Bältis, artisanal Lebanese ice cream under an arbor in the heart of Paris

The front is white, smooth and shiny. Clear and transparent. The decor is quickly set, the tone and the flavors too. Nestled at 27 rue Saint-Antoine, in the Marais, the Bältis ice cream parlor deploys its four glass panels to passers-by, giving a glimpse of a planted arbor. In rounded gray letters and a first vowel topped with a trilogy of scoops of ice cream, the ice cream maker quickly left his marks and gave the color. On the terrace, tables, also white, accompanied by chairs in coral and light salmon hues, announce the orange shades of the shop and as an invitation to freshness and softness. The motif of roundness continues inside, under the wrought ironwork of the pergola, in the arcades of the trompe-l’oeil windows, or in the detail of the furniture. “The name of our shop is that of a Phoenician goddess, even a pre-Phoenician one, who seems to have been dedicated to the protection of Beirut or Byblos. We imagined her as a gourmet goddess: on our Instagram page, she takes several forms. We have even declined it on our business cards”, specifies Nadim Kettaneh about the one who is considered the ancestor of Astarte and Venus, with attributes that are close to it. His accomplice, Jean-Michel de Tarrazi, confides that the project was born from his passion for ice cream. “As a consumer, they have always piqued my interest, with frustration on some levels. If I am on the Lebanese side, I wanted a more refined, more westernized ice cream, enriched with techniques that have evolved on this side of the Mediterranean. I wanted to combine interesting flavors that we didn’t usually associate. » The first line of work for the frozen material concerns its texture and the enhancement of its taste content. “I wanted ice creams that were less rich in sugar, less creamy, which gave pride of place to the ingredient.

Bältis sorbets, colors, flavors and textures. Photo taken from the Instagram page @baltisparis

And I wanted to bring a creaminess to the sorbet – and this is where one of the great originalities of Bältis lies – which is often frosted. Moreover, he specifies, sorbets were born in Lebanon, around the 9th century, it was the charabs, discovered by the Crusaders, who a priori left for Sicily with the Arab invasions. We still drink it in the mountains, with crushed ice, debs remmen, blackberry syrup or lemon juice, just as we still make granitas on the Amalfi Coast. “We also wanted to bring something new to sorbet in general and restore its Lebanese origins to the spotlight”, continues Jean-Michel de Tarrazi, who has long been an investor and manager in sectors as varied as luxury craftsmanship. , hospitality or security. Nadim Kettaneh, he worked in finance, before being one of the founders of the Flyp Urban Park trampoline park, in the Quarantine district.

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“The establishment was blown away by the double explosion of August 4, and I arrived in Paris at that time. I was looking for a project that could convey a positive image of Lebanon. I bought into Jean-Michel’s idea and we worked on it for a year and a half. We knew about the success of Lebanese food in France, but we felt that the ice cream and the desserts were not highlighted enough. We grabbed our Proust madeleine and the memories of all the beach returns, where we stopped to eat a good achta ice cream with the family, and we wanted to offer it to the Parisian public in a beautiful setting.” , he confides with a certain modesty.

Jean-Michel de Tarrazi and Nadim Kettaneh behind the Bältis concept. Photo DR

“Achta”, “haléwé”, “semsemiyyé” and cardamom

Bältis has moved to rue Saint-Antoine, between Saint-Paul, place de la Bastille and place des Vosges, in a space that brings together sales and production, since all the ice cream is made on site. “We appreciate the Saint-Paul district, which is both historic and touristic, while having a soul and its own rhythm. From the start, we had the support of local traders and residents. For the Bältis setting, we collaborated with the architect Marc Baroud, for a feel good effect, with the iron arbor reminiscent of both Parisian and Beirut gardens, the pink and orange tones, the zellige parquet… he whole is modern, without losing any in terms of comfort and welcome”, specifies Nadim Kettaneh. Bältis offers a panel of sixteen flavors, including chocolate, haléwé, salted butter caramel, concocted by Jean-Thomas Schneider (World Pastry Champion in 2017, World Ice Cream Champion in 2018 and Best Ice Cream Maker in France in 2019). “The haléwé can surprise the French palate, but also the Lebanese palate, because it will be different, very fine and less sweet”, specifies Jean-Michel Abou Hamad, while recalling that the concern for the authenticity of the taste is essential for the duo. “We do a lot of procurement work. Our products are organic and our goal is to keep the good taste of fruit in sorbets, with as little sugar as possible,” adds Nadim Kettaneh.

An invitation to enter, choose and taste, on the terrace if you like. Photo taken from the Instagram page @baltisparis

Under the arbor, the customer can choose Bältis preparations, such as achta covered with crushed pistachios or ghazel el-banet, which are very popular. Another more colorful option is an apricot sorbet topped with pine nuts, raisins, almonds, an apricot glaze and orange blossom water. “We tried to recreate the khchef, this apricot nage that we all love, with its regressive side. And then we offer homemade products that come around the ice cream: lemonades, iced teas, Lebanese coffees with cardamom that our customers request a lot”, adds Jean-Michel Abou Hamad. A biscuit factory, whose products come from Lebanon, also awaits visitors to the place, pistachio barazek, ghraybé, semsemiyyé, but also baklava… Among the varied clientele of Bältis (tourists, neighbors, passers-by or schoolchildren), it is the achta ice cream seems to be the most popular, followed closely by rose water and orange blossom sorbets and “bird’s nests”, those very popular little frozen bites. The menu will adapt to winter frosts; until then, the question arises of the secret of the smoothness of Bältis sorbets. “It’s in the work of formulating the ice cream and not in adding another product like sahlab”, suggests Nadim Kettaneh, sibylline. They had promised “ice cream like a trip to Lebanon” and, with the complicity of Marc Baroud, “like a bridge between Beirut and Paris, but also between childhood and adulthood”. They did it.

The front is white, smooth and shiny. Clear and transparent. The decor is quickly set, the tone and the flavors too. Nestled at 27 rue Saint-Antoine, in the Marais, the Bältis ice cream parlor deploys its four glass panels to passers-by, giving a glimpse of a planted arbor. In rounded gray letters and a first vowel topped with a trilogy of balls of…


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