Sunday, February 19, 2006

 

Are you a Pumpkin Man?

Three nights later, I returned to Sibling Rivalry with my friend Dan, having another late night dinner. Sibling Rivalry has an eclectic mix of Asian, Latin and European Cuisines, the exact type of food I would cook if I had a restaurant. The name is inspired by the fact that two brothers - both chefs - own the restaurant together. The menu is divided into three columns, on the left Chef David and on the right Chef Bob. The middle is a list of common ingredients, each brother preparing a dish with it, creating a little “Sibling Rivalry.”

The dining room was full so we sat in the bar area, but not many people were eating: either they were winding down from an evening at the theatre, or getting a second wind for a night on the town. In fact, the gentleman next to us was drinking a “second wind,” a cocktail of vodka and espresso, or as he told us on his fourth drink, an “eighth wind.” We soon learned John and his friend Andrea were just relaxing after dinner at 28 Degrees. Nonetheless they perused the menu.

Dan and I were hungry, so we ordered the pumpkin ravioli that David, Leslie and I had previously sent as a Random App. The ravioli was toothsome with a dense pumpkin filling. The sauce, a warm vinaigrette of brown butter and lemon, was textured with toasted pumpkin seeds. The freshly grated parmesan balanced the plate with earthy saltiness. John and Andrea peered over at our dish and John declared, “I’m just not a pumpkin man.”

We needed more food, and I can never resist the Vietnamese Fried Squid with Green Mango and Carrots. We thought it would be nice to share with our new friends, but Dan decided we needed a full appetizer for ourselves. So we continued the Random App of Kindness tradition, and order two: one for us, and one for John and Andrea. We savored the crunchy rice flour crust, with tender squid, in a briny and spicy dipping sauce of nuac chom. The second plate arrived for our neighbors, but they refused it, “We did not order that.” The waiter insisted and they declined. Eventually, they relented when they realized they were the recipients of a random app. They were delighted to taste it, as they too had been eyeing that dish. Alas, they were still full from their dinner and could only eat a few bites. They returned the kindness with a random round of drinks. Thanks John and Andrea! We really enjoyed meeting you.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

 

Return to the Scene of the Crime

On a quiet Tuesday evening, I returned home from school, tired and hungry. I returned to Oleana, back to where I had begun Random Apps. I had not been back since that night, choosing instead to always dine at new places. Stephen again was working and I shared with him what he helped start, and he remembered: “Yeah, you were a pain in the ass that night!” What began as a way to redeem myself with Stephen had taken on a life of its own.

Since I had arrived to late in the evening, and in fact, I think I was the last person to sit down, I could not find a suitable recipient for a random app of kindness. I sat at the bar next to a Lebanese couple. They frequented Oleana as it is the best restaurant for true Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors. They were already half way through a five-course tasting, so I did not want to burden them with an extra carrot puree. As I waited for my fideos with spicy chickpeas, one of my favorite dishes with its creamy hints of orange and vanilla and a touch of chili, we chatted. They very graciously shared a taste of their food with me: a venison chop with ground venison kibbe, warmly spiced with cinnamon and lemon. In fact, it reminded me of a Turkish dish with Lamb: Adina Kebabi.

Adina Kebabi

1 lb. ground lamb
1 onion, finely chopped
½ cup chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. lemon zest
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tbs. mint
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

1. Gently mix all ingredients together. Form into a sausage shape around a skewer.
2. Grill over medium high flame, until golden brown and cooked through. Serve with Salad and Grilled Pita..

Salad

1 red onion, finely sliced
¼ cup flat parsley leaves
1 ½ tsp. sumac

1. Mix everything together.

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