As the Ithaca Hummus launch party kicked off, I strolled down to Lot 10 from Collegetown. It’s normally only a quick 15 minute stroll away, but the late day sun beating down made me question why I thought embarking on this journey by foot was the best choice. But upon arriving, I realized the trek had only fueled my desire to try new hummus flavors. Entering from the back of Lot 10, I immediately spotted the Ithaca Hummus signage and made a beeline for the kitchen. There was hummus and carrots and beer to be had.
Ithaca Hummus’ flavors, new and old, were sampled with convenient hummus and carrot snack packs on display. I began with the two flavors making their debut at the event: Lemon & Beet and Red Pepper. I briefly considered my aversion to beets before jumping into the Red Pepper hummus. This classic flavor, which dominates the hummus market, was slightly tangy and allowed the roasted red pepper flavor to ring through — more so than other brands in which the red pepper gets lost among other ingredients.
Later, I was introduced to the founder of Ithaca Hummus, Chris Kirby ’15, a graduate of Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration. He explained that the Red Pepper was a no-brainer to introduce to the product line, as it is most heavily consumed by hummus-lovers. I did not initially peg the other new flavor, Lemon & Beet, to be my favorite, but I was pleasantly surprised by the combination of flavors. Much like the backdrop of the event — the crowd both young and old, the playlist toggling from Gucci Mane to Bondax — the flavor profile of this Lemon & Beet hummus was well contrasted. The lemon flavor stood out immediately, providing a refreshing segue into the beet flavor. The slightly sweet beet flavor I was initially skeptical about won me over — and my taste buds rarely succumb to anything. Not only can the flavor hold its own, but the aesthetic of the hummus is also eye-popping. Chris noted that this flavor took the longest to develop, as it was a challenge to make the reddish-purple beet color vibrant.
I then moved on to try the preexisting flavors: Lemon & Dill and Chipotle. A third original flavor – Lemon & Garlic — which was my favorite, before trying Lemon & Beet (I’m officially converted), was unavailable for tasting. The Lemon & Dill offered a cool, summery taste that would pair perfectly with almost any vegetable. Of all the Ithaca Hummus dips, this one in particular highlighted the fresh cold-pressed lemon juice used in each of the flavors.
Chipotle, on the other hand, delivered a kick. I love a spicy, flavorful dip, but the Chipotle surprised me by being more smokey than spicy. The smoldering adobo-soaked chipotle peppers offered a lingering smoky-sweet flavor. The hot kick came as a nice aftertaste.
As much as I enjoyed eating half my bodyweight in carrots and hummus, the launch party served another important purpose. After my initial introduction to Chris he led me to Ithaca Hummus’ sesame milk. The company’s latest work-in-progress was the ice cold refreshment I craved in the late August heat. With a slight resemblance to almond milk, the sesame milk has a creamy, almost cereal-milk taste and texture, but it was far less sweet. Chris explained the nutritional power of sesame seeds which are also used to make the tahini incorporated in all Ithaca Hummus flavors. One need not be lactose intolerant to realize the benefits of this delicious dairy alternative. The milk is on course to be perfected within the next eight months.
As the sun shifted in the sky, I made my move to head back up the hill to Collegetown. The back lot was still full and energetic as I left with my stomach full, the intent to stock up my fridge with Ithaca Hummus goods and a newfound appreciation for beets.