A Terra Madre Winery – a breathtaking view of  the Neretva Bay

 

Everywhere you turn, there’s nothing but boulders and thickets on the hilly terrain by the sea. Will this meager land in Komarna, near Dubrovnik, ever be able to bear juicy fruits ripened in the sun? A few wondered, many doubted, but not the bravest, Stipe and Damir Dominikovic and Davor Martinovic. After a series of business successes in the partner company “Poljopromet”, they decided to take on a new business challenge – the reclamation of karst on hillslopes. They wanted to plant new vineyards on that rocky soil and grow their own vines.

From the rocky terrain to the Decanter award

The rocky, steeply sloping terrain wasn’t too promising, but they wanted to cultivate at least 5-6 hectares. The venture began! Heavy machinery occupied the hill. The crushing of the boulders started on a wide area surrounding the hill, first cautiously, and then more and more resolutely. Day by day, their idea took on a more and more concrete form.

 “We had to dare, resist the conventional belief that nothing can grow on this rocky terrain. The most important thing was to beat this hard, long-neglected soil and prepare it for planting new vines” – director Davor Martinovic began his story.

Today, the vineyards cover a total area of 16.55 hectares and have 125,000 vines.  Perched on top of a small hill is the contemporary Terra Madre winery, occupying 800 square metres and equipped with giant wine containers and wooden barrels to store wines. The upper floor occupying 400 square metres is intended for wine tasting. It is the gastronomic paradise for all who are eager to savor delicious wine and domestic food: prosciutto, cheese, marinated and salted anchovies. The terrace offers a magic and unforgettable view. The clear blue sea of the Neretva bay merges with the azure blue sky, green vineyards of the Pelješac peninsula, one of the best-known wine-growing regions in Croatia, and Mali Ston Bay, a gastronomic destination renowned for oysters.

Thanks to several hardworking and persistent people like Davor, Damir and Stipe, Komarna has become the youngest Croatian terroir. The endless rows of vines at the foot of the hill merge with the craggy shore. This harsh rocky environment is where plavac mali grows. “That autochthonous Croatian variety gives excellent sugars and acids, as well as sharp flavors and bitterness,” continues Davor. “But in addition to plavac mali, we also planted smaller quantities of the French syrah and cabernet sauvignon varieties, which give plavac extraordinary gentleness and softness”.

“This is limestone, dry area with minimal fertile land. Therefore, we irrigate the  plavac vines in the initial stage of ripening, which repays us manifold in quality. Bora, scirocco, triple insolation, karst, sea, and sun affect the grape yield and wine quality”.

Silver will soon be replaced by gold!

Wine Plavac Mali Premium
Wine Plavac Mali Premium

The Terra Madre winery produces five types of wine, including two reds made from the plavac mali variety. This production requires aging in wooden barrique barrels for up to three years. Plavac mali premium wine is made from plavac grown on selected terrains. “Yields are lower in quantity because pruning is regulated, and the fruits are partly removed. Due to this, the wine is of special quality. The silver medal won at Decanter, a prestigious London wine fair, testifies to this”, says Davor proudly. His daughter and trusted associate Vedrana Martinovic Trutina (32)  joined our conversation, too.

“When we exhibit at wine fairs, especially at the biggest ones such as ProWein in Dusseldorf, it becomes clear to me where we are and what we do, and how strong our competition is. It is great to be in the company of winemakers from around the world. We are constantly working to be as close as possible to them in terms of offer and quality. But we also have our powerful aces up our sleeve – organic production, indigenous varieties, new vineyards, and a God-given location”, says Vedrana, also revealing that her biggest desire is to place the wines on new, still undiscovered international markets.

Dubrovnik guests drink Terra Madre rosé

In addition to red wines, plavac combined with syrah gives an extraordinary mild Rose. “That is the wine most sought after in Dubrovnik area, especially popular among female guests who like to drink it as an aperitif wine or in combination with light seafood. Pošip is a white wine that pairs well with Adriatic white fish, swordfish, John Dory fish, dentex fish and shellfish, and especially with oysters from Mali Ston”, Davor shares his abundant experience.

K7 wines are drunk in prestigious American restaurants

Overseas markets also recognized the quality of wines from Komarna. The enterprising American woman of Croatian roots visited the Terra Madre winery as a guest. She liked their wines so much that she wished to offer them to all Americans, and she succeeded! As other winemakers from Komarna joined this project, she grouped them all under the unique K7 brand. The market’s differences and administrations were reconciled successfully, and Americans can drink that wine in more prestigious restaurants.

How to drink and stay on your feet?

The oenologists Marko Šuman and Gorana Dominikovic are influential wine experts. They have been taking care of young and aged wines for a long time.

They are continually checking the quality and maturity, especially of red wines aged in barrels and bottles, for up to five years before tasting. We cannot relax until we get positive quality ratings. We do this from day to day, from year to year, because mature wines get consumed, while at the same time new ones are being produced”, says Marko and continues:

“We taste wine every day. We have to feel all its flavors, and at the same time, memorize that taste from yesterday. Every sip of wine must be clean, rinsed with water so that the flavors do not overlap and mix. The palate is our most important ‘tool’ for assessing the quality, dryness or hardness of wine.”

