Mocha madness & an American girl’s attempt at making ‘sarma’

Happy November fellow nommers!

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I thought I would write a quick recipe post and share some of my favorite spot to get a piping hot mocha here in Belgrade. Next week I’ll be flying back to the States for a family gathering and something I haven’t celebrated state side in almost three years: Thanksgiving!

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First up, I know I’ve mentioned the magic of Serbian sarma before. Succulent hand made sour cabbage rolls stuffed with tender beef and rice. Perfect for this time of the year and an absolute staple here in Serbia. I’ve always wanted to try and make it but have never had the time, but seeing as we had a whole batch of sour cabbage from Milan’s grandfather in the freezer, it was about time I tried out one of my favorite dishes.

Disclaimer: This is my first attempt at making sarma which I will admit was delicious but by no means perfect when compared to Serbian households who have been perfecting their technique much much longer than I. But hey, it’s a start!

Sarma Recipe a.k.a Stuffed Cabbage Rolls 

Ingredients:

Sarma rolls 

  • 30-40 sour cabbage leaves *
  • Two handfuls of thick cut bacon (it’s more or less for flavor)
  • 600 grams of ground meat (I used a mix of beef and pork)
  • 1 cup of rice (I used a type of brown rice but normal or pearl rice would do)
  • 1 large onion – diced
  • 1 cup of oil (any kind will do)
  • 1 carrot – shredded
  • 7 cloves of garlic – minced
  • 2 eggs (the fresher the better)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sweet paprika (not the spicy kind)
  • salt and pepper

Sarma sauce 

  • 1/2 cup of oil
  • 1 cup plain tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika
  • 4 cups of water
  • salt and pepper

*the cabbage had  already been soured in a barrel for god knows how many days before they reached my hands and I stuck them in the freezer…so if you don’t have sour cabbage on here, here is a quick video recipe in English on how to make quick soured cabbage. Theoretically you could use simply boiled cabbage but it won’t have the same flavors.

1. First cook the bacon on a medium temperature until the fat has rendered and has turned a light translucent color. Next add your oil and allow it to simmer slightly before adding your onions and sweet paprika, cooking the onions until golden and transparent.  I added shredded carrot at this point because I add carrots to everything.

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2. Since my chunks of bacon were quite big and I didn’t want them to be in the mix of my filling (just the flavor), I removed them and put them to the side to use later. At this point you can put your ground beef into the mixture, keeping it on the stove for only a minute or so. You don’t want to actually cook the meat because it will be cooked slowly in it’s cabbage casing later on. Give it a stir and take it off the stove.

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3. Moving on to the soured cabbage leaves. This step you can do either beforehand or when you’ve assembled the first half of your filling. It’s important to make sure there isn’t any excess liquids on the leaves. Also it’s good to thin out the vein of each leaf with a small knife. In my opinion this was the most time consuming part of the whole process but you’ll be happy that you did because the rolls will be  nice and flexible.

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4. Add your minced garlic to the pot as well as your uncooked rice. Next break two eggs over the filling and mix until combined. It will look familiar at this point, like meatloaf (but with rice inside).

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5. Now comes the fun part, making the rolls! Grab a long tray or pan that you can lay the finished rolls on before you put them back in your pot. Take one leaf, vein facing towards you, and put a spoonful of the filling in the lower middle. Next fold the right and left side over the middle, then curl the bottom over and forward (away from you) until you’ve reached the end of the leaf and it’s taken a roll like shape. If it’s not perfect try again, the leaves are very forgiving.

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6. Once you’ve got all of your rolls, line the bottom of the the deep oven safe pot you used with any excess cabbage and a bit of oil (I even threw in a few pieces of bacon). Then you’re going to place your rolls face up at the base of the pot, going around until all your rolls fit snugly together. Add a few bay leaves in between the rolls, and the remainder of the bacon if you wish and set aside.

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7. The next thing is important because it will ensure that your sarma will remain moist throughout the slow cooking, the sauce. In a sauce pan, add olive oil, and flour, mixing until combined, wait a few moments before adding sweet paprika, and a little bit of salt. Add the tomato juice and stir together, then finally add the water. After this is done, pour the sauce straight over your rolls in the pot. They should be covered completely. In my opinion the saucier the better.

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8. Cover the pot and stick it on the bottom rack of the preheated 220 C. oven and cook the rolls for two and a half to three hours. I didn’t have an oven safe pot cover so I used foil. You can check if more liquid needs to be added but it should be enough.

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9.  When they are done cooking, take the sarma out of the oven and allow them to cool slightly.

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10. Serve in a bowl or shallow dish (with a nice chunk of bread to clean up leftover juices with), slice open and enjoy all winter long!

Prijatno!

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Moving on, I wanted to highlight a few places where you can get two of my favorite things, coffee and chocolate, magically mixed into one amazing cold weather drink: Mocha!

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My go to throughout the fall and winter season is GreeneT Caffe. I frequent the one in Dorćol (aka GreeneT Square) because their staff is nice and I can sit on the upper level and do work without being bothered. I’ve tried a large variety of warm drinks at GreeneT but the one I keep coming back to is their ‘Orange Mocha’. It all started when I tried their orange hot chocolate for the first time a few years back and fell head over heels in love. Then one day I saw they had a mocha option with the same flavors they offered in their hot chocolate, so of course I tried it, and the rest is…history.

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The bitterness of the coffee balances out the sweetness of the orange jelly flavors and the creaminess of the rich chocolate. Topped with cold whipped cream, I could drink these all day and all night. I also don’t feel as guilty asking for a large mug since I know there is at least half a cup of coffee inside.

So if you’re looking for a mocha with that extra nomness, locate your nearest GreeneT and get cozy!

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The next location in Belgrade is over the bridge along the Zemun Quay at Hotel Jugoslavia. A decade ago this huge hotel was bustling with people from all over the world, and despite the hotel not being in full form today, there are still droves of people who visit the building for the delicious restaurants at it’s base. I highlighted Intergalactic Diner last summer when our friend Branko came to nom, and this psychedelic pancake house I’m about to share with you is located right next door at Sugar and Spice.

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This place is as tasty as it looks on the outside as it truly is on the inside. Neon lights, waitresses in roller skates and something we all love, pancakes. Whenever we visit Sugar and Spice, it’s almost always for dessert and therefore Milan and whoever we are with order a large stack of American pancakes. Myself on the other hand can satisfy my sweet tooth with one menu item, their melted dark chocolate mocha.

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Their mochas come in three different flavors, based on the type chocolate you want oozing at the bottom: milk, white or dark. Being a huge fan of dark chocolate, it’s my choice every time. Their frosted glass mugs are topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings or chips. You know the chocolate portion isn’t from a powder because you can see it lining the entire circumference of the mug and my favorite part of the entire experience is scooping the chocolate from the bottom of the mug at the end. Nomalicious.

Thus if you’re watching your waistline (even slightly) and you think your head might pop off at the sight of mountains of drool worthy pancakes, don’t panic! Sugar and Spice’s mocha will quell your cravings and leave you feeling all warm and gooey inside.

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The last cafe is one I’ve highlighted a few times but where I particularly adore going to if I’ve just had a shower and washed my hair. Why so specific you ask? Considering that more than half the population of Serbia smokes indoors and out, it can be nearly impossible to find a nonsmoking cafe or restaurant that won’t leave your freshly lathered locks smelling like an ashtray. Hey, maybe I’m just sensitive because I’m a non smoker (and no I don’t have anything against those who do) but seeing as I don’t wash my hair often anymore (winter time sadness), Red Bread is my cafe of choice.

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I’ve tried a wide variety of items on their menu and thus far loved everything. They are a touristic haven and have something for everyone, including a delectable ‘Moccacino’. I don’t think I had ever had one before, maybe just cocoa powered dusted on top of a foamy cappucino, but as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it.

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Served in a tall round glass, it is lined with chocolate sauce, filled with a mixture of coffee, chocolate and milk, then topped of course with whipped cream and three fitting coffee beans. Yet again Red Bread did not disappoint. Thus if you’re like me and like keeping your ‘do’ smoke-free while enjoying a delicious drink, pull up a comfy colorful chair and nom on (with spoon or straw, it’s your choice)!

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That’s all the noms for today.

Currently I am still munching on the spooky Halloween treats I prepared for the celebrations at school which is nothing to complain about. I could probably eat caramel apples all day, every day.

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As I said, I’ll be returning to Boston for the week of Thanksgiving so you can expect a tasty post of nomeries shared.

Catch you on the nom side!

Restaurant Information:

Address: Multiple locations around Belgrade, Serbia
Phone: see website link for contact information for each location
Address: Bulevar Nikole Tesle 3 Belgrade, Serbia 11070
Phone: 068 269 3665
Address: Dositejeva 22 Belgrade, Serbia 11000
Phone: 065 227 0099

 

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Rome, a second nom around

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Ciao ciao everyone! I just returned from a short trip to Rome that I am oh so excited to share with you all. These highlights of my second trip to Rome since 2011, are not the typical touristic activities one might normally think of when they are in the food capital of Italy. Nonetheless I hope you enjoy the coming noms.

First let me start off by advising something. Before you head off to Roma (or anywhere for that matter) try to learn a few key phrases in that language to make your life and others easier, as well as impress your friends and family. You’d be surprised as to how little can get you a long way. Trying is everything. Fake it till you make it

Some useful Italian phrases :
  • Hello / goodbye :  Salve / Ciao
  • Yes / No: Si / No
  • I want ______: Io vorrei ______
  • This : questo
  • That : quello
  • How much is this? : quanto questo ?
  • I don’t understand: Non capisco
  • Excuse me : scusa
  • Thank you : Grazie
  • Please : per favore
  • Cheers! : Salute! 

*and in case you want to take meat / cheese back home with you*

  • 500 grams (you’ll regret it if you take less) : cinque etti (etti = gram)

These were my holy grail. Of course there are many other useful phrases that might include a topic you’re interested in such as museums or shopping but either way take a day or two before you arrive to hammer some into your brain!

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If you recall my adventures in London last year, you’ll remember that I met both my mother, aunt and uncle on my side of the pond, and this trip was derived from the same circumstances.

When I arrived in Rome in the evening last week, I took a taxi to our lovely accommodations (48 euros fixed rate) near the Spanish steps and my mother was already waiting outside for me. We dropped off my bag and immediately ventured out because I was starving, plus we were in Rome so there was no time to waste NOT eating.

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I’m slightly embarrassed to say that I don’t know where we ate that night. Lured in by the smell of promising pastas we sat down street side, ordered some white some red and our food. I chose spinach ricotta raviolis with red sauce and my mom, fettuccine bolognese.

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The service was fast and I paced myself because I was drinking a bottle of wine to myself, but there was a lot to catch up on and we somehow managed to finish our meals in between all the laughter and wine. Already my Italian had been taken off the shelf and somewhat improved after drinking a glass or two of liquid courage.

I went to sleep that night feeling a buzz that a “linguaphile” (or one who is a lover of words and languages) gets from using and being surrounded by a new language. Needless to say I was excited to quickly fall asleep and wake up with an empty stomach. One nom down and we were just getting started.

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In the morning I woke up a bit hungover and in desperate need of coffee. Luckily my mother had packed a few instant coffee packets in her bag so it managed to hold me over in our room (along with a big bottle of water) until we finally got moving for breakfast.

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Not far from us is a cafe, bar by the name of Il Baretto, which provides much needed caffeine (to stay or to go) as well as a variety of sandwiches and sweet pastries. Feeling slightly more confident about my Italian phrases, I ordered two cappuccinos, one jam filled croissant (actually referred to in Italian as “brioche”) and a Bowie looking pastry with a sweet glaze. Everything was on the plate for less than a minute as I had my coffee fix in virtually one gulp. For a breakfast in Rome, this is as basic and as nom as they come.

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The next activity was something special my aunt had pre-planned and by chance since she had originally hoped for us to go on a walking food tour with Elizabeth and Sophie Minchilli, my aunt’s proclaimed gurus of all this culinary in Rome. Thus this event is something that can only be half recreated*.

The luncheon was centered around an NPR interview segment for ‘Good Food’ between Evan Kleiman and English expat Rachel Roddy. Rachel is an award winning writer, most known for her autobiographical cook book “My Kitchen in Rome” (and frequent columns in The Gaurdian) on how Italian food and life has transformed her life in the most unexpected ways.

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The interview took place in the quieter side of the city near the fortress like Rome War Cemetery and unmissable Pyramid Caio Cestio, in an underground trattoria called Flavio al Velavedodetto. The interview was inspirational to say the least, being an expat obsessed with all things food and the ultimate struggle we face when it comes to an identity crisis, being consumed by our foreign surrounds and feeling as if we belong yet remaining aliens all along.

