A couple of months ago, a news item from the St. Louis Bosnian community caught my eye. It said that three siblings from St. Louis’s Grbić family had appeared on the Food Network’s contest show “Guy’s Grocery Games” and won. (The episode is here.) It was great to see Bosnian culinary wisdom and expertise getting some of the recognition it deserves. Hey, even Guy Fieri knows good burek when he sees it now.
Every time I visit Bosnia-Herzegovina, I get my fill of fresh, flavorful salads, sandwiches, soups, and sweets. When I’m back in the States, I get my fix anywhere I can, and in recent years I’ve had phenomenal meals at Bosnian-owned restaurants across the country: Toasters in Salt Lake City, Restaurant Sarajevo in Chicago, Balkan Bistro — now FIG — in Charlottesville VA, and Sabur in Somerville MA.
My latest finds, thanks to my parents and my wife, are Balkan Dining (in Buffalo NY) and Old Europe Mediterranean Fine Dining (in Concord NH). My parents found Balkan Dining months ago and have been back several times since for the mixed meat plate, šopska salad (chopped cucumber, tomato, cucumber, and feta), chicken noodle soup, and homemade desserts (they recommend the baklava and the cakes).
My wife has made Old Europe a regular lunch stop on the days she’s working at the New Hampshire state house. At Old Europe, Nina Mujaković and Emin Halilović have produced her new favorite meal, the house salad with shrimp (pictured). Just as important, Nina and Emin give her a chance to catch her breath, collect her thoughts, and feel rejuvenated before getting back to work. It’s been a welcome infusion of Bosnian life and rhythm into an otherwise long and dreary New England winter.
When we ate together at Old World for the first time yesterday, I took Nina’s recommendation to try her “bear sandwich” (also pictured) of feta, tomato, and basil on a pain rustique. It was her favorite as a child with a finicky palate, she says, and I can see why. Emin made me a mean Turkish coffee (two, actually), and I can’t wait to get back to combine a meal with a trip to their new international fresh market / grab-and-go shop next door, Nina’s Pantry.