A childhood friend, chef Peter Shelsky, tipped me off to a program on New York’s public radio station WNYC this morning, as thanks for tipping him off to my favorite restaurant in New York. My favorite Egyptian chef, Ali El Sayed from said restaurant — the Kabab Cafe on Steinway Street in Astoria (Queens) — was going to be on the Leonard Lopate show talking about Egyptian food, Peter said. The link is here. The problem is, I’m now craving this food again even though I was just in New York, and eating there, a week ago.
I also just found this recent PBS video interview with him too.
Ali is not just a genius with ingredients, he’s delightful to listen to, especially when he talks about food (although he has plenty to say about art and life and culture too). Whenever I visit New York, I make it to his itsy-bitsy restaurant and perch at a table with my friend Karyn, chatting with Ali while he tells us things like, “When you make falafel (out of favas!), you should behave like you’re making a soufflé. They’re very delicate.” Indeed, his falafel are light and flavorful and addictive. He makes lamb stuffed with ground lamb and ground nuts and spices, lamb chops with pomegranate sauce, gorgeous chickens, and exquisite-yet-simple desserts (I still drool when I think about the blueberry clafoutis I had the first time I went there).
I don’t normally write about restaurants, and this place isn’t even in Seattle. But listen to the interview with Ali, especially if you’re inspired by people who love food, by the history of food, or by the idea of making something tasty in your own kitchen. And if I work out a recipe for stuffed lamb or good falafel sometime, I’ll let you know. But I may not need to; Ali is writing a cookbook. And when it comes out, I might be in danger of not leaving my kitchen for a month.
Image courtesy Facebook.