These two young people make a great team, although Gorana is still learning next to Marko. Next year he will let her take care of the cellar, while he plans to devote himself more to the vineyards where, in his own words, “the quality of wine stems from.” They are always supportive of each other. The greatest pleasure for them is recognition for a job well done and high-quality wine. Terra Madre winery is undoubtedly at the forefront of the wine-making business, side by side with well-known wine producers.

An unforgettable vacation in a vineyard by the sea

But this is not where the story ends! These hardworking people do not stop planning and dreaming new dreams. Director Martinovic has retired, but he is still developing new projects with his partners.

The soon-to-be-opened luxury restaurant will provide special delicacies, grilled Adriatic fish, traditionally cooked meat, and homemade cakes. Apart from the wine tasting, the terrace with splendid views will offer a new gastronomic experience as well. Enjoying the small stone-lined Dalmatian houses surrounded by the green vineyards and drinking wine under the starry sky is bound to lift each spirit. What more can one wish, except to visit that magical place?

 

Romance in the Trogir Noble House

The bell from Trogir’s city tower strikes twelve. The sun shines on the old town, inviting the tourists to take a short break because, after sunset, many of them eager for discoveries and new experiences will revisit them. Curious, they will walk the streets, peeking through half-open wooden windows whose lace curtains hide the intimacy of Trogir families and the charming spirit of the surrounding restaurants.

That is so good, what a pleasant smell! The fish is grilled somewhere nearby! I follow a street lined with stone houses, built several centuries ago.  Curious, I enter through a wooden door to one of the most beautiful stone courtyards still only seen in nobles families’ houses.

I have to sit and enjoy the sumptuous court’s ambiance. I imagine tender tones of the harp and dancing ladies dressed in lavish crinolines in arms of sleek nobles. Delicacies from the richly set tables sweetened their mouth and stolen kisses in one of the dark corners of this courtyard.

That place is magical! Happy people are sitting around the tables full of excellent food. Lobster on buzara, grilled white fish, shrimp wrapped in bacon, black cuttlefish risotto, pasta with seafood. Meat, grilled, cooked in a real Dalmatian sauce.  I can’t even talk about imaginatively prepared cakes, especially Dalmatian rožada, because while I’m just looking at it, I want to feel its caramelized taste in my mouth. I feel so good while my imaginations wander through,  from the past to the present.

Unbeknownst to me, thanks to the fantastic smell of grilled fish, I came to the well-known restaurant and hotel Monika, located in the noble, Cega family house’s historic ambiance. The restaurant, with its fifty years of gastronomic tradition, does not lag behind the rich past.

I wonder who owns this hotel and restaurant, who had the strength to make this splendor in the middle of the old urban city and restore it to its former aristocratic splendor? Each piece exudes with luxury and carefully selected details,  with a specific style and taste.

It would be best to meet Jasminka Vranješ, the owner who belongs here with her charming and engaging behavior. Only a woman with an uncompromising will, inexhaustible energy, professional experience, and personal wisdom can build this “empire.” She had the pleasure to refurbish this space for herself and guests worldwide who have been faithfully returning to her for half a century.

She started putting together her catering story back in the seventies with her husband Vinko. In an instant, she had to continue their familiar story on her own, fighting like a lioness, all to make their dreams come true. “There have been ups and downs, crisis years, but I always went forward, believing in myself. If I had succumbed to bad thoughts at any moment, my dream would never become shattered.” She did it! She kept her promise!

In the beautiful authentic the ambiance of the old Trogir stone court, there is an open part of the restaurant with a hundred seats, accompanied by an interior space, specially decorated for romantics who want a unique atmosphere and intimacy.

Visiting the hotel means experiencing Trogir as it once was, the style and way of life of the Cega noble family, whose tradition collapsed in a historically turbulent and relentless moment. But new times have brought new opportunities as well. Jasminka had a mission! Renovated the house and gave it back the look and sophistication of a noble home. “For twenty years, I bought part by part of the house. When I put all the torn parts back under the same roof, I started renovating the space. After three years, I opened a hotel with sixteen spacious rooms, decorated in a synergy of a traditional and modern style”.

Luxurious, soft beds covered in red satin and velvet dominate the space, facing the windows that each overlook their part of the old town. Unique charm is given by refined, imaginative decorations that fill the rooms, giving them dreamy warmth and harmony. The terrace between the roofs of Trogir houses and the view to the surrounding city gardens, the old town, and the bell tower of The Cathedral of St. Lawrence intertwined with the blue sky and sea is a new experience that I will remember for a long time.

Jasminka has given her whole life into the restaurant and hotel, past, present, and future. “I have nurtured this hotel as a child, giving all my best. I can see that I am successful by the guests’ reactions who are delighted with what they feel. I am happy and grateful when I see a smile and shine in their eyes; it means that I have fulfilled my mission. ”

Even today, after fifty years of working,” My every new day is my new beginning, I work there with equal passion, paying attention to every detail.  There is a vast love for work, long-term  staff, and this building that I have renovated, to the pride of myself and the city of Trogir!”

