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Middle Eastern Mashup   Leave a comment

A mashup is the best way to describe the vegetarian sandwich at the Heart of Jerusalem
in Manitou Springs. It’s a grilled cheese with salad ingredients wrapped in Zaatar pita. This
sturdy bread is delightfully airy. Zaatar is a Middle Eastern spice combination of thyme,
marjoram and oregano. The spice is added with olive oil and brushed on top of the dough as
it is grilled. Also, the dough is docked. That is, pierced so it doesn’t puff up to create the air
pockets typically associated with pita. Rather than have the food inside the pita pockets, the
bread is wrapped around the filling. This thicker pita provides the perfect grip to embrace the
gooey melted cheddar, hummus, tomatoes, lettuce, pickled turnips and, whether by design or
accident, a few pieces of falafel. The bits of deep-fried ground chickpeas added both texture
and flavor. On my next visit, I’ll have a full serving of falafel. Although they tasted fine, the
turnips have an unusual color more closely associated with a shade of lipstick worn, perhaps,
by circus or prison matrons.

Service is somewhat sketchy. It wasn’t clear if we were to order at the cash register, or if some-
one would come to our table; ultimately a server came to us. The whiney Middle Eastern music
was too loud, but this may have been an effort to establish the right mood in a room with plastic
seat cushions and Formica tabletops. Fortunately, the food wasn’t eclipsed by the mixed-bag
ambiance.

The Heart of Jerusalem
Three-and-a-half Plates
718 Manitou Ave.
Manitou Springs, CO

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