I Love Ethiopian Food!

Eric and I stopped at Tajitu, a new Ethiopian restaurant in Frederick, MD. Thru the door we noticed normal dining room tables and chairs, a bar, and then some colorful handwoven straw lidded tables called mesobs circled with stools. I pointed us in the direction of the mesobs. Hooray!!! NO sports TVs or loud music...just how I like it!

The service was super friendly and helpful to us newbies as we had no idea what to order or what to expect. The server removed the lid on the mesob and brought us some hot towels to wash our hands with which felt quite refreshing. We ordered a couple of Ethiopian stout beers called Hakim stout. Eric wasn't impressed with it but I loved it. It poured light with tan head and the slightly sweet taste combination reminded me of caramel, scotch, slightly roasted, milky, buttery and chocolatey. Certainly not a typical stout, but I liked it for what it was...and I even drank Eric's beer.

We weren't sure what to order so we asked the server for assistance. He recommended a vegetarian sampler and lamb tibs. MMM, sounds great! The meal came on a large round platter that sat inside the concave mesob. All of the food was placed on top injera, a large (~20 inch in diameter) spongy sourdough flatbread which is made from fermented teff flour. We also were served a basket of rolled injera. There are no forks or spoons. You tear off a piece of injera, and holding the piece in your right hand, you scoop or pinch up some of the tasty food. Yum!!

Our vegetarian sampler consisted of Yemisir Wot (lentils cooked in traditional spicey pepper sauce with blend of spices), Tikel Gomen (cabbage cooked in vegetable oil, onion, fresh garlic, ginger roots, and a blend of Ethiopian spices and potatoes), Fosolia (Green beans, carrots and onion sautéed in exotic herbs), Kinche (Crushed wheat salad like tabouli), and a couple of other things I can't remember. The lamb tibs (small hunks of boneless leg of lamb sauteed with rosemary, onions and green peppers) arrived sizzling hot. There were also 3 additional side dishes! We went through 2 baskets of injera and finished the entire platter of food. It was a wonderful experience and I hope to visit Tajitu again soon.

The prices were reasonable, and because we ordered so much, our check was about $70.00. We were a bit shocked as we usually try to never spend more than $50.00 when we eat out, but this was totally worth it. The food was terrific and the experience memorable. If you're ever in Frederick, MD, check this place out!

Events: Fun at the Reggae Festival at Linganore Winery

The Linganore Winery in Mt. Airy, MD has a two-day wine festival nearly every month in the spring and summer season and each is based on a different theme. This month's theme was a Reggae Festival. I previously tried to get into the festival as a vendor, but was turned down as they said they were completely booked. However, last week I received a call from Linganore and they said that they had a vendor cancel and I was invited to take their place. Hooray!! I knew it was going to be a blast! (no pun intended!) I had to rush as I only had two days to blast some new items and get everything else together. I made some etched Reggae-themed wine glasses with a likeness of Bob Marley and some of his well known quotes, and some others with lyrics to Red, Red, Wine sung by UB40.

I was happy that Eric wanted to go with me, help with set up, and keep me company. Plus, he volunteered to stand in line and purchase bottles of wine to share.

The turn-out was much more than I expected. There were people everywhere with their lawnchairs, tents, ice chests, and kids set up in the grassy area to watch and dance to two headlining reggae bands: the Passion Reggae Band and the Image Band.

The weather was sunny, partly cloudy, and perfect, I liked my booth-space, people were friendly, the wine was tasty, and sales were good...I couldn't ask for more. I was disappointed though that some of the vendors were resellers, not selling handcarfted items. One in particular under a giant military-style canvas tent sold all kinds of hats: floppy hats, newsboy hats, french-cut hats, cowboy hats, felt hats, straw hats, derbys, Australian style hats, urban-style hats, caps, etc. Their sales were phenomenal for a festival venue and most of the hats I picked up were $39.00-49.00 each! I guess most festival-goers left their hats at home.
There were some vendors with handcrafted items like jewelry, stained glass, soaps, and even another sandblaster with a shop called High Ground Etch. The 2 young guys at High Ground Etch were super great to talk to and it seems they got into the business for many of the same reasons I did...they were tired of their jobs and needed to try something different. They did some lovely etching on glassware, bottles, ceramic, and even lava lamps. Good on ya, guys!!

Over the two-day festival, we got to try several of Linganore's fine wines. Eric first brought us back a glass of Linganore's Abisso wine which was dark red, oak-aged, sweet, and very tasty...however, I'm glad he only brought back a glass. The Abisso would have been too strong for such a warm day...and it wasn't even noon yet! On a warm sunny summer day, I prefer a lighter sweeter wine compared to a drier wine which I prefer in the evenings. We next tried a bottle of SkipJack Reisling which was more to my liking for the atmosphere. It was light, refreshing, crisp, and slightly sweet...YUM! Unfortunately, that bottle didn't last long. The next bottle we tried was a Sangria..mmmm! There's nothing like a really good fruity Sangria on a hot day! Although we didn't have any fruit to add, the chilled Sangria was fruity and citrusy (is that a word?), semi-sweet, and tasty. The last one I tried was the Chardonnay, which was had more body, and was crisp and dry...this would be really nice with a grilled swordfish dinner.

