For a sweet New Year go straight to Brooklyn

 How better to start off a sweet New Year than with a mouthful of sweet pastries from Mansoura, a Heliopolis (Cairo) pastry shop transplanted to Brooklyn and catering to the palates of Syrian and Egyptian Jews. However, Point of No Return has it on good authority that since Mansoura stopped using samna (buffalo milk) or butter so that desserts could be eaten after meat or chicken
meals,  the
taste has suffered, but  its ka3aks,  apricot paste rolls with
pistachios, rolled konafa with pistachios and Egyptian bassboussa remain second to none. Feature in the New York Times (with thanks: Viviane, Alain):

For
nearly six decades, Jews from near and far — especially those of
Egyptian and Syrian heritage — as well as gentiles who appreciate a good
pistachio treat —have flocked to Mansoura Pastries on Kings Highway.
The kosher shop, with its glass counters of chocolate-covered orange
peels and date-filled cookies called ma’amoul, is especially popular
during the Jewish holidays.

Benjamin
Douek, 68, an investment banker, trekked there recently from Scarsdale
to pick up shortbread-like graybeh with his wife, Bunny, 66. He has
known about the pastry shop since childhood. “Growing up in South
Carolina, my father used to talk about Mansoura,” he said, “from the old
country,” referring to the bakery’s previous iteration in Cairo.

Ms. Mansoura packs up an order of knafeh, described by one regular customer as “some of the best he’d ever tasted in New York.” (Photo: Elizabeth D. Herman for The New York Times)

At
the front counter, Josiane Mansoura, 63, an owner, traced the history
of the family business, all the while segmenting rows of glistening
baklava. The ancestors of her late husband, Alan, ran a bakery in Aleppo
called Mansoura during the 18th and 19th centuries, she said. By 1910,
Alan’s grandfather had moved to Cairo and had opened another Mansoura, a
bakery-turned-cafe, which would count King Farouk among its clientele.

In
the 1950s, as animosity toward Jews grew in Egypt, the family fled to
Paris, later settling in Brooklyn in 1961. There they planted their
Mansoura flag, yet again. It would soon become a fixture in the
burgeoning Sephardic neighborhoods around Ocean Parkway. Today, Ms.
Mansoura and her sons Jack, 29, and David, 41, can be found sweating in
between a FireMixer and sheet pan racks, shaping and cutting sweets like
Turkish delight and basbousa, an orange blossom-tinged semolina cake.

 
Jack Mansoura delivers an order to a customer’s car in advance of Rosh Hashanah. (Photo: Elizabeth D. Herman for The New York Times)

“We make only what people like,” Ms. Mansoura said. “Rich stuff.”

These
flavors were what Aviv Mosovich, 45, sought out when he first moved to
Brooklyn from Israel 14 years ago, nostalgic for home.

“She
uses the right products,” said Mr. Mosovich, a private chef, about Ms.
Mansoura’s handiwork. Retrieving a package of cheese sambousek (small
pies) from the wheezing refrigerator, Mr. Mosovich joked, “I don’t say
good things for free stuff.”

The shop
has customers all over the world. Ms. Mansoura can be found chatting on
the phone in some combination of English, Hebrew, French or Arabic,
scribbling orders for, say, a wedding in Argentina, or a medical
conference in Minnesota.

Read article in full

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

About

This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, of the Middle East and North Africa, documenting the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution.

Point of No Return

Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries

One-stop blog on the Middle East's
forgotten Jewish refugees - updated daily.