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Mar 24, 2007 11:38 AM

Help - What is the mystery spice at Gaby's?

Good Morning Hounds,

I really enjoy eating at Gaby's (Venice @ Motor). The Mediterranean inspired food is nearly all fantastic.

As you sit down, the staff always brings over some warm pita bread and some spice flavored olive oil. I usually eat the whole thing within a few minutes (to the embarrassment of my wife) and ask for seconds.

The mystery (for me anyway): what are the flavors added to the olive oil? Specifically, if I were to go my local Persian market, what would I buy to make it at home?


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  1. If the color of the spice is dark red/burgundy it's probably sumac - which is a persian spice made from dried berries. Taste is tangy & slightly sour (delicious) Easily found in persian/middle eastern markets. (if that's the one you're talking about.)

    2 Replies
    1. re: mrpullings

      OOPPS ! you said mediterranean - don't think sumac is prevalent in med inspired cuisine.

      1. re: mrpullings

        The hounds posting below here have concluded it is zaatar. While I'm out buying some zaatar, I'll pick up some sumac as well and give it a try. Thanks for the response.

    2. What kind of food do they serve at Gaby's? I have never been there. Re. Persian food, here are some common spices used in our food: sumac (dark burgundy spice, used on kabobs), dried mint (used in yogurt), fresh or dried dill weed (used in certain rice and stew dishes). There are so many spices though. I am trying to think of what could be in this olive oil. If I saw it and tasted it, I could probably tell you. I wish I could help more. :)

      1. is it dark green with sesame seeds in it?
        Za'ataar is a spice mix that is put into olive oil in Middle eastern restaurants, not Persian though
        in Persian restaurants, Sumac is served- burgundy, sweet but tangy, but I have never seen it in olive oil.

        1 Reply
        1. re: msmd310

          I think your guess is closer than my guess, msmd310, because I've never seen or had olive oil with spices in it at a Persian restaurant or at home. Persians usually serve warm bread (various kinds) with butter, fresh herbs, fresh onion, and yogurt.

          1. re: Maxmillion

            Not at Gaby's, it's za'atar. I'd love to know who serves dukkah...delicious stuff.

          2. The green one with ground sesame seeds is made with thyme too. What is really pretty is when they swirl it on the plate and it looks like a palm tree. You can purchase it premade in middle eastern stores or armenian