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!

art · international

Portuguese Contemporary Art in Richmond, VA

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting one of my favorite museums, Virginia Museum of Fine Art (VMFA) to view the exhibit, Contemporary Art from Portugal. As you all know, I’m currently studying the Portuguese language so this exhibit was an obvious choice. Also, last month (June) signified Portugal’s 900th anniversary of being a sovereign nation (Go Portugal!)  so there are nationwide events commemorating this incredible event. This exhibit was one of many of the commemorative events happening all over the country, and I’m delighted that my hometown participated in the festivities.

I’m beginning to really love contemporary art: this is REAL progress, as I’m a huge fan of Impressionism and Neoclassicism. I’m opening my horizons and making an effort to embrace newness and innovation, and I was very pleased with the exhibit. I’m  happy that I got to learn a little about some of the artists representing Portugal. These artists are tremendously talented and are a great representation of what this wonderful country has to offer.

img_4515

Info card from the exhibit

The exhibit featured work from Helena Almeida, Fernando Calhou, Ruy Leitão, and several other notable artists. The exhibit was small but impactful: I was fascinated by the the drawings and paintings enough to start doing my own research on Portuguese artists. As with pretty much all research that I do, I learned of a rich cultural heritage among Portuguese contemporary artists. I am fascinated by what I’ve learned and I’m eager to learn more as time goes on.

In the meantime, here are a few of the works that I viewed. If you are interested in checking out the exhibit for yourself, it will be at VMFA until July 22, 2018, so you still have time. However, if a trip to Richmond, VA is out of the question, you should check out your local museum to see if there are any Portuguese art or cultural exhibits on display. Just go to Facebook’s Month of Portugal page for details

img_4516img_4517

 

img_4518

 

img_4519

 

international · life curation

Learning a New Language

Hey friends! I’m excited to share my latest learning adventure. Of course, I’m still studying Inside Opera and Cultures and Identities in Europe (I wrote about the courses here and here). But I also took on another learning experience because, well, it felt like a good idea!

portugalflag

I’m studying Portuguese after visiting the Embassy of Portugal a few weeks ago. I love the language and I’m looking forward to becoming proficient over time. As it turns out, I have a few Portuguese speaking friends that are eager to help me practice, not to mention I have a lot more resources at my disposal than I did when I studied French and Spanish years ago.

For starters, I’m using YouTube, podcasts, digital textbooks, and media to learn Portuguese. Also, there are some excellent groups online (specifically Facebook) that can connect language learners with native speakers to practice or even to ask technical questions. I’m still assessing which resources are the best in my opinion, but as soon as I have a good list of resources, I’ll definitely share them here!

Are you all currently studying any languages? Let me know 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!

Screenshot 2018-05-26 at 7.47.52 PM - Edited

(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:

img_4127

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

Dege (dessert)

img_4130

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!

culture · life curation

New Course: Cultures and Identities in Europe

As part of listening to my intuition and stepping into my best life, I have stayed “light and loose” when it comes to my plans. I had been taking the ALISON Color Theory course for a bit, but I found it difficult to stay engaged in the content. Sure enough, a better online course came along that completely lit me up! When my gut told me “This is the course for you!” I didn’t hesitate to sign up and put the ALISON course on hold, so I can focus on the new class.

“Cultures and Identities in Europe” is a course available through FutureLearn, an educational website based in Europe. The course aims to give some background information and perspective into how European cultures and identities have been shaped over time. This is especially useful information for me, as I plan to travel to Europe several times over the next years.

europe

 

I’m looking forward to learning more about European history, culture, creativity, and the future of Europe’s cultural heritage. The course should be fascinating!

If you’re interested in the course, you should check it out. It’s free and available in an online format, so it’s easy to complete lectures and assignments on your schedule. Don’t delay: the course starts on June 4, 2018! You’ll want to make sure that you’re already enrolled once the materials are made available to class attendees.

I hope you join me in this class! Take care, and talk to you all tomorrow.