Or, the day I ate Ethiopian food...
The three of us went down to Virginia two weekends ago to help celebrate my dad's sixtieth birthday. It's a big one and all, so I'll save that for another post. Anyway, we were there during Valentine's Day, so mom and dad offered (and of course we accepted) some free babysitting so hubby and I could have a date night.
Tim planned to take me to Harrisonburg (the local college town) to a cool little brewery restaurant and then to see The Lightening Thief (the book series he's been reading to me for bedtime stories). Well, long story short, he never made reservations and we walked all over town looking for a place to eat that was not a part of a mass chain. (I'm no Red Lobster girl, okay?!?) Finally, we found a place. It was The Blue Nile, Ethiopian Cuisine. "Hmmm," I thought. "This could be very interesting." And not wanting to stress hubby out even more, I accepted the challenge.
I'm not a super adventurous person when it comes to food. In fact, I recently made a list of 101 things to do in 1001 days, making #68 a "try a new food" challenge. I don't like seafood, not into spicy tastes, and I don't eat a whole lot of meat. So, diving into a plate of this (see picture below) took pure courage.
Mmmm... Look good? Well, surprisingly, yes it was! But I am getting ahead of myself.
When we arrived at the restaurant, our waiter hadn't given us much time to figure out the menu so I ordered us some tea to buy time. Holy man, that was maybe some of the yummiest tea I'd ever had! It had cinnamon and cloves and just tasted like Christmas. Score for me! I think that made me a bit over-confident. We also ordered some hummus with Ethiopian butter (instead of olive oil) - another risk. Again, delicious.
So far so good we thought, as we ordered up a mixed platter of "Zilzil Tibs" with "Shiro Wat" and "Atkilt Alicha." Tim also ordered a side of some "Awaze" (which he thought was a side dish of cottage cheesy stuff to help ease the spiciness for me, just in case...). Thankfully, we ordered fairly well. It was a mix of lentils, potatoes, carrots, sun-dried peas and other veggies with some marinated beef. The weirdest part though was that there was NO SILVERWARE. Like none. And our waiter brought us these rolled up spongy pieces of bread. Turns out Ethiopian food is "finger food," as in, you break off pieces of that sponge bread and scoop up chunks with it. Bizarre.
My first two bites were full of confidence after having such good luck thus far and after figuring out the correct way to eat all this stuff. Foolish me. I scooped up a huge bite of the "Shiro Wat" (cause it was pretty...) and had a mouth full of fire. Then to cool off, I grabbed another huge bite of that "Awaze" jive Tim ordered. It was like squeezing a tube-full of Wasabe sauce into your mouth. I almost quit eating right then and there.
Our waiter let me know (after the incident) what items were made with "Berebere Sauce" - the hot stuff - and I stayed away from those things. The rest of the food was good, though. And no day-after repercussions, if you know what I mean.
So, I'm not going to say that I completely loved it, but it was pretty decently delicious and I'd probably go again. The sense of adventure and not knowing what I was eating was pretty hot, too. Like, spicy hot!