TESTIMONIALS

What People Say

I was traveling solo in Dubrovnik and decided to book this experience for my birthday dinner. At first, I was a little nervous about spending my birthday dinner with complete strangers but Marija made me feel like part of the family. I ate the best food, drank too much of her homemade cherry liquor and wine, made friends, danced, and laughed until there were tears in my eyes. I’m still dreaming of the food I ate. It was the best meal I’ve had in a very long time. Also, remember to save room for dessert! You cannot skip this, I’ve traveled a lot and this has been one of my favorite experiences. I can’t wait to go back to Dubrovnik just so I can have dinner at Marija’s house again.

Monica

Austin, Texas

We had the pleasure of having dinner with Marija Papak and family while in Dubrovnik. It was arranged by Jay Way Travel. The food was amazing. We enjoyed hearing about local customs and dining on Peka and enjoying some great Croatian wine. The conversation was lively and we were delighted with all the wonderful food.

Mabsy219

Southbury, Connecticut

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!

Liz S

My three young adults (ages 21, 19 and 17) joined me at an evening dinner at Maria’s home, and it was absolutely superb! We so enjoyed the food — cooked with love, with care and with tremendous concern for teaching about the many traditional foods that can be found in the villages and the farms of this country. We were also joined by a couple who were travelling from the U.K,, so in addition to meeting Maria’s husband and family, we had a lively conversation under the grape vines in her back yard. It was excellent, worth every penny that it costs, and I would not hesitate to inform readers that if you skip this, you are skipping the gem of our trip. Delicious, social, entertaining and appropriate for any and all!

Garden4D

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

On my recent trip to Croatia, I and my friend wanted to eat peka. We intended to have it in a restaurant, but my Airbnb host recommended that we have the dish in a setting where we could experience the food in a domestic context, have other traditional food and drinks alongside the meal, and get the chance to talk about Croatian culture and cuisine with our hosts. Dubrovnik Food tours owner, Hamo Ovcina, efficiently and cheerfully made this cultural immersion possible the next day after I reached out to him by email, and thus enabled me to have one of the highlights of my trip. When we arrived at the meeting point at 8, we were promptly greeted by Marija Papak, who warmly welcomed us to her home and introduced us to her husband Zlatco, and later, her children. Marija has been gaining international attention, having been featured in National Geographic Traveler and the Wall Street Journal, and the experience we had shows how deserving she is of this exposure. We began the meal with local wines and liqueurs, one of the most memorable of which was rakija, a brandy made and infused by Marija herself with cherries. Zlatko showed us jars in production on the terrace, carefully marked by date of production. Alongside the wine were nuts, figs, and candied orange peel, also prepared by Marija. While Zlatco finished the peka over the hot coals (roasting takes a few hours) Marija served cheeses of different ages, thinly sliced Dalmatian prosciutto (Pršut ), begetables both fresh and picked and her own home-made bread, accompanied by infused olive oil. This was all delicious, and it was difficult not stop eating it, but I had to remember to leave room for the main dish and dessert to follow! The peka came next, and it was amazing—veal and lamb perfectly seasoned and roasted over a bed of potatoes, which absorbed the juices of the meal and were flavorful. This was definitely worth the wait. And finally, the dessert came, a cheese or cream pastry from around Zagreb, I believe; probably the best Croatian dessert I ate over my ten days visit. I must here say that the excellent food was only made better by the very excellent company of the Papak family, who were all friendly, conversational and kind, answering all the questions we asked of them and also curious about our lives and experiences. This is the kind of cultural exchange that the best of tourism is based on, and a very memorable 3 – 4 hours. It is definitely worth the money we paid, and I say that as someone who regularly goes on food tours when I travel.

Peter B