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Fair weather noms: Serbian Stuffed Peppers, Umbrella & Belgrade Frozen Fest

Ode to the last week of August and to many the last unofficial week of summer. Back to school for many (myself included) but the start of a brand new academic year certainly breaks up the feeling of summertime sadness. I personally love the coming of autumn and cooler weather because it can only mean seasonal vegetables (pumpkin everything) and hand warming mugs of cider or hot chocolate.

As I mentioned at the end of my post last week, I have cut back on nomming out excessively, winding back in for the start of the new school year and taking this time to expand my passion for making soups and such. I have however had some lovely cheat days that I am eager to share with you all…BUT FIRST as promised I will share with you the nomness that  is Serbian stuffed peppers with cheese.

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Serbian stuffed peppers with cheese (Punjena Paprika sa sirom)

Ingredients: 

  • 6-10 yellowish ‘Serbian’ peppers (long, not spicy or bell)
  • 5-6 eggs
  • 500-800 grams of soft white cheese
  • 4 tablespoons oil (vegetable, olive etc.)
  • water
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

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Gut and discard the innards of the peppers. I like to keep the tops so that I can place them over the peppers once they are stuffed. Optionally you can use a slice of potato.

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In a medium bowl mix the eggs together then add cheese and oil, stir together until combined.

Lightly oil the bottom of desired baking dish.

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Fill the hollow peppers with the cheese/ egg mixture. Don’t be shy, it’s ok if it oozes out! Leave a small amount left in the bowl to cover the exterior of the peppers.

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Place the peppers in the baking dish. Thin out the remainder of the mix with a few table spoons of water (depending) then spoon over each peppers, ensuring they are coated.

Stick the dish in the oven for around 40 minutes to one hour. The skin of the peppers will begin to brown. If browning too quickly it could be because they are too dry but just dab a few more spoons of oil/water mix over them.

You will know they are ready when you can pierce the peppers with ease. They might be a bit juicy but this only adds to the flavor!

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The cheesy, eggy goodness will practically melt in your mouth. Eat along side grilled meats, salad or just as is. Prijatnom!

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I have been doing a bit of nom recon around the Novi Beograd (New Belgrade) area as of late and have happily discovered a plethora of modern restaurants looking to shine on the rather high-falutin Belgrade eating scene. New Belgrade is set up into blocks and therefore is very easy to get around on foot though unlike the old part of the city things are somewhat spaced apart. So if you happen to take the bus (any of the 80’s) you might have passed by a chic looking restaurant by the name of Umbrella, wedged beneath a residential building, just before the overpass to airport city.

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Umbrella is the perfect place to meet friends or to have a business lunch with coworkers. With ample (and colorful) seating inside and out, Umbrella provides a relaxed environment but with high class charm. Their staff is very friendly and the restaurant appeared to be dog friendly which is always a plus. That day we sat in the outdoor dining area where the convertible roof allowed us to soak in all of the glorious sunshine (no need for an umbrella that day).

I knew even before I saw the menu that I would be ordering a salad (a bit of clean skin eating people remember) and I also knew they would have precisely what I was in the mood for, a luscious turkey salad. Tired of eating chicken throughout the week and because the price of turkey is steep at the grocery store in Serbia, it is one of those things I love ordering when we are nomming out.

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Not only did my salad look incredible but it tasted as such. The turkey slices were coated in crispy sesame seeds, something I would love to try to do on my own one of these days. There was just the right amount of tangy dressing so that it wasn’t drowning and the crispy lettuce and other veggies were complimented by generous hunks of feta cheese. Om nom nom, I was in salad heaven.

Milan had pizza on his brain that day and came to a dilemma when we was forced to choose one of the mouth watering pies from the menu. I urged him to go with something other than capricciosa and so on a whim he decided on Quattro Stagioni. Said to represent the four seasons, Umbrella’s QS comes complete with pepperoni, ham, bacon, mushrooms and a gooey egg smack dab in the middle. This cornucopia of a wood-fired pizza was a sight to behold and had Milan struggling to nom all it’s contents.

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Of course he managed to nom it all, this time without any of my assistance (insert winky face).

Based on our experience that day and the countless other delicious sounding things I saw on their menu, we will definitely be returning to Umbrella in the near future. I am however sad that we have just now gotten around to Umbrella  this late in the summer  and missed out on the enjoyment on their patio but as Serbia would have it we could have decent weather into even October. Rain or shine, head over to Umbrella for a tasty meal.

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This past weekend Belgrade hosted Frozen Fest, a three day event where multiple ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt and juice shops around the city came together to cool things down during this end of summer heat. Throughout the day families with children could enjoy magic shows and other entertainment which then transitioned into live music and DJ for party goers in the evening. Frozen Fest was held at Showroom Live  which is located appropriately in one of the coolest areas (in my opinion) of Belgrade, hidden away behind the kafanas of Skadarlija.

We met with friends that evening and all had one thing in mind, rolled ice cream. As you can recall in my blog ‘Happy Places : Pizza Bar and Špaklica‘ I had my first adventure into the wonderful world of rolled ice cream and have since been completely enamored with it. When I looked through the list of event vendors and saw I Scream Rolls , I was thrilled to see that there was another place rolling out these delicious dessert.

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There is a seemingly unlimited selection to create your own I Scream Rolls, however, the they were kind enough to have an enticing menu of popular flavor combinations (as seen in the above menu board and down at the variety of ingredients) at their store’s location near Pionirski Park. An I Scream rep came over and explained the process and full contents of the combos we were interested in but as you might already have guessed I was screaming for Dexters because of my insatiable love for all things peanut.

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The I Scream men were hard at work and ironically enough the temperature inside of Showroom Live was sweltering (maybe because of all the ice cream rolling??). There was actually a line snaking around the room specifically for I Scream Rolls which we patiently waited in while rolling ice cubes over our wrists next to the bar to keep us cool. When it was finally our turn it took less than two minutes to dice and shape the rolls, which I ran outside with the moment it was put into my hands in order to get some much needed fresh air.

Now don’t be scared, it is just ice cream after all….

AH! Feast your eyes on Dexters and Crunchy!

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Dexters is a combination of sweet cream, a scoop of peanut butter and salty miniature pretzels, made complete with caramel sauce on top. The sweet and salty mixture had my taste buds screaming for more. I seriously can’t get enough of peanut ice cream. The Crunchy was chopped together with Bueno candy bar, corn flakes and Nutella, topped off with a healthy dusting of ground plazma cakes. Milan was like a kid in a candy store and thoroughly enjoyed each creamy bite, he even let me have a nom or two. We were both screaming for more and agreed that we would be visiting the I Scream Rolls shop very very soon.

 Frozen Fest (which turned out to be quite the sweltering venture) was definitely worth experiencing and even though we only tried I Scream Rolls and some rather tasty freshly squeezed juice, seeing everyone enjoying one of Belgrade’s most coveted frozen treats was a sweet sight to behold.

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One last not quite nom but something that I quickly wanted to share with you all because I would consider this place a must visit in Belgrade.

Someone had asked me recently if I drank alcohol (silly question) and if so what did I like and my first response was: beer. Maybe it’s because I’m not the fancy cocktail type but since I am from Boston I appreciate a properly brewed beer cold from the tap.

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Majstor za Pivo (Meister of Beer) is a small storefront and taproom at the bottom of the lesser frequented and grittier Dunavski Kej below Dorcol, that has a phenomenal selection of brews from all over the Balkans, bottled, on tap and even spreadable beer ‘pivolada’ that you can put on bread. Along with their expansive wall variety, they carry a good handful of these in a fridge so that you can enjoy a cold one right then and there if you feel so inclined. With a large wooden table top and stools spread around the room and street side it’s hard not to.

I sampled a few of the beers on tap from a local brewery in Belgrade called Kabinet. Having a preference for lighter, floral ales, I landed on Rufaro, a citrusy hemp beer according to Kabinet to be perhaps the first of it’s kind in Serbia and is now one of my favorite pivos in the city. If a beer was considered nom, then this one would be it.

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Majstor za Pivo might be your next go to spot to hit before you plan on heading out for the night or if you are looking to wind down after dinner. They close relatively early at around ten but are open at noon so there is the option (if you want to be truly Serbian) of day drinking. 

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Fireworks at Belgrade Boating Festival 27.8.16

To je to (that is that).

Looking back on these summer months I am happy to say that I have taken full advantage of all the outdoor nomming opportunities that have come my way and am looking forward to the crisp weather to come where dining outside may still even be an option (if there is a blanket to cuddle up with).

Things will be a bit hectic in the weeks to follow but I promise to keep you posted on any new and nom discoveries!

Laku nom!

Restaurant Information:

Address: Omladinskih brigada 44a, 11070 Belgrade, Serbia
Phone: 066 022000
AddressAndrićev venac 4, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Phone:065 2064708
Address: Ulica Zorza Klemansoa 18, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Phone:064 6460314

 

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Nom-cation : Serbian Svadba and the wonders of Zlatibor

Hello everyone, hello mid August, hello Summer Olympics in Rio, hello to all of the wondrous noms I have eaten up until this point! Over these past few weeks I have been shamelessly eating while at the same time soaking up the sun in and around beautiful Belgrade. On a sort of whim, Milan and I decided to plan a multi-day trip to Zlatibor and Mokra Gora so that we could escape the bustle of the city, do a bit of hiking and breath the truly fresh air of western Serbia. But first, I had the pleasure of not only visiting breathtaking nature but also to witness and attend a full on Serbian style wedding.

Just so we’re clear…this was a bonafied nom-cation.

So sit back and savor some traditional Serbian specialties like komplet lepinja, kiselo mleko, zlatiborski sir and much more!

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During the glorious months of summer, blushing brides, walking wedding parties and honking cars decked out in purple and blue bows are commonly seen (and heard) throughout Serbia whether you like it or not. I had unintentionally crashed a wedding ceremony last year at the capital’s head Orthodox church (Arhangela Mihaila), a ceremony so beautiful it could bring a complete stranger to joyful tears. Since then I have been perplexed by Serbian weddings and was exceedingly excited on Easter when I found out we had been invited to Milan’s cousin’s wedding later in the summer.

In case you hadn’t gathered from all of my previous posts, Serbians are amazing people in all sense of the word, but they can also be pretty crazy (I mean this as the highest compliment). When it comes to weddings, naturally both of these attributes increase ten fold, and luckily for us so do the noms!

There are many procedures that take place during the course of a full day Serbian Svadba but I will provide you with the hyphenated version. On the way to the village the morning of the wedding we passed by the groom and his row of honking cars heading in the opposite direction towards the bride’s home to discuss the price on her head.  Of course the actual demand of dowry is not intact in the present day, however it is part of old Serbian culture and is thus ‘reenacted’ in modern day weddings.

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Once the groom has properly negotiated for his bride to be, they then drive directly to the church where the rest of the wedding guests are already waiting and the extensive ceremony begins. Candles, crowns and choirs, Orthodox weddings are uniquely beautiful. Unlike a western style wedding, the guests stand throughout the ceremony in the open space of the church and are free to come and go as they please.

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With the church ceremony completed, the party then follows the bride and groom back to the groom’s home where the celebration begins by toasting with rakija and continuing the traditions such as throwing corn kernels on the roof and carrying the bride across the threshold into their new home. After that music and socializing with people you may have known since you were a baby or those whom you have never met, either way they treat you like one of their own, another incredible Serbian trait.

Luckily for us the reception took place just a few doors down from Milan’s grandfather’s house and we could already smell the wafting aroma of roštilj and whole roasting lamb on the spit. By the time we sat down at our table we couldn’t wait to eat but knew we would have to pace ourselves if we were to survive the night. We munched on mezza while the bride and groom posed for their thousands of photos, then sipped on a hearty soup as they graciously accepted the copious amounts of gifts. After this the music begins and Kolo or traditional Balkan dancing begins and would continue until the morning. Free flowing rakija, wine and beer could be found at every table as we began the real feasting with sarma then moved on to mountains of grilled meats and kupus salata (coleslaw).

