I was awakened from my foodie revery of perfectly seasoned babaganooj on home-made bread by an eerie orgasmic humming. I looked up and saw Ken, his eyes glazed over, humming to his glass of iced Turkish coffee, a delight of his own creation. When Tony, the owner (along with his wife Juliette) came over to investigate, he decided he had to have one too.
This took place at Olive Tree Mediterranean Market and Grill in North Phoenix. Unlike most small groceries, Olive Tree is bright, clean and cheerful. The shelves are stocked with fascinating Middle Eastern delights - jars of olives and tahini, an interesting assortment of cheeses, sweet treats that I’d never seen before. You order at the counter
from a good size selection of ethnic dishes, plus a few typical American items. Food is then brought to your table in a sectioned off area.
I had discovered Olive Tree on Restaurant.com. Since we had to order $35 of food from the menu, we ended up with quite an array of dishes. Now that I think of it, the humming started with the above-mentioned baba. This roasted, pureed eggplant concoction is found in most Middle Eastern restaurants, with varying results. It can be very flat tasting if too much tahini (sesame paste) is mixed in, or it may be over-spiced. This baba was beautiful, with all the tastes dancing in our mouths. Julliette makes her own bread to go with it. The texture is very different from pita (even the pita served here was selected with great care), crustier and chewy. A special of the day was stuffed cabbage. About the same size and shape as the stuffed grape leaves (which were delicious), these are lighter and lemony good - a real treat. We shared a combination kebab plate with chicken, kefta, and shish-kebab skewers. This paled in comparison to the other dishes, since the meat was on the dry side. The baklava was quite good, it wasn’t soggy with syrup, so the layers of phyllo dough made a satisfyingly crunchy noise.
After lunch we did a little shopping. We got some delicious feta cheese and something called Chicago cheese, which reminded me of mozzarella. I could have bought more, but Ken wisely herded me out the door.
Olive Tree Mediterranean Market and Grill
1930 W. Pinnacle Peak Phoenix (at 19th Ave.)
I couldn’t find a web site
Monday - Thursday 9 - 7, Friday and Saturday 9 - 8, Sunday 11 - 7
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