Ethiopian Dreams Satisfied, Gastronomic at Least

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Ethiopian Feat with Stews and Injera

My love affair with Ethiopian cuisine started back in my days as a university student in Tampa, Florida.  I was a vegetarian at the time and a friend recommended that I try an Ethipian place called Ibex.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect there and was overjoyed to know that mt taste buds were blown away.  The whole experience of touching my food, to sharing the plate with the table, and the amazing spices seared itself into my memory.  I have never forgotten those days of scooping up some of the delicious stews with the injera bread.  A soft pancake like bread made of the smallest yet mighty super grain teff.

My taste buds and I continued to partake in the Ethiopian food when we moved out to the west coast and settled in the bay area.

Between North Oakland and Berkeley there must have been a dozen Ethiopian restaurants along Shattuck Avenue.  And no joke we tried them all, but we settled on a tiny one that usually had no customers, and awful service, but the food was stratospheric in quality.  Then we fast forward to two weeks ago.

Something happened while we gathered for my brothers wedding in Huntsville, Alabama, I met one of the bridesmaids who was Ethiopian.  After we had finished having a huge feast of Chinese food we were talking about how I have attempted to make Ethiopian food, but haven’t really been successful at it yet.  Our conversation, even though I was stuffed, made me crave Ethiopian food like I never had before.   Actually, we both started to crave the food.

This craving continued once I got back on a plane and back to Japan.  Spongy sour injera bread bounced around in my head, but since it was Passover I knew that I had to wait to be able to indulge in the fermented injera bread.  It was one of those cravings that eventually had to be satisfied.

So once Passover finished, the wife and I headed over to Queen Sheeba in Naka Meguro.  The rain kept on coming down on our way over to the restaurant, and compared to the beautiful spring weather the day before it was chilly.

As soon as we entered those Ethiopian aromas filled our hearts.  I ordered a glass of tej.  A honey mead wine that is seasoned with a hard to find Ethiopian spice called  Gesho.  The cloudy elixir was sweet and silky on my tongue.  I had a feeling that the tej was homemade and the friendly waitress confirmed that they make the tej themselves.

The first course was skewered goat roasted over charcoals.  The cubes of meat were succulent and sweetly fragrant.  This was then followed by the main course served up family style on a large round plate with dabs of the stew beautifully arranged.

The foods spices went straight to my head and my heart filled with joy.  To tear off a piece of injera bread with spicy red lentils, and stewed spinach.

My soul was as satisfied as my stomach with my fill of spicy lentil in this home style cooking.  I thank Rahel so much for getting me thinking, if not obsessing, about the wonderful cuisine of Ethiopia.

My new challenge is to try to cook up some of these dishes for myself.  I love being able to cook that which I cannot eat so easily.  And, if I can’t I know at  least I will always be welcomes at Queen Sheeba.

Coal Fired Roasted Goat

Waffle House, The Place to Pick Up Chicks, or at Least Get some Breakfast

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Waffle House Coffee, Huntsville Alabama

Many years ago my brother, Seth, said something that I have never forgotten.  I may have forgotten where and why he had said it, but I will never forget what he said, “Waffle House is the place to pick up chicks!”  This may or may not be true, but it has always stuck with me.  What did he mean by that?  Can one really pick up chicks at the Waffle House?

Jerry and I had gotten up early to go grab some breakfast on our way to Huntsville International Airport.  We had done a search and had settled on the famous Blue Plate Cafe.  We both had wanted to experience a real down home southern breakfast and Blue Plate Cafe promised that.  We punched the coordinates into Jerry’s phone and we were on our way.

We pulled into the Blue Plate Cafe parking lot only to discover that it was closed.  DUH!  It was Palm Sunday in the Bible belt!  What were we thinking so Jerry said “Lets go to Waffle House!”  At least we knew that they would be open and quick about getting the food out,  because we needed to be at the airport to scoop up some people for my brother’s wedding.

We punched in Waffle House and found one just one exit before the airport.  Stomachs grumbling we were on our way again. Pulled off the highway and did a quick u-turn and we stepped into the Waffle House.  We were created with what only could be a synchronistic moment as Lynyrd Skynyrd came though over the sound system.  Jerry and I looked at each other and just smiled.  Welcome to Alabama we collectively thought to ourselves.

We slid onto the stools at the counter and ordered up our breakfast.  The waitresses were all friendly and the coffee flowed freely.  It was  a comforting to have that grill hopping and our food on the table in a matter of minutes.  This is where so much of America eats.  This is as far from the big city comfort eateries as one could get.  This was the real comfort food!  It was simple.  The food satisfied our souls.

The conversation was deep, as I dug into my cheese omelette and grits.  For those of you not born and raised int he south grits are made with chipped kernels of corn and prepared like a wet rice and seasoned with butter, salt and pepper.  As we gobbled up our food I thought about how hard the waitresses had to hustle for their paychecks.  Jerry wondered out loud to me that following the workings of a Waffle House could make for interesting documentary.  Real people dealing with daily life that only could be seen from the hustle of southern waitresses.

We finished up and left our waitress a nice tip for her hustle.  I really have no idea when I may be back in a Waffle House.  I am still not sure if they are the place to pick up chicks or not.  I do know that the Waffle House will be their waiting for me next time I’m in the American South.

