Sparta who? This. Is. Serbia!

The clocks have officially changed over here, though I’m not sure if loosing an hour of sleep is a good or bad thing but I know I am happy that Spring is upon us which means summer is eminently close! Before we know it, orthodox Easter will have come and gone and it will be Summer. Jedva čekam (can’t wait)!

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This past week has been special because Milan’s parents flew in for Easter and as always there is a lot to be done in the little time that they are able to stick around in Serbia. This being their native country, I am automatically in pupil mode, learning and listening to everything they can shed light on…and unanimously partake in the delicious foods which they have been away from. When the whole family is together, it’s one of the tastiest weeks of  the year!

Before I retell our weekend in Selo (village), there is one nom I would like to remark upon. If you have been in or around Belgrade I am sure you have seen a popular Pekara whose title you will see in all Cyrillic ‘скроз добра пекара’(in latin: Skroz Dobra Pekara) or in English ‘Totally Good Bakery’. Ladies and gentleman the title is true, it really is a totally good bakery.

Similar to the title, all of the labels within the bakery are in Cyrillic, excellent for those practicing but horrible for those practicing yet don’t do well under food choice pressure such as myself. The above pictured ‘pizza croissant’ was a happy gamble though and satisfied my Thursday lunch cravings. Beneath the flaky buttered crust was a savory mixture of cheese, light tomato sauce and bits of ham, top this all with cheese and seasonings and you’ve just had yourself a pizza croissant. Wishing they served this at your local Starbucks? Well I hate to break it to you…we don’t have those here, so looks like your only choice is to buy yourself a one way ticket to Skroz Dobra Pekara!

Now back to our featured nom.

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The trip to the sleepy little village where Milan’s grandparents live is roughly around 3 hours outside of Belgrade. You can get there by bus but since Milan now has a car, this is always the more preferable mode of transportation, especially for a speedy weekend trip.

Per usual, our journey on the road began at a highway gas station / cafe (super fancy right?) so that we might survive the rest of the trip without our stomachs eating themselves alive. Cappuccinos all around, Bureks with ‘zelje‘ (greens) and cheese, and a sandwich for Mr. Milan. His mother informed me that this is the time of the year for specific greens such as swiss chard, nettle and spinach, all of which you might be able to find growing wild in your backyard. All three are packed with vitamin E and other essential nutrients so why not spruce up the classic cheese with a little natural Serbian greenery (and I don’t mean the psychedelic kind). Zelje is also extremely nom taboot!

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Properly satieated we continued on the lengthy stretch of motor way. By car or by bus, the scenery leading towards our destination always creates a buzzing inside of me, like I’m leaving the real world behind and heading into uncharted territories.  For someone coming from Boston, it seems a bit like a mix of the Midwest and northern Maine with miles upon miles of farming fields until you reach once mining mountains hiding tiny villages within. It’s not your stereotypical European scenery but it’s certainly beautiful none the less.*Even more so during summer when there are endless fields of sunflowers!*

With a few more stops along the way we arrived at Milan’s Deda’s house later in the afternoon but no time was wasted, it was time to catch up and eat! Every time I go to any member of Milan’s family my appetite starts tingling because I know that something incredibly nom awaits. Lunch is the most important and largest meal of the day in Serbia, so the table had already been set with mouthwatering dishes prepared for our growling bellies. We began with Domaća Supa or Home-made soup, a simple warming soup consisting of broth, assorted vegetables and small noodles to ready your stomach for the main course to come. Don’t be shy to ask for seconds but be very aware of the noms to follow.

Special visitors call for a special meal and luckily for us the main course consisted of a succulent roasted chicken with potatoes and carrots, accompanied by….sarma. Oh sarma, how I adore thee. Juicy ground beef and rice typically wrapped snugly inside of sour (or not) cabbage leaves. The cabbage leaves are marinated for months in nothing more than salt and water, kept outside in a sealed contrainer until they achieve the desired ‘sour’ flavor and are then used throughout the winter months for special meals, Slavas and holidays. Sarma truly is the epitome of Serbian comfort food and can be found next to the definition of nom in my dictionary.

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After you have eaten the contents of (at least 3) rolls, you must use your bread to ‘motch’ up the left over juice, basically the Serbian version of licking your plate clean. By doing this you also assist whoever is responsible for washing the dishes post meal so o do them a favor and  make sure no trace is left (not that this is something to worry about), though if it were socially acceptable to use your tongue, you would.

Milan hit me mid mouthful during our main course when his aunt passed into the other room with the highly anticipated poslasticarnice (desserts) and excitedly informed me that he saw (or believed he had seen) the unicorn of the Serbian dessert world : Princes Krofne.

