Have you ever mixed up your night out on the town and started with dessert instead of appetizers? Some of the very best things happen at the beginning, appetizers, and the ending, desserts, so why not try the ending first?
Chow Bella is bringing back a favorite column, "Dessert First," with just that in mind. And we begin with a little trip to Persia.
Pars Persian Cuisine is an intimate little spot in Scottsdale. Tucked into a strip mall on Frank Lloyd Wright just south of Via Linda. It is the ideal little date night restaurant as we found out last Saturday, Valentine's Day, when we mistakenly thought we could walk right up and get a table for dinner.
See also: Chow Bella's Dessert First Archives
The restaurant was booked solid for the night so we bellied up to the bar and ordered some dessert instead. That's right, dessert before dinner.
Not being familiar with Persian desserts, I wanted to try several. Starting with the Bamieh. These little doughy nuggets are fried and then soaked in a rose water/saffron syrup. The syrup permeates the whole thing so every bite is practically oozing. We liked them, but not as much as the Zoolbia.
Zoolbia looks like a mini funnel cake, but is not doughy like funnel cake. It is crisp with the same sticky syrup coating as the Bamieh. Unlike the Bamieh, the syrup doesn't hijack the dough. It stays on the outside like a little protective barrier to the crunch. The Zoolbia were enjoyable, but there was something even better in store for us.
Pars' homemade Persian ice cream is hands down the best thing we tried. The yellow color brings to mind flavors of mango or lemon but it is a rich creamy vanilla ice cream. The color comes from saffron which does not overpower anything, just offers a hint of something unique. Sprinkled throughout are pistachio bits, which have a buttery texture to them -- just enough nuts to keep you interested. We hunted for them and treasured them when we found one. This Persian ice cream is a worthy indulgence.
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Whichever dessert you chose, make sure to order the Turkish coffee to go with it. It comes in a demitasse and is a strong full flavored coffee. I normally drink my coffee with sugar. When our waitress set the cup down on the table in front of me, I saw the black liquid and thought it would be a 7 sugar packet drink, but surprisingly it didn't need any sugar -- it has a hint of sweetness and zero bitterness.
We didn't order the baklava but hear that it is made with pistachio and almonds instead of the traditional walnuts. A must try for our next visit.
Maybe give this dessert for starters thing a try. Next time you are out, start sweet and end savory. Perhaps the sugar rush will get you through your next Tinder date. Oh, and make sure to book your February 2016 Valentine's reservations now.