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Rami's, Brookline, MA, tasted on  July 25, 2004  The venerable falafel stand is a staple of many a street corner in Israel. Israeli falafel is made mostly of chickpeas, unlike Arab falafel which has an emphasis on fava beans. Sometimes the two are mixed. I like both kinds, but I prefer the Israeli falafel. Not as much because of its chickpea basis, but because of its size. The Israeli falafel is typically smaller than its arab counterpart. I think that's part of why I like it better. But one of the best parts of the Israeli falafel stand is the dazzling array of salads that line the counter over which you place your order. In some establishments there are a handful - pickled cucumbers, marinated onions, some tahini, etc. But in the best there are dozens - all manner of pickled items, chopped salads, and delicious sauces. And the best part is that you sit there eating your falafel (or shawarma) sandwich and every time you eat a layer of your sandwich you build it back up again with generous portions of the various salads and sauces. I'm no size queen but you do end up eating almost twice the original volume of your sandwich with the constant salad replenishment. When the falafel is good and the salad/sauce selection is wide and fresh, life can be very happy indeed.

Unfortunately, Rami's in Brookline Massachusetts forgoes the help yourself salad bar for your falafel or shawarma. But given that they are one of the most authentic Israeli falafel establishments in the United States with very little competition in the country (and probably none in Boston) maybe they don't need to compete by offering unlimited salads. (Not sure, but the health department may also have an issue with people ladling more salad onto their half-eaten sandwich. Not in the middle east, but that's a different story.)

Rami's is awesome. A super selection of Israeli salads to complement very authentic falafel and shawarma. The sandwiches are simply huge. Maybe too big. The fries were pretty good as well - crispy, fresh, and flavorful. Two of the sauces in particular were quite good. The "schug" hot sauce was sharp and fresh, but the amba was even better (I found a recipe here). It's a mango sauce with an almost sweet, but somewhat bitter, tiny spicy flavor. It was delicious. I poured buckets of it onto my sandwich as I ate. All of these ingredients as well as the crispy brine pickles found themselves nestled in very soft pitas (which I particularly enjoy).

Rami's is street food with super fresh quality ingredients, a healthy does of cleanliness,and a line of people to the door who know that if you want authentic Israeli falafel, crisp, fresh, and soft on the inside with an array of delicious salads and sauces, this is the place to be.











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  Garlic has long been credited with providing and prolonging physical strength and was fed to Egyptian slaves building the giant pyramids. Throughout the centuries, its medicinal claims have included cures for toothaches, consumption, open wounds and evil demons. A member of the lily family, garlic is a cousin to leeks, chives, onions and shallots. The edible bulb or "head" grows beneath the ground. This bulb is made up of sections called cloves, each encased in its own parchmentlike membrane. Today's major garlic suppliers include the United States (mainly California, Texas and Louisiana), France, Spain, Italy and Mexico. There are three major types of garlic available in the United States: the white-skinned, strongly flavored American garlic; the Mexican and Italian garlic, both of which have mauve-colored skins and a somewhat milder flavor; and the Paul Bunyanesque, white-skinned elephant garlic (which is not a true garlic, but a relative of the leek), the most mildly flavored of the three. Depending on the variety, cloves of American, Mexican and Italian garlic can range from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches in length. Elephant garlic (grown mainly in California) has bulbs the size of a small grapefruit, with huge cloves averaging 1 ounce each. It can be purchased through mail order and in some gourmet markets. Green garlic, available occasionally in specialty produce markets, is young garlic before it begins to form cloves. It resembles a baby leek, with a long green top and white bulb, sometimes tinged with pink. The flavor of a baby plant is much softer than that of mature garlic. Fresh garlic is available year-round. Purchase firm, plump bulbs with dry skins. Avoid heads with soft or shriveled cloves, and those stored in the refrigerated section of the produce department. Store fresh garlic in an open container (away from other foods) in a cool, dark place. Properly stored, unbroken bulbs can be kept up to 8 weeks, though they will begin to dry out toward the end of that time. Once broken from the bulb, individual cloves will keep from 3 to 10 days. Garlic is usually peeled before use in recipes. Among the exceptions are roasted garlic bulbs and the famous dish, "chicken with 40 cloves of garlic," in which unpeeled garlic cloves are baked with chicken in a broth until they become sweet and butter-soft. Crushing, chopping, pressing or pureeing garlic releases more of its essential oils and provides a sharper, more assertive flavor than slicing or leaving it whole. Garlic is readily available in forms other than fresh. Dehydrated garlic flakes (sometimes referred to as instant garlic) are slices or bits of garlic that must be reconstituted before using (unless added to a liquid-based dish, such as soup or stew). When dehydrated garlic flakes are ground, the result is garlic powder. Garlic salt is garlic powder blended with salt and a moisture-absorbing agent. Garlic extract and garlic juice are derived from pressed garlic cloves. Though all of these products are convenient, they're a poor flavor substitute for the less expensive, readily available and easy-to-store fresh garlic. One unfortunate side effect of garlic is that, because its essential oils permeate the lung tissue, it remains with the body long after it's been consumed, affecting breath and even skin odor. Chewing chlorophyll tablets or fresh parsley is helpful but, unfortunately, modern-day science has yet to find the perfect antidote for residual garlic odor.  

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