In Slovenia, we tried an exotic named dish, which is made of seasoned ground meat molded into a small roll and then baked on the grill, for the first time and we both liked it. We both liked those little meat rolls, called cevapcici, because of their simplicity and flavors. The waiter told us the best come from the Balkans. Where cevapcici are the best is hard to say. Some people say that the best ones are in Leskovac (Serbia). Other people say that you haven’t eaten the real stuff until you have tried those in Sarajevo (Bosnia). The only way to find out where the best cevapcici are is to take a road trip and try them.
The road to Leskovac wasn’t short, but it was totally worth it. We arrived in Leskovac in the morning and our first move was hitting the search button to get closer to some good cevapcici. The task wasn’t hard. There is a bunch of restaurants, inns or just food stalls with this meat specialty. The first bite cleared up those rumors: they were absolutely true. Cevapcici were very tasteful and juicy BBQ meat rolls. We both agreed that the ones we ate in Slovenia were only a shadow of the real thing. The best thing was that they weren’t too salty, nor over seasoned, so we got a clear taste of meat mixture. The texture was firmed and not rubbery like those we came across in Slovenia.
Besides meat, they serve their fresh cheese “kaymak”, which is something that impressed me the most. Not only because I’m a cheese fan, but because this cheese is fatty and only one step away from butter. And we all know – fatty means tasty. The other thing you will get beside cevapcici is local flatbread similar to Arabian bread or pita. This bread is spongy and a good match for that protein.
The other thing we got familiar with was a combination of grilled goodness, or, as the locals call it, “leskovacki voz”. That could be translated into Leskovac carriage. The concept is that the waiter brings you all the Serbian specialties one by one and stops only when you are full and can’t put a single bite in your mouth anymore. The other “vehicle” you’ll need is probably an ambulance, because all that good food keeps on coming, and your fragile character doesn’t allow you to say stop – what can go wrong, right?
Our degustation destination number two was 300 miles away – Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. When we came there, we got winter scenery with a lot of snow. To find the best cevapcici, we drove into the old bazaar and the historical and cultural center of the city called Bascarsija. There are around 100 places with this delicate BBQ meat rolls. We tried our luck in four restaurants, known for good cevapcici. The specialty here is different, because the meat is mostly beef and lamb, while in Leskovac it was pork and beef. The taste is maybe even better than in Serbia, but we can’t decide on the clear winner. Both are really extraordinary. However, one thing is clear! Both are light years ahead of Slovenian ones. Beside this treat, you will get only onion and in some places, they have also kaymak. However, don’t expect it to be as good as it’s in Serbia. The big disadvantage is their plates. They serve food on dull metal plates, and the feeling is not pleasant when you eat from that. Anyway, if you are in Sarajevo, try these delicious rolls, and also “burek”, a family of baked filled pastries made of thin flaky dough, filled with meat, vegetable, or cheese and even fruit. In their culture is original burek only with meat and other versions have a different name, like “sirnica” for cheese burek. But don’t worry they will understand you just fine. The sad thing for me is the fact that they don’t have tasty desserts. In principle, they are more or less like baklavas, or rahatlokum varieties which are too sweet and dry for my taste.