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Baklava

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Where can I get the best Baklava in town?

Harry

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  1. For Arab baklawa, Pâtisserie Mahrouse (1010 de Liège West near L'Acadie, 514 279-1629), considered by many to be the best in North America.

    Other reccos will be found in the threads:
    > Baklavas - quincy 11:39:36 11/11/02
    > Best ethnic eats? - Lisa 22:48:43 7/25/04

    While less up on Greek and Turkish pastry shops these days, I'd bet you'd find some worth checking out in Park Extension, especially Jean-Talon west of Park Ave. And Le Petit Milos (corner of Park and St-Viateur, www.lepetitmilos.com) often has a small selection of exquisite and very pricey baklava.

    15 Replies
    1. re: carswell

      International Bakery On Jean Talon just past l'Acadie is pretty good and many say the best around.

      I can't figure out how they can sell it for so cheap.

      1. re: carswell

        Carswell is right (as usual) about Pâtisserie Mahrouse. I would also add (sorry I forget its name) the shop that has opened in that sad shopping centre across from Adonis on Côte Vertu (where the Canadian Tire used to be). Aside from preparing high quality baklava, this shop makes them roughly 30% smaller (some might say they are daintier), which makes for nearly guiltless indulgence. And don’t worry, they’re sold by weight, not size.

        1. re: Anthony

          It's good to see your typeface, Anthony (assuming you're who I think you are). And it's thanks to you that I finally got off my butt a couple of years ago and visited Mahrouse for the first of now many times (and this despite it's being a schlepp for carless me). Have been trying to spread the good news ever since.

          I believe the pastry shop near Adonis is Patisserie Amal Bohsali (1420 Sauvé West, 514 920-0999). Haven't been but will remedy that this summer.

          1. re: carswell

            Thanks for the hello. I’m still catching up on everything that I’ve missed starting with your posts. I’m happy to hear that my suggestion turned out to be a good one. Hopefully, this will be just as good.

            1. re: Anthony

              Thank you guys, will definitely check out these spots.

              Harry

              1. re: Harry

                Follow the links for earlier recommendations, plus do check out the Lebanese cookies (ma'mouls), they should be great at Bahsali. The wrapped round ones are filled with walnuts, the wrapped oval ones with pistachios. Both of these are lightly coated with a powdered sugar glaze. There is a flat variety that's stuffed with dates and isn't coated.

                The ma'mouls at Mahrouseh aren't as good, because it's more of a Lebanese specialty. However, the karabij at Mahrouseh are fantastic. That is a very unique and rare regional specialty that they do as well as anyone in the world.

                I'd reiterate my highest recommendation of the great morning treat at Bahsali, the knafeh with cheese (preferably served inside a sesame bread called ka'keh.) It's a special treat you can't get anywhere else in North America (at least not of that high end Beiruti quality.) Definitely worth the detour.

                http://www.chowhound.com/canada/board...

          2. re: Anthony

            Finally made it to Pâtisserie Amal Bohsali on the weekend. As reported, it's more or less directly across from the Adonis market on Côte Vertu/Sauvé just west of L'Acadie. The premises are palatial in a Hall of Mirrors kind of way, with high ceilings, columns, gilt trim, marble-like flooring and two long (like 10 or 15 metres long) counters on either side of the room. The left-hand counter had mainly cookie-like pastries (date, pistachio and walnut mamouls, for example), the right-hand counter phyllo-based and other baklava, deep-fried pastries and the legendary khnafeh (which we didn't try but will soon). All in all, a mighty impressive array.

            Service was obliging, with smiling answers patiently provided to endless queries. When you buy an assortment, the pastries are arranged on faux cut crystal (i.e. plastic) platters; mine were approximately eight inches in diameter, though they pulled out one that must have been a metre across for another customer who was buying for a crowd. At the cash, they wrap the platters in cellophane tied with a fancy ribbon. I walked away with an assortment of 15 or so pastries, two of each. Asked to guess the price, friends whom I showed the assortment to replied $25 to $30 and were drop-jawed when they heard what I paid: $15.

            We opened the packages for dessert last night and, by cutting the pastries into smaller pieces, all managed to get a taste of each. All were first rate. The mamoul dough was tender, the phyllo crisp, the fillings of the highest quality. Sugar and, when applicable, rose water were perfectly dosed. Many tasted buttery, none oily or greasy. Possibly my favourite, the "turban" -- a phyllo innertube around a chopped pistachio filling -- exemplified their art: the pastry flaky, the nuts providing a different crunch, the balance of sweet butter, honey, toast and nut flavours transcendental. Other faves were a shortbread-like ivory-coloured curlycue and a mass of chopped cashews surrounded by dense shredded wheat. But, really, there wasn't a single pastry that didn't elicit a moan from at least one of the diners.

            How would they fare in a head-to-head matchup with Mahrouse? Well, comparisons are odious and, in fact, not strictly applicable, since there's not a huge overlap in product lines, since Bohsali's pastries are smaller and since there's a different esthetic at work at each place (a little more substantial/rustic at Mahouse, a little more delicate/refined at Boshali). But there's no doubt that Bohsali's sweets are world-class, fully deserving of equal rank, worth a special trip. One thing's for sure: I'll never buy another baklava at Adonis. Why settle for OK when perfect is just across the street?

            BTW, the store is a branch of one of Beirut's top pastry shops: www.abohsali.com.lb

            1. re: carswell

              Why do I always find out about these places just a day after I've been to that area of town, and not gone there? I was literally around the corner from it on Saturday (buying boring stuff at Costco). Now I need to find an excuse to head back to that area...

