Friday, August 15, 2008

Another damn fine falafel

Yesterday we finally finalized son's birthday party plans, which will be held at Inbio Parque. I thought it was a good deal -- the party itself was about $200, which included the cake, a piñata (though I am going to put my own not-so-disgustingly-sweet treats in there), lunch for all the kids, a guided tour (in English!) through Inbio Parque's farm and butterfly garden, and a host for the party. We ponied up another $100 for savory and sweet pastries for the adults (because it just seems weird to me to have a kid's party and not give the adults anything to eat, though apparently that is not uncommon), and I still need to buy things for the gift bags (too late to get anything from Oriental Trading Co., damn!). I really think the kids and the adults will enjoy the party there. Plus, they can spend as much time walking around the park as they like after the party's over.

Afterwards, we went with C. and her daughter I. to have some lunch. We were trying to find Ganesha in Heredia (since it's sort of close to Inbio Parque), but the sign was gone and the windows shuttered. I fear Ganesha is no more, sadly. On the way to look for Ganesha, however, C. spotted a little falafel place (across from the McDonald's near National University), and we all love a good falafel, and we were all about starving at that point, so we decided to check it out.

Well, it was excellent! The guy who runs it is awfully nice, even going so far as to give us some free samples of falafel (which were light and fluffy, while still crunchy on the outside and not greasy in the least) and coffee as we were ready to pull a Violet Beauregarde down the street afterwards. We ordered in total two vegetarian plates (which had hummus, baba ghanouj, salad, falafel, a type of garlic spred, and yummy salty pickles, plus pita bread), a shwarma sandwich for C., and two falafel sandwiches for esposo and me. Plus drinks, and after-meal coffee for esposo. All of it came to about $25. (The kids had french fries from the KFC next door!)

I think the falafel in themselves were some of the best I've ever had. I've never had a falafel so soft and smooth on the inside, while so crunchy on the outside without being greasy and overpowering. Mr. Hassan makes them right there -- in fact, the only equipment he has in his establishment is a grill and a deep fryer, plus that skewer thing they cook meat on. The baba ghanouj was exceptionally creamy and delicious, with a hint of smokiness. (C. says that she hates eggplant, and had never had baba ghanouj before yesterday, and loved it even more than the hummus.) I loved the salty pickles, but I could see how some might find them a bit too salty. Falafel sandwiches had the falafel (of course), plus lettuce, onions, tomatoes and tahini sauce. I will admit that their falafel sandwiches still aren't quite as good as my favorite favorite falafel sandwiches over at Little Israel, but the falafel itself I think is better than Little Israel's (if that makes any sense). I wish I could stick Hassan's falafel balls in Little Israel's sandwiches...

Shwarma Hassan has been open a little over two months, and is run by just the nicest people you might ever meet. So if you're in Heredia and looking for something yummy, give them a try. There are only a few tables in this modest establishment, but it's really quite good food and I hope they stay around longer than Ganesha did! Let me know if you try them and what you think!

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