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The food just seemed to be endlessly arriving in front of us, if one plate was diminished, another one came shortly after. By the hour it was time to cut numerous cakes I wasn’t sure there was any space left in my stomach. But of course I did, and of course I had two pieces. At around ten in the evening, to my naïve mind however just when I thought the nomming was winding down and the waiters began to clear the plates of the remnants of food…they brought out freshly made plates of lamb and even more kupus just to be sure those who were drinking heavily had something to nibble on. I was shocked and a bit drunk and relieved when we decided to accompany Milan’s grandfather home. My first experience of Serbian wedding had been an experience to say the least and I can’t wait for the next one (no hint there, I’m purely a spectator for now)!

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The next day was a bit of a recovery but I woke up feeling pleasantly refreshed. If you can remember around Easter in my post ‘Orasnica & Orthodox Easter’ I had mentioned that the cats at the house had both been expecting kittens and now three months later the little mewing balls of fur were getting into all sorts of mischief. As timid as they are, they had no problem climbing onto my lap and having their breakfast and a warm body to curl up to.

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I excused myself for breakfast of my own where we nommed on fresh slanina, tomatoes, bread and yogurt to which of course I fed the left over fatty tidbits to my new little family members. Later in the afternoon we were greeted by the groom’s father who had thoughtfully brought leftover meat and cake from the wedding for the house. As grateful as I was, I had to take a break from roštilj and was lucky enough to try Deda’s home made heavenly pasulj (which I will recreate soon), a tasty white fish with rosemary and garlic and heritage corn straight from the back yard.

I know I mentioned how much I missed corn before but forget what you know about sweet corn and corn readily available at the farmers market or in the store. This corn isn’t at all sweet, in fact it has the consistency of beans but with the taste of comfort. I loved it, love, love, loved it. Unfortunately the season is short and I have to wait until next year to nom on it again.

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The next morning, packed up and ready to go (with 20 eggs, a giant bag of peppers and apples) we started our five hour journey west to Zlatibor. The drive is relatively painless despite rain and roadworks and once you begin to feel surrounded by rolling hills and mountains, the magic of Serbian nature starts to kick in. A year round tourist town, Zlatibor attracts the likes of athletes, musicians, travellers, families, and nommers like myself because of its relativity to numerous mountains, lakes, rivers and farms. There is something for everyone here in Zlatibor.

Much like our trip to Niš, once we arrived Milan and I searched for a quick and comforting bite to quell our grumbling stomachs. Pizza and beer seemed obvious. This was a nom-cation remember? Plus we were planning on hiking the following day! We found a café at the end of the small pond in Zlatibor’s bustling center and unwound after a long day of travelling.

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Margherita, Capricciosa and cold Lav. For some reason I always keep the slogan of this domestic beer in mind whenever I am nomming: ‘Ili jesi ili nisi’… ‘either you are or you aren’t’. Always a fitting line for any occasion in my opinion.

Much like the Christmas markets in Germany there are rows of stands in the main pedestrian street where you can find all the noms your heart desires including palačinke, waffles, grilled corn, tornado potatoes, ice cream, and much more. After the pizza I convinced myself I would hold off until the following day while Milan delved into a meter long palačinke while we watched Serbia play France in the men’s basketball preliminaries…but that is another story.

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Despite the overcast weather we woke up the next morning bright eyed and bushy tailed to visit the monument outside of town dedicated to partisans shot in the area in 1941. Many tourists with their families walk up the paved path as well as others who choose to do so by horseback. After our warm up, we headed on to our own hike uphill at Tornik a popular destination for skiers during the winter months. The view from the look out hut was extraordinary even with all the fog and we patted ourselves on the back and promised our bellies a well-earned meal once we reached the bottom.

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Due to my unwillingness to sit down post sweat in a café or restaurant, we ventured onto the parallel alleyways of Zlatibor’s main street where savory roštilj options can be found and with ease we decided on fresh grilled belo meso. When all else fails go with belo meso (chicken breast) because you can add your fixings of choice, I personally like ljuto (paprika and feta spread), tomatoes, cucumbers, kupus or greens and eat it either with or without toasted bread of your liking. This time I couldn’t pass up the lepinja (being in Zlatibor and all) and was pleasantly surprised that we could add the condiments ourselves.

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For a total of 4 USD you can get a relatively healthy sandwich (better option than McDonald’s that’s for sure) that is always satisfying. Grills or roštilj joints can be found on almost every corner in Serbia so try everything at least once and you’ll never be left hungry. 

We went to recuperate at our apartment and watch a bit more of sporadic Olympic games until we were ready to go back into town for something I was very anxious to try. Naturally I had done a bit of research before our trip and had seen a palačinkarnica of particular interest that seemed to rival the likes of Hari’s Creperie in Belgrade. Of course we had to go and…. ‘investigate’.

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Feniks (Pheonix) Palacinkarnica and Poslastičarnica are well established in Zlatibor and have a popular customer base. Their creperie is small however their crepes and waffles are just the opposite. While looking through their menu I was hypnotized by the visuals and the description of each delectable possibility. Each option they had for their massive pancakes could also be created into a spaceship sized Belgian waffle. Because I chose the crepe we would split, Milan then had the honor of choosing the waffle.

 And you thought we nommed a lot already? It’s just getting started.

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And so we were introducted to ‘El Presidente’. A fluffy waffle draped in both strawberry jam and Eurocrem, topped with freshly cut strawberries, whipped cream and waffer. Talk about wow. Are you seeing what I’m seeing? When the polls open in November, I think I’m going to vote for with this waffle, El Presidente to be the head of State, not Trump or Hillary. Four more years of nom!

Meanwhile, on my side of the table…I had a date with the ‘Blues Brothers’.

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Nom-cation, nom-cation, nom-cation. The Blues Brothers was everything you ever wanted in, on and around a crepe: filled to the brim with Nutella, banana slices and hazelnut bits, drizzled and topped with even more Nutella, hazelnut, vanilla and chocolate ice cream, whipped cream and again adorned with crispy waffers. That moment my eyes grew ten sizes as well as my stomach, I was both lucky and vexed that I had to share it with Milan but the half that I did eat would be in my memory bank of noms forever.

This being technically our dinner, we took a long walk around the center afterwards to digest the food babies we had just been impregnated with. There is still much to do at night in Zlatibor and the family friendly atmosphere is relaxing compared to that of Belgradian nightlife. I reminded Milan though of our plans the next day to visit a special place tucked beneath a hill the following day and so after a beer, we retired to ready our stomachs for what was yet to nom.

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The hidden gem I am about to share with you is a must visit if you ever come to Zlatibor and there is a very good reason why. Have you ever traveled somewhere and eaten something that you could actual taste the culture in every bite? This is why Krčma Gaj cannot be missed. This is why Nomandnommer went to Krčma Gaj to get something completely Zlatiborian if you will, Komplet Lepinja.

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Look like someone’s back yard? Around the corner as you can see is a small rustic patio, just large enough for a dozen tables, overlooking the fantastic farmlands below. It is something out of a story book. We arrived at Krčma Gaj around eleven in the morning for more or less brunch and there were numerous families already enjoying their authentic meals and tranquil scenery.

Their menu is limited for a reason, they specialize in things that can be grown and bought around you primarily dairy and meat, things that are traditional to this part of Serbia. This being our first time, Milan and I both ordered tea, Komplet Lepinja (in fear that if we would regret ordering anything else) Zlatiborski sir (white cheese native to Zlatibor), and kiselo mleko (soured milk). Why on earth would we order sour milk you ask? You’re about to find out.

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Our chai came first, complete with little bags of honey and freshly squeezed lemon juice on the side. We sat and discussed our plans for the rest of the day, all the while eying up the delicious looking breakfasts people were delving into around us. When the kiselo mleko came I was enthralled because it came served in two small decorated clay jars, the authenticity was already off the charts. Kiselo mleko is difficult to explain to those who have never had it. It’s not exactly sour cream (well because it’s sour milk) so unlike the creamy velvety texture of sour cream, kiselo mleko has the consistency of firm yogurt with a tangy flavour similar to the prior but unique to its own, especially when made fresh like at Krčma Gaj.

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Promptly our Komplet Lepinja and cheese arrived and it could be said that I may or may not have been drooling on myself as our waiter set them down on the table. I immediately gave Milan the ‘oh my goodness’ look when I saw how many pieces of cheese there were, way too much for just two persons, but then upon looking at the star of the meal I was swept away to nomtown, population…me.

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Komplet Lepinja is as you might have guessed named ‘complete’ for a reason. In between a fresh loaf of lepinja you will find a mixture of egg and kajmak, made complete with thin pieces of Pršuta which is then all together toasted (and probably slathered with more egg and kajmak) on the grill. If there ever was a true Serbian breakfast, this would be it.

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There are things you eat in your life time that have ranks you know? Krčma Gaj’s Komplet Lepinja is not only on my ranking for top ten savory breakfasts but top ten best things I have eaten in my life this far. Crispy on the outside, practically oozing on the inside, it was a whole new experience for my taste buds, half of them screamed ‘this is too much!’ while the other half screamed ‘this should never end!’ Both of them were right, it was too much but I never wanted it to end.

Add all of this to the sensationally mellow Zlatibor cheese and kiselo mleko and I was on the moon. In all honesty we should have ordered just one kiselo mleko because both Milan and I only managed to finish a little more than half of each jar but now we know for next time. The price for a truly authentic meal like this was stupidly cheap (maybe around 14 USD for the both of us) and the view that comes along with it is priceless. We left Krčma Gaj feeling like we had experienced a genuine slice of Zlatibor, and by slice I mean the whole cake.

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After a quick pit stop at the apartment for supplies, we were back on the road towards Sirogojno Staro Selo, an outdoor historical museum recreating the homesteads of Serbians in the 1700’s. The sun had decided to come out and the walk around the miniature town was much needed. It reminded me a bit of Plymouth Plantation with the exception of reenactors playing the role of a Serbian Squanto. We did learn some interesting things about how Milan’s ancestors thrived during that time and concluded we needed a giant brick pizza oven in our backyard too.

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Along the way I had spotted road signs for natural waterfall Gostilje not far from Sirogojno and since we didn’t have a pressing schedule decided to check it out. Located in the middle of two hills and hidden away in the lush forest was a picturesque waterfall that spanned down the length of the hills on either side. We sat by the water for a bit and snacked on chocolate biscuits, soaking it all in. We never thought it would have been something we would have unintentionally stumbled upon, but we were very glad we did.

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Once back in Zlatibor, and me still completely full from the komplet lepinja, I decided to skip dinner and go straight to dessert. Not wanting to cut our last night short, we strolled around looking for souvenirs and eventually ended up at Feniks again, except this time at Feniks Poslastičarnica . Their extensive selection of gelato was calling my name and upon Milan’s insistence, I chose three scoops one chocolate, one walnut and one Jaffa.

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Yet again, Feniks managed to win over my stomach and heart (not that it’s all too difficult) and I nommed my way through the perfect flavor combination. I enjoyed the Jaffa but my favorite was the intense richness of the walnut. I had the odd sensation that I must be getting old since I now favor ice cream with nuts…(butter pecan, maple walnut were always popular with the senior citizens who visited the ice cream store I worked at)…but then again, maybe I’m just nuts.

