Crna Ovca, Šaran and a day trip to Đerdap

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

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

What does summer mean to you?

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Maybe it means… Shake n’ Bake?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Srebrno Jezero (Silver Lake)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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photo credit : Postcards from around the world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I should probably go exercise. right. now.

Annyeongom!

Restaurant Information:

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

 

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Happy Places : Pizza Bar and Špaklica

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fiorentina

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Mediteran

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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photo credit: Spaklica Facebook

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

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

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Dreamy, creamy, ice cream roll perfection. Ahnom.

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

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

See you soon fellow nommers!

Hyvästnom!

Restaurant Information:

Address:  Bulevar Mihajla Pupina 165, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Phone:  011 222 5467
Address: Ada Ciganlija, lokal Havana, Serbia
Phone: 060 313 1578

When Branko came to nom!

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

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Budva 2015: Branko, Milan and I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But until then moving on…

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

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

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

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

But of course it doesn’t end there…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Oh…by the way…I’m a bit blonde now.

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

A despedinom!

Restaurant Information:

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

Nomming the way to Niš

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Onward to Niš!

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

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

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

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

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

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photo credit : Fabrika Ukusa Nis Instagram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

La revedernom!

Restaurant Information:

Address: Slavke Djurdjevic 3, Jagodina, Serbia
Phone: 069 404 0035
AddressObrenovićeva bb, Niš, Serbia
Phone: 018 244 396
Address: Knjaževačka 56, Niš, Serbia
Phone: n/a