Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Day in Africa, in Toronto

I'm a pharoh-phile and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Everything about the art and architecture of ancient Egypt fascinates me.

Before I shuffle off this mortal coil I need to see the pyramids with my own two eyes. I'm not ready to die yet, though, so I'm holding off on the trip. But, the day I get the bad news diagnosis is the day I buy my ticket on Egypt Airways (or whatever airline will honour my aeroplan points).

So a week or two ago my husband, knowing my pharaonic fetish, secured two tickets to a huge exhibit of Egyptian antiquities at the art gallery in Toronto.

It was really busy and hectic, but it was worth negotiating the crowds to come face-to-face with Akhnaten and be inches away from some of the finest relics antiquity has to offer. The quality of the art and the intricacy of the details were amazing. It was humbling to think how long ago the objects were created.

There was no photography allowed, so I don't have any pictures...sorry.

After the exhibit, we went for dinner. We rarely have the opportunity to dine out together, just the two of us and we wanted to take the opportunity to be adventurous. We wanted to try something different. Something our three-year-old would have bawlked at.

At a friend's recommendation, we opted for an Ethiopian restaurant called Addis Ababa.

Yes Ethiopian food, I know, there's so many different jokes it's hard to pick just one. I'm not going to make any, so you can insert your own joke here ________. OK, are you done? Good.

Addis Ababa actually has an extensive and varied menu so you can consider your assumptions confounded.

We tried an Ethiopian beer. I'm not much a beer drinker, but this was really sweet and I liked it because it was almost like drinking a shandy (half ginger ale, half beer). My husband prefers his beer bitter, gross, and tasting like burnt Shreddies, so he wasn't as enamoured with the Ethiopian beer as I was.

Our food was served traditionally, all together on one plate. It was presented on a bed of flat bread, which you use as both a plate and a utensil.

Many of the dishes are very spicy and scared me off. I went for something on the mild side but found it a bit too bland. My husband ordered a sampling of spicier dishes. He was happy with his meal and found it very flavourful.

I can't remember what the dishes were called 'cause I don't speak Ethiopian. I apologise for my inadequacies.
For me, the highlight of the dinner came after the main meal. We shared dessert, which was fried bananas with ice cream and sesame seeds - yum. We also ordered coffee...

Coffee at Addis Ababa is an experience like nothing you'll get at Tim Horton's. It's not just grabbing a coffee, it's an event that engages all your senses.

They start by bringing freshly roasted beans to your table, so they can tease you with the heavenly aroma. Then they grind them and brew the coffee in a beautiful Ethiopian carafe.

A tray is brought to your table with demi tasse cups, the carafe of coffee and a dish of smoldering frankincense.

You need to decant the coffee, carefully, into the cups in an attempt to keep the grounds settled at the bottom of the carafe. That's the only word of warning. The coffee is strong and delicious.

The burning incese adds an exotic, quasi cerimonial, touch to the coffee ritual. I could have sat there huffing frankincense all night, that stuff smells amazing.

Addis Ababa was a really unique experience. The staff was friendly. The other patrons were friendly, for that matter. The food was good and certainly beat the pants off of a cardboard burger. We're glad we tried it and recommend it to one and all.


  1. It makes me want to go to Egypt...failing that, I guess I'll just have to read the post again.

    With coffee.

  2. Always wanted to go there too. Great blog & the food looks delicious.

    Stopping by from SITS

  3. Yum! This post made me hungry! Thanks for sharing.

    Stopping by from SITS.

  4. What a wonderful day, I too am a fan of anything Egyptian...I think the pyramids are amazing! Also the resturant sounds fabulous and I am a big coffee fan and would love that whole "coffee party". It is always so much fun to experience new and different things. I took my son and a friend to a Moraccan resturant in Atlanta, it was a 3 hour meal and had such a wonderful time!

  5. I love Ethiopian food! How fun! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  6. what fun! one of my goals this year is to try several different ethnic groups. it's like i stopped at thai because i love it so much ;)

    *makes mental note to find ethiopian food in nashville*
    (thankfully nashville is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the us thanks to the refugee relocation program. so i should be able to find ethiopian easily!)

  7. So cool!!

    I am here to welcome you to SITs! I hope you are enjoying the party:-)