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Photos: Redwood City Celebrates Persian New Year

With a three-course feast and an author’s reading of her food memoir, Redwood City celebrates the beginning of Nowrūz.

Today is the Persian New Year, also marking the first day of spring. In the spirit of , the city and a local business are celebrating the New Year with festive events.

Arya Offers Three-Course Feast

The newly opened on the corner of Middlefield and Theatre Way has been for its trifecta of Persian, Italian and American cuisines. But this weekend, Executive Chef Mohsen (Mike) Hashemi will honor his Iranian roots with an additional celebratory $49 Persian prix fixe menu.

“Nowruz is one of the biggest holidays for Persians, like Christmas here,” he said.

“It’s all about family and starting fresh again with a clean slate,” said co-owner Fera Hashemi and Mike’s wife.

Entrée choices include: Filet Mignon Shish Kebab; Sabzi Polo Mahi; Chicken Kebab; Baghali Polo with lamb shank; Fesenjoon; Koobideh Combination; or Zereshk Polo.

Executive Chef Mike will also be preparing the tradiational Persian white fish, Sabzi Polo Mahi with rice and fresh vegetables. The fish is imported specially from Los Angeles, where he obtains the highest quality fish.

He explained that the Persians have several traditions, including seven items on the separate table that symbolize an aspect of life:

  1. sabzeh – wheat, barley, mung bean or lentil sprouts growing in a dish; symbolizes rebirth
  2. samanu – sweet pudding made from wheat germ; symbolizes affluence
  3. senjed – dried oleaser fruit; symbolizes love
  4. sir – garlic; symbolizes medicine
  5. sib – apples; symbolizes beauty and health
  6. somaq – sumac fruit; symbolizes (the color of) sunrise
  7. serkeh – vinegar; symbolizes old-age and patience

There will also be belly dancing and smooth jazz trio, an infusion of American culture, and Italian singer Pasquale performing on Saturday, the Italian influence.

“You have your Italian, Mediterranean, and American in Redwood City, but now a fine-dining Persian restaurant that also has Osso Bucco and Cioppino on their menu!” said Fera.

The duo said the March 17 event was a full house that included people of all backgrounds, Persian and non-Persian.

“We want to include everyone,” said Fera.

For more information or for reservations, which can also be made via OpenTable.com, call (650) 367-4939.


Cordon Blue Chef, Author Shares Stories and Cookies

On Thursday, Persian chef and author Donia Bijan will visit the for a reading of her book, which is described as “evoking a vibrant kaleidoscope of cultures and cuisines.” She will read Maman’s Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen in the Fireplace Room.

In 1978, Bijan’s family fled from Iran to the Bay Area during the Islamic revolution. She went on to graduate from UC Berkeley and the world renowned Cordon Blue cooking academy. While she presided over many acclaimed restaurants in Europe and San Francisco, she won several awards for her French-inspired cuisine. In 1994, she opened her own restaurant, L’Amie Donia in Palo Alto, but eventually sold it to another couple who honored the restaurant’s French roots and kept the entire staff.

During the reading, attendees can also enjoy some of Bijan’s own Persian New Year cookies and tea.

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