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Krofne as we learned from my last post ‘Weekend Bites in BG’  are considered donuts; Princes Krofne you might imagine are donuts fit for a princess, however this is not the case. They are actually more of a fabulous cross between cream puffs and profiteroles, delectable custard cream stuffed between two pieces of pastry, typically topped with powdered sugar. In our case the family has since been aware that Milan dislikes said sugary dust so it is omitted but nothing is loss, except a few calories! I could die and go to nom heaven this moment and eat only Princes Krofne for the rest of eternity. Light but dense, crispy but soft, sweet but a tinge salty, like I said a unicorn.

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Milan’s aunt had also prepared a cake roll with a layer of apricot jam for those who are unable to delve head first into the creamy sweetest of the krofne (unlike Milan and I). After a few pieces I felt as though my belly might burst but that is how you know you are in a proper Serbian home. Sit back, unbutton your pants and keep eating.

At this point it was a little after 5 in the afternoon but the nomming wasn’t going to stop there. Across town, Milan’s Baba’s Gibanica was already in the oven, something I learned to make per her instructions the first time I met her three summers ago and something I will never forget. Gibanica is similar to Burek with the exception that it is considerably more dense and usually in the form of a round pie, unlike the cylindrical snake like shape of Burek. Made simply with cheese,eggs and layers upon layers of phyllo dough, Gibanica is the pillowly pie of your dreams, and it will be for the rest of your life.

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After a cozy night next to the roaring wood stove, we woke up and grazed on whatever we could get our hands on, bread, dried meats, butter and honey. Milan’s family remembered it was my Easter (Orthodox easter being celebrated on the 1st of May this year) and so they greeted me with colored eggs which  we used to ‘egg fight’ and then ate with the remainder of our breakfast (and fed tid bits to the deda’s kitties of course).

Mid afternoon we returned to Baba’s for Domaća kafa (perhaps better known as Turkish Coffee but don’t refer to it in Serbia as such!). This powdery form of ground coffee cooked in a Džezva , packs a much needed caffeinated punch to most people’s mornings in the Balkans. I can’t say I would drink it every day because I am still a noobie when it comes to strong brewed coffee but when I do there is always something magical and historical about it. I have actually ordered it at a cafe in Santa Monica, California so if you consider yourself a true caffein connoisur it’s a must try.

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Because Milan was due back at work on Monday morning, the two of us were scheduled to go back to Belgrade with the bus a little after lunch that day. Knowing this didn’t stop me from eating the left over Gibanica that Baba so adimantly offered to me after our coffee. Cold Gibanica is like cold pizza, to some maybe even more nom than the night before. As I said, I’m just going with the flow so of course I happily ate our quick yet delicious lunch of soup followed by meaty pork chops, potatoes, carrots and some ‘boston lettuce’ sprinkled with vineger. By then I was pretty much set up for a nap on the bus ride home.

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Or was I? Milan’s aunt who happened to be accompanying us back packed Smoki so naturally my half awake self nommed that up to. What? Didn’t I say this was normal? Judgement free zone here people! You would do the same if you were in my expanding pants, and to be honest if you didn’t you may not even last half a day in this country…take my word for it. This. Is. Serbia.

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Once Milan’s parents’ returned the following day, they brought with them 50 eggs, giant jars of home-made Ajvar, fruit preserves, hazelnuts from Deda’s farm and a whole buschle of apples. Hard boiled eggs, fritatas and micelaneous baked goods every day for the next few weeks anyone? I think so.

So there you have it, your first trip to an authentic village in Serbia. I don’t think it’s truly possible to gain the full food experience in this country without dining  with an actual Serbian family but I understand that not everyone has that luxury. There is a solution though if you do end up here: meet at least one Serb during your travels and be invited to lunch for life. It’s that simple. Serbians are some of the most hospitiable people on the planet and at times I feel overwhelmingly lucky (and overwhelmed with food) that I have landed in such a phenomenal place.

I sincerely hope this post caused you to reminice about your own family traditions and cultural background, especially when it comes to cuisine. Every culture has some sort of culinary bragging rights (even my family of Scots and French Canadians) so whatever yours may be EAT IT WITH PRIDE!

This upcoming week of noms looks like it might very well be full of special surprises unknown to myself but I’m ready for it, the question is…are you?

Sayonarnom!

 

Restaurant Information:   

Skroz Dobra Pekara : Follow Link to see locations all over Belgrade!

 

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Weekend bites in BG

As we all know weekends here are short, heck weekends everywhere are short but that doesn’t mean that we can’t cram things into our mouths in what little free time we do have before Monday rolls around. That’s why I wanted to focus on the smaller things this city of wonders has to offer such as gooey hot chocolate,  mini donuts and freshly squeezed juice on the go. I bet this post will begin to resemble your own short lived freedom so sit back, relax and relive those weekend bites.

