Tag Archives: baklava

Baklava in Istanbul

8 Nov

You can’t stumble more than a couple blocks in Istanbul without running into a baklava shop, the same way you’d run into a Starbucks in America. But baklava is so much tastier than Starbucks coffee. I ate baklava daily – if not multiple times a day – during my trip to Istanbul, and my favorite was at Hafiz Moustafa. I’m pretty sure there are multiple locations, but I frequented the one on the main avenue, İstiklal Caddesi, near Taksim Square.

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Large windows show off Turkish delight on one side of the shop, and baklava on the other, with customers surrounding all sides of the U-shaped counter.

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Fresh baklava in Istanbul is generally cheaper than in the United States… except at Hafiz Moustafa, where it’s just about on par. Totally worth it though, for the selection alone!

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My husband’s favorite is the chocolate baklava with pistachios inside (top row, square piece). Chocolate baklava was not something we were able to find at most baklava shops  – stock up at Hafiz Moustafa!

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Not all baklava is created equal, either. Avoid the very drippy kind (below) – it’s older baklava with added sugar poured over it to keep it looking “fresh”. (This was at a different shop on İstiklal Caddesi).

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Some tourist guidebooks chose Develi for the best baklava in the city, so we went on the hunt. It’s a small, nondescript shop near the Spice Bazaar. My husband liked the baklava from Develi best (guess the guidebooks are on to something). I liked its texture – it was flakier than the baklava at Hafiz Moustafa, but I didn’t like the flavour as much – a bit doughy to me. 

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Unfortunately, fresh baklava isn’t something you can keep around for a while and bring home with you in a suitcase. Day-old baklava is alright, but two-day old baklava? Fuggetaboutit (it’s no longer as flaky, and it’s dried out too much). So go to Istanbul, and stuff your face with baklava! I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

Boston’s Best Baklava and Pastries: Armenian Market & Bakery

1 Sep

Could this be the Boston area’s best baklava? Quite possibly. From the outside, the Armenian Market & Bakery in Watertown doesn’t look like much, on a side street across from the enormous parking lot of a second-rate mall, home to such fine establishments like Target, the Registry of Motor Vehicles, and the Old Country Buffet. But step inside the market, and you’ll find shelves full of spices, cheeses, filo pastry…and a counter full of house-made baklava.

Armenian Market - baklavaI had never been a fan of baklava…I found it to be overly sweet and sticky, getting my fingers dirty and getting stuck in my teeth. Until now. The Armenian Market makes their filo dough from scratch, so it doesn’t dry out, and they don’t need to add extra sugar to keep it shiny and pretty. Layers and layers of extra sugar are what make inferior baklava so incredibly sweet. One bite into a sample of the Market’s pistachio baklava and my husband and I were immediately sold. We bought several different pieces of pistachio baklava, a couple of the walnut variety, and a Nutella piece (the box of baklava above came to $7.66).

To be honest, I couldn’t tell the difference between the different pistachio pieces – they tasted very similar….but which is to say, they all tasted amazing. Flaky, delicate, and with just the right amount of crispness and sweetness. I could eat these all day long.

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At the other end of the counter you’ll find delicious savory pastries.

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The perfectly golden-brown pastry is a crispy, thin layer, surrounding generous amounts of spinach and cheese (above) or ground beef (below).

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It’s worth making the trip out to Watertown for these goodies!

Info: Armenian Market & Bakery, 23 Elm Street, Watertown, MA, USA

Armenian Market & Bakery on Urbanspoon

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