Results tagged baba ganoush from David Lebovitz

Zahav

Zahav restaurant hummus

I didn’t believe them when they told me, but when I was in Washington, D.C. a few months back, when having dinner with my friends Carol and Joe, they swore that if I stopped at Zahav in Philadelphia on the way back, that I’d have a life-changing experience. While I wish that at least several times a day I’d have a life-changing experience (sometimes I wish for them several times an hour…), I was a little skeptical. Both of them are pretty knowledgable about good food, but I’ve been steered wrong on many occasion. And getting off of a train, taking a taxi, and having dinner before hoofing back to the train station later on in the evening, then dealing with getting back safe and sound while navigating late-night Manhattan, wasn’t exactly an enticing idea. Especially for a bowl of hummus.

Zahav restaurant fried haloumi

While on that trip to Washington, D.C., my friend Judy and I went to a Middle Eastern restaurant that everyone had said great things about. Even people I trust. Note: I later found out the place was known for wild dips in quality, so the ones who recommended it are off the hook. (However if any of them are reading this, I’m setting up a PayPal site where you can pitch in to reimburse me for dinner.)

Zahav restaurant  salatim

That place was mobbed, which is usually a good sign. But nothing we’d had during our dinner knocked our socks off, or excited us. Even the hummus was ho-hum, and hummus isn’t all that hard to get right. You just need to taste it and add some lemon, salt, perhaps more tahini, and maybe some garlic, until you get the taste where it belongs. For heaven’s sake, it’s not like a cake where you have to start all over again. Get it right, or don’t serve it. And we left disappointed.

So when I was heading to Charlottesville to give a talk recently, Joe, Carol and I made plans to meet in Philadelphia, because I had been thinking about that hummus they had said would change my life. And while there are a number of things I’d like to change, but can’t, eating good hummus is one of them that I can. So let’s do it, I said.

Zahav restaurant hummus

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Eggplant Caviar

eggplant caviar

I’d not heard of Eggplant Caviar (caviar d’aubergine), until I moved to France. I’m not sure why that was—perhaps in the states it’s called something different when I was served it? Could it be labeling laws, so I wouldn’t confuse eggplant seeds for fish eggs? Or did I just have my head in the sand for too many years and only saw the light when I moved away?

Whenever I had eggplants lying around, I always made baba ganoush or moutabal. But eggplant caviar is even easier to make and less-rich: it’s a smoky tasting eggplant purée with a squirt of fresh lemon, some garlic, and a bit of heat from a sprinkle of bright-red chili powder.

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Baba Ganoush Recipe

French people often drink apéritifs before dinner, but rarely cocktails. Americans who come to Paris are often perplexed when the waiter asks them: “Vous desirez un apéritif?” and a few minutes later, they’re handed a glass of red Martini & Rossi instead of the straight-up, dry martini that they thought they had ordered.

And another heads-up: tourists are equally perplexed when the check arrives and they find that that dinky demi-flute of kir Royale costs more than their main course.

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