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Hunting the best imported Baklava

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Hunting the best imported Baklava

Pia | Aug 21, 2003 08:41 PM

Thanks to a Lebanese friend, I've recently developed a nasty baklava habit. The round tin, from Bohsali Oriental Sweets in Beirut, was soaking--I mean really soaking--in melted butter. I had to keep the tin on layers of newspaper before washing it carefully in hot water and soap to gain enough traction to pull open the lid.

But, ah! the contents. . . The fragile crunch of the thinner-than-paper phyllo, immediately followed by a rush of faintly pungent butter, then the flavor of lightly sweetened nuts: pistachio, pine nut, or cashew.

I don't know what it is about the butter, but I've never had butter with such depth or richness of flavor. I wonder whether they might have used cultured butter from sheep's milk.

Such is my faith in my fellow chowhounds that I am hoping that someone out there will tell me of other sources--domestic or mail order--for these wonderful pastries. Please, is there anyone out there who will help me in my quest to find the best baklava?

I've tried mail order from Amal Bohsali, also of Beirut (comparable, delicious, and delivered in 3 working days); I've purchased the Semiramis assortment (good, but not as buttery, from Damascus) from Alladin in San Mateo, CA; and I've tried another Syrian brand which was not as tasty as any of the ones I mentioned earlier. In short, two of us have gone through 2 kilos and 4 brands of balkava, bourma, aish-al-bulbul, etc., in less than 2 weeks; our cholesterol levels are probably stratospheric, but I will be eternally grateful for information on more and better sources of this addictive treat.

P.S., Both Amal Bohsali and Semiramis are available on-line, and by mail order. There's also a related link on lebanon.com with a list of pastry shops that deliver, but I've only tried Amal Bohsali, so far.

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