Sunday, 20 August 2017

A World of Flavour Comes to Serbia's Capital

Text by Bojana Milovanovic for Southeast European Times*   
18 June 2010 | At Belgrade's first food and drink festival, the weather was hot and some of the food even hotter.

Not even scorching temperatures -- reaching almost 40 degrees Celsius -- prevented thousands of Belgrade residents from sampling traditional Serbian specialties, Japanese, Greek or Austrian dishes at the the city's old Kalemegdan Fortress last weekend.

Fifteen of the capital's best restaurants showcased their food at the first Belgrade Food and Drink Festival, alongside various food producers and wineries.

"Our goal is to match the quality of similar events in London and Dubai. The visitors really have something to satisfy their senses with -- dishes from different regions, as well as good domestic or traditionally high quality Tuscan wines," festival director Jelena Petrovic told SETimes.

Visitors could sample sushi at the Ikki Bar, or enjoy one of Byron Food's Greek-style gyros. Or they could choose something closer to home.

"Trpeza [the Dining Table] restaurant offers traditional dishes from the tables of the Serbian historic dynasties," chef Dragan Lukic told SETimes. "There are minced lamb rolls, lamb cooked in an earthen pot, and slightly more modern dishes from other international cuisines, such as cordon bleu or teriyaki chicken."

Dishes at a nearby food stand looked as though they could have been prepared by a Serbian great grandmother with no interest in microwave ovens or toasters.

Bakina Kuhinja [Grandma's Kitchen] produces healthy food in a traditional way, Vesna Predic explained while standing at an improvised wooden stove. "This family business also exports various kinds of jam and ajvar [popular Balkan red pepper paste] to foreign markets. Everything is prepared without modern processing; it's healthy and tasty," Predic said.

Given the heat, a sample of smoked salmon tortilla, octopus and bean salad at the Fish and Bar stand turned out to be a good choice.

Others, not minding the heat, had no problem sampling hot and spicy dishes.

"Yes it's hot, but that's no reason not to try Austrian sausages," Milos, 16, told SETimes. He currently attends the hospitality high school and will become a chef at one of Belgrade's restaurants. Dragana, 23, and Petar, 25, came to the festival for different reasons. "I love Greek food and I like the gyros," said Dragana.

"I can't eat in this heat; I have to find a beer fast," Petar replied.

Event organiser, the Belgrade Tourist Organisation, says the festival will become a tradition.

*This text and photographs are courtesy of the Southeast European Times (SET), a web site sponsored by the US Department of Defense in support of UN Resolution 1244, designed to provide an international audience with a portal to a broad range of information about Southeastern Europe. It highlights movement toward greater regional stability and steps governments take toward integration into European institutions. SET also focuses on developments that hinder both terrorist activity and support for terrorism in the region.

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