Washington Times, DC
Dec 31 2008

Silva's Patisserie offers big taste in minibites

Bakery's small pastries satisfy without guilt

Karen Goldberg Goff (Contact)
Wednesday, December 31, 2008

In health-conscious circles, it's nutritionally correct to turn down a
big, gooey piece of cake. With a tiny, two-bite concoction, though,
one can rationalize all the way through dessert.

Silva's Patisserie turns out minipastries worth ruining that
diet. Mother-and-son proprietors Silva and Harry Sarkee opened the
tiny shop in Vienna 15 months ago and have developed a following as a
place to get beautiful and delicious little creations. On any given
day, there are about three dozen varieties: Eclairs, Linzer tortes,
fruit tarts, carrot cake and Key lime pie are among the staples. Rich
squares of flourless chocolate cake, spoon-size cupcakes and creme
brulees the volume of a shot glass also are big sellers.

The display case at Silva's Patisserie in Vienna is full of all kinds
of goodies. The shop makes a huge variety of minature pastries from
all over the world, including macaroons, cannoli, linzer torte,
truffles and more. Everything is made completely by scratch on
site. (Barbara L. Salisbury / The Washington Times)

This replica of Jackie Kennedy's wedding gown is made entirely of
sugar by Silva Sarkee, who together with her son Harry runs Silva's
Patisserie in Vienna, Va. The two are third- and fourth-generation
pastry makers; Silva's grandfathers both made all kinds of
confections. This dress is on display in a box at their shop on
Monday, Dec. 29, 2008. (Barbara L. Salisbury / The Washington Times)

"When we opened up the shop, Harry said, 'Let's do minis,'" Ms. Sarkee
says. "Everyone is health-conscious. We're used to rich flavor, so
these are small portions, but they still have that flavor. You can
make something that looks like a million bucks, but then if it doesn't
taste good, what's the point?"

The Sarkees say first-rate ingredients and Old World techniques are
the keys to their recipes. They use the best-quality butter, and their
breads (those are full-sized) contain organic flour.

Baking has been a family tradition for the Sarkees for four
generations. Ms. Sarkee learned by watching her grandfathers back in
Armenia. Mr. Sarkee learned by watching his grandfather and, of
course, his mother, here in the United States.

This flourless chocolate cake is a Silva's signature item. Everything
at Silva's Patisserie in Vienna is made on site from scratch on a
daily basis, including breads, pastries and cakes. The shop has been
open for about a year and a half. (Barbara L. Salisbury / The
Washington Times)

"I was three years old, and my grandfather gave me an apron," says
Mr. Sarkee, 30. "That's really my first memory, making bread. Baking
has to be something in you. There are a lot of bakeries out there, but
not a lot of bakers who know how to manipulate the flavor to make it
taste great. You have to have the passion."

Mother and son opened their first bakery, in Falls Church, 11 years
ago. Mr. Sarkee later spent a few years as a pastry chef at the
Kennedy Center. The family also briefly owned a California bakery.

Now they are back in Virginia, where Mr. Sarkee and most of the bakers
arrive before dawn to start the day's baking. He goes through 200
pounds of butter and 100 pounds of sugar in a typical week. What ends
up in the case out in front is made fresh daily, and the rotation
changes seasonally to use fresh ingredients.

In addition to the minipastries, Silva's also makes muffins, tea
breads, breads and tubs of hummus and other Middle Eastern sides and
salads. The minis are mostly priced at $1.49 each.

Harry Sarkee puts cinnamon roll dough through a special machine to
roll it out thinly so that he can then add the butter and cinnamon
sugar. Mr. Sarkee makes anywhere between 30 and 50 different
confections every day, including breads, pastries and cakes. (Barbara
L. Salisbury / The Washington Times)

These French truffles for sale at Silva's Patisserie in Vienna look
like upside down lollipops. All images were taken Monday, Dec. 29,
2008. (Photographs by Barbara L. Salisbury / The Washington Times.)

Ms. Sarkee primarily attends to the small, beautiful details, such as
handcrafting bright-colored marzipan fruits and putting the finishing
flourishes on petits fours. She is the person to see for special
orders such as wedding cakes and custom fondant designs. Her proudest
work - a hand-folded replica of Jackie Kennedy's wedding dress made
completely from sugar - hangs in the bakery, inspiring both bakers and
customers as to what sugar and imagination can do.

http://washingtontimes.com/news/2008/dec/31/b ig-taste-in-minibites/