Yesterday was a steamy hot sucker punch of a day. It hit the 90s and the sun's glare was so intense that my Nordstrom teeny bopper sunglasses didn't cut it. I knew I would be headed towards the beach to sit and walk and let the Pacific waters cool my feet.
But mid-afternoon, I found this recipe from one of my favorite food bloggers, the Wednesday Chef, and I knew I had to make it immediately. I've lately become enamored with vegetarian dinners and bread and cheese. So instead of driving south towards the beach, I found myself veering north to Wholesome Choice, a gem of a supermarket five minutes from my home.
When I first discovered Wholesome Choice, my eyes bulged and my insides tingled with nervous excitement. It's what you would get if you put Whole Foods, a Persian market, the farmer's market, and several international aisles into a jar and shook it up. Apparently, that location used to be a Whole Foods International before it was taken over by a Persian grocer so the layout and feel is remarkably familiar and yet markedly different. You walk into the doors and to the right, a long line wraps around a bakery and a hot stone oven and you wonder, what are these people standing in line for? And then a few steps in and the produce looks so incredibly fresh and firm and dewy and are piled into big bins for people to sort through and select. And the prices...how can I not mention the prices? This is where I get parsley and cilantro, 5 for a $1 in green vibrant bunches and the best kale for less than a dollar. Then there are the middle eastern selections like crates of dates and figs and persimmons, the halal butcher with fresh cuts of lamb, and the deli where I can buy baklava by the slice and fresh French Valbreso feta and brine by the pound. There's also a food court with different vendors selling hot Indian, Chinese, Persian, and mediterranean cuisine. It's heavenly.
But let's go back to the bakery. It took several visits before I could muster up the nerve to stand in line and see what the fuss was about. I stood in line for about 20 minutes and realized that what people were waiting for was this Persian bread called sangaak, a long flat crispy and chewy bread that crackles and melts in your mouth. It's yeasty and and peppered with sesame seeds and there's just something about it that will make even a bread-apathetic person fall apart. It's made in a rotating furnace with a pebbly surface and when you get to the front of the line you have to say either "one" or "two." Two is the limit per customer. You should see the happy smiles and sighs of contentment when each customer finally gets his sangaak folded over in thirds on parchment paper, carrying it gently to his shopping cart and tearing off a crusty, steaming corner into his mouth.
So last night, I bought sangaak to go with Gabrielle Hamilton's Soft Zucchini with Harissa, Olives and Feta.
I bought a half pound of fresh French Valbreso feta made with sheep's milk, a tube of harissa, zuchinni, parsley, and kalamata olive, and a couple of baklava pieces for dessert. Dinner came together in a matter of ten minutes or so and I ate it with an ice cold glass of coconut juice and pulp. It nourished my soul.
When J. came home later in the evening, his eyes became luminous discs in the face of sangaak and the zuchinni dish. He inhaled it and gave thanks. You would have too.