Thursday, April 10, 2008

Speaking of hummus

To follow up on Christine's insistence upon above-average hummus, a quick note about my favorite store-bought hummuses (hummi?). John and I really like Sabra hummus, but you have to get the kind that comes in the flat container with the red-rimmed top as pictured on the website. (I've seen the same brand in a taller, typical-hummus-shaped container and it's not the same.) This is worth searching out; some Boston grocery stores carry it but not all. The roasted red pepper and pine nut varieties are particularly delicious. This hummus is extra smooth and creamy. I must warn you against the "Supremely Spicy" version however; I dig hard on spicy foods and this is one of the few commercial "spicy" products we found overwhelmingly too hot, i.e., really not pleasant to have in your mouth in any quantity.

I also like several varieties of hummus carried at Trader Joe's, namely the horseradish hummus (nicely tangy but not hot) and the three-layer hummus (or the "triple threat" as my brother has termed it), of which layers the cilantro is my very fave. I wish the cilantro hummus was available solo, because it's sooo yummy; it's on the thick/chunky side and good in sandwiches. TJ's also has several new varieties of hummus, including a white bean and basil kind I just bought and really loved. Very creamy and pesto-y. I find that when TJ's starts carrying a product I really like they discontinue it within weeks, so go seek this stuff out now before it's too late!

I require my hummus to be extremely delicious

I was so disappointed to be disappointed by Cafe Jaffa, on Gloucester Street near the Pru. On the veggie friendly front, Cafe Jaffa passes muster, but on the actual tastiness front, not as much. Middle Eastern food is so naturally vegetarian friendly, and I was anticipating some delicious plateful of chickpea products, pickled things and fresh vegetables. I sort of got that, piecemail, but nothing about it was amazing.

I split the potato bourekas with my husband for an appetizer, and they weren't bad. I liked the texture and the sesame seeds on top of the little dough packets. But the flavor overall was bland. Then for dinner I ordered a falafel and hummus plate, which came with a salad and pita. I think I was expecting a plate with all that on it together, some kind of varied entree with nice garnishes. My salad came first though, and it was pretty good--a Greek salad with firm pickle slices and feta. Then my entree came, and it was just hummus and four falafel balls on a small appetizer plate, with a shared side of pita bread. So then I wished I had saved some salad and feta to mix with the hummus and put on a pita. The hummus was just OK, but not that flavorful, and same with the falafel, which was too oily and without a distinct flavor other than oil. The hummus was the biggest disappointment. I really think that homemade hummus, when it's the foundation of a vegetarian meal, should have great flavor and consistency (like Farm Grill Rotisserie's, for example). Cafe Jaffa's hummus had too much of one flavor--maybe cumin or red pepper--that overwhelmed it.

I left feeling full, but Cafe Jaffa fell short of what I had been craving.