Tuesday, October 6, 2009

mama ayesha's

mama ayesha's
1967 calvert street NW (between biltmore street & cliffbourne place), washington, DC 20009
tel: 202) 232-5431
what was consumed: hummus; falafel; warak inib mahshi (tangy grape leaves stuffed with tender ground lamb, white rice, and mama’s secret spices, served with homemade yogurt); malfoof mahshi (tangy cabbage stuffed with tender ground lamb, white rice, and mama’s secret spices); jaj bil toma (half chicken baked in a garlic based stew with fresh lemon juice and mama’s special spices, served with rice); mushakal mashawi (mixed grill - shish kabab, kifta kabab, and shish taouk with grilled vegetables, served over rice), baklava
when i first moved out to DC, i got lost (or rather, "explore") in the adams morgan/woodley park area (exploration rules!), which is not surprising. i also made great efforts to find the nearest metro stop to the area (only to realize that really, it's seemingly equidistance between dupont circle and woodley park. i.e., no metro is close - drat). point is, during all of these adventures, i had seen mama ayesha's in passing. it's sort of non-descript building, windows that didn't really seem to light up at night. that may explain why (in addition to the difficulty of getting to the restaurant for me) mama ayesha's made it to my food list, but it took me over 2 years to finally get out there.
my first meal started with a few appetizers (which i love) ... including my favorite - falafel. and you know what? probably some of the best falafel (in my opinion, of course) the falafel was nice and crispy on the outside, hot and soft on the inside. it also came with this delicious yogurt sauce that you couldn't help but dip your falafel in. we also ordered hummus - a sort of standard fare. delicious, creamy, and wonderful with the pita bread that accompanied the appetizers.
then, our entrees! i enjoy stuffed grape leaves and can virtually eat them for a long time. so when a pile of them were presented to me as my entree, i was ecstatic ^_^ the grape leaves were stuffed with rice (a la mama ayesha's spices) and lamb. what a great combination! a yogurt sauce (similar (i think) to what came out with the falafel) accompanied the stuffed grape leaves. i had some of the sauce and while it was delicious, i loved the grape leaves on their own. YUM. friends had chicken and grilled stuff, both of which were tasty, juicy, and wonderful. and the rice - oh yum! i don't know what mama ayesha's recipes include when it comes to the rice, but it was cooked with such delicious spices! we just kept eating and eating, despite the exponentially growing size of our bellies. hahaha ...
our meal ended with some lovely baklava. i'm not a huge fan of sweets, but jess (in company) is/was. the three of us decided to order 1 dessert and share it. me, for taste, jess, for consumption of sweets. no matter - baklava was delicious. light and honey filled. just the way (i hear) it's supposed to be. we also happened to visit during ramadan. i made a comment about feeling bad since, during ramadan, muslims eat only after the sun has set (from what i understand). anyway, they also had some special dessert celebrating ramadan, but we didn't get it. i wonder what it tastes like, though. there's such an appeal to "traditional" foods, yeah?
a couple of other things ... we visited during peak dinner hours on a saturday, but the restaurant was still totally not full. that was good in that we got a lot of attention from our server, but it made me wonder how they stayed in business (there's a great story about mama ayesha on their menus - when you go, be sure to check it out). i went back for lunch and we were the only ones there. interesting.
the decor. there's something about one of the ceilings at mama ayesha's that i can't get over (i've posted its photo at the start of this post). it looks like a collection of tea lights, but upside down, shimmering on to diners. i thought it was great. as a result (or for the purpose of?), the dining area is pretty dark, during dinner (during lunch, the outside light lit up the dining area - and it was fine). i visited that first time with friends, but i imagine mama ayesha's may be a good location for a "nice, romantic dinner." hee hee ...
anyway ... while it took such a long time to get out to mama ayesha's, i'm glad that i did! i imagine i will be back, again ... YUM.

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