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The real question that was left lingering in my brain was when will I write my own Serbian cookbook??

After the talk we moved to the dining area where we were to partake in a tasting of some of Rachel’s favorite Italian dishes. Starting out again with wines galore, our first course consisted of three drool worthy pastas: buitini am rigatoni (rigatoni with red sauce and guanciale or pork cheek), cacio e pepe (spaghetti with a creamy cheese and pepper ) and carbonara (rigatoni with a decadent egg yolk coating and again guanciale).

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Luckily we were surrounded by amazing expats who I was able to ask about the ingredients, specifically guanciale. If you’ve ever had pancetta, you can appreciate a thick cut of meat with a delicious layer of fat. Well guanciale leaves pancetta in the dust. With a higher percentage of fat, when rendered in the pan the outer braised layer becomes crunchy (like American bacon) while the fat virtually melts in your mouth. Pure, utter bliss.

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The second course was Polpette di lesso and steamed cicoria. This fist sized meatball is made from already cooked meat (as opposed to raw), herbs, cheese and lemon, fried to golden perfection. After all the pasta it was almost too much but in my opinion it’s all in your mind. So nom on I did, and gladly.

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Last but absolutely not least, dolce or dessert. This was the part my aunt was most excited about, having done this part of a food tour segment before, the quintessential Italian no bake sweet: tiramisu. They served us each the perfect amount, just enough to cleanse your pallet (however of course leaving me begging for more).

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After this fabulous lunch my mother and I parted ways with my aunt and decided to take a leisurely stroll down the Tiber river towards St. Peter’s. From the restaurant it was around a 40 minute walk but we took advantage of the perfect weather and sauntered by the river way. If you have the time (and good weather) I highly advise you do this to escape the cramped intercity sidewalks.

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Later that evening, after a bit of rest, we chose to walk through the streets from Spagna to Campo de Fiori, window shopping and people watching. En route back I had told my mom that we had to try gelato at a place opposite the steps once we finally made our way back. I had seen some decadent looking macaroon topped cones from a Belgrader I follow on Instagram, Fudbloger, who had been there a few weeks before.

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The Don Nino Gelateria has a wide selection of flavors that will make for a very tricky decision. When a fresh batch of stracciatella (vanilla with chocolate shavings) came out though, I was certain and paired it with a fresh mint. The large cone is then topped with two mini cones and a rich colored macaroon. It was a true work of art. My mom got the same treatment except in a cup with tiramisu.

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Don Nino is on the expensive side, however for the amount and quality, it is well worth it. (Plus we had been walking the entire day and had skipped any notion of dinner after that lunch). If you’re near the Spanish steps, treat yourself to a cold refreshing dessert…except don’t do this on the steps, for it is forbidden, which I learned to hard way! 

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The previous night we had decided that we would plan a day trip to escape the congestion of the city and where better to do than in the quaint hill town of Orvieto. A little over an hour outside of the city (via a beautiful train ride), Orvieto is considered to be the mini Florence of Umbria but with much fewer crowds. Once you have arrived at the station, take the fernicular (vertical tram) up to the village and prepare to be amazed. There are 360 degree views surrounding Orvieto so make sure to enjoy all of them by walking the exterior as well as the interior.

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The cathedral or Dom von Orvieto on the left bank of the town is a must see. The strikingly bold stripes were a characteristic I had yet to see and the dome’s outer details are remarkably impressive. Inside you can marvel at the stained glass and beautiful (yet actually horrifying) frescos in the adjoining chapels. If you buy the combined ticket you can also visit the Museum Dell’ Opera next door which houses a spectacular exhibit by the famed (modern day) Italian sculptor Emilio Greco.

After investigating the town square, we were drawn in to one of the captivating side streets where we came face to face with the furry head of a stuffed wild boar. The buzz of people coming in and out of the tiny shop with giant sandwiches in hand, hinted that this place must be something special, and truly it was. Il Negozietto is a hole in the wall deli with a mouthwatering selection of meats, cheeses and other jarred delights.

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There is a small sandwich menu in both English and Italian which helped with the selection process and having seen the wild boar as we walked in, it didn’t take long to decide on our impromptu lunch. One food word that had stuck with me since Milan received his edible souvenir from Florence during the summer was: Bresaola, an aged, salted meat that turns dark red or even purple and is often served as an antipasto. Il Negozietto’s bresaola is as you can guess made from succulent wild boar.  Naturally I ordered one of these and one with basic prosciutto crudo, the wild boar’s domesticated cousin.

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If sandwiches were a work of art, then the panino’s at Negozietto are masterpieces. The maestro behind the counter is meticulous about the exact slices of meat, accompanied by thicker pieces of incredible pecorino (cheese from sheep’s milk) and olive, truffle oil spread to further enhance the savory flavors of the meat. After collecting our subs, we sat on a bench opposite the shop, split both in half and started our nomventure. Both were delicious but the wild boar bresaola was hands down one of  the best things I’ve ever eaten. The spices from the curing create an explosion on both your taste buds and your brain.  Truly the epitome of Italian noms.

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As you can see from the pictures above, Orivieto is the charming town straight out of an Disney fairy tale. The people are friendly (perhaps because the amount of tourists had reduced) and there is something beautiful to discover around every corner. Give yourself enough time to take the tram back down the hill in order to catch your train back to the hustle and bustle of Rome. I can assure you that you won’t regret planning a day trip to this central Italian gem.

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The following day was my last full day in Rome therefore my aunt had planned to make the most of it. That day she had planned on taking us to the Borghese Gallery, where I had not been on my previous trip so I was quite excited. In addition it couldn’t hurt to see a bit more artwork, despite my aversion this time around to being caught up in museums or touristic attractions.

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Our first stop that morning was a local grocery store so that I could buy 00 type flour to bring home with me. The week before I left, I made my first attempt at making pasta since we had a pasta machine hidden away in our kitchen at home. It came out nice, however there is a special fine milled flour that you cannot find in Serbia thus I had added it to my list of nomcessories.

With that checked off, we walked south towards the Campo de Fiori and stopped in at a Danish shop which is always on my list: Tiger (or Flying Tiger). As a side note, if you haven’t been to one of these store, do! It is filled with quirky items that you won’t see anywhere else, and you’ll most likely end up leaving with things you didn’t even know you needed. There are Tigers all over Rome but this one is rather large and near the roman ruins of Largo di Torre Argentina, so you can’t miss it (just watch out for the cats).

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With my bag full of things I apparently needed, we headed off for an early lunch at a small cafe on the backstreet of Via del Pellegrino called Cafe Barnum. If you aren’t familiar with the name, you might be reminded by the pictures around the room of clowns and circus memorabilia. Sound familiar? (hint: Barnum & Bailey Circus!)

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They serve breakfast in the morning and then take a pause in between lunch, so we ordered a few coffees and juice to kill some time before our meal. They have a board of daily specials and for some reason unbeknownst to my brain, their stir fry dish seemed to speak to my stomach. When we got around the ordering lunch, my mom and aunt both ordered chicken avocado sandwiches which were recommended by a customer near by.

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I’m sure you are thinking I was crazy for ordering an Asian inspired dish in the heart Rome but you would be wrong. The “Wok Pollo” had the perfect amount of sweet and sour sauce and a hearty amount of chicken, peppers and zucchini, topped with bean sprouts and served with a bed of white rice. It was kind of great to change your pallet to a different food genre after eating pizza, pasta, meats and cheeses for consecutive days. Some of my favorite restaurants in Belgrade as you know are not in fact Serbian food. Delicious stir fry in the capital’s center can be found, so look no further and change the pace at Cafe Barnum.

Since the tickets for the Borghese had been previously booked, we were on a tight schedule and hoofed it back to our place to drop off our goods. Along the way however I detached myself from the group so that I could purchase my promised gift to Milan, Italian meat and cheese. Not far off from the grocery store I had visited before, there is a bustling delicatessen frequented by real Romans (since the 1930’s) who buy their meat and cheese by the kilos as well as stopping in for a bite to eat around lunch time.

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Remember as I said before, it is important to learn a bit of the native language if you expect to gain at least a bit of respect for the locals. So I mustered my confidence and queued in line at Salsamenteria Fratelli Fabbi with everyone else. A lovely older gentleman finally took my order, corrected my poor yet understandable speech and produced exactly what I wanted. Since Milan’s main intention was to make carbonara, I chose a triangle of pecorino and a huge chunk of lucious guanciale. He even asked me (half mimed) if I was intending to fly with the goods which I confirmed and he happily vacuum sealed both items and sent me off with a warm smile and my receipt to pay. I have to admit, it was the best interaction with a Roman yet.

I booked it back to stuff the noms in the community mini fridge and immediately we were on our way to the Borghese gardens. That day there was a fun run , therefore it took a little while to navigate around the park to the gallery. But once we were there (sweating from the October heat wave) it didn’t take us long to cool down by the surrounding granite statues.

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The gallery consists of twenty two rooms filled with a collection of paintings, mosaics and statues, and perhaps most note-worthy for the jaw dropping sculptures by Bernini. Each room has it’s own theme, many of them following the myths of ancient Greece. With that being said, if you do visit the gallery, either follow a guided tour, download the museum’s app for your phone or read the placards placed in the corner of each room, because the stories really are too interesting to pass up.

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For example my favorite is the story behind Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne. Apollo who once mocked the god of love, Eros (aka Cupid) was then shot by an arrow of passion and fell madly in love with the nymph Daphne, who unfortunately for the god of war, was also shot with an arrow of hatred towards Apollo. He chased down the evasive nymph and once he eventually caught up to her, Daphne begged her father Peneus (the river god) to help her escape and his fine solution was by turning his daughter into a tree. In Bernini’s sculpture you can see Apollo wrapping his arms around Daphne’s waist which is already turning into bark, her finger tips sprouting branches and her feet transforming into the a tree trunk. Despite her new earthly form, Apollo vowed to love Daphne eternally. How twistedly romantic.

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Once my trip down medieval political theory lane was completed we strolled this time leisurely back through the park and back to our room to rest before dinner and pack my ever growing carry-on suitcase. Because my uncle was in Rome for work, he was finally able to join us for dinner that night. My aunt had chosen Trattoria da Giggi which is not far away from the Spanish steps and a place her and my uncle had frequented multiple times before.

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We arrived on the earlier side (we aren’t Roman are we?) but with an early flight in the morning, I was more than happy to eat and digest on my on time. The interior of Giggi’s is the Italian restaurant you have in your mind, cozy and casual. We ordered a vessel of red wine, water and bruscetta to start. Since my uncle had been in Rome for the better part of a month and taking Italian lessons, I was quite impressed by his handle on ordering.

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To start off the bruscetta was fabulous. Ripe tomatoes and basil slathered over a perfectly crusty piece of bread which was absorbing the olive oil from the plate, allowing it to remain crispy yet moist at the same time. Rule of thumb, one order includes two slices, and one piece is enough for one person (unless you are starving). It was a perfect way to open my appetite for what was to come.

When it came to the pasta (in this case our main), my uncle ordered fettuccine bolognese, my mother adventurously chose a salmon fettuccine, while both my aunt and I went with bucatini all’amatriciana, in order to fully relive the episode we had during the luncheon a few days before.

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 My mother adored her fettuccine with creamy salmon sauce. With small bits of fish, the pasta as a whole wasn’t overpowered by the salmon and created an overall creamy delicious texture to the dish. I assumed that all the red sauce she had eaten, drove her to make this choice but this was truly a case of you never know what you might like until you nom it.

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Over on my end of the table, I was as passionate about my pasta as Apollo was about Daphne.  This might have been my first time trying bucatini (a thick spaghetti with a signature hole in the center) as it’s not commonly seen on a menu unless you’re at an authentic Italian restaurant. Said pasta was covered in a rich tomato sauce and full of generous pieces of my new favorite part of the pig, gianciale. With a little bit of parmesan, it was for lack of a better word, bellisimo.

At the end of our meal, I was in such a food daze that I couldn’t even contemplate dessert. Instead when we left the restaurant we took a walk around the neighborhood one more time before heading back to catch some zzzs. As I curled up in bed that night the thoughts of my last dinner at Gigi’s was still swimming around in my head and stomach. The trip in its nomtirity was complete and I felt confident leaving on the best of notes and a feeling deep in my belly that I would return to this wonderful place once again in the future.

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Arrivaderci Roma. Until next time.

