For the Love of Hummus

Delicious, delicious hummus.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the hummus

Uh, okay.

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

Ask not what your hummus can do for you.


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.