Thursday, January 08, 2009
My friend Daniel had a milestone birthday yesterday - 40! He invited a group of his friends and fans to La Mediterranee in Berkeley to celebrate.
Eight friendly and accomplished men, and two similar women were at the table enthralled with Daniel's amusing stories about living in Budapest and travels in Europe with Peter. Daniel embarrassed most of us with glowing introductions.
In one of those happy happenstances, all the veggie types ended up on my end of the table. Four of us banded together and ordered the Mediterranean Mezza, Vegetarian. This feast consisted of ten generous dishes, and there was plenty left to take home. The first thing to arrive was a large basket of whole wheat and plain pita bread.
Next came two dishes of Baba Ghanoush and Hummus. Simon, who lives nearby and comes to this place frequently said that there must be a new chef training as some of the dishes weren't quite up to standard. For example the Baba Ghanoush was lacking a characteristic smoky taste. It was still good.
Next was the smooth Levant Sandwich which consisted of cream cheese, herbs, cucumbers, lettuce, feta cheese and tomato rolled in Levantine bread.
Blocks of feta cheese with black olives arrived next.
This Armenian Potato salad is usually more lemon and herb-y according to Simon, but it tasted good as it was as well.
We all agreed that this Tabuleh was excellent, with lots of green fresh bits.
These Dolmas are not to be missed, with their delicious interiors of rice, nuts and currants and scented with exotic spices.
The Grecian Spinach and Feta Fillo were fabulous!
And there were Cheese Karni Fillo as well!
We were served a kind of mushroom and cream cheese tart which I couldn't find a description of on the menu. By this time I could only manage a little cut from a larger piece, this was one filling mezza! The others at the table seemed to have ordered various types of kababs over rice, and the plates were clean, indicating that the carnivores enjoyed their repast as well.
Many of us enjoyed hot, sweet Moroccan Mint tea and Baklava. The Baklava triangles were quite large, and were accompanied by a thick rich whipped cream. Of course Daniel's was accompanied by a flaming candle as we sang Happy Birthday. La Mediterranee is recommendable for a comfortable, casual meal, even with the new chef. Another day with another chef might bring it over the top!
NOTE: I forgot to add that one of the guests last night, Jack Passion, is the World Title Holder for a "Natural Full Beard" and a rock musician, a very interesting person.