Tati was completely enthralled by the idea. She woke up last Sunday with a smile, ready to visit the "faux" Motherland by way of Brooklyn. Coffee in hand, we ventured forth, past the entrance to the Verazzano Bridge and past Coney Island's Cyclone and Wonder Wheel until signs in Cyrillic alphabet began to appear with regularity.
As we passed the first Babushka pushing her shopping cart on Brighton Beach Avenue with a well-worn scowl, I realized that Tati's cheerful disposition might not be the norm for these parts. This fact was made even clearer as we entered a small Uyghur restaurant called Cafe Kashkar. The food on patrons' tables looked and smelled delicious, but the customers seemed more than a bit sour.
Perhaps they'd eaten too many pickles? Tati assured me that this was de rigueur in the Motherland and that we would do well to order our own plate of pickles -- as well as several other dishes -- ignore the rest of the diners and enjoy. She beamed reviewing the multi-page menu and ordered with a knowing grin.
Soon a platter of pickles appeared, followed by Korean Carrot Salad, a marvelously refreshing orange tangle of carrot strands marinated with vinegar, garlic and coriander seeds. Then we cut into a warm dough pie called Samsa, bursting with ground lamb goodness.
Next up was a soup of majestic proportions -- Lagman. Pictured above, this deeply satisfying stew of lamb, tomato, onion, cabbage, peppers, carrots, celery, garlic, tumeric, black cumin and coriander was made complete by wonderously long hand-stretched noodles, that were joyfully slurped along with the soup.
We finished the feast with an order of Manty, large steamed dumplings filled with ground lamb and onion. Topped with a shower of parsley and dill we slathered them with sour cream and ate them with glee.
Tati was blissed out. Me too.
With full bellies, we paid our bill and I decided to take Tati's lead, both of us smiling our way out onto the streets of Brighton Beach.