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Back in Belgrade, I have to admit things seem a little bit less romantic but it is a relief to not be surrounded by people everywhere you look. Where I live on the outskirts of the city is for the most part quiet, something I don’t appreciate enough. I came home with gifts for Milan as well as Mooshoo (more for her actually) and to my surprise there was a freshly made gibanica on the stove, waiting to be nommed. It was good to be home.

As I mentioned before I managed to make pasta with our pasta machine and am excited to try it out again with the proper flour I bought in Rome. The results from my pre trip pasta were actually quite tasty if I do say so myself, topped with a homemade tomato sauce, roasted vegetables and Parmesan.

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See not too shabby!

I’ll keep you all posted on how the new and improved version comes out. Maybe I’ll even use some guanciale!

Alla prossinom!

Restaurant Information:

Address:  Via del Babuino, 120, Rome Italy 00187
Address:Via di Monte Testaccio, 97, Rome Italy 00153
Address:  Viale Eritrea, 109, Rome , Italy 00199
Address:Via Pedota, 2, Orvieto, Italy 05018
Phone: +39 328 823 0159
Address:Via del Pellegrino, 87, Rome, Italy 00186
Address:  Via della Croce, 27-28, Rome, Italy 00187
AddressVia Belsiana, 94a, Rome, Italy 00187

Nomming into the unknown: Galaxy Creperie and Belgrade’s Noćni Market

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Summer has faded and autumn is creeping onto the scene here in Belgrade, a feeling I must say makes me giddy all over. As you know the crisp air, colored leaves and soul warming noms make autumn my favorite season of the year. So you can imagine my excitement as September takes it place, there being no reason to hide my true nature which is to nom, nom and nom some more.

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This season also means biannual visa applications and gathering of documents. But much like clockwork, the post application celebration is always something I look forward to. Whether it be a coffee and pastry at my favorite cafe or a giant pizza, you would feel like you deserved it to if you had to do this every six months too!

So this time Milan suggested that we go for brunch after applying and I had just so happened to find out about a new creperie in Vračar that I was extremely eager to visit. Located just a few minutes away from the herculean structure that is Hram Svetog Sava (the church of Saint Sava)  Galaxy Creperie is relatively new so as of right now the word isn’t officially out there, so I hope through this post the buzz will spread and people will begin to flock to this fabulous breakfast, lunch and dinner spot.

As a miniature foodie, I don’t necessarily like to follow the rule of restaurants or cafes that are empty to unequivocally mean that there is something amiss. This red flag can mean multiple things, and in Galaxy’s defense, as mentioned before it is because of their newborn status in the area. I like to joke with Milan whenever we are one of the only patrons, that he has rented out the place just for me.  In Galaxy’s case, the fact that we were alone only enhanced the overall charm of our experience.

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The interior of the restaurant is lovely and brand spanking new, with two levels and a beautiful garden terrace located out back. Creating a green space in the middle of a concrete jungle is quite the feet so when we sat down at Galaxy after the all the visa stress, it was utterly tranquil. Our waitress was adorable and attentive, cluing us in on fresh produce they had just received that day and doing everything with a smile, something that isn’t always apparent in Belgrade.

Brunch being both sweet as well as savory, we ordered a salty crepe to share and would then decide on our sweets once our eyes weren’t speaking for our stomachs. Their menu is a wonderland of all things nom, from breakfast specialties, to decadent pastas, salads and sandwiches, Galaxy seems to have it all. The pages of crepe and waffle combinations rivals that of Hari’s Creperie and since there were so many delectable concoctions that made it difficult to choose only one. They also offer buckwheat based items which is a plus if you’re fooling yourself into eating on the healthier side.

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We did in fact choose a buckwheat crepe stuffed with grilled chicken, sour cream, tomatoes, peppers and boston lettuce. The colorful crepe came pre sliced into two halves which Milan and I both admitted later that we thought they were bringing us two pancakes because the pieces were that big! The crepe itself was properly cooked (unfortunately sometimes they can be burnt) and the flavor of the sweet, in-season red peppers was a great start to our brunch.

Our lovely waitress had informed us that strawberries were on the menu so when it finally came to choosing our second course, we both agreed for them to be added to our already over-the-top sounding sweet creations. Luckily for us there was an adequate amount of time to digest and enjoy the perfect weather outside, not a care in the world.

First up is Milan’s choice:

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This fluffy waffle consisted of creamy yogurt and honey base, topped with citrus fruits of kiwi and orange, balanced by the natural sweetness of ripe banana and freshly cut strawberries of the day. Milan considered it ‘light’ a word that I dislike using ( because when is a waffle ever light..) but perhaps valid when compared to my own . His favorite part was the waffle itself because of it’s crispy outside and cake like innards.

And then there was mine:

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Never one to shy away from over indulgence, I had chosen mine primarily because underneath the frozen cherry yogurt, red strawberries and dark chocolate drizzle was the nom of my life, peanut butter. The presentation was breathtaking and a part of me felt guilty that I would cut into something so perfect. Another great surprise however was that they waffle is already split into fours and arranged as a whole, so the oozing add-ons seep in between the crevices without you ever knowing, and I suppose it would make it easier to share!

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It took us the better part of an hour to consume the waffles in their entirety. As you can see above Milan looked a bit apprehensive in the beginning as to whether he’d be able to stomach the huge portion or not, but in the end it was him who was badgering me about taking so long to eat, thoroughly enjoying my blissful brunch to the fullest. When the check came we were in borderline nomas (nom coma) and knew it would be necessary to take a walk around the block  before we returned to the car.

At the moment Galaxy has a small ‘Galaxy Cash’ promotion (invariably to gain momentum) which can be used towards your next visit, something we most certainly will be doing and hopefully with every foodie we know it tow. Truly, Galaxy Creperie is not to be missed and if you’re reading this now, make a note to visit the Vračar area soon for some outstanding noms.

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Belgrade is well known throughout the Balkans for it’s nightlife and party-like atmosphere. However, if you’re looking for something apart from the raging clubs and party scenes then make sure you visit the city’s monthly Noćni Market or Night Market at one of the many outdoor green markets throughout Belgrade. I have now been to a handful of these evening spreads and each time is better than the last.

The market boasts live music, lines of food stalls and craft beers, and rows upon rows of locally produced goods, from handmade jewelry, clothing and cosmetics to farm fresh produce such as smoked meats, cheeses and spirits. These markets are a great place for family, friends, and even a first date. The bottom line is that if you’re in search of something authentically Belgrade, Noćni Market is the real deal community bonding experience.

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On this trip we brought along our friend Micko, local Belgrader and “Gurman” which is loosely translated into a guy who loves all things food. Since his last trip to the night market in Zemun, he was on the hunt  for sizzling sausages and a piping hot Hungarian chimney cake. Having found the prior within minutes of our arrival at the Cirkus Pab stall we hunkered down with a few beers from Južni Vepar and thus I decided to ask Micko a few questions about his meal:

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N&N: So Micko, you’ve got the sausage you were looking for. Are you happy?

Micko: Yes, very much so. (hunger in his eyes)

N&N: Tell me, how would you describe the sausage?

Micko: Well it’s very juicy, and it doesn’t have a chewy casing on it which is easier to eat. The flavor is quite nice too.

N&N: I agree, I’m not a huge fan of the sausage ‘snap’ either. Now what about the bun? It looks like a pretzel bun from what I can see.

Micko: The bun is great. It’s soft and seems to be absorbing both the juice from the sausage and the condiments without it being hard to eat.

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So there you have it. After having a bite of Milan’s, I wholeheartedly agree with my foodie friend. Did I mention this was the same day we went to Galaxy? Hence the reason why I chose to only drink liquid sustenance that evening.

We slurped down the rest of our beers, and chatted until we felt it was time to wade through the crowd of people, also another traditionally Serbian market custom. Following our noses towards the fragrant aroma of sweet baking dough, it didn’t take long until we found the Kürtőskalács stand.

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Earlier I referred to them as “Hungarian chimney cakes” because of the way they are prepared. Stretched out dough is cut into strips then wrapped around an iron cylinder, placed on a rod and cooked via rolling over an open coal pit. It really is something you have to witness at least once in your life, not to mention nom on. I will applaud the chimney cake team because of their ability to work under extreme temperatures.

Once the cakes are cooked, they are taken off the now searing cylinders then either placed directly into parchment and into your hands or rolled in a variety of toppings. My preference is cinnamon and sugar because it reminds me of childhood toast but you can choose from nuts, chocolate bits, vanilla sugar or Micko’s choice, Nutella and Plazma!

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Being the generous person Micko is, he shared his sweet creation with both Milan and I to which we were very grateful. The defining thing about chimney cakes for me is their golden crispiness on the outside while still maintaining a puffy texture on the inside. Be sure to nom them while their hot, but I doubt it will last that long!

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After our tastings we wandered through the vendors, our senses overwhelmed by all the amazing local products this wonderful city has to offer. We passed by a cheese stall and sampled some of the best cheese I’ve had the pleasure of tasting and Milan simply couldn’t pass it up. While he waited in line for a hunk of gold, Micko and I continued on and like a heat seeking missile my brain registered the Cyrillic letters on a small glass jar : кикирики са медом – kikiriki sa medom – peanut butter with honey. There just so happened to be a kilo or two of apples at home from when we had gone to the village the weekend before so I was certainly on cloud nine.

After all that, the three of us left feeling anomplished. This night market happened to be located at Block 44 in New Belgrade so we decided to stroll the Sava Quay (behind Ada Ciganlija) afterwards, another must visit area for those who want a change from the congested streets of Belgrade.

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On another side note, we took a day trip to Palić (on the boarder of Serbia and Hungary) for the first time since we took my mother when she came to visit exactly two years ago. Only  a two hour drive from Belgrade, the scenic town of Palić has a wonderful lake and zoo among other things. For all you readers, this is yet another place on your list of things to see once you come to Serbia!

More noms to come!

Arrivedercnom!

Restaurant Information:

Address: Rankeova 1 Belgrade, Serbia 11000
Phone: 065 5557713
Address: Vrtlarska 3 Zemun 11080, Serbia
Phone: 011 2107722
Address: Njegoševa 53 Zemun 11080, Serbia
Phone: 011 4201267

Summer Noms 2017

The end of summer is approaching and as you all know I disappeared from blogging for a moment so that I could finish the end of the school year and before I knew it, summer had consumed me entirely, distracting me from writing all together.

But in this short blog I will recap some of the drool worthy noms over the past few months, from Budva to Boston and back to Belgrade.

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At the beginning of this whirlwind summer I was lucky enough to go on vacation once again to the beautiful sea town of Budva, Montenegro. Only a short forty minute flight and you are transported to sea, sun, fun and incredible noms. I won’t cover everything but here are a few highlights from my week at sea:

#1. Restaurant Lovac (since 1928) – ending up at this jewel was pure luck as we had visited Ada Bojana that morning. It popped up as a popular spot a few miles in Ulcinj on our route back to Budva and would have been a crime if we had missed it.

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Lovac is a humble restaurant overflowing with pure Montenegrin hospitality. Their outdoor seating is covered by a canopy of kiwi and grape vines and upon arrival you are greeted with a smile and a glass of homemade spirits. The menu offers something for everyone and at a price that cannot be beat.

Do yourself a favor and order the seafood risotto which is not the typical tomato based you find in most places and is packed with shrimp, mussels, squid and octopi. Heavenly. The other things we tasted were stuffed squid and a filling pasta. Just when you think it’s over, they bring out refreshing watermelon slices and another drink to digest. And as if things couldn’t have gotten better, our angel of a waiter brought us tres leche cake…which was out of this world nom.

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Lovac was the highlight of my trip not only because of the incredible noms but because of the staff that treated you like family, making you feel like you were finally home.

#2. Juice Bar – having already commented on Juice Bar in one of my first ever posts, Juice Bar is the old part of Budva’s city fortress is a great place for breakfast, drinks and delicious sandwiches made with their signature red tomato bread. As I mentioned before their sister restaurant is located in Belgrade so we never have to suffer through any nomdrawals.

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This trip we went to Juice Bar twice (though we would have happily have gone every day) the first time on a cloudy day for brunch. We each ordered giant smoothies, mine, named ‘Blue’ was packed with fresh fruits and peanuts which I oh so adore. We had intended to stay for sandwiches but these fabulous smoothies covered each crevice of our stomachs and so we chose to visit again before we left. When we did return, we ordered new favorites – ‘French’ (brie, cranberry sauce, lettuce) and ‘Smoky’ (smoked meat, cheese, tomato, lettuce) checking off another box from our must noms in Budva list.

