This morning, a friend of mine from Saida, a local who has watched my shows about his beautiful city, told me that I forgot one major place and he was ready to take me there. It's called Abou Hassan, and he works from home with his wife and produces the country's best Maamoul Madd... And oh man he was right!
Abou Hassan el Habash started producing those Maamoul in 1980 and yes he is "The King of Maamoul". Somewhere down in the old souk, after walking a hundred meters or two we reach a building where a signboards proclaims "Home of Abou Hassan el Habash". The man lives on the first floor and works down below. Sfouf, az7a and Maamoul mad are his specialties. Each is different, each is unique, each is memorable.
We started with Sfouf, the yellow fluffy cake followed by the local famous nigella sativa black cake and finished with Maamoul with hidden pine nuts, Maamoul he rarely sells.
Let the tasting begin:
- Sfouf: Airy and fluffy, a light yellow color, adequate sweetness. I really couldn't stop from eating a piece after the other. They're probably the best I've had.
- Azha: I've had azha before, but nothing like this. It's so intense, the nigella sativa's strength, the sesame and the walnuts! Oh my god. The olive oil leaving a bitter after note in the mouth. That's a connoisseur's food!
- Maamoul mad: I've discovered the best. Sparkles like sand melt under your teeth before the walnuts explode! Oh my god, I was transported to heaven. They're so moist and intense, a light crunch that's not dry, adequately sweet... The hype is true.
- After that, my friend insisted I try the Maamoul with pine nuts. He asked Abou Hassan five times to give a piece but the guy acted as if he didn't hear. Those are precious, left only for friends and the close circle.
- Maamoul pine nuts: Oh my God! Those are heavenly good. They're not like any Maamoul, but resemble Semsmiyyeh with their elastic caramel sticky feel. A sandy cover of semolina stuffed with crunchy pine nuts and sugar. Unique, indeed unique.
Maamoul Madd is his specialty, Abou Hassan is his name. Ask in Saida's old souk, they'll show you the way to his house. +961-7-732954