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Unfortunately the next day, the temperature had dropped to that of late fall and the rain clouds began to form just as we were packing up the car to leave. We had planned on taking the scenic train through Mokra Gora that morning but because of a late start were unable to secure a spot. But with unlucky circumstances come rewards as we found ourselves warmly inside a cozy lodge in Drvengrad (0r Wood town) just up the road from the train station. This small ethno selo also known as Küstendorf or Mećavnik was built as the set for a Serbian movie and has since been used for film and music festivals as well as doubles as a hotel and open air museum. After we strolled around and bought some local honey, we settled in at the wooden lodge café and ordered Serbian style hot chocolates, complete with whipped cream. A little rain never stopped any noms.

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With our time line now free we had little problem getting back on the road to Belgrade. But wait, the noms aren’t over yet! Because of the long drive we stopped for lunch in Kragujevac and I used Instagram to the best of my ability to weed out a place for a quick afternoon bite. I settled on Snack Bar Angolo primarily because I saw they had actual swings in seating area, yes swings. Plugged into the GPS, we found Snack Bar without a problem, ordered our food and sat on the aforementioned swings while we waited.

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Milan apparently having never eaten in his life ordered an entire pizza (cappricosa of course) while I feeling less than hungry ordered a salad and small sandwich. I love tiny little places like Snack Bar because they are deliciously random, they are places I hope stay in business because of their delightful randomness. Remember Fabrikaukusa in Nis? Like that! My chicken salad with sesame dressing was tasty and despite Milan’s displeasure, the pizza was….really good. I mean really good. For reasons completely unknown to me it reminded me of eating pizza in the states (possibly even more so than PizzaBar!). Also for reasons unknown to me, Milan didn’t like it. I was in shock but agreed to help him eat it, as well as later that night and the day after since he clearly had left overs.

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And so ends our nom-cation. After being stuck at the toll booth into Belgrade for literally an hour, we were sad yet relieved to be home. With all of the eggs and peppers sent home from the Deda’s, I decided to make Serbian stuffed peppers with cheese the following day, a recipe which I intend on sharing in my next post because they are incredibly nom!

Wow, that took a lot out of me but honestly every time I sit down and write a post I feel overjoyed that I get to relive all of the food I have eaten, not to mention feel guilty about it, hooray guilt! I don’t feel guilty about sharing it with you all though because now you know a bit about Serbian weddings as well as a hot year round vacation spot that still remains true to its authenticity. So please, come to Serbia. If not for the Komplet Lepinja then for other reasons yes?

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I will be on a bit of a hiatus from nomming out in order to straighten out my eating pattern (not in a diet kind of way but in a way that my skin is seeking sweet revenge on me). There are however acceptable places to eat clean in Belgrade which I intend to explore further so don’t think I’m turning my back on you, good noms are coming!

Até lognom!

 

Restaurant Information:

Address: Tržni Centar bb, Zlatibor 31315 Serbia 
Phone: +381(0)31848017
Address: Naselje Gajevi b.b, Zlatibor Serbia
Phone: +381 31 583694
Address: Ugao Ilije Kolovića i Kneza Miloša 34000 Kragujevac Serbia
Phone: 034 330325
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Crna Ovca, Šaran and a day trip to Đerdap

Summer means different things to different people. My childhood summers were spent lazily on the cape devouring ice cream, enjoying dinners on the deck and taking day trips to sites around the New England area (compliments of summer library passes). Now in my (almost) mid twenties not much has changed. I still inhale ice cream in all forms, outdoor dinners European style are extended to late hours in the lingering summer heat and as far as day trips come, there is almost too much to be seen in terms of monasteries, fortresses, ruins, rivers and lakes in and around Serbia.

Summers are cherished for a reason and let’s be honest no one willingly remembers winters…at least not under ten plus feet of snow.

What does summer mean to you?

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Maybe it means… Shake n’ Bake?

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First up, I promised you a sweet nom to cleanse your pallet in last week’s post. It’s quite possible that the place I am about to highlight is now my favorite spot for gelato on the planet. Not to get pretentious but if you are reading this blog you probably know the difference between ice cream and gelato. In case you didn’t (no shame in that), gelato has a higher percentage of milk and lower percentage of cream and is prepared with less air than ice cream, creating that dense almost gooey like quality we know and love.

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Crna Ovca when translated to English means ‘Black Sheep’ which if we are referring to Crna Ovca’s individuality among the other ice cream-esq shops in Belgrade absolutely lives up to its name. With sassy savory flavors like Gorgonzola or Parmesan and delightfully sweet combinations like sesame coffee, marscapone pistachio and blood orange, being out of the ordinary is a delicious understatement.  Located on Kralja Petra, a ten second walk off the end of Knez Mihajlova, you have no excuse not to seek out this fluffy hoofed lamb.

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You’re going to laugh at me because out of all the amazing flavors I listed above, yours truly went with peanut…but did you expect anything else? It’s me we are talking about. This however was not your ordinary peanut, this perfectly creamy gelato had a salty peanut base sprinkled with crunchy bits of real peanuts. I never wanted it to end. This gelato is freaking phenomenal.

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Believe me when I say the higher than usual price for a small portion is well worth it. For me the small is a perfect size but go nuts and combine flavors of your wildest dreams.  Crna Ovca truly is the black sheep of Belgrade but for all the right reasons. Their signature tiny cups with their sheepish mascot is also incredibly adorable.

Are you the only one of your friends that prefers gelato to ice cream? Then perhaps you should embrace your inner black sheep!

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In the order of events, this past weekend Milan, Marina and I took a full day bus tour from Belgrade to  Đerdap National Park making stops along the way at Srebrno Jezero (Silver Lake), Golubac Fortress, Lepenski Vir and Ethno-village Kapetan Mišin Breg, ending with a boat cruise along the aquatic boarder of Romania and Serbia. These beautiful Serbian sights were accompanied by a cloudless sky and some delectable traditional noms. If you are interested in more details, I would highly suggest you subscribe to Postcards from around the world and await the upcoming post highlighting all the fascinating things from our excursion.

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Srebrno Jezero (Silver Lake)

Our first stop at Srebrno Jezero was a breath of fresh air and a welcomed spot to stretch our legs. This beautiful lake spans between Veliko Gradište and Kisiljevo, located off the Danube just an hour and a half drive from Belgrade. Srebrno Jezero is a great place to beat the summer heat of the city, kick back and relax. It felt like summer camp at lake Winnipesaukee all over again. Plus the beach line has plenty of places to get your nom on in case you neglected to pack a picnic.

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This palačinke is a fine example of what true day trip noms should look like. A scoop of ice cream enveloped by a pancake then smothered in chocolate sauce, plazma and a dollop of whipped cream. Kind of like hide-and-go-seek palačinke style.

Our next stop at Lepenski Vir left me questioning the roots of our existence as we entered the recreated ruins of the oldest civilization in Europe (as early as 6000 BC). The tools, quirky sculptures and skeletal remains of these early Europeans were uncovered alongside the Danube river in the mid 1960’s and have since been preserved and uprooted to higher ground for all those to marvel at.

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It was said that the people of this tribe survived until old age because of their primarily fish based diet, non existent of wheat or grains. Certainly says a bit about our food culture today doesn’t it?

But then again I eat a pancake a day so I’m not one to talk…

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By the time it came for us to drive to Kapetan Mišin Breg for lunch we were all drowsy from the heat and longing for a proper Serbian feast. Again, the history of Kapetan Mišin Breg and the family that runs this quaint B&B can be better explained through Postcard’s most recent post ‘A hill, like no other’  so please be sure to check that out. For the purpose of this blog though I will focus on the noms first and foremost.

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photo credit : Postcards from around the world

At the gate you are greeted with a taste of honey rakija which happened to be my favorite part of the visit because it was perhaps the sweetest (and least potent) rakija I have ever happened to try. Because the meal is prepared and served by the family members at Kapetan, you really get to experience the wonders of Serbian hospitality first hand. They begin the feast with home made chicken soup, scorching in the afternoon sun but you know they say drinking hot things in equally hot weather actually regulates your body temperature…it doesn’t hurt when it’s delicious either.

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For the main part of the meal there was a plethora of traditional options made with ingredients grown in the gardens of Kapetan. Lepinje, proja, fresh white cheese, pita of potatoes, pita of zelje (greens), breaded nettle, grilled chicken breast, potatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes. While waiting in line our tour guide laughed at me because I excitedly whispered to Milan ‘Can I have EVERYTHING??’. Turns out I could, and I did.

There was a possibility to go for seconds since there was so much food, however I was already stuffed and had my eyes on the vaniliceThese soft jam filled cookies are a specialty around Orthodox Christmas time but can of course be enjoyed year round.They were actually the first Serbian dessert I learned to make and are virtually fool proof. Use any kind of desired sweet filling, sprinkle (or smother) in powdered sugar and try not to eat them all on the spot.

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After the meal we walked around the grounds and enjoyed the spectacular view overlooking the river below. I actually took a small nap in one of the hammocks to shake my post feast drowsiness. If you do find yourself in the area of the Iron Gates, do yourself a favor and visit Kapetan Mišin Breg. 

We drove on to the main event of the day which was a boat cruise through the Iron Gates of the Danube to see the famous rock face sculpture of Decebalusthe last king of Dacia. I had read about this particular sight in multiple magazines and it tends to comes hand in hand if you google search touristic sights in Serbia despite it being on the Romanian side of the boarder. Not a cloud in the sky, it was truly a beautiful day to float down the river and see this unique (and enormous) bearded looking dwarf man.

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Behold Decebalus. Something straight out of Lord of the Rings, no? Unfortunately our meeting with the last king of Dacia was short as we cruised past then made our way around and back to port. By the time we returned to the bus, the sun was already setting (beautifully) and every bone in our bodies cried for home.

This little day trip was jam packed with the best of both natural and historical sights in Serbia, something I would certainly do again. Many thanks to Postcard’s for inviting us along on this journey!

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The following day we were long over due for an outdoor dinner on Zemun Kej which was chosen to take place at one of the most well known fish restaurants in greater Belgrade: ŠaranI had mentioned in my last post that proper seafood in Belgrade was hard to come by (at least at a price) but look no further because this long standing establishment has what you’re looking for.

Restoran-Saran-Reserve-LogoŠaran is somewhat of a tradition for Milan’s family and clearly for many other families based on it’s unwavering popularity. My first dining experience at Šaran was full of new experiences such as riblja čorba (fish soup) served in a large cauldron to feed the entire table. Coming from New England where clam chowder is king, this red colored broth complete with bones was a bit foreign to me. Foreign but nom! I had also had my first taste of ‘traditional’ Serbian serenading music. Something I have since gotten used to.

Having been provided with ideal evening weather, we dined on the outside portion of the restaurant abutting the water. It didn’t take us long to find something that fit each of our appetites as we jumped straight into our main courses (after sipping on prosecco and nibbling on bread and garlic butter of course).

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My grilled river fish came lightly seasoned alongside some of the most superb potato salad and grilled polenta which I had ordered as an extra add on simply because I love it. There were a few bones here and there but overall the fish was tender, properly grilled and full of flavor.

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Milan pleasantly surprised me by ordering something other than salmon and choosing the grilled tuna steak, possibly the best decision he could have made because that fish was the essence of nom. Unlike white fish, tuna steaks are a darker, tougher cut of meat hence why they call it a ‘steak’. Served over greens and potatoes, Milan made his way happily through his meal and from the satisfied look on his face will be ordering tuna at Šaran in the future.

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One of the things I love about Milan’s family is that there is somehow always room left for dessert. One could say that I come from a family who appreciates all kinds of sweet noms, so this makes me feel right at home. The fun thing about Šaran is that their dessert menu is actually a plate of the desserts themselves to assist in your decision making process. Once you see them it’s hard to say no!  Milan and I went with a light pana cotta so as not to tip us completely over the edge. Light, creamy and very nom.

