Category Archives: Topic of the Week

Punat – Place of a Proud Food Heritage

A specific Krk pasta – šurlice – became a signature dish of this northern Adriatic island, the biggest one in Croatia. Many local restaurants and taverns have šurlice on their menus, preserving it as one of the highlights of the Krk gastronomy.

To make šurlice, you just need flour, oil, and water. Some add salt, some don’t. Easy, isn’t it? Well, quite the contrary. The form of šurlice is made with very skilful hands, coiling on the small wooden stick. Some say šurlice is home dish of the town Vrbnik, others claim it should be fair to say it was eaten all over Krk. Today, for sure, šurlice is island’s pride, and it is fair to say it goes perfectly with the Vrbnik Žlahtina, prime wine of the island.

The same goes for Punat, a small town situated on the east coast of Puntarska draga (Puntar Bay) only 8 km from the town of Krk. This place is famous for its marina, home port for all those enjoying the beauties of the Croatian sea and islands. Logic goes, where there are sailors, there is good foods; it is summer and we’ve decided to visit Punat exactly to try the famous šurlice in the tavern Sidro.

Konoba Sidro – Keeper of Punat’s Gastronomy Tradition

Punat was in history a renowned shipyard for wooden boats and headquarter to a powerful steamship company. Quite early, already in the beginning of the 19th century, tourism developed here, associated with the Franciscan monastery on the islet of Košljun. Also, the royalties came here to enjoy picturesque and serene seaside nature and seek a spiritual refuge with the friars. Now, hordes of modern yachting tourists come, along with those preferring camping.

In fact, right in the camp we met Mr Branko Karabaić, the director of the Punat Tourist Board and Cultural-Artistic Society Punat (KUD Punat) that cherish local folk dances and customs. KUD Punat is certainly among the best such associations in Croatia, only one of the three such KUDs licenced to present whole Croatian heritage. It is a special recognition for Punat which is a rather small place.

Especially praised is their choreography of traditional Krk dance, Krčki tanac. It is a specific island dance which cannot be played without sopile, a traditional instrument made of olive wood and of a specific sound, played as duo. Everywhere on this island people play these dances for centuries, although the melody is sometimes inapprehensible for tourists.

KUD Punat regularly plays this dance all over Croatia and the world; some of the last sopile makers (sopac) are from Punat. Among these, Marijan Orlić is particularly known to produce it, repairs it, and plays it; all arts not known to be found in one person for decades! How it sounds you can see on the following Youtube clip. Mind that two women from Vrbnik make šurlice at the spot!

Šurlice is a festive meal. Usually, it was made for weddings and sometimes for holidays. Mr Karabaić points out that šurlice are warm appetizer at weddings but very important ones and they are coming to the table followed by sopile music! Otherwise, the glory of šurlice and its deep rootedness in Krk culture cannot be experienced.

Puntari (the Punat inhabitants) keep their heritage well, which is especially stressed in cuisine. The place itself survived through the centuries relying on agriculture, olive growing, fishing, sheep breeding and wooden shipbuilding. When one enters Punat, one can see vast olive orchards, a testimony to this noble and Biblical tree, whose golden drops made Romans name Krk the Golden island. In fact, Punat hosts one of the most cherished festival of olive oils in Croatia!

Among the olive trees roam sheep, the true treasure of the island and traditional addition to šurlice. Krk lamb is delicious and often a topic of discussion among different sheep-herding regions of Croatia about whose lamb is the best. Olives and sheep are stone drop away from the nearest beaches and resorts.

In older days, Punat’s balconies and stone terraces were adorned with octopus arms. People used to dry octopus on sun and wind in a manner followed for centuries. It was used later for beautiful and rich dishes, especially stews and brodettos. Fish and seafood specialties are still signature dishes in Punat taverns, always spiced with original extra-virgin olive oil.