#3. Babaluu – hands down the best place in the city for breakfast or brunch. We went to Babaluu on our last trip for lunch where we ordered a plethora of things from pizza to pasta and salad but there was one thing I became obsessed with after our visit and that was ‘priganice’ or fried dough balls.

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For some reason, thinking the priganice wouldn’t be enough for the two of us, we both ordered something “small” : jogurt and musli with fruit and freshly made kiflice (croissant like pastries) with ham and cheese. As it turned out these filled us up quite a bit and by the time our piping hot priganice (complete with sides of cheese, honey and jam) made their way to the table we were down for the count. Luckily they packed them up and I actually carried them all the way back to Belgrade that night!

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What I adore about Babaluu is that they serve all of their dishes in a fun / different way and the exterior as well as interior of the restaurant follows the same theme. The prices are great and you know you’ll never leave hungry!

Hungry yet? How about some nomerable mentions:

*Keops Palačinkarnica – new to downtown seaside walk in Budva, Keops pancake house is another favorite that originated in Belgrade. These are a midnight snack must!

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*Restaurant Astoria – possibly the best cafe/ restaurant in the old city where you can relax and watch the crashing waves with a refreshing drink (alcoholic or not!) in your hand.

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Bye Bye Budva!

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Onward to America! My visit to the States was a short but sweet four weeks so that I could be united with my newborn nephew and catch up with all friends and family I have been absent from for almost two years. It’s true that now I’m an aunt, but let’s be honest not much has changed and neither have the noms!

#1. The Lobster Shack – back to my old university stomping grounds of Maine, this little gem was introduced to me by a family friend who we were spending the night with. Not a huge fan of lobster, or lobster rolls (New Englanders get your pitchforks ready) I do however love a giant bowl of clam chowder which the Lobster Shack happily provides.

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At just the right consistency, their clam chowder is warm and smooth and as you can guess full of succulent clams. Eat is an an appetizer alongside a lobster roll or as a main with a salad as I did and you can’t go wrong in New England’s self proclaimed vacation land or in this case nomland.

Maine, the way life should be!

#2. Howling Wolf Taqueria – The infamous town of Salem, Mass has a plethora of great eateries tucked into every street corner and the Howling Wolf is one that should be frequented by everyone because of it’s extreme nomness.

First of all their variety of tequilas is off the chain. Always a fan of any kind of margarita, Howling Wolf’s margarita of the day was concocted with their very own blueberry tequila, pure liquid nomness.

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Their menu is filled with south of the boarder inspired classics with a wolf twist. Fish tacos were a must as well as friend plantains, which if you haven’t had before I’m not sure how you’ve survived long enough to be reading this right now.

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The tacos came on soft corn tortillas with a lightly battered piece of white fish and completed with spicy chipotle sauce and veg. Oh so nom. The caramelized plantains were the salty, sweet combination that dreams are made of.

Thus, if you ever find yourself in Salem and are in search of an ethereal experience then put down your guard and let the Howling Wolf do all the bewitching.

#3. Boston Public Market – Where once Hay Market stood, the newly built Boston Public Market is continuing the legacy of feeding hungry Bostonians by locally produced Bostonians. This building houses all the noms imaginable from seafood to glowing sandwiches and pasta, to sweets such as Crescent Ridge ice cream or freshly made apple cider donuts.

My taste buds were drawn towards the small Vietnamese influenced ‘Noodle Lab‘ stand where they create one specialized dish per day that are guaranteed to inspire and transport you far from the East Coast to somewhere much more exotic. The special for that day was ‘Bun Cha’ a fresh bowl of grilled pork over flat noodles with crispy bean sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, greens and a spicy chili dressing.

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Because Boston Public Market is solely comprised of food stalls the only designated seating are large beer garden tables that the public share together. There is something magical about squeezing yourself in between people you don’t know but are drawn together for the same reason, to nom!

Be sure to take in the sights and smells of the hall while you enjoy your food because that is certainly part of the full experience. Although Faniel Hall is still more popular with tourists than Boston Public Market, perhaps this is a good thing as the food here is almost too good to share!

Have you recovered from this nom time difference? Here are some nomerable mentions to cure your jet lag:

*The British Beer Company – A few years ago I might have thrown this suggestion in the back seat but my most recent experience was quite lovely. Blueberry beer, fried pickles, honey whiskey marinated steak tips and sweet potato fries, need I say more? Their service was also top notch. My mind has been made up, the BBC might be the new place to be.

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*Murph’s Place – Always a breakfast winner. It wouldn’t be a visit to the States without stopping by Murph’s in Norwood for omelets, french toast or a stack of classic chocolate chip pancakes drizzled in sweet maple syrup. Embrace your inner child and nom nom nom.

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And with that sweet trip down memory lane we head back to the Balkans!

Ciao Ciao America!

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Since returning back home to Belgrade and back home to Mooshoo cat, I have taken full advantage of Serbian summer snacks such as girice (little fried fish) , knedle (dough balls full of sweet or savory filling), watermelon, yellow peppers stuffed with cheese and so much more (however too many to document in this post)!

Nomandnommer hopes that you all have made the most of this glorious summer of 2017. It will definitely be one for the nom books!

Be seeing you soon, very soon!

Until next Nommer!

Restaurant Information:

Address: Velika Plaza 196, Ulcinj, 85360 Montenegro 
Phone:+382 67 556949
Address: Vranjak 13, Budva 85310 Montenegro 
Address: Mediteranska 8 TQ Plaza Budva, Montenegro 
Phone: +382 69 040440
Address: Slovenska Obala, Budva, Montenegro 
Phone:+382 67 556949
Address: Njegoseva 4 Old Town, Budva 85310 Montenegro 
Address: 110 Perkins Cove Road, Ogunquit, ME 03907, USA
Address: 76 Lafayette Street, Salem, MA 01970,  USA
Address: 100 Hanover Street, Boston, MA 02108, USA
Address: 100 Hanover Street, Boston, MA 02108, USA
Address: 85 Providence Highway, MA 02032, USA
Address: 58 Broadway Street, Norwood, MA USA

2 Cellos // 2 Pizzas // 2 Pancakes

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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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She’s an endless source of citric entertainment.

Doviđenjom!

Restaurant Information:

Address: Hilandarska 32, Beograd 11000, Serbia
Address: Kralja Petra 58, Beograd 11000, Serbia
Address: Bulevar dr. Zorana Đinđića 44а, Belgrade, Serbia

I see London, I see noms! Part 2 (at last!)

Finally I will continue my adventures in Nomdon!

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If you can remember from the first part of ‘I see London, I see noms!’ I had left you at the famous Millennium Bridge in the heart of the city, full of German wursts and Cadbury hot chocolate. The next day with our London Passes in hand, my mother and I ventured off on our own (my aunt had a plethora of bookstores she needed to visit) and as per our loosely planned itinerary headed to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.

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After a brief walk over this international monument, the tour started at the far end of the bridge and began with a short elevator ride up one of the massive pillars and into a recreated room that detailed the history of Tower Bridge. After that we were free to move on by ourselves to the upper observation deck which is parallel to the retractable bridge crossing. The deck is lined with information about the bridge itself and other comparable bridges around the world. There is also sections of the bridge that are made of thick glass which unveil the flowing Thames below and give one the feeling of walking on air. I was a bit hesitant at first but once I saw how much fun everyone else was having, I had to join in!

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After our death defying feats we strolled to the gift shop to pick up a few trinkets for people back home and continued on to the Tower of London. Not to be confused with Tower Bridge, the Tower of London is actually the old palace, castle and fortress of this aging city, having been named after the ‘White Tower’ built in 1078. There happened to be a tour starting upon our arrival at the gates and despite my unwillingness to take part in something ‘uber touristy’ it turned out to be one of the best tours I’ve been on. Our tour guide, ‘Billy the Beefeater’ a retired soldier of her majesty’s armed forces was dressed in the traditional tudor style Yeoman Warders garb and my did he look and play the part!

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At the end of the tour we were full of entertaining historical facts but our bellies were quite empty so we decided to grab a bite to eat and a warm cup of something before we boarded a cruiser that would take us around the Thames that afternoon. There was a selection of small cafes and immediately Paul jumped out at me, not having been to one since being in Abu Dhabi and my first experience atCharles Degaulle airport when I was 15 years old (my mouth still waters to this day when I think of that buttery ham sandwich on a crusty baguette).

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And thus I couldn’t resist from having the same comforting cheese and ham baguette, this time split with my mom along with her choice of a toasted almost croque madam like sandwich (minus the egg) with marinated mushrooms and cheese..and a cappuccino of course to bring life to my aching feet. Paul is always a good choice if you’re looking for a tasty nom with a limited amount of time. For us it was just what we needed before we went back into the cold yet sunny weather of London.

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As we floated down the Thames we caught the sun setting behind Big Ben, probably one of my favorite ‘oh wow’ moments of our trip thus far. The cruise was a nice break from walking and standing but however our day was yet to be finished, we were determined to make the most of our London Passes and got off near the Eye so that we could make our way back over to the Tate to  visit the Shakespeare Globe Museum before it closed for the night.

Destroyed by fire in the 1500s and then demolished in the 1600s, Shakespear’s globe shaped theater has been built and rebuilt three times over yet the spirit of the original has certainly survived. Our tour through the museum was delightful and interactive as we were able to sit in the seats and roam about the theater, open and vulnerable to the environment. Today’s globe is still used for plays throughout the spring, summer and autumn months but with all of today’s modern appliances to enhance the performances. The guide was very knowledgeable and it would have seemed we came at the perfect time with the sun fading and the magic of the night creeping through the visible sky.

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We left the city center via the tube and back to Chelsea only to pack our belongings and bid the Sloane Club goodbye  so that we could move to our second hotel just down the road ‘My Chelsea.’ A charming boutique like accommodation, My Chelsea has their own beehives on the roof of the building which is why their restaurant cafe on their ground floor is adorned with different portraits of all things bee.

Later than night we met my aunt on King’s Road at a pizza/pasta place called Pizza Express where the interior and atmosphere bolstered much more than the name let on. With two floors, Pizza Express was busy even on a week night with hungry people nomming on universal Italian inspired favorites. The personal sized pizza were perfect for our appetites and I decided to make Milan proud by ordering a cappricosa-esk pizza.

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The oven baked pizza met all my pizza requirements and was just the right size. I fell that if you travel anywhere you have to have pizza at least once (or twice or even three times) to gain a sense of stable comfort miles away from home. As it turned out my home away from home was our Serbian waiter from Subotica (not far from Belgrade) who gave himself away when he confessed his love for a dessert of the menu that was inspired by jaffa cakes, a chocolaty-orange biscuit adored by Brits and Serbs alike. Opting out of dessert (I know I’m crazy) my aunt and mother although intrigued by the jaffa profiteroles ordered a slice of chocolate chip cheesecake a la mode.

You know what they say…you can take the Americans out of America but you can’t take away the American love for all things chocolate chips. Pizza Express, thank you for providing us with the comfort of our homelands at a reasonable price and lovely service. Nomtastic! 

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The next morning we ate our humble yet deliciously energizing breakfast of cappuccinos, eggs, toast, cheeses, parfaits and pastries at the hotel’s cafe restaurant appropriately named ‘My Kitchen’. That day we met my aunt at Sloane Station with the intention of going to Kensington Palace, residence of the royal family, expansive outdoor gardens and a museum that detailed the life of Queen Victoria as well as a special exhibit of the well known royal fashion of Princess Dianna and Queen Elizabeth herself.

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I even met a few friendly squirrels, something I missed while living in Belgrade until one tried to scale my leg like a tree in search of food…yet again (a story saved for another time perhaps).

We parted ways with my aunt who wanted to retire back to the Sloane Club while my mom and I still had a full agenda ahead of us. We hopped on the tube towards Westminster Abbey but before we got above ground something colorful and miniature had caught our eyes: Lola’s Cupcakes.

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Their tiny blue cart in placed directly next to the turnstile almost like the light at the end of the tunnel when surrounded by the cold drab tiles of the London underground. With a plethora of regular sized and mini cupcakes, we couldn’t resist ourselves and indulged in a sweet mid morning snack.

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The mini I chose was salted peanut, made with a moist vanilla cake base, peanut frosting with chocolate drizzle and caramelised peanuts on top. It was truly a flavor explosion and left me sad and happy at the same time, wishing for more yet relishing in the nomness I had just had the pleasure of eating. My mother chose the oreo mini with a chocolate cake base, cookies and cream frosting topped with an oreo chunk. The fact that they were mini made they ten times more sweet and worthwhile. Needless to say my mouth salivated every time I walked by a Lola stand for the remainder of the trip!

