Friday, July 13, 2012

Lunch at Persepolis

     While my mom and I were over on the East Side, we decided to eat at a Persian restaurant called Persepolis. Although I am familiar with Greek and Roman history, I have no knowledge of Persian history, so I cannot determine what "persepolis" means or the origin of their food. I didn't even know what Persian food really was, but I thought it sounded interesting and my mom and I walked inside. In the window was a sticker with its ZAGAT guide rating, which made me feel confident. Still, I had no idea what to expect from this food. I was glad my taste-buds had evolved from the picky eater I used to be (yes, I used to be a picky eater). My mother informed me that it was like middle-eastern food, and I composed a quick image in my head.
     For the appetizers my mom and I decided to share the eggplant trio, which was a combination of the three above eggplant dishes on the menu: Baba, which was baked eggplant purée, Kashk (persia goat cheese), walnut, and onion, then came the eggplant mirza, which was roasted eggplant purée with mint, tomato sauce, and garlic, and finally was the eggplant halim, which was roasted eggplant purée with split peas, and tangy yogurt. If you ever need eggplant ideas, here are three! My favorite out of the three was the eggplant halim, which was very delicious when put on the bread that was also served. It was Mom's least favorite; she preferred the eggplant mirza. We were both equally enthusiastic about the Baba, which was very good. The three separate eggplant dishes were served with a spoon, but we chose to cheat and serve the purée on the accompanying bread.

Left to right: Baba, eggplant mirza, and eggplant halim.

     Next we ordered our entrées. Everything came with basmati rice, which was not the typical white rice. The rice was longer and thinner, and flavored uniquely. I ordered a ground kebab kubideh, which was marinated ground aged sirloin kebab. I cut off a piece of the meet, and it was incredible. It was just beef, but juicy and with tons of flavor. The texture wasn't like eating a hamburger, it was smoother. The rice was fantastic, too. I ordered the polo shirin, which was basmati rice with almond and orange. I'm not sure how the rice got to be almond-and-orange-flavored, but I think it was soaked for a long time. I had never even heard of rice being prepared like this before, and I loved it!
     For her entrée, Mom got a salmon kebab with polo albalo, which was the basmati rice with sour cherries. I tried some of her food, and I still loved the flavored rice. The salmon was interesting, but I preferred my beef kebab to her salmon. Both of our meals came with a baked tomato, which didn't really appeal to me (although I could have eaten it with my kebab), some cilantro, and some very vinegar-soaked cabbage. We both ate about half of our meal and then took the rest home. To my disappointment, but not to my shock, the leftovers vanished within a day. I speculate that my dad and brother are the culprits.

My ground kebab kubideh and basmati rice with almond and orange.

My mom's salmon kebab and basmati rice with sour cherries.

     When we got dessert, my mom and I got two things to share: a baklava, which is a traditional Persian pastry with honey and pistachio (you can enjoy it just by the sound of the words) and makhlut, which is a lemon flavor Persian sorbet with saffron and rose ice cream. I really really liked the baklava, which was served in four small bite-size pieces on a plate. It was sweet and nutty, and the honey was a nice touch. I didn't much care fore the makhlut. I loved the texture of the ice cream, but it tasted to me a bit like soap. I think if there was more focus on the sour cherry flavor instead of the rose, I would have liked it a lot better. But that's just my opinion. My mom disagrees with me, seeing that she ate it all. Then our waiter came with a surprise: he handed us some Persian ice cream, on the house! Again, the flavor was slightly flowery, but I liked it. In my opinion, the baklava is still the reigning champion. Maybe I'm just a puff pastry kind of girl.



Persian ice cream.

Here's to trying something entirely new, and loving it down to the last grain of basmati rice,
Yours, Kate