I have never had a bad meal at Šaran. I’m not even sure if it’s possible. Even if you don’t enjoy fish based dishes there are plenty of other options to choose from that will leave you extremely satisfied. Something I always appreciate when visiting Šaran is their friendly and knowledgeable staff, and due to the amount non Serbian speakers passing through their doors, they are always eager to make suggestions to ensure you leave completely content.

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As I said (other than being buried in the sand) not much has changed when it comes to summers over time and for my sake I hope they never do. Summer means differnt things to different people but I bet they all include family, sun and noms!

Wait! There is one last nom! Remember a few months ago in ‘Belgrade must noms’ I had introduced you all to Teta Nada and her amazing culinary skills? Well yesterday evening we were lucky enough to visit her again and as we speak… I am still stuffed.

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Sunflower bread, my favorite prebranac (beans and caramelized onions), sauteed peppers and eggplant, savory meat cake, assorted rostilj and a pillowy jaffa inspired cake to finish.

Nom. Nom. Nom. Nom. Nom. Nom. Nom. Nom. Nom. Nom. Nom. Nom. Nom. Nom. 

I should probably go exercise. right. now.

Annyeongom!

Restaurant Information:

Address: Kralja Petra 58, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Phone:065 3358280
Address: Kej Oslobođenja 53, Belgrade 11000, Serbia
Phone: 011 261 8235

 

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Happy Places : Pizza Bar and Špaklica

Having seen so many pictures posted as of late by those back in the States frolicking at the beach or barbecuing with their families, I wanted to take a moment to truly admire the summer noms that are absent from my life here in Serbia for one reason or another. First corn on the cob…it’s available but sadly just not the same, really nothing says summer to me like corn on the cob. Secondly all things sea food, lobster, fried clams…I would probably even eat a steamer or two at this point. Lobster is like a New England right of passage yet virtually non existent here. Having grown up on the East Coast, living in a land locked country certainly has it’s disadvantages.

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Summer 2012 skeptically destroying a lobster (see corn on cobb)

It’s not that we don’t have seafood available, it just comes at a price. We do however have girice, a small lightly breaded, deep fried fish that you can buy neatly packaged by the gram along the river and snack on (head, eyes, bones and all). Girice was something I NEVER thought I’d enjoy but it’s truly delicious. It’s also super cheap!

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It might look unappetizing on your end but come to the Balkans and put your money where your nom is!

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It was a sad day when Branko left but we knew that we would be seeing him for one more evening a few weeks from that point because of his stop over in Belgrade en route back to the United Arab Emirates. The rest of the family had went on to the village for a few days and thus Milan and I were once again left with time on our hands which we planned on using to watch my new favorite sport, basketball.

I grew up watching hockey, being a hockey fan, waking up at five in the morning to watch my brother play hockey, hockey hockey, hockey. Yet since moving to Belgrade (and having already had some interest in the Celtics) I have fallen in love with basketball and because the sports nature in Belgrade is more or less equally if not more crazy than Boston it’s hard not to get into it here. I have thus far only been to Red Star games (no offense to Partizan), therefore I have gotten to know their players, many of whom play for the National team of Serbia that was about to enter the qualifying rounds for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

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We attended a friendly match against Greece at the end of June then a week or so later decided to go to the final deciding game against Puerto Rico (as shown above). Serbia had yet to loose a game and the undying support of Serbian fans is something out of a film. Being in the middle of it all was electrifying.

So me being the Bostonian I am… what better way to lead up to an anticipated game than pizza and beer?

Once again thanks to Instagram I had become aware of a restaurant in New Belgrade that served up deep dish style pizza as well as a variety of other pies including “black delight” a completely charred crust which for some reason people go ga-ga for. It’s very rare to find thick crust pizza in the greater Belgrade area so I was already salivating. The name of this unicorn is appropriately called Pizza Bar  and again I felt somehow transported back to the coast for just one evening.

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Pizza Bar’s slogan “Your happy place” is certainly fitting not only because of their heavenly food but because of their bright and relaxing environment. With a colorful outdoor terrace and rustic wooden interior, Pizza Bar has plenty of room if you are looking to pregame with friends or hide away in a cozy corner to chat. Milan and I found a quiet spot in the back, ordered cold beers and began to peruse the menu.

Their basic menu is actually full of variety. Between pasta, pizza and salads there is plenty to keep your stomach full in between drinks. All of their pizzas come in the option of classic thin wood fired crust or fluffy Chicago style, as well as small (a bit larger than a personal pie) or large which would be enough for two or three people. We both agreed to get two small pizzas with different toppings in each crust style.

Get yourself a tissue, you might just drool on yourself.

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Fiorentina

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Mediteran

My “Fiorentina” came in Chicago style, a delectable combination of cheese, panceta, sun dried tomatoes, basil and spinach pesto. The incredibly fluffy, buttery, crispy crust was like a pillow for my taste buds. I’m in love with pesto pizza and Pizza Bar’s spinach pesto did not disappoint. The flavor combination was absolutely nom. Milan’s “Mediteran” included cheese, ham, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes and huge chunks of feta.  We split them both in half so when I moved on to the thin crust I was conflicted as to which one I liked better…then I realized this wasn’t a test… I could choose both!

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Let’s not forget about the beer. Weiss Beer, how I adore thee. Pizza Bar actually has Budweiser on tap but much to Milan’s disappointment tasted more like the American version than the Czech one he was hoping for. Stick with a classic, Erdinger all the way.

For Belgrade standards the cost of the meal (two pizzas plus four beers) was reasonable but the more important part was that we left feeling happily full and loosened up for the game. You must remember that they don’t sell alcohol inside any sporting event in Serbia so you must take full advantage of time before hand  and get your beer on (responsibly of course). Because of the close proximity to Kombank Arena, Pizza Bar is a great place to do just that as well as grub on some of the tastiest pizza in Belgrade.

Serbia dominated the game in case you were wondering. Thirty points ahead the entire game. Boom. See you in August Rio!

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A few days later, the family had reunited and we decided to go to Ada Cigalnija for bike riding and outdoor relaxation. During the summer months as I had mentioned in ‘Weekend bites in BG‘ Ada is packed to the brim with people sunbathing, swimming, biking, roller blading, drinking and nomming. This time I opted out of biking but walked the 4km route along the inlet. Normally I go during the week which is much less congested but despite the crowds it is still a great place to enjoy nice weather.

I met up with everyone after my walk at cafe Havana near the water on the left side of Ada. Wedged in between Havana and Shine though is a small “ice cream” stand that has recently been taking  the world by storm : ice cream rolls.

If you haven’t seen or heard about this fascinating version of a favorite summer treat, ice cream rolls originated in Thailand and are actually referred to as “stir-fried ice cream”. The construction is basic: cold milk or cream is poured over a round below freezing slab then ‘chopped’ together with desired ingredients, flattened then curled into small rolls and placed vertically into a cup then nommed by the masses.

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photo credit: Spaklica Facebook

Špaklica on Ada is the first of it’s kind here in Belgrade. Their name comes from the putty knife (or spackle) they use to make the ice cream rolls, commonly found in any garage or home appliance store. Their location by the bank at Ada is perfect because of the amount of pedestrians, mostly lured in by the fascinating procedure. Take a look for yourself!

Their flat rate is 260 dinars (2.40 USD) and though it might seem hollow, the rolls fill up a decent sized cup and satisfy just as much as any standard scoops. Unfortunately because it was the end of the day their options for toppings were limited but luckily they still had Nutella, banana, plazma and orange so the outcome was a delicious Jafa like dessert. Milan described the ice cream roll experience like ‘eating a crepe in ice cream form’. Needless to say it was extremely delicious and I would return to Špaklica for this special treat any day.

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Dreamy, creamy, ice cream roll perfection. Ahnom.

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Now if you weren’t convinced by this Thai style dessert, then I still have something else in the ice cream department up my sleeve…but you’ll have to wait until nomandnommer’s next post. I will let you in on a hint though…if you’ve ever felt like the odd one out in the crowd, or just plain out of the ordinary then you’ll love this upcoming nom!

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Look I’ve even made another friend. Who said being the odd one out was a bad thing?

See you soon fellow nommers!

Hyvästnom!

Restaurant Information:

Address:  Bulevar Mihajla Pupina 165, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Phone:  011 222 5467
Address: Ada Ciganlija, lokal Havana, Serbia
Phone: 060 313 1578
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When Branko came to nom!

I think all of those who have ever resided in the states can agree that once the fourth of July has come and gone the summer tends to go by in the blink of an eye. This rule also applies across the pond in my opinion because I am sitting here (eating a huge slice of freshly cut watermelon) half in disbelief that it is already almost two weeks into July! Do what you can to make these glorious months of barbecue and summertime treats last people!

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Budva 2015: Branko, Milan and I

Speaking of barbecues, Milan and I had purchased our first small charcoal grill about a month ago in hopes that when our friend Branko came to spend the week with us we would be able to create some tasty nommories. If you can recall in my post Some noms come and some noms go…” I had mentioned Branko and the amazing noms that he had introduced to us at Juice Bar and other local spots around Budva, so we felt it was absolutely necessary to share with him in return some of our most coveted noms around Belgrade and beyond. With this is mind there will be a few nom rewinds but perhaps  they are even juicier than before!

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On the first day that Branko had arrived to Belgrade, Milan had picked him up very early in morning and upon their arrival home I was already getting ready to leave and was pleasantly surprised that Branko had requested burek to be his first meal of choice. Unfortunately because I would be at the center for the remainder of the day, it was up to Milan to expose him to noms in my absence.

The next part I will provide with the help of Milan’s taste bud recall.

After everyone had properly rested Milan, Branko and Milan’s sister had chosen to stroll zemun quay that afternoon . With the original intent of going to restaurant Koliba for seafood related food, their stomachs altered their plans and lead them to the massive Hotel Jugoslavija yet more specifically the American inspired Intergalactic Diner.

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When my mother had came to visit last summer we had also taken her to Intergalactic for a bit of comfort food after countless days of traditional Serbian food on her. Complete with customer chosen jukebox, Intergalactic Diner is a blast from the past and the real deal in terms of classic burgers, fries, and milkshakes.

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Milan chose the Big Bang which comes with a juicy burger patty, bacon, lettuce, onions, mayo, mustard and to top it all off a crispy hash brown. All of this was accompanied by fries and onion rings as you can see above.

Milan described his burger experience as : “The burgers at Intergalactic are humungous, tender and full of flavor. They make you feel like you’re in America because of the 50’s diner environment. It’s a place to go when you want to fill your stomach and be FULL!” 

There you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth. Branko also relayed to me that he enjoyed his own burger and was happy that they went there for his first official meal in Belgrade. If there is anyone I trust when it comes to professional nomming it would be these two gentlemen. Shall I call them my nominions?

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Later that evening I met up with the group at Manufaktura for a drink then take a stroll around the center before heading off to yet another meal. I of course was completely famished from having had only keks and yogurt throughout the duration of my shifts (by choice) but the men on the other hand were hoping to digest a bit before we took Branko to our super special secret spot for dinner.

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This rather fancy macchiato fredo was the perfect pick me up after a long day of running around and physical labor. For sure one of these days I will return to actually eat at Manufaktura since I have heard nothing but good things and based on what I saw coming out of their kitchen my nom senses were tingling.

But until then moving on…

If you can remember “Proja, Čorba & Ramen…Uuumami!” then the photos below should give you a hint as to where we decided to take Branko, none other than the spectacularly authentic Japanese flavors of Marukoshi. We had been planning to take Branko here ever since we first visited this Dorćol gem.

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Naturally we had gyoza for an appetizer as well as cold cucumber chashu rolls filled with marinated pork belly and arugula with a delicious sesame dressing. These I could have eaten a thousand over because they were so refreshing and ideal for the warm summer weather. Marukoshi actually has a cold summer ramen which I was tempted to try but I needed something to clear my sinuses and I felt  the only way would be through a steaming bowl of hot broth.

