Wednesday, April 1, 2009
USA New York: Article from NY TIMES
My friend Amy, just made me aware that the NY TIMES ran an article today about Hummus joints in NYC. I included it also in the NY section, but for those following this blog I thought to share it in real time as it's so cool that Hummus is starting to catch on in the US.
Dipping Into an Israeli Trend
Article Tools Sponsored By
By LIGAYA MISHAN
Published: April 1, 2009
IN Israel, hummus parlors spark the kind of furious debate reserved for barbecue joints in this country. Pilgrimages are made to track down the best chickpea purée, and recipes are closely guarded secrets.
Hummusiot, as these eateries are called, have of late begun sprouting in New York.
109 St. Marks Place (First Avenue), East Village, and other locations; (212) 529-9198 or go to hummusplace.com.
The signature dish is eerily smooth, almost whipped in texture. It comes dusted in paprika, with olive oil pooling in the center. The taste is seamless, the sesame and the garlic in a state of equilibrium.
A ladling of whole chickpeas ($5.95) brings snap, while layers of fava-bean stew, white tahini, and hard-boiled egg ($5.95) give it depth and sensuousness.
Opened in 2004, Hummus Place was a pioneer among New York’s hummusiot. It’s now a mini-empire, with a fourth outpost coming soon. But its original location, on St. Marks Place, still has a cozy neighborhood feel, decked out in warm yellow and burgundy, with polished crockery on the walls. The menu, once confined to three iterations of hummus, has grown. But the newer offerings — such as unctuous stuffed grape leaves ($3.50) and cakey falafel ($3.50) — are an unremarkable sideshow.
2012 Broadway (69th Street), Upper West Side, and another location; (212) 362-7922 or nanoosh.com.
Nanoosh bills itself as a “Mediterranean Hummus Bar.” It touts its organic ingredients, but has the prefab look of a franchise, with lots of blond wood and a giant blowup of a mint sprig.
Above a communal table hang light fixtures made of acrylic panels filled with dried chickpeas. Oddly, however, chickpeas are not among the many hummus toppings available, which include sun-dried tomato pesto and grilled chicken breast.
The namesake Hummus Nanoosh ($12.50), with ground beef, gets swamped by limp mushrooms and onions. Unadorned ($6.50), the hummus is appropriately thick and creamy, but could benefit from a sprinkling of pine nuts ($1.50).
768 Ninth Avenue (51st Street) and another location; (212) 333-3009 or hummuskitchen.com.
Hummus Kitchen aspires to a lounge-y vibe, with an aesthetic that might be described as Levantine modern: brushed concrete, wood floors inlaid with mosaic tile, wrought-iron globe lamps hung from the ceiling.
The hummus has pleasing body and a pronounced nuttiness, whether paired with chickpeas, fava beans, juicy eggplant or wild mushrooms ($6.95 each; $8.50 for a sampler).
Nearly all the appetizers are in the mixed platter ($8.50). The worthiest are the falafel — surprisingly light, with the thinnest veneer of crust — and the bureka, a flaky pastry bulging with feta, eggplant and sun-dried tomato.
The lemonana ($3.50), fresh lemonade poured over a sprightly mint slush, injects a shivery tang into the garlicky palette of the meal. The drink is practically a side dish.
1209 Cortelyou Road (Westminster Road), Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, (718) 284-4444.
The newest of these hummusiot also happens to be the best.
Mimi’s Hummus opened in February on Cortelyou Road, the Restaurant Row of Ditmas Park.
The tiny square shopfront is sunny and airy, with only eight tables. Perforated wood planks, swooping up to the ceiling, are a clever update of Middle Eastern latticework.
The owner, Mimi Kitani, is Israeli, but her mother grew up in Morocco and her father in the Kurdish region of Iraq. Culinary traces from each country surface in her well-edited selection of small plates.
The menu notes “All dishes are homemade,” and that’s evident in the vibrancy of the flavors. Ms. Kitani’s aunt grinds the za’atar spice mix by hand in Israel. Crimson-stained turnips are fished out of a pickling jar brimming with garlic cloves.
The velvety hummus takes five forms ($8 to $9). In one version, bright with lemon, it serves as a bed for whole chickpeas that have the bite of beans properly soaked overnight. In another, the same hummus base turns earthy and fragrant when finished with cinnamon-laced ground beef and pine nuts.
As a complement, the stuffed grape leaves ($6) are moist but sturdy, collapsing only once in the mouth. Cauliflower, not the sexiest of vegetables, gets a swagger from a bold toss of parsley and tahini ($5). It nearly upstages the hummus, and could inspire a following of its own.