In my recent thread on two Ethiopian places just off Duke Street, one responder mentioned having "aib" (Ethiopian cottage cheese) and I said I'd have to try it.
I dined this evening at Meaza (Columbia Pike, Arlington) and asked if they had aib, and how much was it. The server said "side portion? $2". Of course, I had to have it.
I haven't ordered it since the old OLD days of Mama Desta, DC's first Ethiopian restaurant, far up Georgia Avenue right around the corner from where I grew up. I remembered it as what we used to be able to buy in the grocery as "dry curd cottage cheese". In recent years, when I've bought injera (meaning I'd better eat all the injera in a day or two before it goes stale) I've included right-out-of-the-tub cottage cheese in my meals, and it's exactly what I remember. And it's good.
Tonight's aib at Meaza was clearly house-made - fresh, crumbly instead of creamy, dryish, pretty much unseasoned except maybe made with a bit of salt.
I'm really not a follow-the-rules gourmet ... I tend to prefer whatever style of anything I first tried and liked, so I'd have preferred something creamier. Nonetheless, this was a pleasant addition to the meal.
So, people: can anyone suggest any more "off the menu" surprises commonly available at Ethiopian restaurants?