Hello and happy Spring everyone! These past two weeks have provided us here in Belgrade with fantastic weather, colorful cherry blossoms and the first bird chirping signs of a glorious season ahead of us. I must say I feel quite grateful to be in Serbia because I didn’t have to endure the “out like a lion” snow storms that my friends and family on the East Coast of the United States did (phew).
With Spring comes outdoor activities such as walking my favorite route around Ada Ciganlija, sitting outdoors at the hundreds of fabulous cafes and the multitude of shows and concerts that Belgrade offers in the warm weathered months between March and late September. This past weekend Milan and I were eagerly awaiting the arrival of “2 Cellos” at Kombank Arena, having bought the tickets a few months back. The dynamic Croatian cellist were kicking off the tour of for the new album and if you haven’t had the chance to check them out…
do. so. now. like right now.
Before I get into that let me begin by telling you how my culinary socks were kicked off the weekend before the concert by the boyfriend of Milan’s cousin. Andjela and Lazar attend different faculties in Belgrade which would lead you to think that all they feast on is college cafeteria grub, however that is where you’d be wrong. Under their cozy basement roof is a nom extraordinaire, which I am ashamed to say didn’t know existed until now.
They had invited us over that weekend for pancakes and upon our arrival there was already a very large stack of pancakes on a plate next to their one burner hot plate. After catching up Lazar asked us if we were interested in slane (salty) crepes to which we automatically nodded and he disappeared into the fridge. This was when the secret chef put his hat on.
He retrieved all sorts of things from the fridge: two kinds of meat, sauteed mushrooms, shredded cheese, pavlaka (sour cream) and of course ketchup. He then proceeded to fill a small pot with oil and one by one began assembling what is known in restaurants as “pohovani palacinke” or deep fried pancakes. I sat speechless on the couch, having never seen it attempted in a home or even thought that people actually went through all of the effort to do it in their homes in the first place. But there he was, folding the pancakes with precision and dipping them in a sizzling bath of oil. Once he removed them he assembled them on the plate, grated more cheese on top and criss-crossed the ketchup like they do in any professional pancake house.
Milan and I were both in awe with the deliciousness that we were about to partake in. First of all the pancakes were perfectly cooked, fried to a crispy golden color (but not greasy) and when we cut them open the creaminess of the pavlaka was still intact making each bite like heaven on a plate.
Just when we thought that was it, after a few moments of rest Lazar proposed sweet pancakes to follow. So back to the fridge he went and this time returned with bananas, thawing cherries, cipiripi (Seribian chocolate spread), ground plazma biscuits and a large bar of chocolate. He then meticulously put differing ingredients into multiple pancakes, folding them this time like triangles and then grating the chocolate bar onto them (yes you read that correctly, he actually grated the chocolate like a boss). We were both presented with four stuffed palacinke, two with banana and two with cherries.
They were magical. It’s difficult to say which one I enjoyed more, the banana or cherry and even more difficult to judge between the savory or sweet ones, but let’s just say they both won and I’m honored to have been served restaurant quality pancakes in the comfort of someone’s home. Listen, I love Milan’s crepes I really do, but these were on a whole other level: nom level infinity. Andjela and Lazar, thank you…we’ll be back….very soon…like how about tomorrow?
The day of the 2 Cellos concert was one of those perfect Saturdays that you dream of all winter long. Milan and I had woken up without obligations (or anyone coming to do works on the house) and lazily got ready for our afternoon in town where we hadn’t been for a few weeks. I told Milan the night before that I wanted to try someplace new and asked if pizza or pasta sounded good and naturally he agreed. So we set course to the Botanical Gardens parking garage so that we could take a leisurely stroll to Pomodoro.
I’d always been interested in going to Pomodoro because of their salivating pizza, pasta pics on Instagram as well as their Serbian celebrity clientele. One of our Italian acquaintances also frequently nommed on pastas here so that was my official seal of approval. Located on a quiet backstreet between the city center and Bulevar Despota Stefana, Pomodoro has outdoor sidewalk seating and a cozy yet spacious indoor dining room. Their open kitchen is the first thing you see upon entering therefore you can watch sizzling pizzas going in and out of their brick oven and Pomodoro’s diligent chefs at work while you wait.
