A Handful of (Good) Falafel is a Joy Forever.
Like a good girl, I have been working on my Happiness List–adding new items, removing or revising existing ones–and am now happy with my list of 150.
More on that in a minute. I really just wanted to share what I had for lunch, haha! There’s a new falafel cart in town…
Shondiz, which has been open only for a month, has already rocked my falafel world. Located near the corner of 16th and Glenarm here in Denver, it has become my new favorite sandwich source. Move over, Falafel King!
Walk up to the cart, which stands in the median of the 16th Street Mall, and you will be greeted with a smile (and maybe even a hug, if you’re a regular) from the owners, Muhammed and Ed. They’ll answer all your questions and let you know what items are vegan.
After waiting for the customer who was probably ahead of you to pick up their order and leave, you order your falafel sandwich. Ed, the cook, won’t blink an eye as you ask for hummus instead of tzatziki (cucumber/yogurt) sauce. He will deftly make your falafel patties right in front of your eyes, scooping the seasoned chickpea mixture out of a bowl, forming the patties by hand, and deep-frying them until they’re golden brown, while repeatedly asking you if you want onions on your sandwich. (I guess he gets a lot of requests to hold the onions. Not from me!) Meanwhile, Muhammed, the gregarious server, will make small talk, take your payment, and ask you if you’d like to try some lemonade for 50 cents extra. You say okay.
And then you will get your falafel sandwich, and life will be good.
You will scurry away from the cart, sheepishly looking for a place to sit down and enjoy your sandwich before it gets too cold. You sit on a bench near the Mall, ready to growl at anyone who comes too close. You open the styrofoam (grr) container and inhale. The pita will be warm and soft, good enough to eat by itself. The toppings will be fresh, crisp, colorful and abundant. The falafel patties will be warm, slightly crunchy on the outside yet tender inside, with a good balance of spices. You will take a bite, getting hummus and lettuce all over your face, knowing you don’t care as long as most of it ends up in your mouth.
As you can see, I’m hooked. I don’t know why it’s so difficult to find a decent falafel sammich because it seems as though it should be the easiest thing in the world. But there’s often something wrong: the bread may be stale and/or brittle. Or perhaps the person making the sandwich was stingy (or heavy-handed) with the toppings. The falafel itself could be frustratingly bland, dry little chunks or so soggy that it’s falling apart.
Shondiz gets pretty close to perfection. While I do wish they offered more toppings (I’ve been spoiled by choices such as pickles, fried eggplant, and olives), I love the lettuce, tomato, onion and pickled cabbage they do have. And Ed does a great job of assembling the sandwich so you can taste everything in each bite.
I can’t speak for the other foods offered on the menu… obviously I’m not going to try a Döner kebab or a Shwarma wrap. Breakfast burritos are offered in the morning, but that’s not really what I want from a Mediterranean cart. (What is a traditional Mediterranean breakfast? Hmmm.)
The aforementioned “lemonade” is different than what I’m used to, as it is made with rose water (and lime juice, according to their website?). It could use some ice, but it’s still good for washing down your sandwich. Cans of pop, orange juice, and bottled water are available as well.
Yeah, today’s sandwich was inhaled and I already can’t wait to go back next week. After all, I have a punch card! Six more falafel sandwiches and I get one FREE. Holler!
Anyway. Out of the 150 items on my Happiness List, I’ve decided to focus on the following 10 for now. These are some of the easier ones on the list, obviously–baby steps!
#26 Watch all the Academy-Award winners for Best Picture (28 out of 82, so far) Andy has agreed to watch last year’s Best Picture winner “The Hurt Locker” with me, even though he’s already seen it and didn’t see what all the fuss was about.
#36 Make cookies for people who’ve just given blood. (Since I can’t give blood myself because I have Sickle Cell!) I’ve emailed a couple of organizations about making cookies for blood drives, so far no response.
#37 Read To Kill a Mockingbird. Shockingly, To Kill a Mockingbird isn’t available on the Kindle (WTF??) and I’m too cheap to buy a new paper copy. I will look for a used bookstore or see if my mom will let me borrow her copy.
#54 Make cookies or hors d’oeuvres to share with people in my building. I still don’t have warm enough feelings about my neighbors–or my apartment in general–to be inspired to make food for them. This may have to be a Christmas activity. A big plate of holiday cookies! Yeaaah!!
#59 Make risotto. If I don’t get called in to work tomorrow (ugh) then I’ll make risotto for dinner.
#61 Make my own sushi. I have some of the ingredients for the sushi.
#62 Make my own faux turkey for Thanksgiving. Well, it’s not Thanksgiving yet! But I do at least know which recipe I will use.
#120 Tofu deviled eggs! I don’t even want to think about this yet. My mom and I only ever ate deviled eggs for the holidaze anyway, so I see this as a Thanksgiving/Xmas project.
#123 Make baked goods for one of my flight crews. Again, not enough warm feelings…see below.
#136 Make a brochure called “Why I am a Vegan,” to distribute to co-workers who ask so I don’t have to argue anymore. :) I’ve already started on the brochure, inspired by a disheartening recent “discussion” with the captain and flight attendant I was working with on my last trip. I’m just not good at arguments–I don’t do “snappy comebacks” well, so I figured I should put my thoughts in writing. When I’m done with this project, I will turn it into a PDF file which I’ll share on my blog. :)
And that’s that. Okay, going to bed now… good night!
I’ll dream of falafel, for sure.