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May 19, 2014 04:53 PM

Best halva?

I reckon there must be good halvas and bad halvas. I used to have the guy at Haig's chop a half-pound off the wheel, but those days are over. Can you recommend some truly top-drawer local stuff? San Francisco and North Bay locations preferred.

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  1. Al Arz is the best if you can find it. Made by a Palestinian family-run company in Israel, that also makes the best tahini you can find in the US.

    They carry it at Parkside Farmer's Market on Taraval and at Samiramis on Mission St. It's a bit hit and miss because they run out very quckly.

    Although it's factory produced, the quality of the tahini (the main ingredient) is so much better than anything that can be obtained locally, it results in a superior product.

    I'm pretty sure you can also find the wheels at Samiramis. As well as many other varieties in jars with nuts and all the rest. Much better than Haigs was.

    6 Replies
    1. re: davidg1

      Samiramis was going to be my suggestion. I've also seen them carry the large rounds, similar to what the OP was getting at Haig's. They usually have more than one wheel going at a time, and it looks beautiful.

      I've also seen it at the Halal shops in the Tenderloin. Maybe Jerusalem Market?

      1. re: sugartoof

        You two are tops in my book. Samiramis is my hangout-to-be.

      2. re: davidg1

        Thanks for the tip--though I'll probably never love halva (or sweets in general) I really love Al Arz tahini. I recently picked up the "whole sesame" variety at Oasis Market in Oakland. Great texture and flavor!

        1. re:

          Given how you feel about halva, I wanted to share this photo with you.

          The diaphanous stuff on top is "fairy floss". Stumped all of us at the table. It was a bit stiffer than cotton candy and not as sweet, and tasted vaguely nutty. Turned out to be made of halva and I have no idea how it was transformed into floss.

          1. re: Melanie Wong


            I remember trying the "fairy floss" stuff when I was visiting family in Athens a long time (more than 20 years) ago. I assumed it was like a gourmet cotton candy. It's exactly as you describe, stiffer than cotton candy with a much more dry mouthfeel and interesting nutty taste. I don't know anything about it and had forgotten about it till now.

            1. re: Ridge

              I actually just opened my last pack from the batch I brought back from Istanbul. There's a great book I also brought back called "Sherbet & Spice" that goes into the history of various Turkish sweets and how they're made. In the book, she says it's sugar, flour and butter, then pulled by hand. It's pretty much done the way Chinese dragon's beard candy is made--which is what it reminded me of the first time I saw it in Turkey.

              Tm...thanks for the tip about halva at Oasis Market too.

      3. The Hummus Guy at the Alameny farmer's market has very tasty and fresh halva in small tubs for $5.

        7 Replies
        1. re: noisycorner

          I didn't realize he had access to tahini.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Ruth, your reply has made me chuckle several times.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                It was meant to be a comment on what I view as way too little tahini in his hummus.

            2. re: noisycorner

              If that's the same Hummus Guy who sells at the Petaluma Farmers Market, I'm going to be in sesame heaven very soon.

              1. re: noisycorner

                I think it's the same guy at the SF Civic Center Farmers Market on Wednesdays. Plain and chocolate marbled halvah.