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Date night, Ethnic Fest, & crêpes!

August 26, 2010

I had lots of fun with Matt this past weekend. We’d scheduled an Official Date Night on Friday, and Matt took care of the planning. He had selected Blue Nile Café as our surprise dinner destination. Blue Nile is where I took that Ethiopian veg cooking class in April, and I hadn’t been back since, so I couldn’t have been happier with his choice. We ordered a carafe of house-made honey wine and a glass of pinot grigio to share.

The honey wine was very sweet and SO GOOD! It tasted similar to mead, or perhaps even a less-potent Bärenjäger.

For his entrée, Matt ordered dinich watt (left), potato chunks in tomato-garlic-berbere sauce. For his two sides, he chose shimbera assa (top right), ground garbanzo bean dough baked, sliced, and stewed with onions, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and berbere, and misir watt (bottom right).

Misir watt is my favorite Ethiopian dish ever, and I was so happy I learned how to make it in that cooking class. It’s a fragrant red lentil stew brimming with onion, garlic, and ginger and seasoned with berbere and cardamom. (See the recipe here!) I got misir watt for my main dish, and shimbera assa and yekik watt (bottom right; yellow split peas stewed with garlic, ginger, and turmeric) for my sides. Accompanied by plenty of injera, this was a spectacular meal!

The nasty rainstorm sullied some of our date night plans, but Matt and I still managed to drop into an art gallery, watch (and laugh at) part of a bad movie at the downtown library, grab some strawberry cake from Westport Coffee and some awful $3.99 wine from Sunfresh, and make it a fun evening.

Late Saturday afternoon, we attended the Ethnic Enrichment Festival at Swope Park. It’s an annual 3-day event in Kansas City where representatives of dozens of countries set up booths to sell the food, drinks, art, clothing, jewelry, toys, and more that characterize their respective cultures. There’s also a large stage where groups from many of the countries put on musical and dance performances throughout the weekend. When we arrived, the sound of bagpipes filled the air as Scotland took the stage.

We certainly ate a multi-ethnic smorgasbord that evening. While Matt had Swedish meatballs in lingonberry sauce, Laotian fried sticky rice, and a Norwegian raspberry lemonade, I tried pancit, a curried bean thread noodle dish from the Philippines. It was salty, savory, and highlighter-yellow—I liked it!

Matt and I shared a Columbian fried plantain as dessert #1, then decided to have æbleskiver for dessert #2. Æbleskiver are puffy Danish pancake balls cooked in a special cast-iron pan with spherical indentations. Though they originated in Denmark, they’re popular all over Scandinavia. I actually watched some being made in a Dutch fishing village just outside Amsterdam, so it was cool to eat them at home! They’re not vegan (the buttermilk flavor is quite distinct), but they ARE delicious, especially with powdered sugar on top.

In need of refreshment, I made a beeline for the Malaysia booth, which was vending the coconuts I’d been seeing people tote around. They hacked a hole in the top of a fresh young coconut, stuck a straw into it, and handed it right to me. Though Matt was initially skeptical of the coconut water, pretty soon he was raving about its sweet, milky flavor in between gulps. I’ve been craving another coconut all week now. (Oh, and let me just say how much it hurt me to see people throwing their drained coconuts in the trash—all that coconut meat going to waste!)

After watching the Malaysian dance performance, we went home with a couple of pastries we’d picked up at the Serbia booth. This one was a walnutty coffee cake of some sort.

We also got a slice of povitica, a wonderful Eastern European bread that has nut paste (usually walnut) rolled into it. It’s a favorite Christmastime snack in my family, so I’m not used to having it outside of the holidays, but it was just as tasty as always.

Saturday night, Matt helped me bake my favorite peanut butter-white chocolate blondies (which I’ll be posting in due time; patience, my pretties!). I also blended up a vegan crêpe batter to chill in the fridge overnight. On Sunday, when we woke up at the crack of 2pm (which is very out of the ordinary for us; really!), we made crêpes together!

