It's joy when our city's food and drink greats team up to form something unique. Such was Zaré at Flytrap's three nights of Persian Pub Grub, as envisioned by Zare's chef/owner, Hoss Zaré, and Monk's Kettle's Sayre Piotrkowski and Ryan Corbett.
The exuberant, hospitable Hoss created a menu lovingly melding traditional elements of his home country of Iran with creative expressions. Though Hoss admits that “Pub Grub doesn’t really exist in Iran” (nor would the alcohol pairings), he dreams up a Persian dinner as it might look in a modern, hypothetical Iranian Gastropub. Each course was happily far from typical, and most were downright heartwarming. My two favorites ended up being Caspian Seafood Stew, a smoky, saffron-heavy broth (enhanced by black garlic aioli and sour, pickled grapes) loaded with plump calamari, octopus, mussels and smoked sturgeon with a dollop of caviar. The other? A brilliant take on traditional Ghormeh Sabzi, an Iranian herb stew and national dish, one Hoss says would win your sweetheart's affection if you perfect in Iran. This Persian Chili was redolent of herbs, paprika, harissa, and a spicy, crumbled lamb sausage mixed with organic kidney beans. I could not get enough.
Certified Cicerone, Piotrkowski, and his equally passionate-about-beer co-worker, Corbett, paired a stellar list of beers with Hoss' food, facing off directly with wine pairings from Zare's Wine Director, Mario Nocifera. At two convivial communal tables, we debated which paired best with any given course. I can honestly say there were no afterthoughts on either side. The final score? In my book, it's two for two.
Beer, wine, and chicken wings with pomegranate sauce. Photo by Virginia Miller
My two favorite wines were the impressively elegant, layered acidity of Niepoort Codega's 2006 "Tiara" white from Branco, Portugal, and an earthy, dark berry/pepper, mineral, but balanced, 2008 Borsao Garnacha, "Tres Picos", from Campo de Borja, Spain (quite a value at $14.99 a bottle at K&L).