I am (Unofficially) Officially Moving to Cyprus

I have been to Kanella exactly 2 times and I can say without a doubt in my mind that I would eat there every single day if I lived close enough. Whoever was putzing around the kitchen one day and thought, “You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to mix feta with some thyme, wrap it in filo dough and smother the whole thing in thyme-infused honey and serve with roasted beets,” is a genius. Bureki. I wish I had eight more of those right now.

And the face my friend made when he tried tahini for the first time was equally magical: first the pure, unadulterated bliss of creamy, savory, slightly salty heaven. BUT THEN THE BITTERNESS SET IN AND HIS FACE WENT THROUGH A RAINBOW OF EMOTION. I, being the bad friend in this situation, did not warn him soon enough. I felt terrible for maybe half a second before breaking down into laughter.

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“Is that a bowl for washing fingers?” You would ask. And you would be correct.

After weighing the pros and cons, he eventually decided on a positive impression of tahini and continued to dip his bread in our little antipasto treat. And after our starter course of heaven wrapped in filo dough drizzled with more heaven, came the entrées. My partner in crime ordered the special poultry (Thyme and lemon hen on a bed of I believe wheat berries). First they set the table with the usual forks and knives (classy!) but then added a small bowl of water because this is the kind of dish you eat with your hands. How awesome is that? A fancy dinner atmosphere and finger food!

I ordered the Cyprus tortelloni: a utopian plate of halloumi-and-mint-filled tortelloni with a greek yogurt and spinach sauce topped with a little more mint and lemon to create nothing short of divinity. It was a wonderful dish that I am still craving (and failing to recreate at home) a week later. It’s no big deal, I guess, I’ll survive somehow.

Maybe the best part of all was that this was going to be my treat. Oh, I was hell-bent on it, too. Right up until the check came I was all, “No, don’t worry about it… It’s not that expensive… Seriously, I got this…” Then the check came. So I grab my purse, rummage around annnnnnnnd… nothing. I left my wallet at home! Ugh, seriously? I mean, really? I could die. I felt so bad. On the bright side, my Meat Partner has a solid amount of credit to his name. Lucky, lucky.

Did you know that Cyprus is the 3rd largest island in the Mediterranean? Or that the next time I’m in the mood for brunch I’m going back? Yeah, that last one was easy.

I don’t know how the Vietnamese got a hold of jalepeños and cilantro, but I’m so glad they did.

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(Note the stoop handrail)

Author’s note: it’s been pointed out more than once that I misspelled banh my in the original posting. It has since been changed. Thank you to everyone who helped!

 

Being a twenty-something young professional, I can’t always go to fancy restaurants (more so out of boredom rather than price… You’ll see why in later posts).  This time, we went to BaLe in little south Philly Vietnam for banh my, or Vietnamese deli sandwiches. The deli part refers more to the fact that there is a table for non-refrigerated items like delicate flower cookies, an open refrigerator for sausages and preserved meats and the counter for ordering food. No tables, no chairs, no

nothin’. Also, good luck trying to tell the difference between fried tofu and chicken. It helps to know what fried tofu looks like, which my accomplice did not. So after ordering our sandwiches, we set out for a place to eat them. Now, imagine south Philly for a second. Bring up those memories of parks and benches and general ‘welcome, sit for a while’ atmosphere. Now realize that idea is a lie. There are no benches, only stoops. And what’s more, Murphy’s law dictates that halfway through your banh my, the owner of said stoop will come home to find you. Luckily, he will be very nice about the whole thing and invite you to continue eating.

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Also note the significant lack of chicken.

Fortunately, once you get over that awkwardness, you begin to appreciate the Vietnamese affinity for jalepeños and cilantro mixed in with your typical fresh vegetables (carrots, lettuce, cucumber, etc.). I’m not a culinary anthropologist, but I would love to know how jalepeños and cilantro made it all the way to south east Asia. Maybe they were always there and it was Central America that benefited from the import. Honestly, I’ve never looked into it, but I want to. I think fusion cuisine is a little weird, to be frank, it always seems forced. But that’s probably because I don’t know the history behind it. For example, Chifa: Peruvian-Chinese cuisine. What? But it comes from Chinese immigrants and the story behind that sounds so fascinating.

Anyway, the sandwiches were a good call: cheap, fast, new. But they were every bit the quality one would expect from a fast, cheap deli. Not bad by any means, just not winning a James Beard anytime soon. I still recommend it if you’re in the area and looking for a quick lunch. There’s also a highly recommended Pho place behind it. Unfortunately, you’ll never see me there because, well, beef broth.

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Of course, always end your night with a few beers and some warm blueberry bread pudding with whiskey-caramel sauce from Royal Tavern. It’s only right.