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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Proja, Čorba & Ramen…Uuumami!

Ahem so the temperature decided to drop tremendously and yesterday I was bundled up in a scarf complaining that I hadn’t brought my mittens along with me but at least there is no snow (sorry Boston)! I however don’t mind as long as I have the appropriate clothing for all weather occasions, lucky me. There is green though lots and lots of sprouting greenery. Is spring singing where you are? Or is there freak snow or freak heat?

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This week I first wanted to share with you the importance of Proja or corn bread muffins in a Serbian household. Proja can be made in a thousand different ways and you can find it almost anywhere sold alongside main dishes but also as a favorite snack when strolling the conjested streets of Belgrade. They are also a good treat to make when it’s too late to actually cook and all you have in your kitchen is cornmeal, flour, jogurt, sparkling water and oil (and maybe some cheese).

Milan’s mother gifted to us a recipe e-book full of her delicious home made serbian dishes, Proja being one of them.

Proja Recipe (translated from Serbian) 

Ingredients: 

  • 250grams cornmeal
  • 250grams standard white flour
  • 1 packet of baking powder (roughly 5tsp) *
  • 200grams white cheese (ex. feta)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of jogurt (drinkable)
  • 1 cup of sparkling water
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1tbsp salt

Directions: 

In a medium sized bowl measure out corn meal, flour, and salt. Mix together. By using a small sifter or wire strainer, sift the contents of the baking powder and combine with dry mix to ensure it is spread throughout.

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In a seperate bowl, mix eggs, cheese, jogurt, sparkling water and oil together. Use additional sparkling water if the mix is proving to be too thick.

In any kind of baking dish (we used a muffin tin) coat with oil or butter and sprinkle a bit of flour to avoid the proja from sticking to the form.

Intermitently combine the dry ingredients with the wet. The mix should be neither too light nor too brown and the consistency should be that of brownie mix. Allow the mix to rest for one hour in the fridge before pouring evenly into your pan of choice.

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Set the oven to 200 degrees celcius (390 fahrenheit).

While you are waiting for the oven to warm, sprinkle mix with either more crumbles of cheese or sesame seeds. Place in the oven and bake for around 30 minutes until they have risen, are slightly golden brown in color and are firm to the touch.

Let the proja cool before removing from the pan. Nom with a glass of jogurt or spread your favorite ajvar on top, the choice is up to you.

Prijatno!

*note that baking powder is sold throughout Europe in 20ml packets. The strength equivilancy is not equal to that of ‘double acting’ baking powder commonly used in the United States. Dr. Oetker suggests mixing a 2:1 ratio of cream of tartar and baking powder*

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Moving on to a small pit stop nom.

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Milan, his mother and I took a short trip to Požarevac on Saturday morning and on the way back we decided to stop at a road side petrol station (again) to grab a bite to eat before we went to meet with family back in the city. Milan’s mother had mentioned that this particular petrol station had a grill restaurant inside with very good Teleća čorbaIt’s no secret that I am obsessed with soups, stews, and chowders so a hot bowl of beef filled broth sounded like heaven to me.

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It doesn’t look like much but beneath a flavorful broth, tender beef accompanied by root vegetables lied in wait to be slurped up and motched with none other than the most delicious bread on the planet: lepinja.

If you look up lepinja on the internet, the first thing that comes up is ‘pita bread’ which in my opinion is not comparable to the lepinja you will find here in Serbia or in the Balkans. Unlike pita, lepinja does not have any empty space between crusts. Lepinja is a puffy pillow like bread that is filled throughout and is used as the bun for pljeskavica or eaten on the side with your main course or soup.

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Our lepinja was hot and steaming when we broke though the soft crust, it’s aroma drawing you into the very last bite. It is odd because I am actually not in the presence of lepinja that often so when I am there is little guilt felt when devouring it’s entirity. It was excellent to eat alongside our čorba and sealed any and all hunger pains I had previously. Nom!

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Now  that you have discovered more typical noms in Serbia, let me show you the other side of Belgrade cruisine that has been rapidly growing over the past few years. If you follow anyone from this city on Instagram I can gaurentee sushi has inevitably come up once or twice. This quintessential Japanese fare has taken the entire world by storm and Belgrade is no exception. W Sushi, Moon Sushi,and Play Sushi are just a few places that one can induldge in a succulent roll in Belgrade.

This is however not a post about sushi.