A quite special and original Punat dish is autumn soup kiselica. Cabbage is drowned in warm water and is marinated with marc, the over-fermented grape skins left after pressing grapes for wine. As the red grape is used, the marinade gets purple colour and dries. After several weeks it is cut, cooked as a soup with a mix of garlic, parsley and pancetta, with addition of dried meat. Excellent autumn soup is also healthy as it keeps your body sour and defendable against the viruses in cold weather. Some of you might also bless if for curing hangover! Such a dish can be ordered in autumn in tavern Ladići.

No visit to Punat can go without a visit to the islet of Košljun. It is known for the Franciscan monastery where the monks have collected and preserved numerous valuable items for centuries. The islet has a museum with an ethnographic collection containing numerous items produced by Krk fishermen and farmers, as well as folk costumes from across the Island of Krk. The monastery also owns a rich zoological collection consisting of a large seashell collection and unique animal specimens, such as the one-eyed lamb.

The monastery also has a rich library with around 30,000 titles. It includes the Ptolemy’s atlas printed in Venice in 1511 (one of the three preserved copies). The monastery is a zero category monument. There are two churches on the islet – the Church of Blessed Virgin Mary’s Annunciation and the Church of St. Bernard.

For more information contact the Tourist Board of Punat:

Pod topol 2, 51521 Punat
Tel: +385 (0)51 854 – 860
Fax: +385 (0)51 854 – 970
E-mail: info@tzpunat.hr
www.tzpunat.hr

Photos by: TZ Punat & KUD Punat

Fužine – place of lakes and magnificent cuisine

Anyone driving through the Rijeka-Zagreb motorway gives a thorough look on Fužine. The road suddenly exits the wooden and hilly teritorry just to give a glimpse of the Lake Bajer and the town of Fužine, stretching up and down the hilltop. This image invites everyone to Fužine, to enjoy the shades and cool mountain air in summer, try the fruits of the forests in autumn, celebrate the New Year at noon in winter, and hike on the numerous walking paths in spring. And while the motoway gives faster way to reach the Croatian coast from the capital Zagreb, Fužine is not new to the major transit route. It is precisely here that Karolina was built, a road that used to connect the interior with the littoral, named after the Karl III, the Habsburg king and emperor.

Bitoraj – A Temple of Game Dishes

The road was built in 1728 and was a vital heartbeat between Karlovac and the port of Bakar. it passed Fužine, a village made in 17th century when the Croatian noblemen Zrinski started to mine the iron ore. It turned out this work was not profitable, but Fužine retained its name. It comes from the Italian “fucina” or German “fusionieren”, a term denoting the mining and manufacturing the iron ore. In 1873 a railroad was made, effectively transforming and developing a wood industry here. Exactly one year later Fužine turned to be a tourism destination.

Lič – place of religion and heritage

Long ago, in 1898 travel writer Dragutin Hirc wrote: „There is no other area in the homeland where there would be so many interesting things in such a small space, as there is around Fužine. There are few areas even in foreign countries, where beauty is laid before you as in a palm of the hand. The surroundings of Fužine are magnificent, it is a true alpine region. Encircled by high hills covered in evergreen woods, there are fir groves. There are mountain ports and beaches, meadows with most luxuriant mountain and alpine flowers, there are streams, streamlets, little springs, valleys, plains, there are landscapes that elate your soul completely, there are many, many things and the attire that Fužine wears is adorned and of which it is proud.” When a famous Croatian historian Tadija Smičiklas wrote about Franjo Rački, the first president of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, he noted that he was born in the Magical Fužine!

At the time, there was no lakes around Fužine, but the area is extremely rich in water. The place has the highest annual rainfall in Croatia, and this fact was important to capture this enormous amount of water in three accumulation lakes. The oldest of these is Bajer, built in the 1950s, and a major natural tourist attraction in Fužine. One could not imagine this settlement without Bajer today. It is suitable for boat rides, canoeing, kayaking, even wind surfing. Although less known, Lake Lepenica actually has more amount of water and larger surface. Both lakes invite many anglers. People from Fužine often go to Potkos, small artificial lake on the foot of Bitoraj mountain.

