In the Premji household, the birthday person always decides where they would like to go out for dinner. So Sabrina chose the occasion of her birthday on March 27th to introduce us to Ethiopian food at Rendevouz, a cosy, aromatic, non-descript restaurant on the Danforth. We were rather unsure of what to expect when we entered the restaurant. We ended the evening delighted with the experience!
It started with tempting and tantalizing platters of food put before us based on the fine recommendations made by the server. We had the Cha Cha, a beef dish seasoned with flavourful spices that arrived at our table with sizzle. The Lega Tica was a lamb dish that oozed with personality. The Vegetarian Combo was a sampling of vegetables cooked to perfection — I tasted lentils, green beans and peas. Then there was the chicken breast that was cooked to perfection. The steak was done well. The platters were meant to be shared and enjoyed.
And… there were no utensils. Not a fork or knife or spoon in sight! Instead, there were generous amounts of Injera, a spongy, roti type of flatbread, which we tore strips of and used to scoop up the food from the platter and eat with our hands.
At the end of the meal, we participated in a unique, coffee ceremony which started with the server bringing to the table a hot, sizzling pan of roasted authentic Ethiopian coffee beans and inviting us to take a whiff of the aroma. Then the coffee was prepared and served to us in small cups, with incense burning in a container nearby to add to the beautiful aroma of coffee. Absolutely exquisite!
For Sabrina’s birthday, they brought candles and clapped and played “Happy Birthday” loudly on the sound system. There was something very special and symbolic about eating together as a family from communal platters and sipping sweet coffee in a time honoured Ethiopian tradition. The coffee was accompanied by a basket of freshly made popcorn, to munch on as we sat back and enjoyed each other’s company.
As I watched everyone having a great time – Sabrina because she savours new experiences, Shayne for celebrating with his sister, my mom for contemplating how she was going to replicate the dishes at home, Naz for the memories the incense brought her of being in Africa, and Nagib for the enjoyment of being with the family — I realized, once again, how very blessed I am to be a witness to all this. And it is from this place of gratitude that I wish Sabrina the happiest birthday.
Sabrina – you are my biggest joy and I love you with all my heart. I wish for you adventure and wonderful experiences. I wish for you joy and happiness throughout your life. May Kidogo be a resounding success! May God’s grace and protection surround you. May faith guide your path toward your dreams. May hope be a constant light in your life and may love warm your heart every day. Live fearlessly and trust that you have all that you need. I love you to the moon and back.