She has successfully built and edited, but she has always primarily cared for the guests’ wishes, desires, and comfort. Grateful for the hospitality, welcome, and goodwill, the guests give it to her back with kind words and selfless attention, proposing that everybody must experience it in person.

 

 

 

Let’s explore Jordan with Joanna!

A strong wind is mercilessly raising the sand all around, obscuring the beauty of this magic land! Deceptive and unpredictable in desperate rage! Huge and strong sand clouds rushing across the air making an ominous silence and uncertain over the desert.  Sandstorm is coming! Nothing to see than a pile of sand! Only a fear, a beating hearts,  and desire to stay alive!

But Bedouins – “kings of the Wadi Rum desert” wait peacefully,   knowing that the sun always rises after the storm. They have already learned how beautiful can be that demanding, seemingly wild and unfriendly desert.  Like nomads, they have already met its temper.  They had not a safe life, home, constantly changed the dwelling place for moving cattle through the desert, but they have survived! Today they are modern hosts who welcome guests in the middle of the desert, accommodating them in modern luxurious capsules, serving them a delicious dish specialty zarb. That is meat roasted for long hours in a special underground hole, covered with sand. All that background enables an unforgettable travel experience to “modern nomads” wishful exploring strange ambiance and boosts adrenaline.

Morning’s rays over the desert bring them a new revelation. Sun rays play mischievous light and shadow games overlapping the space, illuminating orange sand and unique landscapes. New sightseeing encourages them to uncover yet unknown feelings.

Yes, you guessed, we are in Jordan, Middle East Islamic country which with Syria, Palestine, Lebanon creates a region called the Levant. Jordan is the country where the beauty of the desert, valleys, mountains, Death salt sea, rich cultural heritage deliver the new sense. It comes from the “high energy voltage” of local people, and their temperamental ancestors’ souls.

Amman - Jordan's Capital
Amman – Jordan’s Capital

Impact of two cultures, Arabian and Mediterranean, give them hot temper, talkativeness, and warm hospitality gift.  “Jordanians take pride in hosting guests”- explained Joanna, my virtual host, young Polish woman, happily married to Jordanian and his faith. “Jordanian hospitality is an old tradition rooted in the times when people here were still Bedouins. The rule was that a stranger could be hosted in a Bedouin household for three days without telling the host the reason for visiting. Even the host couldn’t ask for the reason himself during those three days. It was against the Bedouin honor code. Till now Jordanians proudly mention their three-day rule.”

In the north-central, there is Amman, Jordan’s capital. The busy town that never sleeps and its streets are always full of life. The locals in their daily routine smoke shisha and drink tea or coffee. Young guys like to play cards and dance dabkeh on a street while girls like to visit restaurants or enjoy a cozy café near Paris Square in Weibdeh.

Amman-Jordan’s Capital

“Do you want more fun in the places by the seaside?”- Joanna asked me.  “Well, let’s go to Aqaba, the town on the Red Sea coast. It is a great place for it. The luxurious hotels occupy the beach. At that area tourists can enjoy bikini on private beaches since the public beach, in the central part of Aqaba city is reserved for more conservative locals. There are also Ayla and Tala Bay, closed districts with lots of hotels and well – kept beaches where you can enjoy bikini, drinks, and good music”.

The Dead Sea coast is also a place with lots of resorts and private beaches where tourists can swim and never sink due to salty water, enjoy the SPA treatments based on amazing Dead Sea mud. “But be careful” – Joanna warns,  “the temperature during the summer passes 40 degrees so the best time for visiting is before mid-June or after mid-September”.

Wow, what a beautiful and interesting kingdom!  Joanna is a  great cultural ambassador of her new country.  While I was talking with her I was feeling like I was there, impatiently waiting for new stories.

Petra town!  It is a fantastic ancient city carved in rose-tinted stones, hence it’s called ‘Rose City’. It was established by Nabataeans in 4th century BC, a mysterious civilization that is still being discovered thoroughly to this day. The city is strategically situated in a canyon and the only way to go there is through a narrow passage called siq. There is the most known site of Petra, Al-Khazaneh  -The Treasury building. According to the legend, there is a treasure hidden on top of Al-Khazaneh. “So if you are courageous enough, climb to the top and check it”- suggested Joanna with a smile, continuing more seriously:  “The Nebo mountain is special, too. It is a well-known place already mentioned in the Old Testament.”

According to the Bible Moses reached the peak of Mount Nebo to see the Promised Land – Canaan  and God told him at that time that he would die before entering it.

There, from the top is an amazing view of the entire Holy Land. Those who reach the top can still feel what Moses felt. “That’s why the place is so special for the believers. People stay exactly at the same place where Moses was standing and look at the same view as he saw” – explained Joanna.

