What was once a Soframiz review is now a Sofra vs Kareem’s curiosity post

I’m always of two minds when it comes to Middle Eastern cooking.

On the one hand, I know that I love Middle Eastern food.  There’s a restaurant a couple of towns away from me called Kareem’s, where I learned how wonderful and diverse Middle Eastern food really was.  It’s more than hummus, kabobs, and baklava.  I discovered muhammara, ma’moul, kanafa, and so much more.

But enjoying middle eastern food doesn’t necessarily mean that I feel an urge to cook it at home.  I’ve learned a few wonderful recipes over the years, but I just never make them.

For the longest time, I only owned one Middle Eastern cookbook in my personal library.

I now own two books.

Soframiz, by Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick, is a title that I waffled about picking up a copy.  The recipes are from/inspired by Sofra Bakery and Cafe, a locally acclaimed Middle Eastern restaurant.


Full disclosure – I haven’t been to Sofra yet.  I know I’m ridiculous considering how not-far-away it is from me.  I almost didn’t pick up the cookbook.  But my older sister has been there, and she was quick to tell me to give it a go.  (And I’m sure that she wants to borrow it for herself.)

Skimming through the cookbook, there’s something adventurous about all the recipes.  True, there’s the ubiquitous recipe for shakshuka.  However, more often than not, there are recipes that I’ve never even heard of like cheese borek with nigella seeds (borek appears to be a type of pie).

Some recipes that have peaked my interest?

  • tahini brioche loaves
  • asure (breakfast grain pudding)
  • olive oil granola
  • yufka (unleavened bread dough)
  • chicken shwarma with garlic sauce and greens
  • chicken and walnut borek
  • tahini shortbread cookies
  • milky walnut fig baklava (I would love to know how Sofra’s baklava compares with Kareem’s.  So far, Kareem’s is my favorite.)
  • almond rose cake
  • kunefe (Also curious as to how Sofra compares with Kareem’s on dessert.)
  • orange blossom lemonade
  • tahini hot chocolate

So far, I’ve only made the shwarma spice mix.  I haven’t used it for real shwarma but I have experimented cooking with it a little.  It’s quite warming on the tongue, and perfumed.  Very bold flavor, maybe too bold.  I made a batch of spiced chickpeas stewed in tomatoes, and some spiced meatballs.  While both were enjoyable, I’m considering simplifying the spice mix.  I’ll probably make the chicken shwarma recipe from the book before cementing my decision.

The photos are downright delightful looking.  I would love for someone to make all that food for me to taste.  (I guess I should really just hoof it over to Sofra, right?)  I’m having trouble finding a photo that I don’t think looks appetizing.  The food take center stage, free from any unnecessary background noise, and free from any insane photoshopping.  (To this day, I don’t like food photos that are heavy on the contrast.)

There are really no bad points to Soframiz.  I guess I can thank my sister for nudging me to pick up a copy.

Having said that, will I really step out of my comfort zone and cook from Soframiz?  I’m not really sure.

(I will, however, make the lemonade.  I don’t care of it’s the wrong season for it.  I even bought lemons already.  I can’t lie:  I really like the orange blossom lemonade at Kareem’s.  I don’t have the recipe, and I haven’t been able to replicate it on my own.  I’m insanely curious to see how the Soframiz recipe will compare.)

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Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post.  

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Nourish Your Soul, West Medford, MA

Greater Boston finally has its first pressed juice store!  Or at least I think it’s our first. Boston is notorious for being the last one to jump on a trend, and I couldn’t predict that juicing was going to end up in Medford. I would have guessed Harvard Square in Cambridge or some place similar.

Nourish Your Soul, located on 17 Playstead Road, West Medford, had its grand opening yesterday and I couldn’t resist going. Now, I’m hardly one of those yoga crazed people who are dedicated to doing a cleanse at least once a year and what not (that would be my sister, haha), but I’ve been aware for some time now that there are nutritional gaps in my meals, despite my pretty decent eating habits. Freshly pressed juices and smoothies have perked my interest as a result.  And I admit it – I’m the weirdo who made her best friend take her to Liquiteria and other juice places the last time I was in NYC.

My best friend wasn’t around this time, so I dragged my yoga-loving sister with me for this Saturday afternoon adventure.

First impression? There’s more people there than I expected. lol! It’s a small store front (there’s no place inside set up for sitting), but it was crawling with people young and old who were craving tasting samples.

(You cannot tell from the picture, but there was a full house inside.)

Second impression?  The quality and price is pretty much on par with what I saw in NYC.

More importantly, what did we drink?

1.  ppm:pineapple, pear and mint – pineapple and pear aid digestion and reverse inflammation, while pear packs anti-oxidants, Vitamin C, and Copper along with heart healthy folic acid and niacin ====>  I liked this quite a bit.  The pineapple is the dominant flavor, so pass if you don’t like pineapples.  (Why would anyone dislike pineapples?)

2.  grapefruit green: kale, grapefruit, pear, cucumber, mint and dandelion – anti-oxidant rich greens with grapefruit, an anti-cancer, heart healthy, metabolism-boosting powerhouse ====> see below

3. green juice: kale, romaine, parsley, spinach, cucumber, lemon and apple – detoxing combo rich in anti-oxidants, chlorophyll and powerful vitamins and minerals ====> I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t like green juices.  I like green smoothies and I like Trader Joe’s green juice, but overall, it’s not my thing.  The grapefruit green was a little too bitter for me, and the green juice tasted too strong of parsley.  I had the same issues with the green juices I tried in NYC, so it’s no fault of the store.  I’m just not fond of it is all.

4.  beet blend:beets, pear, lemon and cucumber – rich in nitrites, beets increase circulation for improved focus while vitamin rich pear, cleansing lemon, and cooling cucumber add flavor and nutrients ====> All I could taste were the beets.  Don’t drink this if you’re not a beet fan.  Otherwise, it tastes just fine.

5.  almond butter smoothie: filtered water, almonds, dates, sea salt, banana, almond butter, cinnamon and vanilla – a powerhouse smoothie with protein and mineral packed almond butter plus cinnamon, a powerful anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory ====> Very almond buttery!  I really liked this smoothie.  And I imagine that it’s very filling if you drink a full size.

6.  tropical smoothie: pineapple, mango, coconut water, dates, blueberries, chia and vanilla – this smoothie, rich in anti-oxidants, fiber, and essential fatty acids, incorporates coconut water to hydrate and mangos to improve concentration and digestion ====> Another smoothie flavor that I really liked.

7.  blueberry banana smoothie: blueberries, banana, almonds, filtered water, dates and sea salt – memory-boosting blueberries, with protein-loaded almonds, plus fiber-rich bananas and dates ====> Bananas were the dominant flavor for me.  Actually, any smoothie with banana will always be too banana-y in my opinion.  I love bananas, but I feel like it’s impossible for it to take a backseat in any flavor combination.  On the other hand, my sister liked it.

(Note:  not all of the flavors mentioned were available as a sample – my sister and I bought a couple to take home.)

I can see myself going back to buy drinks (especially if there’s more oral surgery in my future – that was not and never will be fun).  I’m glad that the location is on my side of Greater Boston.  It’ll make it easier to go since I don’t have a car.  For anyone taking a bus, I think it was near the 80, the 94, and the 95 routes.

For anyone interested in a cleanse, you can order a 3-day or a 4-day cleanse.  Details are on the site.  I don’t know if I’d ever have the willpower to do a cleanse.  More power to you if you can.

Let me know what you think of the store if you get a chance to visit.

17 Playstead Road
West Medford, MA  02155
Open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. & Saturdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.