Falarma: The Linguistic, the Lovely, and the Downright Delicious
Aug 6, 2010
Pros: The Nicolic Dictionary now contains several new falafel-related adjectives because of Garbanzo.
Cons: I am not in the restaurant, submitting my review over a Falarma Plate.
The Bottom Line:
In which the author embarks on a dining venture, only to discover that the thesaurus does not contain sufficient adjectives with which to characterize the experience.
All right, readers, ‘tis time for a confession--even if I am forever disqualified from the ranks of well-read, properly-parented, poetically-inclined society. I dislike Dr. Seuss’s writings. I was dismayed by them as a child, and they have only become more distasteful as I have matured. Why? Because...
The Ziff and Zaff and Zooff and Zuff Will crush your intellect. That stuff Is simply silly, just absurd-- Cats in hats? Birthday birds? I do believe I’ve had enough Of Ziff and Zaff and Zoof and Zuff.
Yet, desperate times call for desperate measures. Despite my disdain for all things bizarre, I found myself quoting dear Dr. Nonsensical, Ph.D. For months, I had attempted to convince my mother that hummus was among the few foods worth consumption. For the same ninety days, beloved Mothering Unit had planted her feet firmly in a garbanzo-bean-free comfort zone. She would not try it in a house, she would not try it with a mouse, she would not try it here or there, she would not try it anywhere. The only descriptor that seemed to apply to her was “in a box”, but even there, no exotic cuisine was allowed.
I could not allow myself to consider my mother’s lack of culinary experience, however, on the morning of 12 July. My sister and I had work to do. It was 10:25 in the morning, and Garbanzo would be opening in five minutes. What might we expect from this newly-opened Mediterranean restaurant? How would it compare to Taste of Jerusalem, another eatery in our area? Should such comparisons be made between a quick-service and full-service restaurant? Would we ever find this place, so as to put an end to my ponderings?
Take heart, dear reader, Garbanzo may be found. Don’t let dead-ends and ambiguous road signs tell you otherwise. Garbanzo is located throughout Colorado, with most establishments in Denver and Colorado Springs. Frequently, this elusive gem may be found in strip malls, but I will let locations and hours speak for themselves at the end of this review. In two years, I would love to proclaim proudly, “Garbanzo has officially developed at least five new locations in each state.” Until that time, you now know exactly what to do if you ever find yourself vacationing anywhere near the Rocky Mountains. Trust me, you don’t want a hotel and a sight-seeing guide nearly as much as you want pita bread at 10:30 AM.
Actually, it’s not just the pita bread you want, though Garbanzo does serve some delicious, flat, fillable bread. You want a holistic experience. You want to enter this open, sophisticated restaurant and note carefully-spaced tables and chairs. You need to know where to sit because, although take-out is available, you would be forsaking half the experience by failing to absorb the fragrance and friendliness.
Certainly, you must remain in the eatery itself if only to experience the shocking phenomenon that is Garbanzo’s welcoming staff. You know what happens at “hospitable” businesses--you get ushered to a table by a woman who has applied a scowl along with her lipstick, or a superficial voice welcomes you without enthusiasm. At best, you’re given a few menu recommendations and left to flounder in a sea of question marks. Ordinarily, you don’t have all punctuation--indeed, all words--swept away by one generous server. Never are you asked, “Would you like to try a falafel?” Please note: The answer to this question is always “yes”, even if you have only five dollars to your name and won’t be able to eat for the next week if you indulge in such a luxury. Not only are you being offered a free sample before you place your order--something that happens every hundredth Leap Year in these parts--but you’re being treated to the best cuisine known to man.
But I see you need more convincing. All right, let’s examine the menu, with particular emphasis on those items that may be unfamiliar to you. Trust me, I was in that dataless class prior to an eventful sojourn at Taste of Jerusalem last November. So, what are these falafels that you must try or forever be deprived of? Falafels consist of garbanzo beans that are combined with onions and various spices, then fried to crispy perfection. Garbanzo’s delights contain garlic and a palate-pleasing selection of other flavorings, but are not spicy. They are, if you will pardon a paradox, gently intense, with solemnity melting into overwhelming flavor.
