Best Honey Wine

Shashamane

Ethiopia's intensely floral native honey is a pillar of the country's singular cooking traditions, and tej, the sweet golden wine derived from it, is as much a part of the national cuisine as injera bread and spicy berbere. An ideal place to sample this venerable and seldom encountered libation is Shashamane, a handsome Ethiopian restaurant located along Oakland's Auto Row. Your choice of Yamatt tej (brewed in Sunnyvale) or Oakland's own Enat is served in a striking narrow-necked glass berele (carafe) with an ice-filled inner chamber that keeps the liquid cool. The flavors are extraordinary — like a blossoming orchard or a fragrant meadow — and the wine's nectarlike texture leaves a reverberative warmth at the back of the throat. It's an ideal companion for the earthy, spicy house cuisine (especially the steak tartare with collard greens and house-made cottage cheese), and there's live music and dazzling African art to satisfy the soul as well.
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