Kalima

Kaymakli kunefe at Antepliler

My phone pings. I pick it up and open messages. One word.

“Kunefe?”

My eyes light up immediately. “YES”, I text back.

It’s going to take us at least an hour to get from South East London to Green Lanes in Harringay, even more with traffic. But it is guaranteed to be worth it.

I drive over to my sister’s house to pick her up. She gets in and she is buzzing. “Haven’t had kunefe for ages!!”, she exclaims. “Since the last time we went actually!”

We make this pilgrimage a couple of times a year, usually on Eid, because when the craving for kunefe hits, there is no other dessert that will satisfy you. There’s also no other dessert that I’d actually bother travelling for, especially a 3 hour round trip.

We’d usually make time to go for dinner first in the main restaurant (the kunefe is served in a special kunefe cafe to the side) but there have been many times that we have made the journey specifically for this delightful, tantalising, sweet piece of heaven.

We pull up and the place is jam-packed as usual. As we’re waiting for a table, we’re all watching plates of kunefe and cups of Turkish tea being delivered by the waitress. My son looks up at me. “My mouth is watering SO much Mummy!” So is mine, son, so is mine.

Finally, the moment arrives. We sit on the low stools around the little table and look at the menu.

“Do we even need to look at this?”, I laugh. “You’re right,” says my sister, “kunefe with clotted cream and tea right?”. I nod, a wide smile fixed upon my face. My son bounces up and down on his stool in excitement.

It doesn’t take long for the waitress to arrive at our table with two plates of the most beautiful, golden, crispy kunefe I have ever seen in my life (they’re massive so we share). Little pots of clotted cream sit next to the plates, waiting to be opened and dolloped on top of the hot kunefe.

I cut it a piece and pass the plate to my little boy for the first bite. The cheese pull is magnificent, and the look on his face as the flavour hits his tastebuds is one of pure delight. Bliss.

My turn. As I cut through the crispy shredded pastry top and the smooth cheesy base, my heart is pumping with excitement. I make sure to scrape a little clotted cream and crushed pistachios on top and bring it to my lips. An explosion of flavour takes over my mouth, with the sweet syrup perfectly complementing the cheese. Each component just fits together so perfectly.

The waitress arrives with our tea. It’s slightly bitter, the perfect accompaniment to the sweet kunefe. It’s not long before our plates are licked clean and we sit back with satisfied stomachs. We leave in a blissful stupor and make our way back across the river to South East London. Until our next kunefe pilgrimage, I will savour the taste in my memory.

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