Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mediterranean Food and Day Six: 187

This morning I stepped on the scales and read 187 pounds.

Today is Saturday, so I don't anticipate much of a workout today, but it's been rainy so I might do a little lifting just to keep my eye in.  If it cools off a bit I might go walking anyway.

Today we all went to Holy Land Market, a little grocery and deli on Sutherland Avenue in Knoxville, TN.  As groceries go it's actually not that great.  The range of products is limited.  But that's actually okay, because it focuses on the stuff that really makes Mediterranean food what it is: unique ingredients that aren't common in Western cooking.  Let's face it, you can get eggs anywhere and if you go to a distinctive grocery for them, you're going to take a bath at the checkout.  So you won't find eggs at Holy Land.  And that's okay.

Actually you might, but I never looked.

What you will find are such exotic (to us) concoctions as Turkish delight and stuffed grape leaves, ghee and seriously affordable cinnamon.

In the last few years Holy Land has gotten serious about its deli.  We waited until Son #2 got home from work and went out there for a late lunch/early dinner meal.  The food is fabulous.

At first Son #1 was a bit nonplussed at his choice, a beef brisket plate.  It tasted like American food.  "Except it isn't.  It tastes like American food served in a Med restaurant.  I mean it tastes like what someone would get in an American restaurant somewhere in Egypt, if they have American restaurants."  I never really thought of food that way, that our traditional meat-and-three might have "exotic" overtones in the right setting.  Anyway, he wound up trading nearly half his meat around.  It was a delicious cut of meat, ridiculously tender.  He traded heavily with me, Son #1 is a big fan of goat meat and couldn't get enough of my meal, the goat stew platter.

The goat stew platter has a strongly Indian vibe, there's plenty of curry in the dish and the sauce is a lot like a spicy masala, heavy with potatoes and served over rice.

Sweetie's dish was a shawarma chicken platter, wonderfully spiced and highly varied but she traded fairly early with Son #2 who got the chicken shiskebab, as he isn't fond of the Greek salad that came with it.  Sweetie devoured the salad, and I watched her with some envy. The garlic yogurt dressing that came with that salad was brilliant, and wound up topping gobs of goat and rice on my pitas during the meal.  She had some too, but most of it came to me.

Shawarma is really more of a street food preparation, it's easily moved from place to place.  Shawarma just means the food has been roasted on a turning spit, kind of like gyro meat.  For that matter Holy Land has gyros, but I'm keeping my eyes peeled for a nice Greek place in the area first.

While we were waiting, Walter - the guy who runs the place - brought us our grape leaves as an appetizer, with a cup of cucumber yogurt for dipping.  Dipping the lamb-stuffed grape leaves is completely unnecessary, but it's fun.  A lady came in with her husband, marveling at the place.

"Is this your first time here?"

"Yes!  I didn't even know this was here.  Is the food good?"

"Is it ever!  Here, have one of these."  And I held up the plate of grape leaves.  She took one a bit doubtfully, and bit into it.

She waved her husband into a chair.  "Sit down.  We're eating here."

Holy Land Market at 3609 Sutherland Ave, Knoxville TN.  You won't be sorry.

I might be, a little bit.  I think I'm definitely going to have to go for a walk, that was a big plate of food.

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