Food Journals

What I ate in THE BALKANS – Part 1 – A Food Journal

Over the last five years, I had traveled to every Eastern European and Balkan country- Hooray! This also means that I had tasted and journaled a lot of interesting cuisine along the way. This food journal covers three of those Balkan countries: Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Croatia. 

As I traveled from country to country, I started to notice a crossover in the food and ingredients. I found it very enlightening to learn and experience the different varieties of dishes throughout the region.

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From noshing on traditional street food to wine paring at a Michelin Star recommended restaurant, my food journal on ‘What I ate in the Balkans – Part 1’.

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Balkan Day Drinking

It is a fact that I do like to have a drink or three when I travel. It is part of the cultural cuisine experience for me. While in the Balkans, I was fortunate enough to try regional wines or their special alcoholic beverage. At times it was whatever gin or vodka they had on hand with a bottle of Schweppes Tonic.

It was all so good- Cheers!

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Balkan Caffe

If you have read my other blog posts, you know that I love a shot or two of espresso! I also like taking photos of those shots, along with where I was. There is always a memory attached to a cup of caffe for me. It is a great memory trigger!

Caffes are special and so are the places in the Balkans that I sipped them at.

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Wine Pairing in Zagreb

To have your wine professionally paired with your courses, should be experienced in every country that you visit. When you pair your dishes with the country’s regional wines, it is even better! Agava Restaurant in Zageb  is noted in the Michelin Guidebook for Croatia – Bib Gourmand Award. This gourmet bistro has a fine selection of Croatian wines that can be perfectly paired with their Modern Mediterranean cuisine.

The staff at Bistro Agave are professionally trained to pair your courses with wine. In cases like this, I always have my servers choose my wine with my meal to get the full gastronomic experience. For my next course, I was offered a glass of Ivancic Griffin Single Vineyard which was a nice and lightly fruity white wine from Plesivica, Croatia.

The beauty of wine paring in different countries is the discovery of favorite regional wines. During my dessert course, I was offered a lovely wine that I had never tried before. Prosek is a Croatian dessert wine which for me was not too heavy. It was subtle and a terrific way to finish up my early dinner that was paired with a lot of wine- ΕΎivjeli!

For restaurant location and information, please visit their official website – Agava Restaurant in Zageb 

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Bad Bus Station Burek

Wow, was this a poor choice for breakfast! I was taking a bus to Plitvice Lakes for a day trip and decided to grab a burek for the bus. Several days earlier, I had a delicious burek while in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. I guess I was thinking it would be the same.

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I learned very quickly that not all bureks are created equally.

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Upscale Dining at Agava In Zagreb

I have always enjoyed mixing an upscale dining experience when I travel, especially if I travel solo. For myself, it balances long days of exploring, picking up street food or eating at a local cafΓ©. It just allows me to feel a bit more civilized with and relaxed while traveling. Just remember to always create some type of balance in anything that you do!

On the Table:

  • Rosemary Herbed Focaccia
  • Foie Gras de Canard with Pear Cream and Almond Crumble
  • Pasta FuΕΎi with Truffles
  • Guanaja Grand Cru Chocolate & Almond Tart

Agava is recommended in the Michelin Guidebook for Croatia – Bib Gourmand Award.  What an outstanding find in Zagreb!

For restaurant location and information, please visit their official website – Agava Restaurant in Zageb 

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Sausage, Lepinja and Raw Onion

This combination seemed to be synonymous with the region- sausage or minced meat, lepinja bread and raw onion. It is a very strong flavored trio and I liked it a lot! Very simple and very delicious.

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You can find this trio in many places throughout the Balkans. I had this one in all places, the bus station in Zagreb! I was waiting for my bus out of Zagreb and into Slovenia. It was a good wait!