Goranska borovnica – in the highland paradise of forest berries

Guests don’t roam just the countryside, they go beneath it. The area is rich with caves, from Fužine up to the neighbouring municipality of Lokve. While constructing the Lake Bajer, workers accidentally discovered the cave Vrelo. It is only 300m long, but its beauty is exceptional and it is rich with cave formations. There are walking trails and lighting inside and guests can see a beautiful mountain spring, lake, and chasm.

Because of its natural beauty, Fužine is popular for sportsmen and nature goers. There are numerous bicycle and hiking trails on Viševica (1482m), Bitoraj (1386m), Tuhobić (1109m), while less adventurous can simply climb Preradović hill, which gives a spectacular view of Fužine and its surroundings. Angling is also very popular, while those who know how to ride can experience almost unspoiled nature on a horseback. Romantics may warm up with blankets while riding a snow sledge with horse in winter, and those preferring conflicts can easily do it in the Paintball park Vrata.

Fužine Tourist Board

Phone: +385 51 835 163
info@tz-fuzine.hr
www.tz-fuzine.hr

Lič – place of religion and heritage

In 1733 inhabitants of Lič, now a small place near Fužine, were renovating the dilapidates St. John the Baptist Church which kept collapsing. On August 5th, in middle of summer, snow fell and covered the little chapel in which Mother of God appeared. Since then people make pilgrimages to this small chapel, now dedicated to the Virgin Mary of Snow.

The chapel stands in midst of green mountain meadow, surrounded by evergreen hills. Peacefulness of the place is only sometimes broken by birds and wind, and one can indeed feel the holiness of the site. Don’t expect some big sanctuary with lots of pilgrims. This is a small chapel, close to the St. John’s Hill, where another chapel is situated. We strongly suggest you to take a walk from Fužine or Lič and feel the pilgrimage path itself.

The church itself has a beautiful main altar with a picture of Blessed Virgin Mary of Rosary with St. Catherine of Siena and St. Dominic. These pictures were saved before the church was ruined in the Second World War, together with a cross made from white marble made in 1929. Side altars consist of St. Joseph and St. Catherine. There is also a statue of Blessed Virgin Mary with a child and statue of Holy Heart of Jesus.

In the back there is a large painting “Miracle of our Lady of Snow”, donated by Anton Hriberšek whose mother is from Lič. The painting shows the miracle itself, the moment when snow flocks came down from the starry sky.

The parish church in the village itself is dedicated to Saint George, built in 1662. It is situated above the centre of the place where the Ethnographic society “Sveti Juraj” (St. George) runs the Lič cultural-historical collection. It opened its doors to the public in 1994, the year in which Lič celebrated 150 years of schooling.

Mr Dražen Starčević, fatally in love with Lič and its surroundings, shows us the collection that preserves items that were used in these areas and that tell a story about the life and habits of the people who lived here. Lič is way older than Fužine; the settlement itself was first mentioned in 1364. In 1603 first Vlach/Bunjevci inhabitants settled here, giving it a distinctive ethnographic character.

The ethnographic department consists of ethnographic artefacts and tools used by locals in their daily lives, remains of the past hands full of blisters on the legacy passed on to the present. One can find many things here, from the working tools in the fields to the express pots and irons for the kitchen work. All of these items were used in Lič and stem from the ancestors of local people.

Next to it is a room filled with archive documents, writings, and photographs. A window to locals’ past, it shows the richness and troubles of life throughout past times. Among others, one can also see the costumes which people wore, as well as the official documents regarding the state and municipality.

Upstairs is a history department consisting of sacral treasury and the civil room. The latter is an insight in the life of a well standing civil family Kauzlarić, from the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. It is a very attractive display of antique furniture, art paintings, old tableware, ornaments, and old documents and books.

