I’ve written about the revelatory experience I had when I attended the wedding ceremony of two friends, one of whom is from Eritrea. Her family prepared a feast for the reception, and it blew my mind. I thought I was something of an expert in world cuisine at the time, but I’d never had anything quite like that food.
It started with the injera, which is a very thin crepe-like bread made with a fermented batter that usually includes a specific variety of wheat: teff. Because it’s fermented, it’s a little sour, but the fermentation also produces a texture that’s damn close to the top of a crumpet. That may not mean much to the majority of you, but I assure you it’s an accurate observation, and essentially it means the thing is a very thin sponge.
You should also probably check out crumpets, but that’s another column.
I mention all of this because ever since I saw the “coming soon” sign go up for Addis NOLA, I’ve been anxious to try it out.
Addis NOLA is located on the river side of Broad Street, between Tulane and Banks. It’s an address that’s more suited to Bail Bond companies, and there’s not a lot of food traffic, but Marjie’s Grill is only a few blocks away, and if we’ve learned anything from the success of Marjie’s Grill, it’s that their food is really good and people like it.
My wife and I had lunch at Addis NOLA this week. We split the vegetable combination plate and doro wot, a chicken stew with a sauce so complex it will make you think of the more elaborate sauces of Mexico and central America. I wanted to order the lamb version, but my wife isn’t all that into lamb, so chicken it was. Chicken breast, specifically and it was predictably a little dry. It was not problematic because the sauce and the injera more than made up for it. I still want the lamb next time.
The vegetable combination plate was also really good. Five or six vegetable dishes, plus a homemade cheese, and all but one of them was delicious. That one was a sort of rough mash of green lentils. I wasn’t crazy about the texture, but my wife liked it and she has good taste. Could just be me.
I have tried to cook the food of Eritrea/Ethiopia, but I haven’t done it successfully. I’ve bought cookbooks and I’ve done online research into the cuisine. I’ve purchased teff flour online, and I’ve started a batter but I’ve never made injera, and that’s the heart of the food.
I guess it’s the 2-3 day fermentation process that gives me pause, but I think having watched this video, which is one of the best things I have ever seen, I may start again. At any rate, I am happy that Café Abysinnia cafeabyssinianola.com is no longer the sole exemplar on the local restaurant scene.
One final note: Their current hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Their website suggests it’s 9 to 9, but while there are plans afoot to open before lunch, at the moment it’s not the case.
I highly recommend you check Addis NOLA out, if that wasn’t clear already. If you go, please let me know your thoughts. You can try to beam them to me using only the power of your mind, but posting here or emailing me works better.