Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Surprises on the Road: New York To Florida

Driving down I-95 from New York to Florida every winter to escape the cold has become pretty routine for us by now. We know the best towns to stop in for a meal and try to time our driving so we can visit favorite eateries en route. In Fredericksburg, VA, Sammy T’s has long been a reliable oasis. But this December, tired from the ride and eager for a new adventure, we pulled into a motel just off exit 130 and decided to take our chances at one of the mall restaurants across the street. We entertained a Mexican place (with an Irish name), but one look and we knew this would be a last resort.

A few doors down was a non-descript storefront advertising “Mediterranean Restaurant & CafĂ©.” The menu in the window ran the gamut from hummus and falafel to cheeseburgers and fries. What caught our eye, and convinced us try this place, was the offering of koshri, an Egyptian specialty we hadn’t encountered since traveling in Egypt many years ago.

To our great disappointment, they were out of koshri, but we had a terrific “mezza,” including foule m’ damas (fava beans cooked with garlic, oil and lemon, topped with parsley) that was so delicious we ordered seconds.

Other vegetarian specialties of the house include lentil soup with potatoes and Swiss chard, along with typical Middle Eastern spreads, spinach pie, grape leaves, and several salads. Our ample and well prepared spread came to under $20 for the two of us.

The one caveat is that the “hookah” trend has hit here, and in one section of the restaurant you are apt to encounter a table or two of smokers.

Aladin, 2032 Plank Rd., Fredericksburg, VA: 540-372-7755. Hours: M-Th 11 am-midnight, F-Sat 11-2am, Sun 12-12.

If you don’t get to Fredericksburg but are eager to try koshri (or kosheri) – a flavorsome combination of lentils, rice, pasta, fried onions, and spicy tomatoes – try our recipe in American Wholefoods Cuisine.

P.S. We usually stop in northern FL for our second night on the road, but this year we got a late start on the road and ended up in Brunswick, GA. We repeated a mistake we have made before – Mexican food in the South. I am sure there must be places in Georgia where you can get a decent Mexican dinner. But in this case, the cheese tasted like Velveeta and the tomato sauce like ketchup. Next time we’re in Georgia we’ll be sure to carry a picnic.

Happy Trails….Nikki

Monday, January 7, 2008

A glass of red wine, a loaf of bread and …a slab of butter?

A glass of red wine, a loaf of bread and …a slab of butter?

While health risks have been associated with each of these foods at one time or another, new research says consuming [at least two of] them together may cancel some of these toxic effects. According to this report, consuming red wine along with high-fat foods ironically may reduce the health risks associated with fatty foods. The research was presented in the January 2008 issue of The FASEB Journal.

For the scientific readers out there, a naturally occurring substance called polyphenols, found in wine as well as many fruits and vegetables, is the good guy. Joseph Kanner, senior author of the report, claims that these polyphenols are able to significantly prevent the appearance of toxic food derivatives in human plasma that normally appear after eating fatty foods.

How liberating. With all the “you can’t eat this” and “you can’t eat that” messages, we can now lift our cups (in moderation) to good health.

Source: The FASEB Journal. 2008;22:41-46. A novel function of red wine polyphenols in humans: prevention of absorption of cytotoxic lipid peroxidation products; Shlomit Gorelik, Moshe Ligumsky, Ron Kohen, and Joseph Kanner

The FASEB Journal (www.fasebj.org) is published by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) and is ranked among the top three biology journals worldwide by the Institute for Scientific Information. FASEB advances biological science through collaborative advocacy for research policies that promote scientific progress and education and lead to improvements in human health.

--- Nikki