Mala Fabrika

When I travel I always make a point to roam around the city and get lost. But this time, we decided to walk across the city on foot with a purpose. We wanted to visit Mala Fabrika. It’s ranked the number 5 restaurant in Beograd on TripAdvisor. I was surprised to find that the restaurant scene in Beograd to be very sophisticated. The restaurant was quaint, well decorated, and service was excellent. They spoke perfect English and was very courteous in answering all our questions. 

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First course was a procini mushroom soup. It was very flavourful, creamy but not heavy. If you like mushroom, you would be delighted with this soup.

 

 

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We then ordered a traditional Serbian dish. It was a little like jelly with meat inside. Savoury. Reminds me of this Chinese dish from northern China called cold meat (“凍肉”).

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The main course was a bread pork chop with pickled veggie and baked potato. The pork chop was not very catchy, it tasted like any other pork chop. But the potato was delicious. We couldn’t stop eating it. It was very flavourful, and crispy on the outside.

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Though it was getting to a point where we were having too much food, we couldn’t pass up for this opportunity to try a traditional Serbian meatball. It was served in a clay plate, hot and sizzling. Topped with Serbian cheese that was mild and resembled mozzarella.

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Last but not least, and thank goodness we were 2 starving kids from the day before, we managed to find room for dessert. A creamy custard cold soup with meringue on top. It was simply delicious and not too heavy even after such a big meal.

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I also indulged in wine. I had a glass of fume blanc. It had a nutty oaky bouquet. Citrus and grapefuit clung to my nose. There was a strong smell of alcohol. Medium viscosity, most likely due to the alcohol. It was a dry wine with good acid making you salivate.

After a delicious meal, we slowly made our way across town again. We stopped by the fortress for some night photos of the bridge and the river. It was a breath taking view up at the top. I took in as much as I could of the view knowing that tonight was our last night in Beograd. Goodbye Beograd. Until next time.

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Onward to Beograd

I’ve been intending to continue documenting my travels to the Balkans and Turkey, but life has been busy. In my last post we were at Sofia, Bulgaria, and we were heading to Beograd (Belgrade), Serbia. We took an overnight train that was very old. We managed to get a private coach so that we could catch some shut eyes during the night. There were a few things that I had to prepare myself for the ride. I didn’t drink any water, to avoid having to use the bathroom. Bring food, because food is not offered on the train even though it’s a good 7 hour ride. If you are considering taking the train from Sofia to Beograd, you also have to be aware that at the boarders between Bulgaria and Serbia, the train operators change from Bulgarian to Serbians. At which point, they will come knocking on your door to verify your passport. I was very nervous when the Serbian boarder police took my passport and left with it. I wasn’t sure who he was, and why he needed to walk away with my passport. As I began to panic he returned with my passport.

Arriving at Beograd, we found ourselves on an old train platform. It was half past six, and we were exhausted. There was a weak wifi signal at the station (thankfully), and I was able to map out our airbnb location.

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I didn’t realize the walk was going to be very long with our heavy backpacks. We walked well over 45 mins on empty stomachs (because we didn’t eat the night before), barely any liquid, and lack of sleep.

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We made our way as quickly as we could to pick up the keys, and headed over to our apartment. We went through the front gate only to realize that I don’t know which apartment and which floor we are on! I walked up and down the building to no avail. The next best thing to do was try to call the landlady. I didn’t know how to use the pay phones in Serbia, so I walked into a convenient store to borrow a phone. The store owner wanted to charge us $5 USD for the phone call. I shocked that she would take advantage of lost travelers like that, but decided that we should pay her anyways because we were exhausted and there was no other way. The phone number didn’t go through. We were officially homeless.

We sat outside on the streets in front of a hotel, hoping that we could get a wifi connection so we can email the lady and hope that she would email back. We sat there and waited. The city was starting to stir and people were out walking their dogs. For a few people, I’m pretty sure we were their amusement for the day. Two foreign girls looking completely lost, sitting on the street with their backpacks. There were a few moments where I was convinced that we would be homeless for the next few days. Just as I started to panic, she emailed us back. We headed back to the building and finally found our apartment.

The place was a studio room with just a bed, a small kitchenette, a small bathroom with a shower. It was simple, well decorated and clean. We were pleased. At last, a hot shower and some food would be nice. R jumped into the shower and low and behold, the water was freezing. She was soaked in freezing water from head to toe. I emailed the landlady and she said that we had to turn on the heat in the apartment and wait half hour before the water warms up. Unfortunately, it was too late for R. We napped for what seemed like just a little while, and when we woke up it was 1pm already. I was starving. We set out to look for food. Having not eaten for at least 36 hours we were determined to feast. We walked around and realized that we were staying in a very quiet neighborhood, a bit away from city centre. Some nice bakeries and restaurants lined the street.

We decided on a retro looking restaurant called “Ime Restorana”. The decor felt like we were stepping back into an old Serbian home. There was little debate as to what we wanted to have, because we were so hungry we wanted to have everything.

