| Destination Bosnia:
Dinner in Grandma's Kitchen
Story and photos by Tom Weber
June 28, 1914, the shots that triggered World War I were fired from
an assassin's pistol on one of her flagstone-paved streets.
In 1984, she returned to the world stage,
draped in gold, silver and bronze, as she hosted the Olympic Winter
And, sadly, for 1,425 days, between 1992-1995,
she was under siege, surrounded by enemy forces and fighting for her
Today, just like the phoenix, that mythical
firebird that rose from the ashes, she, too, has been reborn and is
quickly becoming one of the coolest and trendiest cities in Europe.
Who is she?
She's Sarajevo, one of the jewels of the
Balkans and the rallying point for the newest "band of merry media,"
18 intrepid travel writers and photographers invited along by Insight
Vacations to sample the sights, sounds and savors of Bosnia
and Croatia's Dalmatian Riviera.
Arriving a day early, I head for my fourth
floor room at the remodeled Hotel
Europe, a five-star, 174 room hotel that's the city's first modern
hospitality venue, located just a few steps away from the atmospheric
Bačarija, the 15th century Ottoman bazaar in the heart of
the city's Stari Grad (Old Town) district.
Rolling back the heavy shutters, I take
in my first sights AND sounds of this east-meets-west capital city just
as a muezzin, standing high above the crowd in the minaret of
the nearby Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque, performs the late afternoon salat,
the obligatory Muslim prayer ritual that's performed five times daily.
I, too, count my blessings and eagerly
hit the flagstone alleyways and go in search of traditional Bosnian
cuisine. I strike gold at Nanina
Kuhinja (Grandma's Kitchen) an intimate, alcohol-friendly, "national"
restaurant at 35 Kundurdiluk in the heart of the Bačarija.
Only a handful of tables inside, and a
few more outside, I score a window seat to watch the passersby, order
a carafe of the house red, break somun (flat bread) and begin
to scan the laminated menu. I really don't know where to start, so I
ask my effervescent waitress to choose for me. She recommends punjene
paprike (bell peppers stuffed with rice and minced meat) and mućkalica
(a veal-based stir fry in a spicy paprika sauce). I agree and so begins
my very first Bosnian feast.
Dinner in Sarajevo, or Bosnia for that
matter, is not complete until you taste the signature desserts of baklava
(filo dough filled with chopped nuts and held together with sweet, gooey
honey) and tufahija (poached apples stuffed with nuts). I can't
hold back my sweet tooth, succumb and order both.
I cap the dinner with Bosnian coffee. Similar
to the strong Turkish brew, the Sarajevan version is served from a dezva,
a small copper pot, poured into a fildan (an espresso-size,
handless china cup).
Like the locals, I take my sweet time savoring
the simple hot water poured over unfiltered grounds until my waitress
returns and offers me a complimentary shot of rakija, a homemade
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With my alarm set for sunrise, thanks to
the muezzin's call to prayer just outside my window, I'll see
you back out on the cobble bright and early tomorrow morning as we climb
up one of the hills to the Yellow Fortress for some great views of the
Laku noć (Good night) from surprising
Bosnia and the Dalmatian Riviera (Dispatch #1); An
Eastern Mediterranean Odyssey; Sailing
the Adriatic with Silversea: A Moment in Montenegro; Insight
Vacations' Bohemian Rhapsody