I had scheduled my appointment with Siobhan (aka Blondie of Blondie and Brownie) at 8:00 PM, so arrived fashionably late at 8:32. I’d previously thought our meeting was at 8:30 so it makes sense I got there when, but it doesn’t make sense that I mixed it up. It might if you look at my schedule (pic).
Add to that, when the first course comes, the lighting is too low. I took Henock (the owner) from his duties at the bar and asked him to hold the food up in a hallway where he can raise and dim the light without disturbing the other guests. I’d originally brought it to the bar and he pulled out this light saber sized fluorescent light light to help me out. He jokingly admitted that he wasn’t a photographer and was a good sport about it. I think he appreciated my efforts at showing his restaurant in the best possible light (no pun intended).
Siobhan was a good sport about everything, too:
>Siobhan was excited about the Sambusa (top) and it didn’t disappoint. Fry beef in flaky dough and you’ll get a smile from me every time. It came with a spicy chili paste that had a kind of grape-leafy flavor (not the grape leaf, but one of same spices that they use in preparation of grape leaves). I added the cheese that came with the Kategna (above) for a few bites. It’s a toasted injera with butter and spices. Henock was playing down the flavor of the cheese, but there was a light dusting of oregano (maybe?) on top that gave it a little kick. The Kategna wasn’t too salty; just enough to assist the cheese.
For the main course, we had a platter of three meats and two vegetables. Doro Wett, Yebeg Alitcha, Bozena Shiro, Collard Greens, with a fresco salsa.
The Yebeg Alitcha (at three o’clock in the picture below) was Siobhan’s pick. Lamb on the bone in a sauce with ginger and rosemary. I just learned about marrow (at Ali’s Roti – link) so I knew what was up. I tried to teach Siobhan about the beauty of the lamb marrow, but I don’t think she tried it. Next time you get a stewed bone in your meal, you better suck on that thing like it’s got some ‘tussin in it. I think white people too often miss this beautiful part of the animal and I am on a quest to get more of them on the marrow bone bus. Needless to say, the lamb was my favorite.
I think I was doing the Doro Wett (chicken, at seven o’clock in the picture to the right) wrong. It was hard to eat still on the bone because I had to pick the meat off of the bone with my fingers (it wasn’t small enough to pick the bones out of your mouth like in the Yebeg Alitcha). The stew that the chicken was in was a cayenne, ginger and onion. A nice balance of sweetness and spice.
The Bozena Shiro (at one o’clock in the picture above) was another one we ate all of. It was a beef in a sauce much like the Doro Wett, spicy, but this one was bit more nutty.
We also had the Baklava (pic). I am a bit of a baklava snob, and this one wasn’t so hot. I don’t know if there are any indigenous Ethiopian desserts, but I’d be interested in trying one some day.
If you haven’t had Ethiopian fare, you must try it. Zoma has a contemporary feel, and although the seats may not be tradional, you’re definitely going to get the same Ethiopian flavor and hospitality.
Guest Writer: Siobhan “Blondie”
The IRL Arts Foundation and The Wandering Foodie thank Zoma for providing this meal.
2084 Frederick Douglass Blvd
New York, NY 10026