I had lots of fun with Matt this past weekend. We’d scheduled an Official Date Night on Friday, and Matt took care of the planning. He had selected Blue Nile Café as our surprise dinner destination. Blue Nile is where I took that Ethiopian veg cooking class in April, and I hadn’t been back since, so I couldn’t have been happier with his choice. We ordered a carafe of house-made honey wine and a glass of pinot grigio to share.
The honey wine was very sweet and SO GOOD! It tasted similar to mead, or perhaps even a less-potent Bärenjäger.
For his entrée, Matt ordered dinich watt (left), potato chunks in tomato-garlic-berbere sauce. For his two sides, he chose shimbera assa (top right), ground garbanzo bean dough baked, sliced, and stewed with onions, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and berbere, and misir watt (bottom right).
Misir watt is my favorite Ethiopian dish ever, and I was so happy I learned how to make it in that cooking class. It’s a fragrant red lentil stew brimming with onion, garlic, and ginger and seasoned with berbere and cardamom. (See the recipe here!) I got misir watt for my main dish, and shimbera assa and yekik watt (bottom right; yellow split peas stewed with garlic, ginger, and turmeric) for my sides. Accompanied by plenty of injera, this was a spectacular meal!
The nasty rainstorm sullied some of our date night plans, but Matt and I still managed to drop into an art gallery, watch (and laugh at) part of a bad movie at the downtown library, grab some strawberry cake from Westport Coffee and some awful $3.99 wine from Sunfresh, and make it a fun evening.
Late Saturday afternoon, we attended the Ethnic Enrichment Festival at Swope Park. It’s an annual 3-day event in Kansas City where representatives of dozens of countries set up booths to sell the food, drinks, art, clothing, jewelry, toys, and more that characterize their respective cultures. There’s also a large stage where groups from many of the countries put on musical and dance performances throughout the weekend. When we arrived, the sound of bagpipes filled the air as Scotland took the stage.
We certainly ate a multi-ethnic smorgasbord that evening. While Matt had Swedish meatballs in lingonberry sauce, Laotian fried sticky rice, and a Norwegian raspberry lemonade, I tried pancit, a curried bean thread noodle dish from the Philippines. It was salty, savory, and highlighter-yellow—I liked it!
Matt and I shared a Columbian fried plantain as dessert #1, then decided to have æbleskiver for dessert #2. Æbleskiver are puffy Danish pancake balls cooked in a special cast-iron pan with spherical indentations. Though they originated in Denmark, they’re popular all over Scandinavia. I actually watched some being made in a Dutch fishing village just outside Amsterdam, so it was cool to eat them at home! They’re not vegan (the buttermilk flavor is quite distinct), but they ARE delicious, especially with powdered sugar on top.
In need of refreshment, I made a beeline for the Malaysia booth, which was vending the coconuts I’d been seeing people tote around. They hacked a hole in the top of a fresh young coconut, stuck a straw into it, and handed it right to me. Though Matt was initially skeptical of the coconut water, pretty soon he was raving about its sweet, milky flavor in between gulps. I’ve been craving another coconut all week now. (Oh, and let me just say how much it hurt me to see people throwing their drained coconuts in the trash—all that coconut meat going to waste!)
After watching the Malaysian dance performance, we went home with a couple of pastries we’d picked up at the Serbia booth. This one was a walnutty coffee cake of some sort.
We also got a slice of povitica, a wonderful Eastern European bread that has nut paste (usually walnut) rolled into it. It’s a favorite Christmastime snack in my family, so I’m not used to having it outside of the holidays, but it was just as tasty as always.
Saturday night, Matt helped me bake my favorite peanut butter-white chocolate blondies (which I’ll be posting in due time; patience, my pretties!). I also blended up a vegan crêpe batter to chill in the fridge overnight. On Sunday, when we woke up at the crack of 2pm (which is very out of the ordinary for us; really!), we made crêpes together!
We ate them with sliced strawberries and – ohh yes – Nutella. Real-deal, brand-name, non-vegan Nutella. What can I say? I LOVE the stuff (and by “love,” I mean that I would bathe in it if I could). The fun part is that I bought this particular jar at a little grocery store in Sorrento, Italy (so at least it doesn’t contain all the same additives and preservatives that the American version does!).
Yummm. Brings me back to last year, when I ate a Nutella-stuffed crêpe (topped with salted caramel ice cream!) in Paris!
So in sum, how awesome was our weekend? Answer: this awesome.