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Here at Oldways, we firmly believe in celebrating life’s ups and downs with food and family and friends. If one of us has a bad day, we eat food together. If one of us has a really great day, we eat food together (it’s exhausting, but somehow we make it work). So when Birthe (pictured above), our Director of Finance, celebrated her 10 year anniversary as an Oldways staff member last week, we had to throw a party that would make any foodie jealous!

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Oleana, run by chef Ana Sortun, is a wonderful restaurant in Cambridge, MA and a long-standing Oldways favorite. The seasonal menu is filled with “Arabic influenced foods of the Mediterranean with a strong lean towards Turkish; the dishes are layered with flavor and unusual spice combinations.” (via) I would tell you more about the food, but I’d rather just show you. Round 1: Appetizers

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We started things off right with the Warm Olives with Za’atar. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern herb mixed with sesame seeds, and often salt and other various spices. At first it tastes gritty, and a little earthy, but the combination of the salt and the olives is amazing. This was my first experience with Za’atar, and I’m glad we finally got to know each other.

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That first orange dollop was the Whipped Feta with Sweet & Hot Peppers, and was the best feta I have ever had. I could have eaten that all night and been totally content. In the middle was the Warm Buttered Hummus with Basturma & Tomato, and on the right were the Deviled Eggs with Tuna & Black Olives. Perfection. And that was just the beginning!

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Next up was the Red Lentil Slider with Apple Relish, Zhoug & Spinach Salad. This was also another first for me, and I can’t imagine how I’ve lived for so long without eating something so life-changing! Some of the Oldways girls had to take a breather at this point, so we all tried to get some exercise by making extra-fabulous poses for the camera:

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Sara T & Adriene

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Kara & Erika

And the woman of the hour got to open presents!

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Round 2: The Main Course (My apologies for the pictures, it seems that I developed amnesia in between courses and forgot about using flash)

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This Flattened Lemon Chicken with Za’atar & Turkish Cheese Pancake was my dinner choice and personal favorite of the night. The chicken was so tender, you could cut through it like butter, and the cheese pancake was enough to send anybody into a state of blissed-out unconsciousness. Other entrees included Moroccan Fish Stew (pictured below) and Flatiron Steak & Pumpkin Borek with Crispy Broccoli & Spiced Currants, all of which I heard were delightful.

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Round 3: Dessert! Since we had been sharing and passing around each dish from the start, we still had room for dessert! First, there was this:

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And this!

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And the big finish (and fan favorite, if you couldn’t tell by the picture) was the Baked Alaska (Coconut Ice Cream & Passion Fruit Caramel):

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If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would probably be that gorgeous creature. I would never get tired of it! Most of us on the Oldways staff agree that it’s one of the best desserts you can have on the planet Earth. It may sound like an over-exaggeration, but it’s really just a fact. I would like to thank Queen Birthe again for being so great at her job (and more importantly, for making sure the checks come on time!). And I hope that everyone who started reading this has left their seats and started on the journey to Cambridge. Has anyone ever gone to Oleana? Thoughts? Until the next culinary adventure, Alison

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