First of all I wanted to share with you all a self made nom which I prepared this past Friday night to eat during a Red Star basketball game. Last week being St. Patrick’s Day, naturally I made a Shepard’s pie and much to my (Irish) luck I had a ton of mashed potatoes left over. We all know there are a million and one things to do with left over mashed potatoes but have you tried ‘Baked mashed potato balls‘?? Because you need to. Like now.

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The dish is not rocket science but I tend to reference recipes before I try something new because I am curious of things already deemed nom-worthy, so I used a recipe for these delicious morsels on healthyrecipesblogs.com (follow link above direct recipe). Eat them all or save some for the next morning’s breakfast, either way these will become your new favorite left over snack! Bottom line is, you should be making these a.s.a.p. you’re welcome. the end.

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Did I say end? I’m just getting started!

Saturday morning Milan and I took a road trip outside of Belgrade to have the car serviced and spring weather had arrived a day early. Being on the other side of the Sava can be an exciting venture and since we were so close to Ada Ciganlija (a made made peninsula separating Belgrade from New Belgrade) a stroll near the water to get some fresh air was a must. The circumference of Ada is around 7 Kilometers, which during all seasons is ideal for jogging, biking and rollerskating but more specifically during the sweltering months of summer, sunbathing, swimming and a pretty hopping night life. *If you’re interested in learning more about the ‘beach’ of Belgrade, I suggest you check out Postcards from around the world‘s blog from a few months back: A city oasis: Ada Ciganlija. *

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The majority associates Ada with the summertime, however I personally think it is at it’s best in the off season because of the thinned out crowd and also because you can get a mug of astonishingly thick hot chocolate. Among the long line of restaurants and cafe’s along the water, my cafe of choice is ‘Sunset’ because it resembles a giant log cabin that you might find in the backwoods of Maine. There are picnic style wooden tables on both sides of the dining room and a roaring fire in the back, my favorite kind of cozy.

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Behold the ooey nomness that is a genuine cup of hot chocolate.

One might describe it as more of a hot pudding because it is insanely dense. It will feel like you are eating a dessert rather than sipping on a warm drink but trust me that’s a good thing. Other than warm drinks, Sunset has an authentic ‘Sač‘  area where they slow cook traditional Serbian dishes such as sarma, succulent stewed meats and hearty loaves of bread directly beneath a pit of steaming coals. I haven’t had the pleasure of exploring their menu yet but the decadent aroma of these wood fired dishes are beckoning me to return.

Not yet satisfied with our drinkable chocolate, Milan and I strolled back to the car knowing very well that we would pass by numerous outdoor stands selling palacinke, waffles and mini donuts known here in Serbia as ‘krofnice’.

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Smothered in Eurocreme, a chocolaty spread perhaps surpassing the popularity of Nutella here in the Balkans, these little rings of fried nommidy goodness (coming in at a wopping 150 RSD / 1.50 USD) hit the spot as we perched ourselves on one of the empty life guard chairs and watched the world go by. If you happen to hear someone yelling ‘krofne! krofne!’ at any point in your life do yourself a favor and chase after them like your life depends on it!

Krofne Kat was apparently not impressed….

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Oh Sunday, the last day of the short lived weekend…

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I first visited Germany when I was 15 (man I feel old), studied abroad there during University and as luck would have it fell in love there as well…and as much as I love Germany, the one thing I could never get used to was that most shops, grocery stores, cafes or bakeries were closed on Sundays. Having grown up in the States where everything is at your fingertips at all hours of the day, it was always a hassle to plan your last day of the weekend accordingly.

Belgrade on the other hand as I said previously never sleeps, there are tons of places to eat 24 hours a day seven days a week…but I am beginning to notice that on the holiest day of the week, there are commonly different working hours and that would mean that  not necessarily everything will be open. This was the unfortunate result this past Sunday, but never fear, I am always flexible when it comes to food!

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Instagram has become my field guide for potential places to chow down in and around the city, and so on Sunday morning ‘Omiljena Pekara’ popped up on my feed and BINGO I had to go. What is so special about ‘Favorite Bakery’ as opposed to the millions of others in town? Out of three Omiljena locations, the one I was seeking out is near Vukov Spomenik and also doubles as a ‘pasta & pizza bar’, which based on my research looked very appealing for both my stomach and my wallet.