Immediately you can tell that their wait staff is friendly and attentive, bringing their colorful menus and drink orders. Not only is their menu in three languages, Serbian, English and Italian, but there is a professional photo next to each meal, which if you love visuals of what you’re about to nom on, Pomodoro is the place to be. I had two pizzas in mind, the classic Margherita or their Braccio de Ferro (spinach pesto) because of their ascetically vibrant sauces and slices of fresh mozzarella as opposed to shredded. Unfortunately their batch of pesto wasn’t prepared at the moment (maybe because it was lunch time?) but I wasn’t deterred and stuck with my second choice of Margherita. Milan chose an olive oil based Formaggio di Capra e Pancetta.
I was extremely pleased when my Margherita made it’s way to our table because of its simplistic, no frills nature. When it comes to pizza sometimes we need to get back to the basics and rely on basic ingredient flavors which this pie definitely succeeded in doing. Their sauce is smooth and flavorful which complimented the creamy mozzarella and freshly picked basil leaves. Their crust is thin and crispy and won’t leave you feeling overly full. I ate the whole thing, you would too.
Milan’s gorgeous looking Formaggio di Capra e Pancetta was adorned with dollops of goat cheese, strips of pancetta and pan seared tomatoes. The flavor combination made up for the lack of sauce. Again it was extremely light and left him completely satisfied.
By the time we were ready to pay, Pomodoro had filled up with families and pasta lover a like. We had already decided that we would be back to try their delectable looking pastas upon our next visit which might include the rest of Milan’s family. The cost for the two pizzas was average for an eatery close to the center but affordable in my opinion. This wouldn’t be our last time visiting a little slice of Italy in the heart of Belgrade.
After leaving Pomodoro we strolled in the direction of Student Square in order to properly cleanse our pallets with a favorite you’re already acquainted with, Crna Ovca. Now that it was officially spring it was officially black sheep season once again! With ever changing flavors I am always determined to try something new so this time I continued the Italian theme and chose a base of mascarpone and fig, topped with ricotta and honeycomb.
The tragic thing about Belgrade’s best gelato is that you can never be sure if they will have the same flavor twice but for my own sake and the sake of the free human world, I hope they keep churning out these two incredible flavors for the rest of eternity.
With our pallets cleansed we returned to the car and drove over the bridge to New Belgrade and Kombank Arena where the concert would start in a few short hours. If you’re driving, it’s always a good idea to arrive early because the closer to the start of any event the more nightmarish parking can be (knowledge from personal experience). The parking is free on Saturdays after two so take advantage of that as well and grab a front row spot.
During our pancake party the previous weekend, we had found out that Andjela and Lazar would also be attending the concert so we had planned to meet early to grab a drink before having our minds blown. There is an interesting cafe, restaurant and bar close to the Arena called Victoria Station which has an antique train car next to their sleek modern indoor, outdoor space. This place is great for drinks with friends before a concert or game and because it’s within walking distance it can also double as an after hours destination.
Once inside the venue, we parted ways and took our seats in the upper part of Kombank but with a great view of the stage below. The Zagreb Philharmonic’s instruments were already in place and the one man acoustic opening act set the mood for a mellow opening to the 2 Cellos set.
Again if you aren’t familiar with this duo (google them ASAP) then you must know that their show begins with covers of musical scores from famous films such as The God Father, Brave Heart and The Titanic. Accompanied by the Philharmonic, Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser take the stage with their hollow electric cellos and take you on a musically driven emotional roller coaster. Each song features a visual displayed on a large screen behind the stage which adds to the overall goose bump inciting experience.
The second thing you should know about 2 Cellos is that they are less famous for their covers of the classics but more so of their modern covers of rock, pop and everything in between. They ingeniously transition into the second part of their show with AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” and immediately gets the crowd going by inviting everyone down to the stage to really get the energy going. The show then evolves into a full blown rock concert with pyrotechnics, laser displays and exploding cannon of confetti. The atmosphere in the Arena had completely transformed and we all went nuts.
They closed the show with a lullaby of U2’s “With or Without you” which brought the entire set list to a perfect closing. Once the encore had finished and everyone began to file out of the stadium it was clear that every single person had a truly unique experience. Belgrade is a great city to see alternative musical performances and seeing 2 Cellos will definitely go down in the books for me.
Clearly this is just the beginning of a very magical part of the year. As you know with Easter coming up there will be traditional Serbian noms to report as well as other newly found noms around the area.
Until then I’ll leave you with a food related photo of Mooshoo…
She’s an endless source of citric entertainment.