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Baklava


Sthitch
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Homemade Baklava ($5.95) was the one raging disappointment, tasting like it had been made days before. The pastry was soft and dried out, and the walnut filling was lifeless.

One day I would love to have any example of Baklava that I don't consider a raging disappointment.

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One day I would love to have any example of Baklava that I don't consider a raging disappointment.

If you hit it just right, Mediterranean Bakery near the Landmark Mall or Shemali's on New Mexico, in the same building as Ace Beverage, will have a fresh tray of baklava that you can buy pieces from. There are several styles--my favorite lately is the rolled "cigar-shaped" one with shredded phyllo on the outside, that they sell at Mediterranean Bakery.

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I've you've never had a good one, maybe you don't like Baklava?

I am actually a huge fan of every single ingredient that goes into Baklava, but yet I have never had an example that does anything for me. My wife is a fan, but since she started dating me, she has not had one that she likes, so it might just be that I am bad luck when it comes to Baklava. I will have to try the suggestions given by the others.

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Does anyone have a favorite recipe for baklava? I am tired of paying such high prices for tiny pieces that either leave me wanting more but not wanting to pay the price, or are often disappointing. A woman used to sell baklava at the farmers market at the Department of Transportation, but the market is closed and I do not recall her name. Hers was worth every penny.

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Haven't tried it yet, but this one sure looked good on TV.

We just made the version that my grandmother used to make annually before her passing. The version that most people are familiar with is the Lenten variety, which uses olive oil, pistachios, etc. The kind that we currently have at home is decidedly non-Lenten (aka non-vegan). It comprised of at least a dozen layers of phyllo, ground up almonds, clarified butter, and syrup. If people are interested, I'm sure I can find the recipe with the specifics.

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We just made the version that my grandmother used to make annually before her passing. The version that most people are familiar with is the Lenten variety, which uses olive oil, pistachios, etc. The kind that we currently have at home is decidedly non-Lenten (aka non-vegan). It comprised of at least a dozen layers of phyllo, ground up almonds, clarified butter, and syrup. If people are interested, I'm sure I can find the recipe with the specifics.

I am interested. Please, tell us more about your grandmother and her cooking. If you don't mind.

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A woman used to sell baklava at the farmers market at the Department of Transportation, but the market is closed and I do not recall her name. Hers was worth every penny.
There is a woman that sells baklava at the Falls Church farmer's market on Saturday mornings. I haven't tried it, but she had various sorts of flaky baklava to Apricot or Spinach baklava. I think it's Emile's. I'd be happy to ask and report back, if you'd like.
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I am interested. Please, tell us more about your grandmother and her cooking. If you don't mind.

Not at all. My grandmother was from the town of Kymi, which is on the northeast coast of island of Euboea. If you look at the map of Greece, Euboea is the long island which runs parallel to Attica. While she was not the most refined of cooks, her food was had that warmth that you associate with grandmothers. That, and a lot of butter. Dear God, she loved the butter.

So, it should come as no surprise that her baklava, which is a fairly common variation, has a lot of butter. The recipe was typical of Kymi, but not exclusive. As I mentioned above, the baklava is characterized by many, many layers of phyllo (i'd venture to guess at least two packets) as well as many, many almonds. The almonds are ground up in a milling device and distributed evenly over each layer, which has been basted with clarified butter. Then, I believe, a simple syrup of sugar, water, and lemon juice is poured over the baklava and its baked. I could be wrong about the order. I'll get the actual recipe and post it here so people can have measurements and procedures.

Either way, whenever a crudely wrapped package with her characteristically large script and 10 stamps arrived, we knew it was the annual baklava shipment and my dad and I would tear into it. That crunchy yet syrupy confection cut into elegant and elongated diamonds was always a sign of the holidays. We were still working through the batch she sent us when she passed in February of 2006. The last piece from that batch is still in our refrigerator...

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One day I would love to have any example of Baklava that I don't consider a raging disappointment.

I think I have finally found that day. On a whim, I walked into Cafe Nemooneh, which is an Iranian/Persian eatery in Vienna in the same shopping center as Pie Gourmet. I felt like a kid in a candy store. They have baklava in Turkish, Iranian/Persian and Burmese styles, not to mention in walnut, pistachio and almond varieties. I ignored the other pastries and savories offered there. The eyes and brain only focused on the baklava case.

The price is $14.99/lb or around $1.89-$2 per piece; while I am not sure if this is steep or not, I did not care because it was nice to have selection! Their parent bakery is Nemooneh Bakery in Chantilly, if you want to visit that location.

I tried the Turkish Pistachio, Burmese one and an Iranian Almond. The Turkish version had a lot of butter and honey, while the Iranian one contained cardamom. I was fine with the Iranian style until the cardamom hit the taste buds....

I am so glad I popped in here on a whim!

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Reviving this topic as I'm a lover of baklava. Unfortunately, it is one of those desserts that is a bit cumbersome to make so I usually only eat it out. Also unfortunately, it seems that for every good specimens of baklava there are 3 or more meh versions. With that in mind here is my high level reviews of various baklava around town (mostly in honor of the excellent one I had yesterday at Cafe Divan):

  • Very Good:  
    • Cafe Divan  - small squares, very delicate and pistacio
    • Lebanese Taverna - big rich pieces with great ice cream
  • Good
    • Fresh Med - good a bit light on the syrup and almond
  • Meh
    • sadly so many places

Please reply with other good examples. Always looking for more to try.

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