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Keep Belgrade close to your heart: Serbian gift guide part IV

Belgrade will always be in a Beogradjanka’s heart, but this gift will make sure it’s on the heart, too:

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This pendant is sold on Etsy for $9.00 here. As much as I like this, I wish the map was in Cyrillic, or offered people the street they lived on. Svetogorska represent!

If you’re loved one isn’t from Belgrade, never fear. You can find kits online for a one inch magnifying glass pendant and make the necklace with any map you have on hand for a thoughtful homemade gift for someone missing home or travel.

But if you’re not the do-it-yourself type, I’ll bet you can ask the Etsy seller for a custom map to keep your favorite places nearby.

Merry Christmas Eve to my non-orthodox readers!

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Belgrade for the holidays, part dva

So, you want to send your favorite Beogradjanka a gift, but they already have the amazing books I recommended yesterday? Look no further, because I’m featuring Serbian gifts all week, and I have this gem for your favorite Tesla fan.

What’s this? Why, only a signed limited edition print of Tesla attacking Edison with an x-ray gun on a mad cat while the Wardenclyffe transmits in the background, courtesy of http://www.theoatmeal.com.

edisons_nightmare

One thing’s for sure: it’s not something they already have.

Get it here.

 


Detective RHOB and the quest for Puerto Rico’s perfect pina colada

A few months ago, Muz had a business trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and I sweetly asked to tag along. As we packed, I talked about my plans to explore Old San Juan and soak up the sun. Truthfully, I had a secret agenda: to find the best pina colada in the city. Sure, RHOB is always up for a cultural cocktail, but there was more to my quest than meets the eye. I, dear readers, consider myself something of a pina colada conocedora. My parents like pina coladas, I like pina coladas, and I am often required to make them at summer family events. A pina colada has four basic ingredients: rum, coconut cream, pineapple juice, and lime. It sounds deceptively simple, but the rum and ratio of ingredients is the difference from a good pina colada and sugary swill.  I figured there was no better place to sample the frothy, coconut goodness than at its birthplace in San Juan. It’s Puerto Rico’s national drink, after all.

The origin of the pina colada is a bit of a mystery: it was certainly invented fifty years ago in San Juan, but the Hilton Caribe and Restaurant Barrachina both claim to be the birthplace of this perfect beachside drink. I thought, What would Olivia Benson do? and decided to try them both.

I first went to Barrachina, located in the heart of Old San Juan (OSJ). OSJ is a touristy spot, and Barrachina was no exception. It was filled with cruise ship day trippers and sunburned conventioneers. Undeterred, I saddled up to the bar and asked the bartender for a pina colada with light rum. And proceeded to be very, very disappointed. The pina colada came. out. of. a. MACHINE. I don’t know how I missed it when I was talking to the bartender, but the machine was right there. A swirling, pre-made pina colada machine that looked like it was straight out of 7-11. HERESY.

Needless to say, I felt a bit cheated. I’ll bet they didn’t make it out of a machine in the 1960s. The drink itself was pretty good–a little heavy on the pineapple–but I walked out thinking that Barrachina was relying on a tourist trade that rarely returned.

I moved on to the Hotel Caribe, in a less-than-ideal location between Condado and Old San Juan. They had signs celebrating the 50th anniversary of the pina colada, which I thought was a good sign…until I asked the waitress for a pina colada and she walked away without asking what kind of rum I wanted. Uh oh. Rum is a very diverse spirit–there’s light and dark and gold and spiced and overproofed and premium–all without even getting into brand names. But I’ll say this: it looked pretty. It tasted…pretty much the same as the Barrachina one. I heard blenders running, so I presume (and hope) that it didn’t come out of a machine. Yet it seemed again a bit too pineapple-ish and acidic for my taste. After sampling some others around San Jan over the course of four days, I came to one amazing conclusion: the perfect pina colada was the one that I made at home. Here’s the recipe:

RHOB’s perfect pina colada 
  1. 1 can Coco Lopez coconut cream (do not substitute)
  2. 5 ounces light rum
  3. 8 oz. pineapple juice (don’t go cheap here–too sweet is deadly)
  4. 4 cups crushed ice
  5. Juice and slice of one lime in each glass
  6. Here’s the kicker–a tiny, tiny float of dark rum. Not enough for you? Dust a dash of nutmeg on top.