 

There was some good news and some bad news…the good news was that they were open! The bad news was that while looking over the menu the cashier informed us that the pasta and pizza section opens at 4 in the afternoon (it was a little before noon)…only on Sundays! I was a bit heartbroken but the other good news was that being in a pekara there was still a plethora of delicious noms to partake in. There was no need to twist our arms as we ordered a classic cheese burek, something that resembled a savory elephants’s ear with broccoli and two small cherry pitas.

Flaky, golden phylo and pastry puff are a standard ingredient in 90% of the snacks in Serbia, and because of that it is virtually impossible to go wrong. Whenever I talk to fellow expats and ask them if they like food in Belgrade they almost always respond “Well I love pekaras!” Sweet or savory, Serbia has got your back (or rather your stomach). Omiljena Pekara did not disappoint but my stomach still lingered on the hope of salad and a slice. Next time my inner nom whispered to me, next time. Omiljena Pekara, I will be back!

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Oddly enough after our semi failed attempt at lunch, we drove to Belville in New Belgrade  where Milan took me to a tiny fruit, vegetable and juice shop that he frequents on most days during the work week. I was ecstatic because he is always bragging about his daily dose of vitamin C.

Piccolo Mercata pumps out fresh juices daily (and thankfully also on Sundays) to the mass of customers living or working in the complex. Milan expressed that there is always a line which to me is a golden sign but because they offer pre-made tropical juice (combinations such as kiwi, apple, pineapple or orange, banana, avocado itd.) the small shop is never congested for too long. It’s evident that Mercata caters to the hard working Belgradian since 1 Liter of this sweet nectar is around 200-250 RSD ($2-2.50). Local or not, if you happen to find yourself near Delta City or Belville and are looking for a refreshing pick-up then make sure you visit this charming little establishment.

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So there you have it. The sweet, the savory and the salutary (a.k.a healthy).  And you thought Serbia was only about pancakes, waffles and donuts…think again!

There is also prženice (french toast)…lots and lots of prženice…

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If nothing else, I’m certain the familiar smell of grilled french toast is making your stomach sing for the weekend.

I will let you in on a little secret though…all of these tasty treats can be enjoyed on any day of the week, ESPECIALLY prženice which most of us even enjoy as a week night dinner extravaganza. We don’t necessarily have to wait until Saturday or Sunday to let our belts loose and dig in! Make the work week worth working for! You know the word for ‘need’ and the word for ‘should’ in Serbian can be used interchangeably: treba and potreba.  So maybe it’s not that you “should” be eating delicious noms every day but that you “need” to be. See? Another reason why Serbia is amazing. End.

This time I actually mean it though, but only until next week! I’m hoping this upcoming weekend will be more on the traditional side as we will be trying to visit relatives a few hours outside of the city. The farther you go the more authentically delicious (and perhaps fattier) the cuisine tends to be and it is a known fact that home cooked Serbian food is some of the best on the planet. Have I peaked your interest? Don’t worry there won’t be any meat jelly…at least not until after Easter.

Dobar Nom!

 

Restaurant Information:                                           

Address: Ada Ciganlija lokal br. 9 Belgrade, Serbia 
Phone:063 807 3210
AddressRuzveltova 23 Palilula, Begrade Serbia
Phone:060 388 0889
Address: Belville Jurija Gagarina New Belgrade, Serbia
Phone: no phone # listed

 

Brazilian, Italian, Serbian oh my!

I trust you all have had a wonderful week. Though here in Serbia we still have a week or so until the clocks are set back, there is still a lot to be happy about when it’s 5 in the evening and the sun is still out! Spring is coming in full force, and I am so ready for dining outdoors again!

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Last week was International Women’s Day (or the 8th of March as many might call it) and here in Serbia this holiday is taken very seriously. Whether it be freshly picked flowers, a box of chocolates or a gift by any other name, boyfriends, brothers, fathers and sons are expected to show their appreciation for the women in their lives. Of course this being my first time celebrating this day in Serbia, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.

Milan hinted that he wanted to take me out to dinner but I requested that he keep the restaurant of choice a surprise. Now I’m not usually one for surprises but when it comes to food there is nothing more exciting to me than the unexpected. [Since moving to the Balkans, I unknowingly ate Piftie or “meat jelly”, a common dish around the world  and especially during Serbian Slava made primarily from pork, garlic and gelatin…needless to say nothing surprises me anymore.] Amidst the endless list of foodie havens in the Belgrade area however, you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when we parked in front of Hazienda Rodizio,  a Brazilian restaurant and cafe in the midst of a normal looking office park in New Belgrade.

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Brazilian food in Belgrade you say? When you think about it, a restaurant centered around tender cuts of meat straight from the skewer seems to fit Serbia quite perfectly.

Vegetarians and Vegans beware, it’s about to get juicy.

