Manarola – A Popular Mediterranean Tourist Destination

Manarola pic
Manarola
Image: tripadvisor.com

Entrepreneur Assad Boulos manages a variety of businesses including restaurants and shopping centers in Houston, Texas. Outside of work, Assad Boulos enjoys traveling to various points of interest around the world including the Mediterranean region.

A popular tourist destination in the Mediterranean is the coastal town of Manarola, located in the Italian Riviera. It is one of five famed villages in an area known as Cinque Terre, meaning five lands, in reference to the five towns, all of which are connected by walking paths. The very popular walking path between Manarola and the town of Riomaggiore is called Via dell Amore or Lover’s Lane.

The main attraction is the village itself, which is made up of colorful houses literally built on a rock cliff that rises 70 meters above the sea. Packed densely together, the houses look as if they may just slide down into the sea at any given moment, although they have been there for centuries. A fishing community with a tiny harbor, the village has no natural beaches but has some of the best deep swimming areas in Italy.

Blessed with vineyards, Manarola also makes wine and its local vintage, Sciacchetra, is of high repute. Reference of the fine wine produced in the area can be found in ancient Roman records.

Facts About the Maronite Church and Its Parish in Houston

Maronite Church pic
Maronite Church
Image: ourladyofthecedars.net

Houston businessman Assad Boulos has established a number of restaurants including his latest, Juan Parilla that offers Latin Fusion cuisine. In addition to his professional responsibilities, Assad Boulos is an active member of the Our Lady of the Cedars Maronite Church in Houston, Texas, where he regularly hosts fundraising activities.

The Maronite Church, an Eastern Catholic Church, takes its name from St. Maron, a fourth century Syrian hermit whose followers have remained loyal to the Catholic church but have their own hierarchy and conclave. The church’s history is marked by great sufferings due to its faith and at one point, Maronites left north Syria and sought shelter in the Lebanese mountains under the shade of the cedar trees.

The establishment of Our Lady of the Cedars Maronite Church in Houston was an effort that began over two decades ago with the main building finally dedicated on March 9, 2003. Aside from offering regular masses, the parish is assisted by a number of organizations such as the parish council, which provides nonbinding advice to the priest and the community.

The Daughters of Mary, a women’s organization founded in 1994, plays a supporting role to help the priest and parish meet its goals and needs. Other partner groups include the Knights of the Cedars, Helping Hands, Maronite Youth Organization, and the church choir.

Bandeja Paisa – A Traditional Hearty Colombian Midday Dish

Bandeja Paisa pic
Bandeja Paisa
Image: foodnetwork.com

Assad Boulos is a longtime Houston entrepreneur who has managed a number of convenience stores and shopping centers over the past three decades. Assad Boulos has also spearheaded several restaurants, including Juan Parilla, which features a Latin-fusion menu and is situated in the popular Galleria area.

Juan Parilla’s chef is a native Colombian and highlights the unique flavors of his native country in dishes such as ceviche and bandeja paisa. Literally meaning “people’s plate,” bandeja paisa is traditional in coffee-growing regions, where plantation harvesters would come down from the steep hillsides at midday seeking a hearty meal.

While actual components vary, depending on what is fresh and available locally, bandeja paisa incorporates ingredients such as steak, French fries, a fried egg, chicharron (fried pork belly), rice, and beans. It may also be accompanied by tajadas de plátano, or baked sweet plantains. Lime is served on the side to squeeze on top, as well as sliced avocados. Bandeja paisa is often served with mazamorra, a drink made of milk and maize grain.

The Lebanese Roots of the Maronite Church

Lady of the Cedars pic
Lady of the Cedars
Image: ourladyofthecedars.net

Houston restaurateur Assad Boulos has over 20 years of experience in managing the daily business functions of a variety of restaurants and retail venues. His current venture is Juan Parilla, a high-end Colombian eating establishment. Aside from work, Assad Boulos regularly contributes his time and resources to his church, Our Lady of the Cedars.

Our Lady of the Cedars is a Maronite Church of the Eastern Catholic Church tradition. It was established in Houston in 1991 by Father Milad T. Yaghi and is known for its strong Lebanese community.

The origins of the Maronite Church date back to the fourth century when St. Maron,
a Syrian hermit, started drawing a number of followers who were anxious to separate themselves from a growing controversy with the church in Antioch. His followers, who became known as Maronites, eventually sought refuge in the mountains of Lebanon under the cedar trees. They actively sought to spread Christianity to the local people, and were quite successful in expanding their following.

Throughout the centuries, the Maronite church resisted numerous advances by Muslim invaders, holding fast to their beliefs and traditions in spite of intense persecution. Even today, the Maronite tradition is central to the Lebanese culture.