Burek is a popular treat in Bosnia. Originating from the Ottoman Empire a thin filo-like pastry is filled with spinach and salty cheese, though sometimes meat and other fillings. On wandering the aisles of Waitrose a few weeks ago I came across small packets of round bourekia, ideal to use as canapes for a small gathering of friends.
The small green packets contain eight bourekia, filled with spinach, feta and plenty of mint making the taste a real mouth-watering explosion. They can be served hot or cold (personally I feel hot is best but if you are going to head out and enjoy a springtime picnic then cold will suffice).
Bourekia, part of the Waitrose Delicatezze range and found in the chilled aisle, £3.69
When I was in Sarajevo, a Slovene friend text me to instruct me I must do two things, buy some fake designer clothes/accessories (which, as I had been travelling for a month and had already accumulated rather a lot of luggage along the way, I did not do) and to eat some Burek (which I did with pleasure). I tend to tell people, I only go on holiday for the food, and to an extent, that really is true. The relaxation, the adventure, the shopping, the culture, the people, all come a firm second place to potential culinary exploration.
Sarajevo is a very beautiful city, although my first experience there was encountering a man try to pickpocket me while I got onto the tram at the train station. However, as many Bosnians speak English, after me announcing what he had tried to do to a packed tram of locals, he promptly got up and left before we departed the train station for the centre of town. I stayed just off Pigeon Square, right in the thick of it, surrounded by mosques and their minarets and the constant smells of baked bread and grilled meats.
One lunchtime I sat myself down at a restaurant on one of the main roads in the Old Town, not far from Pigeon Square. I diligently ordered a meat and a salty cheese and spinach burek. Both were delicious. Burek is made from a baked or fried pastry and can have various fillings. Sweet versions are also on offer.
Some months ago, while walking in Notting Hill, I noticed a sign on a window which read, “Burek £2.60”. Manzara, a small restaurant on Pembridge Road in Notting Hill, looks nothing more than a small pizzeria and patisserie, but the delights inside are something to indulge in on a Saturday afternoon after searching the treasure trove of Portobello Market. A few weeks ago, we had some rather lovely weather one weekend and as, for once, I had little to do, I popped down to Notting Hill to investigate the burek on offer.
A generous portion of spinach and cheese burek from Manzara, 24 Pembridge Road in Notting Hill, costs just £2.60.
This restaurant is actually Turkish, (burek comes from the Ottoman Empire which is why it is popular in both Turkey and Bosnia), and while I cannot speak for the rest of the menu (although the food does look good when you walk in) the burek is delicious. Unfortunately, they currently only offer spinach and cheese burek, and although the cheese is not quite as salty as the one I tasted in Sarajevo, it is perfect to munch on either wandering the streets, at home (if you can wait that long) or in their, fully-licensed, small, restaurant.