To the best of our knowledge, recently opened Land of the Pyramids (905 W. Garden of the Gods Road, Suite A, landofthepyramids.com) has become the Springs' first Egyptian eatery, offering traditional and contemporary Egyptian plates.
Take for example kushari, a blend of rice, lentils, chickpeas and macaroni with a garlic-tomato sauce and fried onions.
"It's healthy, vegetarian and inexpensive," says owner Ahmed Nor ElDeen, "so in Egypt, everyone eats it."
Another quite common dish, macaroni béchamel, was influenced by the French in the early 20th century, says Nor ElDeen, and it places either chicken or beef with the pasta, cheese and the French mother sauce in a layered, lasagna-like form.
Describing how Egyptian food differs from similar Middle Eastern cuisines, he compares it most closely to Turkish and Greek cuisine, noting similar seasonings, "but not as much spice as in Indian food." Egyptian dishes lean on familiar inputs like cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, turmeric, curry, and ginger, "but we just don't use them as strongly — it's more mild," he says.
Falafel and shawarma we all know, but even the latter distances itself from most everyone else's slices off of prefabricated meat logs in that Nor ElDeen's wife Safaa, the primary cook for Land of the Pyramids, grills fresh chicken or beef slices.
Sweets share nearly as much space as the savory items on the small launching menu, which offers baklava, rice pudding, and balah el sham (also known as tulumba), a churro-like dough fried and soaked in honey. Nor ElDeen says he plans to expand the menu in the future, to include other popular items (each currently available by special order only) like molokhia (a spinach and rice dish) and mahshi (dolma-like stuffed cabbage leaves with vegetables).
Half of Land of the Pyramids includes an Egyptian/Mediterranean grocery. The Nor ElDeens still return home to visit family annually, he says, having moved here because they fell in love with the area during a trip to visit friends a couple years ago.
"Cairo is so congested," he says, "here it's more quiet and natural, we love the green landscape and mountains so much."
Fortunately, he was able to obtain a green card to emigrate as a skilled worker, as he's a network engineer by day.
One way we mark the passage of time here at the Indy's food/drink desk is with the annual release of the Beer, Wine & Spirit Drinker's Guide to Colorado (drinkingcolorado.com). Now in its ninth incarnation, at $24.95, it's as worthwhile as ever for the 60-plus free-beer coupons it includes, which the guide-makers say equates to a $350 value if all of them are utilized.
According to the book, the state now counts 533 total breweries, distilleries, wineries, meaderies and cideries. The "Front Range South" section of the guide, which encompasses our region, alone counts 10 wineries, 11 distilleries and 40 breweries.