Ladies and Gentleman let me introduce you to the lesser acknowledged (and unfortunately slandered) staple of Japanese cuisine….I’m talking about ramen, proper ramen. Ever since I was in middle school I fell in love with the ramen we all know and love: a dry brick of noodles mixed together with a small packet of salty seasonings, typically prepared in the microwave (I am cringing a bit while writing this) and devoured within seconds. Sounds like a college dorm room to anyone?

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I ditched the orange packet for good the first time I went to Wagamama in Boston (then in Amsterdam and numerous other countries) and never looked back. There is very little one can compare to the utter joy of a GIANT soup bowl full of steaming ramen noodles. Get me my chop sticks, now. Over this past fall, Belgrade officially joined the ranks of cities that possess phenomenal ramen. Where you ask? Look no further than the recently opened Marukoshi in the lower Dorćol area of this sushi dominated city. Say it with me Ma-ru-ko-shi (pleasant shivers).

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Marukoshi came to my knowledge one day when I was furiously googling for any sort of Thai or generally asian inspired restaurants in the area (that were not in any way fast food realted). I was intrigued when reading into Marukoshi primarily because they didn’t mention sushi on their menu, a tell tale sign that this isn’t your commericalized Japanese joint. Located a street or so behind the winding tram road of Cara Dušana, the tiny hideaway might be missed by the average passer-by, but once you enter the two story eatery you’ll be overwhelmed by it’s warmth, natural light and color.

Since we arrived a little after they opened on Sunday (13:00/1pm) the wait staff were very charming and happy to seat us where ever we pleased. You’ll first notice their giant painted brick mural of the well known Great Wave off Kanagawa   which instantly caused me to think of my older brother who sports this sleeve tatooed on his arm. This to me was obviously a good sign. The bar and seating are wooden and the walls leading upstairs are decorated with amusing Japanese portraits. I was impressed because in the middle of each table is a small bonsai tree, something I always apprecaite in any restaurant. Their placemats are in fact their menus (eco-friendly) which possess a limited but specialized amount of dishes to choose from.

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Naturally you can guess what I was leaning towards: Classic Miso Ramen. Milan on the other hand has always been fond of rice centered dishes and found the ‘Katsudon’ to his immediate liking. Along with sparkling water we ordered ‘Mixed Gyoza’ for an appetizer, Lightly pan seared Japanese dumplings half of them filled with root vegetables and the others filled with succulent pork, dipped in a tangy soy sauce. Oh nom, ohhhh nom.

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While Milan and I fought chopsticks versus fork for the remaining dumplings, the upstairs area began to fill up quite nicely with families and friends gathering for a peaceful Sunday meal. The glowing energy of people speaking different languages and seemingly originating from different backgrounds being brought together by the force of nom is always an amazing thing, something which Marukoshi clearly has. Once our waiter delivered our entrees I felt the eyes of everyone sitting around us become transfixed not only on how incredible the food looked but also by the inescapable aroma it ommitted which immediately encompassed the small space.

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I mean look at that. It’s beautiful. Milan’s ‘Katsudon’ was something you wanted to pick up, hug close to you and never let go. Freshly chopped spring onions dressed the succulent panko breaded strips of pork that layed on top of a bed of carmelized onions, egg, rice, and the incredible umami flavor of ‘dashi sauce‘ (base used for miso soup). It tasted as good as it looked, if not even better.

And now for the reason we’re here….drum roll please….

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Boom. That is what a heaping bowl of REAL ramen should look like people. Give me a moment while I wipe the tears of joy from my face and keyboard.

Marukoshi’s Miso Ramen is composed of wheat noodles made by hand, swimming in pork miso broth and joined happily together with tender slices of bacon like pork, half of a boiled egg, corn, spring onions and small sheath of dried seaweed. It was something I have been longing to nom since my move abroad. Between you and I, it was an emotional moment but we all know food is wonderful like that.

My chopsticks worked effortlessly as I nommed the able contents, moving then to the spoon to scrape up anything that was left behind, washing it all down with the remainder of  the broth. I had to leave a little behind because depite my stomach willing me to go on, my brain told me that the intensity of umami was too much for me to continue.

When we left Marukoshi fully satieted (and wallets still plump) we passed by KFC and Milan openly asked: “Why would people want to spend 700 dinars on mediocre fast food when they can have fresh delicious tasting food at the same prince right down the road at Marukoshi?” Why indeed….? For one, people today are too time sensitive and have zero patience for something that takes longer than five minutes to scarf down, and also the majority are unwilling or afraid to try new things. I have nom-pity for those people because they have no idea what they are missing! Marukoshi! That’s what you’re missing!