Now, of course, you’re wondering what to do after that sample you so gratefully accepted. You choose one of Garbanzo’s plentiful, customizable meals, of course. My sister and I were asked to choose among white, wheat, or Laffa bread and both chose white pita. We then went our separate ways, my sister ordering chicken schwarma and I ordering a falafel-only plate. Next, of course, comes the hummus--a delicious spread made of garbanzo beans, lemon juice, and tahini. If you have never before been introduced to it, I’m headed to your house--knocking on your door, leading you to the car, driving you to the nearest grocery store, and buying you a container of hummus. Wait--Garbanzo’s is better, smoother, more flavorful. You’d better prepare for a little vacation if you’re not living somewhere in Colorado. Hummus is meant to be spread upon or placed inside pita bread and lays the groundwork for the other items you add to your plate.
And, of course, you will be adding much more. Hummus is a given, but what will you be having with it? You must choose among a falafel plate, chicken or steak schwarma, or falarma—a combination of falafels and schwarma. Order a falarma plate, I tell you; that way, you can enjoy the best of all that Garbanzo has to offer. That, and this is excellent wordplya—combining two types of food into one great, scrumptious combination. If only for literary reasons, Falarma is the choice you must make. If only I had known then what I know now...
‘Tis then time to add salads—the tomato and cucumber being among my favorite. Knowing that I would not have such an opportunity for several more months and hoping to try everything, I added rice. Although I quickly discovered that the rice was not terribly high in seasoning, I had expected the other ingredients to compensate for any failure in the rice, which they did—beyond my expectations. Hmm. Now I’m awarding mere food a grade-schoolish report card. Something is wrong with us English majors, I tell you. We allow similes and metaphors to bubble merrily around us, never heeding protests from the peanut gallery. Then again, the peanut gallery doesn’t exist here, since chickpeas have usurped other sources of protein.
My one qualm with Garbanzo: They tempt me—not with a minor hope, but with a swirling symphony of baffling decisions. In the moments following salad selection, I found myself standing before the counter, listening to a friendly series of questions and thinking, “baba ghanoush". 'Tis an eggplant spread, baba ghanoush. I’ve had it once before, but shouldn’t take such liberties again. baba ghanoush. I must monitor my Vitamin K intake for complex health reasons, but oh! baba ghanoush. Is it worth it? Take a little extra medication, get a bit less sleep tonight, monitor future forays into Vitamin K, and all because of baba ghanoush! ‘Tis worth it, I tell you--I could write a ballad in honor of this lovely spread: “For Love of Baba Ghanoush.” Happily for those waiting behind us, the server made a few more inquiries before directing my sister and me to the next station. I remained sadly unsupplied with eggplant-related spread.
Even at a subsequent counter, Vitamin K and scrumptious garnishes awaited. (You know, do you not, that vegetables containing Vitamin K are more flavorful than any other edibles?) Anyway, customers are asked to choose from among a number of dressings. Two words: Mediterranean garlic. If you choose Amber, Tahini, or red chili, don’t say I’m not mourning your sense of the culinary, because I most emphatically am.
After you apply dressings, ignore the dollar signs and garnish your plate. I was faced with several choices--boiled eggs, eggplant... Hmm. There was that question again: to eat or... to eat?
Then, Reason had to interject her sensible, bland suggestions and flatten my foolish notions. “Feta,” I murmured, realizing that the third choice would, for the moment, have to substitute for my beloved eggplant. Cheese can compensate for nearly any deprivation, you know.
