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So I'll just say I love me some Ethiopian. This affair started around Valentine's Day about 11 years ago in '07 when I was first visiting Louisville. I know it was around Valentine's Day because I was living in Boston with my boyfriend at the time and I was supposed to fly out on V-Day, but there was a huge snowstorm and all planes were grounded. So without any V-Day reservations in Boston, we just went to the local bar called the Busstop Pub. (can't believe I remembered that name after all these years and all those drunken nights there:)
So I was to audition at U of L for their music school. I mostly was doing this for an excuse to visit my sister, more than actually try to nail the audition. I wanted to stay up North for my boyfriend, T-funk. All the school's I had auditioned for in the North would give me a partial scholarship at least, but my sister (I'll call her Rescue Ranger now that she works for the KY Humane Society) was a fundraiser for U of L and encouraged me to audition since there was money in the music education department. So I flew down to Louisville to audition (half-heartedly) and to visit Rescue Ranger and my FBnL (favorite brother-in-law).
The day I arrived was the 15th, the audition was to take place the next day on the 16th. Because of the storm delay my first night out with them, was also the night before my memorized renditions of Bach, Mozart, Brahms, and Debussy.
We went to the original Queen of Sheba. This place was at the bottom of the Days Inn on a very desolate part of Bardstown Road. The ambiance left much to be desired, it was sparsely decorated, there were two other full tables, but the food and service were great. The wine was flowing heavily that night, and good times were had until I had to get up. (Queen of Sheba has changed its ambiance immensely at it's current location by Bowman Field. It's almost always busy now, the food is great, and Oishi moved in right next door. So if you can't get a table try next door.)
I was a runner at that point,
and so the next morning I decided to drink lots of coffee and sweat the alcohol out before the audition. I arrived at U of L, made it through my audition, then multiple interviews, and was awarded a full-scholarship for my masters. Not bad, after a night of drinking:)
I moved down to Louisville, in July of '07, and started grad school in the Fall. Ever since then important times in my life, have been celebrated with Ethiopian. Moving to Kentucky from New England, My first boyfriend down South (its South to someone from Vermont) as well as the first time I met a pathological liar:),
my first new car which I leased on my 36th bday,
the opening of a new Jazz club in town,
exploring a new city, the last meal with friends that I wouldn't see for a while,
my first romantic V-Day since that snowstorm....
What I get is almost always the same, but with some variety. I always get the vegetarian platter for 1 or 2 minus the group total. Then I add a dish that is not on the platter normally. (This I all learned from Rescue Ranger and my FBiL)
For my last visit, my friend and I got the vegetarian platter for one and the Spicy Lega Engudai Tips...basically mushrooms stewed with tomatoes, green peppers, and jalapenos.
It was great, and our server remembered me. Even though I only go when there is something to celebrate, she remembered me still. However, there might be a very good reason she might have recalled me in an interesting situation.
One night I brought a newer boyfriend to Queen of Sheba. He had never gotten Ethiopian before, so I was explaining how to do it. Anyway, He decided he wanted to try the Seneg Karia (a stuffed jalapeno of tomatoes, onions, and lemon juice) as an app. When our waitress warned him that it was very spicy, he said (what he should never say to that comment at an ethnic restaurant) that he liked really spicy stuff.
When the appetizer arrived, he took a big bite of the raw jalapeno pepper...seed side first. I wasn't even able to warn him, he just bit it and swallowed. He started to hiccup and couldn't talk. He drank all his water, my water, and my honey wine. I thought to myself, "Oh great, I killed him!" I think she saw all this, and was probably laughing so hard that she had to delay coming back to our table. Very memorable I am sure. Luckily this 'friend' did not order that!
All in all, its my celebration stand-by. There's another Ethiopian place that's really good in town, Addis Grill. They do most of their business with the lunchtime crowd downtown, but are open at night and totally worth it if you are downtown to see jazz at Jimmy Can't Dance:) Similar to the ambiance at the original Queen of Sheba, but the owners are always there, and they remember your face/name/friends that you've come in with before and all without needing the pepper incident!