Last night the Hairless Wonder and I went to my Happy Place. And I was so very HAPPY.
If there wasn’t a mortgage and the education of 4 children in the equation….I would pretty much live at Fekerte’s. Her food is THAT good. As it is I only get to go there maybe 4 times a year,( ALWAYS for my birthday) interspersed with visits to her stall at the Bus Depot Markets to get my fix.
When I first met Ferkerte she didn’t have the restaurant. It was 1994, we had just moved to Canberra, and I discovered her like an oasis (in a desert of no African cuisine of any sort) at the Bus Depot Markets.
Fekerte also very kindly catered my sister Robyn’s 21st with a scrumptious buffet.
Well, life chugged along; we moved away for 14 years, and when came back in 2008, I was concerned that Fekerte would be gone. But no! She is in Dickson, and has grown Ferkerte’s into a thriving restaurant, serving up a fresh twist on traditional Ethiopian deliciousness at least 4 days a week. And I have to mention that she recognized me after all that time too!
Let me explain Ethiopian food to you in case you have been living under a culinary rock.
There are a wide range of stews flavoured with a magical blend of Ethiopian spices (most stew are either a ‘wat’ which is rich and spicy, or a mild alicha which is subtle yet superbly spiced).
Then there is ‘enjera’, the sublime bread which undergirds every Ethiopian dinner. Describing enjera is a little like describing a platypus.
Enjera are soft and pliabe like an enormous pancake, spongy and porous like a crumpet; and have a tang like sourdough bread. They are large enough to cover a platter. Traditionally they are laid over a communal platter and various wats and alichas are plopped all over. With your right hand you tear off a piece of enjera and use it to scoop up your stew. Oh my! And don’t forget to eat all the soaked up bits where the stews were resting. My 5 year old specifically requested enjera for his birthday. All the kids love it and rate it as a favourite food. (hence we did not tell them where we were going last night)
Ethiopian cuisine tastes all the better because you don’t have the metalic taste from a fork in your mouth.
I have tried several times to replicate both the stews and the enjera….without success. I can make yummy stews, but they don’t taste like Ethiopian stews. And on several brave occasions I have tried to make enjera; the results were disastrous and the house stunk for days, as there is a fermentation process, which I obviously get wrong.
Ok, to the meal!
The Hairless Wonder was inexcusably late, so I went ahead and ordered for the two of us.
We feasted on:
Meat Samosas. $7.90 for two. These parcels of spiced mince and shallots are fragrant and only a little ‘burny’ as my kids describe anything with chilli. They came with a green dipping sauce which I think was a blend of shallots, coriander, chilli and oil. Divine!
And Cauliflour Fritters. $8.90 for three. I could eat these all day. Cauliflour finely diced, fresh herbs and chickpea flour….deepfried…..sweet mother! It was accompanied by a delicate yoghurt dipping sauce.
For the main we got our usual. I highly recommend the Traditional Platters at $29.90 for 2 people. The platter offer a range of dishes served traditionally on a platter for 2 to share. There are 3 options in this range. One highlights a famous beef wat, the second a reknowned chicken wat and the third option is a combo of vegetarian dishes.
We went for the 2nd option, as usual! My favourite of all Fekerte’s is her speciality as far as I am concerned and I have never tasted it quite like hers in any other Ethiopian restaurant. Her Lega Tibs which has wine-soaked chunks of lamb fried with onions and rosemary. So yummy, and a generous serve of it comes with the Traditional platter options.
Let it be known, I got served the best Lemon Lime and Bitters I have ever had last night. The whole dinner was impeccable, and the restaurant was chock full and had all the staff working hard.
We never usually have dessert or Ethiopian coffee but we did last night for the sake of ‘research’.
I went for the Semolina Cake in Cinnamon Syrup ($8.90) served with crushed pistachio garnish and icecream. It was so dense, and that more-ish semolina taste enhanced by the sweet cinnamon enticed me into devouring the whole thing! Me! Non-sugar girl! Arggghhh!
H-W was sick and had nothing, which let the team down a little I thought, as I had been keen to taste and photograph the Mamusha. Oh well, next time.
The coffee ($3) is an organic Ethiopian blend; pan roasted, ground and brewed. It was served in a tiny cup and packed a punch. Delicious but I should not have had one so late, when I barely ever drink coffee. I kept waking up all night!!!!
Go and check out my Happy Place if you are in the ACT! Better yet, take me along to ‘guide’ you through the menu. It would be my pleasure.
I leave you with the image of a previous dinner. Mmm!0