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Lunch at Inat Kuca – The Legendary Spite House

During my two hour walking tour of Sarajevo, I had learned about the Inat Kuca restaurant. I was so engrossed by the story and history of this place, that I decided to have lunch there. To make a long story short, the house, Inat Kuca restaurant, was located on the left side of the river. When the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy started to construct on that side of the river, the original homeowner would not give up his house and property. After awhile, he finally relented and asked for a bag of gold coins. Additionally, he requested to have his entire house moved brick by brick and reconstructed on the opposite side of the river. The Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy did just that. A bit of stubbornness and spite- Now that is a great story!

The Spite House has been turned into a restaurant that serves traditional Bosnian food and wine. It was a delicious place to relax, have a good meal and all the while sitting inside a bit of Sarajevo history.

Since meat skewers were on my Bosnian food list, I ordered them here although they were veal. Once in a while I will eat veal and I made the exception here.

For restaurant information and location, please visit their website – Inat Kucka Spite House

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Ice Cream & the Abandoned Olympic Bobsled Track

I have eaten ice cream in the most random places and this was one of them. Along the Trebevic mountains that surround Sarajevo lays the abandoned 1984 Olympic Bobsled Track. When I had visited in 2018, it was an easy venture up the mountain by cable car. The views up were outstanding. There were no signs of where the track started. You just came across a concrete platform, stepped up and started walking! It was one of the coolest and most random experiences that I have done.

Just me and my Choco-Berry Ice Cream Bar, finding our way to the abandoned Olympic Bob Sled Tracks!

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Trout Lunch in Mostar

Having trout in Bosnia was on my ‘What to eat list’ and I found it at Restoran Europa in Old Town Mostar. I love fish and seafood, so I oblige any country’s list that recommends it. The trout was very fresh, cooked very well and it did not have a gamey taste to it. My fish was served with local vegetables, french fries and a basket of lepinja bread- So delish!

A great place to try Bosnian trout or to have a decent meal in Old Town Mostar is Restoran Europa. They are very close to the Old Bridge and if you can snag a seat on the front patio, please do so!

For location and restaurant information, please visit their Facebook page – Restoran Europa in Mostar

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Breakfast and Bourdain

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When I had originally posted this  picture on social media, it was during breakfast before I was going to take a day trip into Mostar. Anthony Bourdain had just passed away and I was reading my friend’s grieving posts.

I started to get emotional. He was a traveler and a story teller. Bourdain understood that travel changes you and that change becomes addictive.

I ate my breakfast, posted this food photo with a Bourdain grievance and headed into Mostar. We can all learn something from this great man, who changed the way we looked at the world.

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Macaron Flavored Candy Bar

I found this sweet little number at the grocery store next my door to my hotel. I picked it up thinking it was mint or pistachio flavor, but to my surprise it was macaron flavor. Is that even a flavor? Apparently, it is in the Balkans.

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Thinking back, I should have bought a lot more to snack on during my trip and to bring home. I will remember to do so on my next visit to the Balkans!

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Burek in Bosnia

I was recommended by Sarajevo locals to try the burek in Old Town. There are several vendors that sell this tasty Balkan street food. It can be found all throughout the region and is a great takeaway food when you are on the go.

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Burek is a savory pastry made of phyllo dough, and filled with ingredients such as feta and spinach. It is a great option for vegetarians or those who want a light meal.

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Cevapi at Čevabdžinica Kastel

My hands were oily and I smelled like onions until the next morning. I believe that meant it was good cevapi! As I have noted in other blogs, many countries have their own version of cevapi which is minced meat sausages. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, it is common to eat it as a street food, stuffed inside lepinja bread and served with a lot of raw onions.

A recommended and popular cevapi restaurant in Old Town Sarajevo is Čevabdžinica Kastel, which is where I had my first taste of this delicious street food.

For location and restaurant information, please visit their Facebook Page – ČevabdΕΎinica Kastel

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Western Burger at McDonald’s

No judging! If you have tried McDonald’s in other countries, you understand that sometimes it is slightly better than America’s. Take this ‘Western Burger’ for instance, does this look like anything that we get at a McDonald’s back home? As in usual Balkan fashion, they added a lot of raw onion which I approve of. Plus that seeded fluffy bun was very good with this loaded burger.

