In the interest of diversifying this blog beyond my standard "photo with recipe" formula, I'm instituting a new feature called Friday Freakout. No explanation needed, right? Having recently returned from Israel, falafel is on the mind more than usual. Walk down the streets of Jerusalem with me for a moment: you won't make it a block without passing at least one falafel/hummus/shawarma joint -- more likely 2. Some are truly falafel stands, where all orders are to go, salad bar is DIY or done in a jiffy by the man behind the counter (trust me, you've never seen hands move so quickly). Others are hummusiot -- hummus is what's for dinner, served on its own or with any number of topings, ranging from tehina and chickpeas to sauteed mushrooms or even meat. Lastly, you've got the do-it-all places that have shawarma, falafel in pita or laffa (the big peasant-bread wraps), and hummus platters. And like I said, they're everywhere.
So why is it that there's no really, really good middle eastern food spot within walking distance of my house? To sharpen the gripe: there are three hummus/falafel/shawarma places within two blocks of my pad. The two best ones (Amsterdam Falafel and Old City Cafe) are decent, the third one (Shawarma spot) is really horrible -- like, effervescent hummus and bug-in-plate horrible. AmFal and OCC are fine, and they do the trick in a pinch: their falafel is crispy and pretty flavorful, their salatin (salads) are varied and some are pretty ok, but nothing out of this world -- and their hummus simply isn't so good. Last time I checked, hummus makes or breaks the whole sandwich.
The real joke here is that considering how many options are around me, I'm relatively lucky: outside of Adams Morgan, the hummus-falafel-shawarma food group is pretty endangered.
And that's not to mention the severe lack of other middle eastern food in the area: labneh (tangy, thick yogurt with a hint of salt), kubbeh hamousta (sour Yemenite soup with zucchini, sorel, and meat-filled dumplings) and good, not-overly-sweet baklavah are nowhere in sight. grr.
That concludes this installment of Friday Freakout. Do you live in DC and know of good ME food joints? Are you brewing over the lack of this food in another city? Comments, people, comments.
Now that the mood is off my chest, happy Friday and a wonderful weekend to all!