We started with fresh corn bread. It was warm and tasty. The bread was a little dense and a little savoury. Very different from the typical french bread that we get in Toronto.

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We then had a mushroom with stuffed cheese and some sort of pork ham. It’s almost like bacon, but not as fatty. When we ordered this, we thought that the portions were going to be a lot smaller, and we didn’t realize that it would be served with rice. the mushrooms were essentially baked with the Serbian cheese (which resembles feta cheese in taste and texture). The mushroom was very juicy and the juice was absorbed into the rice. I’m assuming that the mushroom was made on the bed of rice so that the rice would pick up the flavour. The rice was like a balsamic rice. It’s a little harder than what I’m use to which is more along the lines of soft chewy Japanese rice.
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Next we had a Serbian pie. It was layers of pastry cheese. The pastry layers were crispy on the outside and soft and chewy with the cheese on the inside. Could you tell by now that we’ve over ordered?

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Next we had a simple tomato sauce pasta. There was a generous splash of olive oil. The tomato sauce was very light, and as you can see there were no bits of tomatoes in the pasta. It was just the tomato juice and olive oil. Very tasty and comforting after a long day.

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The protein came next. Chicken breast with herbs in a cream sauce. I personally wasn’t a fan of the cream sauce. I though that there was too much sauce on the chicken and the sauce was better served on the side. The cream sauce was savoury with generous amounts of herbs to balance off the creaminess.

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And did you know that Serbia actually grew it’s own grapes? I was delighted to find out that Serbia made it’s own wine. This wine had a dry finish to it. It had a grapefruit and citrus bouquet. It was pale straw in color with a slight green tinge. What you would expect from the cold climates of Serbia. After I got home, I read a bit more about Serbian wine, and learned that Serbia used to produce a lot more grapes. But during the war, people abandoned the vineyards and went to war. (War is bad, wine is good!) Before the war, in the 1970s Serbia had named 7 main wine regions with further sub region classifications. But now the industry is picking up again. You don’t get Serbian wine in Canada because it’s too expensive to ship. But if you ever get a chance to go to Serbia make sure you try out their wine.

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So now your probably wondering what the total damage is? Well it cost $3,240 Serbian dinar which is approximately $40 canadian! Isn’t that amazing? For such a delicious meal. The staff members spoke a bit of English and was extremely friendly. A lot of smiles, and came to check on the food. They did their best to explain what each dish was. Overall, a fabulous dining experience!

Good food, great company!

I always feel so lucky when I go somewhere, and I get to meet up with friends. Lucky for me, Heidi lives in CPH! Her and her boyfriend (TB) are so sweet for showing me around. Here is the super fun couple!

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We went to Dyrehaven for lunch. It’s a cozy restaurant frequented by locals. The place use to be a bar and then it was purchased by someone else and now they serve smorrebrod as their specialty. The place is easy going, relaxing -very Danish.

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It was a smorrebrod feast. My first was a fried fish smorrebrod with dill, this creamy mayo-like sauce, and some pickles. The second one was a potato with this creamy sauce and fried onions. Both extremely tasty and very filling.

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TB ordered a roast beef and a bacon one.

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Heidi went with a goat cheese salad.

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They also had a very good selection of beer on tap. Being extremely satisfied, we went for coffee and sat outside to enjoy the nice weather.

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Thank you Heidi and TB for being such wonderful hosts.

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Rain on my holiday. It’s fine with me.

Needless to describe how rainy the weather is in CPH. The wind was gusting up to 28km/hr. I road a bike I borrowed from Heidi for the first time, and boy was is scary. The wind was so strong, especially when it was blowing from sideways. I thought I was going to fall over on my bike. Either way, despite the rainy weather, I got up fairly early and left the apartment at 10am. I made my way to Torvehallerne again for breakfast.

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I decided to start with fresh juice. This time, I tried the carrot and ginger one. It was tasty, but I think tomorrow I will have the avocado one again. 🙂 I ordered a large this time, and it cost 60DKK (that’s a bit more than $10 CAD)

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I walked pass the smorrebord place again, and decided to pass for now because I will be having some with Heidi & Co. this weekend.

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I headed over to the other building for some fresh pastry. I ordered a croissant to see how it was compared to the ones in Paris.

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And the verdict was… very tasty. Comparable to the ones in Paris. The croissant was very crispy on the outside, and soft and slightly chewy on the inside. I can taste the butter flavour more in this croissant than the other ones. But I wouldn’t say that it’s more oily or anything a regular croissant.

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Being satisfied for now, I headed for the Stork Fountain. It’s an old street that’s pedestrian only, filled with all your brand name shops.

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I went right to Illums Bolighus. It is one of the largest design shop for home and furnishings, carrying works from major danish designers. Here are a few snaps of goodies I found.

Beautiful 3 piece mirror. I’ll take the sofa too.

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And what do you think of this Carl Hansen & Son piece called the Shell Chair.  Only 5k CAD. They deliver worldwide by the way!

