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Best Ka'ak On the Block: Mansoura’s Pastries
By Sara Hohn

I visited Mansoura's to try some of their treats - some familiar, and others less so. I started with a bag of homemade ka'ak, a ring-shaped breadstick that’s common throughout the Middle East. (The word “"kahk" means bracelet in Arabic). These handmade crispy snacks come in large (about 2 inches) and small (like tortellini) sizes, with the adorable small ones being more expensive because they are quite time consuming to make. There are many versions of ka'ak, both sweet and savory. The savory recipe features various combinations of anise seeds, caraway, fennel or cumin. A Moroccan version features allspice and chili powder. The Lebanese Christian version of ka'ak is a sweet Easter cookie that includes cinnamon. Mansoura's ka'ak, like glistening pretzel-crackers sprinkled with sesame seeds, remind me of the Italian snack "tarallini," round crunchy bread sticks seasoned with salt, pepper or anise. Tarallini are made with olive oil, rather than butter or margarine in the ka'ak. But like tarallini, ka'ak are wonderful served with wine or cocktails.

From Mansoura's many beautiful cookies, pastries and confections I picked out a few sweets. I tried their tube-shaped almond baklava - a first for me, as I've only ever had walnut and pistachio versions. The texture of the phyllo and the sweet syrup were wonderful. I think pistachio nuts make for the best baklava, but it was still a wonderfully sticky and satisfying pastry.

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