The View from the Nebo Mountain
The View from the Nebo Mountain

After visiting all of those beautiful and interesting places it is time to rest and enjoy Jordanian cuisine. Mmmmm! The best Jordanian national dish mansaf-  tender lamb cooked in a white sauce made of jameed and shaneena served with rice and shrak, very thin, almost transparent bread must be tried. The same goes for Levant specialties grilled lamb, magloubeh, dawali -stuffed grapes leaves, kofta – minced meat baked in an aromatic sauce, hummus, and falafel at Hashem Restaurant in Downtown Amman, and mezzeh, a variety of cold and hot appetizers.

“Oh yes, don’t forget to buy some souvenirs there for long memory of that amazing trip.”  Joanna “took” me for a walk along Downtown Amman street to show the best place to buy souvenirs.

Shemag definitely must be bought. It is the traditional red and white scarf that many men wear here along with egal, the black band that used to be a rope used for catching camels, but now it’s just worn for aesthetics purposes. If you want an outfit, then buy  madraga, a traditional folklore dress worn by women still till this day to events like weddings and other parties.

Downtown is so big and packed with many interesting shops, but souq – marketplace gives a special experience.

Always try to haggle and negotiate the prices because it’s a part of Jordanian culture as well! Don’t be afraid when the seller greets you in his shop with coffee. IT’S THE WAY OF SAYING “WELCOME”.

 

 

 

 

 

paris holiday

Come With Me And Feel Paris Vibes!

Written by Anita Palada

Photos by Pixabay

Paris, Rome, San Gimignano!

Can you guess what is common to those places? They are tourist destinations but not very ordinary, as well-known, special ones.

Paris by night
Paris by night

Those cities aren’t only simple places with many buildings or properties built many centuries ago, where people luxuriate in every moment. Those spots have unique and magic vibes.

Paris is a magical jewel, an extraordinary destination, a place that transforms the spirit, that leaves indelible memories — Paris a timeless destination that remains a cultural wonderland and romantic idyll.

“When I am there, I feel welcomed.  Something exceptional is in the air. I love Paris, especially during Christmas when all is so magic,”–my friend, a life traveler, said to me many times, describing Paris’ atmosphere.

“There are special sentiments that circle “three feet above the sky’—the stars on the sky sparkle with beautiful luminosity, inspiring lovers to open, passionate affection.  The magic vibes make them more amorous, happy and fulfilled.  Those places enchant and intrigue, make people experience particular moments, provoking them to talk about their pleasant feelings.”

Montmartre Paris
Montmartre Paris

What can be better than a walk-in Paris along Montmartre, sitting in the small café, eating a delicious croissant, looking at walking people and enthusiastic painters? These graces make guests grateful to God to be alive and be there. When they travel to Italy and stop in Rome, they “run” to throw the change into the  Fontana di Trevi with powerful desires to return. In San Gimignano, they are curious to taste the best ice cream flavors in the world and traditional Italian pasta at the small, traditionally decorated restaurants in the narrow streets.

Tourists prefer to go to those cities, stay at their hotels and restaurants, walking along the streets than to the other ones? Do you know why? Why are those places so memorable? Because of delicate senses that float between land and sky, making an unforgettable harmony of body and mind.

Places and buildings without impressive vibes are the same as a handsome person with an “empty soul,” without personality, warmth, and charisma. Because of that, somebody is more liked and adore than other ones. The same is for cities and buildings.  Only good vibes can attract, charm, and stop people at the same place.

Fontana di Trevi Rome
Fontana di Trevi Rome

How to achieve it?

If you are the city’s mayor, a hotel’s owner, entrepreneur, wine producer or manager, immerse your feelings into your city, heritage, tradition, and customs. Write, speak, and present it with love. Don’t be ashamed!  Be loyal and passionate! Remember that love and engagement can move the world!  Do your best to tell the best STORY about you and your city!  Create exciting content, highlight pretty photos with smiling and joyful people,  charming places, and picturesque landscapes of your region.

The suggestion is to create a story and publish it on different media, boosting pleasure, emotion, and desire. In this way, your material properties “wrapped in love” will achieve higher value. In effect, it will present you, your energy and passion.

If you don’t know how to create artistic, emotional, and dynamic stories, I am here.  Just call me, and I will do it for you. 

Stradun Dubrovnik
Stradun Dubrovnik

I am Anita Palada, a travel journalist from Croatia.

My journalism experience and creative writing skills allow me to describe the best of all I see and feel. I am fortunate that I have had the possibility to write original stories about various regions, cultures, travel, recognized and undiscovered touristic destinations, luxury hotels, restaurants, chefs, traditional and modern food, wineries and quality wine, fun, and adventures. 

As a writer, professional photographer, and successful digital content creator, I attract over 10000 people per day over my online channels and much more in association with clients.

We will create and share out your best story. Dare to be different from your competitors!

Contact me!!!!

My imaginative writing stories can evoke each person to visit your country, your hotel, restaurant, winery, and other exciting places among it.

paris vacation

 

 

 

 

Martinis Marchi Room

Escape to Paradise

Written by Anita Palada, Edward Kiersh

Photos by Martinis Marchi Hotel

The tastes of heaven begin with a tangy soup spiced with locally-grown herbs, a “time honored speciality” featuring a rich mix of ravioli and delicacies from the sea.

