Throughout the Balkan, the burek (börek) is ubiquitous as the pizza is in the USA, even though neither of them has originated from these regions. The Italians “own” the pizza and the Turks “own” the burek.
Burek (pronounced as “Buh-rek”) is phyllo-encased savory pastry. It may be one of the most significant and, in fact, ancient elements of the Turkish cuisine. The burek is very popular in the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire (modern day-Turkey), especially in North Africa and throughout the Balkans. The Southern Slavic cuisines also feature derivatives of the burek and there are over 15 versions, depending on the country, but somehow, they all have accepted the common 4 fillings: spinach-and-cheese burek , with its pure nutlike flavor; cheese burek ; the meat burek, with ground beef is delectable, though it lacks the exquisite lightness of the others and the pizza-burek, as a compromise for the ones who want it all, and a fair substitute for lent fasting periods is potato filling. That’s what we have experienced in Bistro 399, so far. Also, it’s healthier than the pizza due to the fact that the yeast is not an ingredient in its recipe.
But, what is?
High quality of wheat flour and water. That’s it. That’s the base. Simple. But, what’s significant is the airy lighted touch of the burek master, so soft and easy-going as if it would tear the phyllo otherwise. Gentle handling, neat in the layering and precise in the filling. Every bite will justify the long-lasting experience of the master pastry chef.
When the bureks come straight from the oven, they are superb, the phyllo crust light and delicately flaky, or if you can resist their freshly baked aroma then you’ll have the privilege to taste the phyllo as a merely excellent dough.
The usual soft drinks are available, though it’s worth trying a cup of tart, liquid yogurt, just as the Balkanians do. But, if you want to feel refreshed, then have it at a bite with season salad.
And if it wasn’t the pizza it would have been the burek, but it was a matter of time and strategy for invasion and for proprietary place on the daily menus and place on the dining table. Fortunately, you can savor Bistro 399’s perfect version of burek anytime you want with no more invading than the eyes from the neighboring table sneaking in your plate and arousing the thought of having a bite of your pastry…“One burek for me, please”.