Falafel, Hummus and Dolmas at Talmage Store [Ukiah, Mendocino County]
After quite a disappointing lunch at Jyun Kang Cafe, I drove out the gates of the City of 10,000 Buddhas and noticed a sign offering falafel, hummus and gyros at a convenience store on the other side of the four-way stop. I had to check it out.
Inside, the menu above the deli counter is mostly devoted to Mexican specialties, e.g., tacos de lengua. But there are a few items from the Middle East. The lady behind the counter spoke only Spanish, but soon the cashier assisted when I asked about the hummus. Turns out, the young woman at the cashier is part of the family that owns this business. They are Palestinian Orthodox Christians. She explained that the hummus is made fresh every day by her mother, starting from dry chickpeas and includes garlic, cumin, tahini, fresh lemon, salt, and olive oil. It’s $3.49 for a half-pint, and I got the last container in the case.
The hummus was a bit darker in hue than most and I braced myself for an excess of cumin on first taste. But no, the cumin was quite subtle showing itself as a mild smokiness in the aftertaste. Very thick and velvety in texture but still, this hummus is not entirely smooth. Intensely flavored and robust, each element was quite pronounced and concentrated. Garlic screams out, but it’s balanced by the strong taste of tahini and packed with the flavor of chickpeas. The lemon was assertive in taste but not sour. This felt like three times the typical flavor intensity crammed into a small volume. I actually added some olive oil at home to thin it out somewhat. I really loved the stuff.
Last weekend I was in the area again and dropped in to try the falafel sandwich, $4.95, and dolmas. Dolmas were fine, but not remarkable in any way. Fried-to-order, the small orbs of falafel offered up lots of browned crunchy surface area. Dressed with tahini, hot sauce if you want it, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, and onion, the wrap seemed like Kronos pita. But I actually prefer that to the thin sandpapery type of pocket bread.
I did get a kick out of the Mexican lady preparing my Palestinian food for me. She has a good touch, and I guess I should stop by some time to try her tacos. In any case, the hummus will bring me back again.
1990 Talmage Rd
Ukiah, CA 95482