A Quick Trip to “Persia”

One of my favorite cheap ways to “travel” is to visit ethnic markets and restaurants.  Real travel isn’t in the budget this year, so hubby and I decided to take in some Persian markets and cuisine last Sunday and had a great time!  We’re lucky enough to live in a very diverse area, and enjoy the exposure we get to different lands and peoples even while staying close to home.  I hope you enjoy this peek into our recent adventure, and hope you’re inspired to visit an ethnic market in your area.

Our first stop was Wholesome Choice market, and while the store is more of a multi-ethnic international market, it had a lot of Persian food items – Indian as well.  We began in the produce department, and I drank in the gorgeous and unusual sights.  Discovering a new (to me) fruit or veggie is always fun!


Such pretty colors! 


Can you tell what this is? 


Yep – melon! 


Beautiful – and unfamiliar.  This is the fruit from a Rambutan tree, and I was relieved to read on Wikipedia that the fruit is peeled before it’s eaten!

As we made our way through the store we found some more interesting things.  I fell in love with an unusual jar of honey – it was filled with nuts, and was called Ari’s Aligned Nuts.  Gorgeous!  I didn’t purchase it, though I wanted to, because the jar was nearly $8 and I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy eating the contents.  I may head back for it at some point.  So pretty…


Ari’s Aligned Nuts (in honey)

Naturally there was a large selection of rice, spices, and grains.  Though the store features many “standard American” brands and products, there were some decidedly more exotic items in the store as well.  For example, they sell hookahs and the related hoses.  You won’t see that at Albertsons!


Hubby shopping in the rice section…


Hookah hoses on the household goods aisle.


We ended up purchasing an assortment of goodies, including some Persian sweets, and a yogurt/soda drink.


We also got some olives, lentils, and unusually-colored tomatoes. 

Our next stop was Caspian, a nearby Persian restaurant, and the food was delicious!  I ordered the Chicken Soltana, while hubby ate an assortment of goodies from their buffet. My meal portion was huge, and we both had the leftovers for dinner!


Chicken Soltana at Caspian – my lunch and our dinner! 

Tummies full, we proceeded to Super Irvine, a market that’s a stone’s throw from Caspian.  I oohed and aahed over the bags of rice near the door – they zipped open and closed, had handles, and featured appealing graphics!  I reluctantly walked away though – it was just too much rice for two people to use in a reasonable amount of time.


One of two signs on the Super Irvine storefront.

Moving on, I had to take a picture with the lavash bread (huge!) before meandering through the rest of the store.  Our purchases at Super Irvine included a bottle of pomegranate juice, and some feta cheese.


Big slabs of bread!

The last stop on our Persian adventure was a sweet shop called Assal Pastry, which was just down the way from Super Irvine.  Hubby was quick to pick out four cake-like pastries, and I selected something called Bamieh, which is likely deep fried dough drizzled in a sweet syrup.  Yum!



Some of the sweets we purchased – almond tarts, bamieh, and pistachio nougat.

Though our outing was brief, and was a mere glimpse into the Persian food experience, I’m really glad we went.  Trips like these give my senses a little jolt, and I cherish the new sights, sounds, tastes, and smells.  Exploring new things energizes my artistic and creative spirit, and though I still want to travel much farther afield, you can’t beat getting a dash of a “foreign” experience without having to pack a thing or experience jet lag!

Have you visited any ethic markets lately?  If not, are you hoping to?  I’d love to hear about it and welcome you to comment.  I also invite you to take a peek at my blog posts on Little India, a Korean market and Chinatown if you haven’t seen them already…

Warm regards,

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  1. Posted September 29, 2011 at 6:32 pm by Wendy Telford | Permalink

    Wow! The pistachio nougat looks tasty. And your chicken lunch is right up my alley . . . anything with chicken and rice appeals to me! Thanks for the tour!

  2. Posted September 30, 2011 at 7:45 am by Melody | Permalink

    I love adventures – big and small – and am happy to share my discoveries with my readers. The pistachio nougat candy is called Ghaz, and it’s pretty tasty! Thank you for commenting…

  3. Posted October 3, 2011 at 9:12 am by Shawanda | Permalink

    What a fantastic idea! I’m a big fan of rice so it’d be nice to try other varieties besides the standard white rice, yellow rice and jasmine rice. I’ll probably stay away from the exotic fruit with spikes, bumps, and deep crevices. They give me the heebie jeebies.

  4. Posted October 3, 2011 at 4:49 pm by Desi | Permalink

    I love this idea! We don’t frequent ethnic markets, and only very rarely go into a West Indies shop for Jamaican seasoning and patties. I need to plan an adventure like this for my kids!

  5. Posted October 3, 2011 at 8:23 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you for stopping by and commenting! I’m sure you’d find plenty of new, palatable, non-heebie jeebie things to try. 😮

  6. Posted October 3, 2011 at 8:25 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thanks, I’m glad you’re inspired by this post! I’m sure that both the grownups and kids in your family would find the ethnic markets interesting. Enjoy!

  7. Posted October 6, 2011 at 4:40 am by Becky Shander | Permalink

    Everything you’ve shown here is my idea of heaven on earth…if only I lived near this wonderful store. And seeing the rambutan reminds me of my birth place of Thailand.

  8. Posted October 6, 2011 at 7:23 am by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you for stopping by. How nice that we both love stores like this! The diversity is one of my favorite things about Southern California…
    I was hoping to go to Thailand this fall, but had to delay my trip. I still hope to get there, though, and will keep an eye out for rambutan trees!

  9. Posted October 9, 2011 at 8:45 am by Anne | Permalink

    I love browsing the ‘ethnic’ markets too! One of my favorites is the Jordan Market in Lake Forest… fabulous produce and always something I’ve never seen before… plus a fantastic array of teas from all over the world. It was great to meet you yesterday at the social, will follow your blog. Anne

  10. Posted October 9, 2011 at 6:16 pm by Melody | Permalink

    Thank you for telling me about Jordan Market. I’ll put it on my list of markets to visit – it sounds great! Thank you for commenting, and for following my blog. It was a pleasure meeting you, too!