I generally stay away from Festival Food, but the Carribean cuisine was fabulous! We had a nice dinner of roasted goat (like cabrito), potatoes, and plantains. The second day we enjoyed a pit turkey sandwich loaded with horseradish! Yum! I can get used to that kind of festival fare!

Eric was happy that he got to attend one of the wine tours, especially because he is an avid home brewer and loves fermentation science. He also likes looking at big shiny equipment, pipes, and valves and piles of oak barrels and hearing about the process involved with producing a fine fermented beverage. He hopes to purchase a used oak barrel from Linganore for aging some of his home brews in.

I was stunned after looking at the aftermath of the first day of the festival...overflowing porta-johns, tons of scattered garbage, broken mangled tents, abandoned blankets, and wine bottles everywhere...which is somewhat typical of festivals and concerts! However, what was even more amazing was how clean everything was the next morning when we arrived again. It was like nothing had happened and the grounds were lovely again. Those poor folks at Linganore must have worked hard into the night to clean up...but they did an excellent job and are to be highly commended. What a hard job that must be to clean up after literally thousands of people in one evening.

All in all, we had a terrific time at the Reggae Wine Festival at Linganore Winery and I highly recommend their wine and their wine festivals. I really hope I get invited to vend at the last two festivals of the season: a Country festival in August, and a Jazz festival in October. I can't wait!

Cheers to Linganore Winery!

Link to news story about the Linganore Reggae Festival:

Shepherdstown Comes Alive!

The 3rd annual Shepherdstown Street Fest was a fun-filled day of fine art, crafts, music, history, bratwursts, buttery pirogis, hot dogs, beer, balloons, dogs of all sizes, colors, and breeds, families, a book sale, a childrens' art show, giddy paint-faced kids, a clown on a unicycle juggling toilet plungers, martial arts demonstrations, and even an underground art show and pirate dance party (which I had to peek into!). The town of Shepherdstown, WV blocked off two blocks of German Street (the main street thru downtown) and allowed vendors to set up their tents and displays along each side of the street.

My assigned booth space was situated at the very end of the block, far away from most of the action. Eric, my boyfriend, and I arrived to set up about 8:30 am so we had plenty of time to get situated before the 10:00 start. The Church of Joyful Living was supposed to occupy a space next to me at the last space, but unfortunately they were a no-show, so I ended up being the last booth on the street. I was a bit disappointed that the Joyful Living didn't participate as I was curious to know who they were...apparently, the founder does readings of some sort.
Luckily for me, many made the trek down the street toward my booth, so I didn't feel left out of the activities, fun, and sales. Even the clown made an appearance at my booth and entertained and/or perhaps frightened young shy children with his juggling and awesome deep Australian- man accent. I must say, he was the coolest clown ever, and I don't usually like clowns. The underground pirate dance party, located down an alley directly behind my booth, offered a mix of cool abstract art, hacky-sack, and very loud off the wall alternative garage band music which melded into a discordant cacophony with the live music in the street as well as the loud music inside the coffee shop two doors down.

It seems the majority of Shepherdstown's chain-smoking youth hang out in front of the Lost Dog coffee shop, as could be told by the plethora of cigarette butts along the curbside, and the clouds of second-hand smoke that made its way into our airspace. At first, we didn't mind the wafting smoke from the grilled hamburger stand as it masked the concentration of cigarette smoke, until we noticed that tiny grease droplets rained from the smoke clouds and coated everything in my booth. As the grease accumulated, I had continuously clean my items as the grease spots were really evident on my frosted glass pieces. Auuurgh! By the afternoon, our faces felt as if we had eaten 20 greasy burgers and we smelled like it too. It'll be awhile before I can stomach the smell of grilled burgers.

Eric got to peruse the festivities and purchased a really cool handmade hat from an unknown vendor that made gorgeous handmade baskets, hats and fans. Eric also discovered a CD dealer that carried rare editions of his favorite bands, Fish (not Phish) and Marillion. He also visited a booth occupied by Bill Watson, a digital artist specializing in pop culture and my favorite...TIKI! I really wish I could have visited his booth...it's not often I get to meet another tiki enthusiast in this neck of the woods. DOH! Check out Bill's webpage for cool art, and links to his CafePress Store full of T-shirts, messenger bags, and more adorned with his creations!

All in all, I had a great day. I had terrific sales, ate great food, drank some tasty beer, and met lots of really nice people. Eric even stayed and hung out with me all day, watched my booth during potty breaks, retrieved food and beer, and was terrific company, so that in itself made it a very special day. I wish I would have strolled around and seen everyone's creations. Needless to say, I was exhausted today...although I still wished that the festival could have been a 2-day event. A big thank you to all the event organizers and the friendly Shepherdstown police who kept a watchful eye on things. I hope to be able to show at next year's event!