A few months ago, I went by my day as usual: woke up, lazed around in the bed just a little more, got up slowly, put the kettle on and turned on my computer. And there it was. An email in my inbox asking if I would be interested in a certain baking competition that was to take place in a Sicilian town called Piana degli Albanesi. In a second, I was wide awake and wanted to jump around from happiness! The man responsible was Francesco Mangiapane, one of the authors for Burek Eaters, who recommended me to the organizers and I can not thank him enough! So, my friend Sanja and I started to pack our bags…
Cannoli & Friends take place in a lovely town Piana Degli Albanesi near Palermo. Town is famous for it’s cannolis and many people told us they’re best in whole Italy. They also told us their secret – they fry them in pork fat!
For the competition we were supposed to make a dessert from our country and we chose Vasa’s cake – an all time favorite in many Serbian homes. My mother used to make this cake so often that about 10 years ago everybody got sick up with it and she just stopped making it. Somehow, it seemed as a logical choice for this occasion
We got a whole Aura pastry shop for ourselves to make our 8 cakes. It was kind of strange working with the pro’s equipment. Spatulas the size of an arm, mixer taller than me… Thank God their great staff was there to help us
We stayed there deep into the night, eating the real Sicilian pizza and drinking their homemade limoncello. Aaah, life is good
The next day people from the Feedback agency that organizes the event took us for regional wine sampling and an amazing dinner at the Antica Stazione Ferroviaria di Ficuzza, the restaurant in an old mansion deep in the countryside.
Chef Saverio Patti prepared 17 course meal using local foods and all that was accompanied with an outstanding selection of wines by local producers.
What you see on the left is Lo sfincionello, something like pizza, but it only has tomato sauce on top and on the right are grilled sausage with almonds, veal rolls with pesto and aromatic potatoes.
Suckling lamb roll and grilled cheese with black honey and red wine reduction seasoned with cinnamon.
Bread with fresh ricotta and olive oil and pistachio and ricotta mousse.
And now, on to the event itself. Here we are with our Vasa’s cake.
Team from Turkey. National baklava champions from the Karaköy Güllüoglu pastry shop. Best baklava ever if you ask me!
Girls from Bosnia and Hercegovina, Sabina Pandžić and Đana Glibanović and their winning tufahijas.
Francesco and Biljana who represented Macedonia with delicious ravanija.
Even though we were there for two days only, it really felt like at least a week, as we spent every free second exploring the town with its very generous and friendly people, tasting and shopping for typical food products and just enjoying the experience and the beautiful countryside, really.
It was an honor to participate and represent our country in this sweet way. All I have left to say now is that this short visit to Piana degli Albanesi left us craving it some more, so I am already making plans to go back there some time in the future and spend that time there reliving the memories of the immaculately organized competition, taking in the spirit of the place and stuffing my face in that glorious food again :)!
Belgrade, 12-13 June, Kalemegdan Fortress, 38°C.
Imagine a picnic or a sophisticated garden party in a huge park that is also an important historical site with thousands of guests. Invite the best local restaurants to cater with top specialties this event, the best beverage manufactures and wine makers to quench your thirst. Combine this with the live music and entertainment, top culinary Chefs to share tips, many delicacy dishes that you can taste the whole day, the company of famous and interesting people and you will get the idea of the first Belgrade Food & Drink Festival.
After New York, London, Prague, Melbourne, Singapore and many other world metropolises, Belgrade too is finally host of the first festival of this kind in the country and in the region. The festival has already gained the status of an official city event and has official support from: the City of Belgrade, The Tourist Organization of Belgrade and the Belgrade Kalemegdan Fortress.
The basic idea of the festival is to offer its visitors the opportunity to have a completely new, epicurean and hedonistic experience for all the senses by tasting the most spectacular delicacies of the 20 most well known restaurants of Serbia. In addition to restaurants, Festival visitors also had a chance to experience the best of what some of the most famous food and drink manufacturers, as well as catering services, wine makers, pastry and dessert makers have to offer. Each exhibitor had their own display stand.
Mamma’s Biscuit House
Mamma’s Biscuit House is one of the most famous and most visited pastry shops in Belgrade. The piggies above are their signature miniature cakes made with ground Plazma biscuits, white chocolate and redcurrants.
Milos was the head chef and pastry chef in restaurant Zaplet for about 7 years. He has recently decided to focus more on pastry, so for a few months now he is a pastry chef in Mamma’s Biscuit House. On the spot, with the assistance of Aca, he made wonderful and huge berry tifle and also gave me the recipe which I will post soon
Zaplet is one of, if not the best Belgrade restaurant internationally famous for successfully combining Serbian with international cuisine. Their head chef Mirko Stojić made lamb kapama, Serbian dish cooked sous-vide. On the top is Greek yogurt and spring onion ice cream and all is topped with Parmesan foam. It is served with homemade focaccia (Zaplet makes their own selection of breads). This was most definitely, the best meal I had on site!
Mirko also made two types of ice cream sandwich cookies. Pistachio that you can see on the photo and extraordinary pop corn flavored, the one that didn’t make to the post as it all melted down
As well as being a pastry shop, Mamma’s biscuit House is also a coctail bar. They saved the day with a huge selection of Mojitos. I don’t think we would have survived the heat if there weren’t them.
Frenki, the cocktail grandmaster, used to work in English restaurants for a long time. Today, he is a manager and a cocktail master in Mamma’s Biscuit House. For them he invented over a 15 different types of Mojitos!
And of course, a huge thank you to Foodbuzz for arranging me to get a press pass as a part of Foodie Correspondence Program!