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Wait, did you think I didn’t nom anything sweet this week? Pshhh not a chance!

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We were a bit eagerly early before going to Marukoshi so we killed some time at one of my favorite cafe’s nearby, Greenet Caffe. There is some debate between how it is said: is it Green-net or is it Green(e) T(ea)? Either way they have hands down some a of the best hot chocolate with or without flavors such as orange (obsessed), mint, black forest cherry, white or in this instance dark. Best to go with a medium size mug because the small personally isn’t enough for me and the waiters have actually talked me out of getting the largest one because of its mammouth size (go big or go home right?). There are 13 Greenets in Serbia, 10 of them in and around Belgrade. It’s like a game I like to play with myself whenever I discover a new one…hey…don’t laugh.

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Voila! Let’s recap on what you now know:

  1. How to make fool proof Serbian proja.
  2. That you can and should put your trust in road side soup, specifically Teleća čorba.
  3. Proper Japanese food in Belgrade exists at Marukoshi for all you die hard sushi fans who should venture outside of your comfort roll (no offense).

Jao! I’m so proud of you all! Make sure you put this information to good use but don’t forget to share with your friends!

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Milan had mentioned some talk of bagels in the near future so cross your fingers that it happens, not only for me but for you too! Rumor has it the Duchess of Cornwall has already gotten her hands on some in the Belgrade area. Excited!!

Arrivenomci!

Restaurant Information:

Address: Kapetan Mišina 37, Donji Dorćol, Belgrade Serbia
Phone:064 479 4715
Address: *For location visited above*  Cara Dušana 68, Dorćol Belgrade Serbia
Phone: 063 1093 999

Belgrade must noms : Tri šešira & Palačinkarnice Pinokio

The weather could not have been any nicer than it had been this past week and weekend! It actually might have been even surprisingly hot but in this day and age we never know what to expext in terms of the weather forecast. I am currently writing this post as I sit on the terrace at our new (small yet perfect and extremely affordable) table and chair set we purchased on Sunday. Looking out into the green, seeing our neighbor’s Rotweiler snoozing peacefully in the grass and the sound of contruction droning in the distance, makes me feel at home, at home in Serbia.

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I had mentioned in ‘Sparta Who, This. Is. Serbia’ last week that when Milan’s parent’s are around things on the nom front are always exciting. Last week amidst the chaotic running around we were somehow able to celebrate Milan’s father’s birthday, and we were all very excited when he told us his restaurant of choice was ‘Tri šešira’ on the historically famous street of Skadarlija in Belgrade.

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Skadarlija is the vintage foodie gem of the capital. Picture the oldest street in your nearest city and multiply that by ten in terms of charm, culture and number of restaurants per square meter. Skadarlija with its winding cobblestone has a plethora of traditional Serbian restaurants and kafanas, all of which have corky names like Dva Jelena (Two Deer), Kapetan Koca (Captain Koca) and ‘Tri šešira’ (Three Hats) the restaurant where we dined last week.

With an outdoor dining area as well as a large indoor space, Tri Sesira will bring you back to old Belgrade. Black and white photos line the walls, depicting  a bustling Skadarlija during the early 1800’s, filled with horses, carriages and perhaps the most important thing that has yet to change over the course of 200 years: the food! A traditional band circulates the floor, serenading the customers as they take their first of many sips of rakija, and look over the tantalizing options on their simple yet true menu.

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Because there were quite a few of us, baskets of bread and drinks spanned the table and multiple charcuterie platters were ordered to ease our veracious appetites (I mentioned Serbians can eat right??). As you can see below, the plate consisted of typical things you might find when dining at any Serbian household: mladi sir or young cheese, pâté,  and kajmak, which is the creamy goodness skimmed from the surface of milk products or more commonly known around the world as ‘clotted cream’ (see in ice cream scoop form on bottom right). Kajmak can be eaten as an appetizer or as a condiment with breads and meats like Ćevapior pljeskavica. To me, kajmak is the butter of the Gods. I could nom a whole tub of it.

