After returning from my most recent vacation (those posts will be up shortly), it has given me a greater appreciation of what we have in Vancouver in terms of eats. However, there are certain things that are still lacking in the local food scene, especially when it comes to non-Asian cuisine. I could start naming them, but it would take too much time and space on this blog post. So I'll cut to the chase, I was recently invited to a tasting at Salchicha Homemade North African and Middle Eastern Cusine to sample dishes that are sometimes hard to find in the GVRD.
Now the first few items weren't exactly foreign to us as it included Baba Ganoush, Coleslaw, Tabbouleh and Hummus. In the middle was some bread accompanied by tahini, sahoug and harissa. The best item of the bunch was surprisingly the coleslaw. It was crunchy, creamy and appealingly tangy. I found the tabbouleh fresh, but a little heavy on the onion. The hummus was smooth, aromatic and nutty with a strong tahini presence. Lastly, the babaganoush was smooth, mild and sweet.
Onto some appies, we had the Chicken Skewers with house chipotle mayo. Despite the use of breast meat, the chicken was tender with a robust texture. With a light char, there was some smokiness to be had as well as the spices from the marinade. I found the dip to be tangy with a mild spiciness. Consisting of grilled eggplant, zucchini, carrots, yam and red bell peppers, the Antipasti was a pleasant dish. I found the veggies to be cooked just enough without being overly wet. I would've liked to see a slightly more aggressive char, but the caramelization was definitely there.
Something a bit different was the Sweet Liver Pate with toasted focaccia and homemade cherry tomato jam with cinnamon and bay leaf. I thought the pate itself was extremely "liver" tasting with a touch of grittiness and iron-finish. It was really sweet from the tomatoes and there was no mistaking the cinnamon. The bread was a nice textural contrast being crunchy and well-charred. Being pretty straightforward, the Cherry Tomato Salad was bright, refreshing and mild. It sported lettuce, red onion, mint and feta cheese to go with the 3 colours of tomatoes.
From light to the "meat" of the meal, we got the Cous Cous Maraguez. I really enjoyed this as the reduced harissa sauce had depth-of-flavour, but could've used some more salt. The meaty Alberta lamb Moroccan sausage was meaty and flavourful while the cous cous was fluffy and moist soaking up the tang from the tomatoes. On the same theme, the Shakshouka Maraguez featured a slow-cooked spicy tomato sauce with poached eggs and maraguez. I found the sauce to be be rich and flavourful, yet not all that spicy. Rather, it was tangy and sweet. I liked the contrast of the buttery eggs with the meaty sausage.
We got yet another dish with meat on a stick, albeit a cinnamon stick in the Beef Kebabs. These were served atop a tasty creamy potato concoction. I found the beef to be well-charred, yet a bit dry. The onions provided a nice caramelized sweetness while the cinnamon surprisingly was rather mild-tasting. Our last meat dish was the Spring Chicken with carrot rice and drizzled with date molasses. Being aggressively charred, the chicken was smoky and a touch bitter. It remained moist and tender though while the sweetness of the molasses was a good match.
For dessert, we were served Malabi consisting of corn flour and milk topped with rose water and maple syrup, coconut shavings and peanuts. Okay, I've had variations of this before, but for me at least, this was the best yet. I loved the thick custard texture that was more aromatic than sweet and the crunch from the peanuts added a nuttiness. By nearly sampling all of the best dishes Salchicha has to offer, I thought the ones featuring maraguez to be the best. I would be pretty satisfied with one of those with an appie and the malabi.
*All food, beverages and gratuities were complimentary*
- Something different
- Hearty and robust dishes
- Charring could've been more consistent
- Loved the flavours, but could've been more aggressively seasoned