food · international

Review: Awaze Ethiopian Eritrean Restaurant

My first day in Raleigh was great! Along with the main event I attended (more on that in a couple of days), I also got to try a new Ethiopian restaurant. Despite coming to this area several times, I’d never known about any restaurants specializing in Ethiopian/Eritrean cuisine until today, when I researched it and discovered one less than 10 minutes away from my hotel.

Awaze Ethiopian Eritrean Restaurant sits unassumingly in a strip mall. Its simple storefront doesn’t begin to capture the deliciousness that lurks inside. I was greeted by a friendly young man and was seated immediately. I ordered the veggie platter, which, according to the menu, had 4 different vegetable sides. My order arrived quickly and everything looked delicious. To my surprise, there were actually SIX sides on the platter. I was delighted!

(from left to right) Misir azifa (sauteed lentils), fasolia (green beans), kik alicha (yellow split peas), miser wot (red lentils), tikil gomen (cabbage), gomen (collard greens)

The order came with a generous side of injera (flatbread). I ate to my heart’s content. As I ate my last few shreds of injera, the waiter asked if I wanted more – his timing was impeccable! However, I was stuffed and couldn’t eat another bite, so no more injera for me.

Mmm, injera

I was thoroughly pleased with the quality and flavor of my food, as well as the great service. I noticed that Awaze had been awarded for being the best Ethiopian restaurant in Raleigh. The honor is obviously well deserved. I can’t recommend this place enough! If you love Ethiopian food and you’re in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area, you must visit this restaurant. You won’t regret it!

food

No More Food Deliveries!

Happy Thursday friends! I’m coming to you all with a (mini) gripe. I don’t usually complain on this blog: after all, I believe that life is wonderful and good things are all around us. As a rule, I don’t complain.

However, I have my limits. And, because I have my limits, I feel that it’s time to put my foot down and turn over a new leaf. As we go into this next blogging year, I felt it was important to tell you all the change that I’m making.

You’ve read the title, so you have a clue what I’m talking about. As you all may know, I love food. Like, I really love it. I’m a huge fan of international cuisine, such as Thai, Indian, Kenyan, Jamaican, Ethiopian and (authentic) Chinese. As a result, I tended to order a lot of takeout and I enjoyed – for a time – having food delivered to me.

food

Well, doesn’t this look yummy!

Unfortunately, I’ve had a string of poor experiences over the past few months. Missing items, incorrect orders, food not being spiced/seasoned to the level requested … It was clear that something had to change because the quality of delivery orders that I received has steadily declined.

So, I’ve decided to quit ordering delivery and start making more dishes at home. I only have a surface-level knowledge of foreign cuisine, so it’ll be fun to learn more about how to prepare dishes from around the world. I’ll be blogging about these recipes and sharing my tips, tricks, and (yes) even my fails! I hope that you all stick around for the journey.

I’ll still be dining out and reviewing different restaurants, but as far as delivery goes? There will be a moratorium on that for an indefinite period. It’ll be more fun to learn how to cook and to share what I learn with you all. We’ll have fun together – I promise!

food · international

Trying My Hand At Portuguese Food – Vegan Caldo Verde

I’m still studying the Portuguese language (more on that in a future post) but I know that part of learning about a culture includes exploring the cuisine. And, as a self-proclaimed foodie, I find that immersing myself into the culinary aspects of a culture does wonders for my overall excitement. So, I tried my hand at preparing a traditional Portuguese dish. Here’s my story about it.

I looked through various online sources to find out what makes up the bulk of the typical Portuguese diet. What I found was a lot of seafood and vegetable dishes, and a wide array of pastries. Fortunately, I love ALL of these, so I was excited. I wanted to start with something simple, so I decided to try making caldo verde, a traditional Portuguese soup that gets its signature green color from its sole green ingredient, kale.

Only one problem with caldo verde – it normally contains chourico (chorizo), a type of pork sausage. I don’t eat any pork, so I had to adjust the recipe. I tried making it twice, and both times turned out well, though my second attempt (using a combinations of Trader Joe’s soy chorizo and Field Roast Italian Sausage, though next time I’ll replace the Italian sausage with Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausage) was more of a success.

First try: caldo verde with Field Roast Italian Sausage only

I also used a blender, as opposed to mashing the potatoes by hand. It’s much easier for me to get the consistency I desire by using the blender. It also made the food prep portion easier – I could chop the potatoes and onions coarsely because the blender would take care of the rest of the work for me.

The soup is luscious, filling and very easy to make. It’s also pretty inexpensive: it contains a lot of common ingredients and can easily be tweaked for your taste. I’m going to share my recipe below, as well as the recipes I reviewed while coming up with my own version of caldo verde.

Second try – even tastier since I added the Trader Joe’s soy chorizo along with the Field Roast Italian Sausage slices

Caldo Verde (serves 6)

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped into large pieces
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (approximately 2-3 cloves)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 gold potatoes, chopped into large pieces
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups veggie broth
  • 4 cups kale, chopped into bite-sized or smaller pieces
  • 1/2 pack Trader Joe’s soy chorizo, sliced to the size that you prefer (it’ll crumble up so the sizing doesn’t matter)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 pack Field Roast Sausage of your choice
  • salt and pepper
  • Add oil to a large pot, and warm over a medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and stir. Cook until translucent (about 4-6 minutes).
  1. Add potatoes, water and veggie broth to the pot. Stir to combine, cook until potatoes are soft (about 15-20 minutes).
  2. Turn off heat, and scoop out potatoes and onions, using a slotted spoon or straining spoon. Place potatoes and onions into a blender, along with some of the broth. Blend until smooth.
  3. Return blended ingredients to the pot, and stir well with the remaining broth. Add chopped kale, and cook over a low heat. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes, or until kale softens. Season with salt and pepper
  4. Add chopped sausage, and stir well. Warm for an additional 5 – 10 minutes (make sure the the sausage is heated thoroughly).
  5. Serve while hot.

