Behroush Sharifi enters the kitchen of the restaurant Daniel in New York with beads of sweat on his forehead and two large packages, one under each arm. Eddy Leroux, the chef de cuisine, quickly hurries his staff out of the way, clearing a spot on a large cutting board as Sharifi presents a dozen or so baggies. Leroux opens one. The aroma, a blend of honey, leather and hay, fills the entire room. “This is good, Behroush, really great color,” Leroux says, inhaling deeply. “How much?” It’s the sweetest strain of saffron in the world—the Persian variety—and an ounce starts at $200.
All too often spices are mere afterthoughts—a touch of cumin, a pinch of cinnamon—but chefs are beginning to source them like heritage meats and heirloom vegetables. Some, like Washington, D.C., chef José Andrés, proprietor of Jaleo and Minibar and a self-described food anthropologist, are taking saffron out of its tired supporting role in ethnic cuisine and building luxurious desserts with saffron’s name on the marquee: bread pudding with a saffron sauce, or saffron drops wrapped in chocolate mousse. Of course this means dealing with prices that are at the mercy of international politics, unpredictable weather and ornery customs officers.
Sharifi built an empire as the Saffron King, a moniker he acquired eight years ago when a source at the State Department let him know the trade embargoes would be lifted with Iran. “I started by walking into the kitchens of the best restaurants in the city and offering my product,” he says. People were scared. He’s a thick man with a wild woodsman’s beard and a curly ponytail. And his business began in the weeks after September 11. “All the chefs thought I was some sort of jihadist extremist.” Actually, Sharifi’s a former Dead Head (best show, Riverbend, Cincinnati, 1985).
Saffron is expensive for basic reasons of labor and supply. To create one pound, 75,000 crocus flowers are needed. They grow best in the semiarid plains near Mashhad, Iran, covering the Earth’s floor like a purple blanket. The delicate crimson stigmas, each about as long as an eyelash, must be picked by hand before sunrise during a short window in October (the flower wilts in sunlight).
Comparing saffron to other culinary objets d’art is a nonstarter. Drugs are more appropriate. Too much and a dish overdoses on flavor. In excess, it can even become toxic. “Eating handfuls of raw saffron will shut down your liver,” Sharifi warns. But a tenth of an ounce, say, what Andrés might add to a saffron cake, can carry a dish on its shoulders, brightening the color to a golden orange and cutting the sweetness of a dessert with its grassy, metallic punches. (And just a dash will add at least a few dollars to the price of any dish.)Click here to view Print version
- Bunches Saffron iran (Daste Saffron), saffron wholesale supplier, iranian saffron exporter
- Bunches Saffron, Daste Saffron, iran saffron export company, Gohar Nab Sara Co
- Stigma Saffron iran, saffron wholesale supplier, iranian saffron exporter
- Stigma Saffron, iran saffron export company, Gohar Nab Sara Co
- Pushal Saffron iran, saffron wholesale supplier, iranian saffron exporter
- Pushal negin Saffron, iran saffron export company, Gohar Nab Sara Co
- Sargol Saffron iran (all red saffron), Saffron wholesale supplier, iranian saffron exporter
- Negin Sargol Saffron, iran saffron export company, Gohar Nab Sara Co
- Iran dried fruits and nuts exporter, wholesale & supplier pistachios, dates, saffron, almond, walnut, raisin, hazelnut, figs
- where to buy Pure saffron in bulk?
- Buy nuts & dried fruits iran, export iranian pistachios, dates, saffron, almond, walnut, raisin, hazelnut, dried figs wholesale
- Buy saffron iran, export iranian saffron, wholesale saffron, Pushal, Sargol
- Bulk iran saffron for sale
- History of saffron
- Saffron Usage with Rice
- Saffron Recipes
- Saffron (Crocus Sativus L.) Crocin