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A Date with Danny and Dan: The “Let’s Discuss Our Feelings” Fourth Date

Off Campus | December 6, 2009

THE FOOD

LOCATED ON THE corner of Broadway and Josephine, Sound Bites Café / Pizzeria and Grill is a great place to enjoy affordable Mediterranean and American cuisine for any meal. While relatively close to campus, the restaurant also offers free delivery for the less physically inclined.  After our last date, I don’t think either Danny or I had any doubts about the other’s physical inclinations. In fact, it was this certainty that first led to the idea of spending our fourth date on Danny’s couch.

Siding with the Mediterranean options, we chose to experiment with a variety of side dishes. Thankfully, Sound Bites offers what is called a “Mid-East Combo Plate #1”, which offers a choice of 3 of either falafel, hummus, mujadra, baba ghanough, stuffed grapes leaves, sautéed cauliflower, or tabbouli. Choosing the falafel, hummus, and the mujadra, Danny and I found a fair degree of variance in the quality of each side dish. The falafel, for instance, was fried so excessively it was unpalatably dry without a generous topping of sesame tahini sauce. Conversely, the mujadra (a simple dish of lentils and onions sautéed in vegetable oil) was prepared excellently. Too often lentils can be prepared to be too firm, or a too mushy. These lentils, however, did not suffer from this, and acted well as a vehicle for the delicious flavor of sautéed onions. Finally, the hummus was prepared with a balance between the creaminess associated with more oily hummus, and the tangy nuttiness of those with more tahini. To those familiar with Hodgdon’s hummus selection, the flavor was something in between Tribe and Sabra, but superior to both.

Not contented with three side dishes, Danny and I chose to get an additional order of stuffed grape leaves and some pancakes. For the unacquainted, stuffed grape leaves, or dolma, are often stuffed with rice, with a variety of spices, grain, and meat and then drenched in olive oil.  In this case, the filling was without meat, seemingly consisting of white and bulgur rice with a strong presence of nutmeg. Though not uncommon when dealing with stuffed grapes leaves, the filling had a very soggy consistency that tended to feel like paste when pressed against the roof the mouth. This, however, could be forgiven for its pleasantly well balanced spicing.

Though little room remained in our stomachs after the combo plate with the leaves, Danny and I soon found the best dish was saved for last. The lamb kabob plate was a preparation of lamb, onions, and peppers with a variety of spices, grilled with a generous dousing of oil. Though the lamb did not have the typical tenderness that is expected of lamb when prepared in this manner, its flavor was well matched by the still firm grilled onions and peppers. It could also be combined with the mujadra or hummus for modest accents on the dish’s many flavors.

Oddly, as a complement to the meal, a side salad was included which could not have been more boring. An uninteresting combination of iceberg lettuce, a tomato slice, an olive, and a pepperoncini, there seemed to be no coherent way of enjoying the salad’s constituent parts with each other. Though it came without any expense to us, it seemed to both Danny and I a waste, and surprisingly inconsistent with the rest of the meal.

While Sound Bites is in no way the standard of Mediterranean cuisine, it can certainly get it right most of the time. At the very least, gems can be found hidden among the many dishes offered on the restaurant’s extensive menu. Throw in free delivery and an incredibly reasonable price, and you’ve found a great complement to any date that’s sure to stay on the couch.

THE FLICK

WE RUSHED TO the Tisch Media Center (second story, Tisch Library) with the 45-minute window provided by Sound Bites delivery. Overwhelmed by the 8,500 DVDs to choose from, we were extremely grateful for the Media Center’s recommendation folders. We flipped through the Scandinavian Film List and hastily, yet luckily, happened upon The Green Butchers. The film is a classic taste of dark Danish comedy, starring Mads Mikkelsen- known in the States for his role as the villain in Casino Royale, but celebrated in Denmark as one of its biggest stars.

We made a quick stop by the Tower Café for two cups of hot tea to accompany our dinner-breakfast and then headed back to our dorm. Just as we were about to fob in, the Sound Bites deliveryman pulled into the parking lot and handed over the goods. We settled into our common room and I popped in the DVD as Dan flawlessly lathered my pancakes and unwrapped my dolma. All was good on this simple Friday night.

The Green Butchers is set in a quaint countryside Danish village. When Svend, played by Mikkelsen, gets fed up with his boss’s beef, he decides to open a rival shop with a young and upcoming butcher named Bjarne. The shop struggles to gain a steady customer flow and Svend and Bjarne begin to question their decision to leave their old jobs.

Their luck turns one evening, however, when Svend’s real estate agent comes to visit the shop and accidently gets locked in the freezer.After discovering the frozen body the next morning, Svend frantically makes the logical decision to defrost, chop up, and carve the porky real estate agent. After Bjarne finds out about the accident, the two butchers decide to marinate the meat, called ”chicky-wicky” and sell it in the shop. The reception to the chicky-wickies is astounding and customers begin lining up outside the shop for more and more. Once their first batch of the new product disappears, Svend and Bjarne must make a difficult decision- continue making chicky-wicky or lose all of their customers. Dun dun dun.

The story is marinated with Bjarne’s dramatic and tenuous relationship with his retarded brother and his love affair with a beautiful mortician. Dry Danish humor and moist Sound Bite’s pancakes-what more can you ask for? The Green Butchers presents Danish life with the distinctive and loveable Danish attitude. Blunt, sarcastic and quick-witted, the film delivers hilarious performances sans the political correctness of American cinema. Because it is stripped of the Hollywood superstar and grandiose CGI, the sharp screenplay and clever acting create a bare-bones, hearty, and funny film.

Whether you are looking for a quick study break over the weekend or a cool movie to show during hall snacks, this hidden gem at the Media Center is worth the walk upstairs in Tisch.