Croatia (Coast) Part II

My last post was about food from continental Croatia and stuff I had while I was there on my recent trip. I also spent time at the coast, that part of Croatia is called Dalmatia. I spent three weeks on the Island of Brač in our summer house. And boy does that sound fancier than it is. It is a 200 year old stone house badly in need of renovation. It is a little bit of a Robinson Crusoe tourism at this point, lol. But I love that place, and I love that house. It is very modest, but it is a place of peace and rest and pure enjoyment. Most importantly, you are in the center of a small town and a two minute walk to the beach.
This is not that kind of blog, but still, here is a picture of the center of the town:

And for another representation of the place I stayed at, here is our makeshift barbecue spot, looks silly but trust me, it produces the nicest and tastiest meat, fish and veggies! Oldie but a goodie…
We would just marinate the meat with little olive oil and salt and pepper for an hour or two and then grill it. So simple but so good, when you have good quality ingredients. When done just a few drops of our delicious olive oil (we actually buy it on the Island, it is the best in Croatia so everyone stocks up for the year) which is by the way, one of the tastiest in the world (just like our lamb and prosciutto, I promise), and you have a delicious meal. And some potato salad and fresh tomatoes. Ooh boy, I am drooling. 
We also grilled a ton of fresh caught fish on this grill, pictured underneath is Mediterranean Sea Bass:
Cuisine in Dalmatia is typically Mediterranean one. Lots of seafood, olive oil (often in combination with garlic and parsley), lots of wonderful pasta dishes, a ton of vegetables and fresh fruits. Very yummy and healthy! My dad is from Dalmatia and my mom even born in Zagreb, grew up in Dalmatia too, so I had a lot of this food growing up…
One of the cheaper fishes in Croatia, often overlooked, are Sole. We prepare it boiled and I love it just with olive oil, salt and pepper, fresh bread and green lettuce salad made with simple vinaigrette. Another common side dish is boiled mangold (Blitva, Swiss Chard) also seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. This leafy green veggie is typical for Croatia and very commonly served as a side dish to many proteins.
Here is a picture of the Sole after it was cleaned, it was impossible to take a recognizable picture after cooking it…
One of my favorite dishes in the world is a black risotto, or a squid ink risotto as most people call it. Even though it’s actually made form cuttlefish, not squid. This is also a very simple dish made with obviously cuttlefish and its ink, rice,  olive oil, white vine, garlic and parsley, salt and pepper. That is pretty much it, simplicity at its best!
I know, I know. It doesn’t look very appetizing. But it is what it is, cuttlefish is yucky and black risotto is, well, black. And yucky looking too….but oh man does it taste awesome. It is a crime how expensive squid ink is in the US (or I have all the wrong places to look) because this is one of those dishes I have only when I go home…everyone should try this at least once, so many people are grossed out by it, they have no clue what they are missing…

Clams. I LOVE CLAMS. I hate mussels though. But these babies went into the most traditional way of preparing clams, prawns and such in Croatia, called Buzara. Again, olive oil, white vine, garlic and parsley, salt and pepper. No ink haha. You cook the clams in a big pot with these ingredients just until they are open. Serve over pasta or with nice fresh bread. Oh, heaven.

For a little break in all this seafood – Pizza! Yes, we have great pizza. Not as good as in Italy, but sooo much better than typical American pizza. I love our crust and ingredient combos so much…when in US I tend to go just with cheese pizza because I want to taste the dough, and too much ingredients just kills it for me. Of course, the dough needs to be awesome for full experience, and back home it is. This would be a good time to say sorry for not so great pictures again. 99% of them were shot in 3 seconds before the food disappeared, I had a very hungry boy to feed and pizza was in most danger from him.

Dalmatia is filled with Taverns where you can eat local specialties and often they have rotisserie grilled lamb, I also talked about this in my last post. Dalmatia’s lamb is best though. I think it is the humidity and saltines in the air and quality of the grass…yes, I have no clue what I am talking about 😀 but it’s the best!

Before we went back to Zagreb, it was my mom’s birthday, and we took her out to eat in a tavern, most of us had the lamb, my mom had the bean stew with pasta (she was feeling ill and needed her comfort food, it was very delicious and I was a bit jealous) and my dad had Pašticada. To make it simpler on everyone, here is what wikipedia says about it:
Pašticada is a stewed beef dish cooked in special sauce, popular in Croatia. It is often called Dalmatinska pašticada because it originates in Dalmatia. It requires long and meticulous preparation, which includes marinating the beef in vinegar, lemon and rosemary for at least 24 hours. The marinated beef is then cooked with carrots, cloves, nutmeg, red wine and diced prosciutto for two hours, depending on the amount of meat. In Croatia, it is a meal for important feasts, including weddings and Mardi Gras. It is usually served with gnocchi or wide noodles.
 I would add that every Pašticada I ever had also had prunes in it and was served over gnocchi. It makes it absolutely delicious.

To end this post, here is a few pictures of a typical Dalmatian tavern, with all the sea souvenirs and glory of drying hanging prosciuttos.

My next post will be the last one from my trip, just a quick looksie at foods and window shopping through Venice and Pordenone, Italy. 

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