>> Tuesday, October 25, 2011
When I was young, I was never really in to food (gasp, I know!). Back then, to me meal time was always just a means to an end. To get filled, to be full. Then all of a sudden it grew on me, out of no where I started to try new recipes, think about food, eat all types of food…blog about it. It’s gotten to the point where all my parents and I do when we get together is talk about different dishes and how we can improve on them to make it better. My friends often ask me how that all came to be and to be honest I’m not really sure, but I have a feeling. I seriously think it could be due to travelling. I am just as addicted to travelling as I am about food and there is no better way to truly experience a people’s culture then through their food. To me both are one and the same. So it really isn’t surprising that during my travel lulls I get urges to go try different exotic cuisines, which brought me to Shiraz. So begins another foodie adventure…in Calgary.
Atmosphere: Contrasting red and black décor provide contemporary accents throughout the dining area, which was designed to accommodate a moderate sized group.
Price Range: Mid $10s - $20s
Food and Wine: After getting our menus, it didn’t take us long to spot all the platters that are offered. Since I enjoy variety, it was really pretty obvious what we were going to order. It was also our first time at Shiraz and this way, we’ll know what we like most and can order it again when we come back.
First up was the Shiraz Appetizer Platter which had samplers of all the following dishes. Dolmeh (grape leaves stuffed with rice, onions, dill, mint and spices). They were a little bland and not the highlight of the plate, but worked well when you ate them with the dips that came with the platter.
The Kashk-e-bademjan (roasted eggplants mixed with kashk or whey, flavoured with garlic, onions and mint). Similar to baba ganoush except that it’s served warm. I liked it that way. The warmth of the dish enhanced the aromas and made it comforting in a way. Although I did find it to be a bit heavy due to oil in the dip, I think this dish would greatly benefit from a bit of acid and less olive oil.
A dip called Mast-o-khiar (yogurt, cucumber and mint dip), similar to the better known tzatziki, a nice tangy change to the roasted eggplants which could get heavy if served by itself.
Salad-e-Olivieh which is described as a Persian cold salad made from a combination of egg, potatoes, carrots, green peas, chicken and mayonnaise. It tasted just like you thought it would, a creamy potato salad.
Overall, it’s quite the platter and was a good size for the three of us (would be good for four, if everybody also orders their own entrée). It helps that the platters also comes with pita and if you don’t have enough, don’t be shy about ordering more since there is quite a bit of dip to be had.
For our main, again we stuck to the combination platter called the Tour of Persia. It’s hard to resist when the food promises to take you on a culinary tour. The platter came with a combination of barg (strip loin), chicken barg (breast) and koobideh kabob, served with basmati rice (a plate for each person) flavoured with saffron, soup of the day and grilled veggies. Everybody enjoyed the kabob. It was moist thanks to the added onions and spices, plus it had a nice char from the grill. The strip loin was well marinated, but we found it to be a bit dry as is the same with the chicken. The stew of the day was the Ghormeh sabzy or Persian green herb stew. It consisted of sautéed chunks of beef and fresh herbs, simmered with kidney beans and dried limes. It wasn’t quite as thick as the stews I’m use to and was a bit under seasoned leading me to think that I probably wouldn’t order this platter again. I’d stick to the kebob platter next time.
At the end of our meal the server also mentioned that they had the Persian ice cream available that day. So as they twisted my rubber arm, we got both the ice cream and the Baklava. It’s the first time I’ve ever tried Persian ice cream, which also came with a side of faloudeh, which is a frozen sweet vermicelli like noodle topped with a sweet syrup. When combined with the saffron tasting ice cream, it was very unique. Reminiscent of desserts I’ve had in Morocco. It was very floral, not what I expected. Our baklava was a bit dry and needed more syrup, but the good thing was it wasn’t overly sweet. I recommend trying it with coffee, but that’s a recommendation for any baklava. I find that coffee brings out the honey flavours and makes for a perfect pairing.
My Pick: Kashk-e-bademjan
Overall: There is no better escape then through food, especially when it’s something exotic and unique. Shiraz is distinctive since it offers a different take on menu items we thought we were use to. However, there is always that little room to take the dishes and make them better. Can’t wait to see how Shiraz will reinvent them and make it to the next level.
Shiraz Persian Cuisine
1120 Centre Street NE