Yummy, unusual dinner

colleenozFebruary 10, 2013

We went into town this afternoon to see "Life of Pi" (which was good) and DH had researched for restaurants within cooee of the cinema since it's a work night and we didn't want to be super late.
We've been branching out a bit lately, with our last two meals being Korean (which is fairly new here) and tonight's dinner was Eritrean.
Yum! We had a lamb in sauce dish, not unlike Rogan Josh, with side dishes of a green bean, carrot and potato stew, a black lentil stew (served at room temp) and a sort of spicy thick sauce which included ground chick peas. It was served with injera, a kind of cross between a crumpet and a giant pancake, to tear pieces off and scoop up the other foods with instead of using cutlery. We really enjoyed it all and the waitress was really friendly and helpful.
While we ate, the Chinese restaurant across the street had a show going with a traditional band and lion dancers and firecrackers; not sure if it was a straight Lunar New Year celebration or a grand opening, but it was pretty cool to watch :-)
Then, to top it all off, a group of African ladies all came out into the restaurant from the kitchen, and sat down with a portable single burner gas stove, and one proceeded to roast some green coffee beans in a little pan which looked like it was made of a large tuna can with a handle welded on. We were quite fascinated and the ladies chatted amongst themselves, and included us from time to time. When the beans were sufficiently roasted, the roaster brought them around to us and the other guests so we could waft the smoke towards ourselves like a sort of incense ceremony. Then she tipped the beans into a flat basket to cool, and took them to the kitchen to grind them.
Next, she placed the ground coffee into a clay jug which had a globular bottom and a tall, narrow spout, added water and cooked it over the gas stove, pouring it back and forth into another jug from time to time. When it was ready she offered us little cups which she had poured from the jug in a thin stream held high up from the cup. It was really good and we were glad to be offered a second cup :-) I can say I've never had such freshly roasted coffee.
When DH went to pay and thank the waitress for our delicious meal, she said she hadn't charged us for the coffee as it's a social custom from her home that whoever's making coffee shares it with anyone who shows up, and she can't bring herself to ask people to pay :-)
We'll certainly return, hopefully we'll be able to convince family and friends to come as well.

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This sounds delicious and all around wonderful!


    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 11:01AM
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Sounds amazing! I took a trip to SF once when my mom had an exhibit. We stayed with friends from Maine. And my mom touched base with people she knew from going to college in Portland, living for a bit in SF and later in NYC as well as other Mainers. We needed to have some kind of meal that included everyone. We fell in love with an Ethiopian restaurant and the lady running it. We had a wonderful huge meal with all of these people who didn't know each other. One of those events that could have been really awful or wonderful - it came out amazingly.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 3:00PM
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Ooooh, lucky you to have gotten true Ethiopian coffee! It's one thing we love about Ethiopian/Eritrean (similar foods, now separate countries long at war so don't confuse the two!) restaurants - one never gets a bad cup of coffee there.

There is a large Ethiopian/Eritrean community here in the SF Bay Area. Our neighborhood is getting its first Ethiopian coffee shop (we have markets and dozens of restaurants, but this is the first coffee-only place near us). They describe it as "coffee served the traditional Ethiopian way: a smooth, rich brew that's heated over an open flame and poured, unfiltered, out of the jug-shaped clay pot known as a jebeena."

For those who would like to see the differences in menu names, I'll first post a link to an Ethiopian restaurant menu, and in a following post, an Eritrean one. Many of the dishes are similar, with slightly different names, but there is also some variance in how Ethiopians and Eritreans season their cooking.

BTW, if you love hummus, shiro is even better!

Here is a link that might be useful: Enssaro Ethiopian Restaurant

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 4:50PM
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And here is a menu from an Eritrean place that is one of our favorites, so you can see the subtle differences:

Here is a link that might be useful: Cafe Eritrea d'Afrique

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 4:52PM
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It sounds deliious, Colleen, lucky you.

Elery and I have eaten at the Ethiopian restaurant in Ann Arbor more than once and the food is delicious and well prepared. The coffee is also very good, but that you had sounds better, ours was not roasted while we waited!

I found after the first visit that the vegetables were better than the meat products and so just order the vegetable platter, which comes with a stack of injera.


    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 6:30PM
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Sounds fab!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 3:16AM
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I'm familiar with Eritrea mainly from studying paleoanthropology, but I would not want to visit there, due to politics. It is generally believed now that when the first humans left Africa, they went through the Horn and into southern Arabia, and so that area has a lot of interesting artifacts and remains. From southern Arabia they went through India and down into Australia, and the aboriginals in Australia were part of this first exodus, but I'm sure you already knew this. They did not go through Egypt, Palestine, or Mesopotamia, as that migration came much later.

There is a new Ethiopian restaurant close to my house, about 3/4 mile away, and Kevin and I really like it. It used to be Lebanese, and we liked that also, but we have several choices for Lebanese. There is another Ethiopian restaurant about a mile and a half from our house, and we like that one too, but both of them are rather small and cramped. Most of the Ethiopian restaurants are in the southern Fairfax district, down almost to Culver City, but most of the are hit or miss. There is one that is excellent, called House of Genet that I took Lee to when she was here once, and she seemed to like it. I'm only beginning to make African food; i.e., beyond Algerian or Moroccan. I haven't made the injera bread, but it looks easy, and it's on my list. I can only get it in restaurants.

Eileen and I went to an Ethiopian restaurant in San Francisco when I first met her. It was one block from the commune on Valencia Street where I lived in 1973-4! We lived in a storefront that had been a dance studio, but now the storefront has been broken up into two separate stores, side by side. It was weird to see that.

I'll be on the look-out for Eritrean food, but I will have to skip the coffee:>( Thanks for sharing your experience!


    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 5:42PM
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