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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.

              1. The bar Noc Noc in the Haight, which is owned by Persians, has put out a spread in the past

                1. Maykadeh is in North Beach and I went there on Noruz with my (now) Persian husband for our first date. Alborz is on Vanness in Pac Heights and I'm sure they do something for Noruz. My husband and I think the best Persian restaurant in the area is Shalizaar but it's about 25 minutes away in Belmont. Also, the best Persian grocery is in Mountain View and it's called Rose Market. They have everything you need there to make all the traditional karafs and polos. They also sell great kabobs. If you need good recipes, check out this woman's blog: http://mypersiankitchen.com/.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: schiavoni

                    Thank goodness for Chowhound. As I was _not_ invited to a Noruz event this year (and didn't have the crowd to go with to sit-down at the wonderful restaurants listed above), I think I may have to go to Rose Market. if you know of any places with great take-out or a deli-style version of some of the Noruz food, let me know! YUM YUM YUM

                  2. Yesterday I decided to take a dinner break instead of fighting traffic to get back to the City during Friday rush hour. I dashed into Shalizaar at 6pm.

                    My impression walking into Shalizaar for the first time was the large table laid out with the traditional haft-seen for Persian New Year (Nowruz).

                    Another view of the dining room and haft-seen for Nowruz.

                    Expecting it to be busy on the night before Persian New Year (Nowrooz), the place was indeed packed even at this hour. But the host said that I could have a table near the window if I promised to be done before the 7:30pm reservation. Dining alone, that would be no problem.

                    A waiter quickly appeared with water and dropped off this Sabzi plate with organic mint, cilantro and tarragon grown in Los Altos Hills, red radish, feta, and walnuts came to the table immediately. Even though it is listed on the menu, apparently this was complimentary.

                    Homemade flatbread is baked continuously and served warm with butter and sabzi basket. The wood stone oven in the back of the room was very busy. This was complimentary too.

                    Aush reshteh was almost more like a stew rather than soup. Packed with many kinds of legumes (kidney beans, garbanzos, favas, brown lentils and more), turnip, greens, soft noodles, and topped with kashk and fried mint. This was quite hearty, delicious and filling.

                    Koo-koo sabzi was the one disappointment, too dry.

                    I also had a dough, herbed yogurt drink with sparkling water. I was glad that I’d only ordered two small plates and not the tahdig I’d considered too. The sabzi and warm bread were so wonderful, I polished off almost the whole basket. I’m looking forward to going back and trying more from the menu.

                    Happy Nowruz!!!

                    300 El Camino Real, Belmont, CA 94002

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        We ended up at Shalizaar yesterday to celebrate a friend's birthday and the first day of spring, and Nowrus. We arrived not long after 4:20 p.m.

                        This year's decor had what felt like an Easter theme, but very charming. And the food was as good as ever.

                        In addition to my usual chicken kabob (incredibly juicy), we shared pan fried trout and a great dessert: a mix of faloodeh and pistachio ice cream. We rounded out the meal with a couple of pomegranate juices and toasted to spring.

                        300 El Camino Real, Belmont, CA 94002

                      2. Persian NY Festival in Berkeley coming 3/15/11 from 6-10p:

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: hhc

                          March 20-21-22, 2011 at Zare at Fly Trap


                          Zare at Fly Trap
                          606 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

                        2. Oakland's Cafe 15 has Persian beef stew with celery and mint over basmati rice as a special today; the chef is Persian.

                          Cafe 15
                          597 15th St, Oakland, CA 94612

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Pius Avocado III

                            Replying to my own post as I’ve just finished the stew and it was fantastic- perfectly fork-tender, high-quality chunks of beef with celery that is going to have me braising celery at home it had such a deep flavor. The mint provided an alluring note which paired very well with the beef and vegetables, and the tangy dollop of yogurt sauce brought all the flavors together very nicely.

                            I also picked up a jar of Persian carrot jam.