Sugar High: Jerusalem's baklava
Jerusalem knows Middle Eastern food. The family establishment at 1890 East Evans Avenue has been in business for over thirty years and the owners pride themselves on their bargain prices and freshly-made food. This goes for their dessert case, too, which is overflowing with buttery phyllo creations, honeyed cakes and cookies.
The baklava, handmade daily by Urayb Wahdan, is a customer favorite. "Other places usually serve you a tiny piece, but here, customers get more for their money," insists Wahdan. The diamond-shaped slice here might not look like much, but it's a generous portion, considering how rich it is.
The baklava's top phyllo layer is crisp and easily yields to the butter-and-honey-drenched layers underneath. There's an art to perfecting these delicate layers so that they're fully saturated -- but not soggy -- with the gorgeously flavored, slightly lemony syrup. The filling is a delicious mess of chopped walnuts blended with honey and cinnamon.
Jerusalem offer a wide range of desserts, from the standards to the more unusual. We also tasted the kulage, which looked like a little pistachio-topped phyllo burrito and promised a custard filling. Though we were picturing something that might fill a Boston cream doughnut, the center was instead firm and eggy: not our favorite from a texture standpoint.
The family recipe for the baklava is guarded, but that's fine because the technique is probably best left in Wahdan's capable hands. "It's healthy, fresh, and very filling," she says.
We don't know about healthy, but being in the dark about the amount of butter involved is probably best.