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Back in the mid 1700's the explorer James Bruce described an Ethiopian feast, followed by an orgy, in which slabs of meat were cut off live cattle outside the banquette hall while guests feasted on them, serenaded by the bleating of butchered livestock. Honored guests at the front of the table got the first juicy cuts, by the time the servings got to those at the end of the table the meat would be drained of blood, dry and tough. We've progressed to steak tartar, one of my favorites, or kifto in the Ethiopian style often served impossibly spicy, same raw meat but hopefully garnered more in line with today's sensibilities. We also no longer recommend orgies on a full stomach.
They didn't have kifto on the day we visited this restaurant, we should have ordered ahead, but this was one of the tastiest meals in memory. Sorry to say the place closed shortly thereafter and none of the other Ethiopian restaurants in the City ever come close to it.
We head deep into the Alphabets for dinner and order a bottle of Chateau Tellagh, Medea Rouge 2003, first Algerian wine I recall having. It goes well with our Ethiopian dinner at Meskel - "Ethiopian Home Cooking". Meskel Combination consists of heaped stews of spiced lamb, beef and various condiments: tibs wat, beg alicha, kik alicha, miser wat and gomen besega*, all served family-style on a platter of injera, perfectly spongy sourdough-like bread similar to crepes made from fermented tef, an Ethiopian grain. There's a separate plate of rolled injera. Who's going to eat all that? But by the time we're done the bread is done as well. It's all finger food, not a fork, knife or spoon in sight: tear off a piece of injera, collect some stew from the platter and try to to get it all neatly to your mouth. Our second entree, a whole deep-fried fish with a side of spicy tatar sauce gets demolished and picked clean by eager fingers as well. The injera from the bottom of the plate is the best part, soaked as it is with the combined flavors of all the dishes. We waddle home.
still need to deal with some Häagen-Dazs Belgian Chocolate Ice Cream waiting in the wings ...
* Tibs wat is made with beef or lamb sautéed in butter with onions, garlic, and green peppers. Beg alicha is a mild lamb stew cooked with clarified butter and a variety of herbs. Kik alicha is a delicious yellow split pea stew that is mildly spiced and flavored with ginger and garlic. Misir wat is a thick stew made of whole green lentils with onion, garlic, and ginger. Gomen besiga is lamb and collard greens gently cooked with clarified butter with just a hint of Ethiopian cardamom.
well ... I did ask for a doomsday a-bomb mushroom cloud sky ...
Don't we all have our 'sick' or 'being off' days. FWIW, been watching re-runs of 'Grimm' via Comet TV, might have influenced me a bit.
All I know about Grimm is a few glimpses I got on the way to the fridge past the tv with my eyes averted.
This mushroom looks a bit better?
Stuyvesant Street in the East Village may be the only street running true east–west in Manhattan, it runs diagonally to the grid, making for an interesting corner with St. Marks on Third Avenue. For eons it held our favorite Japanese restaurant as well as a super Asian grocery accessible only via a service elevator. It's all gone now, torn down this Spring to make room for high-rise dorms or some such.
One of our neighborhood Japanese restaurants has been doing half price for some time now and the place is getting more and more crowded every time I visit. They now have a crew of ten sushi chefs, count them ... ten! ... each one loudly greeting every new arrival with hello! without looking up from carving fish. It's amusing at first.
We slide into chairs along the sushi bar and order Sashimi Deluxe, a Green Dragon (eel,) California roll, crab maki and two ikura sushis (salmon roe is one of my favorites,) and then settle down to watch them slice endless colors of fish and decorate the trays just so before hitting the bell signaling they are done.
The Japanese guy next to me gets his huge plate of sushi-sashimi combo and mutters 'too much, too much' even as he disappears pieces at an alarming rate. There are lots of Asian customers, always a good sign for a Japanese restaurant I figure, and you know it's tasty when you see the chefs trying bits of fish ever so often.
Just then one of the waiters comes by and surreptitiously hands out little packets to each of the chefs. Can't be I say to myself, but yes, one of them sees me looking and gives a little grin as he ducks down below the counter to take a bite from his McDonalds hamburger.
guess it's understandable when you're slicing fish day-in day-out ...