Baklava is one of Turkey’s proudest exports. The sweet treat, made with filo pastry, nuts, and syrup became popular during the Ottoman Empire. Much like the very strong coffee, Turks and Greeks have argued for centuries over who actually invented the pastry.
Yet, if you venture to the Shangri-La Bosphorus Hotel in Istanbul, you would be entirely forgiven for giving Turkey the honor.
The 5-star hotel offers guests a Baklava Butler Experience which they can redeem with an ornate key received upon arrival. Presenting the key to the staff at the Lobby Lounge or IST TOO restaurant unlocks a journey that begins with a portion of classic baklava that is served alongside Turkish Maraş ice cream made from clotted cream.
The baklava is filled with pistachios and comes from a bakery in Gaziantep which is considered the birthplace of the crispy pastry.
The bakery has been around since 1949, but the family who runs it has been in the baklava business since 1843. Now operated by Karaköy Güllüoglu, he is the 5th generation of his family to do so.
They ship around the world, but Shangri-La guests who partake in the Baklava Butler Experience will be personally chauffeured to the bakery and engage in a two-hour workshop where they will learn all the tricks of the trade.