T’ej in Milwaukee 

This summer we’ve mostly spent just south of Milwaukee, and with all my wife’s family in town for a wedding this week, everyone is feeling celebratory. This family has a long legacy in the Horn of Africa as missionaries. Grandma went off to the Horn in the late 40s and Grandpa arrived soon after, they met, got married and had my mother-in-law, aunt and uncle (who today is carrying on the legacy in Afar land in Ethiopia). Those kids grew up in between Sudan, Somalia, and Ethiopia, and their stories of British boarding school, Haile Selassie, and the Queen’s visit are a much more direct connection to colonial Africa than you encounter in any museum or movie.  

So of course with the family all together, Grandpa offered to take us out for injera and various wots at the Alem Ethiopian Village in Milwaukee. Back when my wife and I got married in Philadelphia five years ago this week, we held our “rehearsal dinner” at a tiny Ethiopian cafe next to Rittenhouse Square. It’s nice coda of sorts, upon reflection. 

I’d vowed to ask for T’ej–the famous spontaneously fermented Ethiopian honey wine–next time I could, and indeed they had it. Even Grandpa the teetotaler was in generous mood and ordered it for us anyway. (I’ve been working down his resistance so he’ll share his namesake Schneider Weiss by the end of summer.)

  Served cold in a wine glass, the T’ej was pleasantly sweet, spritzy like a Riesling, very honey-like and more refreshing than I expected. Although, the relatives who actually live in Ethiopia said I’d ordered the digestif too early. Rookie mistake on my part. 

 The menu lists it as Enat, which I think is a brand from California. Next time I’ll have  go at some of the Ethiopian beers on offer, including one on the bar shelf whose writing was completely in Amharic except for the words ‘Amber Beer.’ Sounds promising. 

All in all, a pleasant evening with fine food and good company. 

  

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