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On the platter you can also find thinly sliced assorted meats, proja or miniature corn muffins, uštipci or Serbian fried dough, and a small amount of my favorite prebranac or baked beans. As you can imagine since I didn’t eat the entire day except for an orange and some hazelnuts that by half past 8 I would have been down to lick the cutting board clean. I paced myself though, enjoying every individual flavor from the samplings, imagining people like Nikola Tesla or Mihajlo Pupin having once done just the same (or maybe even geniuses lick their plates too?).

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On to our entrees. Everyone had decided on something different but all of them naturally included some kind of meat. I had been feening for anything related to Cordon-Bleu so when I saw the description for the ‘Manastirska Piletina’ or Monastary chicken, baked and filled with cheese and ham, there was no need to look any further. Milan chose a Tri šešira specialty which we have since nicknamed ‘Franken-pljeskavica’ because of the concept of a grilled chicken breast being surrounding by cheese then wrapped in ground beef andbeing returned to the grill for the ultimate savory rostijl experience.

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Presentation was lovely for sure and that went to say for everyone’s plates. You commonly see this diagonal cut for many dishes across Europe which ups the mouth watering asetics in my opinion. Served with soft flavorful boiled potatoes, my monastary chicken was cooked to perfection and was just the right amount to leave me pondering over dessert. I have to admit though, Milan’s Franken-pljeskavica was absolutely NOM. There is something almost sinful as to how delicious something can actually taste and this dish certainly takes the cake.

Speaking of cake…we didn’t have anything prepared at home (shame on us women) and Milan’s father much like my own did not want to make a big deal of his birthday, thus we had no other option but to order dessert. Again Tri šešira has your traditional sweet options like orasnice and krempita but the chocolate cake seemed appropriate and we all know how much I love chocolate.

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Truly this cake was heavenly, and dense! The layers were less cake like and more so like a chocolatey fudge, filled with fluffy chocolate whipped cream, all covered in a soft chocolate ganache. Chocolate x3 oh my nom. Thank goodness Milan and I shared a piece because even despite my ability to devour any and all sweets in their entirety, after the appetizers and main course, I was lucky to even be sitting upright.

 I was actually yawning by the end of the meal, the comforting atmosphere much like that of a cozy Serbian home can have that effect on you. We walked back to the car off of Knez Mihajlova, content and eager to go home to our beds and dream of everything we had just eaten at Tri šešira. One can only hope their birthday can be so delicious. Needless to say I have pretty high expectations for my own end of the year celebrations here in Belgrade. I may or may not be already planning it (insert maniacle laugh).

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On Saturday Milan and I strolled the grassy road alongside the Danube in Pančevo where no one actually goes and was much of the reason as to why I had hoped to go there, for peace and quiet. We met an older Serbian man who told us his family had been living in a house nearby for over 200 years and began to tell us that his neighbor once caught and raised a ‘bambi’ amongst his sheep, how local men and women sometimes roll each other in barrels down the river bank then proceed to fight in the mud, and how apparently Roma people are executing swans because they interfere with their fishing. I love this part of Serbia, really I do.

Later that day we strolled Savski Kej, curving on the opposite side of Zemun Kej and made a pact that we would go to Palačinkarnice Pinokio after our movie that evening. We both admitted that even though the movie we went to see (My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2) was entertaining, the only thing we had on our minds was pancakes at Pinokio. It has been said to be the best place for crepes in Zemun and possibly in the greater Belgrade area. There is however a bit of a confusion.

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My first experience at Pinokio was not actually at Pinokio. Sound confusing? Let me explain. Milan’s sister and I had visited “Pinokio” last fall and were completely smitten with how large and full our pancakes were, they were amazing. Unfortunately as nom karma tends to work, I bragged about it to Milan and when he returned to Belgrade for a few days last year we brought him to said Pinokio and were somewhat less impressed. It may have been that we transported them home and by then they were a bit rubbery but there was something lackluster about them in comparison to my first plazma filled experience. Later I came to find out, this is actually not the ‘real’ Pinokio but Pizarija Pinokio!

The Palacinarnica Pinokio is located (I kid you not) 120 meters away from the imposter. Their bright yellow awning and cartoon depiction of Disney’s Pinocchio (copywrite infridgement pending?) are a give away that you have come to the real deal. There will always be people standing there, day and night to get their hands on these bundles of deliciousness. I already knew via ‘Belgrade.Foods’ that the content of Pinokio’s palacinke were limitless but more specifically that they had kikiriki or peanuts which I was dying to try wrapped inside of a hot crepe.

