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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The Lex (A Foodie Blog) *My 100th BLog!!!*

What better way to celebrate my 100th blog than to talk about one of my favorite topics: food. Glorious,  delicious, dance in my mouth food. I confess, I love food. Not just any food but good food, preferably in a restaurant with no dishes to wash after the meal. Due to the economy we go out rarely but this was a special day. A worthy celebration; this was Mother’s Day!  To moms everywhere,  I applaud you, we know how important we are, every day.

Just thinking back at the Mother’s Day dinner at The Lex makes me drool excessively.   We hadn’t been to this particular restaurant in years, often commenting that the food was always good but it was always the same. No specials, nothing new, ever. Much to our incredible delight (and I’m talking about my audible squeals of excitement) the menu had been expanded.  The quality of the food, was always very good. I honestly can’t say that I’ve ever had a bad meal there. Consistency is one of their virtues. Waiter/Waitress service, not so much, but we were here to linger and enjoy.

As soon as we sat down they brought us a bread basket with a sour dough/Italian type bread, bread sticks and crackers topped with poppy, and sesame seeds, and a dish of olive oil for dunking. How can you NOT be happy right away and yes, they do refill graciously  (ask my teenagers). My daughter and I shared a  delicate chopped arugula salad to start. It was simple, fresh and very light. It was served with slivered almonds, goat cheese and I want to say small pieces of hearts of palm. The crunchy and the smooth all wrapped up in one perfect bite.   They even divided the salad into two plates which is really, a very nice touch. The dressing was lovely, (olive oil? a hint of lemon perhaps?light balsamic vinegar?) I’m not sure but  a perfect partner to the salad. The salad did not drown in the salad dressing nor did we have to pick up individual leaves to see if there was dressing on it. It may seem like a small thing but perfectly dressed salads are not that easy to come by. It was a first course that seemed to cleanse my palate and make me hungrier for the main dish. Luckily, we were not in a rush.

I ordered lobster ravioli in a light cream sauce with peas and mushrooms, delicately intertwined and the combination of the flavors made me crazy happy and I swooned. My daughter, who is a vegetarian, ordered butternut squash ravioli that was served with a sweet, apple cinnamon sauce. Sound crazy? Maybe. It was out of this world. Tender, sweet, the consistency of the ravioli played so nicely with the thin apple cinnamon sauce. The staff also went out of their way to make this dish for her because it was not on the menu that night. Nice.

My husband and son shared the Thai lettuce wraps with chicken for an appetizer and the small tidbit I got was flavorful, and spicy.  My husband ordered lamb for his main dish (could have done without seeing the lamb leg) which he said was excellent but looked like something Fred Flinstone would have eaten happily.  It came with roasted asparagus and mashed potatoes.  Our son ordered a nicely done steak that he devoured, it came with a baked potato and broccoli which, of course, he didn’t eat but i did. Teenagers.

For dessert,  our son had the apple-cinnamon crisp, the thick crumbly topping sweet and the texture perfect, hard but moist.  A perfect balance.  Our daughter ordered the brownie sundae which looked more like an elaborate cake than any ordinary brownie. Judging by the scrapes of her fork on her plate, she approved heartily.  She ate it so quickly there was not a piece available for me to taste.  I wouldn’t ordinarily order dessert but (ok, stop roaring with laughter now)  what could I do? It was Mother’s Day and I didn’t want to appear anti-social. I also couldn’t  resist a piece of red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting served with vanilla ice cream. The texture and the smooth flavors melted into my mouth; the cold vanilla ice cream, the rich, moist, smoothness of the red velvet cake. I don’t really know why they call it red velvet and I don’t really care, it was exquisite; that’s all that matters.

I wish Mother’s Day  would come around more than once a year. I desperately want to go back to the Lex for dinner. Thanks to my family and The Lex for a lovely Mother’s Day. Next year, same time, same place, great love.