Breakfast at the Waffle House, Huntsville Alabama


Waffle House Shuffle, Huntsville Alabama


My Waffle House Self, Huntsville Alabama

Shabbat Dinner Full Life

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Shabbat is the time to rest and separate oneself from the worldly world and refocus our energies, thoughts, and hearts towards the Creator.  I like to begin my meditation by cooking the shabbat meal.  When I am working I do not have much time to labor in the kitchen; however, this Friday I and most of Japan had the day off for the emperor’s birthday.  I decided to cook up a feast for dinner.

My friend had brought in a spice box that his family had sent him from the Boston area.  It smelled so fresh, strongly scented with sage and oregano.  The product is called Bell’s Seasoning, and it came in a box that the design probably hasn’t changed for 60 years.  After smelling these herbs I had an urge to make stuffing from scratch.  This was one of the the components of my meal.  I also roasted up some chicken with a red wine and pomegranate reduction sauce, with some garlic potatoes and turnips.

I wanted to welcome the shabbat the best way I could by creating and beginning my meditations with the food to be eaten slowly and enjoyed with my family.

I have begun to become interested in the still life genre, mainly because of my friend E. John  Walford’s images.  His still-lifes has stirred in me a desire to return to s classic genre style as a further exploration on my photography.  This one is not still, it is FULL of life.

Shabbat Shalom

May you all have a peaceful and restful day.

Shabbat Dinner Full Life

Winter is Alive with Citrus

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

I am not sure why I used to thing the whole natural world dies off in winter time.  I guess it was because i assumed it just got to cold for flowers to bloom or for fruit to ripen on the its branches.  It is probably just because I didn’t take the time to pause and to really observe the natural world around me.

Living in the urban jungle of modern day Japan I loose myself in the concrete and steel of its man-made structures. All the twist and turns of the human created environment my eye had become trapped.  It wasn’t until experiencing the after effects of the March 11th disasters that my eye had refocused to see the natural world around me.  Even if that natural whorl is confined to tiny roadside gardens and terra-cotta pots, the natural world is right there in front of my lens, if I choose to look for it.

This brings me too the bounty being spotted in the cold winter air.  I have come across trees that are just bursting with winter citrus.  Yuzu trees, an asian citrus used in seasoning, are ripe and bright yellow among the home gardens out in the suburbs of Chiba Prefecture.  They are all plump and ready for the picking.

Open your heart and eyes to the changing seasons.  Enjoy the bounty that we are blessed with even during the chilly winter  month.  Peel open a nice juicy citrus and get some of that vital vitamins and minerals.

Boutiful Citrus Tree, Chiba, Japan

Yuzu (유자, ゆず,  柚子) Citrus Ripening on Tree, Chiba, Japan

Sergios 11 p.m., Miami Time for a Change

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

After the over 24 hour journey from my home in Japan to my home in Miami came to a halt in Sergio’s place at 11 p.m. Valentines Day Night.  Had a crappy egg cheese and tomato cuban sandwich which was good enough to satisfy my hunger.

Jet lag is a complete bitch, so I will let this one slide.

more 2 come

for reals.


from the 305

Sergios, 11 p.m., Miami

Going Bananas in the Park

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

There was a little festival happening in my neighborhood.  A nice sign that the weather is warming and that the summer festival season will be upon us.  Time to grab your spare change to grab some food, and take in the delights at the festival.  Get some okonomiyaki, baby castella, and kebabs.  There are so many smells and flavors fill the senses.

Shaved Ice on a Sunny SIde Day

Eat, Nibble, Nosh

I Like Chocolate Covered Bananas

Hot Baby Cakes

Stay On Target

La Carreta, The Place to Go for Late Night Snacks

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

After a spinning set in mid town in Miami a few weeks ago, both my brother and I wanted to get a little warmness into our stomachs, so we headed to Eight Street to La Carreta.  For those of you that don’t know La Carreta is a Cuban joint in the heart of little Havana that is open 24 hours.  The food is heavy, delicious and available with all kinds of fixings.

Brimstone ordered a Plantain soup, and I a black bean with Cuban bread.  A quick prayer to give thanks for the food and we dug in.

So if it is late night and you’ve got the stomach for some good grub, head over to La Carreta grab a fresh juice and some munchies for your soul.


No More Customers, Miami 2010

Salt, Pepper, and Tabasco

Hooking Up the Hot Sauce, Miami 2010

Veselka, 2nd Avenue and 9th Street

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Veselka is in the news, again.  When I am in NYC I try to have breakfast at Veselka everyday.  It is also good for those late night cravings.  I have fond memories of having a slice of carrot cake.  Was it late night or early morning?  Does it really matter?  Anyways, those of you out there in NYC are fortunate to have such a fabulous place to eat, drink and be with friends.

check out the New York Times article on Veselka

more info about from their website.

Veselka's Coffee Mug

Got to Have that Comfort Food

Friday, October 9th, 2009

I was seriously craving a a tasty burger the other day.

Going to just the typical fast food joint just wouldn’t satisfy that craving for food

that just tastes and makes everything all right.  So, after I finished up some work I headed out to

Roppongi and grabbed a burger at Bakers Bounce.   They aren’t my favorite, but they can grill up a tasty

charcoal grilled burger.

Lets just say that it really hit the spot.

Bakers Bounce Hamburger with Onion Rings

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