Gaby’s Mediterranean – It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

Wedding Week - Gaby's Mediterranean, Marina Del Rey, CA - Marinated Feta
Holy Matrimoly, it’s Wedding Week! no. 9

Gaby’s Mediterranean

20 Washington Boulevard
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

Apparently, Wedding Week isn’t just seven days of wonderfully white silk-satin fantasy that joyfully ends after the bride pitches her bouquet to the next lucky girl (by the way, it wasn’t me, thank God). No, Wedding Week lasts long beyond the garter, the cake cutting, and chauffeuring the new Mr. and Mrs. back to their happy little together-forever home. Wedding Week most certainly lasts, but for how long it drags on. And on. And on, I have no idea. Baby, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. Might it even be Wedding Month?! YAY.

The day after the wedding, there is what we would call in the corporate world, “a debriefing session.” After a big meeting or seminar or conference or training, the debriefing session is for, well, de-briefing. That’s as opposed to the pre-briefing session in which you, uh, pre-brief. Ohmigod. Thank God I ‘ve been eliminated. To de-brief, we pull out the flip charts and pull down our pants and we review, we talk about what went well, and we discuss what can be improved, because, as you well know, nothing ever goes badly.

In the Wedding world, the de-briefing session is called Sunday Brunch. Or lunch, depending on how wild of a Wedding night it was. Everyone agrees about how touching the the vows were, how beautiful the bride was, how ab-so-lootly lovely the reception site was, how delicious the food was, how drunk that old guy in the vest was…Oops! Was that your uncle? All of our out-of-town guests, all the tuxedoes and tangerines, all the friends and family join the newlyweds in their first brunch as Mr. and Mrs…at the Cheesecake Factory?!? I knew that somewhere in this silly little comedy of errors, the Cheesecake Factory would have to make an appearance. But twice? *sigh*

Ah, well, when you have a group of upwards of 30 people with tastes ranging from burgers to yook-gae-jahng to filet mignon, Cheesecake Factory is actually a good place because it has something for everyone, I suppose. It may not be great tasting something, but at least there are the Avocado Eggrolls. LOL!

But I couldn’t do it. I was still digesting curly parsley for garnish from just five days before. The only other things that had passed through this body in the last 24 hours were coffee for termites, jelly bellies, and frosting from the wedding cake. I called in sick for the de-briefing session for…a feta fix.

I’ve been to Gaby’s Mediterranean – there’s a location within walking distance of my office here in Culver City (which still means I always drive, and given lemons, probably always will drive). But the day after W was such an incredibly warm and sunny day that we decided to try the Marina location, just off the water.

Like the Culver City location, the best seating at the Marina Gaby’s is outdoors. Tables and chairs are set up under an Aegean blue canopy on the sidewalk/patio out front, with a great view of all the afternoon-at-the-beach action on Washington Boulevard. Even though the game was on the tv inside, we took one of the tables outside. Besides, it wasn’t even Brett (you can call me Mrs. Favre if you’re nasty).

The Sunday afternoon crowd at Gaby’s is a mix of a few locals out for lunch and seemingly, a lot of tourists who happen in off the street. Directly beside us, two women have to be on a first date, with a proper, somewhat awkward air between them. There’s a couple in sporty wraparound sunglasses with large backpacks on the ground beside them. Two ladies were smoking a hookah at a table diagonal from us, which didn’t bother me at all, but apparently it bothered the man and woman sitting right next to them. I couldn’t tell by what they were saying, since they were speaking loudly in another language, but they got up quite aggressively and moved to another table. If the hookah smokers didn’t know they were disturbing these folks’ air, now they do. LOL!

Gaby's Mediterranean, Marina Del Rey - Zaatar
zaatar – better than butter on popcorn

Last time, I had gotten the meze platter to share, which is tabbouleh, hummus, baba ghannouj, dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice), sfeeha (ground meat filled pastry), fatayer (spinach filled pastry), kibbeh (deep fried ground beef and pine nuts), and falafel. It was an incredible introduction to Lebanese food, but too grand a feast after filling up already! The hookah haters had provided such amusing entertainment that I hadn’t been paying attention to myself cleaning out the basket of pita bread and dipping it in oily, herbaceous zaatar with tomatoes and onions.

Gaby's Mediterranean, Marina Del Rey - Marinated Feta
for my feta fix
Gaby's Mediterranean, Marina Del Rey - Hummus

We started with something that came out looking nothing like I expected shanklish, or marinated feta. That’s
what it said on the menu, so I thought it was going to be a giant brick of feta cheese marinated in olive oil and other luscious Middle Eastern spices, sort of like the giant brick of feta that I love to get at Shamshiri Grill. It was actually a giant plate of feta, parsley, onions, and tomatoes all chopped together. It is sort of like Gaby’s tabbouleh, but with chunks of feta and chopped onions instead of the bulgur. Ok, so it’s pretty much not like tabbouleh except for parsley and tomatoes. The dressing was tangy and delicious, appropriately refreshing for Sunday seaside on the sidewalk. I think next time, I could order this salad alone and eat it with the pita bread and zaatar.

The rotisserie chicken plate was enormous – half a chicken on the bone, roasted to a dark, charred tender, served with greens, something pickled pink, hummus, and a yogurt sauce. I was already full, and couldn’t think about attacking the chicken, but I had to. I waited. I finished the marinated feta salad first. I procrastinated by tasting the hummus, with a spoon, since I had gobbled up all the pita bread already. The hummus was creamy smooth with just the faintest tang to remind you that it’s a vegetable, not dairy. I can’t eat hummus forever. The chicken is still there. I ate a pink pickled thing – very tart. I ate a pepper – not as tart. It’s now or never. Chicken.

Gaby's Mediterranean, Marina Del Rey - Roast chicken
now or never – chicken
Gaby's Mediterranean, Marina Del Rey - Yogurt
garlic pretending to be yogurt

The roast chicken wasn’t extraordinarily seasoned, but it was tender, and had the flavor of a good long roast. If I had eaten the chicken first, it might have tasted incredible, but my stomach had been spoiled and tastebuds numbed by all the pita, zaatar, feta, and hummus that came before.

But if I was too full for chicken, I guess I wan’t too full for the yogurt sauce. The sauce is thick, dimply, and stark white without anything else, different from the thinner, slightly off white of other yogurt sauces like tzatziki (Greek) and raita (Indian) that have flecks of green from cucumber or mint. In being so white, I expected it to be fairly bland, just a texturally cool and refreshing sauce of yogurt. I tasted it and was completely knocked out by…garlic. Yes it was cool, yes it was refreshing, but this ain’t no breath mint. The sauce was less like yogurt and more like pureed garlic bleached white to look like yogurt. Incredible. I loved it. Too bad it’s just a condiment.

By the time we were finishing up, the hookah ladies were still there enjoying their smoke, but the haters had left. We wanted to stay and enjoy the sunshine and seabreeze, but I needed a nap. Gaby’s had brought on a food coma that I had missed for so long on my W diet. Avocado eggrolls, my (now) big fat bridesmaid’s ass.

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