For many people, I think the first thought when one thinks of Lebanese cuisine is that of savory lamb and goat dishes, smooth hummus, fresh, minty tabbouleh. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. What doesn't so instantly come to mind is pastries. But it should!
I went to a Lebanese bakery, Abla's Pastry, when I visited Australia last summer...and I STILL remember it quite fondly. I'm not sure if it's a chain, but if it is, the particular shop that I went to is located on the outskirts of Sydney in the Parramatta suburb. It's a bright spacious shop with indoor seating for numerous customers. The pastries are baked fresh every morning, and they stretch out in rows and rows of bakery display cases.
Of course one of the most appealing aspects of going to a good bakery is that you can choose whichever pastry you like ("yeah, I want that one with all the pink frosting on it!") and literally watch as it's pulled from the display case. Abla's makes this process incredibly appealing.
Of course the ambiance is not the only thing that Abla's has going for it. The pastries might have a little to do with it too. They offer a variety of baked goods native to Middle Eastern cuisine including the well known and much loved baklava. I have certainly had my fair share of baklava and this was by far the best. The phyllo pastry was light and flaky, instead of honey, they used a light clear syrup (Arabic Syrup) that was rich and sweet. The cashews offered a bold, nutty flavor, and the somewhat savory taste complimented the sweetness of the syrup perfectly. Heaven!
The lady fingers/arms are also incredible. Filled with a rich, clotted cream mixture that reminded me of cheese curd (which I believe is called ashta or kashta) and topped with chopped pistachio the phyllo pastry was just crunchy enough to make one really appreciate the smooth texture of the creamy inside.
This bakery was definitely one of the highlights of my trip, and when I return to Australia, it will most likely be one of the first places I visit.