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This time around I chose shio ramen which was different from the original miso ramen but equally delicious, prepared with chicken broth and filled with shrimp, egg, leeks, carrots and corn. I have to admit that I ate it with such great fervor that I was forced to lean back and close my eyes afterwards so that I didn’t explode. Milan also strayed and ordered beef yaki udon which will go down in the nom books as one of the most phenomenal things to eat in Belgrade. Thick udon noodles stir fried in a heavenly smooth soy sauce with tender beef and vegetables. Branko on the other hand chose Katsukare, similar to the Katsudon but accompanied by a flavorful Japanese curry sauce.

Afterwards we blejed (my serblish word for lazing around) and digested via a lengthy philosophical conversation which was befitting to always serene surroundings and relaxed environment Marukoshi provides. At the end of the night Branko was full and happy . Therefore we were happy.

But of course it doesn’t end there…

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The following Friday we invited our friends over for a full on barbecue to test out our new little grill. Complete with over 30 cevapi, 10 chicken breasts, lepinje, marinated tomatoes, fresh basil pasta salad and tzatziki potato salad, as well as a repeat banana plazma pudding cake (made by yours truly) we pigged out and played games until late in the evening, all signs of a successful barbecue.

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Since I moved to Belgrade last year I had been longing for the convenience of having our own grill and cannot wait to use it until the last warm days even into fall. There is just something so nom about grilled anything!

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The following day we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and make a day trip to Fruška Gora,  a mountain range and national park around an hour drive north west of Belgrade, just south of Novi Sad. We we are very excited to spend some time in nature and hopefully find a tasty place to have lunch. The buzzing of hundreds of beehives intermittently placed along the side roads echoes the summertime feeling of this beautiful and expansive national park. Much like all of Serbia, there is always some sort of monument, historical site or panorama to be seen so make sure that your eyes are peeled to avoid missing any opportunity to take in more spectacular Serbian sights…

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 The night before Milan had made a note that Hotel Norcev would be the best lunching spot in the area thus after sightseeing and hiking up to a 14th century tower, it was safe to say that our energy was in need of replenishment. Norcev is located next to an old radio tower that was (surprise surprise) bombed by NATO in the 90’s, however the lush green surrounding of the hotel and family friendly recreational bath and spa creates a peaceful safe haven in the middle of Fruška Gora.

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One can come to expect that restaurants attached to hotels like Norcev will most likely be cooking up traditional Serbian specialties such as hot and cold mezza, rostijl and balkanized sweets. Having just nommed our weight in cevapi and grilled meats the night before however, none of us were particularly in the mood for rostijl but Norcev’s expansive menu provided multiple other options. Branko chose fish, Marina steak with mushroom sauce and Milan a sort of stuffed Karađorđeva šnicla but with chicken instead of pork. I on the other hand went completely off the Serbian path and ordered a chicken tortilla wrap (laugh all you want because it sound super American right?).

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To be completely sure we wouldn’t leave hungry, along with our mains we ordered Šopska salatakupus salata (cabbage slaw) and deep fried cheese (ugh yes). Of course when the food arrived in the giant portions as you can see above we were assured the possibility of leaving hungry was slim to none. Now I won’t boast because I admired all of the food BUT my chicken tortilla wrap (complete with veggies, pickles and an insanely delicious honey mustard sauce)….was by far the best. Regardless of size compared to the other Serbian behemoths, the wrap was the perfect amount for my recovery from last night’s barbecue.

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They were jealous. I don’t blame them. Om nom in your face!

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On the last day of Branko’s stay Milan had already unfortunately returned to work from a week of vacation so Marina had suggested taking him into the city and stay relatively cool cafe hopping for the afternoon. Upon reaching the city though both Branko and I were hungry and had the intention of eating something vegetarian for a change….and what better to nom on than falafel….and where better to find that than another one of my Belgrade favorites: Tel Aviv Hummus House!

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This photo of Tel Aviv’s gigantic falafel sandwich is much more alluring than the one I had taken in “Nom catch up : Zapata, Tel Aviv & Mali Princ” during my teaching seminar. This photo is almost pornographic. The hefty weight of the falafel filled pocket is intimidating, filled with four or five pieces, fresh greens, picked beets, hummus, tomatoes and other goodies. Branko was thoroughly impressed and described it as “light” fare. I’m not sure if I agree with him because I was feeling quite stuffed afterwards but for 300 dinars (2.70 USD) it’s certainly light on your budget and healthy taboot.

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Thus completes the time Branko came to nom! On one hand I am glad that he came to stay with us for the amount of time he did, on the other hand I am still recovering from all the food we managed to consume (but who are we kidding I’d do it all over again, I live to share the noms!). For all of the amazingly wonderful things Branko had exposed Milan and I to last summer I hope that his mini vacation is Belgrade was equally relaxing and memorable.

There is one last thing though….I had been hoping to take Branko to a specific restaurant in New Belgrade since I knew he enjoyed a good pie…however this was a rare pie in the capital because of it’s deep dish nature…but with time not being on our side I ended up going under different circumstances. Below is a small taste of what you can expect from my next post…when I discovered my happy place at Pizza Bar!

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 Oh…by the way…I’m a bit blonde now.

Too many noms for one post!! Until next time people!

A despedinom!

Restaurant Information:

Address: Bulevar Nikole Tesle 3, Zemun, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Phone:011 405 8686
Address: Kralja Petra 13-15, Belgrade 11000, Serbia
Phone: 011 218 0044
AddressKapetan Mišina 37 Lower Dorćol, Stari Grad, Belgrade 11000
Phone: 064 479 4715
Address: Fruška gora, Iriški Venac; Serbia
Phone: 021 4800 222

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Nomming the way to Niš

Hello everyone, I trust you had a lovely week. Though the weather here in the greater Belgrade area has been nothing short of steamy, the sun is welcomed and the first official week of summer has certainly lived up to it’s expectations. This weekend I invite you to take a flash trip with Nomandnommer to Jagodina and Niš, the birthplace of Constantine the Great and home of some very delicious noms!

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We begin by making our way south of Belgrade on the autoput to Jagodina (around half way to Niš / one hour out) where we planned on stopping by the zoo and doing a bit of sight seeing in this small yet inviting town whose name and flag depicts a sweet red jagoda(strawberry).

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I think we can all agree that every great trip begins with road noms. Of course you can expect my list of car snacks to include the likes of Smoki and peanut butter pretzel sticks but there has been a new snacking development since my return to Belgrade: Basket.

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Basket are a line of healthy, homemade, delicious snacks made in Serbia and can be found in almost all major groceries stores (as well as the refugee aid center I work at). By using ingredients packed with a variety of nutrient rich ingredients, Basket snacks will become your new favorite go to when your stomach begins to rumble for an afternoon pick up. I’m personally addicted to ‘Krekeri Basket 5’ (because of the peanut in the middle) but the rest of  their products are equally addictive. Spread on some ajvar, hummus or pavlaka or dip them in Nutella, peanut butter or jam and enjoy a little piece of Serbia.

We arrived at the humble zoo of Jagodina a little after ten in the morning, already sticky with sweat from the rising heat of the day. It’s possible that the Zoološki vrt Jagodina is the quaintest zoo I have ever had the privileged of visiting but this is what gives it it’s natural charm. They boast four adorable tigers as well as numerous other big cats and my soon to be favorite 6 meter giraffe.

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For the record this was the firs time I ever touched a giraffe. If you have yet to have the pleasure these gentle giants are extremely soft much like that of a horse. Their tongues on the other hand are almost like a small slimy arm capable of pulling your arm from its socket. My new giraffe boyfriend continued to follow me around his enclosure, reaching his long neck out to get more attention.  It is now one of my top ten favorite moments in my life thus far.

After our short lived but entertaining visit, we decided to venture around the small center of Jagodina in order to relax and kill time before we could continue and check into our hotel in Niš by mid afternoon. We sat near the main fountain at a glorious outdoor cafe, Skver Klub or Square Club (remember people, words in Serbian are spelled exactly how they are read!) to have a cool drink. Of course being in Jagodina I chose to have an iced tea with strawberries and mint.

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Best choice ever. Chunks of strawberry with refreshing mint and a slice of orange served over ice. The perfect summer combination. See you soon Jagodina!

Onward to Niš!

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With our body temperatures cooled for the time being we continued our journey to Niš. The third largest city in Serbia, Niš has deep historical roots, having been occupied and influenced by both the Roman and Ottoman Empire thus there exists a wealth of fascinating sites for first time visitors. With a lengthy river promenade, bustling center and 18th century fortress focal point, the city itself resembles many western European cities I have visited before.

Starting at the fortress to hopefully hide in the shade we walked along the expansive garden like grounds filled with towering trees, stone artifacts, and secret hideaways. Similar to Kalamegdan in Belgrade the fortress is open at all times and because of this there are multiple cafes and bars on site as well as an outdoor theater. We would return later that night for drinks but at that moment our stomachs were crying so we crossed the bridge to the city center for something substantial.

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Do you ever pass by a restaurant on the street only to be lured in by something that a stranger is nomming? This was the case when Milan and I ended up at Night & Day . Having walked by not knowing what my appetite longed for, the appearance of what I later found out was Night & Day’s Srpska Pica (pizza) topped with cheese, bacon, eggs and a giant scoop of kajmak, pretty much a hangover special. Upon sitting down however, the thought of eating that much kajmak in the current heat made my stomach turn over, so we ordered individual wood fired pizzas with tomato sauce, cheese and mushrooms.

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Regardless of where we are Milan and I always seem to order basically the same thing because of our similar taste in food. This time was no exception as you can see, the only difference in Milan’s pizza (bottom photo) is that his has more meat. Sometimes it can’t be helped, great minds nom alike. Both pizzas were the perfect size and the change from the usually soft crusted capricciosa was exactly what my stomach was looking for.

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Later in the evening after freshening up at the hotel we set out in search of a specific sweet nom that I had preemptively started following on Instagram the week before our trip. A little bit outside of the city center (thus we had to drive) is a tiny place by the name of Fabrika Ukusa for (of course) palačinke and waffles that got me hook line and sinker with the promise of: peanut butter.

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photo credit : Fabrika Ukusa Nis Instagram

We all know I’m a sucker for palačinke (I think almost every other Nomandnommer post has highlighted them) but I’m head over heels in love with peanut butter, so much so I have recently started making my own. So when I saw Fabrika Ukusa post an oozing pancake full of peanut butter it became the focal point of my trip.

Fabrika Ukusa is a modern looking hole in the wall (all compliments intended) whose slogan “Palacinke i Vaflina na 101 nacin” or “Palacinke and Waffles, 101 ways” prepares you for big flavors despite their tiny space. Aside from the traditional Nutella, Eurocrem, plazma combinations, Fabrika Ukusa has add-ons like  fresh fruit, smarties, oreos, ice cream, peanut butter and if my eyes saw correctly something like speculoos cookie butter (which I am kicking myself in the ass for not trying). They even have american style pancakes!

I usually limit myself to two add-ins but I was on a mini vacation so I threw caution to the wind and picked Nutella, peanut butter, walnuts and bananas. I don’t know why I laughed like a crazy person while ordering, maybe I get a bit hysterical when I get extremely excited about a nom. It’s kind of embarrassing but I’m a bit abnormal…you should know this by now.

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The palačinke are huge (which is why I decided to photograph mine in the half eaten shape of a heart) and perfectly packaged so that every bite had an equal amount of each heavenly flavor. Some palačinkarnicas will jam pack everything into one side making it difficult to enjoy without an over abundance of one ingredient, thus I applaud Fabrika Ukusa’s for their palačinke to filling ratio. The peanut butter though, uhhhh the peanut butter. Milan had to endure my rather explicit sounds of nomming as I slowly made my way through pancake bliss. Not to sound crude but I wanted to throw it up and eat it again.