I was immediately  drawn to the ‘Steak con Gambori’ an insanely tender filet mignon accompanied by two large prawns, an American styled baked potato with some sort of amazingly delicious cheese filling and a slice of grilled ‘hacienda’ bread. The meat was so delightfully juicy it made up for all my time lost without red meat. I mean nom for days (literally I took it home and ate it for two more days).

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Apart from the meat, Hacienda provides a lavish salad bar along side each entrees, packed with all of the basic salad essentials and then some (giant pickles, to peppers stuffed with pavlaka to assorted grilled vegetables and of course more meat). Unfortunately I was too wrapped up in the overflowing compliments that Milan was giving me for being such an amazing girlfriend so there is no photo but believe me the spread was fit for a king.

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Don’t I look like a woman who has been appreciated a.k.a. properly fed? If that is the case then between you and I everyday is International Woman’s Day at my house! Having now experienced Brazilian in Belgrade,  I would definitely recommend Hacienda if you have a hankering for a huge piece of juicy steak with all the trimmings. Their friendly staff also accommodates to non-Serbian speakers and their music playlist of 70’s and 80’s American hits had me ‘hooked on a feeling’ without a doubt.

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Fast-forward to this past weekend. Another few days of spotty weather but there are always things to be done, like waiting in line at the post for an hour, or driving around to find parking for an hour, or pulling staples to re-purpose a chair for an hour. See? Time flies, there is truly never enough weekend. But I felt like after all that waiting I deserved a speedy yet steadfast meal at the internationally known cafeteria style restaurant Vapiano

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Once upon a time there was (apparently) a Vapiano in Boston but I unfortunately never had the pleasure of going before it vanished into thin air. My first exposure to this Italian inspired venture was actually in Germany and since then I have visited the franchised sites in numerous other countries, each possessing a slightly different take on the delicious tried and true menu. Hungry in a an unfamiliar city?  If all else fails, you will always have Vapiano.

The one we frequent in Belgrade is located next to the food court at Usce Shopping Mall. The other Vapiano location on Knez Mihailova has recently been closed and is moving to another location more “central” (though what is more central than Knez I wonder?) but as I mentioned in my previous post ‘Some noms come and some noms go’ have faith that the foodie universe has an ultimate plan. Anyway, each Vapiano has a similarly attractive modern cafeteria layout where they provide you with trays, silverware and cups so that you can approach the multiple counters and order to your hearts delight. From salads, soups and antipasta, to pizza, pasta and risotto, everyone can be guaranteed the familiar comfort of Italian cuisine.

Milan is borderline obsessed with Carbonara and because the cooks prepare the dish right in front of you with fresh ingredients and zero chance of sitting under a heating lamp, Vapiano is the right place to go for a creamy pancetta filled Carbonara. I on the other hand like to change it up every now and then so this time I went with basil pesto with garlic chicken and pine nuts over bio-fusilli. Oh how I love that they provide the option of ‘bio’ pasta because we’re all trying to be healthy when eating Italian right (snicker)? Of course we enjoyed every bite until the end. The flavor of both dishes will make you second guess whether you’re actually in a cafeteria and I’m fairly certain that everything else on their menu will prove this as well.

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Oh look! Arizona Pomegranate Green Tea! Yes my friends you can find that in Serbia too. If you were at all hesitant about visiting Serbia before in fear that they might not have you’re favorite American beverage, fear not, Arizona is alive and well in Belgrade.

Lucky for us, Vapiano also has an exquisite selection of Italian dolci (desserts) to choose from. There aren’t many places where you can find a no-frills panna cotta but believe me Vapiano certainly has it, and in the form of an adorable little preserves jar. If I could eat this lusciously rich yet ridiculously light treat for breakfast lunch and dinner I would. Creamy vanilla-bean gelatin simply topped with a sweet strawberry sauce….nom,nom,nom,nom,nom(that’s five noms people) !

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The next time you are on vacation, do yourself a favor and check if there is a Vapiano in the vicinity. You won’t regret it!

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Aside from all of this my week saw the likes of home cooked soup, chicken pot pie and moussaka, because we don’t just eat out all the time despite what you may think! Having a few noms here and there never hurt anyone…until it involves Nutella, then you’re doomed. I must admit though that my Nutella addiction is now under control and I no longer wake up with a spoon of half nommed nougat next to my pillow…well at least not on weekdays…

In regards to the upcoming weekend, alas, more errands to be completed but during the Red Star basketball game on T.V last night I was able to peruse #Belgradefood on Instagram and I now have an idea as to where I plan on discovering a new nom. Will it be Japanese? or maybe American influenced? You’ll have to come back to Nomandnommer next week to find out!

Aufweirdernom!

