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FOOD REVIEW

The Essential Vegetarian

Let them eat cake

By Katie Jeffreys
STAFF REPORTER

Well, since I did not have a restaurant review for you last week, this week I offer you two! It is apparent when searching for a restaurant in the Boston area that you do not need to travel the world to get a taste of cuisine from around the globe. I recently visited Addis Red Sea Ethiopian Restaurant, located at 544 Tremont St., and Bangkok City Restaurant at 167 Massachusetts Avenue. Each menu is based on the origin its name suggests; the former, Ethiopian food, the latter, Thai. I really enjoyed both restaurants, not having been particularly familiar with either type.

At Red Sea I was presented with the wonderful opportunity to eat with my hands. The food is served on a large platter lined with large doughy pancake-like bread. Each entree is scooped onto this lining, along with a few condiments. There are additional pieces of bread served with the meal, which are used to pick up the food, keeping your hands free of sauce. The method of eating aside, the food was quite tasty.

After my tirade last week regarding the number of choices available to vegetarians, I was delighted to find nearly a quarter of the menu was vegetarian. The dishes primarily feature combinations of chick peas or lentils with various vegetables and spices. In an adventurous mood, I opted to try something other than these familiar legumes and chose instead “Atakilt” a sweet potato-like vegetable cooked with green beans, potatoes, carrots and onions. While these other vegetables were not abundant, the combination of spices and the mild flavor of the atakilt were pleasing enough.

Upon first glance, the entrees seem quite small, but in combination with the bread, the meal will stick to your insides, and fill you up for about $10 a person.

Bangkok City was an experience in attentive service, with a price tag to match. The quiet, nicely decorated restaurant sits among a collection of similar restaurants along the stretch of Massachusetts Avenue just past Boylston. The service and decor come with a price tag to match, but fortunately the meals were sizable enough to not leave me grumpy. The wait staff was quick to make recommendations, refill drinks, and bring out fresh rice (be warned, the rice refills are not complementary, and can result in a surprise when receiving the bill). The food is in many cases spicy, but not to the extent of overpowering the flavors of the food itself. Again there were many veggie options, my choice being a combination of fried eggplant and tofu mixed with assorted vegetables, all cooked to a very tender consistency. I have a considerable preference to brown sauces, and this was one of the best I have had in recent memory. The tofu and eggplant, which I am also picky about, were nicely complemented by the aforementioned sauce.

All in all I would recommend both restaurants for a nice evening out. I do not know what peak hours are like, but when I visited during off-peak hours, I found the atmosphere of both restaurants to be relaxing and intimate.

The other day, in a flash of inspiration, I decided that I would try going vegan for a week or so and report to you, my loyal readers, what becomes of my experiment. I will keep a food log and report how I feel each day. So look for that coming up soon. In light of my upcoming change, I have looked into vegan recipes, and will share one which I intend to prepare in the upcoming week. One thing I do not want to give up is my desserts, so I found an easy vegan cake recipe to try. It is from the Depression era when dairy products were too expensive for most budgets. As always, please e-mail me with questions, concerns, and comments at veggie@the-tech.mit.edu.

Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake

3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

6 tablespoons cocoa

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoon vinegar

2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups cold water

Frosting:

One pound (one box) confectioner’s sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup (2/3 stick) margarine, room temperature

1/4 cup thin liquid

1-2 teaspoons flavoring, optional (usually vanilla extract)

some drops of coloring, optional (juice of crushed berries works well)

To prepare the cake, mix the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients. Stir until smooth. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Makes two layers of a two-layer 9-inch or 8-inch round cake, or one small sheet cake. When cool, frost it.

While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting. Mix the sugar, salt, and margarine in a very clean bowl. Add the liquid. Beat until smooth, adding more liquid if necessary. Use immediately and rapidly: spread over a cooled cake with a rubber spatula or blunt knife. Decorate the cake quickly, before the frosting hardens.