If nothing else I would drive the two hours it takes just to get palačinke at Fabrika Ukusa again. Seeing as they are seemingly newly opened I hope they have a successful future in the palačinke game. If they continue doing what they are doing though it won’t be very difficult!

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The next morning thankfully began on the cooler side and with a very lovely roof top breakfast included in our hotel stay. My apologies for not having taken any photos as I haven’t been drinking much coffee lately so my mind wanders until my stomach is fully satiated. A proper Serbian breakfast, it consisted mostly of savory meats, cheeses, eggs and jogurt then moved on to sweet french toast, pastries and fresh nectarines. I was set for the rest of the morning and eager to continue our trip to the infamous ‘skull tower’ of Niš.

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Standing at around 3 meters tall, the skull tower of Niš was ‘constructed’ by the Turks during the uprising against Ottoman Empire rule over Serbia. A group of revolutionary Serbs believed they would rather die by their own hands than be slaughtered by the Turks (in layman’s terms blew themselves up) and in the aftermath the Turks created this tower consisting of around 900 skulls to be put on display and leave a lasting example. The tower now resides inside of a chapel and for 150 dinars (1.50 USD) you can marvel at this eerie piece of Serbian history.

Feeling like we could use a dose of tranquility after that rather grim experience, Milan and I headed to Niška Banjaa spa town outside of the city famous for it’s healing waters and all around peaceful environment. People from all walks of life (including those seeking and not seeking medical rejuvenation) gather in the park to soak their aching feet in the small canals, partake in recreational sports like yoga and just generally take in the wonder of nature.

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As you can see above, the Institute for treatment and rehabilitation has a beautiful water feature that might make you think twice whether you’re still in Serbia or not. If you intend on passing through Niš then by all means make a pit stop at Niška Banja, you might just stay longer than you expected but treat your mind body and soul to a much deserved rest!

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Sadly we left Niš in less than twenty four hours and headed back on our way to Belgrade but not without a bit of off-roading to visit one of the most spectacular monasteries in Serbia, Monastery Manasija. We already had our fingers crossed for some monastery med (honey) as well as a nice bottle of wine to properly commemorate our weekend get away.

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Monastery Manasija is a phenomenal example of medieval Serbian architecture and is open to the public year round. The monastery was founded by Despot Stefan Lazarević and completed in 1418 which is why he had fortress walls constructed to protect the church within during Ottoman rule. It’s location is slightly hidden amidst the hills between the small town of Despotovac and Bukovac, a bit off the beaten trail but certainly worth the trek. The surrounding fortress walls, gorgeous church and lush gardens truly transport you back to the middle ages.

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Luckily for us I spotted in bold cyrillic letters on the tourist shop walls “Монестари мед” (monastery honey, yay! I can read cyrillic!) so after we walked around the grounds we went to claim our bounty and bought a large jar of honey and a bottle of domestic red wine. There is an option to climb a length of stairs to the top perimeter of the monastery’s stone walls for 500 dinars (5USD) per person, however since we had purchased both honey and wine and needed money for the tolls back to Belgrade we passed on the opportunity though have full intentions of returning some day in the future.

The sun was still high as we returned to the car and decided to get back on the highway, a banana chocolate pudding plazma cake I had made just before the trip guiding us back to our humble abode. Is there anything better than a cold dessert waiting for you when you get back from eating all weekend? I think not!

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We have yet to try the wine yet (we intend to upon Milan parents’ arrival next week) but the honey made from the pollen of local forest and field flowers is out of this world nom!

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Thus completes our flash trip to Jagodina and Niš. I know that there weren’t as many photos of noms as I normally would include in a post but sometimes living in the moment and eating without thinking is oh so sweet. Plus technically this is a heavy food and light travel blog so I hope that I was able to provide all of you lovely readers with some new or interesting information on a few beautiful places to visit if you ever happen to visit the aforementioned towns.

I would be very surprised though if all of the food discovered in my previous posts is not the main reason why you might be yearning for all things Serbian. Surprised and a bit….hangry (hungry angry).

Join me next week for some old and some new noms as we venture around the Belgrade area with a childhood friend of Milan’s who introduced me to life long noms in Budva, Montenegro last summer! Nom it forward people!

La revedernom!

Restaurant Information:

Address: Slavke Djurdjevic 3, Jagodina, Serbia
Phone: 069 404 0035
AddressObrenovićeva bb, Niš, Serbia
Phone: 018 244 396
Address: Knjaževačka 56, Niš, Serbia
Phone: n/a
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Do the Ka-ka-lamba! (and other tasty treats)

I’m not sure what has taken me so long other than the fact that I severely injured my thumb while constructing a make shift shelf at the refugee aid center which has inhibited me from typing properly but that hasn’t stopped me from eating some serious noms! Some things are truly worth bleeding for though. On the bright side it was a very positive week because I was constantly giving people the thumbs up. Many thanks to the doctor’s of Info park. I’m extremely grateful I will still have full use of the finger that helps me open bananas (among other things).

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Enough about my grotesque mishaps, this is a food blog after all and I would hate for you to loose your appetites. In this week’s post I invite you to let loose and enter the kooky world of one of the most unique restaurants in Belgrade, as well as another name sharing palačinkarnica, and an adorable post visa application cafe haven!

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On one of these crazy weekends, Milan and I decided to take a break and enjoy a stay-cation in Belgrade, hiding overnight in an area in town so that we didn’t feel the strain of having to take the sketchy night bus back home. For perhaps the second time since moving here, Milan was in charge of picking the restaurant we would go to that Saturday night and similar to before he stepped outside of our comfort zone and chose Lorenzo & Kakalamba. 

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Lorenzo & Kaka what??

Lorenzo & Ka-ka-lam-ba! Sounds like a type of dance doesn’t it? As I’m assuming the name has peaked your interested as did it when I first heard of it. Whether Milan discovered Lorenzo and Kakalamba from a friend, Instagram or their repeated spread in Air Serbia’s Elevate magazine, I was extremely excited that he had made the decision and it was within walking distance from where we were staying.

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Lorenzo and Kakalamba is located on the corner of Cvijićeva and Vladetina in Belgrade, a few blocks away from the Church of Saint Nikolas. The bottom floor of the beige colored building that they reside in is painted a bright yellow, with red trimming so it is considerably easy to find if you’ve already had a few drinks beforehand (as we had). A velvet VIP road leading up to their bright blue colored entrance signifies that you’re in for some serious special treatment and some serious fun.

Upon entering the restaurant I was overwhelmed (in a good way) by the kooky decorations, wall hangings and seating throughout the entryway and into the dining room. Imagine a mix between regal elegance and the outlandish charm of a contemporary art museum. From brightly colored chairs in the shape of naked behinds to upside down sheep hanging from the ceiling above the bar, Lorenzo and Kakalamba is sure to stun your senses. I was just hoping the food would prove the same.

Look at how ridiculously happy I am just to eat bread and butter. Maybe it was because they use a fancy frosting tip to present the butter…or maybe because I had a Jelen or two on the way, you decide.

First off their staff is exquisite. They even go as far as to putting the napkin on your lap and meticulously pouring your beer into your glass which when you look around at the circus-like atmosphere one might not guess their waiters were five star quality. Secondly their menu is out of this world. Every dish mentioned was making me salivate. Handmade pastas, traditional Serbian s, and every other comfort food in between, it was turning into an extremely difficult decision. So what did we do? We ordered the Lorenzo Appetizer to assist in our decision making process of course!

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After spooning a portion of each delectable looking piece onto our individual plates, our waiter then explained the contents and preferred method of how we should go about nomming the Lorenzo Appetizer. First: Don’t eat too much bread. (oops too late for that) Next, start with the pecorino cheese and chicken liver pâté crostini, then move onto the Italian prosciutto and sausage flowers and finally the tomato basil bruschette, all the while intermittently enhancing the flavors with the sweet onion jam (pictured in the center of the platter). We took his instructions and thoroughly enjoyed each moment spent with the Lorenzo Appetizer. Despite not being a fan of liver anything (believe me I’ve tried numerous times) the crostini pâté was full of flavor and the onion jam combined specifically with the pecorino reminded me oddly enough of Stonewall Kitchen in Portland, Maine.

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My insatiable appetite for cheese drove me to order the handmade tagliatelle with mascarpone, spinach and parmesan. From experience tagliatelle is a pasta you can either order in a restaurant or make fresh at home. If you see it in the store in a package, hold your breath because it just won’t be the same. Once unveiled from under a silver dome, my little slice of heaven was prepared to perfection. My mouth was singing as the creamy mascarpone slowly congealed into every crevice of each beautiful ribbon of pasta. Word for the wise, take your time to truly savor this dish because before you know it you’ll feel like you’ve eaten the whole of Italy.

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As always Milan’s dish was more modest, two tender chicken filets with a decadent Marsala mushroom sauce served over a bed of fresh greens. The sauce was phenomenal but needless to say he was eyeing my tagliatelle throughout our entire meal (of course I let him have a bite…just one bite). In terms of quality it’s evident that Lorenzo & Kakalamba uses quality ingredients and puts the proper amount of TLC into each dish that leaves the kitchen.

At the end of our dining experience, we were both very impressed. Lorenzo and Kakalamba is exactly the kind of place you should take a new visitor if you are looking to step it up from the usual traditional touristic restaurants around Belgrade. Within the walls of this fun house you will be able to sample a variety of incredible dishes and flavors and as I mentioned before the ambiance is completely unique to this quirky city (and that is saying something)! Nom!

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Although Lorenzo and Kakalamba’s human sized dessert menu was incredibly tempting, we still had the rest of the night ahead of us and the allure of midnight city pancakes was telepathically calling our names. Just so you’re aware, I’m one of those people who when consuming alcohol will then crave nothing but Nutella. Why? Blame it on my time spent in Germany when I used to wake up hugging a giant jar of it. Did you know Nutella is an excellent hangover cure? (well maybe it’s just MY cure).

Any who,  on our route home we stopped off at (Palačinkarnica) Glumac near Studentski Trg for the usual Nutella banana crepe and devoured it probably within seconds. Glumac (meaning ‘actor’ in English and appropriately named because of it’s location near the National Theater*) is always full of like minded night goers who are looking for a pancake fix. Reasonably priced and timely enough to quell the raging hanger of those having two much too drink, Glumac is a shining star in my nom book.

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*note similar to the dual name issue we had in Belgrade must noms : Tri šešira & Palačinkarnice Pinokio, there are in fact two locations claiming the name “Glumac”. The first being located on Dositejeva street in between the National Theater and the new Courtyard Marriott and the other being located just a few blocks down on the corner of Francuska and Braće JugovićaThe one we visited and pictured above is from the former. Not to say that the other Glumac isn’t a good place to get crepes, I just honestly haven’t had the pleasure of comparing them yet!*

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The next tid-bit is a place I came across again through copious amounts of walking around the city, constantly trying to familiarize myself with neighborhoods I have yet to discover. The ongoing lists of places I intend to pop in on is long but sometimes you just need to be impulsive, take the initiative and walk right in.

Krajl Caffee on the very end of the roller coaster street of Kneza Miloša is a prime example of a place that draws you in upon first sight. Because I am forced to renew my visa every three months (something that gives me reoccurring nightmares and trauma) I often find myself in this area of Belgrade looking for a place to dispel my application anxiety and an early morning cup of coffee.

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photo credit : KRAJL Caffee Facebook

This adorable cafe is designed in an urban like style, encased in the aromatic scent of croissants, sandwiches and freshly brewed coffee. It doesn’t take a genius to guess what I ordered (hint it rhymes with schmapuccinno) though next time I will order a coffee on ice, but what really took me for a spin was the pink frosted doughnut that by some magic found itself in front of me that morning. Immediately I am self consciously thinking in my head ‘is it that early that my serbian request for a “kapucino” sounded like “krofne”?!’

