Saturday, November 12, 2011
Can you tell Dafna is a little behind in her readings? (A clue in the pesky Second Millennium BCE mystery: The word "millennium" probably means there are 1000 years involved. Stay tuned for the next clue.)
Friends, there's a new favorite hummus style in town: masabacha. Surely we're not the first to discover it, and we're happy to share this news with you, but don't even think about touching our bowls of it. Get your own! Basically it's whole chickpeas in a lemony, garlicky thick tehina and basically, it's awesome. We finally went to Bahadonas, a lovely sidewalk hummus joint near Dafna's old Tel Aviv 'hood. Her favorite part about the hummus here? It's tangy. Like tang. It's a kick in a glass. Has a nice little zip to it, and the pita was warm and spongy but not overpowering.
Folks, Rachel is the now the proud holder of a passport stamp from Chicken Kiev! After a last-minute, 24-hour trip to the capital of buttery fried poultry and the Ukraine, we can officially say that Rachel is the coolest journalist of all time.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
To be honest, this picture pretty much sums up Dafna's return to this great land:
It's been a whirlwind two weeks - Gilad Schalit is home, Qaddafi is really, really dead, Rachel and Dafna have both started a new school year, and we're pretty sure we had Hummus Ben Sira twice in one week. Rachel has moved into a sweet little apartment in Rehavia with a personal kiddie pool, just down the street from Bibi. Hopefully there will be a block party soon. Dafna is all settled in to her digs at Tel Aviv University, and by settled in we of course mean watching magnificent Israeli cable TV 24/7. Two nights ago, she fulfilled her lifelong dream of eating a bag of her favorite Israeli granola and watching the season 3 premiere of Srugim, aka Friends minus all the sex.
But also, Dafna has been doing lots of reading and posturing, chiefly in the field of Biblical Archaeology. She's still trying to figure out exactly when the Second Millenium BCE was. Any suggestions? Rachel has been explosively busy not only as famed night/duty/holiday supplement/copy editor emeritus at the Jerusalem Post, but also starting her second (and final!) year as Hebrew U.'s best Conflict Resolution and Mediation graduate student. We think she's figured out the solution to Middle East Peace: isn't pita bread the real enemy? Have we made that joke before? It still works.
Also, this is probably going to jinx everything, but something really weird and other-wordly has been happening to our two favorite hummus bloggers ever since they first arrived in the Holy Land some two years ago. They have the insane ability to actually control television programming. Every time one of them says "I wish this were on," or "That's just like this movie you haven't seen but hopefully will get to watch on TV soon because it's not worth renting," it actually comes true. Case in point: while recently watching Clueless, Rachel brought to light the fact that the movie is based on Jane Austen's Emma. Two nights later, while visiting her Savta (Grandmother), Dafna noticed a froofy British film was on TV when she came in. Do we even have to tell you? Emma.
What are the odds??
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
I just pray Schalit reaches Israel and his home, Mitzpe Hila, safely.
Israel is welcoming a less historic, but still exciting Israeli home today... the one, the only: Dafna Nechama Laskin. She is flying at this very moment having dreams of Michael Greilsammer's violin doing the backstroke in a bowl of hummus.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Here to talk plans. Big, fantastic plans.
1. Dafna has recently read in several cookbooks and on certain, trustworthy websites, that it's possible softening chickpeas in baking soda has a detrimental effect on the integrity of the resulting hummus. A more back-breaking solution? Peeling the chickpeas after boiling them.
2. Thanks to a secret family tip from Dafna's Tarzana cousin, Etti, we now know that just a small, discreet amount of mayonnaise may give hummus a smoother, yet more cohesive, consistency. Report from the lab to follow.
3. October 13th marks the First Birthday of the sweetest little niece you've ever seen, evidenced here:
Do you think she'd like a hummus cake? For that matter, don't you think she should be eating a completely hummus-based diet? Very digestible for babies and no chewing required.