We ate them with sliced strawberries and – ohh yes – Nutella. Real-deal, brand-name, non-vegan Nutella. What can I say? I LOVE the stuff (and by “love,” I mean that I would bathe in it if I could). The fun part is that I bought this particular jar at a little grocery store in Sorrento, Italy (so at least it doesn’t contain all the same additives and preservatives that the American version does!).

Yummm. Brings me back to last year, when I ate a Nutella-stuffed crêpe (topped with salted caramel ice cream!) in Paris!

So in sum, how awesome was our weekend? Answer: this awesome.

If you like this, you might also like…
Adventure at the Berry Patch
FüD: KC’s newest vegan eatery
Accidentally-almost-vegan party

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32 Comments leave one →
  1. August 26, 2010 12:19 pm

    Coconuts in the trash! Horrid! All the raw desserts that could be made with them. So sad. Great eats. You look like you had ton of fun. I like international fests. Pansit is awesome too!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 26, 2010 4:31 pm

      I KNOW! Such an awful waste :'[
      I had never heard of pansit, but I liked it a lot!

  2. Mom permalink
    August 26, 2010 12:21 pm

    Sounds like a very full weekend indeed. Lots of food, fun and time with someone special. Wow, really a lot of food!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 26, 2010 4:31 pm

      ALWAYS lots of food :]

  3. August 26, 2010 12:22 pm

    What?!!!! How could I have missed that festival? My husband grew up in Belgium, so he loves all things international. I’m depressed that I didn’t hear about it. Kansas City is way cooler than people would guess. I love povitica. That is some yummy stuff, and you’re reminding me that I need to go to Blue Nile again and try that honey wine ASAP!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 26, 2010 4:35 pm

      Oh no! That sucks you missed it! It’s been held every year since I was a kid. (I actually took part in a stage performance there when I was younger. The Korean group did a martial arts demonstration, and back in the day I was a black belt in tae kwon do, heh.) Definitely go next year!

      I agree that KC has more to offer than people give us credit for :] I just saw today that they’re giving late-night “Ghosts and Gangsters” tours of downtown this fall; could be cool!

      And YES to more Blue Nile…always yes to Blue Nile!

  4. Matt permalink
    August 26, 2010 12:35 pm

    Majorly awesome weekend!

    Though I wasn’t a fan of the honey wine like my honey was, I am left drooling for more ethiopian food.

    When they say coconut “milk” they aren’t kidding. It tasted like the leftover milk after chowing down a bowl of fruitloops. And yes, between the nuts, the balls, and the noodles, we had very full mouths on Saturday. 😉

    Amber would say she’s terrible at making pancakes and crepes. But, you should know that she made several very nice looking, nearly symmetrical crepes for her first time. *Gives her round of applause*

    Let’s do it all again soon! XOXO
    -M

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 26, 2010 4:37 pm

      I think I liked the honey wine enough for both of us :] I’ll make us misir watt some night soon!

      I also still need to get a cleaver, so we can buy ourselves some fresh coconuts…

      I’m so happy you liked the crêpes , and thank you again for helping me make/flip them!

      I would absolutely do it all over again, with you. 😀

  5. August 26, 2010 1:30 pm

    Restaurant pics + festival pics = me ditching work to go find food…fast!! Every single thing looked fantastic!

    Misir watt contains just about all of my favorite ingredients. I have to look up your recipe…

    As for the Nutella, I stuffed my wedding cake with it! 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 26, 2010 4:39 pm

      Hehe, thank ya! You can find the misir watt recipe HERE. It’s straight from the restaurant. You will LOVE it!

      And ok, I’m serious when I say I almost dropped my phone when I read that you had a Nutella-filled wedding cake. That is ab.so.lutely.BRILLIANT!! I cannot believe I never thought of that! Pure genius, my dear. I hope you don’t mind if I borrow that idea someday! 😀

  6. August 26, 2010 2:52 pm

    nutella ROCKS!
    love the pic of you in the pink tank!
    and every city ive ever lived in has a blue nile cafe that’s veggie or vegan LOL!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 26, 2010 4:41 pm

      Damn straight Nutella rocks! It’s like sex in a jar.

      Haha, I think I’ve heard of other Blue Niles too. I might argue that ours is the best, though! 😛

  7. August 26, 2010 3:11 pm

    First of all, yay for a date night! I really need to get one schedule for me and my husband….it’s been too long!

