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April 30, 2009

The Elfegne Ethiopian Cafe review

Elfegne.jpg

I've been so discombobulated today I almost forgot to link to Other Reviewer Richard's review of Elfegne Ethiopian Cafe in Pigtown. As Richard said when I apologized to him, it's hard to feel combolutated at a time like this.

Elfegne is one of those restaurants that can break a reviewer's heart, where the owner is so nice that even if the food isn't any good you root for the place and feel terrible if you have to say anything negative. Luckily I don't think Richard had that problem. The food sounded just fine.

(Barbara Haddock Taylor/Sun photographer)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 9:45 PM | | Comments (11)
        

Comments

I love Ethiopian food, so this makes me very happy.

I will also meditate -- and maybe even do some research -- about the description of injera (some of my cookbooks print it inerja). All the recipes I have produce the bubbles in the bread via some reaction with carbonated water. Available in medieval Ethiopia?? Guess not. Makes me wonder what the real stuff tastes like.

Right around the corner from me. Excellent coffee. All of the Ethiopian cabbies go there, so that's as good a review as any.

The real way to make injera requires a couple of days: teff flour, yeast, water, and slow fermentation before cooking the way you would cood a crepe. I don't think it is easy to get the right strain of yeast here. And I've heard from Ethiopian friends from DC that most people in Ethiopia buy their injera rather than making it from scratch.

yes, Pigtown, a cabbie came in when we were dining to buy his week's supply of injera. (I want to call it inerja, too)

The group that had commandeered the restaurant when first I went to review turned out to be a group of Baltimore Chowhounds!

Gorelick ... makes me wonder. If you are buying a week's supply, do you buy the starter or the dough or the pan-baked bread. My hunch is that the stuff doesn't last real long -- but leftovers rarely do in our house.

Injera generally comes in a stack, inside a plastic bag. Similar to buying a stack of fresh corn tortillas. When I lived in Adams Morgan in DC, I bought them and they stayed good in the fridge for over a week.

Indeed the real way to make injera(definetely "inreja" is a transposition error) is very involved requiring teff flour and yeast mixed with water and left covered for 1 - 2 days to do a gradual fermentation. Since this original product in Ethiopia is a bit more sour than what people make here in the US, I suspect that there are shortcuts involved that change the composition of the flour (corn and wheat commonly added) and the whole process. The injera is clearly not the same - different taste and molds quicker if left at room temp.

Due to the labor involved, most ET's buy 5 - 10 pack of injeras at a time and either finish this off in 1 - 3 days or refrigrate the rest. To heat it up, unfold it, place on a plate, and then microwave for 1 - 2 minutes. A paper towel on top of the injera helps reduce the moisture with rewarming and makes it less soggy. It will be as good as new. You can also take a larger quantity and freeze it - but separating the frozen slises and heating those up is a different discussion.

Injerabey, why not freeze each piece in its own saran wrap? When I freeze tortillas (sacrilege, I know), I break down the package into single servings and wrap and freeze them.

Lissa/Injerabey,

How about putting a piece of waxed paper between each slice before freezing, might that work?

You could a little bit more than needed and use the excess that is hanging over the sides to pull the individual slices away.

Alert - Topic Drift!

I use wax paper and ziploc bags for my freezing needs since saran wrap can be frustrating. Anyone else feel the same way?

Lissa, the devide and freeze is actually done and it works fine. It just requires further handling and patience if you have more than a dozen or so slices. Then you can do the microwave thing with each piece like the refrigerated pieces. You will for sure need the paper towel with these or otherwise your injera will come out soggy. BTW, a less efficient but better result way of warming the injera is to use the traditional oven - use broil if lots of moisture is on top and you want a "crisper" injera.

Rob, I can see how waxed paper will make things less sticky and manageable. I have yet to try it.

We went there just after the review was published. Remarkably friendly place, clientele and cook all - and I've had some good ethiopian food before, but the food that Elfegne had cooking up was truly SUPERLATIVE. Don't stop, don't think, whether you've tried Ethiopian before and want a new favorite, or if you've never tried it before and want to be impressed - go, try this place out now! Your senses and satiety will thank you...

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.
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