But I have engaged in a non sequitur, for the words “deprivation” and “Garbanzo” should not be used within twenty-five reviews of one another. Placing them in the same paragraph officially disqualifies me as a writer and proves that I should learn an art other than writing--perhaps architecture, with all its mathematical calculations.
For all of this food--and, trust me, you get enough to enjoy for two meals--you must pay only $5.99. My sister, who ordered chicken schwarma, paid $6.99--more than worth the price. For a falarma plate--that is, one containing both falafel and schwarma, you pay a bit extra. Truly, though, this is an excellent price to pay for the food’s quantity and fresh presentation.
Back at one of the tables, my sister and I stuffed our pita and began a careful analysis of the cuisine. I will let you know when the book-length dissertation is published, but you’ll have to be mindful not to abridge it or drop the tome on your foot. I admit to trying a bit of my sister’s food and found the chicken richly seasoned, but not so overpowering as to detract from the other flavors. I will likely be ordering it next time, for it blended with the other items beautifully. As for me, I have only one thing to say: Falafel. It pays to offer free samples...
And, for that matter, gift certificates. By completing a survey, I was offered the opportunity to enter a drawing for various discounts. If only I had completed that survey, I could be writing this reviewing the company of Garbanzan hummus.
"Atmosphere?" you ask as you take another bite. My dear reader, if you're taking a bite of food, you are evidently in the restaurant and can comment upon the ambiance yourself. Do you really need me to remark that Garbanzo is open and airy--filled with the chatter of cheerful servers and diners, but not so boisterous as to prevent friendly conversation? Our discussion alone should be enough to convince you of the feasibility of this restaurant for any casual setting.
The establishment offers the option of take-out, so those who live closer to a restaurant can eat in the comfort of their own homes, the beauty of God’s Garden, or the utter exhilaration of a long-anticipated camping trip. All right, perhaps I’m going a bit far--not because you shouldn’t take gourmet Mediterranean cuisine camping, but because your edibles simply won’t last that long. Why, you have to pitch a tent when you could be enjoying lunch or dinner!
Be that as it may, my sister and I quickly found that we could eat only about half of our meals. Certainly, a chocolate-chip cookie was not on our agenda and I’m not sure how we could have ordered thick-cut chips had we requested a larger plate. In future, she and I will split a plate and order an extra slice of pita bread.
This story has a happy ending--yes, lovelier than the climactic dining experience itself. Before going our separate ways, my sister and I decided to stop by my parents’ house and say hello. With little real hope, I took our leftover food from the floorboards and carried it inside, setting it on the counter without a word and hardly daring even to observe. If I stopped playing the role of Sam I Am, could I possibly stanch my mother’s selectiveness? As we discussed the day’s events, my mother slowly opened the container and prepared to take a bite of hummus-enriched pita. And another. Soon, I found myself carrying away the remnants of my Garbanzo adventure, minus several falafels and much of the hummus that dearest Mothering Unit had been so loath to try.
“Should we tell her what she ate?” I whispered as my sister and I were about to go our separate ways. Taking a deep breath, we shared our secret. My mother, who openly admits to being rather entrenched in meat and potatoes, has now acknowledged the error of her ways. Conclusion: although I still dislike Dr. Seuss’ work...
My mother likes it--yes, she does! I know she’ll try new things because She will eat hummus from a box And, though it may present a shock, She will allow it in the house, This great Garbanzo has aroused Her sense of food-related bliss. Now may I cease, desist from this Sardonic look at Dr. Seuss? His words are Literature’s noose.
The establishment that constitutes the subject of this review is located at 2130 Southgate Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80905 Hours of Operation: 10:30 AM-10:00 PM
Now I, who have never cared for traditional breakfast foods and would rather skip the meal than indulge in something sweet too early in the morning, can enjoy hummus instead.
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About the reviewer
I am, first and foremost, defined by my faith in Jesus Christ. All else is secondary. I am passionate about writing; this is akin to worship, and I strive daily to use this gift to glorify Him. … more
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