10/24/12

Visit to Sabra Factory in Richmond, VA: Sabra Tastemakers

Remember I wrote about my weekend in Richmond, VA? Well, it's time to give you a recap of the reason I went to Richmond in the first place: a tour of Sabra factory! {For those who may not know, Sabra is the maker of hummus. They also make guacamole, salsa and several dips and sides.}

I was super excited to be invited to be one of the Sabra Tastemakers. Early Saturday morning a car picked me up and whisked me to Richmond, VA. This was a new experience for me and I LOVED it! The driver even made sure my friends Jenn and Luis were home and let me in before he drove away. That's the service I could get used to!


 

After a fun weekend visiting my friends, I was dropped off at Marriott, checked into the lovely room and got ready to meet the other tastemakers for dinner at Can Can. {Be sure to check out the blogs of the other Tastemakers! http://shewearsmanyhats.com/, http://mommacuisine.com/, http://www.eatingbirdfood.com/, http://www.smithbites.com/, http://runeatrepeat.com/, http://nibblesandfeasts.com/, http://ramshackleglam.com/}


I was one of the five (or so) people who ordered the Pan Roasted Trout with grilled figs, fennel, leeks, potatoes and bok choy. It was a stellar dish. Alas, it was dark in the restaurant and the photos would not have done it justice.

After a glass of wine, goat cheese cheese cake and decaf coffee, I was ready for a good night of sleep before the visit to the Sabra factory.

The morning started with breakfast and a few presentations from Sabra employees about the brand's history, where it's heading, and it's focus on nutrition.

Turns out, that despite the fact that hummus is perceived as being healthy, there's been little research done about it. Sabra is planning on changing it!

Hummus is plant based, is very minimally processed, high in fiber and comes in a variety of flavors: all the things that are supposed to make you like it even more!

Additionally, chickpeas (the main ingredient in hummus) are low on the glycemic index and do not cause spikes in your blood sugar. There is also evidence that they can lower your bad cholesterol.

So hummus is definitely good for you. For me, however, what matters most is the taste!

I had no idea the variety of flavors Sabra made available for its consumers.


But before we got to taste hummus, we had a mini photography presentation from SmithBites.
Here are a few pointers:

* smaller plates work best for photo shoots

* pay attention to details

* remember that what matters is your own style: take inspiration from others, but concentrate on the colors, composition, textures that you like

* the Smiths showed us a technique called tethering where you connect your camera to your computer and can automatically see what you are shooting on your computer's monitor. I need to try it!!!

* don't be afraid to play with your food and try different camera angles

And then it was time for lunch!!!

We came to the room with a huge spread of the various products Sabra makes. Of course I knew about hummus, but I had no idea they also make salsa, baba ganoush, spinach/artichoke dip, and a variety of other non-chickpea products.



We all picked up little special tasting spoons and went to town!

My favorites were these flavors:

Asian fusion
Chipotle
Jalapeno

I also LOVED the grilled eggplant. I hope my store starts carrying a bigger variety of hummus products.



What shocked me was that you can make desserts with hummus! I was honestly very skeptical, but really liked them. Below is a recipe courtesy of Sabra:

Chocolate, Coconut and Caramel Hummus Pastries
Caramel can be prepared up to 2 days in advance. Purchased caramel can be used if you do not
have the time or temperament to make caramel on the stove top. Filling is best made the day it is
served.

Do not fill cups more than an hour before serving.

Caramel
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Filling
1 cup Sabra Classic Hummus
¾ cup toasted coconut
1 cup finely grated premium chocolate (60% cocoa butter or more)

20 prebaked phyllo pastry cups
1/4 cup toasted coconut

To make caramel:
1. PLACE sugar and caramel in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until
sugar begins to brown. Watch very closely, stirring infrequently. When sugar is a deep
brown (but not burned looking!), remove from heat. Immediately and carefully add cream.
2. STIR well. Add butter and vanilla. Stir until well blended.
3. POUR into a storage container and refrigerate until ready to use.
To make filling:
1. MIX all filling ingredients together. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To Serve:
1. SPOON a rounded teaspoon into phyllo pastry cup. Top with a rounded teaspoon of caramel.
Sprinkle with toasted coconut.
2. PLACE on serving platter. Drizzle pastries and platter with caramel. Serve immediately.


And then it was time to tour the factory! Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photos inside, but it was incredible. As soon as I walked in, I was surrounded by the scent of warm chickpeas. Sabra starts with dried chickpeas, cooks them, and then incorporates them with the other ingredients that make up the hummus (tahini, oil, etc). The hummus gets divided into containers and topped with ingredients such as roasted peppers, pine nuts, etc. depending on the flavor of the final product. I know this is a cliche, but it's so true: the factory runs like a well oiled machine.

Check out the bright yellow plastic toe protectors we had to wear!

Before it was time to say good bye, we had a spice presentation from the Spice Station. Not only did we get to learn and smell different spices (pictured below are sumac and coriander), but we also got to take home a collection of spice tins, which I can't wait to use in my recipes!



And then it was time to say good bye! My drive back started with the rain and ended in sunshine.


This was a wonderful weekend!!

Have you ever visited a food factory? Which one?
Do you like hummus? What's your favorite flavor?

Disclosure: Sabra provided transportation, hotel and meals during my visit to the factory. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are strictly my own.

2 comments:

RunEatRepeat Monica said...

So great to meet you out there!

BabbaZee said...

Groovus!