Sunday, August 05, 2007

Friday was something all right

We are enjoying our visit with my sister and her family, just home from 2 years in Africa. On Friday, I booked off work. The kids hung out together at our house, and Mom and Dad relaxed at their house, while Barb, Kim and I set out on a quest for unroasted coffee beans, and a grill for cooking injera, the bread that is the basis for most meals in Eritrea. We found the beans easily at JJ Bean on Commercial. They will be used for an Eritrean coffee ceremony. We also stopped for a coffee and I bumped into my friends Alyssa and Nola, and Alyssa's baby Iris. I hadn't met the baby yet, what a treat! She had a purple tongue, and was wearing a t-shirt painted by auntie: "The seahorse is the the only fish with a prehensile tail." Cool baby.

Meanwhile at home, Mom was baking an angel food cake for Barb's birthday celebration. Overbaked by just a few minutes, the first one collapsed out of the pan too early during cooling, and "flumped." Mom started again, baking another cake from scratch.

Next stop for us was an Ertirean restaurant a couple of kilometers down Broadway. Barb and Kim had found the address on the internet. After fruitless telephone and internet searching for a direct source for their injera grill, they thought they might get some info from a restaurant. Before we hopped in the car again, we strolled commercial. I saw Nora (in town from a summer job in Anchorage to accompany the Van Slam Team to Nationals in Austin) and Jeremy and Jeremiah, enjoying a late breakfast at Cafe Deux Soleils. This was turning out to be a nice, friendly day. We continued on and spotted an Ethiopian restaurant that was open, right on Commercial Drive. The lady there said she know where to find a grill, but when she called her connection, they had none. She did offer to sell us some injera, made by the cook at her restaurant. We thanked her, and continued on to Broadway.

At The Red Sea Cafe on Broadway, the owner was friendly and welcoming, and somewhat amused to meet my sister and her husband, so well-versed in Eritrean cuisine and way of life, and speaking some of the local dialect. He gave us a phone number and location (back on Commercial) to buy the grill. Then he served us up some "foul." In Eritrea, "foul" is peanuts, peanut butter or bean dip. We had the bean dip, served with warm buns. It was yummy. We also had some sweet cinnamony Eritrean chai.

We thanked the restaurant man, and left, then phoned the place for the injera grill on my cell. They had one! When we got there we laughed. It was three doors down from the Ethiopian restaurant where we had inquired an hour earlier. The Abyssinia Grocery looks like a corner store, but in the back there are East African foods, and they had a few of the grills to sell. Barb and Kim took one home, very happy.

We returned to my house, where the kids had walked the dog, played video games, make lunch together, and the girls had baked cookies and a birthday card for Barb. They baked the two parts of the card out of lemon shortbread cookies and decorated them with coloured icing. Barb says it's the most original birthday card she has ever received.

We all took a break for a couple of hours. Maya is studying for exams, so she did some of that. I read some more Harry Potter with Alex (we are going slowly). I wrapped Barb's present, then searched my freezer, and located some frozen strawberries to add to the cake later in the evening. Around 6:45 we headed out for a restaurant supper.

Our first wish was to go to our favourite Capitol Hill Szechuan Restaurant in North Burnaby, but they are closed for three weeks of vacation, opening the day after Barb and family leave for their home in Cranbrook. As much as they have been looking forward to dining at Cap Hill, they'll have to wait until their next visit.

We located another Szechuan place where Andy and I had eaten when we lived in South Burnaby, but they were booked for the night and couldn't accommodate our big party. Finally Barb succeeded in making reservations at a third Szechuan place, where I had heard some co-workers had approved of the cuisine. We rendezvoused there, only to discover it had morphed into a restaurant with the same phone number, but a different name. The menu advertised "Chinese and Western Food." This is not our kind of Chinese food, so we drove back to North Burnaby to try Szechuan restaurant number four. It occurred to me that having 4 (or may just 3) decent Szechuan restaurants in one small city is a pretty good problem to have, but by this time we were tired and hungry, and had run around enough. We got to the Plan D restaurant to discover that it is closed on Fridays. Who ever heard of that? Oh well. There was a sushi restaurant next door, so we switched countries and had a great Japanese meal. The place was hopping, but a big table was just leaving as we arrived, so we were served quickly and we had a lovely time indeed.

At home the cake was tall, and light and yummy. Barb enjoyed her gifts. We all breathed out, then closed our eyes and said, "Time to go to bed."

The coffee ceremony, goat stew with injera and the much anticipated family game of balderdash are still waiting to happen. A really good Szechuan meal looks not to be in the cards for this visit. Things are never quite what you'll expect them to be, but usually they are delicious anyway.

question: have you ever been on a quest?

mompoet - enjoying minor and benign unpredictability

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