The yellow cladded angels behind the counter were busy at work, three different griddles are used and surrounded primarily by Eurocrem and Nutella but also the infinite choices of toppings. I was the only semi-adventurous one and chose number 179 (Nutella, Banana, Kikiriki) while Milan drawn to simplicity ordered 102 (Nutella, Plazma Cake).

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We got there a little after 9 and you could already see from the road that there was a swarm of people standing amongst the cluster of small fast foods joints surrounding Pinokio (but I knew most of them were there for the same reason I was). Because of this, I already accepted there would be a wait, (something Milan loaths) but for me the idea of waiting for a nom in the street at night around people either starting or ending their night is an energy unlike any other.

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It took roughly around 20 mins but the weather was amazingly mild and most people like us were ordering multiple palacinke so I stood patiently in anticipation, something I would gladly do for any worth-while nom. Once in our possession we ran to the car, reparked and readied ourselves for a journey to nom town.

People accept no imitation. These crepes are undeniably some of the best. Ever.

The combination of Nutella, perfectly ripe bananas and crunchy salty peanuts was like my childhood on steroids. I practically inhaled it, afraid that if even a second went by without me eating this pancake, the world might come to an end. I wanted more, I needed more, I had to have more Pinokio. That was when I realized I was once again chocolate wasted and half asleep in the passenger seat en route home, waking up the next morning with the sweet taste still lingering in my mouth. We’ve all been there but at least with Pinokio there is no walk of shame.

We bought 3 crepes and it came to a total of 530 dinars (4 something USD). In terms of waiting time, I would wait a thousand years just to have another pancake from Pinokio. Being in my 20’s I have all the time in the world but to be honest I would rather be waiting in a line at Pinokio than in line to enter a club or bar…primarily because they don’t serve palacinke there (unless you’re at Nachtschicht in Heidelberg, Germany). Also I’ve realized the best foods are always eaten by hand without plates. Judging by the current popularity of food trucks, I whole heartedly support the future of this world….when it comes to food that is.

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Extra nom:

To further expand your experience of home cooked Serbian meals, I briefly invite you to visit the kitchen of long time family friend of Milan’s, where I for the record had my first truly Serbian meal ever three years ago. F.Y.I. I have been full ever since. This is the kitchen of Teta Nada, the queen of all things food related in Serbia. Whenever we visit regardless of the reason, Nada always prepares something extraordinary and you aren’t allowed to leave unless you have filled yourself to the brim. Like her already? I thought so.

This time in our long absence from Serbia she prepared chicken soup, pita both with cheese and zelja, home-made rolls (or hot toasty buns as Milan and I like to call them), zelja wrapped sarma, pavlaka stuffed yellow peppers, all accompanied by ajvar (relish) of tomatoes, fresh cheeses, turnips and spring onions. If that wasn’t enough she also picked up some freshly grilled cevapi from the local Rostilj in Borca.

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Truly nom-inspiring. And it didn’t stop there. To celebrate yet another birthday (this time the son of Teta Nada and our friend who is currently doing his residency in Australia), Nada had baked an enormous cake that she filled with strawberries, bananas, and cherries in between the layers of chocolate cake and sweet cream.

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I love Nada’s deserts, no I’m IN LOVE with Nada’s desserts, and the best thing is that she is completely willing to explain to me how they are made. You’re jealous right now, I know but I acknowledge how lucky I am and maybe one day when I master some of these delacacies I will invite you to my place for lunch!

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There you have it, the must noms in Belgrade. Of course my entire blog (and life) is dedicated to discovering and sharing the nom worthy eats but these are the ones that you don’t want to miss if you are stopping by Belgrade on a quick visit. Some traditional authenticity served up at Tri šešira, a gem frequented by locals like Pinokio, and if you’re really lucky the experienced foodie skill set it takes to prepare a proper Serbian lunch like Teta Nada’s.

Are you booking your visit to Belgrade yet? Please say that you are because I don’t know if Milan will want to go to Pinokio with me every day for the remainder of the year so I need new visitors, lots and lots of visitors!

I’ll have to do some on foot exploring for places to nom this week because I refuse to eat anywhere in doors when it’s this nice outside. Ice cream probably, coffee at a café patio most likely, Lebanese or Israeli falafel from a street vendor….well what do you think? NOM YES!

Au Revoirnom!

Restaurant Information:

Address: Skadarska 29 Belgrade 11000, Serbia
Address: Karađorđeva 12c, Belgrade, Serbia
Phone: no phone # listed!