Monday, March 16, 2009

Starts with "E" - ends in "thiopian".

Ethiopian food.

Okay, none of us were particularly clever but not ONE of us arrived at Cafe Lalibela without some appalling joke about Ethiopian dining.

Keep in mind most of us have grown up at a time when the tragedy of the Ethiopian famine was at it's height. We are all well immune to the images of starving kids and lines of desperate people queuing for urgent food supplies. So to hear "you'll get your half cup of rice after a two year wait" and "is the table service delivered via helicopter drop?" may sound disgustingly insensitive but, well... no, you'd be right. we were being disgustingly insensitive and decidedly politically incorrect.

So onto the REAL Ethiopian dining experience.

I was blown away with flavour. Really. Blown away. That's my kind of meal. Whilst some amongst us grumbled that some of the dishes were lacking in their advertised staple (there was maybe two chunks of chicken meat in our chicken dish for four people) it really didn't matter to me, as the flavours just kept on keeping on.

Ethiopian dining is a communal experience. Big flat rounds of bread (a dough that most closely resembles a huge flat crumpet) are laid out on a large plate topped with the various dishes and a selection of dahls and pastes. You just go at it and rip off bits of bread and stuff your face until the flavour nearly blows your head off. Did I mention flavour? I am a big fan and will definitely do it again.

Our mild mannered host was quietly charming and his warm farewell touched us all. What also touched us all was the way he subtly coaxed us into trying St George Beer. It wasn't bad. Then Marko noticed the label on the back. This guy - well, his cafe at least - is the sole importer and distributor for St George (even the address of the cafe appeared on the label), so he must be making as much if not more on his beer than the meal. Good luck to him. It past the first test - we didn't go blind.

Thoroughly recommended.

Cafe Lalibela

91 Irving Street
Footscray VIC 3011
Tel : +61 3 9687 0300

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