A small sacral treasury is placed in the same room, containing a significant number of sacral objects, valuable old church vestments that date from the Venetian times. and flags that need a special airtight chest.  It is a solid look into the history of the Catholic church and parish of Lič.

An unique exhibition in Gorski kotar is also a collection of ethnographic and artistic items of the peoples from Africa, Asia, and America. It is a result of a valuable donation by a vacation home owner in Lic. Physicist Guy Paic PhD who works in New Mexico, USA, following a wish of his late wife, famous television journalist Arlette Ambrozic-Paic, donated valuable art works collected on their numerous travels to the Collection. Contained mostly are objects from Africa and South America, therefore the Ethnographic association members have formed a separated display room with exhibits of non-European peoples.

By forming several display areas, the Ethnographic collection in Lic became a very respectable museum.  Today it contains more than 500 exhibits in the permanent display, and it is continuously enlarged with new objects. Indeed, the ethnographic association should be well proud of their achievments.

Lič St. George Association
etnoudrugalic@gmail.com
+385 98 448 145 (Dražen Starčević)

Srdela is In – Botel Marina, Hotel Kontinental, and Conca d’Oro

According to legend, the first sardine was eaten by the Greek God Dionysius, who offered it eternal life, if it were to substitute the sea with the wine from his goblet. The sardine refused by responding: the sea is my abode, and I belong to the fishermen and sea folk from all shores, islands and ports, thus I am obliged to assuage the hunger of fish and men alike! And so it was.

Botel Marina – Ship of Gastronomy Delights

The sardine is the fishermen’s favourite, it has been dubbed the queen of the sea because it was the primary food source for many generations. Healthy food does not have to be expensive and the often underestimated sardine is living proof of this.

Classy Dining in the Hotel Kontinental

Sardines are oily fish, although they mostly contain unsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 being the most common). The human body requires them to remain healthy because it cannot produce them on its own and pelagic fish contain more unsaturated fatty acids than farmed-raised fish.

Conca d’Oro – the sardine masterpieces in the oldest restaurant of Rijeka

Sardines (lat. Sardina pilchardus) are small, oily fish within the herring family. The largest sardine fishing grounds are located in the western Mediterranean and the Adriatic where the sardines are the primary fish species of exploitation. Sardines are fished throughout the year on nights where the new moon hangs in the sky, but those fished in May and June are supposedly of the best quality, especially if used for salting. Sardines are regular fixtures on traditional menus and despite their reputation for being the food of the poor, salted sardines were held in high esteem by wealthy gourmands and were used as food additives instead of salt.

Rijeka Tourist Information Centre

Korzo 14 / 51000 Rijeka
tel. + 385 51 335 882, fax. +385 51 315 720
e-mail: info@visitRijeka.hr

http://www.visitrijeka.eu

Enter the Big Doors – Maritime and Fishery Tradition of Kvarner

FARNET – the European Fisheries Areas Network – is the community of people implementing Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). This network brings together Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs), managing authorities, citizens and experts from across the EU.

CLLD funding is delegated to local partnerships that bring together the private sector, local authorities and civil society organizations. Known as Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs), these partnerships fund local projects within the framework of a strategy, developed in response to specific needs and opportunities identified locally.

Taste the Sea

Such FLAG is Vela Vrata (the Big Door, named after the maritime passage between the island of Cres and the mainland in the Bay of Rijeka) which brings together islands of Cres and Lošinj, and their respective towns and municipalities, and the city of Opatija, municipalities of Lovran and Mošćenička Draga on the coast.

Feel the Sea

Its vision is to develop a sustainable fishery in this area, encourage diversification of products and services outside the fishing itself, and promote fishing and maritime tradition and heritage, create new jobs, use innovations, and develop whole life education.

The FLAG Vela Vrata and their volunteers, comprised of people who very successfully run the LAG Terra Liburna led by Mrs. Anđela Cvjetković, invited us on a two-day journey to learn more about the touristic potentials of such heritage. For that reason, several video clips have been made, which we present here.

