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atlantic ave. baba taste test - results

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atlantic ave. baba taste test - results

Mary Shaposhnik | Jan 23, 2002 12:54 PM

Here is a science experiment we conducted at my office last week.

Goal: To evaluate takeout baba ghanoush from the Atlantic Avenue strip near Court Street.

Method: At lunch time, I bought one tub of baba from each of these 3 places: Hanshali (next door to Damascus Bakery--it might be called Hafanshali), Sahadi's, and Oriental (across the street from Sahadi). Co-workers tasted and rated them blindly (i.e., not knowing the source).

Results: Very different than expected. Sahadi's got the most first place picks; it had a lot of tahini, and a very smooth consistency and good flavor blend. Those who loved Sahadi's absolutely hated Hanshali, deeming it "nasty".

But there was a stubborn minority who insisted the reverse was true, and that Hanshali's was "real" baba and Sahadi's was not. They have an excellent point: Hanshali's is much rougher baba, with a lot more pure vegetable flavor. Personally, I usually find it much better than Sahadi's (and I always get my lebne with garlic at Hanshali, it is much better), although on the day of the test, it was a bit bitter, and did not have the smoky flavor that makes rough-baba appealing (none of the three had that charred flavor, alas).

Absolutely nobody really liked the Oriental baba, for good reason: it was thin, pureed, flavorless mush, really uninspiring. Perhaps they have changed sources, or just had a bad batch, but I have absolutely no reason to go back and try.

Post-study note: after the study was concluded, I went to Waterfalls (one block further west on Atlantic). Absolutely great baba (and everything else)--truly excellent. It is a shame it was not included in our study, since I do believe it would easily have beaten the competition.

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