Save the maraschino cherry for a Shirley Temple. Pour in glasses and serve.

It wasn’t my most difficult mystery, but it was among the tastiest. Lesson learned: sometimes the answers are right under your nose…in a frosted glass with a slice of lime in it.


Does a post count

if it’s only a sentence? Sorry guys, but sometimes a housewife’s work is never done. 


Stacks and stacks

Instead of writing a blog post today, I organized my book case. (so focused!) anyone know what to do with used travel books? It seems a shame to just throw them away.

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Revelation in Paris

I’ve come to the conclusion that there is not nearly enough butter or cheese in my life. 

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(Sorry for the delay in posting. It’s easier to find a Big Mac avec frommage than free wifi in Paris.)


A Dog’s Day in Belgrade

If a dog could talk, what would it say? Most dogs would probably have some variation of “Hi! I love you! Give me food. Is that a ball? Give me the ball, give me the ball, ball ball ball…” Not exactly something I’d like to hear on a daily basis. 

Milos, of course, is different. He’s possessed with a superior intellect–okay, he only knows how to sit–but an even more superior life story. In one year, he’s seen nine countries, learned commands in two languages, and made friends everywhere he goes. What would he say if he could talk? I think he’d explain why he misses Belgrade.  

Everyone asks my owners about life in Belgrade, but no one asks me. It’s probably for the best. My owners put a good spin on our new life, but I know better. They talk about spicy foods and how nice it is to see old friends. I’m eating the same dry kibble and sniffing new dogs. I was even bitten my first month here–how’s that for a welcome?

Thanks for nothing, lab

Pablo

In Belgrade, I had a daily ritual. I would go to Pionirski or Tasmajdan dog park and play with my pals while RHOB practiced Serbian with the other dog owners. Sometimes I’d see my friend Pablo, an 11-year old Frenchie. He looks pretty good for an old guy.

He also had pretty good moves for an old guy. Pablo liked to remind me that he was in charge. A lot.  

 The park is the epicenter of Serbian dog life: students, pensioners, and housewives would gather for conversation and gossip. Strays would wander in, looking for handouts. Coffee was served, cigarettes were offered, and people were constantly telling RHOB where to go for her next trip. Most of the great restaurants she “discovered” were from dog park tipsters. Not that I went to any restaurants, mind you…
After the park, I would walk by the local bank and get a massage from the gun-toting guard. This was one of RHOB’s favorite times of the day–to an see intimidating man talk to me in a baby voice and rub my belly.

Sometimes, the pretty bank teller would help him out. Now THAT’s living, folks. Have you seen Serbian women? If these ladies had beagle ears I would have never left.

Speaking of leaving, everyone in town asked if I was going to stay in Belgrade. About ten people I barely knew offered to take me if RHOB had trouble bringing me to the States. I’d like to attribute that to my charm and good looks, but it’s also because Serbians are serious dog lovers. I could barely walk down the street without someone giving me a scratch or two. I guess that’s to be expected in a city where dogs “work” in shops and are in murals all over town.

Americans are more reserved. Their dogs aren’t as social, and only a few strangers play with me. I miss the days of finding burek on the ground, being invited into coffee shops, and people telling RHOB that I should be unleashed. Of course, the one time she finally unhooked me, I ran into my bank to find the guard. The leash went back on.

Afternoons in Belgrade, I’d curl up in my chair and help RHOB write her blog posts. Now that she’s busy looking for work and housing, my blogging expertise is rarely needed. Fortunately, I’ve come up with a new hobby here: playing in the nearby tennis courts. Maybe this place isn’t so bad after all.

Nole might be the most famous Serbian tennis player, but I’m aiming to be the best Serbian tennis fan. Watch out, America. There’s a new dog in town. Now, give me that ball! Ball ball ball ball ball ball ball…..