Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 339

Ethopian Vegetarian Platter: It's not too often that I experience a cuisine for the first time, but that's exactly what happened tonight. I'd been meaning to try Ethiopian food for awhile, but for some reason, I'd never made it a priority. However, the blog is close to winding down, and I wanted to make sure I tried it before the 365 days were up. With that in mind, me and the GF hit Desta on Briarcliff Road tonight. Several people had recommended it, so off we went.

The menu was actually much more extensive than I expected, with items ranging from breakfast specialties to full-on dinners. It was the first time in awhile that a menu's language had stumped me - it featured lots of words I'd never read, not to mention the food itself. Instead of trying to narrow down my choices to a couple dishes, I opted for the combination vegetarian platter, which featured a small portion of everything on the vegetarian section of the menu. I usually don't order vegetarian anywhere, but I'd heard that it was a great choice with Ethiopian cuisine.

Once the server brought my order, I was pretty amazed at what I saw. The colors on the plate were incredible, and the presentation almost made me not want to eat it. Almost. The meal was served with injera, the spongy flatbread that's apparently a staple during most Ethiopian meals. Keep in mind that I'd never had any of these dishes before, so I'm going to attempt to cover a few instead of all. This type of combo post is a first for the blog!
Since there were 9 different dishes on the plate (not counting the salad), I wasn't even sure where to begin. I tore off a small piece of injera (no utensils here, folks) and scooped up a small portion of the first thing that caught my eye, which was the shiro fit fit. According to the menu, this was a "mix of ground chickpeas in a rich Desta's sauce mixed with bites of injera." I was basically scooping up bread with bread, but the shiro fit fit was tasty, with an vinegar-like flavor that paired well with the ground chickpeas. Ok, off to a good start.

On to the next one, which unfortunately, I couldn't identify. Considering that this plate had 9 new dishes for me to try, I really needed a guide to follow since I had no idea what I was eating. However, the dark brown stuff (bottom row center of the pic) was probably my favorite. It almost reminded me of mole, but was much thicker and spicier. I'm not sure what it was made from, but it was awesome.

I should really talk about the injera bread itself, which until tonight, I'd never had. It had a sponge-like texture that fell somewhere between a crepe and half-cooked pancake, with a slightly sour flavor that paired well with the spicy food. Since it's used primarily for actually picking up the food, we went through a lot of it at the table. Not exactly a low-carb meal.
Except for the dishes containing beets (upper right corner of pic), potatoes (lower left corner), and collard greens (second from top left), I'm really not sure what the rest of this plate contained. I don't think I've ever tried this many new dishes at once, and it made me think back to what got me started with this blog in the first place: my love of trying new foods. It's been easy for me to forget that after almost a year of doing this, but this meal made me thankful that I started.

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