Restaurant Information:                                           

Address: Milutina Milankovića 11c, 11070 New Belgrade, Serbia
Phone:011 312 15 47
Address: Usce Shopping Center – Bulevar Mihaila Pupina 4,  11070 Belgrade, Serbia
Phone:011 285 44 36

 

 

Gyros, Ice cream and Waffles: even more reasons to fall in nom with Belgrade

Another glorious weekend in the miraculous city that is Belgrade, Serbia.

For the better part of Saturday, the grand opening of the new supermarket ‘IDEA London‘ shut down most of Terazije from Dom Sindikat to the Slavia roundabout and this is one of the main reasons why I love living in the capital city of a country because there is always something going on. Well known brands here in Serbia like NesCafe, Jaffa, Štark, Poli, Rauch and Jacobs (to name a few) handed out samples of delicious products you could expect to find in the new super store. A great opportunity to taste a bit of Serbia.

Milan somehow managed to drag me away from each vendor and down the length of Terazije since we were due to meet our friends near Slavia. Naturally their interest in the event peaked and so back we went in the same direction we came until we reached Solunaca small Greek inspired eatery in proximity to Hotel Moskow with some extremely tasty Gyros. I had actually taken my mom here (who is the self proclaimed Queen of Gyros back in Boston) while she was visiting Belgrade and she loved it!

Solunac is your standard delicious quick street nom. You can choose between chicken, pork or mix, golden crispy french fries, all wrapped together in the traditional soft doughy flat bread along with a plethora of toppings, and most importantly tantalizing tzatziki sauce.

Our friend admitted that he’s “never really sure how to eat a Gyro” but I think the best method is no method. Throw politeness to the wind and dig in! I use at least 20 napkins every time I eat Gyros (I’m so sorry trees of the world) and I’ve actually thought that maybe a full body tarp might be more beneficial in the long run. Any suggestions? (I doubt I’m riding this struggle train alone…)

In order to digest we strolled down Knez Mihailova towards Kalamegdan and stopped at IceBox for an ice cream. You can always count on Serbians to be eating ice cream if there is even a single ray of sunshine and due to the particularly nice weather that day, the street was filled with people enjoying a cone of creamy goodness. Normally I will visit IceBox for a frozen yogurt but recently they have been promoting chocolate and strawberry  cones therefore I couldn’t resist and went with a lasting favorite of chocolate and refreshing mint. After the Gyros it was a guaranteed pallet cleanser. Nom!

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Kalamegdan was bustling with locals and tourists alike, I think that is one of the reasons this historical fortress will forever be a center point in Belgrade. Take a stroll with your friends, pack a picnic, play some chess, sunbathe, visit the Belgrade Zoo or even have your wedding photos taken at this incredible Serbian landmark. No matter how many times you visit, the scenery will always leave you in awe. Following the mild winter here, one of the first signs of spring I noticed were the white, pink and light purple cherry blossoms popping up all over Belgrade. The blossoms remind me of beautiful cake toppings and the tree itself crystallized candied popcorn almost good enough to eat…almost.

 

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Nažalost (unfortunately) the weather took a turn for the worse the following day but something as trivial as rain wasn’t going to prevent me from my intended plan of going to Hari’s CreperieRemember how I mentioned in my previous blog that this trip to Hari’s might involve additional belt notches? Well I wore leggings, so in your face presumptuous me! In all honesty though, Hari’s Creperie in Belgrade is not a place to mess with when it comes to throwing your diet out the window, you’re going to want everything, and I mean EVERYTHING on their menu.

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As you can guess from the name, Hari’s serves up behemoth sized crepes to their overflowing amount of hungry customers, so big in fact that it states on their menu that each crepe is intended for two persons. But what I was prepping myself for was their over the top waffles, the kind of waffle the word ‘food porn’ was invented for…but I’ll get to that in a bit. Hari’s is located directly behind Mali (or little)Tašmajdan on Krajlice Marije, so luckily it was not too difficult to find in the rain. I was excited to see and for some reason not surprised at the amount of people who came to nom around the brunching hour. When we arrived the small dining room was packed so we opted for the enclosed heated patio.

We ordered coffee and tea while Milan and I looked over the seemingly never ending list of savory crepes they had to offer. Ranging from classic to Serbian style, as well as multiple other  regionally influenced versions of the classic, you’re bound to find something (or many things) that fit your fancy. Five pages in total I believe. So of course in the end we left our fates in the hands of the gods of nom and selected a random number. How could we go wrong?

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Your stomach just growled, don’t lie. To be honest I don’t remember what number or even exactly what they stuffed into that little pocket of bliss (ham, mushrooms, oozing cheesy deliciousness?), but I do know that it was worth every bite.

