Spice City Toronto: Tavazo Delivers the (Dried) Goods
Head north on Yonge Street and keep going until you reach this trove of Persian goods, known for its perfect pistachios and dried-fruit delights.
Imagine a Bulk Barn of quality Persian delights. That’s Tavazo, located on Yonge Street just north of Steeles.
I was tipped off about this place by Alex, the friendly owner of Memories of Africa, a South African store on Eglinton East. Tavazo is packed with high-quality nuts, dried fruits, and other oddities. Its claim to fame is its tasty pistachios, which come from Iran and California.
Tavazo has been in Toronto for eight years, says owner Nathan Tavazo, but it has been a family business in Iran for decades. There’s another location in Richmond Hill.
The pistachios didn’t disappoint, and there was also a wonderful selection of dates, each barrel of which was labelled with the name of the city in Iran where its contents were grown.
There were a bunch of strange items I had to try: roasted watermelon seeds with oregano (kind of sour), jujube fruit (a prune-like dried fruit), and dried mulberries (they tasted a bit like strawberry marshmallow candy). There was also saffron candy (below), a rock-hard type of sugar candy.
The most spectacular item was the package of saffron that the store stashes under the counter for safe keeping. Saffron is a spice that is made out of parts of a particular type of crocus. It’s used to flavour Persian rice. It sells at $5,000 a kilo, so a package of 200 grams will set you back $1,000. Iranian and Italian restaurants purchase the stuff from Tavazo.
Photos by Dana Lacey