Eating out is only an option for us once a month, in spite of my new eating lifestyle simply because I feel I can cook things healthier and better than what is offered most times. Snooty perhaps, but I also either am working a party, or we are plain tired and like to huddle up for a good movie and bottle of wine without the worries of driving.
This Saturday and today marked a memory milestone for us...my daughter would have been 23 years old March 1st, and we decided to celebrate as I always do each year on this night by going to a New Brunswick, NJ restaurant called 'Makedas'. A favorite of the locals, this Ethiopian restaurant has been sitting and waiting for us the past four years. For some reason we just had to many other choices, and it was not a priority until now...why?
I am planning a tour of Ethiopian cuisine in the later part of March with another blog. However I did want to go and re-visit some of the flavors that I have long missed from running a restaurant in St Louis before moving to New Jersey.
As you can see from the first picture you can sit around a colorful basket-weaved table called Messobs where patrons sit on handsome rosewood stools, share a communal plate and dine in traditional Ethiopian fashion. We chose to sit at the bar. The restaurant coming in was somewhat loud, and in the main dining room at the back, it was even louder, and close quarters to other diners. Sometimes you just want to 'chit chat' and not be distracted, or when they tell you after you make a reservation, and its twenty minutes to wait no matter, the bar can be quick (when you are really hungry)!
My first experience with this cuisine was back in the early 80's on a date with a guy who worked with an Ethiopian friend. We visited a place in Dallas called 'Queen of Sheba', and had the full basket of injera and way more foods to try than this. This is a must for me even today so that I can revisit that wonderful memory of food discovery in my food journies...
Is there a program that would allow me to draw on these pictures and tell you just what is what, and it would look like a football diagram. Then you would know which direction to go and that the bright yellow pile on the right are Lemony lentils, and the one to the left of it is Berber chopped beef, and up above that is shrimp, and to the right of that is chicken...and it would help to also let you know that the rolls of injera along the outer plate are your eating utensils.
For the picky eaters, we have buttery potatoes, carrots, onions, and green beans at the top, along with the obvious collard greens below, and below that is one of my favorite lentils that are cooked and then vinegar and chopped onions are added. The green pile is chicken, marinated in white wine, then sauteed with rosemary, onions and green peppers. You just dig in and go from one to the other. Tender lamb pieces were about the top middle...
I was however disappointed that there was really nothing spicy on the plate. The berber is a traditional 'hot' spice, and it feel way under my 'Scoville' taste test...but we were none the less hungry to discover if this was not only a good Ethiopian experience, and to see the 'only' Ethiopian restaurant in I think the whole state...
For those of you who may not know, they traditionally place the large disk of injera all about a basket, and then place the food on top so that you scoop the food up with their traditional bread and your fingers. The plate is this restaurants way of keeping things in a cleaner manner...
This was their 'top' and best dish on the menu, but I would recommend it for those of you who might not like 'hot' spicy dishes. If you live in the area then give it a go, it is a great 'conversation' piece for visiting guests, or a great night out. They have live music on Friday and Saturday, full bar, and reservations recommended.
Reminds me...their wines by the glass were good and some great 'South African' choices. I had a cocktail called, 'Change is a Comin' in honor of Obama, and thought it was wonderfully tasty! Cheers!
Makedas Ehtiopian 338 George St. New Brunswick, NJ 08901 Tel: 732-545-5115
Just a side Note: While working on this piece I got a surprise visit from my own personal 'tea butler'...I had no clue that he was even aware I needed a pick me up cup of Citrus Chamomile that made me nice and toasty on this chilly day...ahhhhh...behind every good 'tea butler', ah I mean man is a good chef, wife, and partner, lol
"I experiment with Flavors"...
Elizabeth Stelling, hails from her home state of Texas and has been involved in the food industry via institutional, fast food, B&B's, ethnic eateries and other restaurants since she was fourteen. Now living n New Jersey she has ran her own cafe, teaches culinary classes, runs a small boutique catering and staffing business, restaurant consulting for NJWBO, is a personal chef and shares her love of cooking with local, organic, healthy, and natural ingredients with the community.
Chef E is a member of Slow Food and the American Wine Society, Princeton, New Jersey. She has published written works of poetry and media pieces, as well as ran Open Mics in the Princeton, NJ area.
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