EATING OUT; Around the World - By Eric Asimov
The New York Times 1998
'For years, Ethiopian restaurants have been relegated to the edges of New York's restaurant menu, stereotyped as low-priced campus favorites where young people on meager budgets braved squat wooden stools and flimsy tables to scoop up stews with bread and fingers. But slowly, with three new Ethiopian restaurants opening in the last year in Manhattan, this bedeviling image is changing as New Yorkers are opening themselves to the pleasures of this unusual cuisine.
This may be a signal moment for Ethiopian restaurants in New York. Diners are now knowledgeable and curious enough to appreciate the cooking and its traditions, and Ethiopian restaurateurs have been in New York long enough to know how to appeal to Americans, encouraging them to try eating with injera from big central platters but also offering flatware and individual servings if diners are uncomfortable. And, most important, Ethiopian cooks now have access to essential ingredients, like teff flour for making injera, and peppers and spices for making berbere (pronounced bear-BEAR-ee), the hot sauce.
... Ethiopian restaurants that have opened in Manhattan in the last year are Meskerem and Caffè Adulis. Meskerem on Macdougal Street, a sibling of Meskerem on West 47th Street, opened last summer with the sort of simple décor and brick walls characteristic of so many other Village restaurants... >>more
The New York Times
1996 - By Eric Asimov
''... The menu offers a couple of appetizers, but main courses, mostly piquant stews with lots of beef, lamb and quite a few vegetarian selections, are so big and so filling that starters are unnecessary. Two main courses can easily serve three people and three can serve four.
It works like this: a main course is pl'ced in the center of the table, and diners pass a platter of injera, spongy rounds of bread the size of large crepes made from fermented tef, a rye-like Ethiopian grain. You tear off a piece, collect some stew from the platter and eat. Meskerem's injera is glorious, with a light, fresh sourdough aroma rising from the bubbly brown bread..." >>more
The New York Times - 1998
''I HAVE no memories of Ethiopia, where I was born. The marvelous Swedish family that adopted me when I was 3 is the only one I know. But once I found myself working as a chef in New York, I gravitated toward Ethiopians here.
Wandering around the midtown area, not far from my own restaurant, I came on a place called Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant on 47th Street...
Tibs is a stimulatingly spicy but fairly simple peasant dish -- small cubes of lamb are marinated in red wine with jalapeno and then seared in butter flavored with turmeric, garlic and cardamom. It's generally served with a flat bread called injera, moist and spongy and as big around as a pizza. To eat tibs, a piece of the bread is cupped in the hand and used to pick up the meat. Injera is made from a fermented Ethiopian grain called tef, prepared like a pancake batter and ladled onto a hot iron griddle. Its natural sourness marries beautifully with the spiciness of the tibs. The usual approach in Ethiopia, as it has been taught to me by my friends at Meskerem, is for the host to prepare the first serving, tearing off a piece of the bread, scooping up some tibs, dipping the tibs and bread into an accompanying chili sauce and then handing the combination to a guest..." >>more
The New York Times - 1998
''... Ethiopia's hottest sauce is called berbere, a blend of chilies, cardamom, basil and many different spices that resembles the North African harissa. Meskerem is liberal with the berbere, which doesn't taste hot at first but builds in intensity until the lips and mouth glow. For maximum enjoyment, Ethiopian restaurants require a group. A meal works like this: A main course is placed in the center of the table, and diners pass a platter of injera, spongy rounds of bread made from fermented tef, a rye-like Ethiopian grain. You tear off a piece, collect some stew from the platter and eat.
Meskerem's injera is glorious, with a light, fresh sourdough aroma rising from the bubbly brown bread. Look for dishes called wat, which indicates hot, like shiro wat, a spicy stew made with ground chickpeas flavored with cardamom and turmeric, and yedoro wat, a delicious spicy chicken stew served with a hard-cooked egg ..." >>more