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 When we got to Westminster we were in awe of the dark architecture and towering flying buttresses. The idea that so many famous and infamous people were laid to rest in this immense cathedral was an outer world experience. Lucky for tourists like us there were free audio guides that toured you around each crevice of the abbey but don’t forget to wander outside to the closed and open gardens!

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After our tour of Westminster we hopped on a London Pass bus and got off not far down at Buckingham Palace were we stood before the home of the Queen mum and all it’s sparkling glory. Even though the changing of the guards wasn’t until the next morning we still enjoyed being in the presence of the royals and a place where history has taken place.

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The next morning we had one very much anticipated plan and that was to see a live performance of the critically acclaimed Lion King at the Lyceum Theater. As a kid it was one of my favorite Disney movies so my mom thought ahead and bought two tickets to see the show earlier in the week.

With plenty of time on or hands we enjoyed our daily dose of cappuccino and then headed over to Covent Garden via the tube. The area is well know for shopping so we poked around and windowed shopped for gifts and things to take home with us. We tired our feet out as usual and were in need of a second caffeine fix as well as something sweet to pick us up. Along our journey we had seen the most incredible looking English pastries, cakes and cookies that our feet practically dragged us in on their own will.

A street or two down from the Lyceum is Peyton and Byrne, a cozy cafe with healthy lunch options and decadent sweets. The moment I saw that they served a personal sized banoffee pie, I was sold. After years of hearing about it from songs and television shows I simply had to have it. They also had a delicious looking Victoria Sponge, yet another English must try.

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Both desserts were so good we still can’t choose which one we liked better.The bannoffee had a perfectly crispy crust with sticky toffee custard filling and light whipped topping. The Victoria Sponge was a high tea classic with cloud like sponge, sweet cream and ripe strawberries everywhere in between. My pallet has enabled me from labeling anything ‘too sweet’ causing me to lean a bit towards the bannofee but I would eat both any day any time just say where and when.

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We walked in a sweet haze to the theater where we enjoyed one of the best shows I have been to in a very long time. The Lion King can be enjoyed by people of all ages and the fact that a mother and her adult daughter can be transported to their living room sing along once again is something extraordinarily special. If you get the chance, go see this show! It was more than worth it! (Thanks again mother dearest).

As I had mentioned in the first part of this blog, this year I turned twenty-five and because I would be spending yet another birthday away from my family my mom really wanted to have a birthday dinner before we parted ways. With one day left we planned to meet my aunt and uncle that night at a restaurant not too far from My Chelsea and close to one of the most well known stores in London: Harrods.

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Word cannot describe the scale of this almost two hundred year old world famous department store. Naturally the luxury clothing, perfume and jewelry were enough to drop your jaw but for me it was the international food section that had me at a true loss for words. It was bonafied foodie heaven…and they had EVERYTHING.

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Harrods’ gourmet grocery store included everything from pies to artisan cheeses and roasted meats to a complete bakery section with decorated cupcakes, cakes and every teeny tiny dessert your could dream of. The floor consists of multiple rooms, progressing from prepared food to strictly sweets, coffees and teas to food related gifts and finally a large room full of bars where you could sit, sip champagne and feast on anything from caviar to cured meats to raw fresh oysters. I was in awe, in absolute complete awe.

We decided on cupcakes to treat ourselves to after dinner for which I will recount after our dinner. Don’t worry I’m just as excited to show you as you are to see them!

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A stroll round the back of Harrods’ on Walton Street brought us to The Enterprise, a quaint restaurant my mom had chosen from her skilled research the night before. By name alone it might sound a bit pub-like but rest assure this place has the warm atmosphere of a bar with the service and food of a fine dining establishment. As luck would have it we thought my uncle might have called to make a reservation although it turned out he hadn’t and the dining room was apparently mostly booked for a holiday party. But if the birthday gods do exist they granted us this and we managed to snag a table for four. As if that wasn’t enough luck, the staff presented us with a welcome drink of our choice. Thank you birthday gods, thank you.

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The menu had the perfect amount of options, making it easier for us to make our decisions. For an appetizer we ordered tempura calamari and vegetables with a tangy soy sauce, Asian inspired and it actually made complete sense despite the British menu. The specials called to me and I ordered a chestnut stuffed turkey breast wrapped in bacon with roasted brussel sprouts and a sweet cranberry sauce. To me in sounded like Christmas on a plate. My mom who had been looking for something classic the entire week chose a game pie with a buttery flaky crust and a side of truffled mashed potatoes.

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The entire meal was comfort reincarnated (with the added plus of my lovely family), something I needed just before jetting off back to Serbia. The Enterprise did not disappoint in any area, the staff was delightful and their attentiveness was something you’d hope to have for every special occasion. If I ever find myself in the neighborhood again I would certainly have The Enterprise on the top of my list.

Later that evening back at the hotel, we unveiled the cupcakes that had been whispering my name from their beautifully sealed box all throughout dinner. These cupcakes are show stoppers inside and out:

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Some of  them were painted freaking gold people! Harrods’ gourmet cupcakes were my dream come true. I blindly chose them at the store having been overwhelmed and thus came back with a creamy red velvet (bottom right), hazelnut nutella inspired ferrero rocher (top right), a best of both worlds salted caramel (top left) and perhaps the most outrageously delicious cupcake I’ve had in my existence, chocolate peanut butter (bottom left / enlarged right photo). The golden fondant kept the peanut butter frosting in perfect form on top of  the peanut butter filled peanut butter cake on the inside. I was out for the count. It made my entire trip hands down.

London, I nom you!

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On our last full day we still had a bit of sight seeing to do and wanting to do so on foot we chose to visit the Victoria Albert Museum first. This museum (adjacent to the Natural History Museum) is not to be missed if you are interested in unique exhibits such as the one we visited about the history of underwear, it’s a must visit. The admission is free (featured exhibits are six pounds or so) and with the amount of global artifacts that museum possess you could be there for months before you saw everything. They also have a great gift shop to pick up a less touristy souvenir.

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My uncle had highly recommended that we at least stop by the British Museum, another site with free entry and a plethora of ancient world history. The architecture of the museum itself is worth the visit with its spiralling ramp in the middle that can take you to the different floors. Packed with student groups, their main attractions are mummified Egyptians, remnants of ancient civilizations and perhaps the most important artifact in terms of written language: the Rosetta Stone.

Needless to say all of the history incited our appetites and we chose to visit a low key chain around the corner called EAT.. EAT. is similar to Panera in the States or Hleb and Kifle here in Belgrade, breakfast, lunch and dinner options of sandwiches and soups galore. Never being able to escape the allure of falafel (cold or hot) I grabbed a wrap and a cup of piping spicy Chicken Laksa soup. At that point I was contemplating my return to Serbia.

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 From there we returned to Chelsea, stopping by the Sloane Club for one last farewell drink before we all headed out the next morning. On the way back to My Chelsea my mom and I ran into Waitrose to make sure we were fully stocked up on English treats, yes mostly candy and biscuits. To be honest that night I had a hard time closing my suitcase and for the first time I was actually concerned as to how I was going to get it all back to Belgrade.

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The following morning we solemnly ate our breakfast though reminiscing about our favorite points of the trip and discussing when we would meet next. Once we clambered our stuffed suitcases to the curb we called a cab and made our way to Paddington Station to catch the Heathrow Express back to the airport. Being the faithful daughter I am, I walked my mother to as close to her terminal gate as I could and teary eyed we parted ways. Goodbyes are always hard but since moving abroad and having dated long distance for four years before that, there is happiness in farewells because of the full knowledge that you’ll see each other again. In my case this coming summer for an entire month!

I sat at my gate yearning for another coffee and a treat to quell all of my emotions. So I did so at Apostrophe with the help of a large cappuccino and choco-pain.

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The thought of a short flight was comforting but I still felt as though the week in London had gone by too fast and I wish we could have stayed frozen in time forever.

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Going to the UK was something I had wanted to do since my brother had gone with my late grandfather when he was in middle school and I know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. At some point in the near future I mean to discover my roots in Scotland as well as see the wonders of both Ireland and Whales. As to when I don’t know, but I do know it will happen!

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Until next time Nomdon!

As a sidenote I would like to acknowledge the fact that it is indeed March 17th and that these events took place over three months ago, however I want to thank all of you for being patient and understanding of this large episode of writer’s block. Work and life getting in the way is no excuse but I do know that with spring having sprung, new noms are just around the corner so stay tuned!

Cheerynom!

Restaurant Information:

Address: Tower 42, 25 Old Broad St, London, England
Address: 152 King’s Rd, Chelsea, London, England
Address: High Street Kensington Underground Station (multiple other locations)
Phone:+44 07495 919792

Address: 35 Ixworth Place, London, England 
Phone:+44 20 7225 7535
Address: Covent Garden, 44 Wellington St, London, England
Address: 87-135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, London, England
Phone: n/a

Address: 35 Walton St, Chelsea, London, England
Address:126 High Holborn, London, England  (multiple other locations around London)
Phone:+44 20 7831 3375
Address: Terminal 4 Heathrow Airport, Southern Perimeter Rd, London, England
Phone:+44 20 8897 2065

I see London, I see noms! Part 1

Happy New Year Everyone!

Clearly it has taken me a while for this delicious update but I know we can all relate to the madness that is the holiday season: Christmas, Hanukkah, Slava, New Years and all the other lovely celebrations in between.

Before we celebrate the New Year and delve into my nomderings I want to look back at just a few of 2016’s noms:

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Here’s to hopefully nomming all of this and more in 2017!

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All holiday craziness aside, the event I had been most anxiously awaiting for this past year was the first week of December when I had plans to meet up with my mom in London, England.

We had chosen London because of it’s technical half way point between Serbia and the U.S. and also because my aunt (my mother’s sister) and her husband were also going to  be visiting and conducting business during  that same time. And so mid summer I booked my ticket with Air Serbia and the next thing I knew Thanksgiving had passed and I was stepping on the plane fully ready for bannoffee, meat pies and of course the company of my favorite lady in the world: my mom!

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Air Serbia Economy meal: Chicken, spinach and rice

Because my mom and aunt were flying into Heathrow together from New Jersey a few hours before my planned arrival, they shot over to our accommodations at The Sloane Club where we would be staying for the first two nights of our trip. Thus left me to my own devices, something I was more than prepared to handle once looking at a transport map and taking some advice from my experienced auntie.

Upon my arrival at customs the passport officer asked if my reason for staying was to do ‘touristy things’ and I nodded but added “I just want to eat…everything” to which he laughed and suggested a place in the Chelsea area with American sized portions. This was a great sigh of relief, I was warming up to the Brits already!

From Heathrow I took the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station and then grabbed a black cab from there to the club. Things in London are extremely well marked, trains seem to run on schedule and my cabbie gave me front door service. I wasn’t sure what to expect at  the members-only Sloane Club but so far so good.

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When I walked through the doors of The Sloane Club, I have to admit that I felt a bit out of my league. Being a twenty-something year old with little cash value and the tendency to slum it, this place was seriously posh. Walking through the hallways I wasn’t sure if I was going to blend in but all those worries faded away when I knocked on my hotel room door and opened it to see my mom, arms wide open. Eight months is a long time people!

After our reunion, my aunt came down and we decided to savor the sunlight (sunlight in London….what??) and walk around Sloane Square and King’s Road. Christmas was in full swing in London. Lights, decorations, store front windows and pop up street markets that could put even the Grinch in the holiday spirit. We walked through the stalls of food stuffs and I legitimately could have nommed every single thing but above all the enticing aromas the sweet cinnamon smell of mulled wine drew me in like a moth to a flame.

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Having lived in Germany during the holidays, the idea of ‘Glühwein’ has always made me weak at the knees. This adult beverage will thaw your bones in the chill of the season and you’ll probably be lining up for a second cup as soon as your done with the first. Also, there is nothing better than day drinking, and there is nothing better than appropriate day drinking in public. Holiday spirit? Yes please!

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We moved down King’s road, window shopping and peeking in at places to have a sit down bite to eat. Of course being the Americans we are, we ended up at Brgr Co. Their no fuss menu after a day of traveling was all the comfort we needed. Nestled in the corner we caught up over beers and cider. If you know me at all through these blog posts I never go for the most popular thing on a menu. Who in their right mind would go for a vegetarian option on a meat filled menu? This lady! So naturally the Falafel burger with sweet potato fries spoke my language. Both my aunt and mom chose classic burgers and shared a basket of thin cut chips.

