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Ethiopian Dining

  • Brighton's first Ethiopian restaurant to introduce one of the healthiest diets in the world

    ETHIOPIAN cuisine might be not be very well known in Brighton - but a new restaurant hopes to change that with its nutritious and tasty food. Abyssinia, which is due to open this weekend, will be the first Ethiopian restaurant in Brighton and aims to show the city a diet often hailed as one the healthiest in the world.

    Based around injera, a spongy pancake-style carbohydrate staple, it is made from non-gluten grain teff, which is rich in iron, fibre, calcium, potassium and protein. Served with virtually everything and used like a utensil to scoop up lentils, vegetables and meat, Abyssinia owners Yonas Kebede and Daisy Brook hope to attract adventurous Brightonians looking to try something new.

    Based on Baker Street near London road, Abyssinia will also look to bring in students from the new block on the former Co-op store, as well as members of the city’s sizeable Ethiopian community. Daisy said: “The healthiness of the food is a real selling point, with lots of fresh meat and vegetables. “We want to make it affordable so that people can come back again and again and offer a much better alternative to KFC or McDonalds.”

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  • The genetic diversity of yeasts could produce novel flavours

    MORE than 7,000 years ago, people living in the Middle East discovered that they could ferment grapes to make wine. The yeast that they unknowingly harnessed for the process can now be found in every vineyard on the planet. As with wine, the processing of coffee beans and cacao, used to make chocolate, also requires some fermentation. But new research shows that coffee and cacao yeasts are far more genetically diverse than wine strains. This opens up the intriguing possibility of imparting entirely new tastes to the terroir of coffee and chocolate.

    Cacao originated in the Amazon and was widely cultivated in Central America before Hernán Cortés brought it to the Old World in 1530. Coffee moved in the opposite direction. From Ethiopia it was disseminated throughout the Middle East by Arab traders during the 6th century and ultimately arrived in the New World during the 18th century, where nascent Americans may have seen drinking it as something of a patriotic duty after the Boston Tea Party.

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    As Europe’s thirst for coffee and chocolate grew, merchants keen to cash in on the crops started establishing vast plantations wherever the plants could be cultivated. In the first part of the 17th century, Dutch traders transported a Yemeni coffee plant to Holland. Shortly thereafter, they began cultivating its descendants in Sri Lanka and on Java and Réunion. Over the next three centuries, other trading nations completed coffee’s worldwide dissemination and set it up as a mainstay crop of many of the world’s poorest economies. Cacao was treated in much the same way and is now grown in 33 tropical countries.

    Given this history, Aimée Dudley of the Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute, in Seattle, and Justin Fay of the University of Washington and their colleagues, wondered if the yeasts associated with cacao and coffee followed these plants from their places of origin just as yeasts had followed wine from the Middle East. To explore this, they collected unroasted cacao beans from 13 countries, including places as disparate as Colombia, Ghana, Madagascar and Papua New Guinea, and unroasted coffee beans from 14 locations, including Ethiopia, Honduras, Indonesia and Yemen. They then set about studying the yeast found on the beans. As a control, the team also studied the yeasts on grapes from diverse locations.

    As they report in Current Biology, although all vineyard-yeast strains are extremely similar genetically, there is tremendous diversity among the yeast strains associated with cacao and coffee. More specifically, they discovered that these differences correlated with geography. For example, all cacao beans collected from Venezuela carried closely related strains of yeast that were distinct from those found on Nigerian and Ecuadorean beans. The same was true for the yeasts found on coffee. The differences were so great that the researchers were able to use DNA sequences of the yeast strains alone to determine which country a sample of cacao or coffee came from.

    Why cacao and coffee yeasts vary so much is unclear, although human behaviour is likely to play a role. The researchers give several reasons why wine yeasts are so similar. Oak barrels are often exported from an established winemaking region to an area of new cultivation, and these serve as reservoirs of yeasts native to the original location. Winemakers also have a long history of using starter cultures of yeast from places that have traditionally produced wines, which makes it nearly impossible for local species of yeast to compete. In contrast, the use of starter cultures is very rare in the processing of cacao and coffee, where growers tend to rely upon the species of yeast found locally.

