>> Le Mirage Pastries | Eat the World Los Angeles

Monday, 18 March 2019

Le Mirage Pastries


A little over a year ago, the New Yorker published a story by Orange County's beloved (and hated) Gustavo Arellano covering the tale of the ice cream at Le Mirage and its journey from Damascus. Tucked away in the old city of Syria's capital, an almost 140 year old shop selling booza called Bakdash was what owner Maher Nakhal wanted to bring to Anaheim.

If you have ever traveled in the Levant, you have certainly come across booza, the ice cream that stretches when pulled apart and seems to have an ability to resist melting much longer than ice cream we are used to in other places. With ingredients native to the area, this type of dessert has been made since seemingly the beginning of time. A flour made from orchid tubers called salep and the resin of mastic trees used in chewing gum are what gives the ice cream its unforgettable qualities.

Tucked into a small strip mall on the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Brookhurst Street, the de facto main drag of Orange County's Little Arabia District, Mr. Nakhal's pastry shop has been around since 2003. Nowadays a large format copy of that New Yorker story is on the wall and the shop's staff seem used to stragglers coming in and asking for a bowl of booza ($7.99, above).

The bowl is served like a flower, with sliced petals of booza rimmed with pistachios. True to its promise, the stretchy fun is all there and brings back good memories for me of enjoying dondurma on sunny days in Turkey.

At first the choice is not obvious, and someone coming in randomly might not even learn about the magical ice cream since the machine is kept out of sight in the back.

The windows are tinted and the shades usually drawn, often times it takes a moment or two to get your eyes adjusted to the interior lighting levels. When you walk in, you are surrounded by three sides with all the pastries that have made the shop popular since its opening.

The baking style here seems to be similar to a Syrian baker I briefly knew in Paterson, New Jersey that involved the conscious draining of honey and syrup from the bottom of each treat. This allows the pastries to remain light and not sickly sweet like cheap baklava can often be when not made with care.

Most customers come in pairs and order kanafeh and either tea or coffee, chat with Mr. Nakhal and amongst themselves, and enjoy a brief reprieve from the hot sun outside.


1 comment:

  1. Amazing, unique find!! Looks delicious. Thank you for sharing!