4. Are you sitting down? Are you starting your engines, battening down the hatches, and girding your loins? In mere weeks, Dafna returns to the Holy Land of Hummus, where she will be studying the Archaeology and Geographical History of Ancient Hummus Production. Yes, readers. It is high time for a long hiatus from American hummus. Headed back to where it all began.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
There’s a new hummus hot spot taking downtown Palo Alto by storm. Rachel discovered it when she was home for her sister’s beautiful wedding—at which no hummus was served, but other really delicious foods were. Oren’s Hummus Shop on University Avenue has a bright and chic ambiance. Crystal chandeliers hang from its ceilings, and a quirky chalkboard with eye-catching scribbles about the origins of hummus is displayed on a wall. The menu is pretty expansive, offering a variety of Middle Eastern foods like tabuli and baklava. Best of all, it’s open till midnight, unusual for the city that turns in around 9 p.m. Dafna ordered the hummus with beef on top and Rachel ate hummus topped with chickpeas. No, it was not the best hummus we’ve ever eaten. It was bland, weak in the spice and flavor department, particularly lacking in lemon. Just bland and kinda boring. On the upside, it was creamy, had a nice texture and it came warm—generally makes hummus taste good and easy to lap up. Rachel is also told that the meat was pretty delicious. The pita came hot and fresh, very key. All in all, it made for a filling midnight snack post-movie at the Stanford Theater, practically next door. Enjoy, Palo Altans.
Hummus with beef on top
Instructions on the wall
Back in the land of hummus, the social justice movement has packed up its tents. All summer long protesters have met regularly in the north, south and center for rallies and marches demanding affordable housing and “justice, not charity.” Now, the movement, made up mostly of students and young families, but with ultra-Orthodox and elderly supporters, is hoping to influence the Knesset’s next budget making health care, education and housing more of a priority. The movement is launching roundtable discussions across the country on these topics. The aim is inclusivity.
Here is a shot from Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv where the first tent city started over a month ago.
"All of Israel's tents for one another" (based on the teaching in Hebrew "all of Israel is responsible for one another")
Rachel also has a blossoming career as a bridesmaid. It will be tough returning to civilian life.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Inspired by her new-found geographical surroundings (Connecticut), Dafna decided it was time to try this delicious-looking hummus recipe from Michael Solomonov, whose Zahav restaurant in Philadelphia has received endless accolades and critics' admiration.
Since Zahav is apparently the sort of restaurant two NY Post writers recently suggested was worth leaving the city for, and where the hummus is supposedly a 'revelation,' one would imagine the house hummus recipe to be amazing. Incredible. Life-altering. Divine.
With words like these floating around, the anticipation was unbearable. The chickpeas were soaked in baking soda overnight, as directed. Then brought to a boil with the garlic cloves, then kept at a simmer, yadda yadda yadda. Fast forward to the tasting, because what else matters? Verdict:
This hummus was a disaster of epic proportions, not only because of the build-up, but because it was just terrible. Dafna has made some questionable dishes before, but this was bad enough to rival even the Great Gnocchi Debacle of 2010. Ask Rachel how bad that gnocchi was. (The words 'glue' and 'gum' should come up.)
Nothing helped. Not more lemon juice, not fresh garlic, not salt, nothing. The hummus coats the mouth like a combination of hot tooth paste and gum that has lost it's structural integrity thanks to that piece of chocolate you had in your mouth right before you started chewing. And in hindsight, as Dafna's mom pointed out, it was doomed from the start. Using boiled garlic cloves vs. fresh. Adding plain tehina instead of preparing it first with the proper seasonings. This stuff made her stomach hurt after just one spoonful. She's just glad Rachel didn't have to suffer through it.
Dafna doesn't blame Chef Solomonov. Maybe this hummus tastes good at the restaurant, and she's sure the other dishes are delicious as well. But she can't shoulder all the blame for this terrible, terrible injustice served to perfectly innocent, hopeful, peace-loving chickpeas. Retaliation is in the works, via Dafna's mom's Lebanese hummus recipe.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Dafna is really at a loss. A terrible, confusing loss. She doesn't know if this is a roundup, a retrospective, or maybe even a recollection. Allow her to explain.
There has been much consumption of hummus, among other delicious things, over the last few weeks (months, more like it.) But it just doesn't have that roundup feel. Maybe summary is the word. Yes. Summary indeed.