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Brgr Co.’s green pesto like tahini sauce caught me off guard but in the best way because it went oh so very well with the crispy fava bean patty, red tomatoes and buttery toasted bun. I could have drank the sauce alone it was that tasty. I was also in sweet potato fry heaven since you don’t find them on many menus in Serbia. The relaxed atmosphere is perfect for a catch-up and I could imagine meeting friends here for a burger and beer after work. Brgr Co. you have the Nomandnommer seal of approval.

Upon returning to the club that evening, my mother immediately fell asleep after a long journey while me on the other hand with only an hour time difference stayed up and enjoyed the Christmasy commercials on television and researched noms in the area. Best  to be proactive even when you’re on holiday.

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The next morning we woke up feeling refreshed (myself having roused at 6) and looking forward to our Sloane Club breakfast. We met my aunt in the stairwell and made our way down to the dining room. Now I’m keen to say I was most likely the youngest person there by 30+ years or so but that somehow made me feel special, like a white unicorn.

The Sloane Club has a lush yet modest sized breakfast spread from sweet pastries, yogurt and fruit spread, fresh apples and bananas to toast with all the jam and honey one could dream of. They also have a breakfast menu a la cart which was beckoning me with the promise of Belgian waffles and maple syrup, yet another thing virtually never seen in Serbia. My aunt went with the holiday special, gingerbread pudding and a side of thick cut bacon, while my mom headed for a light breakfast at the brunching table.

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As we waited for our plates, my aunt insisted we start off with french pressed coffee which she meticulously allowed to simmer on the table for a few minutes (silently driving me mad since I had been awake for so long without any source of caffeine) but the wait was worthwhile when we finally sipped the fine brewed liquid goodness. After drinking endless cups of Nes instant coffee for the past year, I was properly electrified.

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Ahh, my small yet perfectly crispy on the outside – soft on the inside twin Belgian waffles finally arrived, dusted with powdered sugar and paired with forest fruit and a saucer of decadent maple syrup to which I used every last drop of. With three cups of coffee in my belly and these golden delights, I was good to go for my first walk about the city and yet another miraculously sunny day in London.

The Sloane Club which is appropriately located near the Sloane Square tube station was just as I imagined the underground subway system to operate, similar to other cities including Boston but much more organized and the card payment being relatively easy to figure out.

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You can purchase an ‘Oyster Card’ at the kiosk of the station and top it up with credit at automated machines with either cash or card. The one thing I disliked immensely about the London underground however were the virtually 180 degree vertical escalators. Up or down I felt like an accident waiting to happen.

Once safely above ground the first thing I saw was the epitome of English poster landmarks: Big Ben. Shining majestically in the skyline beside the River Thames, this old world clock tower really made the reality of being in London set in. The Westminster Palace building is a bit less sparkly than in the pictures but beautifully structured none the less. On the other side of the water the London Eye is hard to miss, rotating at a snails pace in the the midst of the bustling city.

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We made our way over the bridge to stroll along the opposite side where Christmas market like stalls sprawled the length of the Thames. I was in my element yet again and already had my mind (or my stomach) set on a tasty treat despite still being full from breakfast. I picked up some cookies from the *Galeta stand, just in case I got hungry any where in between. I kept reminding myself and my mother: If not now, then when??

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I know what you’re thinking: now! Red Velvet and White Chocolate and Cranberry were my cookies of choice and upon consuming them later on in our hotel room proved to be the most delicious decision.

There was another properly established market in front of the Tate Museum of Contemporary Art which luckily enough was our intended destination. After a walk through the Tate the heavenly aroma of grilling sausages summoned my stomach to partake in another one of my favorite German past times. My aunt was kind enough to split the giant wurst with me and the gentleman at the stand was kind enough to agree and give us both brotchen (little rolls). I smothered mine if curry ketchup, a condiment I had been apart from for far too long. To wash down the ‘dog’ we decided to warm up with Cadbury hot chocolates, complete with a Cadbury ‘flake’.

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Absolute nomness.

After my “snack” we continued over Millennium Bridge to sight-see the area around St. Paul’s and the Museum of London. We had decided to pick up a London Pass (which is incredible and advised for anyone visiting the city for a day or two because the amount of money you save is superb), this pass allows you to get into all museums with a fee for half the rate and at a ‘fast track’ speed. It definitely came in handy.

And you will see exactly why in the continuation of this nomventure next time!

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Oh! I almost forgot, December was also special because it includes my day of birth! It’s hard to believe I am twenty-five years old now…nevermind let’s not  remind me! Quarter life crisis here I come…

I did however celebrate willingly with a birthday cake which I had dropped more than just hints about to Milan for months. A fabulous restaurant and cake extraordinaires by the name of Poco Loco in Pančevo made my dreams come true with a out of this world Snickers Cake. An insanely rich thinly layered cake with peanuts and ninety percent chocolate. We ate it for a whole week. One of my now top ten cakes of all time period! Thank you Poco Loco! (and Milan too of course!)

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Stay tuned for the next part of my trip to Nomdon!

Cheery Nom!

Restaurant Information:

Address: Lower Sloane Street, Chelsea London, England
Phone:+44 20 7730 9131
Address: 127 King’s Road Chelsea SW3 4WP London, England
Phone:+44 02 07920 6480
Address: see website link for market dates around London
Phone:+44 0208 1230 894
Address: Braće Jovanovića 15, Pančevo Serbia
Phone:064 874 0301

Nomming across the boarder to Timișoara, Romania!

Happy Thanksgiving (or belated?) everyone! Last year around this time I was in Abu Dhabi and went full out for a Thanksgiving dinner, complete with stuffing, mashed potatoes, butternut squash and dessert (or course). Unfortunately this year I had no time but I was lucky enough to have dropped some t-day knowledge on my students where they shared what they were thankful for and we looked (not nommed) on typical holiday eats. So for that I am thankful!

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For this week’s post buckle your seat belts because we are crossing the boarder to Romania for a weekend nom trip to the stunning city of Timișoara.

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Just two hours from Belgrade, Timișoara is a great place to escape to if you’re looking for good shopping and some truly great food. Before I went I scoured the internet and Instagram for ideal places to see, drink and nom and the results were mind boggling, I had a list of 20 or so places I wanted to visit in a mere two days. Could it be done? My stomach certainly thought so!

We left on a Friday, a Serbian national holiday so the roads were actually quite sparse and as we made our way through Vršac the roads were clear and we were making good time all up until we reached the boarder. It took us roughly around 40 minutes between Serbia and Romania, to pay a tax and get our passes checked by both country officials, so by the time we actually got into the city the sun was setting and the 5 o’clock working day traffic in Timișoara was in full swing. The craziest part was that we had actually trekked into the future because Romania continues on Eastern Standard time while Serbia had changed the clocks back one hour a week or so before. So we were all sorts of confused and in desperate need of a beer and sustenance.

*For the remainder of this post I will blame the turn of events on the fact that we traveled into the future*

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After we checked into our hotel (Hotel Check Inn on the other side of the river outside of the city center) we drove and parked in the thick of it and went straight away to a large ale house appropriately named Bier Haus because we knew they would have our favorite beers on tap. Oddly enough the entire place was reserved and it was only around seven at night but still we managed to find a table and enjoy an refreshingly cold and much needed drink. *side note they didn’t have the beer we were looking for but we enjoyed it regardless.*

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Our next plan of action was to return to the hotel, change and then find a delicious looking pizza joint that I had discovered on the gram that wasn’t far off from out hotel. (Milan and I always have pizza the first night we go anywhere) However, when we typed it into the GPS it brought us to a residential street and a cafe of another name. At this point we were frustrated and hungry and decided yet again to cross the bridge, park in the same parking lot we had just left and enter the first place we saw.

And oh how the gods of nom are forever watching over me.

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Milan spotted a restaurant with a large outdoor terrace and at first I’ll admit I was skeptical but upon entering the building, I felt like I was back home in Boston in the many beautiful brick walled restaurants I would frequent with my parents. I was impressed and relieved when I sat down at Beraria 700.

The menu was full of Romanian specialties which I was thrilled about (at that point if anyone uttered pizza I would have blown a fuse…). We continued with a few more beers and went straight to the main courses. Milan was feeling fancy and ordered the duck while me on the other hand, immensely in need of some comfort chose a warm strew with polenta and mixed meat.

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Milan’s succulent duck was served on a bed of picked red cabbage surrounded by a moat of richly tangy orange sauce with whole slices of orange. The combination of tender meat and citrus was outrageously delicious. It’s not often that we treat ourselves to such a fine dish and the price in euros was ideal when compared to an upscale restaurant in Boston for example.

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As for mine….oh my nomness it was off the charts delicious and the epitome of comfort food. I’m a huge fan of polenta as I mentioned in my post about Saran in Zemun. It’s not typically seen as a major side dish to meals in the states but it’s dense almost creamy texture speaks to my stomach. With a mix of tender chicken and pork pieces, my “stew” (or deconstructed stew) was joined by stewed peppers and onions in a gravy like sauce that warms you from head to toe. Add a mountain of freshly grated cheese and I was in complete and utter bliss.

If all of that wasn’t enough, we decided to cleanse out pallets with something sweet. Bararia had some more or less typical choices of pies and cakes but when I came across something called ‘bird’s milk’ I was automatically intrigued. When we asked our waitress what it consisted of she couldn’t properly explain it in English but ensured us it was a good choice, so of course we blindly agreed.

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When our bird’s milk arrived at the table I was overcome with nostalgia of the first time I had had this dessert in Serbia made by Milan’s’ Baba. In Serbia it is called Šnenoklea popular sweet made in Germany, Hungary and France and had somehow made its way to the Balkans. It’s composed of cloudy like meringue floating in a sweet milky vanilla custard. The variations differ and at Bararia they drizzle their bird’s milk with chocolate sauce. If you’ve never had this exquisite dessert before, it’s almost like eating a melting ice cream with giant marshmallows, it’s to die for. It’s light and satisfying which was ideal for the amount of food we had already eaten.

At the end of our meal I was extremely happy we had stumbled upon Bararia 700 and would definitely return there with friends or family the next time we visit Timișoara because the atmosphere is upscale comfort, perfect for business dinners, dates, or hanging out with a large group. As I mentioned before the price is very reasonable for the amount of fabulous food you get!

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The next morning we woke up feeling refreshed despite the overcast weather outside our window. I had specifically booked at Hotel Check Inn because breakfast was included…and who doesn’t love breakfast?? We feasted on eggs, toasts, meats, veggies, pastries and coffee then went on our way into the city in hopes to see somethings in the day time. Even though it was raining the city center of Timișoara is incredibly beautiful with a Western European charm complete with large public squares lined with old cobblestone and hidden side streets

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Our original plan was to visit the Banat Museum which showcases Romanian culture and archaeological finds among other things, however upon arrival we discovered was closed for renovations (again blaming this on time travel). Thus we poked around in a few shops, buying a couple souvenirs then made our way back towards a cafe I had bookmarked for something to thaw us from the cold outside.

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We managed to find the unmarked Garage Cafe near Union Square somehow by trial and error and found a cozy spot to sit in the corner. Don’t let the name fool you, Garage Cafe is far from a dusty garage (named because of it’s proximity to a parking garage) with a very modern interior and a display case of home made pastries that were called to your stomach. I took my usual cappuccino (even though they had an enticing list of flavored lattes including pumpkin!) and Milan decided on tea and a chocolate brownie.

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Ugh Garage’s brownie are incredible. The right amount of chewy chocolate and a surprisingly ingenious addition of dried figs, something I added to my list of sweets to replicate at home. We had already planned to stay for lunch but there was no telling where this time warp would take us so why not have dessert first, right?

After regaining our proper body temperatures we looked over the menu again and I have to say I was stuck between, well everything. Garage’s list of sandwiches was everything you could ask for on all levels and ingredient combinations. The last sandwich on the list was a peanut butter and bacon sandwich….I repeat a peanut butter and bacon sandwich. I was almost pulling my hair out when we were asked for our order because I felt that if I didn’t choose that specific sandwich that I would be going against everything I believed in. However I went with the Croque Madam because I had been sweetly satiated by the brownie and was craving something all around savory.

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 As you can see above, my croque madam was stacked beautifully on top of itself, oozing with cheese and savory slices of ham stuck between toasted bread and made complete with the signature fried egg. Cold weather and rain meet your cure. Each bite made me wish I was wrapped up in a blanket and sitting in front of a fire. Oh so toasty and delicious.

Milan’s healthier looking salmon sandwich was open faced with mixed greens and rukola, avocado slices, pomegranate seeds and a gooey poached egg smack dab in the middle. The balsamic glaze around the crispy bread only enhanced each individual flavor and was mindblowingly nom. Milan’s choice may have beat out my croque madam by ways of look but they were both equally enjoyable and I would happily return to Garage for brownies, cakes, pies and sandwiches…just as long as we eat our sweets first!

