Saturday, June 8, 2013

Vancouver: Tamam

boldly understated

I have a feeling I will be back in this area, on repeat.  Last night I joined the sister and her peeps, Raulie and Yertle. Raulie pointed out more restaurants than I had time to paw into my iPhone. The sister trusts Raulie's opinion, after Tamam, I do too. I have now moved their suggestions to the top of my List.

My growing List prompted me to start prioritizing so I created a system about an hour ago. Let me share. At the top is 'need to try' - as in if I don't eat there soon I'm a food-blogging-fraud. Then there's 'nice to try', then 'eventually try', which is mostly a mish-mash of recommendations that sound okay, but likely won't blow my mind.  Finally, there's 'pretend to try' - a handful of restaurants I wrote down out of politeness but could care less. I don't trust the people who offered them because they over-analyze and are more eager to participate than educate. Regardless my system is a testament to the fact there are so many (maybe too many) people adopting the role of amateur critic - voicing complaints, sharing recommendations, and pimping their favourites - I like it.

But I'm no critic. I am just down with good food.  

Tamam is good food. It's a little hole-in-the-wall. A slightly ragged and worn mom-and-pop stop, but clean and cozy. The five of us sat in their solarium where I spent about five minutes staring at words I'd never seen before. Mujaddarah, freekeh, mutabal...Que?

One familiar word stood out - HALOUMI...I f*cken love haloumi. It's cheese that eats like meat, and Tamam cooks it up the best I've ever had: chewy, golden, lightly charred atop baked eggplant with tahini, garlic and olive oil.  

THIS is mutabal. An instant favourite.
Raulie shared the lamb with cabbage rolls and chicken with mujaddarah:

Tender lamb, no knife needed.
The sister had the chicken and freekeh:

Tender, juicy, well-seasoned chicken. 
What do you need to know about freekeh? I giggle when I say seriously, it's a super-grain. Kale-eating yoga-loving tree-hugging Vancouverites are going to be all over it in a matter of time.
Yertle had the baked grape leaves stuffed with beef:

Yours truly had the halibut with mujaddarah - rice and lentils with roasted onions:

The fish was PERFECTLY cooked. I loved it.
I could throw every superfluous word at this was THAT good. Mind blown.
Dessert was kunafah - white cheese in phyllo with saffron.

Wasn't feeling it. Too sweet and sugary for me.
They have a wide selection of black teas. If you recall here, I don't like rose anything. But I had some of it and liked how subtle and inviting it was. At $2 a pot it's a steal deal.  Needless to say, all five of us give Tamam a thumbs up. 

Tamam is the type of restaurant I hope those who offered me 'pretend to try' recommendations stay away from because they would over-analyze. Tamam is too straightforward for their rigmarole. Succinctly put - it's healthy, flavourful, colourful and beautiful, plus affordable. Traditional Middle-Eastern flavours of fresh ingredients cooked to order with olive oil and herbs. Ridiculously simple, and amazingly delicious.

P.S. Before writing today's post, I just spent ten minutes Google-mapping Palestine. Those that know me are laughing because they know my geography knowledge is twice as bad as I am intelligent.  Take a moment to get that...

Moment's gone. Weekend's here. I'm off to a bad-ass BBQ at Raulie's tomorrow. The sister is making galbi. I made what my fans call 'crack pie'.  Let there be feast.

Tamam: fine Palestinian cuisine on Urbanspoon

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