The Island of Šolta - Maslinica
The Island of Šolta – Maslinica

Always hoping to stir emotions, thoughts of culinary wizardry, and to be faithful to intensely-flavorful homemade” recipes, the young chef looks at me expectantly. Only after I praise the soup, and smile, does he seem relieved, even buoyant.

The consummate host, waiting for my every reaction, Toni Miloš, 35, one my engaging hosts at the Martinis Marchi seaside restaurant on the idyllic Croatian island of Šolta, says “our menu is quite simple…dating back 300 years. We have adapted dishes to modern times but we still use ingredients that are specific to this island. They are very special.”

Martinis Marchi Heritage Hotel
Martinis Marchi Heritage Hotel

So is chef Miloš, and his “simple” yet still creative, Mediterranean dishes— from the brujet cooked in tomato sauce with onions, garlic and parsley; popara with potatoes, carrots and pieces of white fish; to the pheasant prepared in a locally-sourced red wine.

Insisting “all my dishes have their roots in local traditions, the culture close to the magical blue Adriatic (Sea),” Miloš certainly wants to prepare memorable “gastronomic experiences” in his Martinis Marchi castle hotel kitchen.

Listening to the Wind at the Pool
Listening to the Wind at the Pool

But such specialties as homemade ravioli, beef tartare with fermented garlic and chocolate soufflés are also meant to  appeal to travelers “seeking a glorious escape removed from time.” He hopes each dish will inspire lasting emotions, a sense that Croatia is a unique time capsule devoted to intoxicating surprises and pleasures

He succeeds triumphantly. So does this luminous 7-suite boutique hotel that boasts 1500-square meter lodgings, a heated pool, hammam, sauna, and a marina where private excursions can be arranged to whisk you to numerous secluded coves and sandy beaches.

Here indulgences thrive along with a tranquility that first attracted the three  Marchi brothers to Šolta in 1703. Hoping to build a calm, soothing oasis—a bounty of “simplicity combined with pristine nature”—they won permission from Venetian authorities to build a sumptuous summer retreat above the bay of Maslinica one hour from Split.

The Outside Terrace
The Outside Terrace

Intent on creating a shelter against marauding pirates, the brothers wanted a refuge of “light and stillness”—and in that Wellness spirit the hotel is a veritable cocoon surrounded by the sea and a lush Mediterranean garden resplendent with herbs and flowers.

“Our place has a unique historic past and soul, a very positive energy,” says Tihana Mravak Sivić, the hotel manager. “We want guests to really feel at home. We try to honor every request, to turn the impossible into everything is possible—with a smile.”

Such pampering makes it remarkably easy to forget the outside world, to be content simply from listening to the wind at the pool, or to stroll in the adjoining village. Yet if feeling “adventurous,” guests can take the “Martinis Marchi I” Sunseeker Superhawk 50 to the island of Pag to sample its’ internationally-renowned salty sheep cheese. Or they can visit  one of the glorious beaches on Hvar, Brač, and perhaps a winery or two.

Relaxing Terrace Ambient in Evening
Relaxing Terrace Ambient in Evening

Eyeing the ships docked close to the restaurant, Marina Captain Frane Cecić Acosta insists, “Always looking to give guests exciting experiences, we welcome sunsets with champagne, listen to songs when appropriate, and anchor in bays to allow guests to swim.”

Ever nervously looking out towards the Adriatic, Acosta knows the sea is often capricious, yet he adds, “Guests come back. That is a confirmation we are doing our job very well.”

His taking tourists island hopping is a delight. Yet so is Šolta with its’  beekeeping apiaries, olive oil factory, and vineyards with prized Dobričić grapes.

Such exploring allows guests to meet local people, to really immerse themselves in Šolta’s island culture.

Grilled Lobsters
Grilled Lobsters

“We hope guests can connect with  our local surroundings, experience the pristine wilderness,” says Sivić. “We want guests to find total joy there.”

But the greatest joy, if not sitting by the pool, or luxuriating in the hammam, is basking in the comfort of one’s suite. Each of these 7 air-conditioned suites has been tastefully-decorated with armoires, paintings and other furnishings that are meant to rekindle the spirit of the 18th Century. They speak to a refinement the Marchis’ brothers relished—an elegance sorely lacking in most hotels today.

Martinis Marchi Yacht
Martinis Marchi Yacht

So discover the unforgettable.

Escape to the Martinis Marchi.

Authentic Fish Market Trogir

        The Cat and Mouse Game at the Trogir Fish Market

Smiling flirtatiously, the blonde, elegantly-dressed woman approached the man behind a table lined with mounds of anchovies, sardines, squirming lobsters and bright-orange shrimp.

Immediately the seductress, playing a “cat and mouse” game in this Trogir, Croatia fish market, she mischievously asked, “What can you offer me that is  right out of the sea, something really good for my husband?”

Trogir Fish Market
Trogir Fish Market

A place for gossip, romantic liaisons, and heated arguments, Ribarnica is more than a mere market. This historic, red-tiled institution only a short drive from Split on the Adriatic Sea, is a raucous, often salty-tongued “playground.”

