Gourmet Survivor 2004: The Final Four

Nick. Harry. Michelle. Andrea. Separate and alone, foodie icons of the internet age. Together, fierce combatants in the final weeks of what will surely become an international phenomenon–Gourmet Survivor 2004.

This week’s challenge was to write a restaurant review. Simple enough. Let’s see what our fierce fighting foodies came up with. Vote for your favorite to get immunity.

Nick’s Entry: “You Can Never Go Home…or Back To College”

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Harry’s Entry

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Mordoch, the meal I have eaten 1000 times

Yikes. This by far is my most difficult challenge to

date. Not because of the content but rather my

location. I am currently sitting in an Internet cafe

in a country with an unfamiliar keyboard. The surreal

swiss German version of “white rose” by Nick Cave and

Kylie Minogue is playing on the loudspeakers and I

feel like I am in biyyaro land. That was actually

supposed to be bizarro but the “y” is where the “z” is

supposed to be on the keyboard. Eegads. Crazy Swiss.

Unfortunately I won’t be reviewing a restaurant here

but rather my very favorite restaurant in my former

hometown of what is known by insiders as J-Town and by

normal people as Jerusalem.

If you want to get to the culinary core of a culture

you need to find out where the working class grabs

lunch. These restaurants serve incredibly fresh food

due to high turnover, have cult followings and are

usually wickedly cheap. For the past eight years nary

a Friday goes by that I don’t have a delicious lunch

at Mordoch, a family owned Kurdish style restaurant.

I was lucky enough to dine at this establishment only

hours before I received the AG Survivor challenge.

You’ll have to forgive me for the lack of photos.

Now, a little about the restaurant. The Mordoch family

are Kurdish and serve the best kubbeh soup in the

entire country. Kubbeh soup? Never heard of it?

Neither did I before I had my first portion on a hot

summer day back in 1997. Perhaps you have heard of the

Lebanon’s Kibbeh, a fried version…but we’ll get to

that later.

The meal always starts out with three or four small

salads. They change daily. This week we had a carrot

salad with diced chilies, pickled lemon rind and

cilantro. A mediocre cabbage salad that was flavored

with sesame oil and an above average amount of black

pepper and a traditional Turkish salad. The carrot

salad was incredibly spicy. I enjoy spicy food but my

eastern European Jewish palate can only take so much.

That’s why I always have hummus as smooth as a baby’s

bottom on hand to cool the sometimes overwhelming

mouth burning. This of course is mopped up with hot

fresh pita bread that is brought in every half hour

from the bakery up the street.

There are two kinds of kubbeh soup – red and green –

Red kubbeh soup has a tomato and beet base. Green

(commonly known as Chamutzta) is a really sour soup

made with swiss chard and a massive amount of lemon

juice. The star of both soups however is the Kubbeh

itself. Kubbeh are bulgar dumplings filled with lamb

meat and spices. The meat is sealed in the dough and

as soon as you cut one in half with your spoon,

delicious oil from the lamb leaks out….yum. Now my

lunch companions always get the sour soup. I however

can go either way. Depends on my mood. Last week I had

the red soup and the balance of beets and tomatoes was

a bit off. It was too beet-y. It was an off day. It

happens. It was still delicious, just not the same.

Sigh. There is always next week.

Usually I fill up on the soup, salad and hummus and

it’s more than enough….and I always grab something

to bring home. In this case I took some fried kube.

Its the same kube that is in the soup, just shaped

differently and deep fried. Best served with techina

(I say techina you say tehini) and a squeeze of lemon.

Best thing about Mordoch is the price. A huge bowl of

soup is roughly three dollars. About seventy five

cents is added to the bill to account for the

unlimited salads and pita, the communal hummus runs

about three bucks for a large plate and the meal is

always ended with a complimentary turkish coffee.

Complimentary for regulars that is…..

Now if you excuse me all this talk has made me hungry.

A very late dinner beckons.

Michelle’s Entry

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Andrea’s Entry

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