A kind soul brought it to my attention that there are two versions of Baklava duking it out to “reign supreme” at the 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival. You can fine one at the Athens booth; the other is at the Marrakesh booth.
Now, for those who haven’t tried Baklava, it’s defined by Wikipedia as “a rich, sweet pastry featured in many cuisines in the area once controlled by the former Ottoman Empire, in Central Asia and in the lands in between. It is a pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey.” It’s not usually my favorite dessert, but I’ve come to enjoy the phyllo and sweet, nutty filling. I’ll take you through my thoughts as I tried both Baklava contenders, and you can let me know what YOU think.
I began with the Athens version of the dish. I was impressed by its looks. With honey oozing from the bottom layers and light-as-air phyllo perched on top; I couldn’t wait to take a bite. To its credit, the dessert was delicious. I had a difficult time cutting through the layers with my fork, but when I finally did get a chunk cut off, I was delighted by the taste. The Baklava layers melted on my tongue and I wanted to keep eating and eating (despite my promise to myself that I would just taste this year at the F&W Festival, not devour!). I wasn’t sure that Marrakesh had a chance… .
So around the Showcase I went, until I came to the Marrakesh booth. Now, Marrakesh serves its baklava in a pretty little pastry cup. (Advantage: Marrakesh.) I settled at a table outside Tangierine Cafe to sample, and found that the baklava was just as hard to cut through as it had been in Athens. Finally getting a bite into my mouth, I realized that the baklava tasted shockingly similar to Athens’ version as well. Hmm. I looked at the pastry. Almost identical. Maybe a few more nuts…one or two more layers…? I started to feel ashamed. Can I really not tell the difference between these two dishes? And I soon had to come to terms with my failure to determine a winner.
The moral of this story, folks, is that I’m no baklava gourmand, and I must admit that if you told me that both versions came out of the Boardwalk Bakery that morning and had simply been shipped to their respective booths, I would probably believe you. The differences, if there were any, were imperceptible to this palate.