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Close up of the finished product, second time around

I used AllRecipes, Olivia’s Cuisine and Leite’s Culinaria to create my recipe. Many thanks to them for such clear directions! I couldn’t have done it without their recipes as templates. Muito obrigada!

 

food

NuVegan is Coming to RVA!

I am beyond excited to share this news with you all! One of my favorite vegan restaurant, NuVegan Cafe (formerly Woodlands Vegan Bistro) of Washington, D.C., is opening a restaurant in my hometown of Richmond, VA! I spend a lot of time bouncing around in the Midatlantic region but when I’m home, I am always eager to try new vegetarian options. This technically isn’t new to me – I’ve been enjoying NuVegan for at least 4 years – but I’ve always had to be in either D.C. or Maryland if I wanted their food. Having the restaurant so close to home is going to really have me spoiled!

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The Richmond location will be opening on June 30, 2018. Part of me wants to attend the grand opening . . . The other part of me is pure introvert and would rather avoid any potential crowds! We’ll see how I’m feeling on June 30th and if I’m feeling up to it, I’ll make a special stop to check out the restaurant.

vegetables

Plant-based foods are awesome!

If you want more information about NuVegan Cafe in Richmond, VA, be sure to follow the NuVegan Cafe Richmond Twitter page @NuVeganRichmond.

Have any of you eaten at NuVegan yet? Let me know what you thought about it in the comments below!

food · travel

Remembering Anthony Bourdain

I remember first watching Anthony Bourdain several years ago, and I found myself hypnotized by his storytelling, humored by his authenticity, and delighted by his respectful observations of different cultures. He was the real deal, and his diplomacy via gastronomy was a sight to behold.

headoutblog

(photo courtesy of Headout blog)

Bourdain passed on June 8, 2018, and I know that this day will never be the same for me. Many of us will never know what goes through the mind of someone contemplating suicide, but I know, for sure, that our world is a less-beautiful place without souls like Anthony Bourdain. May he rest.

azquotes

(Photo courtesy AZ Quotes)

food · international

Review: Le Mandigue Restaurant

Happy Friday, friends! Today is a first for me: it’s a West African food review!

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(photo from Le Mandigue website)

I have never been a fan of the West African dishes that I’ve tried. I’ve had egusi, fufu and jollof rice, but I just wasn’t wowed. However, I really wanted to try something different. So I decided to give West African food another try.

I order from Le Mandigue in Philadelphia. As an aspiring vegetarian (that fails frequently!), I wanted to opt for a meatless entrée. So I got the vegetarian fried rice and steamed vegetables. I also got degue, monie callama and kallah, which I didn’t realize at the time were all desserts.

Here are some photos of the meal:

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Fried vegetable rice and steamed vegetables (cabbage, peas, corn, potatoes)

Dege (dessert)

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Closeup of monie callama

I ordered through UberEats and my food arrived quickly.

The fried rice was tasty and substantial. The steamed vegetables were well-seasoned and weren’t overpowering at all.

And the desserts! I How did I not already know about these amazing deserts?! These were the most interesting part of the meal. Dege reminds me of the rice pudding or tapioca pudding available at some Indian restaurants: creamy, sweet with a hint of sourness (probably because it’s made with sour milk). It’s the mix of flavors that make this such a multidimensional dessert. Monie callama is like a liquified jelly, yummy and smooth, with tapioca-like starch suspended within. Just yum!

I wish I could have enjoyed this in the restaurant but alas, I ordered it to my room. However, I will be sure to visit the restaurant in person when I return to Philadelphia. I’m so looking forward to it!

food

Review: Horace & Dickies Food Truck

Several weeks back, I visited a food truck I’d never tried before. I didn’t have a taste for anything in particular, but I decided to do seafood for lunch because, generally speaking, seafood never lets me down.

My lunchtime adventures led me to Horace & Dickies, a restaurant that expanded its enterprise to include a food truck that serves lunch at different popular locations within Washington, DC.

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At the truck, I ordered the crabcake and fries, a simple meal that I thought wouldn’t take very long to prepare. I wasn’t disappointed: the crabcake was prepared quickly. I was handed a bag and I returned to my desk where I ate my meal.

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An abbreviated but adequate menu

My short explanation is this: I liked the fries more than the crabcake. Don’t get me wrong: the crabcake was good. But I wasn’t blown away by the flavor of it. I’ve eaten many crabcakes and have a good basis for comparison (not to mention, I’ve made some incredible crabcakes from scratch, as well), so I know when a crabcake is “good” and when it’s “awesome”. And this one was “good”: not the best I’ve ever had, but definitely worth the money and a solid effort.

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My meal

To be fair, I probably would have enjoyed it more with remoulade sauce (I asked for some, but it wasn’t in my bag). Also, the sandwich cooled a bit on my walk back to the office: everyone knows that piping hot food is better than when it’s cooled down.

Would I eat here again? Absolutely. The food was good and I suspect that, if eaten immediately, the sandwich would be outstanding instead of just “good”. I’m really looking forward to trying Horace & Dickies again so that I can give a followup review for the crabcake!