Monday, May 28, 2007

On the Road #7: The Best of Bosnia

I wrote this on the train on the way back home. I am short of much more money than I care to think about (all my fault, by the way). I did make it back to Crumbs to get some of those mini cupcake samplers to bring back with me. Everybody loves 'em, and I photographed the hell out of them so I can try to reproduce them in the future.

But my last culinary experience was not with Crumbs. I still had lunch ahead of me when I got to the station (early), so I checked my largest bag and went in search of one or two more places I read about in the Frommer’s guide.

The one I eventually went to, in the Garment District, was a Balkan restaurant of all things. On 38th St., across from the right-out-of-John-Waters-imagination store of Spandex World (Aren’t they running a booth at HonFest?), is Djerdan Burek. This place serves food from the Balkan region of Southeastern Europe, and their namesake menu item is burek, a pizza-sized creation of fillo dough stuffed with your choice of spinach, cheese or meat.

This is not a light and flaky fillo dough, either. This is a hearty, bite-right-into-it fillo. The slice of burek that I did order, for $4.95 (only $4 if you get it to go), was the meat burek. Filled with ground beef, it smelled and tasted quite good, though with so much air and space (this is a pastry, mind you), I expected more meat inside. But I liked it, and can honestly say I was satisfied enough to want to return, if I do find myself back in that area.

Along with the burek I ordered a Diet Coke and a Jadranka blueberry juice made in Bosnia (the waitress got a kick out of me asking for this drink). It was reinforced with apple and sour cherry, and it was pretty tasty. It was also $2.50 for what couldn’t be more than 8 oz. of juice. But I don’t get it every day.

I did break down and order the baklava, made with the same, hearty fillo. This not-so-delicate baklava was difficult to break apart with my fork, but was still some of the best I have had. Not all dry and gummy like some you find in restaurants. It was brought out fresh and was just too good. I happily forked over another $3.95 just for that. Altogether, this early lunch (no breakfast today) cost me $13 before tip.

And still I wanted to try one final place recommended in my travel guide. Along the way back to Penn Station, past the kosher pizza and sushi place and the halal bakery and countless more spandex stores, was Gray’s Papaya. Gray’s has been voted the best hot dog in the city, and it’s certainly the cheapest. Not an eat-in type of place, it has hot dogs and fruit smoothies (hence the papaya?) at unheard-of low prices. Two dogs and a soda come to $3.50. I just got a plain dog, sans chili, for $1.25. It was a tasty hot dog, but with all that Bosnian food filling my stomach I could only finish some of it. I headed back to the train station, not wanting to eat again until I found my way back to Baltimore.


Fairfax said...

SOunds like you had a great weekend. My chef friends, Cat & DOg were in NYC this weekend, too. Maybe i can have them guest blog about the places they ate.