YANTIC — “This place should be a national treasure,” said the man beside me at the counter of Lazizah Mediterranean Bakery & Market. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Owner Iffat Salahi, a native of Lebanon, uses family recipes to make falafel, babaghannuj, tabbouleh, and other Middle Eastern specialties in the tiny bakery and market she and her husband opened eight years ago. (Lazizah means “delicious” in Arabic.) Her soups are legendary, especially the zippy chicken and sweet potato flavored with chipotle, but the piece de resistance has to be the baklava. Flaky, whisper-thin phyllo holds various combinations of nuts and sweet liquid, according to the traditions of place: Greek, with almonds, pistachios, walnuts, spices, and honey; Turkish, with walnuts, cinnamon, and honey; and Lebanese, with pistachios, walnuts, rosewater, and orange blossom water. To these traditional varieties, she’s added her own creations: “choklava” with toasted almonds and chocolate, and “coco-choklava” with walnuts, chocolate, and coconut. The market sells cheese, spices, and other items imported from Lebanon. Salahi worked as a clinical chemist for 20 years; now, she says, “I do my chemistry in the kitchen.”
LAZIZAH MEDITERRANEAN BAKERY & MARKET 125 Yantic Road, Yantic, Conn. 860-889-2542, www.lazizah.net. Daily 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (till 3 Sat-Sun; closed Sun till September).