Now for the really difficult part. How the hell was I going to choose from their description drooling list of died and gone to heaven waffles?? I have to tell you, it was agonizing. They even have two full pages of add-ons like Kinder Buenos and ice cream. I truly thought I was dreaming (or in a food coma). I finally and painstakingly decided on the 509, a simple yet decadent round fluffy waffle adorned with vanilla custard cream, chocolate nougat, freshly cut strawberries, nuts and of course…more chocolate.

Warning: If there are children in the room you might want to shield their eyes…this is food porn at it’s best.

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Holy. Waffles. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Milan went with the child like version of mine but in the form of a mini square ‘stuffed’ waffle of similar contents and bitter chocolate drizzled on top. Do you think the waiter looked at us funny when he dropped the larger one in front of me? No…because it’s Hari’s Creperie… where chocolate covered dreams come true…jeez. Of course Milan ate some of mine too but who’s keeping score?

The bill total came to 1,840 dinars (roughly 16.50 USD) so it’s a bit steep in comparison to an average Belgradian salary but the portions are huge so there is little to complain about. I was waffle drunk too so there’s that. Having spent a bit of time in Abu Dhabi where brunch consists of an all day $70+ primarily lunch / dinner focused buffet-booze fest (not my style per say), I felt overjoyed to have found my kind of brunch in Serbia at Hari’s and will probably be making any excuse to go back.

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Now I feel a bit guilty that I shared that with all of you..what happens at the brunch table should technically stay there but this was just too good not to. It’s clearly evident why I agreed to move to Serbia in the first place right? (Milan if you’re reading this I’m sorry you had to find out this way) But I am truly head over heels in nom with Belgrade.

The only way I might be able to relieve my guilt is if you wonderful readers keep treating yourself to my blog each week, it’s calorie free I promise!

Until then keep nomming!

Restaurant Information:                                           

Address: : Terazije 36 Belgrade, Serbia
AddressKnez Mihailova 52 Belgrade, Serbia 
Phone:060 3817981
Address: Krajlice Marije 8 Belgrade Serbia
Phone:011 3345145

Some noms come and some noms go…

T.G.I.T (Thank goodness it’s Thursday) everyone! By this time of the week I am sure you are all bored of eating the monotonous work week meals and are gearing up for what you plan on nomming this weekend, am I right? Whether it be a succulent hamburger at your local bar or a five star meal in a restaurant that used to be a working church, anything goes as long as it’s worth rubbing in your coworkers’ faces on Monday morning.

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As I had mentioned in my previous post, I have just recently returned to Belgrade, having spent a few months out of the country due to visa requirements. I think in some part of my mind I had hoped that slow paced Serbia would have remained completely unscathed, however the city of Belgrade does not sleep and new developments are now as frequent as Pekaras (bakeries) and Menjačnicas (exchange offices). Of course places to eat in this ever changing capital city are no exception.

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Per usual, Saturday morning I had taken the bus 96 into the city center, my stomach already rumbling with anticipation of the multitude of delicious options I had been absent from for one too many months. My heart was set on RedBread (by Juice Bar) because 1.They have the best sandwiches not only in the Balkans but on the entire planet, and 2. Its aroma alone will give you a welcoming embrace like that of an old friend (something I desperately needed). On our ride in I was telling Milan about another sandwich place to consider on the corner of one of the oldest and most well known streets in Belgrade, Skadarlija . Low and behold however as we passed said road, the small eatery (which I believe was called ‘Sandwich Bar‘ and had only been in business since the end of last summer) was completely barren! I felt a sinking in my chest, as if I had missed out on a nom that would never be! I know we have all experienced what it’s like to loose a once beloved restaurant but is it better to have loved (nommed) and lost than to never have loved (nommed) at all? Let’s all take a moment of silence for Sandwich Bar

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This is unfortunately a common theme around the world, restaurants, cafes and bars…open for an instant and closed the next. But there is a silver lining: *Bonus side story* One of my favorite spots for a quick and healthy bite to eat, Burrito Madre located on Terazija has recently opened a second location on Karađorđeva Street near the Sava )…so I feel like perhaps there is a circle of life in the foodie kingdom as well. The balance of nom being restored.

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Budva, Montenegro

RedBread too is the product of a successful sister restaurant, however not in Serbia but in the lovely port city of Budva, Montenegro. Milan and I had planned our vacation to this Balkan beach town last summer to soak up the sun and visit Branko, a local childhood friend of Milan’s. After a consecutive days of seafood indulgence, Branko had mentioned a tiny cafe in Stari Grad (Old City) that had “bomb” sandwiches. Juice Bar as it turned out  to be, is tucked away beneath the ancient stones of the citadel in this old part of the city. Upon first look it appears to be just another small outdoor cafe with fresh juices and lunch advertised (in five different languages including English) to the tremendous amount of tourists weaving their way through the cobblestone alleyways. Little did I know I had just sat down at a Black Mountains hidden gem.

