Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ladies Who Lunch Noshes on Falafel at Taim, NY

Living in New York as a teen on the salary one made as a ballet dancer, I was the typical starving artist.  My friends and I would often meet up in the Village to hang out at cafes or cheap diners where we would nurse a single cappuccino for hours. It was there  in the Village that I discovered falafel at Mamoun’s on MacDougal.  It was healthy, filling and relatively inexpensive.  I was hooked.  I frequented Mamoun’s often and also started going to a chain that had opened up in the city called Amy’s (long gone, still missing their frozen yogurt with dried fruit and seeds) that also served a decent falafel (though not as good as Mamon’s),  Falafel became one of my favorite foods and a staple in my diet.  Over the years I have tried almost every type of falafel known to mankind: Israeli, Egyptian, Greek, Lebanese.  I have bought them across the globe (L’as du Falaffel in Paris being a fave) and even made them at home from scratch and from mixes.
So, one night watching The Food Network (yes, I am one of the geeks that watches it) I was particularly intrigued to find an episode of Bobby Flay Throwdown where the challenge was falafel.  I am a big fan of Bobby Flay’s shows, so watching this one was a no brainer.  In this episode, he challenged the chef/owner Einat Admony of a falafel restaurant in New York called Taim.  I was glued to my seat and wanted to find out how I could make the best falafel at home.  Taim’s falafel lost to Bobby Flay, but in a rare moment, Bobby told the viewers that the judges had gotten it wrong and that Taim actually had the best falafel you would find.  I was intrigued!!
Upon arriving back in New York, I was going out to eat with my best friend Brenda and she asked me where I would like to go.  I know that she expected me to say PIZZA, as it is generally the rule that I want some good New York pizza when getting back home.  However this time, I told her of the show about Taim and that I was dying of suspense to try it.  Brenda was game since she loves Middle Eastern food, so we took off for the West Village to find Taim.
Located in a small storefront on Waverly Place just off 7th Avenue, it is tiny, with not more than 5 stools along a narrow ledge in the window to eat at.  When we came in, the place was packed with people placing or picking up orders, a good sign.  Brenda ordered the Mixed Falafel Platter, a sampling of all three of their falafels (Green Traditional cilantro-parsley-mint, Red with roasted red pepper, and Harissa with Tunisian spices) served with hummus, tabouli and israeli salad.  Wanting to approach this from a purist standpoint, I ordered the Falafel pita with Green Traditional falafel.

By the time we got our food, the crowd had somewhat cleared and we were able to snag two of the window stools.   We dug in and upon the first bite I was immediately in heaven.  The Pita was light and fluffy in a way that I had never had pita before. I imagine in my minds eye that this is what they refer to in the Bible when they talk about manna from heaven.  Stuffed inside it was the falafel, hummus, israeli salad and it was dressed with tahini.  All of the ingredients were exceptional and packed with flavor.  Then I took my first bite of the falafel itself.  A perfect balance of herbs and spices, this falafel really delivers on flavor.  But even more amazing than that is the texture.  This falafel is wonderfully crisp on the outside with an interior that is so light and airy, it almost melts in your mouth. Each successive bite delivered more of the delightful flavor and I could tell that I was falling deeper and deeper in love.  After my purist moment had been satisfied, I tasted a little of each item on Brenda’s platter.  The other 2 falafel had the same wonderful texture as the Green Traditional, but also had equally tasty characters of their own, the red pepper a little more rich and the harissa with a mild spicy bite.  We both chowed down with complete satisfaction.  It was everything that Bobby Flay had promised and oh so very much more.  I was hooked.
Taim is now firmly on my destination list for when I am home in NY.  I may last one or two days being home in NY before succumbing to my craving and dashing down to Taim for another one.  I get obsessed, kind of in the way Woody Harrelson is obsessed with Twinkies in ZOMBIELAND.
If you happen to pass me on the street anywhere in the world and I have a wistfull look in my eye and licking my lips, I am quite possibly jonesing for another fix of Taim’s falafel.

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1 comment:

  1. Mdivani, I fell in love with falafels when I first tried them from the street carts in Jerusalem. That has become my gold standard! Hard to find good ones -- the next time I'm back home, I'll have to visit Taim. BTW, like you, pizza is a MUST! That and a bagel. And a knish. And too many other things...LOL.