To welcome back my blog from the abyss, I want to start by highlighting Meme Mediterranean, aka my new favorite restaurant. I've now been there several times, each time better than the last. Memes is a tiny place in the West Village that is so clearly based on Moroccan home cooking that I feel as though my food was actually prepared by the owner's grandmother. The owner himself takes such pride in the food, as he walks around offering free samplings to the diners, that you feel like family, and his joy is contagious.
Each meal begins with a platter of marinated olives, pickled vegetables, and pieces of yummy olive bread, with fruity olive oil for dipping. I have discovered a delicious wine calling Tempranillo that warms me all over and seems to compliment everything I eat at Memes. It's not too full-bodied, but it's also not lacking in flavor.
I always start with their salad of red leaf and romain lettuces with roasted butternut squash, grilled Halumi cheese, and pumpkin seeds. Halumi cheese, for those of you who are not familiar with it, is a cheese sturdy enough to be grilled while keeping its shape and firm texture. It's crispy, salty and DELICIOUS, while the butternut squash offers a sweet and creamy compliment to the cheese and crunchy seeds.
Another must at this restaurant: the merguez sausage. Merguez sausage is made from lamb, and Meme's merguez is so incredibly flavorful that it overwhelms the senses. Seriously, I didn't even know sausage could taste like this. The spices are so warming, with a slight spicy aftertaste, leaving you wanting more and more. With the creamy hummus and fluffy pita, it's literally a perfect combination of textures and tastes.
Meme's piece de resistance: their chicken tagine. A big, warming stew of delicious broth and couscous with chicken that is falling off the bone. Apricots, raisins, spicy carrots and slivered almonds add such depth to the dish that you will spend the entire time trying to figure out what your favorite element of the dish is. Here's a hint: just close your eyes and take deep breaths, and the magic of the dish will transport you to the farm where their paprika is sun-dried and ground, overseen by Meme herself. Coming from someone who is usually a skeptic of the fruit and chicken combo, I am telling you to try this dish and you too will become a believer in Meme.