Tag Archives: lamb

The Nile: miles from Ethiopia, but so delicious

There we were, five visitors to Denver stuffed in a car, on a dark highway, guided by nothing more than a silent GPS unit. We were on a quest for the region’s best Ethiopian food. Based on an exhaustive survey of two Ethiopian people we met earlier that day, The Nile was where it was at.

Forty-five minutes later, we found it: an unassuming restaurant in a suburban strip mall in Aurora. The friendly server brought us Ethiopian beer and honey wine and managed not to laugh at us as we earnestly explained that we wanted to try one of everything on the menu.

An hour – and several Ethiopian beer and glasses of honey wine – later, she presented us with a giant injera covered in bright dollops of different curries. That is, it was a 3-foot diameter Ethiopian pancake that looked like an artist’s palette. Each dollop was tastier than the last, whether it was the cardamom lamb, the roasted potatoes, curried lentils, fragrant spinach, fiery curried chicken, or something else.

We ate until we were full, then took turns declaring ourselves stuffed – only to find ourselves, five minutes later, picking at a dollop of something. Lather, rinse, repeat.

It was a lovely communal experience with people who I look forward to seeing each April. At last year’s conference we experienced The Most Delicious Sandwich I’ve Ever Eaten (no exaggeration, it really was) and this year was no exception. According to the restaurant’s website:

Sharing the same bread is socially significant in the Ethiopian culture and also creates a bond of friendship and personal loyalty between the diners.  It is said that people who eat from the same plate (mosseb) will never betray one another.

On our way back to Denver, we figured out how to make the GPS talk, but not how to control the volume. It barked instructions to us all the way home, drowned out only by our giggles.

[This post is dedicated to the memory of JS, who raised a great son and tipped us off to The Most Delicious Sandwich last year. I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but I wish I had. He’ll be sorely missed.]

The Nile Ethiopian Restaurant
1951 S. Havana Street
Aurora, CO
(720) 748-0239
The Nile Ethiopian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Jax Fish House

If you’ve been following Top Chef, you know that Hosea Rosenberg is the season 5 winner. His restaurant, Jax Fish House, is conveniently located in Boulder, where I spent a week post-conference. Jax offers a wicked happy hour from 4-6 pm that features $4 martinis, $3 tapas and $1 oysters, so I figured I’d take advantage of that.

The tapas were overwhelmingly…underwhelming. The polenta is nice and creamy and smothered in some kind of cream sauce, the house-cured (Atlantic) salmon is nice enough, and the braised lamb is passable. The tuna potstickers were rather disappointing, consisting of cold, under-seasoned tuna in crunchy, dried-out wonton wrappers.

Having said that, I can’t complain about $1 oysters. They come freshly shucked on a bed of shaved ice (bonus points for presentation), with horseradish, lemon and a shallot vinaigrette. The happy hour oyster rotates, so that day it was Apalochicola oysters from Florida.

And, I really can’t complain about the selection of infused vodkas, which includes strawberry, raspberry, coffee, horseradish, chili, and a few more. The fruity ones are nice in an adult lemonade, while the savoury ones are better suited to a Bloody Mary.

And the key lime pie is absolutely kick-ass. It’s creamy, perfectly smooth, and scandalously tart. The graham cracker crust tastes of butter, brown sugar and honey, and has just a hint of something crunchy. The contrast of creamy and crunchy, sweet and tart is delightful.

Too bad the happy hour tapas aren’t up to the same standards. I hope that the regular menu delivers something more worthy of a Top Chef.

Jax Fish House (Boulder)
928 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO
(303) 444-1811
Jax Fish House on Urbanspoon

New York street food worth waiting for

New Yorkers do not stand in lines. They certainly don’t stand in lines for street food – not usually.

They do stand in line for the halal food cart at the corner of 53rd Street and 6th Avenue. Its proximity to Times Square is a little bit ironic, because tourists stuff their faces full of chain restaurant swill when they could be having freshly prepared tastiness. There’s beef, chicken and lamb with your choice of pita or rice. All of it is smothered in some delicious sauce, and hot sauce if you want it.

I’m not sure what’s better: the people-watching opportunities (people in line, and the people who gawk at the people in line) or the incredible value. You can stuff yourself silly for under $10.

FYI: The cart is only open at night. I’m not sure what time they set up shop, but I’ve been there at 9pm and at midnight. Both times, there were at least 40-50 people in line.

Happy birthday, dad!

It was my dad’s birthday last night.  It’s my policy not to buy things for people, but to give them edible gifts.  Most people have enough stuff in their life, but I’ve yet to meet anyone worth knowing who doesn’t appreciate a good meal.

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