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A Middle East feast. April 23, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Our friend Ben and I simply love Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods, some of the healthiest and most flavorful on the planet. And my lust for these healthy, flavorful dishes was kicked up more than a notch when our local paper featured an Egyptian food truck, the Taza Truck, that had actually stopped for a day in the tiny nearby college town of Kutztown, PA, just 15 minutes from our rural cottage home.

The article was cruel enough to discuss and show many of the luscious dishes being served by the truck. It also provided a link to the Taza Truck website, which provided a complete, tantalizing menu. Why was this cruel? Because the truck had stopped in Kutztown on April 2, and the article didn’t appear until April 9. Rushing to the website, I saw no sign that it would ever come back. Sob!!!

Unable to stop thinking about the bad timing of this, I told OFB in no uncertain terms that we needed to get some Middle Eastern specialties on Saturday and have our own feast, or he’d be taking me to Yianni’s, a wonderful Greek restaurant in not-so-close Bethlehem, PA, which has delicious food and wonderful ambience but cringe-worthy prices from OFB’s POV. He hastily agreed.

So Saturday found us racing first to do our usual Saturday chores in Kutztown, including a stop at Renninger’s, Kutztown’s farmers’ market. Renninger’s actually includes a Mediterranean food stand, Nancy’s, in the midst of its Pennsylvania Dutch specialty stands. So we began our Middle Eastern odyssey by stocking up on Nancy’s homemade spinach-and-herb hummus, incredibly rich Greek yogurt, and something new, flatbread topped with Lebanese cheese. Yum! Nancy’s plain Greek yogurt is so rich and delicious, you can eat it with hot buttered and salted basmati rice and a heaping side of arugula and cherry tomatoes (preferably gold or a mix) and enjoy one of the best meals you’ll ever eat.

Next, we made a special trip to the Allentown Farmers’ Market, which has what is arguably the best Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food in the area outside of Yianni’s, at a stand in the market called Foods of the Mediterranean. I quickly stocked up on their baba ghannouj (roasted spiced eggplant dip); their incomparable herbed feta cheese, the best I’ve ever had; amazing savory pastries made with phyllo dough wrapped around a spinach, feta and herb filling and then wound into a cinnamon-bun shape; falafels, those delicious crispy deep-fried chickpea fritters that are just perfect with tzatziki sauce (super-thick yogurt with cucumber, garlic and herbs). (So good if you want to wrap them in a soft flatbread, such as a Greek-style pita, heat them in foil, and add the tzatziki sauce with shredded lettuce and chopped tomato and onion before you eat them.) I also got their garlic-roasted cauliflower as a healthy and incredibly yummy side.

Wow, am I looking forward to setting this spread out for a super spring feast for me and OFB! I think, despite OFB’s appetite, we’ll be able to stretch it to three meals (especially if I add a Greek-inspired asparagus dish with the third meal). And that unbelievable herbed feta will continue to add delight to our spring salads and breakfasts smeared over toasted baguette slices and topped with thinly sliced radishes. Ooh la la!

‘Til next time,




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