Move over tobacco, it’s time for chickpeas to shine.
It’s increasingly looking like Virginia’s tobacco-farming country may soon be known as hummus country, thanks to Sabra Dipping Company.
This week, the company famous for its plastic pots filled with hummus, matbucha, and other Middle Eastern salads and spreads opened an $86 million research and development center, dubbed the Center of Excellence, near Richmond.
According to Haaretz, the Center is “devoted to the science, production, engineering, packaging and delivery of the chickpea-based spread.”
Sabra is also prodding farmers in the area around the center to replace their tobacco crops with chickpeas, says the Wall Street Journal.
New Yorkers no longer have to go to Tel Aviv for Uri Scheft’s extraordinary bread, his shop has come to Union Square. [Grub Street]
Apparently, an addiction to hummus is a thing — and Kate Moss is suffering from it. Sorry, Kate. [Grub Street]
Three months after Sandy, Eater stops by several restaurants that were hit by the storm to see how they’re doing. [Eater]
Max Sussman has left the building! One half of our favorite brotherly cooking duo has left his post at Brooklyn pizzeria Roberta’s. Where will he go next? [Grub Street]
Where can one find a good black and white cookie these days? Max Falkowitz has the answer. [Serious Eats]
How do we love hummus? Let us count the ways (and places to eat it). Here are 14 of ‘em. [Serious Eats]
Is Jewish food taking over Chicago? We can only hope. [Serious Eats]
Brisket is finally a trend! Or, atleast a trendlet. [New York Magazine]
From the looks of this round up of 2013 cookbooks, the cookbook industry is doing very well. [Eater]
I’m going to be honest with you. I signed up for Birthright mostly because I wanted to spend ten days eating Israeli food. When I found out I was chosen for a summer 2012 trip, my daydreams were filled with visions of pistachio-studded halvah, mounds of falafel, juicy shawarma, and creamy hummus. You could say I was going on the trip for all the wrong reasons, that gorging oneself on Israeli delicacies was not a moral reason to take advantage of a free 10-day trip to the Holy Land. Well sometimes karma bites you back.
I arrived in Jerusalem on a breezy July night, accompanied by my best friend and about 40 other college students, still strangers to me. Jet-lagged and exhausted from the 11-hour flight, we trudged into the hostel’s dining room. My eyes perked up at the sight of roasted chicken, hummus, and juicy watermelon. Yes, this is why I had traveled for nearly half a day. I happily ate my dinner and played the obligatory name games with the group.
Not even 12 hours after the meal, I was struck with a certain discomfort. I’d been sick from traveling before, and I assured myself this little stomach upset would pass. I sullenly skipped out on the next morning’s breakfast of hard-boiled eggs and Israeli salad.
And so, Hummus Week at the Forward comes to a close. One week, fifteen tasters, and thirty-two different hummuses.
On our score sheet for our Wacky Flavor Day, we included what might have seemed like a straightforward question: “does it taste like hummus?” However, many testers understandably asked for clarification about the terms defining just exactly what hummus is. Just tasting all the various Israeli-style hummuses made in New York restaurant kitchens proved to me how diverse the flavors of chickpeas, sesame seeds, lemon, olive oil and garlic can be. Of course, this is all not to mention regional and national differences in hummus — for this project, we focused strictly on Israeli-style hummus.
Syria to Lebanon, Greece to Egypt — each Middle Eastern country not only uses their own individual hummus recipe, but also claims absolute ownership over the chickpea treat. In fact, the Lebanese Industrialists Association has consistently petitioned the Lebanese Ministry of Economy and Trade to request protected status from the European Commission over hummus, and to declare it a uniquely Lebanese food, a trademark comparable to Italian “parmigiano reggiano” or French champagne.
In my experience, there’s often a token non-Jew at Friday night dinner or at the Seder — the Shabbos Goy or the Passover Goy, some call them (affectionately).
Last Friday, however, I experienced the unfamiliar sensation of being the Shabbos Jew at a Friday night dinner with several Catholic friends. And when I call them Catholic, understand what I mean: One is a seminarian in Rome and another is a playwright studying at Catholic University – and our host for the evening, Sarah, has a degree from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.
I’ve gotten used to feeling the Shabbos spirit at Friday night dinners with eclectic companions. (And my roommates — a lesbian lapsed Catholic and a Puerto Rican lapsed Pentecostal — have gotten used to things like knishes and kasha varnishkes.) Even so, this meal was a mish-mash of cultures — in the company and in the food served.