              1. re: cherylmtl

                But Bohsali *is* an excuse to head back to that area!

                1. re: carswell

                  Perhaps I should rephrase it, then - I don't have a problem finding a reason to head there to buy treats - but hubby and son don't share my fondness for anything that contains nuts or honey (strange, I know...) so I need a reason to drag them out to the area, then while we're around there, pick up some goodies for myself...(perhaps it's time to throw a dinner party, which would give me an excuse to buy stuff like that and not polish it all off myself!)

              2. re: carswell

                I'm on a bit of a lebanese pastry kick, and have somehow managed to find Bohsali and Mahrouse. Both of them are excellent pastry shops, and I wouldn't put one above the other. But as Carswell states, they are different styles of pastry.

                The pastries at Bohsali are elegant, and the phyllo is a work of art. You bite into a piece, and the phyllo shatters into a million delicious crispy shards. The pastries are so airy and light, you feel like you could eat the whole plate. The honey and nuts subtly perfume the phyllo. The "saar" (the phyllo inner tube with chopped pistachio filling) is one of the most magical pastries I have had in a long time.

                The pastries at Mahrouse are more robust. The phyllo isn't quite as flaky and crispy as the Bohsali pastries, it is more solid and heavy. Part of the reason it is heavier is the amount of honey/syrup on phyllo. The pleasure that is Mahrouse comes from the rich, heady combination of nuts, honey and rose water that soaks the pastry. These treasures are the pastry equivalent of tropical flowers, bright, perfumed and showy.

                Both of these shops are wonderful! We are lucky to have such choice.

                1. re: moh

                  Thanks for the report moh.

                  A slight correction: in the Levant, honey is never used in baklavas. The only sweetener is a sugar syrup with a slight amount of orange blossom essence.

                  Bohsali used to make its baklava "regulation size", they've adopted the smaller, daintier petit-four like size fairly recently as that format has become more fashionable. As a Beiruty maison, they are more suceptible to trends, whereas Mahrouse' is a more conservative pastry shop, much like Aleppo, the city of origin of that family (Aleppo is reportedly the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, it is 5,000 years old.)

                  I'm personally more partial to the original format as found at Mahrouse', I find the proportions and balance more perfect, whereas the smaller format tends to have more nuts in proportion to the dough.

                  One note on Mahrouse's baklava: they are made with pistachios from Aleppo, which Nazem Mahrouse' considers better suited for the task than California pistachios. Aleppo is very famous for its pistachios, which are so good they are more often bought in their soft outer shell and eaten raw. It's a local seasonal treat.

                  In any case, Montrealers have access to the finest baklava in the world, as the two establishments above are clearly among the very best in their countries of origin, drawing on very old family heirloom expertise.

                  I'm going to reiterate my recommendation above (sorry about the change of handle, I lost my handle info) encouraging Montreal foodies to explore levantine pastries beyond baklava, as those two establishments offer a wider array of sweets that is quite rare outside of the Levant and maybe Paris. It truly is a privilege to be able to enjoy the range and quality those two places offer.

                  At Mahrouse', try:

                  -the karabij, a Aleppo specialty. They are smaller ma'moul-like pistachio cookies smooth on the outside and without the glazing, that come with a marshmallow-like topping called natef, which is made from an emulsion of a root. This truly is a rare treat, and no one else in the world makes it better than Mahrouse'.

                  -Also at Mahrouse', the sh'ebiyat, large phillo dough triangles filled with clotted cream and lightly doused with syrup. It's a morning/breakfast treat.

                  At Bohsali:

                  -the knafeh with cheese; golden brown baked thick semoulina crust over sweet mozarella-like cheese, often served stuffed in special bagel-like sesame bread (ka'k, ask for it) or just eaten with it. Enjoy it warm, with the cheese melted, and a fairly liberal amount of syrup. This is more of a Lebanese specialty although parts of Palestine (Nablus) and Syria (Latakia) have equally delicious but slightly different versions. This is also a (late) breakfast treat, you'll have to go before noon at Bohsali or Mahrouse' to enjoy it (Mahrouse' only makes it on weekend, while Bohsali makes it daily IIRC.)

                  1. re: MTLjam

                    WOW! Great post MTLjam, I greatly appreciate your clarifications and all the info! I am still fairly new to the finer points of this family of pastries, and I am enjoying my exploration.

                    I have been eyeing the knafeh at Bohsali for a while now. It shall be consumed soon... I have noticed that you can get it into the afternoon at Bohsali if they haven't had a run on it. But when they run out, that's it thats all.

                    1. re: MTLjam

                      A troupe of seven hounds and lurker hounds met at Bohsali for knafeh in ka'k this morning. Wow. The warm, slightly runny, slightly stringy cheese; the light, floral syrup; the chewy bread; the mellow mix of tang and sweet. Wow. I could start every day with one of these. $3.11 including taxes. Decent coffee, too, from one of those machines that grinds the beans for each order. But like wow.

                      Oh, and they also had knafeh (with bread that looked more like pita than ka'k) at the new Mahrouse branch on L'Acadie just around the corner, though we were too stuffed to try it.

              3. re: carswell

                Thanks to you Carswell I have visited Pattiserie Mahrouse several times, & always find their pastries excellent. Just to note with Le Petit Milos, yes their Greek pastries are exquisite & very pricey, but they don't make their own(I don't know who supplies them).

              4. Following the recommandation of a Main Importings employee, I wentt o Pâtisserie Dorée in Ahuntsic and he was right, they are just amazing. It's located on Dudemaine, a couple of blocks east of l'Acadie. For those who wonder, Dudemaine is a couple of blocks north of Henri-Bourrassa.