Monday, 12 November 2012

Eating Croatia

From Italy we caught another ferry across to Split then over to Hvar, a beautiful island on the Dalmatian Coast.

Early sunday morning I meander into town. A leisurely 15 minute walk along the bluest water I had ever seen.

I pull up a seat and order my cappucinos, one after the next. Watching the goings on of the local folk.

Hvar is a tourist destination, but we had shown up just at the beginning of off season, meaning the town was quiet, and mostly only locals remained. I love people watching. I especially love people watching in foreign countries.

My first brunch in town was at a cafe in the main square. I ordered a burger. I really love burgers. Of course burgers are a gamble, there are alot of horrible burgers about.

This one arrived and looked reasonable. It didn't look exceptional, but the onion on the side was rather cute.

My travel buddy and I shared a Greek Salad between us and it was spectacular. Look at all that beautiful creamy feta. The locally produced olives were the best I had ever tried. Everything was clean, fresh and tasty.

My burger was surprisingly tasty. Croatia does a kind of red-pepper tepenade which is very flavoursome. Again, for a average looking burger, it was very enjoyable.

For dinner I had checked out tripadvisor for recommendations and the overwhelming number one choice was 'Dalmatino'.

We arrived and were the only diners in the beautiful outdoor seating area.

We sat and ordered our wine and our wonderful waiter brings a complimentary apertif, a local speciality.

Also complimentary our garlic bread. I found the fact that it was done on white sliced loaf to be utterly adorable.

I had instantly fallen in love with the knowledgeable waiter and asked him to help me with a starter recommendation. The octopus carpaccio, he tells me is actually very slightly cooked before being sliced and served with locally produced olive oil and capers.

As you may have read from my previous posts, this trip octopus has been popping up over and over on menus and I still am yet to make my mind up on how much I actually like it.

The flavours were definitely there- super fresh and full of pow.

This was an interesting dish, but I STILL don't know if I like octopus.

My travel partner ordered the tuna carpaccio.. this was again, magnificently fresh, but too overpowering for my palette.

For our main we order the chateau briand for 2. Fantastic value at around £27.

The presentation wasn't the best, but the meal itself was wonderful.

The meat was so 'meaty' and full of flavour and cooked to perfection.

The chips were far too soggy for me, but J said he loved them. He commented continually that they had the most wonderful roast potato flavour.

The sides of courgette (zucchini) and red peppers went beautifully and knobs of herbed butter partnered perfectly with the meat.

A creamy white sauce was also included and was delicious.
Another recommendation from my beautiful waiter- Eldorado rum. Punchy, wonderful.

We both ordered desserts but both felt that this was the least strong part of the meal. J's cheesecake was too light for his liking. And my traditional walnut and chocolate cake was just too dry.

This aside, the dining experience was simply wonderful. Professional, polite service in a beautiful yet casual setting.

We came back again towards the end of the week. This will be a separate post.

Our next dinner was at a wonderfully nautical restaurant called Captain Cod.

A complimentary starter of tuna pate. The dried herbs were an odd garnich, but the tuna was creamy and flaoursome.

For entree we share a main of calamari.
A huge serving of perfectly cooked and seasoned calamari.

The restaurant itself: a bt naff and tacky, but nautical is ever so fun.

When ordering a seafood pasta, you never really know what you will get. It may be in a tomato or cream sauce, it could just have a handful of shrimp and not much else. My expectations are always high, but generally never realised. On this occasion, Captain Cod came through.

Mountains of straight-off-the-boat seafood including scallop, prawn, langoustine, razor clam and fish, perfectly cooked spaghetti seasoned perfectly with herbs garlic and lashings on that beautiful Hvar Olive Oil. This is what I always hope for when I order a pasta marinara.

Unfortunately the service was so-so at best, and my dinner guest's fish was bland-at-best.

This restaurant could have been great but were let down in more than one area.

We discovered, just down from our apartment a wonderful beachside bar called Falko's. The owner and main waiter were friendly and hilarious, the drinks cheap, and the simple menu of sandwiches, salads and wraps were perfect for a brunch or light lunch.

My club sandwich.

Local olives always came with the meals and were fantastic.

Reclining chairs, table service and relaxed setting, with one of the most beautiful views in the world.

The big beach bean bags were not a bad place to lounge and eat as well.

On our second-to-last day we take a boat ride over to Parmigiana Island. An virtually uninhabited (at this time of year) island paradise.

After some exploring and swimming we stop in for lunch.
Not a bad view from our table.

A stunning starter of anchovie and tomato bruchetta.

To begin I order courgette, prawn, Parmesan and tomato stacks. These were a revelation. The four ingredients' simple and wonderful flavours are left alone to do as they do. Every individual element working with every other. Just beautiful.
J ordered the marinated tuna. This was a very strongly flavoured and bold starter.

This may very well have been my favourite meal of the whole trip! fettuccine with langoustine and truffle.

Every single mouthful bringing me closer and closer to tears of extacy. I wish I knew what made this dish so incredible, it's simplicity? Wonderful ingredients? I don't know what made it so perfect exactly. But it was... just... perfect.

J's marinated BBQ lamb was a big plate of meat. Recommended by the waiter, it looked spectacular as it showed up to the table. But I couldn't help but notice a slight fear in J's eyes as he realised that this was enough meat to feed a whole family.

After all this food, we paid our bill and had a bit of a relax, sunbake and swim to aid digestion.

Then came back for dessert...
A chocolate fondant-style pudding with vanilla cream, and fig and almond semifredo. Beautiful presentation incredible desserts, even if we didn't need them!

Oh is there anything better than cutting into a fondant and seeing that beautiful chocolate lava flow out?

I had no idea what to expect from Croatia, but I have left kowing that it is now one of my all time favourite destinations.

I will be back.

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