Quick note before I begin: If you have not yet voted in the 2011 Hot Raw Chef contest, please do! Click here and cast your vote for video #5, Chef Amber Shea’s (my) caramel-fudge brownies! Voting ends this Wednesday, February 9th.
I’ve talked plenty on this blog about my love for Ethiopian food. I’ve documented taking a vegetarian Ethiopian cooking class, I’ve made and raved about misir watt (Ethiopian lentils), my favorite dish, and I’ve even created an Ethiopian-inspired hummus. So when Matt emailed me at the end of the day on Friday saying “How would you like it if I came home, swept you off your feet, and took you to a nice dinner for two at a restaurant of your choice?” (am I a lucky girl, or what?!), Blue Nile Café immediately sprang to mind. They just opened a second location in Overland Park, which means no more 30-minute drive to City Market is required to obtain a delicious Ethiopian meal!
The new location is lovely, with a very different, but equally enjoyable, ambiance from the original. (And get this!—they have a weekday lunch buffet. Oh, I am in trouble.)
The seating area is especially cute.
Matt’s excited. Can’t you tell?
Half of Blue Nile’s menu is vegan, which can make it hard to choose what to order! I picked my second favorite dish, yekik watt (yellow split peas), with sides of shimbera assa (saucy garbanzo bean patties) and fosolia (green beans and carrots), and of course plenty of injera.
Matt ordered misir watt (red lentils) with sides of dinich watt (tomato-y potatoes) and mushroom shiro.
Blue Nile has always had vegan cupcakes on their dessert menu…
…but this time, I also spied a second dessert menu of vegan and/or gluten-free delights!
Matt and I came thisclose to ordering the apple galette, but we abstained. Instead, I enjoyed a steaming cup of buna—authentic Ethiopian coffee.
Normally, I like a little bit of sweetener in my coffee, but this stuff was so smooth and not-bitter that I just drank it black. (By the way, I don’t know why my hands look so huge in this pic, but I swear, I do not have monstrous hands! Oh, and sorry about the horrendous lighting.)
Saturday afternoon, I decided to attend an event I’ve been meaning to go to for quite some time: the monthly Kansas City raw food meetup. KC’s raw meetup group has a whopping 745 members—betcha didn’t see that coming, huh? (The Midwest is cooler than people give us credit for!) Now, I don’t talk about it much on here (nor do I necessarily give the impression I’m this way), but I’m actually a very quiet and sometimes socially anxious person. The idea of being in a room of total strangers is more than a little nerve-wracking to me, which is why (I’m ashamed to say) I’d never ventured to a KC raw meetup before. But this time, I went through with it, and I’m quite happy I did!
It was a potluck-style gathering, and I was surprised to find several dozen people there! I can hardly believe everyone’s food fit in the tiny kitchen. It was a dazzling raw smorgasbord.
There were raw chips, crackers, dips, salads, slaws, rolls, nut patés, mock salmon, veggie medleys, fruit salads, and of course sweets. The photo below only shows a portion of the dessert offerings—the spread was too big to fit in one frame! Here you can see raw chocolate cookies, an assortment of frosted raw macaroons, and my own two contributions on the right—raw fudge brownies with chocolate-hazelnut glaze, and a warm caramel apple-walnut cobbler (a future cookbook recipe!).
To be honest, the meetup was too packed to be able to talk to very many people—we were really crammed in there! I did, however, find myself sitting with a trio of delightful ladies, with whom I engaged in two solid hours of good conversation (not to mention the delicious plateful of food you see below).
You’ll hardly believe this, but when I brought up the Hot Raw Chef competition, one woman said she’d just voted in it, and asked which video was mine. “The caramel-fudge brownies,” I replied, pointing to the bite she had on her plate. She looked down, then looked back up at me, and her eyes widened in recognition. “Oh my gosh! YOU! It’s you! I voted for you! I voted for your brownies! Yours was my favorite recipe and video by far!” Haha! Is it a small world, or what?! I was tickled pink.
I think that’s a pretty great sign that my video is a good one, but you should decide for yourself! If you haven’t already checked out the 2011 Hot Raw Chef contest,
CLICK HERE to view the videos and vote for video #5,
Chef Amber Shea Ford’s raw caramel-fudge brownies!
There’s only 3 more days left to vote!