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As for me, I would not be able to afford anything in this shop. Maybe these miniature ones.

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It was raining pretty hard and the wind was gusting like crazy when I was ready to leave. So I went inside another shopping mall, and browsed around. This one looked like the one in Paris.

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When the rain died down, I headed for nyhavn, got lost and ended up in Christianshavn.

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Coffee break from the cold weather. I have to say, good coffee is hard to come by in CPH. I’ve only had good coffee at The Coffee Collective. I’ve tried 3 different shops, and I’ve been disappointed 3 times. My latte taste worst than the ones from McDonald’s back home. It’s so watery, can’t taste the coffee, and the milk taste like water too.

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Anyways, I walked along the canal, to check out these new buildings. They were once old industrial building. Efforts were made to turn them into new office buildings. So here it goes, my first shot at architecture photography.

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Getting Lost

Whenever I visit a new city, I always make a point to get lost.  Instructions on how to get completely lost:
1. Throw away map.
2. Take off your watch or leave it at home.
3. When in doubt of directions. Just keep walking.

I watched how cyclists navigate through traffic.  Observing their hand signals, and how they go about crossing intersections.  I’ll be borrowing a bike from Heidi soon.

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Hands down to Danish brick work. It’s amazing. Interesting patterns combined with intricate work.

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And of course, dainty small shops line the streets.

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I stopped by a bakery that had their own stone oven. Heidi mentioned that they were famous for their bread. So I decided to have a prosciutto and cheese sandwich. The bread was made of various grains, nice and crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. The bakery was cozy, with a nice sitting area.

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After 4 hours of wandering, I ended up back in front of the apartment I’m staying in. Not too shabby for a first day of feeling out the city.

So Danish

After much tossing and turning, I finally fell asleep last night at 3am.  When I woke up it was already 12 noon.  I must have been super exhausted.  Realizing that I already lost the morning, I headed out for Torvehallerne.  It’s one of the biggest markets in Copenhagen featuring the best meat cuts, fresh fish, and small food stalls for people to eat in at the bars or take out.  The market looks very posh and so Danish.  The whole building is class to allow for ample amount of sunlight in and allows those outside to see all the happenings inside the market.

 

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There’s definitely something for everyone.  Cheese shop…

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Bottled juice goodness…

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Danish baked goodies filled the air, tempting all by-passers.

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An abundance of fresh vegetables. Perfectly arranged, grown in a nice shape. The Danes approve.

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Here, I also had my first Mikkeller beer. And let me tell you, it’s so good!! SO GOOD! They were recently featured in the NY Times.  I’m not a big beer drinker, but boy did the beer go down easily with a smoked salmon asparagus smorrebord.  I’m going to make sure I have a few more pints of Mikkeller before I go home.

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And if only I had more room in my tummy..

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I also tried an avocado, citrus, ginger juice from the juice bar. Their tag line? Look good naked! (So Danish) Great message, hits home, sticks with you. Bravo once again to the Danes.

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..and as for my juice? Delicious!! You can barely taste the avocado, but the consistency is there. You can taste the ginger, and citrus.

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And as always, there is a focus on relaxing, comfort and enjoying life. Like these girls..

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And this couple, stealing a kiss behind the lemon tree.

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“Welcome to the happiest nation in the world”

After a sleepy 12 hour journey from YYZ to CPH, with a short layover in FRA, I finally arrived.  Transportation was super simple, I hopped onto the Metro and within 20 mins I was in city entre Copenhagen.  Hassle and stress free!  “Welcome to the happiest nation in the world” – Carlsberg.

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I found my way to the Airbnb apartment fairly easily, showered and met up with Heidi.  It’s been a super long time since I’ve last met her, must have been either a few Christmases ago, or even way back when I went to Zurich for backpacking.  Either way, it’s always so wonderful to meet up with old friends.  We strolled through a very large cemetery that was very much like a park.  It would be a fantastic place to do morning runs.  Good things I packed my runners.  We met up with another friend and leisurely strolled around the neighborhood dotted with many specialty shops.

Very jet lagged and tired from traveling we made a stop at the Coffee Collective.  It’s one of the most popular coffee places in Copenhagen that prides itself in fair trade coffee.  I ordered an half espresso half milk.  It was delicious.  I almost wanted another cup, but I thought that I should hold back because I should try to sleep tonight.  All for a cost of 33 DKK, was very worth it.  I know where I’ll be spending my lazy days.

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After some quick catching up, we decided to head to the grocery store near by and pick up some take home dinner.  I decided to satisfy my fish craving and go with a smoked salmon salad and yogurt.  Skyr is an Icelandic yogurt, it taste very much like a greek yogurt.  Thick, creamy and not overly sweet.

 

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Going to take it easy for the reset of the night.  Unfortunately, the adapter I bought for this trip has a ground, and for some reason there are no plugs in this apartment that has a ground.  I’m going to need to borrow one from Heidi tomorrow, or see if the lady here has one I can use while I’m here.

 

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