When I was four years old my family moved way out to the country in a small community in Statesville, North Carolina, called Chestnut Grove. We lived off of Allen Creek Road. It was an old, dusty dirt road back then, and during the summer there were wild blackberry bushes everywhere. They were scattered up and down the road on either side of the ditches, throughout the woods behind our house, and by the pond at the end of the road—anywhere they could find a space to take root. My three older sisters and I would gather plastic buckets we’d find around the house and go blackberry picking. We’d fill up our containers and eat them as we picked and then bring our full buckets home to my mom where we would wait in anticipation for her to make the best blackberry pies ever! We could hardly wait for the pies to cool before begging for a slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. We called it “pie and ice cream night.” Oh, how much I love and miss those days! Seems like a lifetime ago. Her pies were always so juicy and sweet with just the right amount of cinnamon and spices; and she would make her flaky, buttery crust from scratch.
Back in July of 2014, I held a contest to decide the next Sheer Ambrosia Baklava flavor and when I saw Ethan Fraga’s one word entry: “Blackberry,” I was instantly transported back to my childhood and my mother’s southern blackberry pies and knew he was my winner. The buttery, flaky crust has since been replaced with 45 layers of thin fillo dough that I hand lay individually and butter, but the taste is still reminiscent of a time long passed and a dream childhood full of long summer nights chasing fireflies and eating my mom’s cooking.
I hope you enjoy this month’s Baklava of the Month flavor. I know I’ve been enjoying it…maybe a little too much. It is bursting with love and nostalgia.
With passion and gratitude,
Ethan and me on the day I presented him with his prize, a 12-piece box of Blackberry Walnut baklava.