This summary begins with an old friend and a new-to-me trick. I'm talking about the amazing, and amazingly affordable, hummus at the Turkish Kebab House in West Haven, Conn. Dafna has coveted their hummus for years, served with a delicious, chewy sort of focaccia (please don't be sad, pita.) It's salty, garlicky, peppery, almost eggy-tasting, and most importantly, creamy in the best way. Normally, creamy hummus is bland and almost like a mayonnaise, but those Turks have a secret trick. A secret trick with roots in the backyard of their most-hated enemy. That's right. The secret, you ask? Greek yogurt. Just a tablespoon or two. It's incredible, and unites even the biggest haters.
Next up was a trip to the Hummus Kitchen, a mini-chain Dafna always assumed was just one more notch in the belt that is NYC's burgeoning, and frequently questionable, hummus scene. The hummus was easily the best in the city. The hummus with meat, a combination of beef and lamb, was perfectly fatty and salty, the hummus underneath holding up against the oily mix on top.
But that's not what we care about. Nor do we care about their delicious, herb-filled falafel or crispy bourekas. No. Here's all that mattered:
That's right. Do not adjust your monitors. Goldstar Beer! Sweet and bitter, malty and smooth. Drinkable even warm. Available for 5 shekel at most convenience stores. Goldstar is the most elusive Israeli food product in New York, and here it was, all along. At about 200% mark-up. Oh well.
Okay, but then what happened is that Dafna went to a different Hummus Kitchen branch with Gabby, seen below, and remembered that yes, the hummus is the best. But even better? Dafna finally found it. The holy grail of good falafel. A falafel sandwich that is greater than the sum of its parts. Every flavor melds together - the lemony, minty chopped Israeli salad, the thick pickle slices, the creamy tahina and thick hummus, the hot, fluffy falafel. Separate, each impressive in its own right. Together, unstoppable.
Okay, hold on. That may have all been really boring. We know what you're really here to see. The reunion of the creative team behind this brilliant hummus blog, right? No one actually likes Dafna's blurry iPhone photos of NYC hummus. We know. Well, Rachel has those pictures, and a forthcoming blog about Palo Alto's newest hummusiya, among other things. But here's a cool shot of the organ player at PA's old-timiest movie theater, where we saw Strangers on a Train. Creepy.
One last thought: do yourselves a favor and never stop watching this video from you know who: Michael and Shimrit Greilsammer - Tirkedi.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Later, she saw him at the Jerusalem tent protests at Tzahal Square — who knew that little grassy area outside the Old City had a name? Greilsammer and his singer/guitarist wife Shimrit came out to perform and show their support for the cause sweeping Israel over the last week—for the government to regulate the out of control housing prices. The crowd of mostly Ashkenazi students had a definitively social vibe of beer drinking, music and dancing. Getting the government’s attention has never been so fun. The protesters set up around 20 tents, which they have slept in for several nights so far. If Dafna’s looking for an apartment, look no further: This location’s got fresh air, amazing light, a beautiful next door view of the Old City and friendly haredi neighbors.
The next Greilsammer sighting came two days ago when Dafna and Rachel learned, thanks to Emily Bernstein, that they are featured in one of his music videos! Please notice their blurry, bobbing faces from 56-58 seconds:
Now the question is of course, do you think Michael and Shimrit have noticed all of the Rachel sightings?
In other news, Rachel is moving to an apartment in Rehavia today. In honor of the occasion, she tried a hummus restaurant in the neighborhood yesterday; from Gaza to Berlin, purportedly tasty. The hummusia (hummus restaurant in Hebrew) derives its name from that time in 1992 when Germany invaded the Gaza Strip, took their hummus away and made the residents eat bratwurst. Actually, the restaurant just sits at the corner of those two streets.
The verdict: Gaza to Berlin is fantastic. Thank G-d Rachel moved. It is the creamiest hummus she’s ever had. So smooth and the flavor of the chickpea really sang. This lingo is all coming from “Top Chef,” by the way. It had a nutty quality that made it taste like creamy peanut butter. A tangy spinach vegetable on top was a great complement, and the lemon, garlic and oil layer on top coexisted in harmony. With regards to the creaminess, Rachel noticed they use a food processor to make the hummus, while at Ben Sira they make the hummus in mysterious bubbling pots. It was obvious this place was going to be good even before she walked in the door. If you see Israeli men in their 20s or so packing the place, you know the hummus is tops, experience has shown. The minute families are involved, the quality drops.
