In Irvine, Persians and non-Persians know that when it comes to sangak--that stretchy, crisp, wide-as-a-cape flatbread that's baked on a rotating oven lined with smooth stones--you've got Wholesome Choice at the corner of Culver and Michelson and you've got everyone else. But if one Wholesome Choice producing fresh sangak is good; two is better.
Wholesome Choice has opened an affiliated supermarket just one exit away on Jeffrey, also on Michelson, where Ralphs used to be.
The new market is called Farm Direct and it opened this week. It's everything Wholesome Choice is...just with a different name and a few blocks away. The sangak is fresh, there's a Persian food counter that's connected in a chafing tray daisy-chain to an Indian, Korean, and Chinese one.
It will have its grand opening complete with ribbon-cutting Thursday, February 6 at 9:30 am. The celebration continues this Saturday the 8th through Sunday the 9th.
On Saturday, if your kids participate in a Youth Art Project with Irvine Public Schools Foundation from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., they get a free healthy fruit of veggie gift bag. For the rest of us, there will be live music, and samples, samples, samples!
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I went last weekend, feasted on a big foam box of Persian rice with hot koobideh for lunch, shopped for cheap (a bundle of scallions, 10-cents; oranges, 10-cents a pound), and sampled such things as Korean kalbi wrapped around swatches of sangak bread.
Surrounded by the Korean smells wafting from one of the sampling stations, I overheard a lady say to her companion "I thought this was supposed to be a Middle Eastern supermarket."
"Walk a couple more feet," her friend quipped.