Beyond the shouts of “fresh fish, fresh fish scallops that will change your life tonight,” the emotional, passionate, and even volcanic temperament of Croatian people becomes very evident.

“Pretty lady, I have something very delicious for you, I am here just to please you,” laughs the fish seller, grabbing a lobster and rather provocatively dangling it close to the woman.

“I am here just for you, speak to me, how can I help you,” he quickly adds, reaching for a long knife, and adding, “try this swordfish. So perfect for grilling. So are these sardines. Believe me. Eating them with some good wine will make your husband a new man.”

The thinly-veiled innuendos—and acerbic repartee that eventually entails haggling over prices—evokes the fun and entertainment of a Middle Eastern bazaar.

Very crowded around the stand
Very crowded around the stand

“It’s always a knockdown fight, a contest of wills between egos and pocketbooks,” observes an elderly man in between sips of coffee from a nearby cafe.

“Everyday it’s different here. Who knows, always exciting, sometimes a dog barks, and sometimes a rabbit runs. Tomorrow that money thing could change. The rabbit, not the seller, will have a good day.”

Visitors win everyday. Ribarnica is theatre. There are so many verbal acrobatics, jousting for position, give-n-take over tables filled with exotic-looking creatures, this colorful market has a distinctly earthy Mediterranean flavor.

But “dangers” still lurk. Especially from stampedes.

Provoking this wild, very amusing spree, a fisherman yells, “Skuša, skuša, mackerel, the freshest, heavenly mackerel. Come! Come! Now!”

Dozens of housewives and men over-burdened with packages start dashing towards the fisherman’s stand.

“What’s the price of your unbelievable mackerel?” scoffs a wry skeptic.

“100 Kuna (13 Euros). That’s nothing. Very good price!,” barks the fisherman.

“100 Kuna? Are you crazy?”

“You don’t like? Then go home to your wife with no fish. See what that gets you tonight”

The banter continues. Soon there is no more mackerel. It’s been  good day for this particular “barking dog.”

One more day is over, one more Ribarnica story has been written.

A meeting place for women to secretly talk about their husbands; a rendezvous point for lovers; and a convenient, relaxed setting for arranging business deals; Ribarnica is all about anger, love and mystery.

If only its’ stone walls and tiles could talk.

Or perhaps not.

Maybe it is far better to savor some grilled sardines, and to allow those mysteries to remain hidden.

What do you think? Please let us know!

 

Šibenik

The strange disappearance of Brad Pitt

Asked if she had seen Brad Pitt, the waitress in the Fafarinka cafe just looked at me as if I was crazy.

Šibenik Archipelago Dalmatia Croatia The best beaches
Šibenik Archipelago

“A man told me Pitt, the actor, had been here, have you seen him?” I continued, waiting for the waitress to put my ice cream on the table, and to stop staring at me as if I had been out in the sun too long.”

“He’s disappeared, has he been here, to Šibenik?”

Still looking amazed, the waitress  responded, “I like him, he is an interesting person, but nothing special. He is blond, I don’t like this kind of man. I prefer black-haired ones, tall with muscles. They are very seductive.”

What a revelatory moment! Now this woman’s deepest love life secrets were being revealed to me. She started to laugh, but I was no closer to solving the mystery.

Šibenik
Visit Šibenik

After Brad Pitt had visited the Croatian coastal city of Šibenik a few years ago, the rumors and speculation swirled. TV reports. Newspaper stories. Everyone was abuzz here and in the neighboring beach towns.

Brad Pitt, the winner of last year’s Oscar for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, was considering investing in a beachfront, 800 million Euros tourist-residential complex that would transform the outskirts of Šibenik.

The area was divine, a rather undiscovered retreat known as the “gateway to the Kornati islands”—a place for discovering Adriatic lobsters, fine wines, and secret coves with crystal white sand.

Šibenik Archipelago Dalmatia Croatia The best beaches
Šibenik Archipelago

But Pitt was not just scouting lovely and secluded area beaches like Tijat, Zmajan, and Žirje where swimming with the fishes in the transparent sea is bewitching—or savoring the homemade chocolate ice cream with hazelnuts at Fafarinka.

According to the gossip, unproven stories circulating among the townspeople, Pitt wasn’t just thinking about real estate. It was rumored that he had fallen under the spell of a Croatian beauty.

“Yes Pitt was here, it was interesting because of  the rumors, that he had found a real secret gem in Šibenik, real secret,” laughs Fabijano Baranović, the manager at the luxurious King Krešimir Heritage Hotel.

Heritage Hotel King Krešimir The best hotel in Šibenik
Heritage Hotel King Krešimir Šibenik

Handing me a menu and insisting, “We make special dishes from black pigs in Lika, pig medallions, prosciutto, and sausages are our specialties.” A true pig lover, he finally adds, “gossip, gossip, we made fun of discussing Pitt’s feelings.”

But despite Baranović’s ardent passion for pig sausages, the mystery still lingered—where was the elusive actor? Could he be at the Michelin-starred Pelegrini restaurant famed for its’ lamb and veal dishes? Or would he be found admiring the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Gothic cathedral, or just strolling through Šibenik’s charming winding streets?

