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Mar 10, 2009 12:57 AM

bay area nowruz/persian new year?

I read the recent Sunset magazine article about L.A.'s version of this holiday and i'd love to know if any place in the bay area will be serving seasonal dishes or where I could get recipies/provisions to make my own spread. Any thoughts?

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  1. Is it Persian New Year already?

    Here's the place record about Norooz with links to info about festivals and food.

    The Persian Center in Berkeley has one of the largest celebrations. The food booths are only ok at best. One year Albany had a really terrific celebration. Zand and Saffron Gourmet in Albany sell Nooroz dishes. Do read the threads linked in places for lots more info.

    The Persian Center

    Looks like San Rafael will have an event this year.

    Another Nooroz site

    1. I don't know if they're doing anything special for the New Year, but the only Persian restaurant I've been to in the Bay Area is the Westminster Cafe (in Oakland), which is a regular cafe (burgers, sandwiches) that serves Persian food on Friday nights. Great stews and lamb shanks. Nice people--wouldn't hurt to give them a call.

      Woodminster Cafe
      5020 Woodminster Ln, Oakland, CA 94602

      1. Zand on Solano in Albany for DIY. They have the definitive English-language cookbook, Najmieh Batmanglij's "New Food of Life."

        Chez Panisse does a special meal, but it was all booked up shortly after they started answering the phone on February 19.

        Zand Market
        1401 Solano Ave, Albany, CA 94706

        1. Niloufer Ichaporia King is doing a cooking class and dinner ($140) at Cavallo Point on the 28th:

          8 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            We were among the lucky ones who snared a res. to Niloufer Ichaporia King's Chez Panisse Parsi New Year's Dinner last night.

            The menu:

            Prosecco with pomegranate syrup; toasted papads; cashews with ajwain; pickles
            Vol-au-vent of wild mushrooms and squab liver with saffron and garam masala
            Seafood hariyali: fish and shellfish in nettle and ginger sauce
            Grilled squab in marinade of three peppers; Parsi wedding stew of root vegetables and peas and cornmeal grits with curry leaves and red pepper; miners lettuce with kumquat vinaigrette
            Pineapple and finger lime ice
            Faluda (festive Navroz dessert drink) and sweet surprises
            Lemongrass and mint tisane

            My favorites were the squab and faluda--and just the colors (nettle sauce) and textures (miners lettuce) and brilliant accents (finger lime)--a first-rate meal w/ pitch-perfect service. My husband more than concurred (though nominally afraid of a full third of the ingredients, he polished off everything but the faluda and tisane [so his dinner partner scored w/ seconds]).

            Niloufer, a paragon of grace, floated through the dining room, introducing herself to all. The place was decorated w/ amazing garlands of fresh flowers, the stairs stenciled. Alice was happily bobbing about in a glamorous iridescent outfit (sans chapeau).

            We loved it.

            Chez Panisse
            1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

            1. re: sundeck sue

              Will have to put that on the calendar for next year. Thanks for the vivid report.

              The faloodeh I've had wasn't a drink--it's sort of a noodle and shave ice dessert with rose water (and cream?). Zand on Solano has a version in their freezer.

              1. re: Windy

                Sue, thanks so much for reporting back.

                It seems more persian-influenced than persion ... New Persian? At any rate, it sounds delicious.

                1. re: rworange

                  Parsis are the original Persians who migrated to Bombay and India. A different cuisine than Persian. The new year tradition comes from Parsi/Zoroastrian culture.

                2. re: Windy

                  Windy, This faluda was liquid, w/ a scoop of ice milk (the parenthetical note above--"festive Navroz dessert drink"--came from the Chez Panisse web site menu, so they clearly felt the need to specify). And I read somewhere--likely My Bombay Kitchen--that Niloufer likes to add ice milk rather than ice cream for an especially light, fresh-tasting end to a bountiful feast.

                  Rworange, Definitely New Persian--again to refer to the cookbook, Niloufer characterizes Parsi cooking as "magpie" cooking--stealing from many sources and then retreating to your kitchen to make it your own--ingredients like cornmeal grits definitely a surprise, when you're mistakenly expecting tradition fare.

                  Chez Panisse
                  1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                  1. re: sundeck sue

                    Faluda refers to the noodles which can be served up in many forms.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Only in the faluda at her Chez Panisse dinner (and in the recipe in her book, My Bombay Kitchen), Niloufer doesn't use noodles "because it's more fun to crunch [basil] seeds."

                      Chez Panisse
                      1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                      1. re: sundeck sue

                        Interesting, I've since learned that in Indian and Pakistani usage faluda refers to the noodles. They adopted this ancient dessert from the Persians. But the Persians say faluda when they mean the frozen dessert or drink. Not sure what Parsi usage would be.

            2. I was looking at my local Persian delis for some lileh torshi, a chopped pickled veggies, and keeping an eye out for Persian New Year food. I forgot about dried nuts and fruits being part of Persian New Year. Zand has their lovely baskes of dried fruit and nuts out. There are also baskets of dates. Saffron Gourmet said to check back nearer to Nooroz.