Balkan Sausage Sunday


Image result for Bosnian passport stamp

More accurately Bosnia and Herzegovina was the targeted country for the Culinary-passport this week when I visited Euro Grill & Café in Charlotte.  This is a restaurant & market in a former residence on Central.  It’s pretty easy to spot and while there are no parking places in front there are plenty in the back and you can enter from there as well.  You walk into the market portion and while there are only two aisles they have a nice variety of the limited number of items they carry including meats & cheeses in cold cases.

From this area you take a couple of steps down through a door into the small seating area of the restaurant.  It has 5 tables that seat between 2 and 4 people.  There was also seating on the front porch too as I saw later when I was perusing the market, which also answered the question of where those other people who came in and paid for food were dining.  It’s a family run place based on the conversation I heard coming from the kitchen.  The young lady waiting on me most of the time was the daughter of the gentleman running the place.  They were both very nice with genuine smiles when they talked to you.

There were several things on the menu that I wanted to try but since I can’t eat everything in one trip I went for a combo that got me small portions of two of their specialties, the cevapi & sudzukice.  To drink I was planning to have a Croatian beer but since it was 11:30 Sunday in NC I had to alter my plans and try something else.  That something else was a Fanta Shokata.  I’ve given up drinking sodas for a couple of years now but special occasions call for exceptions and a Fanta concoction in a blue bottle seemed special enough.

It was quite different and interestingly tasty.  On first sip it started with a very floral taste that resolved into a citrusy kick as the carbonation rolled across the tongue.  It was pretty sweet but as I said very good and if I still drank sodas on a regular basis I could see adding this to the rotation.  Turns out this is elderberry & lemon soda which pretty much explains my first impression.  This wasn’t fast food but the wait was reasonable since I could actually hear them preparing it.

The specialties were two types of sausages.  The cevapis are small beef sausages that look very much like breakfast links you see in the grocery store.  The sudzukice are the longer, smoother sausages and are spicier that the cevapi.  The bread they were served on is Bosnian flatbread called lepinja and was fanstatic.  There was a side of chopped onions and fries as you can see and the condiments were ketchup, house made sour  cream and roasted vegetable spread.  The cevaps were caseless beef rolls lightly seasoned and grilled and there were 5 of them.  The sudzukice were beef but had more spices including some heat and were about twice the length of the others and there were two of them.  The homemade bread and the number and configuration of the sausages made eating it like a sandwich problematic so I ate some with the fork and some I tore the bread halves in half and made mini sandwiches.  I alternated adding the roasted vegetables and sour cream as I ate.  The roasted vegetables (ajvar) I asked about since I had not idea what it was.  It is made primarily from peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes and interestingly the eggplant was the most distinctive of the three to me.  The fries, while being standard fare were cooked just about perfectly.  After finishing this I decided I’d try some of the Bosnian coffee I’d heard about.

This was an interesting set up.  There was an island of grounds floating on the coffee underneath so when I poured it there was no way it was going to be ground free.  The sugar cubes were dense squares of sweetness whose crystals were not as big as I’m used to but it worked.  It started out very hot but cooled quickly and had a nice strong flavor.  The copper pot held two servings which I finished in less than 15 minutes which earned me a chiding from the owner.  He asked how I liked the coffee and I told him I did and although he hesitated and smiled when he said it he informed me that Bosnian coffee was to be lingered over and enjoyed in small sips over the course of 45 mins to and hour or more.  Ooops, cultural faux pas.  Either way it was good.  The little pink thing was like a Turkish delight.  I wasn’t sure about the flavor at the time but it also had a flowery sweet taste and later I saw they sold a rose version of the candy in the store so that’s what I’m going with.   The water is there for two reasons as far as I can tell; one to give you something else to sip between the lingering sips of coffee and at the end to rinse the grounds out of your teeth, which I think is honestly the most important of the two.

After paying up I checked out the market and wound up buying some Slovenian wood smoked dry cured sausage (that got an approving nod at the register), some sheep cheese from Bulgaria, and some pâtés from Croatia and Slovenia.  I can’t believe I didn’t buy any crackers.

I went deliberately at a time I hoped wasn’t busy but by the time I left I would have expected this place to have more traffic that it did.  The food was top notch and the folks friendly plus a market with stuff you can’t pronounce, how is it not swamped?

If you made it this far check out the link here for a recipe, music, and other stuff – Tell Me More

Meals & Wheels

Food Truck Saturday

After taking a couple weeks off during vacation I hit an event I’d been waiting on for a couple of months.  The folks who run Rock Hill’s Food Truck Friday rescheduled the July event to coincide with the Saturday opening ceremonies of the BMX World Championships being held right here in Rock Hill, SC.

In addition to the usual area around Fountain Park loaded with food trucks and live music they blocked off a few more streets, doubled the number of food trucks, added a kids ride and bounce area, increased the number and location of tables to sit and dine, had twice the beer tents,  another stage with music, and finally an area where they had guys doing bike riding stunts.  Whew, that’s a lot of stuff for a Saturday evening.

