Friday, March 28, 2008
Hatam's changed hands last year and although I've been there to pick up Persian goodies from the grocery section, I'd yet to try their new dining experience in the front of the store. Although I loved the cobwebbed and authentic peek at much loved things under the old ownership, the new owner has brightened it up and moved the groceries to the back and a fresh breeze has encircled the place.
I decided to stay for dinner this time, and I was served a lovely fresh appetizer of lavash bread and fresh greens (green onions and copious amounts of fresh mint leaves), butter and feta. I must have been Perisan in a past life as I so take to rolling up fresh mint leaves in the soft lavash and eating it.
I ventured to a new drink choice, sour cherry juice and found it quite sweet/tart and refreshing.
Being venturesome, I next tried the Ashe Anar, a 'rich' soup of rice, herbs and pomegranate paste. The name literally is Pomegranate Soup. In the Iranian tradition, many special occasions are marked by different kinds of soups, and the bonds of friendship are thought to be forged by sharing a bowl. According to my favorite Persian cookbook "New Food of Life" Ashe Anar contains an amazing array of herbs and seasonings. It MUST be healthful with all of the following represented: onion, garlic, salt, black pepper, turmeric, parsley, coriander, mint, beet, chives, pomegranate paste, and angelica seeds. The richness came from this thick mix of ingredients (with the others like lentils, rice and beef stock), as there was no cream involved. Honestly it was a little too exotic for me, but I very much appreciate the authenticity and clarity of flavor of this ancient soup. Apparently this soup has been served since antiquity.
Next up was the Joojeh Kabob, or chicken kabobs with rice and saffron rice and grilled tomato. Fabulous! Especially with a liberal sprinkle of the fresh, fragrant sumac in the shaker on the table. And it has liberal anti-oxidant properties.
So then I ventured on by Bastanee, enticed by the rosewater flavor. A very smooth and refreshing end to a delightful meal served by a most friendly hostess.