May 7, 2007

When Black Sludge Is a Very Good Thing

New friends in New York marvel at my determination to cook at least a couple times a week, despite all the amazing places to eat and new cuisine to sample in every corner the city. And I must say the fate of my relationship with my skillet does not always appear bright. This weekend, I stumbled across an Afghani restaurant in the East Village called Khyber Pass on the oh-so-trendy St. Mark’s Place (right across from the vending machine Japanese food place adorned in hot pink).

We dined on steamed beef dumplings called Mantoo, grilled cornish game hen, and orange-saffron rice with pistachios for a very reasonable price. The orange taste was a bit overpowering in the rice, but the Mantoo had just the slightest hint of orange sweetness, adding wonderful dimension to the dish. Overall, I would say the food was enjoyed more for the novelty of the experience. What was infinitely more interesting to me was the Turkish coffee at the end of the meal.

I have had Turkish coffee before, but nothing prepared me for this eye-opening, gritty gelatin of a coffee drink (perhaps since my caffeine dependence has somewhat subsided since college). After about three sips, our conversation took a turn for the hilariously hyper.

“Let’s go play backgammon.”
“Do you even know how to play backgammon? Do you know how to play chess? I can play chess.”
“I’ve always wanted to play chess. I played a mean game of checkers with my Grandfather for years. Wait, was it backgammon?”
“I have no idea, let’s go find out. We could go to Strand book store where all the answers are. It’s only 10 ten blocks away. We might have to run since they close at 10.”
“Awesome, let’s go.”

You get the idea. I would highly discourage people who are sensitive to caffeine checking it out. Otherwise, grab some Turkish coffee at the end of a weekend dinner for a guaranteed fun night.

Here’s a wonderful tutorial from Coffee Geek on how to prepare Turkish coffee.

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