I never liked lamb or its scary parents—mutton.
I always associated the latter with Irish pubs that would do better to stick to quenching the thirst of its patrons and less with filling their bellies with overcooked, mostly bland food. And the former? Well, my mother used to make Leg of Lamb and as a child the title of that meal disgusted me almost as much as the greasy mouth feel as I swallowed the tiniest morsels that passed as a serving. I don’t blame my mother; she’s quite adept at cooking the things she knows best and cooking them well. Growing up in the suburbs often limits a person’s access to another butcher if the one at the local grocer’s doesn’t suffice. Even more often is lack of desire to drive to a still farther away strip mall in search of a superior cut of meat than one already does when living in a suburb. I blame lack of easy access for the poor cut of lamb that scared me away for so many years.
Over the last few years, I’ve become quite obsessed with baking (obviously!) and cooking. I prefer to cook Italian style (not Italian-American) at home but when I am out I enjoy trying new restaurants and new cuisines. After years of being a picky eater I’ve still got a great deal of catching up in the foreign foods department. I know I’m doing a good job shedding that image because I’ve got Rick raising his eyebrows now and again.
He raised them when I mentioned Kous Kous Café, a Moroccan
restaurant located in Mount Lebanon just several miles outside of downtown
Pittsburgh. A few reviews on
the internet complained that the restaurant was very small and it was hard to
get a table. Rick and I weren’t
bothered by this; we’ve eaten in some of the most delightful-but
tiny!-restaurants in Boston’s North End.
I’ll even venture to say that I prefer the intimate feeling of a small
restaurant to a gigantic sprawling box of a restaurant feels as though you are
dining in a warehouse with its too-high ceilings and echoing walls. Rick called Kous Kous Cafe that afternoon for a seven
o’clock reservation without any problems at all.
Kous Kous Café is tiny; think of the front part of the first floor of a row house and you’ll have the size of this restaurant. There were 6-7 tables for two and 3-4 tables for four. Please forgive my lack of exact count; all of the tables were meant for two and they were shifted around and pushed together to meet the needs of those coming in to dine. The walls were painted a warm golden yellow with that slightly dusty red that is so common to Mediterranean design as accents. At the back of the room there was an elevated workspace for the chef but once seated it was impossible to see him at work.
The tables were set with chunky plates and mismatched worn (but clean) napkins. A small blue and white porcelain set of two tiny pots with lids and handles of tiny spoons sticking out them was on one side of the table. I lifted a lid to peek inside and saw that they contained salt and pepper. The diners on either side of me were close enough that we could have knocked elbows but after a few moments it was easy to ignore them. No one paid any attention to anyone else and just talked quietly with those at their table. It’s a much easier trick to learn than you might think. Don’t let yourself be put off by close quarters.
The school district we live in has an annual art exhibit where several children from each grade has their artwork selected to be displayed. For some students, it's a big deal and brings a lot of excitement when their work is chosen. The artwork is displayed for two weeks at one of our local libraries.
A bit of a drive-by post....Last weekend we were in Albright, West Virginia for the Cheat River Race & the Cheat Festival both of which raise money for Friends of the Cheat. Years ago, there was acid mine drainage that pushed bright orange waters into the creeks and the river killing much and staining the creek and river beds the same color that still has not completely faded from the rocks. You'll notice the unnatural bright color of the rocks in some of the pictures and you can read more about the destruction the mine blowouts caused here. The Friends of the Cheat has done so much good work restoring the river and it is my hope that it continues to do. I am proud that every year I get to be part of this when helping Rick with the Cheat River Race.