My Little Zagreb By 

SWEET STREET


Spring might not be the most ideal time to do a retrospective of the cool pastry shops in town (since we’re practically minutes away from trying out new bathing suits in merciless shopping mall cabins that harshly reveal all our imperfections), we couldn’t resist the new, pretty, seductive “girls” that are sprinting forward without stopping, leaving old ladies unprepared for handling novelties, quality, individual approach, some new marketing tools far behind… So we decided to make this sacrifice (we have a great excuse/motto: all for the job) and try out the delicacies one last time before the beach, summer, and bikinis, even if it meant we had to starve from tomorrow on. Do a gazillion push-ups. Tape our mouths.

In the last several years, the Zagreb gastronomy scene has truly blossomed, with a new café, bistro or diner opening quite often… There are plenty of new pastry shops, but we decided to take a short tour of old Vlaška, since new, irresistible seductresses found their spots in that little craft street of ours only within only several hundred meters. So let’s see:

ENGLISH DISDAIN IS A MYTH

Some come back from studying in London with a British accent, and others come back with ideas for business. Delighted by English deserts, Stella Fortuna opened the Cup&Cake pastry shop in Vlaška. “The idea about cakes didn’t come over night. After I decided to leave the corporate business, I called my friend, who was starting the Cookie Factory at the time, and told him that I’d like to bake. He thought I was kidding, but several months later, I was baking at Cookie. At the same time, my business partner Monika Kos was involved in the story of Kulinarijat and Mak na Konac. After a while, we decided to team up and to offer Zagreb something new – traditional British pastry”, Stella says.

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Once you enter this small but cosy space and see all those cakes, muffins, and many other delicacies, you don’t know where to begin. “Many people don’t know this, but cheesecake originated in England. Despite that, people get a bit sceptical when they come for the first time, primarily because of the combination of ingredients they aren’t used to, like white chocolate, green tea, and cream cheese in the Elizabeth. But all prejudice vanishes with the first bite”, says Stella. One of the most famous cakes is the Queen Victoria cake, which was served at her wedding. “It’s a butter sponge with cream, raspberry jam, and fresh fruit. Apart from this one, some of the most well-known British deserts are tarts, lemon curd, and puddings”, Stella tells us while we’re sitting on the café terrace drinking fine coffee. Apart from the cakes, Cup&Cake offer tea from Harissa, so you can truly feel as if you’ve quickly dropped by to London.

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FRENCH CHIC

Literally ten steps away from Stella and Monika (we counted, we swear), young Mia Salman hosted us in the modern pastry paradise, the Meet Mia pastry shop. “When they ask me why I decided to do this, I tell them that I simply love making cakes”, Mia says with a laugh. And when you love something and enjoy it, inspiration comes as no problem.

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“Every two to three weeks we offer something new, and almost all cakes are made by my original recipes”, she says. Mia is “different” from others in her modern approach to pastry making. “What makes modern approach different are tastes and shapes. A lot of things are blended together, spices are used, cakes aren’t too sweet – they’re simply rich in taste. Apart from that, they are each made individually; there are almost none of them in the shape of a cake and cut into pieces”, she explains. She often names the cakes after her friends, and she offered us Queen Nikki and Snowhite, which contain tonka. And while we’re melting away in sweets (mumbling “ooh, it’s soo good, soo lovely…”) in this cutely decorated space, Mia tells us that tonka isn’t one of her friends – it’s a spice she loves to use since it goes well with everything. It reminded me of cinnamon, Lidija of coconut, and Ana of vanilla. If you wish to see what it reminds you of, and, of course, not only that, make sure to come meet Mia 😉

“Mmmmmm... kako je fino!”
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CRAFTWORK

Afterwards, we somehow managed to walk to the statue of Šenoa (whose dad was the bishopric pastry chef, BTW) and rolled down to the round pink tables decorated with delicate flowers to have a chat with our last host – the owner of Fine torte pastry shop. The local approach and home-made flavour of the cakes is what owner Silvija Trbara is particularly proud of.

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“I started from my home, from my basement. In the beginning, I had internet delivery, but two years ago, I managed to find this space, which fully met all my expectations. My assistant and I do everything on our own. We cook the creams ourselves, we don’t use any artificial mixtures or sweeteners… we even put fresh milk in coffee”, says Silvija. And while we enjoy the Imotski cake, Silvija says that the Dora (named after Dora Krupićeva) might be the star of the house since its three layers of sponge cake, almonds, raspberries, vanilla cream, and maraschino make it “most wanted”. The name of the shop also came naturally. Silvija was born in Bosnia, and in “Bosnia everything is fine (“fino”)… J fine girl, fine guy, even the funerals are fine (Silvija says with a laugh) so the cake must be fine as well.” And the coffee is fine too, we might add, as are the desert wines they serve… so head out to Fine torte, to which we says cheers!!!

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And that was it! We were also thinking of visiting the Amelie pastry shop. We actually did that several days later, but the owner forgot about our arrangement and didn’t show up. Regardless of that and following the “no hard feelings” mantra (we later received our apology), we treated ourselves with some cake and coffee at Amelie, gathering strength for new blogging assignments that did welcome us that day. We had the best intention of taking photos of the fancy Amelie, but Lidija left her camera battery at home so that went down the drain as well! Amelie simply wasn’t in our cards. It sometimes happens that way in life. And if one is not around (in the text), you can do without them… as the old adage says!

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Tasted and written by Lidija Šeatović, Diana Martinaj and Ana Hečej

Photo: Lidija Šeatović

Translation: Nevena Erak

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