When Plan B is ice cream

I have a neighbor here in the same situation as me, not working, not great at sitting at home, and we hang out a lot. It is not an exaggeration to say she is a major factor keeping me sane here.

Anyway, most weeks we’re grabbing rice bowls or milk teas or library books together a few times a week, so when I read about an Ethiopian place (the Ethiopian place?) in the city, I knew she was my gal.

We metroed to Taojin, home to the nicest hotel in town, The Garden Hotel, which has hosted a number of foreign dignitaries. In the shadow of the hotel was tiny Zagol’s, two small tables out in the parking area, four smaller tables inside. We could smell the food from the parking lot and we were excited.

An utterly bored-looking young woman looked up from her phone to say something dismissive when we walked in expectantly. When we didn’t leave right away, she called into the back, and shortly an older woman popped out. “They’ll be back in maybe an hour,” she told us. Hmm… not clear why, but apparently we weren’t getting Ethiopian food that day.

Back outside, disappointed but resolving to return because really, that smell, we discussed our options. “There’s an ice cream place around here I read about…” I offered. “The Turkish place? They have food, too!” We were off.

We found MADO quite crowded considering it was already nearing 2. The courtyard we sat in didn’t offer any protection from the air pollution that has been creeping up this week, but it was charming and transporting with wrought iron furniture and white tile flooring. They brilliantly lead you past the ice cream and cakes counter to get to the seating, so we knew just how essential it was to split a few light lunch items and save ample room for dessert.

IMG_20180117_135816.jpgWe decided on a cheesy layered noodle thing, a spinach-filled pastry, and a salad–all fine and very different from anything we normally are eating. With that out of the way, we went for a second look at our ice cream options. Twenty-four flavors including two kinds of pistachio, with tell-tale streaks of hand-churning in the chocolate chip. Roughly half were fruit flavors–bold pink and purple berries and sharp yellow mango–but it didn’t look like the creamy flavors would be as rich as I wanted them to be.

Dining in at MADO, your ice cream comes in layers, not scoops, and the half-portion of two layers was the right amount for me. I had chosen raspberry and, of all things, the rice flavor. It had caught my eye at the counter, and it was fantastic, thick and sticky, a consequence of the plant-derived thickening agents in Turkish ice cream. It will be hard to try something else when we go back. Which we have to for that Ethiopian food!

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