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.
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.”
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!
So is 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.
They sparkle, just like Split!