The winner of our taste test for best Israeli-style hummus in New York City was unanimous — Mimi’s Hummus in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn makes an exquisitely creamy hummus.
And it’s not just the Forward staff that’s obsessed with the restaurant’s namesake dish. The cozy 8-table restaurant has garnered great praise for its takes on favorites like shakshuka, lamb meatballs, and tabouli, but it’s the house specialty that’s the main draw — and for good reason.
In addition the classic-style, piled with chickpeas and generously sprinkled with herbs, Israeli chef Mimi Kitani draws on her Iraqi and Moroccan background to spin out flavorful hummus garnished with mushrooms, extra tahini, and spiced meat and pine nuts.
The Jew and the Carrot talked to Kitani about her cooking, how her restaurant started, and how she really feels about supermarket hummus.
All this week on the Jew and the Carrot, we’ll be taking a close look at the world of hummus. Check out our first post here.
After tasting six classic hummuses, we turned our sights to its next of kin: spicy hummus. Home cooks have been spicing their hummus for generations — adding a little bit of paprika here, or a dash of cumin there, to add a nice kick to their meal or snack.
Hummus companies have taken the work out of spicy hummus and started blending in a variety of spices into their classic recipes. We tasted six different varieties of packaged spicy hummus, to find the best option on the shelf. During our tastings, we tried a few varieties of Jalapeno flavored (which we were surprised to find is a commonly sold hummus), some that were merely labeled “spicy,” and one that tempted us with “40 spices.”
What did we discover? Each spicy hummus somehow tasted different than the last. Even more surprising was how many of them didn’t taste spicy at all.
Chef Tamar Adler shares her secrets for making “brighteners” out of simple ingredients to breathe life into leftovers and more. [Food 52]
Kansas City goes kosher: the capital city of ‘cue is hosting its first-ever kosher BBQ Festival and Celebration with 16 teams set to compete for the inaugural honor. [Kansas City Jewish Chronicle
Daniel Delaney is popping up again this Fall with BrisketTown, an eat-in shop in “North Brooklyn or Lower Manhattan” that will feature sumptuous slabs of his oak-smoked, Texas-style specialty. [Grub Street]
The ever-appetizing Russ and Daughters gets a cameo as a date location for Louis C. K. and guest star Parker Posey to nosh on nova lox in an episode of FX’s “Louie.” [Eater]
Veterans of New York’s hummus scene, chefs Yigal Ashkenazy and Sharon Hoota, along with Nir Mesika of Tel Aviv and Milan, are setting up Brooklyn shop Zizi Limona, which will feature “modernized Mediterranean cuisine” and sell retail goods like pickles, cheese and produce. [Grub Street]
The New York Times Mimi Sheraton revisits New York institutions like Kossar’s and Katz’s to sample timeless “lost and found” specialties like pastrami, rye, and bagels and schmear. [The New York Times]
After careful planning and preparation, a team comes together for the ultimate test of their skills. Judges are watching, reputations are on the line, and the heat is palpable. A record is about to be broken — but not in London. Last Saturday, 10 Jordanian chefs achieved gastronomic glory when they fried up the world’s largest falafel.
The champion chickpea fritter weighed in just shy of 165 pounds, over three times as heavy as the previous title-holder. The recipe was scaled-up, too: 176 pounds of chickpeas, 11 pounds of onions, and over four pounds of parsley were mixed by hand before a 25-minute dunk in 92 gallons of vegetable oil. After being carefully inspected and certified “ginormous” by Guinness Book of World Records officials, the colossal falafel became a feast for 600 gathered at the Landmark Hotel in Amman, Jordan.
What’s it like to run an underground kosher supper club and speakeasy? Itta Werdiger Roth, founder of The Hester, shares her story [Jewess With Attitude]
A look into one of Israel’s largest challah bakeries. [The Kitchn]
…and Israel’s largest hummus factory. [Serious Eats]
Spring has sprung and the change is showing in our farmers markets. Here are 16 ways to prepare asparagus. [Serious Eats]
Nicholas Kristof illuminates what’s really in commercially produced chicken. [New York Times]
Ruth Reichl offers tips for better hummus. [Gilt Taste]
Over at Smitten Kitchen, Deb Perelman bakes up potato knishes two ways: Classic and Red Potato Knish with Kale, Leeks and Cream Cheese. [Smitten Kitchen]
Six delicious hummus recipes. We can’t wait to try the lemon hummus with labneh [The Daily Meal]
Advice can come from surprising places. Here are 10 Leadership Tips from Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman’s Deli. [Forbes]
Five news bites from the world of food policy. [Serious Eats]
Until recently, my conception of pita was probably similar to that of most Americans: thin, dry stuff that lacks in taste… a poor translation of Israel’s version. Anyone who has been to Israel or any Israeli restaurant with house-made pita knows what I’m talking about — a thick, spongy, warm little loaf that has a perfectly sized pocket that maintains its composure as you stuff it full of falafel. It’s a staple in Israel, but a luxury in America; a phenomenon that I was completely oblivious to until moving to New York City.
