Written by Anita Palada, Edward Kiersh
Photos: Anita Palada, Hotel Marmont
Mr. Pig is very muddy.
It’s been raining in this heavily-forested, northeastern part of Croatia near Lika, and finding acorns on the pastures close to the Korana River means lots of scampering through the mud.
He runs, jumps, sniffs a lot, burrowing his pink nose deep into the ground. Mr. Pig is very determined, seemingly aware that being a member of his very elite Black Pig fraternity carries great responsibilities.
A prized Black Slavonian pig, known internationally for gastronomically-wonderful prosciutto, dry sausage and bacon, Mr. Pig must get fat, prepare himself to deliver a bounty of lean red meat—and delight those ardent admirers waiting for his treasures.
Those irresistible black pig dishes are found at the Pata Negra restaurant/wine bar in Split’s Marmont Hotel. An intimate, candle-lit bistro known for its’ over-stuffed meat platters, this welcoming spot is devoted to the “Art of the Pig.”
Forget dieting. Here the emphasis is on fun, taste sensations like dark-red hams, ruby red rings of sausage, and thick sirloins evoking the best of Croatian food traditions.
For me, and my fellow “foodie” friend, the feast began with several glasses of locally-sourced wines, and fried bacon chips. These treats are cooked in a fryer and served in a small paper box. Delicious!
Next comes even more heavenly smells and authentic tastes from the farm. My eyes widening, I was delighted to see very thinly cut rings of sausage, slightly spicy and a glorious celebration of farm-to-table Croatian traditions.
“Acorns from the farm give the black pigs fat (this holds moisture well) and sweetness, so the meat has the utmost tastiness,” insists Jure…, the hotel manager.
”We are lucky to work with the owner of such an idyllic property near Lika, so we know the pigs have such ideal conditions for running, jumping, finding acorns. It’s a place we can get the best from them. Bacon, prosciutto, sausage…everything is right from the pig, nothing is added. Pure and beautiful meat.”
By this point in the evening, I am certainly in “Pig Heaven.” Yet I still need a few more bites of sausage, the savory prosciutto that rivals anything from Italy, and some juicy sirloin. Why not? You only live once!
So maybe I just might accept Jure’s kind invitation.
“We want people to come to such an idyllic property. We hope to have tourism one day, have people participate in raising pigs, fishing in the Korana, walking in the woods. Everything on this farm is self-sustaining…we want to go back to our roots. So come. See these 300 pigs. You will love them, and our very special meat. Real Croatia, the very best!”