It was hot.  At 6:00pm it was 96 degrees or 36 depending on your flavor of temperature.  So naturally my first goal was to secure a beverage from the closest beer station.  The beer stations had local craft brews, some not so local craft brews and a couple of national beers.  I was trying to decide between a stout and a brown ale which I figured would be lighter on this semi-hellish day.  The woman waiting on me said “You want to sample it” when I voiced that thought.  It took a second before I realized she wasn’t asking me and she had the tap going before I could respond.  As she gave me the cup she told me she and her cohort had just sampled both and I needed to make an informed decision.  I was also presented with a sample of the coffee cream stout.  Both were actually good but the brown ale was a bit hoppier and more bitter than I was expecting while the stout was smoother and went down well so that’s was the starter beer.  First hurdle cleared it was time to examine the food options.

There were a number of taco & sandwich trucks as well as BBQ of different varieties.  Ethnically inspired trucks, a couple of seafood trucks and desert trucks with those ice cream & Italian ice doing a brisk business.  I settled on Thai meatball sliders with cilantro lime rice from the Plated Palette food truck.

The two beef meatballs were covered with a Thai sweet chile sauce and served with a cucumber slice and spinach on a soft slider bun.  They were good but I have to admit they were a tad awkward as they wanted to shoot out of the bun with each bite.  The rice seemed light on the lime and just a little better on the cilantro so it turned out to be mostly just rice.  I did find a nice place to sit which occasionally got a wind assisted spray from the fountain.  A bonus was it was only a short jaunt to the BMX trick area for some after dinner entertainment.


After that it was time to obtain another brew and contemplate dessert possibilities.  This time I went the opposite direction of the stout and opted for a Catawba Brewing White Zombie witbier.  It was lighter and a little more refreshing than the stout.  I found a nice spot with a reasonably regular breeze to nurse my zombie and people watch as I continued to contemplate dessert.  This really was a world event as I saw folks from not only USA teams but from Canada, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Australia, South Africa, and from their speech some from eastern Europe.  Those were just the ones who advertised their teams so no telling how many other countries were represented.  Nice exposure for the local area.

I finally decided on dessert and since it had plunged to 94 degrees by 8:00pm I elected to have a root beer float from Hillbilly Bob’s Homemade Soda.

Here’s what I can tell you about Hillbilly Bob’s root beer float.  It is not sugar free, it is quite good and they float a single serve vanilla ice cream cup, Blue Bell in this case, on top of that root beer.  Well not the cup, just the ice cream.  I didn’t bother to check my blood sugar when I got home because I didn’t want to blow the glucometer.  To go with my dessert I was treated to a band of 4 white dudes doing a credible job on a Prince tune.

Despite the heat it was a great evening and even though it won’t be as grand I’m already looking forward to next month’s Food Truck Friday.


H&K Lunch

Lebanon II

In this case H&K is not referring to the firearms company but hummus & kebabs.  My last run at Lebanese food was at a great restaurant in Columbia, SC (see the post).  I decided to try a Lebanese place marginally closer in Matthews, NC called Kabab-Je.

They are located in a very busy shopping complex and you have to look closely to find them among all the other restaurants and shops.  They have a large outdoor seating area and if the weather had been just a few degrees cooler I’d have opted to enjoy al fresco dining.  The interior has plenty of seating and I was immediately shown to a table.  In the middle of the restaurant is a rectangle of display cases showing food available to take out as well as what you can order to eat in.

Even though I was by myself I ordered the hummus appetizer because, well hummus.

It did not disappoint.  Their hummus is thinner and creamier than most of that you find in grocery stores.  When the young lady brought it there was a well of space in the center that was designed to hold some additional olive oil if you wanted it.  I did.  The hummus was served with a warm, fresh pita that proved to be a delicious hummus delivery system.  I got about half way through the hummus before my kafta arrived.

The kafta was two skewers of spiced minced lamb and beef charcoal grilled.  They were served with grilled vegetable and basmati rice.  The vegetables; peppers, zucchini, onions, carrots, green beans, and yellow squash were soft and lightly seasoned.  The rice was basmati with saffron and topped with some carrots and some golden raisins that added a bit of sweetness.  The kafta was excellent.  It slid off the skewers easily and still had plenty of juice that enhanced the seasoned meat quite well.  It was fork cutting tender as you’d expect from properly grilled ground meat. The mixed lamb and beef had a nice flavor and was complimented by the rice and vegetables.  I’m not sure the photo does justice to the size of the portions but there was a lot of food here and after eating half the hummus I had to walk away with significant amount of rice still on the plate.  Oh, the lettuce was sacrificed as well.

The food was top notch and the server was friendly, attentive and fast.  That was something I noticed.  They had plenty of staff and none of them were dawdlers. They got people in and out without making anyone feel rushed at all.  If they were closer I’d be a regular.

If you missed the last Tell Me More page for Lebanon click the link now.