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Before leaving the city center for Iulius Mall to do a bit of shopping at one of the largest malls this side of the Balkans, we couldn’t resist the aromatic smells wafting from a grab and go bakery and if you know Milan and I at all we love pretzels so we had to buy a few as a snack for later and for 1 Romanian lei (0.26 USD) how could we resist?

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The pretzels were incredibly tasty by the way, we should have bought 80 of them….Don’t get my wrong I love bakeries in Serbia (at least compared to the fast food excuse for bakeries in the states) but I will always have a special place in my heart for German inspired baked goods such as pretzels and laugenbrötchen

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We enjoyed our hotel breakfast the following morning and discussed the events of the night before when we had attempted to go out but yet again our plans were foiled because of the damn time change. I had hoped to go to a bar on our hotel’s side of the city called The 80’s Pub for a drink or two and enjoy some throwback tunes…but once again just like Bier Haus the entire place was reserved (in advance because the place was only 1/4 full at the time) and there was no actual bar so standing room was not an option. It was only 9 so Milan and I were confused but decided to sneak in a drink anyways.

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My beer of choice for that weekend was Edelweiss because it was on tap, but Milan was interested in a ginger beer by the name of ‘Ginger Beard’. However upon taking the first sip he realized that it wasn’t his cup of tea and offered to trade for mine. I happily agreed because I thought the ginger beard was delightful and enjoyed it until our table was commandeered. Would I order ginger beard again? Yes. Would I make reservations for 80’s Pub next time. Yes. We ended up going back to the hotel at half past ten and decided it wasn’t worth trying to go out again seeing as reservations appeared to be a theme in Timișoara.

After a filling breakfast, we checked out and were ready to start our journey back to Belgrade but first we would stop once again at Iulius to buy a few scrumptious treats at a place I had seen the following day.

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The food court of this Abu Dhabi sized shopping mall offers a million and one options of food stuffs, from Italian to Japanese, German to Mexican, you will certainly find something to fill your belly with at this mall. We however were only interested in Crazy Donut which  had caught my eye with their colorful and delectable looking tire shaped treats.

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With donuts by the name of Bloody Mary, Kinky Stuff, The Beast, Black Widow and Snow White (just to name a few) it was hard to choose just one…so we got four!

It was a true Homer Simpson moment….

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In the end I chose two: White Chick (plain dough with three toppings, Oreo dusting, peanuts and sparkling pink sprinkles) and No Racism (also a plain donut half coated in milk, half coated in white chocolate with white chocolate shavings and M&Ms). Milan decided upon the other two: Mr. O (plain donut, melted milk chocolate and whole chunks of Oreo) and Chocolate Chocolate (which we found out in the car ride had a surprise chocolate filling underneath it’s milk chocolate coating sprinkled with peanuts).

Crazy Donut’s tied the bow on our speedy yet lovely time spent in the futuristic Timișoara. If you go to Iulius Mall, these donuts should go hand in hand. The best part was walking through the maze of the mall after paying for the donuts and seeing the longing stares at the large donut box in my hands. I felt like a proud parent with my donut babies.

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And so we returned to the past with a pocketful of Romanian lei coins, a backseat full of goodies and quite a few lessons learned:

  1. Avoid 5 o’clock traffic at all costs 
  2. Don’t trust your GPS, sometimes it’s best to go with your gut 
  3. It might be more convenient to book a hotel in the center (Hotel CheckInn was nice but the closer to the center the more ideal)
  4. Make reservations for bars in advance even if you’re only two people
  5. Eat everything! (more of a life lesson)

Because of the close proximity of Belgrade and Timișoara I would highly recommend visiting this quaint charming city for a day or weekend trip. There is so much to see throughout Europe by why not look for something in your own backyard?

Returning back to the topic of Thanksgiving and holidays in November, this past week was also a saint day of a family member and just like last year we attended a five hour long feast with Serbian specialties you dream about all year…

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Mezza complete with savory rolled cake and proja, stuffed cabbage rolls (sarma) and pecenje with kupus salata and of course the star of Slava: 20 different kinds of bite size cakes and cookies. The ones pictured above were just the tip of the iceberg. My favorites include Russian caps (the coconut dusted chocolate bull’s eye ones on the left), the cream filled Bee Hives (center right above pink wafers) and the Step Mothers Eye, a walnut tucked inside of a dried fig coated in a soft nutty casing. There is truly nothing like home made sweets during Slava. I told Milan that because this Slava falls very close to Thanksgiving that it is sort of my American holiday away from home. Both centered around food, family and friends.

Coming up in the future…I have been comprising a guide to all things falafel in and around Belgrade but have one more place on my list so it will happen when it happens but stay tuned. This upcoming weekend, I’ll be leaving Serbia once again to meet my mother and aunt in London  for the week so it is safe to assume that I will be emotionally stuffing myself, thus expect a big return post!

Rămas nom!

Restaurant Information:

Address: Strada Emanoil Ungureanu 15, Timișoara, Romania
Address: Strada Coriolan Brediceanu 6, Timișoara, Romania
Address: Strada Palanca 2, Timișoara, Romania
Address: Strada Arieș 19, Timișoara 300736, Romania
Address: Iulius Mall – Str. Demetriade 1, Timișoara 300088, Romania
Phone:+40 742 302 431

Pumpkin Pita and the battle of the barbecues at Duke of Duduk!

Its been a little over a month since my last post which is slightly embarrassing but lucky for you I have been nomming it up while being extremely overwhelmed with work and home. It could be that I’m nomming more than usual to quell all the stress…I keep telling myself that I’m a bear and the moment I started seeing people wearing winter hats and gloves outsides to let the hibernation begin. Perhaps it’s because I’m from Boston and have experienced my fair share of snowed in winters that it’s something in my DNA to fatten up for the long haul…what do you think?

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See, I told you I was part bear….

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First things first I wanted to share another great recipe for something you see quite often both state side and over here in Serbia: Pumpkin pie! In this recipe however, I follow the traditional Serbian style by using flaky sheets of phyllo dough and freshly carved pumpkin.

Pumpkin Pie (Pita od Bundeve)

Ingredients: 

  • a quarter of a large pumpkin (roughly 4 cups grated)
  • phyllo dough (I used whole wheat bio)
  • 4 tablespoons of brown sugar (or white)
  • 3 teaspoons of vanilla extract (aroma)
  • 2 teaspoons (or more) cinnamon
  • oil of choice and water
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts (optional)
  • powered sugar (also optional)

Start by grating your raw pumpkin into a bowl. Mix in brown sugar, vanilla extract,  and cinnamon and set aside to marinate.

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Next chop up your walnuts. (Yes, I used shelled walnuts from when we went to the village but you can cut corners and buy them unshelled!) alternatively you could use a food processor but make sure not to chop too fine. Toss the walnuts into the pumpkin mixture.

Take your phyllo dough out of the package. You should keep it moist so that it is easier to work with by using a damp towel or kitchen paper. For each pita you will need three sheets of phyllo.

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On a clean counter top, place one sheet of phyllo dough and brush liberally with oil. Whole wheat phyllo is particularly stiff so I made sure it was completely covered including the edges. Place the second sheet on the first, however with this one sprinkle then brush with water only. Lay the third sheet over the others and brush with a combo of oil and water. You can lighten up with the liquid on this layer because the pumpkin juices tend to do the work for you.

Spread a decent amount of the pumpkin mixture in the middle of the sheets. Fold according to the photos below : right and left edges fold inwards first, then bottom edge up and continue to fold away from yourself. *I brush a bit of oil and water each time I fold but again, whole wheat phyllo is a bit different*

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Depending on your baking pan (preferably rectangular) place two or three pita rolls into the greased pan and brush additional oil on top.

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Stick in the oven at 180 Celsius for around 40 minutes or until the crust has turned golden brown. You can add a mix of oil and water half way through baking if you notice it getting too crispy earlier on.

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Let the pitas cool in the pan or if you’re impatient like me then pull them out and place them on a cooling rack. Cut width wise into decent sized pieces and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Have a piece or two (or three) with apple cinnamon tea and relish in the cozy flavors of fall!

Prijatnom!

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Do you remember doing the Kakalamba before summer started? Of course you do, how could you forget the quirky interior, apples under the table and phenomenal meat platter…well Lorenzo and Kakalamba has done it again by opening a new restaurant, this time however an animal of a completely different and delicious form: Duke of Duduk.

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I had been begging Milan to go to Duke of Duduk since I found out they had opened a couple months back for the main reason that I love…no I’m IN love with anything American barbecue. Back in Boston it was almost a monthly thing, either ordered from Blue Ribbon or mading it fresh from the crock pot. Pulled pork, ribs, brisket, you name it. Slather it in barbecue sauce and I am in nom heaven.

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Duke of Duduk has a bit of a competition going on (with themselves) between Serbian style barbecue (cevapi, pljeskavica, butkica etc.) and the American style classics I mentioned above. It’s no wonder why they are at constant odds because I’m unsure myself as to who eats more meat, Americans or Serbs. Despite Serbia being the size of New England, their barbecue packs a punch but in this case I was eager to see if my home land’s specialties could be pulled off far, far away from home.

Toto, we’re not in Belgrade anymore. Welcome to the south-west of nom!

Just as we had began our journey at Lorenzo’s, we start off with a tasty bread basket and spicy feta spread which we happily ate due to our beer buzz from the pub we stopped at before Duduk.

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Did I mention I chopped off all of my hair and am a brunette again? Hallelujah!

The meat of the menu is separated between ‘Balkan Rhapsody’ and ‘America : The far away country.’ It took Milan a while to decide what he was going to have (surprise, surprise) and of course for me no time at all as I already had my heart set on pulled pork. People I could eat this stuff for breakfast, that’s how much I love it. I even considered going to college in Atlanta just so I could be close to 24/7 pulled pork joints.

Once Milan had landed on a juicy burger he saw wafting past us to the next table, we placed our orders and I waited (impatiently) for what I was hoping would cure my seasonal home-sick blues. Lucky for me we didn’t wait long at all to be transported to America minus the jet lag…

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To start off, I loved the presentation. For something as simple and messy as a pulled pork sandwich, Duduk really took it up a notch by placing it on a wooden cutting board, serving up their french fries in a little tin, flowering the pickle (mmm pickles), perfectly coated coleslaw and  barbeque sauce on the side to add how ever little or lot you like.

The toasty buttery sesame bun wasn’t weighed down by the amount of deliciously shredded pork nestled inside, and with the trimmings of lettuce, and tomatoes I loved the additional crunch! Their sauce is very mild and I ended up using Milan’s since he is not a fan (he’s clearly Serbian) and I would imagine that if you wanted even more they would happily oblige.

It was utterly nom, om nom nom nom!

The bill was toned way down in comparison to Lorenzo’s which complimented their home style cooking environment. I would certainly recommend Duke of Duduk to any American expats or otherwise lovers of all things barbecue and to choose your side wisely if you do end up in a shoot out between east and west.

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Sorry Serbia but America won this battle for me. Though perhaps you haven’t lost the war yet…after all Slava is approaching

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Woo-wee I could have another pulled pork sandwich right now! I knew I should have bought that crock pot when I had the chance…the only thing I would need to do then is to make my own barbecue sauce…or have it sent over. Sigh, I’ll have to settle for Serbia for now.

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Anywho, Fall is in full swing and clearly I am taking advantage of all of the warm cozy comfort it offers. Red Bread, Sunset Cafe, and Krajl are a few of my favorites (as you already know) but they are  guaranteed to beat the sun setting at 4 in the afternoon.

Join me next time as we cross the boarder to Timișoara, Romania! Don’t forget your passport to nom because it’s all about the eats in this upcoming trip!

Gnjam!

Restaurant Information:

Address:Igmanska 5  11000 Belgrade, Serbia
Phone:011 241 1507

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Tegla’s and a Traditional Serbian Cooking Experience!

An incredible amount of things have been going on over the span of a single month (and a half)! Applying for a new visa, cooking, classes, road trips, fall cleaning and nomming (when there is time!) Here are just a few of the delicious things I have either had the pleasure of making or feasting on over the course of September and into October.

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We also had a new addition to the Nomandnommer family and her name is Mooshoo (or Mooshina after we discovered he was actually a she…). While she may look tame and adorable she has a crazy side and is borderline food obsessed, particularly for carbs (go figure) and meat of course. You give them one taste of roasted chicken scraps and they’re hooked. We’ve started to use an old toilet paper roll as a food dispenser so that she doesn’t Hulk it out when she’s finished….so far it seems to be working.

