Lavand Kuala Lumpur
May 24, 2018
It's nearly lunchtime at Lavand's flagship cafe in Bukit Damansara when the crowd suddenly exclaims in excitement. A massive tray of freshly baked baklavas has been brought out, prompting everyone to pause their conversations in order to photograph the perfectly crafted pastries, which flood the afternoon air with their sweet, sumptuous fragrance.
Lavand's Malaysian founder Sheerin Zalani beams with justified pride as she slices out a few servings of the traditional Ottoman Turkish dessert, ravishingly layered with buttery-crisp filo dough, some sprinkled with cinnamon, others with hazelnuts, scented with rose water and made nectarous with lashings of honey.
The story of Sheerin's passionate focus on top-flight flavours and textures has turned Lavand into the country's most reliably enduring purveyor of fine baklavas, chocolates and other irresistible temptations for close to 15 years now. Having a conversation with her left us completely impressed with how much heart and effort is poured into Lavand's signature products.
Three full days of labour go into the making of Lavand's hand-constructed baklavas, from proofing to their time in the oven. When Lavand first launched a generation ago, its baklavas were imported from Lebanon, but the brand has since become more than capable of producing its own, entirely in KL, overseen by a Lebanese baklava specialist chef. Busy seasons see more than 100 kilograms of baklavas emerging from Lavand's ovens every day.
What makes Lavand's baklavas very likely Malaysia's most satisfying is the meticulous attention to detail, the consequence of Sheerin's own years-long love affair with baklava. The filo pastry, sometimes featuring 40 layers, is prepared with rich clarified butter from Switzerland. Pistachios are typically flown in from Iran (the birth nation of Sheerin's mother), cashews from Brazil and India, and almonds, macadamias and hazelnuts from California. Spices are newly ground before baking to bring out their best virtues. These behind-the-scenes initiatives ensure unparalleled results.
These baklavas make for a tantalising treat at any time of the day or night, washed down perhaps with hot cardamom tea. Each bite proves confidently balanced with a buttery crunch, aromatically nuanced with nuts and spices, sugary without being saccharine. If you're new to the world of baklavas, Lavand would be the ideal introduction, living up to the Persian meaning of its name, 'desire' (fun fact: baklavas are customarily believed to be aphrodisiacs, because of several of their ingredients).
Beyond baklava, Lavand also specialises in gourmet confectioneries such as lushly smooth chocolates, creamy to the bite, as well as made-to-order delicacies including dragees and nougats that can be viewed on the company's website.
Even Lavand's boxes and hamper containers display a remarkable degree of artistry, each individually built for Lavand by longtime craftspeople who Sheerin has personally met with in territories such as Kashmir. These are gift boxes that will eventually outlive their contents, gorgeous enough to hold on to or present to loved ones as permanent keepsakes to treasure.
Seasonal selections are available from Lavand for every major Malaysian festive celebration, from Hari Raya Aidilfitri to Deepavali, Chinese New Year to Christmas; there's a vast variety of hampers to choose from, comprising not only the baklavas and chocolate but also premium Saudi dates, Lebanese malban sweets and more.
If you're looking for gifts to spread joy with as Ramadan comes to a close, check out lavand.com.my and facebook.com/lavandonline - or visit Lavand's operations at Day Dreamers Cafe in Bukit Damansara, Jasons Food Hall in Bangsar Shopping Centre, or Ben's Independent Grocer. You can also use flowerchimp.com for online orders and deliveries. Also watch out for Lavand to soon surface at the new Four Seasons Place retail mall in the city centre.
For more information, contact 03-2095-5154 or 012-3181-922
Many thanks to Lavand for having us. Selected photos courtesy of Lavand.
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