Archive for the 'Middle Eastern' Category

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53rd and 6th Halal Cart – New York City

53rd and 6th Halal Cart - New York City

It was a gamble seeking out “street meat” for dinner the night before my brother’s wedding. There was a slim but real chance that the platters of sauce drenched meat would wreck havoc on our systems, rendering me a useless bridesmaid and my mom a less-than-cheery mother of the groom. Still, we had to take a chance on this New York City classic. The smells emanating from the flat top grills had us primed and ready.

53rd and 6th Halal Cart - New York City

There was a sizable line stretching down the street when The Astronomer, my mom, and I arrived on the scene. With multiple carts claiming to be the real Halal Guys occupying the four-way intersection, I had to text the guru of street meat to confirm the coordinates. The real deal is found on the southwest corner of 53rd and 6th after 6 PM. Thanks for helping a tourist out, Zach!

53rd and 6th Halal Cart - New York City

Before serving the hungry crowd, The Halal guys spent a solid thirty minutes grilling pita breads and mincing chicken and lamb. Lots of preparation was required in order to survive the long night of service ahead.

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House of Basturma – Pasadena

House of Basturma - Pasadena

It’s a well known fact that cured meats make my heart go pitter-patter, so when a fellow Pasadena-based food blogger alerted me that a basturma specialist recently opened up shop down the street from my home, I made my way there at my earliest convenience.

House of Basturma - Pasadena

House of Basturma was completely empty when The Astronomer, Danny, and I arrived last Tuesday night. However, as soon as we walked in, the mom and pop who run the place unglued their eyes from the local news and assisted us in navigating the Armenian-Lebanese-Turkish menu. I kind of got the sense that the older couple was a little baffled as to why two Asian kids and a white dude were stopping in for dinner, but they were hospitable and friendly nevertheless.

House of Basturma - Pasadena

We ordered a chikofte platter ($5.99) to start. Traditionally served as an appetizer, chikofte is a mixture of bulgur wheat and finely ground raw beef. We were informed by the proprietress that only Middle Eastern palates appreciate this dish, but we went ahead and ordered it anyway because I heart raw meat as much as the cured stuff.

The chikofte was topped with lightly dressed fresh tomatoes and served with warm pita bread. The first few bites of the chikofte along with the pita and veggies were very lovely, but  after bite number five, it started tasting monotonous. Had the portion not been so generous, we would’ve left things off on a high note!

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Last Day in Spain: Breakfast in Girona, Lunch in Figueres, Dinner in Barcelona (a side of Dalí, too)

Breakfast at Girona Train Station

Our last day in Spain began bright and early. The Astronomer and I grabbed breakfast at the train station—a flaky croissant for him and a ham and cheese sandwich with a tall cup of orxata for her—before leaving Girona for the town of Figueres. The simple fare was just what we needed to get us through the morning.

Theatre-Museum Dalí - Figueres

We arrived in Figueres an hour later, slightly groggy, but also very excited. We penciled in a half-day in the city to visit the Teatre-Museu Gala Salvador Dalí, a museum designed by the artist to honor his hometown. Home to hundreds of Dalí’s original works, the museum is a must-see for anyone visiting Catalonia.

On our walk from the train station to the museum, we encountered a portrait of Dalí reflected onto a mirrored cylinder. It was definitely one of the coolest and most innovative public art pieces I have ever seen.

Theatre-Museum Dalí - Figueres

In true Dalí fashion, the museum’s facade was a spectacle. I couldn’t decide which element was more visually arresting—the giant eggs teetering around the perimeter or the gold Oscar-like statues holding down the fort. Or maybe it was the sky-high trees that were perfectly coiffed.

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Arde’s Bistro – Los Angeles (Burbank)

In this 498.3 square mile metropolis with notoriously bad traffic, meeting a friend for a meal can mean an hour-long commute. When my Valley-dwelling friend Sam and I wanted to meet up for lunch, it made sense to dine somewhere in the middle to save a little time and gas.What city is halfway in between Pasadena and Sherman Oaks? Why Burbank, of course.

Eating out in an area that neither party is familiar with can be a bit of a crapshoot. To avoid a dining disaster, I called upon my sometimes trusty, but oftentimes flaky friendYelp. Since Arde’s Bistro was the number one rated restaurant in Burbank, I figured it would be a good enough spot to hit up.

Mother and daughter duo Arde and Nina opened up Arde’s Bistro in 2000. The restaurant is smallish in size and laid back in attitude. The menu reflects Arde’s previous training as a Greek, Armenian and Lebanese cook, but with a couple of California-inspired additions like wraps and salads thrown in.

We started off our late lunch with an Appetite Teaser Platter ($10.95), which included hummus, baba ghanouge, stuffed grape leaves, a feta turnover, falafel, a small Greek salad and a side of Tahini sauce. Sam’s favorite of the bunch was the flaky and salty feta turnover. I was especially mad about the pleasantly tart stuffed grape leaves, with the smoky baba ghanouge coming in a close second. The falafel were decent, but paled in comparison to the one’sMama made back in Philly. I like my falafel spicy and rustic.

The generous Appetite Teaser Platter was served with warm pita and lavash—a soft, thin flatbread. Both were excellent vehicles for scooping up the hummus and baba ghanouge.

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