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!