I might as well call it Navigational Snafu #4, although it had nothing to do with navigating. I'm sure by now MJ and Brian think I'm a complete idiot.
Redbones has an annual Pig Pickin' event (http://www.redbones.com/newsevents.html) where they slow roast whole hogs to benefit the Somerville Homeless Coalition. It's outdoors and there's music. We've gone the last 2 years. It's a fun event, and I'm always willing to eat for charity :)
We arrived at Redbones at 7pm, the street was suspiciously quiet, but I figured they moved it inside for fear of the rain. We go inside and discover that the pig pickin' is NEXT Monday (oops, BAD G, BAD) We retreat out to the street to form a plan; we decide to come back next week, which means we should go somewhere else for dinner. I have a flash of inspiration: Gargoyles! R and I had a great meal there a few weeks ago, and wanted to go back to try the lounge menu. We trek over 3 blocks to discover it's closed on Mondays. New plan: R wants to go to Out of the Blue, a small seafood restaurant that expanded in to a larger space last year. We walk over three store fronts and, of course, it's closed on Monday too (damn you, Davis Square!!!) Good thing this is dinner, not baseball, because by now I would be heading straight for the dugout.
We racked our brains and gave up on Davis Square. I have a second flash of inspiration; Addis Red Sea, an Ethiopian restaurant. They have a successful location in the South End, and just opened up a second one on Mass Ave, in Cambridge. (http://www.addisredsea.com/). MJ and Brian have never had Ethiopian before. I had a couple of times during college; there was a cheap, but good Ethiopian joint two blocks away from Columbia. I took R there once, but he wasn't in to it, “now I know why Ethiopians are starving.” But he was a good sport and agreed to try the restaurant tonight.
The original Addis in the South End has the traditional mesobs (a low table constructed of straw) and stools to eat at, however the Cambridge location has normal tables and chairs (they do have one mesob set up in the dining room.) It was a good and bad thing, eating at a mesob is more authentic and makes the meal more of an experience, however the low stools are terrible uncomfortable and R would have just complained about his back, so we were probably better off.
We ordered an appetizer and 4 entrees to share, here are the menu descriptions.
Dabo - Special Ethiopian bread with a tasty crust made with Semolina flour spiced with cumin and basted with oil.
- Not a success, it was more like crumbly stale bread. Brian managed to create a mini Mt. Everett of crumbs in front of him. I did like the dipping sauce, though.
Doro Wot* - Tender chicken marinated in lemon sautéed in seasoned butter and stewed in a red pepper sauce, flavored with onions, garlic and ginger root with a pinch of cardamoms and nutmeg.
This was MJ's favorite. The chicken was good, not dry like chicken usually is. Wot is just the Ethiopian word for dipping sauce.
Gored Gored* - Cubed beef simmered in a blend of berbere and onions, ginger roots and a warm herbal butter.
- R and I liked this the best, the beef was tender and flavorful. Berbere is a Ethiopian seasoning mix of red chili peppers, garlic, & other spices. Berbere is sun-dried then mixed with more spices & used in wots.
Yegeb Alcha* - Lamb simmered in a mild sauce of butter, onion, ginger and tumeric
The lamb was good, but nothing special to note.
Atakilt - Mixed vegetables, green beans, potatoes, carrots and onions sautéed in a blend of exotic herbs
We should have gone with the guys' instincts and skipped the vegetables, it was an uninteresting mix of bland, soft veggies.
The fun part about Ethiopian food is that it is served on a communal plate that is layered with injera, which is a soft spongy flatbread. There are no utensils, you eat with your right hand, picking up a piece of injera, and grabbing some food “Pac-man” style with the bread. It reminds me of my time in India, eating around a large thal with 9 other people.
It was good meal; R enjoyed it more than he remembered and MJ and Brian seemed to have a positive first experience (I love introducing people to new foods, but there's always the worry they'll have an awful meal/experience).
Dessert was in order, and being a hop, skip and a jump from Christina's (http://christinasicecream.com/, the website is lame, but it gives you the basic info), we headed there for a little ice cream. It is a good thing, or a bad thing when I get greeted with an enthusiastic “Hi Gloria!” as I walk in the door? It figures my “Cheers,” is an ice cream shop. MJ ordered buttered almond and declared the “best new flavor,” she has tried in recent times, Brian had coffee (borrring, but good), R had a scoop of mint chocolate chip (his standard) and a scoop of Valrhona bittersweet chocolate (a special) covered in hot fudge. He really enjoyed the chocolate; I thought it was okay. I was thrilled to see cherry vanilla on their specials, so that's what I got. They don't often have cherry ice cream available, I think it's because they use real cherries not those neon red maraschino cherries, and it must get pricey. One of my favorite flavors is Berry Cherry, big cherries in a blueberry ice cream which they never make anymore. I did convince them to make a special ½ gallon order for my 25th birthday, though.
So, we managed to save the evening, despite Snafu #4 and three strikes. We'll be pig pickin' next Monday, come join us!