Not finding any clues, I headed to Zablaće, a seemingly-endless white beach about 5 km. from Sibenik. Dotted with stunning villas, it is just the storybook type of escape mega-investors could be attracted to.

“Have you seen Brad Pitt here?” I asked a swimmer. “You know, the actor, the blond in Ocean’s Eleven with George Clooney?”

“Brad Pitt? No, I didn’t see him.”

“That’s a pity,” I sympathized. “He might be interested in talking to you. Maybe you could tell him where to find an authentic locally-prepared Šibenik lunch.”

“HaHa, meet me? He’s a big movie star. He likes the best restaurants, not meals in my simple home.”

Pelegrini restaurant Šibenik The best restaurant in Šibenik
Pelegrini Restaurant Šibenik

I moved on. Maybe I could find another sunbather who had seen this very socially-conscious Hollywood heartthrob.

Only receiving some more astonished looks, I returned to Šibenik, questioning my detective skills.

To boost my spirits, I stopped at Koka, a clothing shop near the famed St. Jakov cathedral.

After admiring the dresses, I had to ask, “Have you seen Brad Pitt? A woman told me that he had been here. That he bought a dress here.”

The owner looked confused, and gave me another of those unsettling looks that suggested I was mad. I feigned a smile, but before I left, a well-dressed woman looked straight at me, and said, “Of course I saw him. I came here to buy a lovely dress just for him.”

“What?” I could only mutter.

“That’s right. I must look beautiful!He’s at my home now. I am going to make lunch for him, shrimp and mussels.”

It was now my turn to be dumbfounded. Speechless for a few seconds, I finally summoned the courage to ask, “And what will the side dish be?”

Typical of the welcome awaiting visitors to Šibenik, the woman quickly laughed.

“Me! What do you think? Me!”

Thanks a lot for collaboration and photos to:

Tourist Board Šibenik, Heritage Hotel King Krešimir, Koka Boutique,

Pelegrini Restaurant, Farfarinka Cafe, Ms. Jasenka Ramljak, Ms. Brankica Dominis Mišić

Written by Anita Palada, Edward Kiersh

 

split dalmatia croatia

        Split continues to be enjoyed for its’ high-voltage

Beware, once seduced by the floral scents and “secret recipe” sensations, temptation quickly takes over. It’s all too easy to feel bewitched, even helpless.

Marinko Biškić made one-ton chocolate bar
Marinko Biškić made one-ton chocolate bar

Casting a spell that promises only joy and playfulness,   Marinko Biskić, a former Guinness World Record holder, boasts a special gift. In Nadalina, his pint-sized Split boutique, this artisan meticulously and zealously creates hand-crafted pleasures—chocolates infused with lavender, rosemary, fig and olive oil.

“They are love and passion,” extols Biskić, standing behind a counter filled with pralines and chocolate bars. Ardently discussing how his concoctions are made from the choicest Peruvian and Domincan Republic cocoa beans, he continues, “We are the only ones in Croatia to roast the beans, to not use ready-made chocolate. We mix spices, sage, anise…always experimenting with new flavors, to me chocolate is for the palate and the soul.”

Mirroring Biskić’s infectious enthusiasm, a wild and artistic bent that compelled him to celebrate Nadalina’s 25th anniversary by producing a 101 sq. meter, one ton chocolate bar, Split is similarly mischievous, unpredictable and exciting. Unlike that devoured chocolaty slab (which was the Guinness record holder in 2015), Split continues to be enjoyed for its’ high-voltage, adrenaline-fueled nightlife, partying and festivals, especially the Ultra Europe music fest.

Always throbbing with laser lights shows and cocktail extravaganzas, Split has had a pronounced BUZZ ever since Roman Emperor Diocletian sought refuge on these sun-caressed, Adriatic shores in A.D. 295. He built a must-see palace (a UNESCO World Heritage site stuffed with treasures), along with a labyrinth of bedeviling cobblestoned passageways—and to appreciate strolling,  first find some sustenance.

At Krafne kod Mate—where marmalade, vanilla creme, or chocolate donuts are artfully baked by Mate Bajamić. Using only choice flour, he insists donuts “expressing love” can only be made by bakers “coming to work in a joyful mood.” So feel the energy in this minute space, and discover that the chocolate donuts are pure happiness.

Arterija brings other types of dazzling pleasures. Located inside the palace, this bold, cutting-edge “concept store” attracts modish fashionistas hoping to find attention-grabbing necklaces and earrings, simple yet provocative and unconventional dresses. Here there is a powerful, even defiant feminine aesthetic—and under the ownership of Gorana Gulišija, “fashion is passion.”

Arterija Shop

Instead of breaking with tradition, the Uje Deli Shop pays tribute to the past, particularly Croatia’s rich  agricultural heritage. Besides offering a dizzying array of locally-sourced olive oils—there are savory, golden-green varieties from Hvar and Brac—Uje boasts an abundance of carefully-curated wines from Dalmatia to Istria, Slavonija and Zagorje. Enjoy one of them with some sardines and the shop’s famed anchovy pie.