Friday, June 17, 2011
1. So as it turns out, Dafna had it all wrong at the Hummus Place. Yes, the West Village branch (or sneef, in Hebrew!) was good, but then she went to the Upper West Side sneef with her mom, and wow was that one so much better.
Here's the "eggplant sandwich," or sabich:
It was pretty great. Pickles, egg, techina, lots of fried eggplant. No potato but that was okay.
It was so okay, in fact, that Dafna went back the next day with Marlowe, friend from Israel and current resident of Merced, visiting the East Coast for a bit. She had the hummus-techina with falafel on the side. Dafna loved the falafel, Marlowe was not the biggest fan. Even though she looks pretty pleased here:
Why else do we care about Marlowe? Because her brother owns the Maoz Vegetarian branch in Berkeley, and vouches for its tastiness. So that's a pretty great little circle, and Dafna thought a nice way to include Rachel's Bay Area entourage of family and well wishers.
Okay, that's it. Just a short one this time. Nothing too crazy. Move it along!
Friday, June 10, 2011
Well, this post, technically, is a round up, but it's starting to become clear that our idea of a round up now must be expanded, due to the rampant 'round up' abuse that Dafna has so frequently committed. Can we call it a half-circle up? Because there's a lot to be said about different hummus places in New York City, but perhaps it's not a round up. You guys tell us.
A few weeks ago, Dafna wandered down to the Upper West Side in search of this magical land known to some as 'The Shtetl,' to others 'Little Tel Aviv.' There were tales of hummus, sabich, Goldstar Beer, and many Jews. She got off the subway, dawdled west on 72nd Street, and almost immediately laid eyes upon SoomSoom, a sort of falafel/sabich fast food place.
$7.50 for a sabich?? This better have been the best. Ever. Period. Here's what it looked like halfway through (and I think upside down somehow):
Okay. Sort of hard to distinguish what's going on there, so here's the situation: good, creamy hummus, nice spongy pita, two, count them TWO hard boiled eggs and eggplant. All of those things would have been fine on their own, but everyone knows sabich and fried potato go together like the cliff and the sea at Rosh Hanikra. SoomSoom, however, did something really strange. They shoved in half a ton of boiled, unsalted potato slices. Boiled? What? Maybe it's easier/faster to do, but it was so unflavored, and there was just so much of it. Ack. The good news was their little salad area, which contained all of the classics - Israeli salad, onions in sumac, green and red cabbage, spicy shredded carrots, amba, etc.
Then, across the street, like an oasis of coffee-flavored blended ice beverages in the barren Be'ersheva landscape, there it was: Aroma. Rachel has been spoiled by Aroma in Tarzana (the other Little Tel Aviv), but Dafna has never experience American Aroma. It was like walking into an alternate galaxy. There they were, all the salads, sandwiches, delicious drinks and bourekas, but everything was in...English. Dafna got an ice Aroma and vowed to return one day soon, demanding pickles on her egg salad sandwich, per usual.
Okay. Let's take it back to our humble hummus beginnings for just a moment. Last Friday, Dafna ended up at the Hummus Place in the West Village. Here's the 'hummus with fava beans' (Hummus Place, don't abandon your roots - you mean 'hummus with ful'!)
Looks awesome, right? Well you know what? It WAS awesome. Yes, the cilantro dressing was a little much, but the egg in the middle was great, the hummus warm and light, the beans not too mushy. Pita was debatable, but fine. Could there have been more? Sure. But a good showing, all around. (Minus all of these ridiculous New York prices, wah wah.)
Out of desperation, there may soon be ventures to Maoz (a chain falafel place? Eek), a place near Columbia called Amir's, and Nanoosh, which looks maybe decent. We'll keep you in the loop.
What else? I'll tell you what else! Do you people know that Rachel Marder has been officially employed by the Jerusalem Post as a copy editor for more than a month now? Here's her byline on this article, too! Dafna continues the job search. Anyone want to lend a hand?
