We were going to the doctor this morning, Jen and I. We were early and decided that we should check out the mysteriously named Yas Bakery on the way. We entered to the smell of fresh mint and exotic fruits and spices. After passing a refrigerated glass case filled with assorted strange loafs and pans of tofu, we came to the pastry case, filled to overflowing with baklava, dozens of different small cookies, odd but tasty looking gooey treats, rock candy and a little woman in a white apron with olive skin and a gigantic smile.
I decided to try the baklava and asked for six pieces (not all for me, of course). When she asked if there was anything else, I spied the gooey tubes. About the size of cocktail wienies, they glistened with what looked like corn syrup. I asked what they were, and she quickly took two out of the case and her small hand came over the case to offer them to me. They were sticky, but the pastry was still slightly crunchy when I bit into it, releasing the honey inside. It was amazing. I added six of those to the six baklavas, and the bag of “super seeds” I had picked up from the “seed table” in the middle of the small store.
When I went up to the register, the little man came out from the back. He asked us with a thick Greek accent if this was our first visit to his bakery. It was. He threw up one hand in a triumphant salute and scurried behind the pastry case where he produced two almond cookies, one for Jen, one for me. The small shortbread was covered with paper-thin slices of almond and garnished with what I think were ground pistachios. It was very dry, the almonds slightly sweet and woody, but delicious. He then came around the case to face me across the counter where he promptly rattled off all of the amazing confections he could create and then produced a photo album. He proudly displayed pictures of baklava towers, three-tiered wedding cakes, a picture of the little man wearing an apron holding a frosting sleeve at the ready above a half-finished masterpiece.
We paid, and I decided never to pass up the chance to visit the little out-of-the-way on the way to the doctor’s places of the world. I will always remember the little man and his family in their little sweet-smelling bakery and the cookies. Trips to the grocery store for milk and bread are quickly forgotten.
Yas Bakery has moved to Vienna. It is located in the block between the old Anita’s and the Starbuck’s, i.e. sort of across from Magruder’s.
And by the way — the little man isn’t Greek, he’s Persian. Those great sweets are Persian. Greek ones don’t come close. Persian culture is rich and beautiful, and it’s a shame so many Americans turn up their noses at it.
Readers may be interested to know that Yas Bakery has long been regarded by expatriates as the best Persian bakery on the east coast.
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