Adjacent to the Diocletian Palace, the always-thronged Bokeria Kitchen & Wine offers its’ own alluring specialties. Here the vibe is decidedly young and casual, and the gastronomic flourishes from the bruschetta to the grilled octopus and swordfish are a wonderful mix of Croatian and Mediterranean influences. The Red Roga, a type of pepper with minced meat and creamy mashed potato must also be savored. It’s divine!

Bokeria Kitchen&Wine Bar
Bokeria Kitchen&Wine Bar

So is Dvor Restaurant.

Dvor Restaurant

Commanding views of Solta and Brac islands from its intimate outdoor terrace, the serene, highly-acclaimed Dvor is a Michelin Guide favorite. This restaurant/bar is surrounded by towering pine and tamarisk trees, and its’ very diverse menu also reaches flavorful heights. Especially the seabass pate, freshly-baked olive bread, the mushroom risotto, fish dishes wrapped and roasted in salt, and of course, the fudgy and heavenly chocolate lava cake. It’s a taste Explosion!

But Split’s delights never seem to end. There’s also Os Kolač, Tea Mamut’s pastry shop that is renowned throughout Croatia for its’ green violet cake made with pistachios and blueberries. Every bite of this sweet-sweetie is a thrill, and the same can be said about her vanilla and chocolate cream cakes.

Oš’ kolač – Pastry shop

They sparkle, just like Split!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trogir Dalmatia Croatia

Trogir – discover the little gem by the sea

Stirring her magical boiled dish of squid, octopus and cuttlefish in black ink, the aromatic sensation that transports her patrons to gastronomic heaven, chef Marija Hell smiles delightedly.

Clearly excited by the alchemy she is performing in her  Pašike restaurant, Hell gushes, “We want our guests to taste a part of Dalmatia and our traditions. To enjoy dishes that caress the palate—the happiest of moments.”

Reputed for such “taste explosions” as pasticada, and the delectable almond cake Trogirski rafiol,” she is well worth a visit to Trogir, an inviting town with a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation only 17 miles from Split on the Croatian coast.

Trogir Dalmatia Croatia
Trogir Croatia

Surrounded by 14th Century walls, the “Stone Beauty,” or the Little Venice of Dalmatia” merited that UNESCO tribute because of its well-preserved Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance architecture—a veritable city-museum of enchanting stone buildings and maze of streets that evoke Medieval life.

But a visit here means more than celebrating an illustrious past; cobbled streets promising mystery and romance, a vaunted cathedral, a fairy tale-like Cipiko Palace, and a third century BC relief.

Trogir
Trogir Croatia

One of Dalmatia’s greatest “secrets,” Trogir also flaunts a visual, very playful version of Marija Hell’s “spicy, extra explosion of flavors.” Combining historical streets and vistas with an intensely modernist vibe, the town offers,  along with the neighboring waterfront at Ciovo, all sorts of indulgent hedonism.

Choose your pleasure.

Charter a sightseeing boat and venture out to a diverse array of bewitching, palm tree-lined islands.

Down glasses of locally-produced grappa together with grilled fish at either Restaurant Capo, Restaurant Riva or Restaurant Kamerlengo. These and other seaside places epitomize taking Life Very Easy while feasting on wines and seafood.

Of course there are more “energetic” pursuits at hand.

Stroll in the Old Town among the enchanting stone houses. Then walk  on the Riva embankment, dine at any of the numerous restaurants, or go to Caffe Bar Smokvica, Caffe Bar Trogir or Corte Bar for innovative cocktails, high-decibel music and great people watching.

Trogir Dalmatia Croatia
Trogir Croatia

If more adventurous, and ready for an all-out binge, hop in a taxi and go to Laganini, a Labadusa beach club-cocktail bar that sways to a lulling seaside beat.

Here there’s a beach with lounges, massages for every ache and part of your body, and very devilish cocktails, most notably the elderflowers and crushed raspberries’ burst of wickedness. Yum! The perfect way to greet the night—and AM hours.

Split and other Croatian getaways also pulsate at night. So why go to Trogir?

Get away from the crowds. Trogir offers countless courtyards and terraces for less jarring, more intimate experiences than in nearby Split and the always jammed (but beautiful) Dubrovnik. It is stately, subdued, and waiting to be explored—a homage to history and to the new inventiveness in its’ kitchens

Trogir Dalmatia Croatia
Trogir Croatia

“There is not much philosophy in Dalmatian cuisine, everything is cooked in olive oil, onion, parsley, garlic and wine,” says Hell, who also owns a four star Trogir hotel by the same name. Still intent on extending “love” in every dish, as her very popular almond cake, she adds, “So all the rafiola pieces are there, but several completely different. In this way we respect the traditional cake but give it a modernist look, an extra explosion of flavors.”

Or in keeping with the holiday atmosphere in Trogir, a boundless burst of “happy moments.”

So discover this little gem by the sea, its’ secrets, and sensations.

And be ready to be charmed by “Little Venice’s” magic.

Trogir Dalmatia Croatia
Trogir Croatia