Juice Bar specializess in freshly made juices and smoothies but boast their luscious list of hot and cold sandwiches made specially on their homemade sun dried tomato bread. This being said we ordered mixed juices, bruchetta as an appetizer and three different sandwiches to split between us: Bella Italia, New York and River (follow above Redbread link to read mouthwatering description). Words cannot do justice as to how heavenly each sandwich was, my nom radar was off the charts! We had such an amazing meal that we all agreed to eat at Juice Bar again on our last day before we went to the airport. Plus I couldn’t wait to try their desserts either, beach vacation whaaat?

The waiter was pleasantly surprised to see us again to which we expanded our pallets slightly this time, Branko took a burger, myself half carrot-orange soup and half Mediterranean veggie sandwich, while Milan stuck valiantly to the ‘New York ‘ and potato wedges. I had spotted homemade cinnamon buns the second I sat down and made up my mind that it was going into my mouth one way or another. Probably the best cinnamon bun I’ve had in a very long time, smeared in cream cheese frosting, just my kind of bun. Milan and Branko split a slice of almond spice cake with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream. At this point I was glad I was already wearing comfortable traveling clothes.

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Curious little friend at JuiceBar

How did I come to find out that Juice Bar and Red Bread were connected you ask? The wifi password for Juice Bar was “Red Bread Beograd” which sparked a light in my ever expanding memory bank of places in Belgrade I’ve walked past and wanted to eat at (I do an insane amount of walking so you can imagine how long that list is). I had passed Red Bread numerous times as it is located near my Serbian language workshop on Dositejeva Street and had been itching to go inside ever since. Our waiter confirmed that the owners of Juice Bar had opened another restaurant in Belgrade not only because of its evident success at their current location but also because of the seasonal waves of tourist business in Budva is generally during the summertime only. I was overjoyed. I NEEDED these sandwiches in my life.

Ergo what do you think my plan was when we got back to Belgrade…? You guessed it.

So here we are, returning to one of our most coveted spots in the Balkans: Red Bread. Their Dorćol location is larger than that of Juice Bar, with outdoor seating during the warmer months and a large colorful dining area inside that will make anyone who’s ever visited the West Coast of the United States feel right at home. I was delighted to see that it  was full, mostly by families with small children and hungry Belgradians looking for something apart from Pljeskavica or street pizza.

Despite it being a sunny day at the end of February, it was still chilly enough to long for a nice hot bowl of something, so we ordered the Pumpkin-Cardamom soup and a glass of fresh ‘Orange Spice‘ juice. Both did the job of clearing our sinuses and creating that warm tingly feeling all over. When it came to the sandwiches, Milan yet again chose the New York and even though the Bella Italia was calling my name, I had half of  the ‘Extra Classic‘ because after that phenomenal soup, a dressed up ham and cheese seemed necessary.

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Milan was stuffed and I was blissfully satisfied. I savored each nom bite of that sandwich like it was gold, and when prices range from 170 dinars (half xclassic) – 550 dinars (full NY) the window to visit more often is very large. Plates of tantalizing american style pancakes, brownies and other sweet desserts swirled by us but sadly we couldn’t have eaten another bite! Before we squared the bill, I was curious to see if they sold their famous ‘red bread’ in loafs at the to-go counter, however the waitress regretted to inform us that they do not sell individual loafs but you can buy the pre-sliced triangles (as seen above) in pieces of eight. Perhaps it was for the better…because if they did I would likely refuse to eat on any other carbohydrate other than red bread for the remainder of my life. Yes people, I know I seem a bit dramatic but nomming is a very serious matter.

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After reading this, have your lunch or dinner plans changed for the weekend? Got sandwiches on your brain perhaps? I don’t blame you. I will probably be out the door and heading for Red Bread the second after I publish this…if only they delivered to Borca. One can dream right?

As for my weekend plans, I have Vapiano and Hari’s Creperie on my agenda. Something old, something new, something NOM! Join me next week to see if my food adventures force me to undo a notch in my belt or not, just kidding (no I’m not).

Nom on people! (Of course not literally)

Restaurant Information:                                           

AddressVranjak 13, 85310 Budva, Montenegro
Phone:+382 69 227 009
AddressDositejeva 22, Belgrade, Serbia
Phone:065 2270099
*Bonus* Burrito Madre
Address: Terazije 27 and Karađorđeva 65, Belgrade, Serbia
Phone:011 3037450