So imagine my alarm last week when out of nowhere, like a pregnant woman craving pickles, I needed Israeli pita. Every day. Lunch and Dinner. Maybe for a snack in between. My go-to places in New York were draining my wallet, those cardboard-like things from the grocery store weren’t going to cut it, and, oops, landlord forgot to install the wood-fired 1000-degree oven. Crap.
It all started in 1996, when Liora Gvion first wondered why the food served at a local restaurant in an Arab-Israeli town with a primarily Arab-Israeli clientele was the same as what was on the menu of Arab-owned restaurants that catered to Jewish Israelis. The sociologist of food, who lectures at the Kibbutzim College of Education and the Hebrew University, spent the next ten years, off and on, trying to figure out why this was so.
The result was a book, “B’gova Habeten” (“Abdominal Height”) published in 2006 about the political and social aspects of Palestinian food in Israel. The book will be released in English soon. Gvion spoke to the Jew and the Carrot about a related study she recently completed: “Cooking, Food and Masculinity: Palestinian Men in Israeli Society.”
This week we bring you two stories about hummus around the globe. Tell us about your favorite hummus in the comments.
In just over a year, Ze’ev Avrahami, an Israeli reporter living in Berlin, turned a passionate quest for the perfect hummus into a thriving underground food business. This month, he’ll open Sababa, an Israeli bistro in the ‘It’ German capital — Berlin. “My mother taught me to love our Jewish Oriental food. She’s quite happy about my new career,” Avrahami told us.
Growing up in Tel Aviv where hummus is a 24/7 nosh and a must-have in every fridge, Avrahami felt deprived when he moved to Berlin in 2007 with Kirsten, his journalist wife. “I had trouble finding good food here in town, well let’s say the kind of food I like.”
This week we bring you two stories about hummus around the globe. Tell us about your favorite hummus in the comments.
“Everyone thinks they make it the best,” is what Abdul Lama said as he stood at the cash register under a portrait of Jordan’s King Abdullah and Queen Rania in his Mediterranean Wraps restaurant on California Avenue in Palo Alto, California. Lama was speaking of hummus, and it appears that his statement is correct — at least from the bit of research I did among the professional authentic hummus makers here in Silicon Valley.
“There’s only one way to make hummus,” Lama’s business partner Abraham Khalil told me emphatically as I sat with him at a table at Mediterranean Wraps’ second location, on busy University Avenue near the gates to Stanford University. The frustrating thing was that he was only willing to go so far in revealing just how he specifically makes his popular hummus.
As you know, we at JCarrot love pickles (try our quick summer pickle recipes here). Serious Eats shares some creative ways to use leftover pickle juice. They also conduct a jarred pickle taste test. See which pickle is the winner.
In this week’s New York Times dining section, Julia Moskin writes about how to use commonly discarded parts of vegetables. The Perennial Plate conveniently shares a recipe and video of how to make carrot top pesto.
Jon-Jon Goulian, author of “The Man in the Gray Flannel Skirt,” makes rugelach pinwheels on Cooking the Books.
First Sacha Baron Cohen as Bruno wanted to solve the Middle East conflict with hummus, now Larry David wants to give his take on food as an element of the conflict. Sunday’s episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” took a snarky look at Al Abbas, a Palestinian chicken spot in Los Angeles, which happens to have a location next to Goldblatt’s Deli — a culinary turf war ensues. Check out the culinary themed episode on the Arty Semite.
(P.S. Eater reported earlier today, that the episode’s actually filmed in a Lebanese restaurant called Sunnin in LA.)
Charges against Julie Bass, an orthodox woman, who was facing charges from her local government for planting an organic vegetable garden in her front yard, have been dropped says Eater.
Last week’s announcement of changes in living standards for egg-laying hens has “raised more questions than it answered,” says Mark Bittman.
The Jewish classic, cow’s tongue, is given new life on Serious Eats with a Mexican twist — salsa verde and corn tortillas.
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