Haha, that WOULD be funny.

However my Serbian isn’t THAT bad. As it turns out (upon creeping on the customer adjacent to me) Krajl serves up a complementary doughnut with all of their coffee. A FREE DOUGHNUT PEOPLE. That is unheard of even in the States! As if that wasn’t generous enough, they also provide you with a flasche of mint and lemon infused water. FREE MINT AND LEMON WATER PEOPLE. Thank you gods of nom! I knew my endless suffering at the Foreigner’s Department would be worth it!

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After my mind was blown, I happily watched the world go by from my seat at the window and enjoyed the majestic casual playlist in the background. It took me roughly a half hour to gather up the courage to test the colorful sprinkled pastry (still semi unsure if it was too good to be true…can you imagine me) which when accompanied by a perfectly prepared capp’ was heaven in my mouth. The inside was filled with strawberry jam, a sweet yet not overly sweet delight to suppress my post Foreigner’s Department stress.

In total I spent over an hour at Krajl (unusual for me)because of the overall homey environment they provide. I felt like I was taking advantage of them since the bill came out to a sum of 160 dinars (less than $2 USD) but a few days later after being forced to submit “missing” visa documents, I returned this time with Milan in tow where we feasted on croissants and mini choco-pains. Shocker, they were incredible.

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See? Even an injury can’t slow my appetite down! It also didn’t stop me from making some of the most amazing brownies in existence. I encourage you to check out this recipe for instant nomgasm.

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I am actually planning to post again within the next day or two so that I can highlight some of the fast-food ventures as of late. Who said delicious food aren’t allowed to be fast? Join the ranks of fellow Belgradians as we chow down on some serious street noms and take away!

Hope to see you soon!

Bon Voynom!

Restaurant Information:

Address: Cvijićeva 110, 103614 Belgrade, Serbia
Address: Dositejeva 7, 11158 Belgrade, Serbia
Phone: 011 262 3729
Address: Kneza Miloša 43, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Phone: 011 3618921
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Belgrade’s Bagel ¦ Bејгл

Confession time: my favorite meal of the day is breakfast. I could eat breakfast food all day every day without break. All of the best noms in my opinion are centered around breakfast. Sweet or savory (though I LOVE sweet breakfast), you name it and I will devour it, as long as it’s served with coffee.

Let’s take a look back at some of the more memorable breakfast noms over the past few years.

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Uhhhhhhhhhhhh……………home fries in Norwood, mango covered flap-jacks in Phuket, egg bowls in Portland, fluffy french toast in Hoboken, classy as hell omelets in Budva, Belgian waffles in Abu Dhabi, savory crepes in Boston , and the only croissant and cappuccino combo you’ll ever need in Rome…thank you for all of your morning nomming glory. To all the cities not pictured or mentioned above, you know who you are and to you I owe my girlish figure to as well!

I also love making breakfast and was for a very long time (and still am) obsessed with pancakes. Every Sunday I would make a different variety of american or otherwise style of pancakes, from orange chocolate to peanut butter banana to pineapple upside down pancakes. Pancakes, pancakes, pancakes.

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Emily loves her some pancakes.

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There is one other thing however that all good Americans love enjoying for breakfast either at home or on the go…and that’s a hot toasted bagel covered in cream cheese and gobbled up until the very last crunchy bite (as depicted below at Beach Bagel in Old Orchard Beach, Maine). Since moving abroad unfortunately these doughy rings of deliciousness are hard to come by and thus my taste buds have had to rely on memories of bagels past.

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Oh how I missed that…

That was until I discovered quite possibly the most impeccable home away from home bagel joint in all of Eastern Europe, and in the beautiful Belgrade of all places. I’m beginning to see that Belgrade has every nom I have ever loved. Just when I feel the homesickness in the pit of my stomach setting in, Belgrade swoops in like the defender of all things nom. Hint, hint I’ll probably never leave. (sorry Mom!)

Belgrade’s Bagel Bејгл  rose to the occasion and without a doubt met all of my American standards for a city bagel shop. Bagel is quaintly located on a quiet street in the district of Palilula near Mali Tašmajdan and the Faculty of Law in Belgrade. As most of the noms I go out searching for, one might just walk by, however the distinct smell of freshly baked bagels will certainly draw your stomach’s attention.

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Some of you might know that I have been working as a volunteer since February with refugees from various countries who have crossed into Serbia (primarily Belgrade) by working alongside multiple organizations, an experience which has thus far changed my entire outlook on life. So when I read that Bagel was actually an income generator of Atina (a non-governmental organization focused on combating trafficking of human beings and gender based violence) I was all the more excited to have the pleasure of nomming and helping a great cause simultaneously.

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Upon walking into the small shop I was immediately taken back to my time spent working in a small town bakery in the States, shelves lined with bagels of all different flavors: plain, sesame, poppy seed, sunflower, onion, everything, cinnamon-raisin. I get shivers just listing them out loud. Much like when I worked at said bakery, the personable woman working behind the counter at Bagel actually cared about what we might be hungry for, asking us if we in the mood for savory or sweet and suggested a few of their most popular items.

Although I felt like I was going against the American classic of cream cheese, their list of bagel sandwiches was too good to pass up. In no time at all my stomach chose the ‘Chicken Bagel’ filled with tender cuts of seasoned chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, cream cheese and a dreamy honey mustard sauce. Milan was sold, he ordered the same.

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Without a doubt I will be ordering the Chicken Bagel again (and again and again) because it was something so outstanding yet simple that you could eat it every day and never get tired of how well all of the ingredients go together. And that honey mustard sauce….I was transported back to Boston for the first time since moving. It was just so perfect. It was just so nom. Plus I love the way they package and cut the bagel into two optimum pieces. (being a control freak, food symmetry for some reason makes things taste even better!).

On instinct we ordered one of Bagel’s sweet options alongside our savory sandwiches to complete our ideal lunch. A perfectly sweet cinnamon-raisin bagel with the only logical filling ooooozing from the inside: bananas and Nutella. The combination is mind blowing. The ratio of cinnamony sweetness to raisins, Nutella and banana was ideal, something you might not be able to find in the States where more of everything is at times too much. Bagel’s sweet options also include a plain bagel topped with cream cheese, honey and strawberries, something I will be back for very very soon.

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The main thing to remember about accommodating bakeries like Bagel is that you have the freedom to be your own mad scientist and create your optimal bagel/sandwich combination. You want a cinnamon-raisen bagel with prosciutto, cheese and a sunny-side up egg? Go for it. How about a whole-wheat bagel with hummus, tomatoes and a ham omelet? If you can imagine it, Bagel can probably make it. Go nuts. Go crazy. Go Bagel!

To quote Bagel :

“Every city needs to have its own bagel to be a metropolis. Belgrade now has its Bagel Бејгл shop – an oasis of great taste where you can treat yourself to mouthwatering food and also contribute to the struggle for a better world.”

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Truer words never sounded so delicious.

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Short, sweet and savory.

Unfortunately that is all I have for you this week. We have been on bit of a budget and due to this our search for noms has been replaced by the search inside of our own kitchen cupboards for something to scrounge up. As I have mentioned before, the food struggle in your 20’s is real but is just a part of life. If struggling means home made cornmeal cakes with avocado and poached eggs though…then I intend to struggle by choice well into my old age.

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Mmmmmm struggle.

Slánom!

Restaurant Information:

Address: Knez Danilova 39 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Phone:011 33 488 65
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Orasnica & Orthodox Easter

Long weekends are the best! This time around Milan had Friday through Tuesday off and because it was both Orthodox Easter and Worker’s Day, there was so much to nom in this lengthy amount of time. I might advise you find a comfortable spot to relax in while devouring this week’s post, it’s truly a feast fit for an entire kingdom.

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I had been mulling over what I was going to bring to the village for Easter for a few days until I had a nompiphany. Sometimes when Milan comes home from work he brings me sweets like Air Serbia’s famous ‘orasnica‘ or walnut cookies which Air Serbia has been kind enough to demo on Youtube. These delicious morsels consist of basic ingredients that you probably already have around the house and the preparation is very easy!

Follow this link to Air Serbia’s Orasnice recipe demo!

Air Serbia Orasnica (Walnut Cookie) Recipe

Ingredients: 

  • 2 egg whites (room temperature)
  • 250 grams sugar
  • 150 grams plain ground biscuit (like plazma or belvita)
  • 200 grams ground walnut
  • handful of walnuts

*I chose to alter the recipe a bit because the consistency wasn’t desirable*

  • half a squeezed lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of oil

Directions: 

First measure out the ingredients with either a weighing scale or measuring cup equivalent.

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Seperate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Place the yolks to the side and use for something else or toss them, it’s up to you.

With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they start to become frothy and stiff. Gradually add in the sugar and continue mixing until it has formed stiff peaks.

By hand or with a spoon, slowing add the ground biscuit and ground walnuts in intervals until combined throughout.

*Add juice from half of the lemon and oil to gain proper consistency that will allow you to easily from the cookies by hand*

Preheat the oven to 150ºC.

Roll the dough into small balls  and place onto a greased cookie sheet.

Place whole walnut pieces on top of each cookie, pressing down lightly.

Bake for around 15 minutes depending on your oven until a shade of golden brown. *

Place directly onto a cooling rack and nom!

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Be careful…you might just want to nom them all!

*The egg whites create a meringue-like consistency so it’s best (in my opinion) to slightly undercook them and allow them to set properly once taken out to cool.*

Unfortunately the music playing during the video is the same music you hear when boarding and exiting an Air Serbia flight so it immediately makes me feel like my legs are trapped and I’m breathing recirculated air…but that’s what the mute button is for!

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This Easter was similar to the trip to the village we had made a month ago, full of food and family. During this time of the year the area is booming with newborn everything! Two of the cats at Milan’s grandfather’s (Deda) place were either pregnant or had just given birth the day before (see below the currently pregnant cat making her nest in the box on the porch). I adore these little Easter miracles. Last year Deda’s chicks had hatched one by one and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed.

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This time around however there is less documentation because of the constant  (literally) nomming but I wanted to highlight a few of the best things.

Of course we stopped at Eko petrol station on our way there for a cappuccino and a slice of cheese burek but that is besides the point. I also may or may not have eaten pretzel sticks with peanut butter on the remainder of the ride there, but that is also beside the point. What really matters is that when we arrived at Deda’s, a savory lunch of cheeses, assorted meats and a first time nom for me, meat cake!

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If you look up alternative Serbian cuisine in the dictionary this meat cake would be the first thing to come up. This salty cake is made up of all things Serbian: layers of fresh bread, poli sausage, pavlaka, young cheese and mayo. Upon first sight it looks a bit questionable but question no further and just eat it! You’d never see something like this in the States (at least not in New England) but trust in your stomach and nomstincts on this one.

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Speed up to the following and most important day, Easter!

As you can see below, eggs are traditionally colored in natural shades of reds and yellows, this being because they are ‘dyed’ using onion peels, panty hoses and miscellaneous leaves or flowers. They are then rubbed with a bit of oil to omit that brilliant shine. The outcome is nothing short of amazing. You almost feel guilty breaking into them…that is until you’re appetite tells you otherwise.

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This year I won the first round of “egg fighting” which is a game played by hitting the crest or bottom of a particularly chosen egg onto your “opponent’s”. Whoever’s egg cracks is out, the “winner” moving on to the next challenger. No egg hunts here, it’s warfare all the way.

