Say you've just gone to one of Portland's palaces of Middle Eastern cuisine like Ya Hala or Hoda's, and you say to yourself, "I wish I could make this at home, but I don't have sumac or barberries or that special rice." And while Ya Hala has a pretty darn good grocery next door, if you want the real deal you'll need to drive out to deep Beaverton and go to Rose International Gourmet Foods.
Make no mistake, and believe me when I tell you, this place is incredible. Tucked into a little strip mall on Murray Blvd., owner Mohammad Shakeri has taken this tiny store and jammed it wall to wall and floor to ceiling with anything and everything you could possibly need to feel like you're back in Riyadh. If he had three times the space, it would still be crowded.
Zahtar? All over it. Olives? Which ones, the purple or black? Barberries to give that red jewel-like sparkle to your saffron rice? Over in the cooler. They carry fresh placemat-size flat breads and lavash, as well as a challah-like egg bread that looks like it would make dreamy French toast. There are nuts both spiced and plain, candies and halvah, canned goods and syrups, and I'm not even going to mention the CDs and DVDs that are piled behind the cash register.
This is one of those truly great local gems and is worth a trip out there if you have foodie friends in town and want to show them some local color. You'll come away with something, even if it's only their fresh feta (Greek, Iranian or Bulgarian?) or yogurt, and I guarantee you'll be inspired to find some recipes and get cooking.
Details: Rose International Gourmet Foods, 6153 SW Murray Blvd., Beaverton. Phone 503-646-7673.