What I ate: Birds’ nest baklava from Cedarland Grocery & Restaurant, 4832 Central Ave. Cost: 99 cents.
Baklava is sort of the chocolate chip cookie of the Middle East and the Mediterranean: Every country makes it and every country makes it differently. Greek baklava is usually filled with walnuts and cut into larger diamonds. Lebanese and Syrian baklavas are more often filled with combinations of pistachios and pine nuts and the pieces are usually smaller and not quite as sweet.
On a stop at Cedarland recently, I was loading up a box of pastries from the case near the door: Syrup-soaked semolina cake with an almond pressed into each piece (namoura), long phyllo rolls (lady fingers, and not at all like the Italian cakes), round slices bristling with nuts (burma), and several styles of baklava. Most things cost 69 cents to $1.49, so you can get a selection and make your friends happy.
One little piece was a style I’d never noticed: Square, made of puff pastry but open at the top with a pile of sugar-glazed pistachios and pine nuts. After I tried one, I was hooked: It isn’t as sweet as the other baklavas, so the whole nuts really stand out.
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It’s called birds’ nest baklava. It’s a baklava because it’s made with layers of phyllo and nuts, but it’s a different style, and it’s also different from another Middle Eastern pastry called a bird’s nest that’s made from piles of shredded phyllo pressed into a little nest.
Confusing? Yes. But that just means you get to keep poking around in the pastry case until you find them.