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Persian-Azeri-Georgian Sour Plums - Where to Buy in SF, Berkeley, Oakland or North Bay?

I'm putting on a Georgian (the republic, not the state) supra (banquet) and need sour plums. I've seen the fresh ones in spring time at the Armenian grocers in Fresno. I'm told that Persian markets might sell preserved sour plums or plum paste. Anyone familiar with this product? I have limited time to call around, don't know what to ask for, and am just hoping someone has seen it on the shelf. Where can I buy this Thursday morning in San Francisco, along the 80-corridor (Berkeley, Oakland, Albany, El Cerrito), Marin or Sonoma counties?

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  1. The Russian stores in SF might be a good bet.

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    Gastronom
    5801 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA

    New World Market
    5641 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

    European Food
    3038 Clement St, San Francisco, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      I asked a Georgian friend, and he said he has never seen them at any of SF's Russian markets. He's the one who said I should try Persian stores outside the City. So I'm hoping that somebody will know what this product is called at those places or has actually seen it.

    2. If it's an Armenian thing, they will almost certainly have it at Royal.

      -----
      Gastronom
      5801 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA

      New World Market
      5641 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

      European Food
      3038 Clement St, San Francisco, CA

      Royal Market & Bakery
      5335 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA

      1. Any Persian grocery store should have them. You can ask for sour dried plums, or aloocheh. They're smaller than prunes, generally more dried out than dried fruit is here, and are quite tart.

        4 Replies
        1. re: rose water

          thanks a bunch. Headed back to the City now.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Make sure that you get pitted ones! I bought sour plums with pits at Rose Market in Mountain View and spent an annoying forty-five minutes pitting them.

            1. re: YSZ

              They're often thrown into Persian stews pits and all. Just need to warn diners to be on the lookout for them.

              They're totally different than the gojeh sabz mentioned by RL below. Those are little rocks of green tart fresh spring fruit available around March; the aloocheh are dried sweet sour fruit available in persian grocery stores all the time.

          2. re: rose water

            I stopped by Super Sunnyvale, which is a hybrid Mexican/Persian market, and found two likely products. One is "Fine Sour Plum Tamer," a soft brown paste in a plastic pouch, which includes pits but they would be easy to remove. The other seemed to be a dozen whole plums, preserved, and vacuum packed so that individual plums could probably be extracted. Labeled Damson plums.

            Both products are red/brown, so I think there are two types of products--the unripe green plums eaten with salt (goje sabz), and a tart red plum somewhat like our Santa Rosa plums that even when ripe isn't actually sweet.

            Here's a picture front and back of the same pack I bought last night:
            (public, doesn't require log in):
            http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbi...

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            Super Sunnyvale
            933 E Duane Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94085

          3. According to my Georgian cookbooks, the Georgian name for unripe mirabelle plum preserves is tkemali.

            The Persian name for unripe plums is gojeh sabz. I'm not sure they make preserves from them. I don't think dried would be very similar.

            1. Moscow & Tbilisi reportedly had some a few years ago.

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              Moscow & Tbilisi Bakery Store
              5540 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA

              1 Reply
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Typically they do make their own from fresh plums. But not this year, missed buying plums in season. This would be the place to check next spring/summer.

              2. Try giving Hatam in San Raphael a call 415.454.8888 (that's a lot of lucky 8s)

                1 Reply
                1. re: chefj

                  thanks, discovered that Hatam is out of business.

                2. I saw Tkelmali sauce and jarred gren plums/tkekmali at Royal Market in SF last week.
                  Generally cleaner,more pleasant store than similiar Russian stores nearby,great wild greens crepes on counter,great herring too.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: coralv

                    Royal Market is great. Only Armenian store I know of around here.

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                    Royal Market & Bakery
                    5335 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA

                    1. re: coralv

                      I saw the jars of pickled green plums, think they were from Turkey, and asked the staff about them. They said the taste of the brine would interfere and the sauce would not come out right.

                      ETA: since visited nearly every eastern European store in sf within the course of less than 2 weeks, I could do some price comparisons. Royal Marjet is 10-25% higher on some canned/jarred brands to be 10c to $1 on some things. But with more variety, helpful staff and cleaner surroundings, Royal is the place to go if you can only make one stop. And it's my first stop.

                    2. thought I saw packages of Sadaf dried sour plums with pits in a 10 oz. bag for $3.19 at Middle East Market in Berkeley on San Pablo near University, about a mile from the I-80. Will check again - they were on the middle aisle near the cash register - but they're not listed on the Sadaf website. Hope I'm not confusing it with dried cherries.

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                      Middle East Market
                      2054 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                      1. For future reference, Royal Market has a whole shelf of various kinds of tkemali, most of them from Georgia.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Here's the photo of said shelf that I snapped on Oct 27 when I was trying to figure out which brand to buy.
                          http://twitpic.com/31fcxy
                          The two on the right side, same brand with a red label or green label, is most commonly seen but I was warned away from it.

                          The one I ended up with came from a store in Palo alto, will try to find the photo. We liked it very much. I should compose a post script with the various Georgian
                          Products I found.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            I think there were at least 15 choices. It was a little confusing as some of the products on that shelf were other things.

                              1. re: emily

                                Can't recall and perhaps not Palo Alto, a friend bought for me. I'm thinking either Milk Pail or Crossroads.

                          2. If anyone is looking for fresh sour plums, spotted these this morning at Samiramis in the Mission, $4.99 per pound