When Branko came to nom!

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

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Budva 2015: Branko, Milan and I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But until then moving on…

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

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

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

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

But of course it doesn’t end there…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Oh…by the way…I’m a bit blonde now.

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

A despedinom!

Restaurant Information:

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

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