So yesterday we drove to Yiayia Maria's Kitchen in an Albuquerque industrial neighborhood where the baklava and other all-natural Greek pastries are made, sold and shipped. Kevin Mallory greeted us and told us about his grandmother from Metsovo -- coming to America circa 1935, and returning for a visit got stuck in Greece during WW II -- and her remarkable, resilient life with affection and pride. At one point, she was the head of the American Red Cross in Washington, DC...The motivating factor for a bakery was to keep Maria Nikopoulos' memory alive by perpetuating her recipes. She loved to bake and give her Greek cookies to family, friends and neighbors...and "who doesn't love cookies," Kevin said.
Yiayia Maria's baklava -- a dessert from Ottoman times, but is it really Turkish? -- is hand-made with 30 layers of organic phyllo, coarsely chopped walnuts and almonds, "lemony honey married to cinnamon," and a signature clove in the center of each piece. Totally awesome...sorry you couldn't join me for the taste test!
When I mentioned my love for my own Yiayia's melomakarona (finikia), Kevin immediately offered me a box of Yiayia Maria's "Decadent Finikia." Kevin enjoys sharing family stories and cookies, just like his Yiayia did.
You can try Yiayia Maria's Greek pastries yourself by ordering online, or by going in person to 740 Rankin Road in ABQ (8 am - 3 pm). And don't forget the totally addictive finikia, which melt in your mouth -- and are still my all-time favorite Yiayia treat (with or without syrup).
Bon appetite...or, as they say in the Old Country, Kali Orexi!
NOTE: The baklava at Anatolia Turkish & Mediterranean Grill at 313 Central Ave. NW was pretty good, too...I actually ate there on my birthday -- it's all Greek to me!