The Ethiopian Food Experience (A Foodie Blog)

For a girl who grew up on Wonder bread, butter and American cheese sandwiches for most of her life eating Ethiopian food was quite the dining experience. I used to be hesitant (ok, stubborn and frightened) by eating new foods until I met my husband who introduced various ethnic food dishes to me with patience. I eat Indian food, Chinese, Japanese (no sushi though) Asian-fusion, Thai and now Ethiopian (Italian food is a given!)  Not only did I enjoy it, I kept up with my husband in terms of handling the various spices and I admit, I was proud. Food to me now is an adventure and I LOVE it.

We ate in a fairly new, small, Ethiopian restaurant  and it was delightful. I felt like I was critiquing for Gourmet Magazine, I was that excited. The decor was simple and understated but truly reflected the beauty and simplicity of Ethiopia. There were a few black and white photographs from Ethiopia on the warm, burnt orange walls. The tables were classic and made out of wood. The restaurant is like sunshine; our waitress was mostly silent though out our meal but the owner was absolutely lovely and talkative.

I was excited to try the Ethiopian, thin, spongy bread called Injera that everybody was talking about. I love eating with my fingers so diving in to tear off a piece of bread and grab and pinch food was not only delicious but fun too. Across the restaurant I saw two men eating with forks and I scoffed; I felt superior (though I still haven’t mastered the art of chopsticks yet.)I can definitely relate to eating with my fingers and getting messy. It’s a grown-up version of your toddler’s tray table.

We started with an avocado salad that was lovely and light, it had chopped onions and tomatoes mixed in (maybe some peppers too). I did miss a dash of salt but I decided to stay in the moment. Interestingly, we brought some home for leftovers and it seemed to have gotten spicier overnight, perhaps it needed time on the bread to absorb the spices. I admit, on the second day it was a little too spicy for me to handle eating.  It was served on the very thin, fermented bread that many say “you either like it or you don’t.” It has a unique taste alone but once you are sopping up delicious sauces with it, it is much more pleasurable. It acts like a sponge absorbing the heat and spice of the food.

We ordered a tasting platter (again served on their bread) and we were delighted with what we got. The platter contained very small portions of three types of meat and three vegetarian dishes. Honestly, sometimes we didn’t now what was what  but we didn’t care. There was a little chicken, a little lamb and I think a little beef though it was quite indescernible. It also came with three different vegetarian samples: puree of peas, lentil and cabbage. I loved the lingering smell on my fingers from the spicy food.

It’s the type of restaurant you want to introduce your friends to. It really is a sweet gem. You WANT this restaurant to succeed and I have no doubt that it will. I’m eager to go again and soon.

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Bad Karma For Eating Out (A Foodie Blog)

Let’s just say that my husband and I should have stuck to our original plan to stay in tonight and eat scrambled eggs with toast. But no, I had to see a video of a new Ethiopian restaurant ten minutes away and want to go. I wanted to go as in now and immediately. Big mistake.  First of all we go there and having read that they were open seven days a week, they weren’t. It’s Monday and yes, they were closed. We moved next door to a tiny Jamaican Jerk Chicken place which did say, on their front window, “We Are Open 7 Days A Week.” Guess what? They weren’t. The door was open and so we walked in only for the owner to tell us they were closed!  “Oh, he said, just today, but we are open on Mondays.”  That said, we walked out again, even hungrier than before.

Starving now, and not having enough to eat during the day  I was not happy; my husband was not happy. We were hungry. We get cranky when we get hungry sometimes. It happens. Down the street is a very inexpensive Greek restaurant, ample supplies of food at the most inexpensive prices. We have been going there since it opened about five years ago. It is consistently good, cheap, portions are enormous and they serve the meals rapidly. My husband ordered the Lemon-Chicken soup (Avegolemono or something that sounds like that) with grape leaves stuffed with rice, sour cream sauce (Tzatziki which I thought was supposed to be made with yogurt, my bad) on the side. It says yogurt on the menu, they serve real sour cream. Can’t argue the taste.

I wanted to have something different so I ordered Lamb Souvlaki on pita bread. I eat sliced lamb about once a year and only in this form and never in front of my daughter, the vegetarian. I ate several bites and swooned, it was fresh, juicy, filled with lettuce and tomato…….and a dead bee. I swear, I picked this odd-looking thing out of the pita sandwich, thinking it was just part of a vegetable and looked straight into the dead bee’s head and body.

The owner saw what had happened, took the dead bee and asked if I wanted another sandwich. Honestly? I couldn’t face the thought of even looking at the same dish so I politely declined. I ate some of my husband’s salad and that was it for the night. Well, that is until I start snacking later….with my dog around 10:30 PM.

My husband looks over at me and says  “why do these things always happen to you?”  He did not say this with loving concern but a bemused, comical grin. “Just lucky I guess” I answered, heading for the doorway to LEAVE.  It’s true though, things like this happen to me all the time, a bug, hair in my food, egg-shell in eggs (this is all making me gag).

After the first unsuccessful trip to the restaurant we should have just gone home. The scrambled eggs would have been shell-less, the toast would have been crisp and I would have put butter and honey on it. This is what happens when I get an idea in my head and change plans. I should just listen to the signs when they first appeared, stopped, stay put and settled into our uncomfortable kitchen chairs. We would have been happy with either scrambled eggs or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner. That would have been ideal. Will I learn? Probably not.