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17 Catt. 2: In re Kafta Mania

2013 February 13
by CATTLEYA, J.

OPINION OF JUSTICE CATTLEYA, in chambers.

I granted cartiorari to Kafta Mania (“KM”), a food truck serving up Lebanese food. KM’s menu features a variety of sandwiches, including three versions of a kafta sandwich, and side dishes like hummus, baba ghanoush, and stuffed grape leaves. In today’s opinion, I review KM’s signature sandwich, the so-called Classic Kafta, as well as the stuffed grape leaves. In a companion case to be discussed next week, In re Kafta Mania, 17 Catt. 3 (2012), I review KM’s Halloumi Cheese Panini with a side of baba ghanoush.

My first question upon seeing a black-painted food truck with “Kafta Mania” written in white bold letters was, “What is kafta?” KM’s website explains that kafta is “made by grinding meat, mixing it with spices, and forming it into balls or cylinders for cooking.” In other words, kafta is a mix of ground meat and spices, which is shaped into a meatball or patty, and then grilled (or baked or fried). In other other words, kafta is kind of like a hamburger.

In the case of KM’s Classic Kafta, the ground meat is beef; the spices include (at least) parsley, salt, and pepper; and the shape is a rectangular patty. The patty is topped with tomato, red onions, and KM’s “special Mediterranean sauce.” It is then served on a six-inch baguette. (I did not measure KM’s bread, but I assume that KM means to give a measurement of the bread’s length, unlike Subway which describes the length of its subs without intending to give a measurement of length.)

Kafta Mania

Kafta Mania

Before I discuss the merits of KM’s Classic Kafta, I must determine whether the sandwich and side order before the Cart today are street food. This Cart has defined street food as “the kind[] of food[] that can be cooked in front of you and [is] meant to be eaten with your hands, without forks, while standing up.” See In re Eat Wonky, 2 Catt. 5 (2011). This Cart has repeatedly held that sandwiches are street food. See, e.g., In re Kababji Food Truck, 15 Catt. 2 (2012); In re Hometown Heros, 14 Catt. 2 (2012); In re Pepe, 13 Catt. 4 (2012); In re Wassub, 13 Catt. 1 (2012); In re Borinquen Lunch Box, 10 Catt. 3 (2012); In re Willie’s Po’Boy, 7 Catt. 4 (2012); In re Big Cheese, 6 Catt. 2 (2012).

A dish’s status as street food affects the burden of proof in its case before the Cart. We presume that street food should be fully affirmed unless we meet the high burden to prove that there is something wrong with the food. See Big Cheese, 6 Catt. 2. Because KM’s Classic Kafta is street food, I need not determine whether the side dish of stuffed grape leaves is street food. This is because where “the principal component of a food truck combination platter is reasonably considered ‘street food,’ the presumption of affirmance should apply.” In re OoH DaT ChickeN, 16 Catt. 3 (2013). Here, the principal component (a sandwich) is street food, so the entire sandwich-and-side-dish platter must be affirmed, unless I show that there is a significant flaw with the platter.

Classic Kafta with Stuffed Grape Leaves

Classic Kafta with Stuffed Grape Leaves

I now turn to the Classic Kafta ($7.99). I start first with the bread–the first thing that one’s teeth sinks into when eating the sandwich. Although I have a great passion for crusty bread (especially when dipped into a mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar), I was afraid that KM’s choice of bread would ruin the sandwich. I feared that a baguette would be too rough against the roof of the mouth and too tough to chew. But to my great delight, I was wrong. KM’s choice of bread (more of a roll than a baguette) was very pleasing–lightly toasted on the outside, and soft and fluffy on the inside.

The filling was even more pleasing. The ground beef patty was succulent when it very easily could have been dried out like an overcooked hamburger. And it was packed with flavor. Whatever was mixed in with the beef (certainly onion and parsley, and maybe allspice and garlic) gave it a very full flavor. The add-ons of a fresh tomato slice, diced red onions, and KM’s special sauce completed the sandwich nicely. The overall effect was a well-rounded, earthy flavor that I’ve never quite tasted before. It was delicious.

My side of stuffed grape leaves ($2 for 4 pieces) matched the high quality of the sandwich. I must admit that I’ve never enjoyed stuffed grape leaves before, but KM’s version changed my mind about the dish. The versions I’ve had in the past either used mint leaves too heavily (I’m not a fan of fresh mint leaves) or didn’t quite manage to fuse the grape leaves and filling into a cohesive dish. KM didn’t do the first and achieved the second. Plus, KM’s stuffed grape leaves were obviously homemade and very, very fresh.

My sandwich-and-one-side lunch came out to $10. Although on the pricey side, the food was very good. And, for me, it was worth paying a little more than usual for lunch in order to try something (i.e., kafta) that I’ve never eaten before. For all these reasons, the case is

AFFIRMED. It is so ordered.

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