A trip to Mansoura sat on my list of things do for the entire summer. It's not that we didn't think about going every weekend, but they're not open on Saturdays, and they're closed every Sunday in July and August, so for us working folk, with terrible amounts of vacation time (nope, I still haven't got used to that!), we weren't going to make it until summer was over. And now that summer really is over, we finally hopped on our bikes, and cycled down Ocean Parkway to Gravesend.
If you didn't know what you were looking for, you could all to easily walk past the storefront which sits on traffic-filled Kings Highway. But when you step inside, and see the lines, rows, boxes, fridges, and sheets filled with baklava, chocolates, candied fruits, and praline, you know you've found something special. The friendly brothers who run the store will likely be working behind the counter, you'll be able to peak into the kitchens to discover they really do make all that they sell in this one space, and when you ask what they recommend you get one simple response: 'Everything'.
As you go round the shop, peering into boxes of chocolate-coated candied fruit and trays of freshly made, super sticky baklava, looking to see what jeweled pistachio treats are hiding away on the back of the counter, and not-so-gradually filling up your chosen (inevitably too small) size of box, you'll pick up snippets of information from either Jack or David. These two young brothers run the store, and bake everything they sell, having taken over from their parents a few years ago. They'll proudly explain that they've been selling pastries in this exact spot for over 60 years (at least double their lifetime), and that the almond roll baklava is particularly good, and that I should make sure to tag them in my Instagram photos.
Having now eaten my way through almost everything we bought, I can confirm that, unsurprisingly, as we were told, everything is the best. All the sweets are made with honey rather than glucose, it's all made by the brothers themselves, and they follow recipes and make the same sweets that their family started making 200 years ago, when they first opened a pastry shop in Aleppo. Since that time the family have gradually moved across the world, baking all the way, until they arrived in Gravesend in 1961. Lucky for us, they've stayed. And if you live in New York, you should definitely go and visit. The stunning food culture in this city, the hidden gems which you need to seek out, will never cease to inspire and amaze me.
Mansoura, 515 Kings Highway, Brooklyn NY 11223