Recently, I had the pleasure of working with Columbus Food Adventures by participating in their Trust Fall series. The idea is simple - meal delivery for two but they get to decide what you eat. For each iteration they partner with a different ethnic restaurant. This is the second time that we were asked to do this thing, and I gotta say the gears churned along much more smoothly this time. The incredible stress of getting quality products ready all at once can be overwhelming but DAMN does it feel good to pull it off. It's a rush that only those who have worked a restaurant dinner rush can understand. Anyway, it was a lot of fun and I'm very proud of the food we served. Let me to tell you about it!
The main course was of course a Zelnik - the Spiced Beef Zelnik. For those that haven't tried it yet, it gets its name from the unique blend of spices and not because it is in any way spicy hot. The inspiration for this Zelnik started on our honeymoon where I had moussaka for the first time. I liked it so much we ordered it again the following evening. Those flavors piqued my curiosity yet again when I learned that a Macedonian immigrant created Cincinnati Chili using a similar blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cumin (plus chocolate). The Spiced Beef Zelnik captures the general profile of each of these dishes. It is my wife's favorite above all other Zelnik creations. Even my mother is a fan and she is picky as all hell, rarely deviating from her norm. Since she is the Macedonian of my parents, I decided to keep the Spiced Beef Zelnik on the menu permanently.
My mother wasn't ever an extravagant cook by any means (that was my father) but I do remember some simple comforting things she used to make. One of them - Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup. The thought of those smells, textures and flavors takes me back to snow days, when we would take a break from igloo construction to warm up over a soup and sandwich (while Dad dialed in the perfect hot cocoa). Well, like a cheesy toasted sandwich this Zelnik was meant to pair with that wintertime favorite, tomato soup. I added roasted red peppers in there too because, well, that's what Macedonians do. We love our red peppers! Finally, a good crusty bread was required to sop up the soup so I made mini sourdough boules for each couple to share. Everything was accompanied by a side of Ajvar (more red pepper lol) and a Creamy Feta Spread.
I liked this combination so much that I am thinking about doing a similar delivery of boxed meals, but with heating instructions so that you can save it for the appropriate time. I'll be sure to make some announcements leading up to the launch. Trust me, it's tasty!