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Mooshoo definitely wandered into the right house because she loves to nom on everything….but can you blame her?

Anywho this week I wanted to share with you a shop in Belgrade that doesn’t just think out of the box but actually out of the jar, as well as a cooking course extravaganza that I nommed my way through first hand this past Saturday. Wash your hands and put on your aprons because we’re going to get our hands deliciously dirty for this post!

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Before we begin I want to tell you a short story of a recent event that transpired in connection to my never ending visa woes (don’t worry it has a happy ending)!

If you don’t like stories of faith in humanity being restored please feel free to skip over this. Enjoy these photos of adorable animals nomming in the mean time. 

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As you might know the time when I have to apply for my temporary residence visa is always hectic as there seems to be an endless amount of paperwork involved as well as a decent chunk of change and time spent getting it all together. For this visa specifically I had to make an appointment-only visit to my embassy in Dedinje and obtain a notarized document for the hefty sum of 50 USD. This not being my first time at the rodeo, I was prepared to pay the fee but had planned on taking advantage of their ability to accept all major credit cards to save myself a trip to the menjacnica (exchange office) this time around.

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Upon my arrival at the embassy I felt positive and was hoping to get in and out of there and on to the Department of Foreign Affairs to get said document stamped. Mind you the interview for my visa was that Wednesday (it was Monday morning) at which all of my documents had to be submitted. Well as luck would have it, my BOA card has a chip, a chip which they were unable to read. My Banca Intesa card is debit and not credit. I had a total of 3,000 Serbian dinars in my wallet (around 30 USD)….not enough to cover the fee. The man at the counter explained to me that I would have to make another appointment, which I knew was impossible between then and my interview. You can imagine my dismay as a I turned around defeated, bitter and annoyed that all the time, money and effort would go down the drain.

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This is when my faith in humanity was restored: 

Milos (a guy around my age) had been waiting to be summoned for his visa interview state-side to be with his fiancé. Milos had overheard the conversation between the embassy worker and myself and didn’t hesitate to ask if I needed the money to cover the cost of the document. My heart literally rejoiced. Was this guy for real?! There was one more snafu however when we realized he didn’t have enough dollars or dinars to cover both his fees and mine. Back to square one, damn my luck! But then I realized that we could combine our dinars to the total sum necessary to pay. Of course Milos agreed and with heavy sighs from the people behind the counter, I was awarded my notarized document (with mistakes mind you) and due to time constraints I promised to rendezvous with Milos at Delta City in New Belgrade later on to pay him back.

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Long story short, I paid Milos back the money I owed and he informed me that his visa had been approved. Good karma all around. Needless to say I was on cloud nine the rest of the day.

…And so this is where this story ties in with the nom we are about to discover. The first time we visited the complex around Delta City known as ‘Bellville’ was in ‘Weekend bites in BG‘ when we got fabulously fresh squeezed juice at Picolo. This complex is full of other little gems on the floor level of the multiple apartment buildings, one of which had always caught my eye because the concept was something I had seen in the states a few times before.

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Tegla’s Salad in a Jar is one of the handful of places in and around Belgrade that serves up deliciousness a la jar. Energizing breakfast jars, luciously layered salads with fresh ingredients, and decadent desserts by Homemade Company are some of the things you’ll find on the menu at Tegla’s. They deliver to venues around the city and are thus more of a healthy grab and go option during a hectic work week.

The day of the embassy fiasco, I had skipped breakfast and was looking for a replacement to my morning over-night oat routine. I knew Tegla’s would fit the bill. Their oatfilled jars are jam packed with familiar flavors like Carrot Crunch, Pina Colada, and Blueberry Crisp. If I had it my way, I would have had one of each but the Banana Bomb whispered the sweet word of my well known kryptonite: peanut butter.

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Tegla’s Banana Bomb really is the bomb. Complete with oats, greek yogurt, soy milk, bananas, walnuts, honey, crunchy muesli and of course peanut butter…this jar was everything I needed after an emotional morning and without the guilt!

The best part about Tegla’s is that you can keep the jar and use it for something else or I have heard  that if you are a frequent customer and return ten jars that Tegla’s will hook you up with something on their menu gratis! My plans for returning to try the rest of their products just skyrocketed. I can’t keep the lid on about these phenomenal jars, so get out there and try it for yourself…you’ll never want to eat from a bowl again!

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This past Saturday, Milan and I began our endeavor to learn more about the art of preparing and cooking traditional Serbian dishes, most of which we were already familiar with (by ways of nomming) and were determined to find out how to make in the comfort of our own home. We know just how much heart and soul goes into Serbian food and I have dabbled a bit here and there by creating my own interpretations of Serbian classics simply by watching the domacis around me (remember proja and stuffed peppers?).

I discovered ‘Foodart’ or ‘Serbian Traditional Cooking Experience‘ by none other than the wonders of Instagram via a guy I follow who had posted a prep photo and thus I obviously became interested in taking the course myself. After checking out their website, I signed Milan and I up for a course the following Saturday, only semi knowing what we were getting ourselves into…but that’s half the fun.

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photo taken from Serbian Tradtional Cooking Experience Facebook

Here was the menu for that day’s course: 

  • Šopska salata (Cucumber, Tomatoe, Onion, Cheese Salad)
  • Burek sa meson i Burek sa sirom / spinacom (Burek with meat and Burek with cheese/spinach)
  • Ćevapi (minced meat rolls)
  • Knedle sa sljivama (potato dumplings with plum)

Although it might seem minimal this is because many other traditional Serbian dishes take longer than four hours to make, more than the amount of time planned for the course. These items however take skill on their own but with a bit less waiting time (and more nomming time!)

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When Saturday rolled around we met our foodie guru Vlad Gurbaj, a professor, musician, world traveler and lover of all things food in the heart of Zemun. He took us around the huge Pijac (open air market) in Zemun’s center, something I had walked past but never really wandered throughout. As we ventured through the endless aisles, Vlad filled us in on how he came to create the course. My Serbian practice was on its A game. We were also hunting for pecans which we came out empty handed because neither of us has ever seen one in Serbia. (Anyone know otherwise?).

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Zemun Pijac (some guy who isn’t Vlad)

After strolling around the older streets near the quay, we headed to Vlad’s house not far from the center. Typically during the summer he holds the courses for the most part outdoors in the lush garden in the backyard. However because of the cold weather he recently transformed the garage into a foodie haven. The cozy kitchen prep space is made whole by the large wooden tabletop, colorful lighting and scratch maps of all the places Vlad’s been lucky enough to visit.

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We were joined by Vlad’s sister Marija (Maria) who was home for a short while from Singapore. Upon our arrival she was prepping the dough that would soon be stretched into Burek. Being the gracious Serbian host Vlad was, we were given coffee, tea and of course Domaća rakija (brandy). After toasting, Vlad brought out a platter of savory mezza to munch on while we chatted about our lives.

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Soft bread and lepinja with Serbian favorites, ajvar (red pepper relish) and kajmak (clotted cream) with sliced meats, boiled eggs and something that always reminds me of Serbia in a nutshell, Čvarci (a variant of pork rinds).

Marija popped in to show us the process of making the dough for the Burek, even though we wouldn’t be using it because it needed resting time, it was still fun to feel how the dough should feel when kneading it.

Next we learned how to form the Ćevapi , something I was always curious about because of the perfect size of these succulent meat rolls in all the good restaurants. The meat was prepped (I won’t tell how because you’ll have to take the course to find out!) so Milan being the man he is proceeded to use a tin cylinder to form rows of minced meat. Vlad and I worked on cutting them to size and rolling them in a bit of oil.

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In the meantime, Vlad had already prepped the potatoes for the dumplings and proceeded to mash them into the dough, all  the while explaining ingredients and telling stories. The dough is primarily composed of potato and flour, very basic things almost everyone has in their house.

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The dough is then rolled out and cut into squares to be snuggly wrapped around each juicy purple plum. We put those aside to focus on the dish that would take the most amount of patience and skill, stretching out the dough for the burek.

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Once upon a time last summer when I was alone in the house I decided to attempt to make Burek from scratch. Having made gibanica and used phylo dough before, I thought how hard can it be to make your own? The answer to that it…..harder than you think. So having only seen this technique on Youtube before I was thrilled that we would actually be learning how to stretch out the readied dough to the thinness of paper and the size of the entire table.

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We gently pulled at the elasticy dough with our fingertips (you can see the edges on top of the white table cloth), stretching and stretching until Marija was satisfied with the size. Despite there being a few tears near the end, it in no way would compromise the finished product and heck nothing is perfect.

After that we sprinkled the minced meat mix on one end while Marija used cheese, egg and spinach on the other end. When that is done the part that blew my mind came to fruition:

She made it look so easy!!

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With the Burek transferred into the oven to bake, Vlad had fired up the grill outside so that we could cook our Ćevapi and get some fresh air. Their backyard is really something wonderful. I’m kind of bummed we didn’t know about this course during the summer because it’s the perfect outdoor cooking and barbecue space.

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Vlad gave the seal of approval once the Ćevapi had browned with traces of crispy golden color, ready to be nommed. We had made the salad earlier on, basic chopping with Vlad’s way of properly marinating the flavors of onion, tomato and cucumber. Even seemingly fool proof dishes like Šopska salata have their secrets!

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The perfect juiciness of the Ćevapi was like being transported to your favorite kafana but the accomplishment of having prepared it yourself made it ten times nommer. We used the kajmak from the mezza spread alongside to enhance the traditional flavors. Meat and butter together? Yes please.

Marija had mentioned that it was virtually impossible to find the type of cheese used for this salad in Singapore so she always fills her suitcase with the creamy goodness before she takes off. Since Milan’s family is spread on different continents, they can all attest to the fact that traditional Serbian cooking spans the boarders but sometimes improvising ingredients that aren’t available can’t beat the original.

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Our Burek emerged from the oven, crispy and golden to perfection. It’s not often that I go to pekara or eat baked goods that aren’t made in the house so  this was particularly special for me. Also it’s rare that by the time you get the Burek and leave the pekara that it’s piping hot like ours was. The meat created a soft coating on the inside, complimenting the crunch of the roll. Sigh, it was nomtastic.

Finally we were ready to move on to our dessert. The dumplings were prepped to be submerged in boiling water to cook throughout and then coated in a mixture of bread crumbs and butter to create an ascetic and delicious tasting  exterior.

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Already full from our lunch, the steam from the boiling pot of knedle wrapped the entire room in a cozy almost sleepy like atmosphere. I don’t know about you but the smell of boiling potato anything always has that effect on me.

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Hot from the coating pan, the plum dumplings were like warm little balls of all things considered good. Out of all Serbian confections, I would consider knedle sa sljivama to be the least sweet which is why you sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top before you take that much anticipated bite into nomness. They were magical, really.

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Does this look like a success to you? I’m not sure about how good my mental memory is when it comes to facts or things to do but I can assure you that my stomach’s memory is unlike any other. But just in case it ever failed me, Vlad was nice enough to print out the recipes we used during the course for reference.

Milan and I left the course not feeling like we had actually even been in one. It felt more like we had made new friends and the cooking happened to be taking place at the same time. You couldn’t have asked for better people to show you some traditional Serbian dishes. I’m no longer daunted by the thought of having to make my own Ćevapi instead of just buying it at the butchers, or the next time I’m alone and feel like making burek, I most certainly will…or at least I’ll try!

If you’re reading this post and passing by Belgrade or plan on extending your visit, do yourself a favor and sign up for this class, you and your stomach definitely won’t regret it. Plus you’ll get to hang out with amazing Serbian locals and eat the food  that has graced their tables for generations. It’s a hands on experience not to be missed.

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It was a Saturday well spent, if I could spend the next Saturdays of the rest of my life like that, the world would be a truly happy place.

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Tomorrow I will go to get my visa and see if they gave me longer than the usual three months. During the day long process I plan on setting myself up at Krajl in the morning to work on my lesson plans and have my ‘visa cappuccino’ (or two). I’m seriously in the mood for falafel (can you be in the mood for something a week in advance?) so I might go to Tel Aviv or check out a new place in the Slavia area….videćemo (we’ll see).

I currently have a long list of places I want to visit this fall but am just waiting to see where my appetite takes me. Tune in next time and as always thank you for reading!

Wadāʿanom! 

Restaurant Information:

Address: Đorđa Stanojevica – Bellvile  11070 Belgrade, Serbia
Phone:060 050 1502
Address: Bregovita 19, 11080 Zemun, Belgrade, Serbia
Phone: 065 848 7225