That's all for now, folks. Wishing you all a Shabbat full of Shalom.
Friday, May 27, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Well folks, I did it. I went. I sat on the B train for 55 minutes of an ethnic safari - rivaled only by the ride to Hebrew U. through Mea Shearim - until I reached Mimi's. And holy cow, was I disappointed. It started out innocently enough, ordering hummus with pitriyot - mushrooms. But two things made me uneasy before I took my first 'wipe.' First, it took 15 minutes for the order to come out. My order being a bowl of already-cooked hummus. Second, I heard a microwave. Let's gloss over the hummus itself, which was overly lemony (who would think such a phrase could appear in this blog?), overly salty (seriously, who is writing this thing??) and under-spiced. But the kicker? My hummus had spots of that sort of darkened, hardening crust that can appear on half-eaten hummus sitting in the fridge for weeks, or as I discovered when we made hummus last June, forms when you leave hummus sitting in the hot sun. You know what that means? It means they microwaved my hummus. Need I go on? Case dismissed, court adjourned, other legal jargon.
But then, this event, the second Hummus Taste Off, happened recently (thanks, Amanda, for the tip.)
So, there's minor hope for hummus in New York City, after all.
(This stuff's made in New York City?? Seriously, just watch this commercial)
Wait! Also, meet Dafna's soon-to-be new roommate. Tim currently works as Fordham University's Alumni Relations and Development secret weapon, without whom the school would likely implode.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
As the title suggests, I'm a bit wary in approaching a label for this post. I've been in America for a bit under a month now, slowly getting into the swing of things - home, the gym, driving a car, the total lack of edible hummus, you know. All the important things.
Before I wax poetic, a few important things need to be picked up right where we last left off:
1. The day after we ate that monstrously delicious hummus in Cafe Mizrahi in the shuk, we joined Ruthie and her fearless food guide, Ben, for a northern tiyul to Nazareth - chiefly, to experience the spice Mecca that is the El Babour spice emporium. It did not disappoint. We watched them make fresh za'atar, sampled all sorts of nuts and fruits, and fantasized about all of the things you could make with that many spices.
2. We ate many delicious salatim, some savory kebabs on cinammon sticks and a whole trout (really, the whole thing. I ate an eyeball by accident. Slimy, a little chewy, but overall innocuous). We also caught the Church of the Annunciation and some lovely signs about how if you aren't Muslim, you're a big fat loser. Nice to know that I can remedy my loser status with just a few prayers of submission.
3. My last day in country was relaxing, emotional, intense, but the more I think about it, passed with absolutely no feeling of finality, for which I am very thankful. Rachel and I had breakfast at Cafe Bagina (cue the Austin Powers-esque pronunciation), wandered down to Yad Lakashish and made some important purchases, stopped in to Ma'aleh film school (remember Rachel's article? Here it is, in case you forgot: http://blog.omanoot.com/maaleh-a-jewish-film-school ), took a peek at the Ministry of Sports and Culture (but why the two always together?) and got a few snacks at the shuk.
4. The sendoff I got from the sheirut driver to the airport far exceeded my expectations. First he yelled at me for having too many bags,then was ready to murder me when he realized the street was one way. He asked me if I knew where the next pickup street was, which I did. I directed us back to Baka, until he discovered he'd said the wrong street name. I'll spare you the rest of the details, like how he told a group of seminary girls to stop saying goodbye to their friend because she wouldn't miss them anyway, and just tell you that it took us TWO HOURS to get out of the city. As I dragged my 5 bags away from the curb at Ben Gurion, he shook his head through his open window at me and sped off. The perfect farewell.
So where are we now? Well, I seem to be setting myself up for a culinary career, and plan to move to the city in about a month. I'll be less stingy with details as it becomes finalized. Right now I want to jump to the poetry, and plan on waxing it for a little while.
