|An Orange Excursion||
Well if feels good to be back Weebly-ing again! It's been far too long, but after an interim break, filled with Pittsburgh foie gras (Meat & Potatoes), Prohibition cocktails, lifting a bunch of boxes all day, a few nice (and rewarded) runs, the biggest sandwich that I have ever saw (and fully ate and digested), my first encounter with Chicken and Waffles--not my last though! I believe we'll have a long and cholesterol heavy relationship, and a quick change of ZIP codes, all is back in order. All back in order, that is, until school starts, where I believe I will wholly subsist off of information, university muffins, and a boat load of really strong Indian coffee.
This place is the first "semi-official" meal back in Colombia's only District. After a week of showing the family my favorite gorging spots and a bit of food adventures around Virginia, it came down to get settled into my new digs. That meant going out to eat. Zaytinya. It specializes in Turkish-Lebanese-and Grecian food. Did I have my first Middle Eastern beer? Indeed, and it was surprisingly refreshing. Just a simple lager, but I feel that I may have checked off a drinking box, in that did anyone even know that beer came out of that area? It's like saying does maple syrup come out of Florida? (It does actually, yes, you may buy pancakes' best friend from FL).
But Zaytinya, W O W. Talk about a restaurant out of its mind. There isn't one part of the food culture that I didn't like about it. In fact it was on my radar last year, but never had the chance to go for it. However, it was worth the wait and did everything just about perfect. So perfect (besides the lighting, which kept going down and way to bright for a portion of the meal--Mood Killers!!!) was the menu, that me and my gastronomic colleague decided to just let them surprise us and sample a bit of everything. No plate left with sauce on it and no plate left without both of us rolling and mhmmmm-ing until they took them away. There was not one thing, not a thing during the course of the 13 course sample fest that didn't make me want to walk out into traffic because it may have spoiled my appetite for anything else. Being traditional Mediterranean food, it was heavy on the oil, light on the fat, and one can eat A LOT of it before feeling bloaty, and even then, it's not that bloat you get from when you guilt-fully down an entire two person pizza (Of course I have never even thought of such a thing.....). Dolma (stuffed grape leaves), tomato insalate, and a beet-fennel-walnut salad were the beginners. If beets could always taste like that, I'd eat them 3 times a day. The sweetness was tame, paired beautifully with the fennel, and the walnuts just gave it that oily protein crunch that felt right. Of course, you stuff anything inside grape leaves with a lemony-nutty sour cream, and its a win.
So that was the first course. Light and fresh. Just enough to get the body warmed up for more. And did it come. In fact, this pairing contained possibly the best "food juice" that I have ever encountered. And I have eaten a many a things seeped in a many of sauces. It was a buttery, creamy dill sauce that drenched some shrimp. If I go into any more particulars this website may need to become X-rated, so I'll just leave it at that. There was a fava bean and kale-ish spread that worked for the puffy Turkish bread, and the one thing I had been scouring the area for---fired soft shell crabs. Wholey's in Pittsburgh decided to temporarily discontinue them--Ba&$#rds, but I finally got them over grits. As usual, just all salty and gooey and full of that sweet Chesapeake grown meat. Yet again, I'll just leave it at that. But this wasn't even close to what surprisingly came next....
Okay, so clearly this picture looks like it would go the best from right to left. I mean who can not like a roasted lamb chop covered in a smoked dill tzatziki? Or some pine-nut salsa infused cut of "biftek"? Well, try some Brussels sprouts. I STILL CANNOT BELIEVE THESE EXIST IN THE UNIVERSE. They were crispy and slightly charred, but still juicy and meaty. Wow my heart rate already jumped. Coriander, barberries, and garlic yogurt just made the dish out of this galaxy. I formally decree that there are no better tasting Brussels sprouts in the world. NONE. You can try to run the race, crisping and buttering away, but you will fail. There is no hope, just no hope, so just go to Zaytinya and concede.
Of course there was a dainty little dessert. Raspberry-mousse-whipped cream-gelato goodness. A fitting end with nice strong pot of Turkish roast sitting next to you. Too say the least we hobbled our way back a ways, and I had the pleasure to ride my bike---entirely uphill---back to my apartment. Painful...oh so painful...but accomplished. It was an excellent welcome back to the big old District, and a worthy reason to miss the free Navy band concert on the Capitol steps (sorry boys and girls, when you began we were biting into fried crabs and adoring sauce). And when the Zaytinya waitress wanted feedback, this is about all I could write (below)