Colin & Noelle

Colin & Noelle


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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ethiopian Cuisine.

A couple of weeks ago, Colin and I went out to celebrate my birthday. When we started planning where to go for dinner, nothing really interested me. I was sort of in the mindset that I would rather stay home and not spend the money on eating out because honestly, nothing sounded that interesting. And with Thanksgiving in the same week, I knew we'd be eating well enough. So the desire to do anything special in terms of dinner just wasn't as appealing.

Until I remembered the Ethiopian restaurant we've been wanting to try in Louisville! We've talked about it for months, but for some reason, we'd just never gotten around to it. It was on my pre-adoption bucket list (yes, I have one of those!) and seemed perfect! The only downside to planning this was in the few days prior that felt like torture. I'm not even kidding. Throughout the day(s) before, I would catch myself thinking about this meal. Wondering how it tasted, pouring over the menu online, and hoping I would like it. Nevermind the Thanksgiving feast we'd be having the very next evening... I was having Ethiopian food !  ;)

Queen of Sheba
We drove to Louisville and arrived at Queen of Sheba restaurant. We walked in to find a smaller (but decently sized) restaurant, with perhaps about 5 or 6 other tables of people at any given time. The atmosphere was wonderful with lower lighting and festive Ethiopian decorations along the walls. The waiters were friendly, appropriately attentive, and able to answer any questions about Ethiopian cuisine that we, or the table next to us, could think to ask.

Now, the food... What can I possibly say about the food that could accurately describe how amazing it was?! While sitting at the table, I believe all of the following thoughts ran through my head at some point: "How do they make it taste so good?! What is in this stuff?" / "Wow, I wonder if I'll ever be able to recreate this for our child(ren) at home!" / "How will I ever explain this to anybody??" / "Anyone that ever comes to visit us has  to come eat here" / "We just need to move to Ethiopia so we can eat this all the time."

Like that, but on repeat. ;)

I will say that I wasn't overly in love with every single thing, but the same could be said of any restaurant. It was just a taste preference. Here's what we ordered, and my thoughts on each:

Traditional Ethiopian Coffee - not like American coffee, and not even like the Ethiopian coffee you can order from Just Love Coffee. I have never had anything like this in my life. My best (although probably terrible) description would be that it was like coffee/tea. It had spicey tones to it, similar to what chai tea has, except it was coffee. It would not be my regular go-to for my morning cup o' joe, but it's something not to be missed when looking for an Ethiopian experience!

Beyaynetu - Appetizer sample platter. Colin really liked the Fossolia (greenbean) wrap, while I didn't care for that as much, but would highly recommend the Kosta (spinach) wrap.

Doro Wot (Chicken Stew)  Sega Tips (Sauteed Beef)- A large number of Ethiopian meals come in the form of Wot (sometimes spelled wat; meaning "stew"). Ethiopian food is traditionally not eaten with utensils, although they can usually be requested at American restaurants (but what fun is that?!). It is also traditionally eaten off of one shared platter (see pic below), although you can request individual plates at some restaurants as well. I ordered the Doro Wot, and Colin ordered the Sega Tips, and each meal came with the following on the side...

Injera (bread) - This is a must-know for anyone looking to familiarize themselves with Ethiopian culture or cuisine. This is practically at every meal. Like stated above, Ethiopian food consists of a lot of Wot and no utensils. Injera is the vehicle used to get stew from plate to mouth. It comes as the "liner" on the plate, underneath the foods, as well as rolled up. It is similar to a very light, fluffly, thin pancake. The taste however, is nothing like a pancake. I had read that it's "sour" and can take some getting used to. I was a little nervous about that to be honest. But after trying it, it was only "sour" in the sense that sourdough bread is "sour". And by itself, it's nothing too impressive. But when you tear off a piece, use it to scoop up your wot, and eat it all as one bite --- it's a whole new thing! It balanced out the spices in the food nicely, and was the perfect pairing!

Kik Wot (Lentil Stew) - Okay. Did I not tell you they eat a lot of wot? You order wot for dinner, and voila!, you get a side of wot with that... I must make another confession to you. I was ready to try Kik Wot when I saw on the menu that it came as a side, but I was not anticipating liking it a whole lot. I am not one of those people who eats really terrible or really healthy foods (okay, I eat a little of both!). I'd consider myself average. But for some reason, I think of the word "lentil" in the same way I think of "tofu burger" (which is pretty synonymous with the word "yuck!" for me). But friends, I have seen new light. I can't tell you if I like lentils any other way, but I now love  Kik Wot! I found myself going back to it more than the chicken...

Salad - Okay, this was pretty much just salad. But it was really helpful to have something "cooler" to eat in between bites. Ethiopian food uses a lot of spices... not any really hot peppers that I noticed, more spices that kind of add up to just a lot of flavorful heat in your mouth - especially if you're not used to it.

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Overall, we had a wonderful time. We took leftovers home and snacked on them along with our Thanksgiving leftovers. I was curious about whether or not the injera would hold up in the fridge or get soggy, but it seemed to do fine for a day or two.

Everything about being there just made me long for Ethiopia that much more. I can't wait until we can go back, and I most definitely cannot wait until we get to travel to meet our sweet little one and try these dishes in Ethiopia! For now, I'm on a mission to find some recipes online. I'm hoping to get a better handle on cooking Ethiopian food myself before we bring baby Graham home... Wish us luck! :)

*** Please keep in mind that Ethiopian food is not a "quick" in-and-out type of meal. We probably spent just under 2 hours there (I'm guessing?). Allow yourself time to enjoy it.