I have to start with that photograph, which is actually of a photograph. That is my favorite work by Toby Cohen, called The Flying Sukkah. For me it symbolizes a lot of things about Israel, and I have a panoramic post card with that print on one side from his opening last May. (See more of his work here: http://blog.omanoot.com/visual-artists/photography/toby-cohen )
Memory is a powerful thing. I'm not the first person to say it or realize it, but living in Israel, and I think I can safely say in Jerusalem, is an intensely vivid experience. And no, I'm not talking about the 'big' memories, like reading Torah with Women of the Wall, walking in the streets on Yom Kippur, or hiking Monfort in 100 degree heat. Those are memories I can pull in and push back, that I can describe in a story with ease.
The memories I'm talking about are the ones that just pop in when I close my eyes, smell something, hear a tune. For whatever reason, they are little bits I've held onto even without realizing it.
I hear the radio tuning through stations and it's a hot September afternoon, I'm waiting for Rachel outside of her internship and trying to find Galgalatz on my iPod, thinking about pizza.
They're talking on the news about the biggest full moon in years, and suddenly I'm on the bridge to the Cinematheque, watching a full moon just hang over the Old City walls, in the way it can only on a clear night over Jerusalem.
I smell instant coffee and I'm standing in my kitchen, waiting for the click of the electric kettle and watching the national religious women walk in and out of the small female college across the alley.
Tomer Yosef came up on my playlist and there I am on the bus back from Tel Aviv, marking my distance by the bridge they built for the new intercity train route, deserted during the day and nearly invisible at night.
I don't know that these were important moments, or if my brain just fires them off precisely because they are never the ones for which I reach. When I see them it's completely real, happening in front of me at that very second. In most memories, I think we see what happened as if we're out of our bodies, watching ourselves in the scene. I see these as if through myself. In a way, it's like they haven't stopped happening since they've started.
If you waited on HaRakevet right now, I'd pop out of that little alleyway any second, cross the muddy tracks and pick up the pace, wondering what to make for dinner, just like I'm still there.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Today our hummus came with slices of egg on the side. Nothing better than eggy hummus. Unfortunately not everyone at our table liked egg, so we couldn't mix it in. We are confident the hummus would have reached it's highest potential had the egg been fully mixed in, but it was still tasty minimally mixed in. The pita was also soft and doughy, super fresh.
This was definitely chic, upscale hummus. Not what we can do everyday, but good for when the parents come to visit.
Aside from the hummus, we ate a delicious brunch with Ruthie, Hannah Ellenson, Ruthie's friend Deborah and Hannah's friend Ezra. Who doesn't love brunch? Check out Hannah's mouth-watering poached eggs.
It's still sakhlab season in Jerusalem. Translation, it's still cold as a Kadafi at a cocktail party. Here's a sweet, sassy and super absorbent Dafna absorbing an equally sweet and sassy cup this morning at Mahane Yehuda.
Rabbi Susan Lippe snapped this piece of graffiti genius on a recycling bin in Jerusalem. Come back, Suzie Q!
Poems by the late great Israeli poet Leah Goldberg are up in Tel Aviv, still in celebration of the city turning 100 in 2009. Here's our resident poet posing with a sign:
Before we sign off today, dear readers, we need to inform you of some exciting life changes. Dafna is taking her culinary talents to the next level and starting culinary school in NYC in April. She'll continue to blog with Rachel (who the hell is writing this??) about her search for the perfect hummus as well as all the inventive cuisine she's sure to make. Rachel will hold down the fort. Maybe replace Dafna with a life-size piece of pita?
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Hands down, we have discovered a gold star chick pea of a hummus restaurant. We thought we'd seen it all, sampled it all. We thought we'd found all there was to find, and we were wrong. We recently ate lunch at little place in Mahane Yehuda with our dear friend Olivia. Of course, we had to have the hummus appetizer. We weren't expecting that much...like I said, we've tried many types now, getting a bit jaded. But we take it all back. This hummus was spiced differently. It had pickled pepper shavings on top and mixed in, the perfect amount of techina mixed in, sweet chickpeas, and a lovely hint of lemon. It was so creamy. Now, for the sad part. I can't remember the restaurant's name!
Not to worry. We're going back tomorrow (fingers crossed) with Ruthie Ellenson (she doesn't even know it yet!), and believe you me, I'll have my camera and notepad ready.