Behind the Belgrade Bulge: Trpkovic Bakery
Last week I crossed yet another item off the Belgrade Bucket List: follow the advice of commenter Bojan to try raspberry pastry at Trpkovic bakery. Going to Trpkovic felt like destiny. In addition to Bojan, two other people had told me to try Trpkovic last week. They suggested (really, demanded) that I try the burek. Burek is a phyllo pastry “snack” in the Balkans, which means it would be a meal anywhere else. Meat, cheese or spinach is mixed with egg and cream, layered between phyllo dough and brushed with oil. Repeat this process a zillion times, bake it in the oven, and voila! Burek.
Trpkovic bakery isn’t exactly a Belgrade secret. As I approached the door, there were two lines of people waiting. The line out the door was for burek, and the shorter one was for pastries.
As I waited in the burek line for ten minutes, I was reminded of the “Soup Nazi” Seinfeld episode. There was clearly a method to Trpkovic, and I wasn’t sure what it was. I knew about the two lines in advance, but as I got closer, the process seemed specific and confusing. Usually there’s only one size of burek, but people seemed to be receiving burek of different sizes. Were they asking for it by the gram? I had no idea how many grams were in a small burek. I couldn’t hear orders because the bakery was loud and people were ordering in rapid Serbian. I didn’t want to seem like a Trpkovic twit or worse, be told, “No burek for you!”
I told the woman behind the counter that I wanted a small cheese burek to go. This was obviously wrong because she paused. (She had been dishing out burek like a machine.) Then she nodded and disappeared behind a mass of other women taking orders. A second woman asked what I wanted, and I told her I wanted 100 grams of rasperry strudlica (per Bojan’s suggestion). I wasn’t sure if I could order pastry from the burek line, but this seemed okay. She muttered something and handed me a white bag 10 seconds later–just as my burek appeared. It was like magic. Stressful, Serbian magic.
I was running late to meet a friend so I brought the bag with me. I felt triumphant and hungry. I almost forgot to take a photo before I tore into it.
As I suspected, the confusion was totally worth it. The burek wasn’t too crunchy or greasy. The amount of cheese filling was perfect. I made my Serbian pal try a bite for an “expert” second opinion. She said it was the best burek she’s tasted.
After that, we were on a roll—or specifically, rolica. I’d asked for strudlica, but either the waitress didn’t hear me, or rolica was the closest she could get. Either way, these were amazing. They were light, flaky, and burst open with raspberry filling. I took a photo of them in the bag because we were eating them too quickly to guarantee a photo later.
People, the Belgrade Bucket List is going to give me a Belgrade bulge. But it was worth the wait–and the new waistline. Many thanks for all the Belgrade Bucket List suggestions—keep ‘em coming!
Trpkovic Bakery has three locations: Nemanjina 32, Dimitrija Tucovića 60, and Milorada Budžalića 6. I went to the Nemanija location, about 200 meters south of Slavija Circle.