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Deda had woken up at the break of dawn in a bit of a panic because he realized we didn’t have any bread which Milan’s aunt immediately fixed by putting together something I like to call ‘hot toasty buns’ a warm, soft homemade bread roll composed of simple household ingredients that tastes something like a Portuguese muffin. Crack them open and watch the steam and tantalizing aroma rise. Smear on butter, honey or preserves and you’ve realized you’re on your fifth one already. Milan’s aunt had also crafted an egg-shaped loaf (as seen below) with regular dyed eggs placed in the middle, something of a Serbian Easter tradition.

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After breakfast we drove over to Baba’s house to help her make a simple chicken soup, visit Milan’s grandfather’s cemetery plot to light a few candles (despite the insane amount of wind) then back to Deda’s house for a proper Easter lunch. Everything that was prepared the day before : soup, salads, sarma, roasted pig, chicken with vegetables, eggs, hot toasty buns, orasnica, cake, and homemade wine is placed on the table to be ‘blessed’ and is then removed once again to initiate the feast. And my what a feast it was!

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For the remainder of the afternoon we traveled to the acres of land that Deda owns to visit Milan’s grandmother’s tomb stone which is something out of a fairy tale. Stretching miles of forest, wild flowers and small sheds that were once homes speckled the area, everything is alive. Once back at the house we grazed over left overs until eventually falling asleep in our own food comas. Milan and I returned the follow days with cartons full of eggs, bags of potatoes and cornmeal, sweets, more leftovers and a giant bottle of Deda’s home-made red wine. I’m sure you can all relate: struggling financially in your 20’s never tasted so good.

And thus concludes our Orthodox Easter extravaganza.

Oh! We also made a new friend.

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This post was relatively short but then again time flies and when you stay in the village for a few days time becomes non existent. I do hope that you are inspired enough to go out and make your own walnut cookies or maybe even your own version of a meat cake. Whatever you end up nomming, just remember that sharing is caring. Don’t be shy, the world deserves to taste your noms!

I haven’t forgotten that I promised you bagels in Belgrade, so be ready for a taste reminiscent of the States next week!

Farenom!

Restaurant Information:   No information  this week! 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nom catch up : Zapata, Tel Aviv & Mali Princ

Why hello there! Long time no nom! These past weeks have been extremely busy on my end, applying for my visiting visa, running around at “work” and oberving / teaching classes. Please accept my apologies for not posting sooner but sometimes even though my stomach does not take a break, my mind certainly does. Luckily for you all though there are a few places that I can’t wait to show you!! Bear with me, I might be a bit all over the place (which is why in this post I chose to date the nommings) but if I promise noms I will give you NOMS.

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15th April, 2016 – Zapata Ciudad (and Moritz Eis)

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As each member of the family left one by one we were left with one last night in the company of Milan’s mother and were eager to show her the spicier side of Belgrade. As I mentioned before there are multiple food cultures that influence the area today and one you will see cropping up around the city are flavors south of the boarder.

Of all the Mexican themed restaurants in and around Belgrade, Zapata Ciudad is one of the best. Their authenticity is uncomparable and their portions are equal to those you might see in the United States. When I discovered this gem for the first time I discovered that there are actually three locations to the Zapata family: the original Zapata in Dorcol, Zapata Ciudad off Knez Mihaljlova, and Zapata Rio at Hotel Jugoslavia in New Belgrade. Clearly the food here must be nom if there success was able to expand across the Danube.

The name if you already guessed refers to Emiliano Zapata, an influential leader in the Mexican Revelution, seen today as a martyr for his countrymen and coined the term ‘Zapatismo’ which roughly means that the land belongs to those who work it, something far superior to those who capitalize on it. Other than that he had a pretty bad ass mustache and in some way provided me with the noms I am about to tell you about.

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Zapata Ciudad is tucked away on Vuka Karadžića off of Knez with an outdoor and indoor seating area. From inside the warm ambiance immediately summons you to order something tropical and their Trader Joes like drink pamplet will grant your tequila kissed wishes. I always feel better after a juicy strawberry Margharita, don’t you?

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As I unwound it took me no time to decide what I was going to be ordering because there had been one thing and one thing only that I had been dreaming about all week: hot, sizzling fajitas. The fajitas at Zapata Ciudad are to die for, seriously. My first visit I was amazed at the ‘food elevator’ that transported this steaming dish from the kitchen directly to my mouth. Milan laughed at me of course. You can choose between chicken, beef or a mix of the two, sauteed on the traditional cast iron skillet with assorted vegetables and a simple yet incredibly flavorful sauce. Wrap it all up in a cozy blanket of home made tortillas and you’re set for the night.

It would turn out however that we would share our dishes which included Ciudad’s ‘Chimichanga’ stuffed with similar contents of their fajitas but already snug in a warm tortilla with cheese, salsa, salad and frijoles. Now because I had been drinking my appetite drove me to devour all edible contents on our table (with the help of my accomplices) but at least in the end all three of us felt blissfully content and wishing we could go back in time to nom again.

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Emilino Zapata, we salute you.

Despite Ciudad’s tempting list of desserts, staring at me through the window on the opposite side of the street throughout our meal was Moritz EisThis beautifully modern ice cream parlor is the willy wonka of flavors, mixing the likes of avocado, aronia, and ginger into favorites like chocolate, vanilla and forest fruits. * They even have a copy of one of the first German books I ever read (and technically the oldest comic in history), the michevous tales of two pranksters Max & Moritz.* That night I wasn’t so adventurous because Caramel-Coffee was calling my name. The soft gelato like consistency melts in your mouth while keeping its cool exterior. In short, keep it classy people and make a date with Moritz.

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True ice cream perfection.

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16th April, 2016 – Serbian Softserve

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Sunrise over Nikola Tesla airfield

In the early morning after our fiesta at Zapata, we dropped Milan’s mother off at the airport and the rising sun over the Nikola Tesla airfield showed all the signs of a beautiful upcoming day. After a few hours of catch-up sleep, banana pancakes and house cleaning, we decided to venture out (avoiding the masses of the Belgrade Marathon) and drove up to Topčider park; the charming area at the top of the hill where the new American Embassy resides as well as the magnificant tomb of Tito.

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We packed a small picnic and ate in the shade of the trees, enjoying the stunning weather. The entire area surrounding Topčider is that of an ongoing park, wherever the road lies there is a small path through the forest beside it and as we followed said endless path we passed a roundabout (seen above) with metal framed giraffes covered in growing vines. Weird and out of character? Yes. But intriguing nonetheless.

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Vanilla soft serve with plazma and oreos!

As the sun increased so did our desire for something cold to nom on. Softserve stations sprout up in Belgrade like tulips and dandelions during the early spring months and last until the remaining hot days of October. Softserve in Serbia is insanely cheap. Having worked at an ice cream parlor for four years throughout highschool (the price rose 50 cents each consecutive summer up to 3USD for a tiny cone without any add-ons) Belgrade has become my haven for softserve enjoyment. I had spotted the station that day inside of a pekara (genuis right?!) and rejoiced. Not only do you get to choose a mix-in flavor but also two toppings are included in the set price. One medium cup was around 1.20 USD. Can I have a helllll NOM?

Softserve season is upon us people, go forth and nom.

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23rd April, 2016 – Tel Aviv Hummus House

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For the entirity of last week I had been running between my house and Sava Mala, barely eating anything more than keks and štapići because I was that preoccupied. The state of not only my stomach by my mind was in shambles. It’s really not a pretty picture when Emily is deprived of noms.

This past Saturday however, during a day long teaching seminar on the topic of ‘Human Values’  I promised myself that I would go straight to Tel Aviv Hummus House near Zeleni Venac afterwards to get my falafel fix. Can you imagine my utter disbelief when our surprise dinner came strolling through the door in the form of none other than giant falafel filled sandwiches??!! Nom fate? Nom destiny? Call it whatever you want, I was in falafel heaven.

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I’m not going to lie the fist time I went to Tel Aviv H.H. alone (and hungry) I ordered a standard falafel sandwich filled with all the goodies yet one thing happened to be missing…there was only a single piece of falafel to be found! That single piece of falafel though was extremely delicious which  increased my disappointment but also made me more determined to return at some point to right the wrong. This one mishap would not change my instant falafel crush on Tel Aviv H.H.  And now as the gods of nom would have it, I was about to have my redemption.

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As I unwrapped the bulging blue wrapper and unveiled the soft pita bread, like a cloud holding the golden spheres of chickpeas, my heart almost leapt from my throat (or stomach, I’m pretty sure my heart is in my stomach). Normally when people ask me what is my favorite kind of cuisine or what is my favorite food is, my logical answer is ‘middle eastern’ and ‘falafel’ because there are so many ways it can be made and served but every time it’s phenominally delicious. From the U.S. to Germany, U.A.E to Serbia, Tel Aviv’s falafel is not to be missed. It will leave you warm and fuzzy all over and above all falaFULL. With three locations in Belgrade you never have to go without it and it’s vegetarian friendly for those of you who somehow ended up lost in the meat eating world of Serbia.

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24th April, 2016 – Mali Princ Poslastičarnica

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Similar to the day we visited Hari’s Creperie it was storming on the day I found a little prince in the big city. Named after the famous french children’s book, Belgrade’s Mali Princ Poslastičarnica is the pefect place to escape the rain and embrace your inner child whie enjoying a decadent kolač or pastry. Mali Princ is also open until 11 in the evening (23:00) for those of you looking for a little umpf in your desserts (if you know what I mean!).

Cappuccinos on Sunday afternoons for me are a must and Mali Princ includes tasty flavor add-ins which I normally only go for in the States but the sound of a hazelnut cappuccino that day was like music to my ears. No need for additional sugar (I actually never use sugar in any coffee drinks), the nutty flavor was like a dessert all itself. With their wide range of flavor choices, next time I’m thinking salted-caramel? Yes please.

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Once we ordered our drinks of choice we were able to venture out to Mali Princ’s impressive dessert case that spanned from crème brûlée to mini fruit tarlets and pies, cookies and everything chocolate covered inbetween. The first thing that caught my eye was a creamy strawberry, blueberry and lingonberry shortcake-krempita and a dreamy looking bowl of dark chocolate mousse. My tastebuds were alreadying singing sweet noms.

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 Tell me those don’t look incredible, I dare you!

Naturally Milan and I split both desserts. I started first with the shortcake and almost didn’t want to stop until I heard the sound of Milan’s spoon scraping against the glass cup of mousse, hinting to me that it could not be disregaurded. Both treats were so light and airy that they melted in my mouth, satisfying all of my sweet cravings without feeling like I’d eaten a whole cake (which I’ve never done I swear…).

If you like what you see, I advise you to follow Mali Princ on Instagram so that you can visually devour the rest of the sweet morsels they create in their castle. I know they have made to order cakes on both a large and small scale as well as salads, croissant sandwiches and quiches. I’m trying to come up with an excuse to have a party in the near future just so I can order a billion things from them. Too bad I don’t have a cat here in Serbia or I’d make up a cat birthday party or something…kidding, not kittening.

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Phew. That actually took a lot of energy. It wasn’t that I had a lack of motivation but that I had a lack of recall when it came to revoking these noms. It isn’t until I look back at the photos that my sensory memories are fully capable of recalling just how amazing it all was. Next time you take a photo of your food and someone looks at you funny, tell them that you are enhancing your stomach’s memory bank. They will probably think that’s weird and therefore leave you alone. Problem solved!

Tomorrow we leave for the village for a few nights to celebrate Easter and Worker’s Day. I really can’t tell you exactly how much food there is going to be but to give you an idea of how many eggs there will be, I’d say >60 (per family). So I hope you like eggs!

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Dosvedanynom!

Restaurant Information:

Address: Vuka Karadžića 14, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Phone:011 328 60
Address: Vuka Karadžića 9, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Phone: 060 554 4455
Address: Carice Milice 3, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia *see link for 2 other locations!*
Phone: 069 263 222 4
Address: Palmoticeva 27, 11000 Belgrade Serbia
Phone: +38111 3226161

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