Lately, I've been feeling wanderlusty.
Don't get me wrong -- Upstate New York in fall is a wonderful place to be. I relish and marvel in it every year. But I've also had this desire to uproot myself and go explore a less familiar territory. Maybe it is the change in seasons that has me yearning for a change in my own life, too.
Whatever it is, I've got the travel itch; unfortunately hopping on a plane to some exotic locale is not in the cards for me in the moment. I did the next best thing: Took a day trip to explore unknown towns around me, and tucked into food that would transport me to another place.
Cerulean seas were calling my name. I opted for a piece of baklava instead.
Food, at its core, is sustenance and nourishment, but it nourishes deeper than just from the basic perspective of calorie intake. Sometimes food can remind us of a place, a time, a person. It can makes us nostalgic for experiences past and those yet to come.
And so it was with the baklava from Athos in Guilderland. I wasn't necessarily in the mood for Greek food, but driving past the restaurant on my way home from a brief foray through the Hudson Valley made me crave the sweet stuff and salivate like Pavlov's dog. It piqued the urge to travel that I thought I had quelled with that quick jaunt I was just coming from.
It also made me reminiscent of those many times I attempted to make baklava for a Greek boyfriend I once had. (I thought my efforts were tasty. He deemed them never quite as good as his mother's.)
So, I stopped in and ordered a slice of baklava to go ($7). This isn't the big square of baklava you might find at a Greek diner, nor is it the small two-bite offering from a place like Ali Baba. This is an elegant, bias-cut parallelogram of flakey phyllo, moistened golden raisin, minced walnuts and almonds, all soaked in a glistening honey mixture.
It felt wholly European in its taste and texture. It was sweet enough to satiate, but not cloying. It was chewy and rich, but delicate in the way the layers of phyllo flaked with each bite without sticking in my teeth. Subtle hints of cinnamon provided an earthy nuance to the dessert, creating balance.
It was well-executed simplicity, proving that thoughtful preparation of a few basic ingredients can elevate a dish to more than just the sum of its parts. It becomes a unique amalgam of flavor that makes it a hallmark of Mediterranean cuisine.
While I wasn't able to sail that catamaran around the Greek Isles, like I find myself daydreaming about lately, I could close my eyes and imagine being transported to a seaside eatery and indulging in a little baklava from Athos, the perfect foil to rich and bitter Greek or Turkish coffee.
1814 Western Ave
Guilderland, NY 12203
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