Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

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Amazing Dancing Bellies

Met a fried for dinner at Menara's tonight, mostly to see Alcina dance, but also to see what Moroccan food and ambiance was like. Important things first. Alcina was just plain amazing. Words can easily describe my feelings, but they would probably land me in jail. But seriously, you just have to go see her. She did quite a long set, and her sword-balancing-on-head routine is unbelievable. My only criticism is the lighting was too low to show off her spectacular eyes (which I had a good view of at farmount's NYE party). And next time I'll bring my camera - I didn't because most of my belly dancing friends don't like to have a flash going off during their act, but Menara's was flash bulb city for most of the night, what with three birthday parties and a gang of teenage girls who either are students of Alcina's, or should be. There was more eye candy per square inch in that place.

After Alcina's performance there was about a 15-minute pause, and then a troupe of five less experienced dancers performed. I suspect this is Alcina's group, the Bennuvians, but I'm not sure, since all the photos I find of members of that troupe are older women, and 4 out of 5 of these dancers appeared to be under 30. They did well, again doing a relatively long set which included a short version of Alcina's sword balancing. One thing my buddy and I did not like was the dancers (Alcina included) pulled way too many guys out of their seats to dance with them. I can understand the birthday boy (or girl) but by the end of the evening I think we were the only ones who did not get up and dance, and only because we said no several times. My excuse is I have a long history of folkdancing, and would rather watch than participate in a professional performance. My buddy's is he was brought up by apostate British Mormons in a small Oregon town, and he's a DJ because he likes to watch but hates to dance. However, we were pleased when the gang of teenage girls got up to dance enthusiastically.

The food ranged from WTF? to superb. The whole table orders one meal, and they bring out enough for how ever many are at the table. Ours was La Dinar Rabati which starts off with drinks (we ordered the Moroccan Mint Tea, which was excellent) and then there's an appetizer they called a salad, but it was more of a WTF? than anything else, which you had to scoop up with some really nice fresh bread. Next came the "boneless chicken pastry" which seemed to be chickenless. It had chopped walnuts in a sweet paste inside it. Then came the rabbit - "hare with paprika". They had not given us any utensils, and we tried using the bread and then our fingers, but it was too hot for that, we finally called a waitress over and got forks. I don't think even beduins would have eaten this stuff with their fingers.

Next up was couscous with veggies. It was a tiny ring of couscous around some fried vegetables, and was pretty bland. They jumped the gun and brought out the lamb at the same time - it is billed as lamb with onions, except there were no onions. It was a pair of pieces of mostly bone, in a bowl shallowly filled with thin broth. What little meat was on the bones was super. Dessert was called baklava, but was not. It was a shortbread-like cookie made with chopped walnuts, similar to Greek kourabiethes. Good, but not as good as baklava. Also with dessert was the same tea we had been drinking all through the meal, only this time they brought out stubby flute glasses and poured the tea from way too high up, and our tea-pourer got as much on the table as he got into the glasses. Looked neat from a distance, though.

Pretty expensive - it came to $65 for the two of us, and we had the least expensive non-vegetarian meal, with no cocktails or wine. Worth it though for the dancing, decor and experience.

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