafta.

The olive seeds may have come as a surprise to some kids.

halawet el jibn

Halawet el jibn can make anyone smile.

But not these kids! Only one kid liked this dessert.

“I didn’t like it at first, but now I like it,” he said.

The HiHo Kids YouTube channel taste-test foods from all over the country, including Jamaica, Korea, Australia and Greece, among others.

Lebanese Day3a of the Day: Hasroun

Hasroun (حصرون), romanticized as the “Rose of the Mountain,” is a day3a (village) located in northern Lebanon in the Bsharri District — about 63 miles (102 KM) from Beirut.

With an approximate population of 12,000, the exquisite town overlooks the Qannoubine Valley at around 1,400 meters above sea level.

You beauty #Hasroun by @joenohra

A post shared by Live Love Hasroun (@livelovehasroun) on

The vast majority of the population living in Hasroun practice the Maronite Catholic faith; the day3a is home to the shrine of Saint Thomas, the shrine of Saint Michael and the shrine of St. James.

The day3a was an impregnable fortress, a couple hundred years ago, that provided a refuge for Maronites persecuted by invaders, according to DiscoverLebanon.com.

hasroun lebanon

If you are planning to visit Hasroun this summer, don’t miss the beautiful annual Hasroun Flower Festival from June 30 to July 1.

According to Lebanon Traveler, if you want to find a great manoushe for breakfast or kaak for a late night snack, some of the best bakeries in town are Leba El Amrieh’s Bakery and Georgette Badra’s Bakery.

On a hot sunny day, Surgels Ice Cream shop is the perfect place to eat if you want to cool down.

During summer nights the day3a is alive with food and clothing festivals!

#heritage #hasroun by @josephabdophotography

A post shared by Live Love Hasroun (@livelovehasroun) on

Check out the tourist guide for the day3a, by clicking here.

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