I am “real” and so are my food journals. There are times when I travel and I eat great things, and other times the food is just ordinary. While traveling through the Balkans, there were times that I ate whatever was available, and it was uneventful. That is life and that is travel.
This food journal covers three Balkan countries: Albania, North Macedonia, and Kosovo and unlike Part One, this food journal has more common foods. I find it interesting none the less because of what foods were available to me at the time.
The reality of the situation was there were moments that I did not have time, nor the energy to pick myself up to find a restaurant in my neighborhood. Plus staying in residential areas, the luxury of having a decent restaurant in a half mile radius at, did not exist. Sometimes you have to weigh out having a good meal, checking out the city, and resting.
From a carnivore’s dream dish in Skopje to ice cream for dinner in Albania- My food journal of ‘What I ate in the Balkans – Part 2’.
Balkan Road Trip Snacks
Crisps, chips or whatever you call them, trying out these easily consumable snacks in different countries is always fun. I typically, always grab bag for a long bus ride to another country, that is how I enjoyed Balkan chips. There are many similar versions of the chips that we have in the States, as well as different flavors. I am not a chip connoisseur by any means, but those were my obvious observances.
Some chips were a hit and some were a miss. I was not fond of the Clipsy Max Chicken Wings at all. It tasted like I was not eating anything, and was still hungry after finishing the bag
It is incredible how quickly things change in this part of the world. When I visited this country it was named Macedonia. Then shortly after it was renamed North Macedonia. This had been a topic of conversation even when I visited, so I will now call it North Macedonia.
When it came to dining, I had better luck in Skopje finding interesting food other than tourist, trendy, snack food or sandwiches. The dishes were quite heavy, and high caloric which is made to sustain a person for the whole day. That was fine for me because I needed it for the whole day.
The Traditional Dion
This dish had so much meat and cheese in it that I was surprised I made it out of Café Restaurant Dion in Skopje. This carnivore meal was a mix of pork, beef, chicken, mushrooms, all in a savory sauce and topped with melted cheese. It was very good dish, but also a very heavy one.
Café Restaurant Dion is a terrific place to catch a bite, as they serve both international and traditional North Macedonian dishes.
For location and restaurant information, please visit their Facebook page – Café Restaurant Dion
Vending Machine Coffee and A Balkan Bear Claw
This was one of those instances where it was all about convenience. Since my hotel was in a residential area, and my walking tour started in the downtown area of Skopje, I needed something quick to eat. I figured there would be bakeries along the way, and I was right, so I picked up this savory pastry. When I asked for coffee, they pointed me to a vending machine on the sidewalk. Yes, that is how it goes sometimes.
Sitting in front of Mother Teresa’s Memorial House, waiting for my walking tour to start with my breakfast and vending machine coffee.
Baklava in the Old Bazaar
The glare of the sun on the baklava was quite much, as it was a warm day in Skopje. I had just finished the free walking tour, and decided to stop at the Old Bazaar to shop and have a snack. There are a few places in the Old Bazaar that sell baklava, so be sure to get a couple of pieces before you leave.
I enjoy eating baklava wherever I have traveled. It is a favorite dessert amongst the Balkans, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern countries. It is a constant pastry that you can enjoy from country to country, although each region prepares it slightly different.
Stuffed Peppers in Skopje
I was definitely not expecting the stuffed peppers that I ordered to look or taste like this. Although different from what I am used to, I enjoyed this version very much. This version is stuffed with cheeses and deep fried, it was very rich and delicious.
Stuffed Peppers were on my “To Eat” list in North Macedonia, and I found them at Café Restaurant Dion in the city center of Skopje. This restaurant Dion is a terrific place to catch a bite, as they serve both international and traditional regional dishes.
For location and restaurant information, please visit their Facebook page – Café Restaurant Dion
As a person who appreciates, wine and liquor from different regions of the world, I was elated when our guide offered us rakija. We were taking a break form our walking tour, sitting inside a restaurant in the Old Bazaar, when a glass pitcher filled with a dark amber spirit made an appearance. It was poured into small glasses, and I had one shot, then another- since they were offering!
If you are offered rakija and are good with alcohol especially spirits, then you are in for a treat. Rakija is a brandy made with fermented fruit and can be quite strong. Most liquors in this region can have an alcohol content of 40%, so a little glass will go a long way. Macedonians love their rakija and take pride of it as a vital part of their culture, identity, and way of life.
No lies, I was very confused with Albanian food and where to eat. I was recommended a couple of very nice restaurants in Tirana, but I never made it. I was in Albania for several busy days, and those recommended restaurants were not close to my flat, then I ran out of time- it happens.
