Ok, here we go, a foodie tour of Croatia! I think it will be best summed up by a sign that I saw at a restaurant in Hvar that said, “eating healthy makes you happy, so eat here”. Everything here is fresh, period. I laughed when our guide Dani said, “if there is lemon served with your fish it is not fresh, it’s 2 day old fish”. He has no idea that in Colorado the only day old fish would be trout that you caught and didn’t put back in the stream or maybe a crawdad from the South Platte river (ick). What a huge difference fresh is. That being said, pretty much everything is grilled, Peka style (more later), they do like their french fries and lightly fried calamari or sardines, fruits, veges and herbs picked off a tree or straight from the garden. We ate lamb and chicken for meat. I don’t think I saw beef anywhere, so I’m not sure it’s part of their diet. If it is, we didn’t eat it. I didn’t see one fast food restaurant or a Walmart for that matter. It’s a simpler way of eating and just good. Nema Preblema!
Most of our meals were at Konoba’s. A Konoba is basically a restaurant, but it’s really a family’s home where they cook your meals, serve you lot’s of their home brewed wine and occasionally sing for you! In Croatian tradition any guest who comes to your home gets to taste their grappa and eat a fig. I had never had grappa before, so it was a new experience. I can’t really describe it because it can taste like jet fuel, but most of it was flavored various ways. My favorite was the walnut grappa. Eat a fig, swig the grappa. The whole process it actually quite good and a nice way to start a meal. I think they do this so you eat more! I got a recipe, so I’ll try it and if it works, I will share with you later this summer!
You will hear me say this a lot. The olive oil is hands down the best olive oil that I have ever had. I brought some liquid gold home with me and so happy I did. I have become a convert and need to figure out how I can get it shipped to me. Croatian olive oil is really smooth and not bitter at all. The olive oil in Italy was really strong and made you raise an eyebrow when you would eat it. Not this stuff. Pour it on my friend. As you can see, we were not shy!
Now for the Peka. What is a Peka, you might ask? Well you know I’m going to tell you! It’s brilliant. That’s all I can say! It’s a way of cooking meat and vegetables and it’s so easy, it’s brilliant! Basically, you make a hot fire with wood, let it settle so you have a nice hot pile of ash, you fill a large flat bottomed pan with whatever meat and veges that you like, season with salt, pepper fresh herbs and pour olive oil all over the top. Cover the pan, place it over the coals and more coals on top of the pan. Let it cook for about an hour and a half. That’s it. Peka is so good because whatever you decide to put in, all the flavors develop into something quite amazing. I’ll figure out how to make it at home and let you know. I think it would be kinda perfect to make on a camping trip!
Let’s talk wine! It’s not a hard subject for me to talk about! LOL! The wine in Croatia is most excellent! We were lucky enough to visit the Zlatan Otok vineyard by the sea. What a beautiful setting! The pictures from my last post were some of the vineyards that we saw on our walk. Just breathtaking! Croatian wine is a little known gem and this producer is particularly well known for making top quality, award winning wines. If you can get your hands on some, by all means don’t be shy. It’s the good stuff. Other than this, many land owners has some grape vines and they brew their own. It’s all really lovely and enjoying at lunch made for some really nice afternoon naps!
So to finish up, just a few more pictures of some really great food that we had! The funny thing is that we keep saying is I’d really like a big bowl of fresh arugula and tomatoes with olive oil please! Neme Preblema!