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To be fair, I walked into the McDonald’s in Sarajevo because it was my last night and I was running out of Bosnian Marks.  I looked for a place that I could use my credit card and American fast food places will always take your plastic.  I have no regrets- it was a decent burger for being McDonald’s.

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Pork Sandwich and the Bus Ride From Hell

It was a very long bus ride form Kotor, Montenegro into Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina- very long. It was longer than it was scheduled and we barely had any breaks. This was the bus trip that I was sure anarchy would have started on. All of us needed to use the bathroom and were very hungry. MANY hours later, we stopped at a nice BBQ restaurant in Bosnia to use the restroom. Since the majority of us did not have Bosnian Marks, we all bought a pork sandwich with our credit cards. First world problems but still a problem!

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I will always remember this BBQ pork sandwich in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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Pljeskavica na Kajmaku in Belgrade

I was so excited to try this as it was on my “Serbian To Eat” list. It looks as if it is a hand-pressed hamburger patty in melted butter, which does not sound too bad.

This dish actually is a grilled minced meat steak and onion sitting in skimmed milk cream. It was as good as I was hoping it to be. Then when paired with fries, your day is complete.

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Room Service Inside my Hyatt Regency Bathroom

I have done some interesting things to get good lighting for food photos but this was a first for me. Until I bought a small personal light for food photos that I now carry in my purse, I relied on a little selfie light. Sometimes my friends and I brought our dishes outside or used our cell phone lights to illuminate the food. The good old days!

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I ordered a terrific room service dinner at the Hyatt Regency in Belgrade and since the room light was insufficient, I wheeled the food trolley into the bathroom. Don’t worry, I took the food trolley out of the bathroom before I ate my dinner.

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Moritz Eis and My Favorite Combo

While in Belgrade, I met another solo traveler who was a little older than my daughter. We had just finished our free walking tour and decided to get lunch and ice cream. She said others had recommended this place as being the best ice cream in Belgrade, so of course we went! I decided on two of my favorite flavors that I usually get together- chocolate and pistachio. It was incredible tasting eis.

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Moritz Eis has several locations in the Balkans and Chile.  They follow the ‘Slow Food movement’ and serve natural ingredient ice cream and sorbets.

For information and locations, please go to their official website – MORITZ EIS

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Fancy Cevapi

Unlike the minced meat sausages that I have tried in other countries, this cevapi was something “Extra”. It still had the same Balkan concepts of grilled cevapi with raw white onions. Although this dish was all dolled up on new potatoes, cornichons, micro-greens and bacon, it was solid.

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I really did enjoy cevapi served this way but I also appreciate it as street food. There is nothing wrong with lepinja stuffed with cevapi and a handfull of white onions. It is all good!

I ordered this dish at the Hyatt Regency in Belgrade, it was a very nice stay. For hotel information and reservations, please visit their website – Hyatt Regency Belgrade, Serbia 

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Pizza with Ketchup in Novi Sad

I was recommended to try the pizza in Serbia, as they said it was “different”. I have learned over they years that all countries call their pizzas “different”, which is not a bad thing. If you are looking for the same, I do not know what to tell you- find a Domino’s. No wait- please don’t.

While in Novi Sad, I found Pizzeria Adrijana where I tried pizza made with ketchup. According to the menu, all the pizzas were made with “ketchup”. Now one of my quirks is that I do not consume ketchup and will eat it on special occasions. This was a special occasion, I was trying Serbian Pizza. So yes, it was good. It was damn good, especially with the gooey cheese and thin crust.

P.S. I was handling the pizza for photos only. It is customary to eat pizza in Europe with a knife and fork, just an FYI.

For restaurant information and location, please visit their Facebook Page – Pizzeria Adrijana 

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