Our Croatia trip could not have started any better, as we had our first meal in Marija and Zlata’s back yard.
Hamo met us on the street nearby to guide us to the place we were about to spend a very enjoyable evening at. Marija first served us rakia while we waited for the remainder of our group to arrive (delayed flight in). Marija infuses her own walnut, cherry, rose and herbal rakia and pours your first serving along with the explanation to feel at home and pour the rest on your own and as much as you’d like. Along side the rakia were candied nuts, dried figs, and my favorite- amazing candied bitter orange rinds. Zlata explained the peka process while we gathered around with wine in hand. The process requires 3 flips of the peka pan, which leaves bountiful time for unwinding and chatting.
Fresh homemade bread, still warm, was torn from the loaf and paired with carved off-the-leg, home smoked prosciutto.
Next, we sat at the table and picked away at/devoured 3 types of cheeses, olives, prosciutto and more.
The wine flowed as we chatted with Marija, Zlata and Hamo. We got to know one another and they taught us about Dubrovnik and Croatia.
The peka was amazing- fall off the bone veal, lamb and crispy herb infused potatoes. A true labor of love and tasted so.
There was more rakia, more wine, and more laughs. Marija’s very friendly daughter joined us for a late bite when she got home from a traditional dance class.
While my friend and I were discussing that we should get going in order to give them some of their night, Marija said, “We haven’t had dessert yet”. Not thinking we could eat a bite more, we were served an amazingly light and fluffy custard/meringue type dish. We all found room for it ?
We gave our hugs and thanks and knew the rest of the trip had a lot to live up to after night one.
Although the food was spectacular, the ability to feel so comfortable and like family in a brand new-to-us country was so amazing. It was wonderful to have them all drink and eat alongside us at the picnic table decorated with red checkered print and aromatic rosemary sprigs, under a fresh greenery canopy and right next to the garden.
All were so helpful with answering our questions and giving us recommendations on restaurants that served fresh/quality/local ingredients. Marija even ordered and infused local olive oil and salt for us to purchase later on in the trip! It was the best!!!
We were so honored to be the first guests outside of family, friends and National Geographic. I have no doubt they will soon have more requests than they can handle. I hope some day I can go back to Dubrovnik and do it all over again!