    And, what a cool festival! That food looked and sounded amazing!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 26, 2010 4:42 pm

      Yeah! I know you enjoyed your recent lunch date, so I’d say it’s time to kick it up a notch and treat yourselves to a dinner date!

      The Ethnic Fest IS great; KC is lucky to have it :]

  8. August 26, 2010 4:58 pm

    I was so close to going to the Ethnic Enrichment Festival! We’re going to bump into each other one of these days!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 26, 2010 5:01 pm

      Haha, no kidding! We’re bound to at some point; I’m just surprised we haven’t already!

  9. August 26, 2010 9:56 pm

    The awesomest of awesome weekends! I’m so glad to hear you and Matt had such a lovely time together 🙂 Though it’s very cruel of you to taunt me with mention of those blondies… Funny, though, I know those pancake balls as poffertjes. I wonder what the difference is?

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 27, 2010 9:58 am

      According to Wikipedia, æbleskiver are Danish, while poffertjes are Dutch. Also, æbleskiver are more spherical, while poffertjes are more like puffy disc shapes. Fascinating! So what I saw being made in the Netherlands were actually poffertjes!

      The blondie recipe will be worth the wait, I promise! ;D

  10. Lynn-Ann permalink
    August 27, 2010 10:11 am

    I wish there were something closer to the Leavenworth/Lansing area. We just moved here and I’m still trying to find ANYTHING close! I can’t believe I have to drive almost an hour to a whole foods!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 27, 2010 10:14 am

      First of all, welcome to KC! Or at least the KC area :] Leavenworth IS quite a drive, so I can understand your frustation at feeling far away from everything. Unfortunately, I haven’t done too much eating in or around Leavenworth, though I’ve heard there is an excellent Thai restaurant there!

  11. August 28, 2010 9:21 am

    drooling over those crepes! love nutella 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 28, 2010 10:59 am

      Thanks! I kind of combined the two crêpe recipes in Vegan Brunch for mine.
      I liked crêpes and Nutella both before, but after eating a Nutella-stuffed crêpe (topped with salted caramel ice cream!) in Paris, I don’t think I ever want to eat crêpes any other way!

  12. Chef Bee permalink
    August 28, 2010 7:10 pm

    Sounds and looks like a wonderful night. Thanks for sharing and your pictures are great. I’m on a search for a chocolate spread besides Nutella. My children all have nut allergies. Please share if you know of one.

    Plan B

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 30, 2010 4:32 pm

      Thank you!
      Unfortunately, I can’t think offhand of any nut-free chocolate spread similar to Nutella. However, if I see or hear of one, I can be sure to let you know.

  13. August 29, 2010 3:31 pm

    Oh man, I LOVE Ethiopian food! I was instantly addicted from the very first time I tried it, but have yet to make my own injera that could compare to the restaurant version. Your photos look so good, I’m very tempted to order out right now!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 29, 2010 6:31 pm

      I remember you saying that on my misir watt post! I would love an easy way of making homemade injera (i.e. fewer exotic flours and perhaps a shorter fermentation time), so if you come up with one, please do share! :]

  14. August 29, 2010 5:02 pm

    I’ve been meaning to try Ethiopian food. Looks delish- and what a great festival!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      August 30, 2010 4:33 pm

      Oh, definitely give Ethiopian a try! If you like Indian food, you’re sure to love it.

  15. 14yearoldvegan permalink
    September 1, 2010 12:30 pm

    I love misir watt! ethiopian food is great 🙂 for my sisters birthday, we went to this ethiopian restaurant and it was only $4 a dish and we split 5 dishes!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 1, 2010 12:39 pm

      Wow! You scored a great deal on Ethiopian food! :] Be sure to check out my misir watt recipe so you can make it yourself at home sometime.

      By the way, I am so impressed with your blog! I wish I had your knowledge about food when I was 14, as well as your tastes and preferences. You’re getting such a huge headstart on a long, healthy life—it’s awesome!

  16. April 26, 2012 9:17 am

    Sounds like a very great weekend! Lots of food, fun and time with someone special. Wow, really a lot of food!

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