Nonprofit Hello Neighbor selling local Syrian bakers’ treats for Valentine’s Day | Food | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Nonprofit Hello Neighbor selling local Syrian bakers’ treats for Valentine’s Day

The refugee mentorship group's newest cookie table package features four different Middle Eastern desserts to buy for that special someone.

click to enlarge Middle Eastern pastries - PHOTO: COURTESY HELLO NEIGHBOR
Photo: courtesy Hello Neighbor
Middle Eastern pastries
Sweet treats are truly a signature romantic staple in Pittsburgh. Whole tables of cookies can be found at any self-respecting wedding within city limits. If you’re at a loss for what to get your beloved on Valentine’s Day, relax. Some newly-arrived residents have got your back with a few fresh pastry options.

Hello Neighbor, a local nonprofit organization supporting recently resettled refugee families, is hosting a Valentine’s edition of its New Neighbor Cookie Table Program. The Big Brothers, Big Sisters-like mentorship program was founded in early 2017 and pairs native-born with foreign-born residents to help refugees feel welcome. Hello Neighbor launched its Cookie Table program a couple months ago, selling baklavas made by local Syrian refugees.

The program’s newest sample package features four different Middle Eastern treats for the object of your affections. The pastries include Ghoriba, a round shortbread cookie with almonds; Basbousa, a sweet cake made from milled wheat soaked in syrup; Kanafeh, a traditional Arab dessert typically layered with cheese or baked with clotted cream or nuts; and Osh El Bulbul, which is made from a stringy dough wrapped around pistachios or cashews and lightly fried. All pastries are made by refugees who participate in Hello Neighbor.

Each box will contain a story from one of the bakers as well as information on the sweets and Hello Neighbor.

The pastries are being sold in boxes of eight for $10 and 24 for $25. Buyers can also give an additional $10 or $20 in support of Hello Neighbor’s mentorship programs. Three quarters of every dollar earned goes to the woman who baked the treats.

All orders must be placed online by Feb. 7 and will be available for pickup on Feb. 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Buyers can choose to pick up their orders at the Hello Neighbor HQ in the East End, Asti’s Pharmacy in the South Hills, or Heidioptics in Downtown.

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