Harlem Blues Café!
By: Shqipe Malushi
In the world of plenty in every corner of NYC it is very rare that we can still get surprised. But today on a rainy day in the heart of Harlem, indeed I was pleasantly surprised.
Wondering where to meet my friends whom I had not seen in a while my brother recommended Harlem Blues Café, located in the heart of Harlem, on 5th Avenue and 132nd Street. So I went not expecting much do to many restaurants around, I thought it would be just another one.
Oh but a small place in a brick building almost hiding from the street opened in front of us a warm welcome. Long table where people were immersed in their laptops eating the best croissant I have ever tasted; made in house and baked freshly; raised my eyebrow. The owner Fati Beqiri, a childhood friend from Kosova came out with warm smile and opened arms.
As we recollected good old days the table got filled with most delicious foods unlike I have eaten in any other restaurants. The salad was freshly made with organic shetake mooshrooms, roasted peppers, olives, tomatoes and few other vegetables all grown in a garden; without any preservatives was very tempting. Special olive oil and vinegar prepared for the salad gave the taste of freshness, and little spicy touch of red pepper dressing enhanced each bite.
The creppes were soft and silky filled with spinach and cheese, or with turkey and cheese, or nuttella, making each bite a sensational experience of deep satisfaction. They were also made from a flour with no preservatives. We didn’t feel bloated as we usually feel after eating too much dough. These crepes were thin and unlike any creppes I have ever eaten, I gulped them down not wanting to stop.
The pizza was also very unusual, the dough thin and light, the cheese original and the paste made of red roasted peppers and fresh tomatoes, divine taste. Followed with delightful conversation, laughter making us sometimes aware that we were way too loud in a café where people were sitting and working on their laptops. But, we were so happy. The owner served us himself and filled the table with delicacies. The deserts of different kinds of sorbettos and gelatos directly from Milan, Italy created a sensation of pure freshness and delight. The ginger, lemon and honey drink enhanced the digestion and made me feel so light as if I had not eaten anything. Following with a coffee with a creamy rich flavor and aroma of freshly roasted grounds filled the entire café.
The café is small but it was there since 1920s where many creative artists of the time have come and go, leaders like Malcolm X who met there with his people, writers and poets all left a mark of their being in this place where everything is done with love.
“It is quality that I want to give to the people. I believe in the best quality products and people know the difference.” Fati Beqiri, the owner said. “Until now I did not have to advertise, people come because our products and serice are genuinly good and they enjoy them. I am the happiest when I see my costumers leave smiling and return again happy.”
Fati Beqiri is a new wave of creativity with foods and awareness of health. He believes that food prepared with love will radiate that quality, and the food without preservatives will enhance health. “Everyone knows the difference between good and bad. Offering people good and affordable food will open the doors to healthy way of living and eating.” Fati continued. “That is where happiness begins no?”
We spent four hours telling stories, being amazed about the wall painted with Jazz artists that looked so real you had a feeling the music would begin any minute. Friendly atmosphere, delicious unusual food, laughter, free wi-fi, plus a big smile where ever you turned made our afternoon a surprisingly delightful event. We left so happy and reunited, sharing together memories, food, remembering our loved ones, few tears, more laughter all toped with great hospitality, dreams and hope to meet again in Harlem Blues Café.
To all interested in adventure of discovering the yet unknow miracles of Fati Beqiri, I recommend without hesitation to stop by at Harlem Blues Café and immerse yourself in delicacies of divine taste.