Many Albanians cook and eat at home, I am assuming that is why it was difficult to find a many restaurants. I thought I could find food in cafés that looked like restaurants, but many of them only served drinks. I was talking to other travelers about this, and they were just as confused. Luckily, I had purchased groceries for my flat but other than that, I was eating non-eventful food. It was more of snack or tourist food. I figured that mishap will make me be a better Albanian traveler the next time, and focus more on the cuisine. #TravelGoals
Dinner- Ice Cream and Booze
This is what I was talking about! There were several large cafes in a row that all looked like restaurants. I sat down at one of them, and ordered a vodka tonic then asked for the food menu. No food menu, it was just ice cream. That was my diner- ice cream and booze.
Do not worry, I did not starve. I had sandwich items in my flat, but I was hoping for a proper meal while in Tirana.
An Italian Crepe
I took a day trip into Berat, and found a café that served food, which made me very happy. It was a crepe restaurant, so I ordered the Italian crepe which had olives, peppers, and feta cheese. It was good for the price as it was under $1.50 USD, which for us is unheard of.
The town of Berat is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Albania, and worth the trek from the capital, Tirana. It is a lovely, historical, riverside town with hillside homes, and a relaxed vibe. Personally, I would not mind spending a couple of days exploring this region the next time I visit Albania.
For more information – Berat – A UNESCO World Heritage Site | Discovering Albania
Snacking and Stealing Wi-Fi
Since my flat had very bad Wi-Fi, pretty much non-existent, twice a day I had to sit at the trendy Mulluri Vjeter and use theirs. A girl has to do, what a girl has to do. Luckily, there was a Mulliri Vjeter a couple of buildings down from my flat.
While sitting at Mulluri Vjeter, I did grab a snack or two which were quite nice- a cheesecake with a jam base, which I liked. Plus a simple sandwich of ham and cheese on a poppy seed roll, which was also quite good. I did enjoy this coffee shop though. The vibe was relaxed, coffee good, and their Wi-Fi was free.
For location and café information, please visit their Facebook page –Mulluri Vjeter
Berat Iced Coffee
This selfie was in celebration of getting myself to Berat. I did not take a day tour but I hopped on their public bus that goes directly from Tirana to this city, with a few stops along the way. It was quite the journey! Before I got to the main part of Berat, I stopped at a café for their Wi-Fi, and ordered an iced coffee. The server was very nice, and offered me a glass of iced water, which you know is typically not free in Europe.
I am not sure if this café knew what I wanted when I asked for an iced coffee. I described it as an “Americano with ice”, but that is not what I got. What I received was fine though, it was still refreshing and the server was very welcoming.
Somewhere in Albania- A Sandwich
This sandwich reflected what I ate in Albania besides the crepe in Berat- A sandwich. I was on a bus headed to Montenegro, where I made up the lack of food in Albania. One of the stops along the journey had pre-made sandwiches. This was my sandwich, and I was happy to have it.
My plastic wrapped possible salami sandwich somewhere in Albania.
Although I do joke about the food choices, I was grateful that I had food. I am grateful that I had Albanian Leks left for this sandwich that kept me full until I arrived in Montenegro. I am grateful for travel.
Kosovo is an interesting little country as it is not recognized by several other larger countries. Also, you can not enter into nor leave from Serbia, as there is still a lot of tension between these two countries. Other than that, you can easily enter from the surrounding countries like North Macedonia, which is how I entered.
After a few hours on a hot and bumpy shuttle ride, I located the first nice looking restaurant in Pristina’s city center. I do not know the name, as I walked in and sat down. Then I ordered this chicken risotto. I am assuming that I walked into an international restaurant because on the menu items were a variety of European dishes. It was delicious though, and I could have eaten two plates.
I ordered a chilled iced tea drink, and was served in this container. I do remember looking at the jar with the lid, and thought how clever it was. Then I started to wonder if the dark sediment were tea herbs. Yes, I am sure it was the tea herbs. I drank it.
I also remember this being a refreshing drink after sitting on a hot shuttle bus from Skopje, Macedonia. At that point, I did not mind the sediment along the sides of the jar.
Gratitude and Two Bottles of Water
While waiting for my shuttle bus back to Skopje, I purchased a bottle of water at the bus station. While I was in the store, a man was harassing me to buy something or to give him money, I cannot remember.
The owner of the store stepped in, and told him to leave. That helpful but I am sure he would have eventually left. The nice thing was that the store owner gave me a second bottle of water after I paid for one. Then he told me to sit and wait at the tables where it was safer, shaded, and comfortable. He was very hospitable.
That second bottle of water was a Godsend though, and I was so grateful for it. The shuttle bus ride back to Skopje was worse than the one going to Pristina, Kosovo. The shuttle was very hot, and the water kept me cool and hydrated. Thank you Dear Store Owner, thank you.
My favorite thing to do, is to go where I have never been…
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