Sunday, 7 January 2018

Meals on (Two) Wheels

Cycle from Drayton Park, down Holloway Road to Highbury Corner and you will be treated to a slice of the broad culinary life London has to offer. From Mexican takeaway Amigos to purpose-built boozer The Lamb, in this short stretch of Islington, someone like me, a navel-gazing, metropolitan, two-wheel-enthusiast (or whatever recent appellation Nigel Farage and his gang of merry Brexiteers have come up with to describe us, Remain-supporting city-dwellers), is never far away from top quality nosh.

Choosing an eatery where to rest my forty-something-year-old bones while avoiding the Christmas razzmatazz recently proved to be a bit of a hard find. I finally settled for Mesi’s Kitchen, a restaurant that billed itself as the hub of authentic Ethiopian cuisine.

Mesi’s did not disappoint at all. I had the azifa as a starter. Served cold, this was a beautifully presented vegan-friendly dish consisting of whole lentils cooked, mashed and blended with onions, jalapeño and vegetable oil. A hint of garlic and lemon juice provided a much-welcomed touch of zing. The lentils were tender and had a nice kick to them.

This was followed by the main course, awaze tibs. Lamb cubes marinated and sautéed with onion, tomato and seasoned butter. All served with salad on a bed of Injera, a large wheat-and-rice-made pancake that lined the whole plate on which the lamb was served. The meat was cooked to perfection, including the edges (I’m certainly not a fussy eater, but one of my gripes with Turkish cuisine, for instance, is that their grills char the sides of the meat all too often). The awazw tibs was hot but not too hot. It was the sort of spiciness that normally leaves a lingering, pleasant aftertaste long after the last piece of meat has been digested.

Outside, London had turned a winter-crackling, soft-grey colour. I am not a fan of winter at all (give me autumn and spring any time), especially the snow-free variety that the British capital offers, but I do like the renewal-like feel this season brings. This is the time of the year when the falling leaves from autumn become fallen leaves on pavements, rooftops and awnings. On the latter two, very often leaves take the shape of birds. A beak-looking one here, an is-it-or-is-it-not flutter of wings there. Dark-brown leaves whose gentle motion is caused by a cold-snap breeze that forces pedestrians to zip up and rush on.

Inside, even the music didn’t disappoint. Instead of the usual, season-specific Mariah Carey letting everyone know several times a day, week in, week out, what she wanted for Christmas, Mesi’s Kitchen offered a varied selection of Ethiopian music, some of which I was familiar with through my love of Gigi. Old-time Ethiopique recordings mixed with modern pop in a smooth blend that sounded nothing like the muzak you usually get in more upmarket (and pricier) places.

Two expressos later (very good, by the way. Strong as I like them.) it was time to saddle up and go. The bill came at £18.90. Not bad for a part of London where you would normally cough up two thirds of that just for the starter. As I got back on my bike and cycled down Drayton Park, the day’s earlier crispiness had become an early-evening ice-cold snap. I pedalled away finding myself humming, surprisingly, a melody by Tèshomè Meteku.

© 2018

All photos were taken by the blog author

25 comments:

  1. Your meal sounds delicious, but probably not for me. (Anything that stays on the palate will give me return visits long into the night. :-))

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  2. That sounds like a terrific place! I haven't had Ethiopian in years but I do love it (especially that injera) so maybe Dave and I will give this place a try! Just yesterday morning I noticed an Ethiopian place near us, too, on Cricklewood high street...

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  3. So pleased you enjoyed it ...

    All the best Jan

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  4. While food, for me, is a necessity and not particularly interesting, your writing style is marvelous and keeps me reading until the tale has run its course. Your masthead photograph is absolutely terrific, CiL.

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  5. To be able to ride your bike and sample all that exquisite food would be like a dream. The closest place from here is the next town which has a poor excuse for a Mexican restaurant.

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  6. That sounds delicious - and your humming melody would certainly get your legs pumping.

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  7. One of the downsides to living in the rural south of the US is that there's not much opportunity for food diversity like this. I'm a plant-eater and that azifa looks heavenly! I could easily make a meal of that. :)

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  8. The bike sure lets you get around and sample away, even on a cold day.

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  9. That meal sounds yummy. We have a bonanza of every kind of ethnic restaurants in the Atlanta area, too, but I've never tried Ethiopian food before. I might have to rectify that.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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  10. There used to be an Ethiopian restaurant on the Lower East Side that I was very fond of. God knows if it's still there. Mesi's Kitchen sounds like quite a find. We'll have lunch there the next time I'm in London.

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  11. No soy aficionada a los restaurantes, aunque parece tu elección una comida sana, prefiero cocinar en casa, y hoy lentejas a ver si empiezo bien la semana con platos sanos y menos engordantes, que en las fiestas me he pasado.
    Un abrazo.

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  12. I’m glad you managed to find some compensation for winter. I agree, it has little to recommend it - a time of year when we really need wonderful food!

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  13. Well, what an enjoyable post this is. I admire your capacity to get the mouth watering - my mouth, that is. I agree with you about the season we are in, roll on Spring.

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  14. That sounds very, very delicious and now I´m really wanting this food, but here we have no place that I know of like that.
    I don´t like winter, either...

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  15. Hi ACIL - I know when I return to the mother country I'll be coming here and checking out your suggestions for eateries and interesting areas to visit ... sounds delicious ... cheers Hilary

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  16. Looks delicious! i like Ethiopian food!

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  17. I eny your cycling what freedom and what relief !

    glad you enjoyed your meal and music of your type this is blessing otherwise sometimes one want to ask for turn off this torture please lol

    in my youth i loved winters but now almost in my 48th year winters bang my joints and increase my medicines which is annoying .
    spring is something one can ask for all times but i doubt about the human nature which need thrill through good or bd CHANGE

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  18. Lovely outing. Good meal. I have tried lamp prepared and presented in a similar way. It was very good.
    :)

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  19. I really like Ethiopian food but I never considered it for a holiday meal. I might be changing things up next year! Many thanks!

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  20. Sounds like a terrific place to eat. I have never been to an Ethiopian restaurant before. I really must give this a try.
    Many thanks!

    Have a great weekend. 😊😊

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  21. I love trips where you can stop and enjoy local food on the way--this looks like a nice find! Blessings in 2018!

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  22. Every time I visit your blog you make me feel like visiting London again, and give me more reasons to do so. It is only a few hundred miles south from me and I have easy accommodation available in Cambridge, a mere brief train trip away. London is going to see me again soon, I hope... Your reports are always interesting.

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  23. eating that much of good food and then ....biking. Not sure I could have. :)

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  24. Wow, I like the sound of these Ethiopian dishes.

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