Week One : Abissinia (Eritrea and Ethiopia)

(from 24th October – delays have prevented me from posting)

The occasion of the first meal finally arrived and I fired up the random number generator to provide inspiration. The number that came out was 17 which corresponded to Eritrea/Ethiopia on my list. I had decided to combine them as there are not really any distinct Eritrean restaurants in Berlin and the cuisines are very similar. The two countries only became separated in 1993 sparking a war which killed over 70,000 people. I am particularly interested in this area having worked with many Eritreans at a refugee project and I was looking forward to learning more about their culture through their cuisine.

We looked online and came across the well reviewed Abissinia restaurant in Schoneberg just up the U7 metro line from our flat in Kreuzberg. The restaurant claims to represent both countries and the website does into the history of the area and why the cuisine goes across borders. The menu on website was also fairly comprehensive and the food looked delicious and fairly varied. We have eaten Ethiopian before and this menu seemed to have a few additional dishes we hadn’t tried; perfect.

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We were pleased we had booked a table when we arrived at the pleasant looking restaurant on Grunewald Straße as it was almost full. It was warm and inviting and decorated in a distinctly East African way without falling into the naff category. The staff were really welcoming and we felt as though we had made a good choice.

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We ignored the starters which didn’t really appeal (soups, samosa type pastries and salads) and went straight for the mains. We wanted to be able to try lots of things so we went for a mixed platter of different types of beer – fried with onions and peppers, raw with spices and homemade cheese and a thick stew. We also chose a dish of Yebeg Alitscha Wott which was lamb pieces and lamb ribs in a mild curry sauce. Everything came with a decent portion of delicious injera bread. We were very pleased with the food that came, everything was tasty, distinctive and well cooked but the star was the Kifto raw beef which was perfectly spiced and made us both wish we had ordered a whole portion. We would have preferred the injera separate to the plate as it did become a bit soggy towards the end but that was the only issue in an otherwise great meal.

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Beef plate

Drinks were reasonably priced and we spent 40 euros total including a 4.50 tip and two beers each. We were given homemade popcorn at the end of the meal and offered some Eritrean roasted coffee.  It was a great start to the mission and somewhere we would love to return to.