I know I’m severely massacring this phonetic spelling, but you’ve got to try this addictive squishy Armenian dessert called “hala-vee-jupe-nee.” Super hard to say it without a smile because that’s exactly what you’ll be doing as you shovel dumpling after dumpling into your mouth.
I discovered this amazing cheese-based morsel of heaven at a friend’s housewarming a few years ago and never looked back. Word of warning, this texture is not for everyone, but for me, squish + sweet is always a winning combination and Panos Pastry in Hollywood knocks it out of the park.
Panos is one of the most popular bakeries in L.A., and a family-owned institution among people of Armenian, Persian and Middle Eastern decent. Famous for their baklava, owner Panos Zetlian once told the L.A. Times that “if my baklavas are not good enough for my children to eat, then they are not good enough for my customers to eat.” Needless to say, especially around Glendale, the embossed, gold Panos sticker is as ubiquitous as Tiffany’s little blue box.
While the baklava is indeed fantastic, the star of my show is the above mentioned halwat el Jebne ($8/lb). Described as a decadent sweet cheese dessert, it features an even more sinful ashta (milk cream) center. The entire mound then gets topped with a drizzle of rose water syrup and a dusting of crushed pistachios. I’m not ashamed to say that I once peeled off one dozen over 2 days.
Another favorite is the atief ashta, a fluffy pancake-like dessert filled with even more creamy ashta. The entire thing gets dunked in a bath of rose water syrup, then dipped in crushed pistachios. Even though the vessel changes from cheese to dough, the results are as delicious.
With all this talk of pistachios, I should point out that I’m not even a fan of the humble green nut–but in these instances, it’s magically. Pop on your fat pants and make your way down to either the Hollywood or Glendale locations. Your mouth will thank you.
Panos Pastry, 5150 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, 90027, (323) 661-0335
Panos Glendale: 418 S. Central Ave., Glendale, (818) 502-0549