How this escaped us we’ll never know but at least we got in under the wire. While it’s certainly true that baklava is not a commonly served dessert in Eastern Kentucky it was in our home.
Our mother was an adventurous young woman. Saturday mornings often meant getting up early so we [me and my sister] could be whisked away to yard sales in Barboursville, Williamsburg, London and Corbin. Mom collected books, particularly cook books, my sister had a thing for porcelain frogs and I was always on the look out for record albums.
Then my mom scored a Greek cookbook and it was all over. She hit the kitchen in a whirlwind of motion and when the dust settled we all descended on a big pan of homemade baklava. Something she still makes to this day.
She no longer makes the phyllo dough from scratch as she’s gotten a mite lazy in her old age, but she still makes one of the finest pans you’re ever likely to encounter.
Early in my cooking career I apprenticed under an ancient Greek man in Birmingham who slowly turned over cooking tasks to me as my skills developed. But one dish that I was not allowed to tackle was the baklava. That was the province of Lola, an elderly Greek woman who would emerge from a back room of the kitchen covered in honey and crushed nuts a couple times a week to general applause from the staff as we were allowed to conservatively sample her goods.
Lola has long since passed but Birmingham is still chock a block with Greek restaurants [it’s the epicenter of Greek culture in the South] and we always make sure we get our fill of baklava on our annual visits.
In Austin we used to sate ourselves at Ted’s Greek diner down on Congress Avenue when we had a yen for the stuff. Ted’s has long since shuttered.
Now, like as not, we hit Arpeggio for their Syrian take on the Mid East sweet staple but we’re always looking for a fresh source.
Where are you getting your baklava?
How did you celebrate National Baklava Day?