Okay foodies. Who is with me? This month let’s roll up our sleeves and expand our culinary horizons for the sake of gastromic education and experience. Time to sample and savor all new types of flavors. I found some sweet and spice and everything nice. Palace of Jamaica 424 Washington Sq., Lansing In a world of fast-paced and perfect, food can lose its soul. Not so at the Palace of Jamaica. When I entered I was greeted with warmth and ease. The establishment itself is beyond laid back. There are only a few tables, but there appeared to be a bustling take-out business. Reggae pulsed in the background. The man on duty took time to seat me comfortably and helped me place my order — jerk chicken and curried goat. Yes, goat. As my man cooked my meal we shot the breeze. Then my plate arrived. It was laden with my chicken and goat, fried plantains, beans and rice and cabbage. Here comes the soul part. The curried goat had bones in it. That was to get the marrow to deepen the flavor and complexity of the dish. The chicken was crazy moist with a ton of spice. The fried plantains, with their starchy sweetness, were the perfect complement. When I asked my friend what he made the cabbage with, he leaned back from the stove, leveled a gaze at me and said “Love. Can you taste it?” Yes … yes I can. Emo’s Korean Restaurant 901 Trowbridge Road, East Lansing All I knew about Korean food is that kimchi is cabbage and bulgogi is fun to say. I love walking into a restaurant and letting someone who cares pick out what you are going to eat. For this dining experience, I dragged a new magazine colleague with me. Together we aimed to sample the whole menu (well, it felt like it) as was recommend by our server (though I think he owned the place). For a blistering bill of approximately $20 our friend sold us Kimchi Pajun, Yu-Kae-Jang, Bulgogi and Dak-Bokken. Throw in some fried rice, fried dumplings, daikon and it was Korean Food Fest 2012. And it was fun. Let’s start with the Pajun. This lovely appetizer was like a pancake stuffed with green onions and cabbage. The edges were crispy, the center doughy. It had sweet and heat all rolled into one. The end result was a cool combination of flavors and textures. It was the favorite part of our meal. The Yo-Kae-Jang was a spicy soup laden with beef, vegetables, egg and glass noodles. I am not going to lie. This one was a little past my palate. It is not that it wasn’t good. It was. It just was one of those spicy dishes that sneak up on you, catches you at the back of the throat when you think you are safe. I wiped my eyes and nose on more than one occasion. The Bulgogi, a Korean staple, had tender rib-eye bathed in a garlic and soy sauce. The Dak-Bokkem was chicken and veggies in a tangy hot sauce, not too far from General Tao Chicken. Each dish had such a balance in flavor, again the play on the sweet and spicy. Everything was great and Emo’s will have me running back to try more. I know my server won’t steer me wrong. Altu’s 1312 Michigan Ave., East Lansing I have driven by the Ethiopian restaurant Altus many times and admonished myself for never going in. I am so glad I finally did. First, it is located in a pretty nondescript location. Yet when you walk in, it has so much character. There are thatched roofs and authentic Ethiopian tables. Just the tables alone are worth the experience. Our meal came out on a large plate served family style. My dining partner and I shared the vegetable and meat meal. We had lentils, pinto beans, yellow peas, collard greens, beef and lamb. All of this was served with injera, which is a flat, spongy bread that you use to eat your meal in lieu of silverware. The vegetables ranged in flavor from mild to spicy. Each had great texture and distinct flavor profile. The pintos had the most heat, introducing me to a new warming spice called berbere. The lentils were mild and delicate. Each meat was in a rich, stew-like sauce. I thought the food was great, but I thought the way we consumed it was better. They even have live music on Saturday nights. My taste buds were tempted and tingled this month. They might even dance on Saturday. Get adventurous. Go for the goat!
Colette Evangelista sells certified organic, non-toxic beauty, health, baby and home products at www.healthandhopeorganics.com. Twenty percent of her profits go to Ascending Above Autisim, a charity that helps parents pay for autism treatment.