Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Zaytinya special: lamb sandwiches

* Guest post by Calypso

Okay, two preliminary items to disclose:

1) The Satan's Ashes spices have already arrived, and they are sitting on my table on home. Well, levitating over my table demonically, glaring at me such that my mouth burns even to gaze upon its fearsome countenance. You get the gist.

2) I am not yet ready, my training requires more time.

So, there will be more Rocky-esque spicy-food-training montages to come. But god, it's 85 degrees outside. And, speaking of god, it's Greek easter!!!! Or something, I'm somewhat confused by exactly what Zaytinya is celebrating, but oh lord, do I love the way they celebrate.

I was tipped off that Zaytinya does an annual Greek Easter celebration featuring lamb pita sandwiches. Being a good little guest food blogger, I trekked all the way out there to make sure it was up to our strict standards.

Zaytinya's patio section includes a number of small tables and a large picnic table set aside just for the occasion. There's a lamb on a spit, I assume for tomorrow's sandwiches:

The small structure busting into the left side of my frame here is the service cart (my inner photographer is whining about composition, but he knows not what the smell of roasting lamb does to my inner-but-increasingly-outer foodie's brain). I didn't get a pic of the whole setup, because I'm far more self-conscious about snapping photos in restaurants than my gracious hosts here at IF4F. I watched them set up for a while, nervous about strolling onto the patio sans hostess, and finally struck up the nerve to ask the man with the cart what the story was. He assured me that the chef was just inside getting the bread, and to come on over.

Oh, I should mention, the man behind the cart, at least for a while, was some "Mike Isabella" character. Some people seem to know him already, or something. I think he was the first person to cook through the interwebs or something.

So, I forked over my $9 for a lamb sandwich and iced tea and a minute later, I was sitting down on a beautiful "spring" day with my grub. I was tempted, in a continuing effort to ruin this blog, to post a full three pages reviewing the iced tea and then maybe a sentence about the sandwich. I then realized I'd be pretty bored by paragraph two, and no one likes to hear me talk more than I do, so that'd be hell on y'all. The iced tea was exactly what you'd expect, nothing mind blowing or disappointing. I don't particularly care for iced tea, but on a day like today it was welcome.

Now, on to the sandwich:

It's hard to get scale from the photo, but the sandwich is not huge. Readers with big stomachs will walk away wanting a little something extra, but the portion was perfect for a hot summer day. The sanwich is served on a warm pita (I'd swear it was freshly made, but I didn't actually see it come out of the oven), topped with some lettuce, a heaping portion of lamb, tzatziki with diced cucumbers, (marinated, I think) red onion slivers, and green onions. While the sandwich is just a medium on the size scale, it's not because they skimped on the lamb. Forks are handy to pick up the loose bits that fall off, and you'll want each morsel. The meat is tender and flavorful, though it didn't have as much of a char taste to it as I expected. It did, however, practically melt in your mouth. Greek food, especially lamb, is a little tough for me, because tzatziki is something I've learned to tolerate but not love. Perhaps it was the super-hot weather, or maybe this is just really really good (I lean to the latter), but this sauce was light, cool, and very mild. I didn't get a blast of cucumber or a strong yogurt taste, though it still had a wonderful yogurty texture. The onions added good texture, though I didn't taste mine much through the lamb.

So, for $7, you get a fantastic lamb pita sandwich, I'd say it's a great deal.

Now, as I said before, the sandwich may not entirely fill you up. Never fear, good readers, guest poster Calypso's lunch guest, let's call him, um, Carol. Yeah, Carol. Not because he treasures his privacy, more because he seems like a Carol. Kinda judgy, and always up in your business. You know the type. So, Carol says "Let's go get some frozen yogurt!" Readers, nobody loves a frozen yogurt more than this man, but I was raised on the real stuff. The good old frozen yogurt, that was essentially just low(er) fat ice cream. Soft, sweet, and probably just a slight label change away from soft-serve ice cream. These days, everyone is all about Tangy-Sour this or Mr. Roboto's Yogurt Distillery that, places where the yogurt tastes sour and nasty and you find flavors like "pro-biotic" and "miso." No. Thank. You. I made these feelings abundantly clear to Carol, who assured me that this place was "the good kind." And yea, though Carol has a silly name, he knows his fro-yo.

Enter "Fro-Zen-Yo," or possibly "Frozen Yo," a (new?) little joint at 10th and F NW that still has a tarp for a sign. You enter, grab a bowl, serve yourself from the sixteen flavors available, add toppings, and then pay a measly $0.39 per ounce at the weigh in. Toppings included lots of fruit, crackery things, M&M type stuff, and, I kid you not, crushed peanut butter cups. Those things are more than 39 cents per ounce at the vending machine! I will start going to Fro-Zen-Yo for bowls of peanut butter cups now, me thinks.

The sixteen flavors are presented in pairs, using the good ole machines with three levers: left, right, and SWIRL. SWIRL, being vastly superior to anything regardless of the flavors involved, must always be capitalized. The pairings range from the predictable (chocolate and vanilla) to the bizarre (cheesecake and cappucino) to the awesome (peanut butter and cookies n cream) to the sad (pistachio, unpaired, for nothing ever goes with pistachio). Carol went with a swirl of chocolate and cheesecake. "swirl" there must be lower case, even at the start of a sentence, for it was not a natural SWIRL but a hand-swirled abomination unto the Greek gods (who like nasty tangy yogurt anyway, it seems). It tasted, unsurprisingly like cheesecake. He loved it, I was respectful of its authenticity. I had a chocolate and vanilla SWIRL with peanut butter cups and gummi bears. the bowl o' goodness pictured above was about $4.50. And awesome.

So, there you go, foodies, two big thumbs up all around.

Zaytinya will be serving the lamb sandwiches at lunchtime (starting around 11:45, it seems) through April 16th. (google map)

And when you're done with that, go stock up on some SWIRL at Frozen-Yo. (google map)

Postscript: When I told Carol he'd be mentioned in the review, he insisted that I say the sandwiches were, his emphasis, "TOO SMALL." I think they were perfect for a light lunch, though certainly not if I was normal-hungry. In weather like this, I don't know that I would've been able to eat two, but I would've gotten close. That was Carol's only added criticism here, though at that point he didn't know what his pseudonym would be.


  1. as it turns out, I am not Carol.

  2. That Carol is totally judgy and always up in everyone's business. I don't know how anyone can stand the guy.

  3. Hah! Karl, that was the first thing I asked Calypso.

    But now that I know who "Carol" actually is, I agree with Stephanie. SOOOOO judgy.

  4. No, Karl, but you did tip me off to that welovedc post, so you deserve some credit

  5. Glad to hear the lamb is worth the trip. I'm heading back over there tomorrow. This time with cash :P