Sunday 16 December 2018

Bosnian and Herzegovinian Supper Club at The Bristol Cookhouse

At the beginning of the month I was kindly invited along to my first ever supper club, held at The Bristol Cookhouse. Being only a short stroll away from my home on Gloucester Road, I had been wanting an opportunity to visit and this was the perfect event. 
Having absolutely no idea on what to expect and not having tried Bosnian cuisine before, I was really quite excited. 

I arrived just as the first course was being served up, generous servings of homemade pickled vegetables, grown in the garden of host Dino Zelanika and a glass of Sok of višanja- sour cherry codial. 

Pictured here we have, pickled carrots with garlic, olive oil and parsley. Turšija- salty vegetable pickle. Shredded mixed rainbow pickle. The aubergine being my favourite, perfectly pickled but with a beautiful spicy kick and the carrots were something I never gave much thought tomin regards to pickling but worked so well! 

Having arrived to the Supper club alone, I was worried I wouldn’t fit in, possible eat alone and generally feel out of place but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was warmly greeted by Dino and sat with a table of personal friends and former mentors of the host and it was lovely to meet such a diverse range of people. Bosnian food is very Mediterranean in the way that it’s small plates, meant for sharing. The mezze like dishes meant we sat and discussed each dish, each favouring our own elements. My favourite of the night being the incredible Maslena Pogač- Tear and share butter bread. This loaf was impeccably laminated, spiralled in to bite size rolls and oozed deliciously warm butter. Our table didn’t leave a crumb! 

With breads must come cheeses! Or more importantly, meats and cheeses! An absolute winner of a course, a plate bursting with cured meats and specialty cheeses from Livno, Balkan prosciutto and dry beef salami. A top this selection was an incredible pine bud syrup which I could of licked clean off the plate. Almost like a balsamic glaze in flavour but much sweeter. 

The relish in the middle was the stunning Ajvar, made from peppers and aubergine.

After our mezze plates we then moved on to a clear soup. Made from homemade beef and chicken stock, this felt almost medicinal. That century old broth you’d drink to combat colds and ills and warmed you from within. Accompanied by a little semolina dumpling that sat like a little duck in a pond. It was the perfect way to cleanse the pallete before the main course.

Starting to feel full, we moved on to the mains. 
Burek- A Bosnian meat pie with beef and lamb was simple and rustic in flavour. Encased in light filo pastry and cooked into an individual spiral, it’s the dish that almost broke me! 
Zeljanica- Bosnian cheese and greens pie. This was stunning. Light in both flavour and texture, I loved it. Not too unlike the Greek Spanakopita, the cheese was mild and creamy and sat between light flaky filo. 
Grasak sa Piletinom- Chicken and pea stew. This beautiful stew reminded me of the food my nan would make. It was perfect winter food. Simple in ingredients yet full of flavour and texture. 

I enjoyed the Zeljanica so much that Dinos wonderful mother and cook of the evening, Stella, let me take some leftovers home. I have no shame when it comes to asking for more!
Not quite finished for the evening, I was struggling! Could I even fit in dessert? The answer is of course yes. Always yes! 

We had the Baklava sa orasima- Baklava with walnuts and sour cherries. 

This was deliciously soft and unlike any kind of baklava I’ve tried before. The cherry/walnut combination almost gave it a Bakewell likeness and the juice of the fruit gave the pastry its softness. Served with a side of poached quince, gave it that contrasting lightness. Quince was a first for me and something I would like to eat more of. It wasn’t too dissimilar to a pear in its texture and flavour, being very delicate, almost aromatic. 

I had the most lovely night at The Bristol Cookhouse and of course being a guest of the most delightful host was a bonus. The next Bosnian supperclub will be held on the 2nd of February with tickets purchased here

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