Long time no see!
Err…that’s not right.
Long time no speak!
Hmmm…. Not right either.
Long time no me talk at you!?
That’s a great album title, btw.
“Long Time No Me Talk at You”
Maybe like some manic collaboration between Noam Chomsky and John Cage.
Ancient pans making thunderclaps. A meandering, curious and somewhat foreboding bass clarinet line. Hand chimes. Stretches of total silence interrupted by Noam, drunk on wine for whatever reason, riffing on a new un-language he dreamt up the night before and woke reciting in a half-conscious cold sweat.
You know… that kind of jam.
It’d be a mind-melter y’all.
But why waste time telling you something you all already know.
Of course, a collab between Noam Chomsky and John Cage would be an absolute ripper.
Everybody knows that.
So instead I’ma talk at you about some other schtuff!
And today that other schtuff is Anita’s Kitchen!
Anita’s Kitchen is an absolute gem
of a Lebanese restaurant that sits almost right at 9 Mile and Woodward Ave. in Ferndale.
Not a hidden gem, mind you. Lotta people know about this place. Just a gem gem. A broad daylight gem.
The outside of Anita’s is painted the same color as a fully ripened plum and it is right next to the post office in case you need to mail somebody a letter after you eat.
The letter might say:
I just smashed some Lebanese food and thought of you. I did not think of you for any particular reason — it just happened. I was spreading some baba ganoush on my pita bread and eyeing the tabouli and then, poof, there was the thought of you and so I knew I had to write. How are Vic and the kids? Please write me back after you finish your next great meal.
And so on…
(Insert your name/alias)
Maybe your letter would be different than that.
Whatever you want to say in the after-meal letter you write might be, the post office is right next door to get those words to where they’re going.
On the inside, Anita’s feels really cozy. It’s dark without being gloomy and spacious without feeling empty. There are dull-glow and warm orange-yellow lights strung around, dark-toned furniture made from wicker and steel and wood, and large windows at the Woodward facing front to let in the morning to midday sun.
There is also a year-round “outside” seating area joined to the main dining area in case you’re feeling that zone. It’s nice and bright and warmed by heaters in the cold months.
There are also a few large hanging fabric tapestries or drapes hung around which I like because they don’t just look nice — they kind-of transport you a little. For instance, if you need to use the restroom while you’re there, you can stare at them as you pass by and pretend you’re on a short journey far more mystical in nature than your trek to the can.
Lawd knows I do.
But enough of my rambling
about the decor or about mystical journeys to the pot…
It’s time to talk about what we had!
WHAT WE ORDERED
To drink I had a light draft beer from the local Axle Brewery and S got a little pour of whisky. We had just walked there in a dang-cold winter evening and that’s what sounded good to us and so that’s what we got. But when you’re not feeling a drink on the strong side like those we had, you could go for some iced mint tea, Turkish coffee, or one of the many options for fresh house-made raw juices.
To eat we ordered a bowl of the crushed lentil soup, a large garlic dip, a mujadra lentil wrap, the cold Mezza combination platter and the fresh-cut veggies.
Crushed Lentil Soup
Crushed lentil soup is juuuuust about my favorite soup of all time. If I had to be ceremoniously dunked in a vat of any liquid for whatever reason, I would probably pick crushed lentil soup. Guinness, horchata, or glacier water would be in very close contention. I guess it would depend on my mood. Anyway, every place does their crushed lentil soup a little differently, usually varying most pointedly along the
savory <–> lemony scale.
The crushed lentil soup at Anita’s sits here on this scale:
And also here on this alternate scale:
Don’t want to bathe in it <—————-X->Want to bathe in it
Mujadra Lentil Wrap
Mujadra or Mujaddara style lentils are basically just cooked brown or green lentils served with rice and fried onions and usually topped with yogurt. They’re really really fuggin’ good. It’s not listed as vegan b/c of the yogurt, but you can easily sub it out for tahini sauce instead to give it that oooooomph. What more can I say about it? Super savory cumin and coriander flavors from the lentils and rice, delicious charred onions that make you want to buy charred onion perfume and wear it until people start gnawing on you in the streets, and a little brightness from the tahini. Chef’s kiss that shyt. Pro tip: order with extra charred onions.
Cold Mezza Combination Platter & Fresh Cut Veggies
This one’s pretty self-explanatory and an absolute Lebanese standard/banger. Hummus (you can choose between traditional, roasted red pepper, or jalapeno), baba ganoush, tabouli, fattoush, and pita. Easy as that. Their hummus is perfectly creamy and deeply flavorful, the baba ganoush sits more to the creamy light side as opposed to the roasted deep side, the tabouli is perfect and crisp and lemon fresh, and their fattoush dressing is on point. These thangs are just such staples that saying any more about them seems plum dumb, and so I won’t do it. I refuse. Just order it, it’s fuggin’ delicious.
Oh, and we usually add the fresh cut veggies to go w it — carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, and celery — because we just like all of that shyt.
Have you ever had this shyt? For real… have you? I know I talk about bathing in food a lot. I can’t help that. It’s one of my primal reactions to things that are a special kind of delicious. I want to eat them, sure, but I also have a deep desire for a more spiritual connection with them. I want to be engulfed.
Well, Lebanese garlic dip is prob the origin of that strange desire.
Forget bathing in it, I want to do a float tank in it and just trip the fugg out. Rediscover time. Live 2 lives as 2 different indoor/outdoor cats who are loved and have access to a barn, live one life as a near-sighted crow who is an expert nest-builder, one as a well-known foot model from the UP, and another as a German toilet cleaner, and emerge from the other side five minutes later as myself again on my last cycle around this globe.
That’s what it tastes like
And know what the ingredients are?
Garlic, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil.
That’s it dudes.
Speaking of ‘that’s it dudes’…
That’s it dudes!
That’s the end of our journey to Anita’s Kitchen and the end of the tale of all that happened there.
I can hear my outro music playing somewhere in the distance, and so I’ve got to go.
I can hear the familiar foreboding bass clarinet line — and yes… there they are! — the thunderclaps of ancient pans.
If you listen closely you can even hear ol’ Noam beginning to yammer away again.
So until next time,
Be good ya Veghedz,