Yams and jams

Illustration by Mark Stivers

Slice of West Africa: When Adeola “Dee” Adedayo emerges from her new restaurant’s kitchen, beads of sweat drip from her hair wrapper. Nevertheless, even her eyes reveal a smile.

“I can stay in the kitchen 24 hours cooking,” she says.

In May, Adedayo opened Sacramento’s only restaurant dedicated solely to West African cuisine, Ecowas International Restaurant (610 W. El Camino Avenue). It’s named after the Economic Community of West African States, an economic union of five African countries. Adedayo’s mother was a chef in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja, skilled enough that she was tapped to cater meetings of the ECOWAS.

In her mother’s restaurants, a young Adedayo learned her trade. That’s now evident from Ecowas’ broad menu that includes stews, casseroles and porridge made out of yams, plantains, fish, goat and more, as well as jollof rice—a probable ancestor of Cajun jambalaya.

Adding to the restaurant’s sense of formality are the wait staff’s uniforms of wax aprints in vermillion and chartreuse. Women sport wrappers and the men wear dressy dashiki—embellished shirts often worn at weddings. The speakers buzz with African folk and pop tunes, and sometimes there’s even live music.

“When you’re in here, you’re in Africa, so forget that you’re in America,” Adedayo says.

Right about now, that’s a shrewd selling point. Adedayo seems to be a keen businessperson. She plans to franchise and is already eying a restaurant for sale at the heavily trafficked intersection of Watt Avenue and Folsom Boulevard. After all, her favorite part of cooking? “Money,” she admits before breaking into a giggle fit.

Ready, set, leaf: Armed with steamed milk and espresso, the city’s baristas will compete once again in the fourth annual Sacramento Public Latte Art Tournament, or SPLAT—a satisfying and onomatopoeic acronym if there ever was one. Starting 7 p.m. Thursday, June 29, at Old Soul Co.’s newest location (555 Capitol Mall), the bracketed competition pits espresso mavens against one another to see who can pour the most eye-catching designs to float atop a latte.

Follow along the last Thursday of each month until the finale in October. Learn more at www.splatsac.com.

Spidey sipper: Speaking of latte art, Spider-Man fans might be interested to know that Oblivion Comics & Coffee (1020 11th Street) is decorating lattes with spiders to celebrate the release of the latest Peter Parker comic. It’s no radioactive arachnid bite, but it should wake you up.