    This greater diversity of cacao and coffee yeasts means there is the potential to create new flavours by using a strain from one location in another, the researchers reckon. The yeasts of a Hawaiian coffee bean could, for example, be used to ferment beans being grown in Uganda; or the yeasts from Haitian cacao beans could be used with cacao grown in Ghana. No one knows what the resulting coffee and chocolate might taste like, but if Dr Dudley and her colleagues are correct in their hunch, there will be many new flavours for coffee lovers and chocoholics to savour.

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  • Thierry Daraize Rediscovers Veteran Ethiopian Restaurant Le Nil Bleu

    Le Nil Bleu is a charming culinary adventure. Some of the kitchen’s offerings bear too many similarities, but it’s all expertly prepared: an impressive three stars on five.

    Le Nil Bleu, a pillar of Ethiopian cuisine in Montreal since 1994, gets a look this week from Le Journal de Montréal critic Thierry Daraize. The Saint-Denis street restaurant, fresh off a makeover that has stripped the premises of some of its charm, offers diners the promise of escape “sans prendre la route, le bateau ou l’avion.” The largely stewed, and spicy dishes that emerge from the kitchen are affordable, and the fact that vegetarians can eat well here is a plus, the critic remarks.

    On a night when the restaurant is full of groups and tourists (Le Nil Bleu is attached to a hotel), Daraize’s party is greeted rather coldly. Not a good start. The server, however — “un ange qui prend son travail très au sérieux” — redeems matters in due course. Happily, food is not Le Nil Bleu’s problem. Side dishes of note include a lentil salad, confit vegetables with dates and nuts, a spicy beef tartare, and an aubergine purée (“Oh là là que c’est bon!”). The pièce de résistance consists of a “grand plateau de dégustation” with several stews portioned out on a large, fermented teff flour flatbread, i.e. the traditional Ethiopian injera. The meatless options are standouts: “elles étonnent par leurs saveurs et les épices douces.”

    Le Nil Bleu is a charming culinary adventure, Daraize writes in conclusion. Some of the kitchen’s offerings bear too many similarities, but it’s all expertly prepared. Verdict: an impressive three stars on five.


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  • Denver’s Taste of Ethiopia annual festival foods

    Colorado’s Taste of Ethiopia will be more flavorful — both in food and culture — than its previous three celebrations.

    The fourth annual festival is set for 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at Parkfield Lake, 15555 East 53rd Ave. in Denver.

    Besides an array of food, including more gluten-free and vegan options this year, the festival is expected to feature 17 professional Ethiopian folk music performers who will travel to Denver. They will play only traditional Ethiopian instruments.

    During the festival, 15 Ethiopian immigrants will become U.S. citizens in a 2 p.m. naturalization ceremony.

    Taste of Ethiopia organizers also will present awards to “Ethiopians in Colorado who have broken barriers or made significant contribution to the community”:

    The first three Ethiopian restaurants in Colorado (of 22 today), The Ethiopian Restaurant in Denver, Ras Kassa in Boulder and Queen of Sheba Restaurant in Denver.
    The Ethiopian Food Truck, Colorado’s first Ethiopian food truck.

    Denver Tana Sports Club, the Ethiopian soccer team that has been active for 28 years.
    At 4 p.m. Sunday, the festival will host the Ethiopian play “The Emperor Tewodros II” in Amharic at Hinkley High School in Aurora.

    “The Denver metro area is becoming one of the most diverse places in the United States, and Denver is growing to become an international city,” said Capt. Tewolde Keresemo, a Denver resident of Ethiopian descent who serves in the U.S. Air Force. “The Ethiopian community is playing a key role in the unprecedented renewal of Denver metro as entrepreneurs, consumers, taxpayers, public servants and patriotic neighbors who play by the rules.

    “The Taste of Ethiopia showcases the contributions of Ethiopians and the assimilation of our culture to mainstream America. Taste of Ethiopia contributes to the cultural vitality and ingenuity of Denver, as the city transforms into a major international hub that is prosperous, connected and a successful place to live for all.”

    On July 25, the festival was recognized in the Congressional Record by U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora.

    Source: Denver Post

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