Texts by: Vedran Obućina
Photos by: Bruno Vignjević & Vedran Obućina

House of the Sea – Maritime Museum in Mošćenička Draga

In the small fishing port of Mošćenička Draga stands a quite special house, dedicated to the maritime tradition of this part of the Adriatic Sea. It is the Interpretation centre of fishing and maritime heritage of the Eco-Museum Mošćenička Draga, where visitors enjoy the exhibits like old catching traps, hooks, ship materials. Especially interesting part is multimedia exhibit of an old ship cupboard; when one opens a tray, one can hear the sound of sea, ship horn, seagull, dolphin, etc.

The museum shows three basic topics: fisheries, maritime tradition, and traditional ship building. On the lower floor there are standard topics about fisheries, such as kinds and types of fishing nets, tools and lights, but also ways how to salt fish or repair the nets. A special dedication is given to the old Slavic community and their ancient fishery. Mošćenička Draga is situated beneath Perun, an ancient place of old Slavic worship. Everyday life of fishermen is supplemented with a special emphasis on the role of women up to the present day.

On upper floor, visitors encounter traditional ship building, tools, models, drawings, but also artefacts from private collections featuring old signal flags, pictures old 130 years showing the ships where people from this region worked. These paintings are often given to the local churches as a religious vow and as a prayer for the safe voyage.

The museum gives a glimpse of our grandparents’ life, their everyday work, hopes, and fears, emotions that are passed through decades. As such, it is a beautiful place for learning more about the life in Mošćenička Draga and its surroundings.

Apoxyomenos – Bronze Effigy of Ancient Lošinj

In the cold depths of the Adriatic Sea it laid for over two thousand years. Accidental discovery by a Belgian tourist gave a totally new story to the island of Lošinj. It is the Apoxyomenos, the antique bronze statue of an athlete, 192 cm tall, taken from the sea bed between the islet of Vele Orjule and the island of Lošinj on 27 April 1999, is the only large bronze found to date on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. It is assumed that it was deposited in the sea at the beginning of the 1st century when it was thrown overboard during bad weather because of the danger of the ship overturning or as a sacrifice to the gods for safe passage through the Osor channel to a prosperous destination/port of call on the north Adriatic.

Two thousand years of darkness, under the sea, can be felt in the Apoxyomenos museum in Mali Lošinj, a prime example of interactive introduction to the antiquity of the island. The place where you find out more about this statue is deliberatly dimmed and cold, to present you with the surroundings of young athlete’s statue for hunderds of years. Casted in bronze, and nursed by seeweed and sand, it still contained seeds of time, with pieces of wood, twigs, leaves, remains of diverse seeds and fruits, and remains of insects, found in the body of the statue. It is assumed that even a small mouse lived inside it!

The statue represents an athlete, a young sportsman, at the moment of cleaning oil, dust and sweat from his body with a scraping tool after a competition. During the restoration, which lasted 7 years, analysing the material and style of workmanship, the statue was dated from the 2nd – 1st century B.C. while the prototype on which it was made is considerably older, from the middle of the 4th century B.C.

During the visit, guests can learn more about its discovery and restoration to the present state while watching and interesting movie and reading press clips from round the world. Croatian Apoxyomenos is very interesting as it is the most perfect and most preserved from eight well-known variations of the Apoxyomenos prototype (the most famous being the bronze statue from Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, discovered in 1896 in Ephesus).

Grand finale of every visit to the museum is a carefully constructed room where Apoxyomenos stands. The statue cannot be touched nor photographed, but the experience is marvellous. Such delicate details in bronze of every part of the young man’s body is breath-taking, especially when we consider it is more than two thousand years old! Indeed, an inspiration for a beautiful story, which Lošinj already has.

Following the ancient maritime routes in the Adriatic and following Apoxyomenos’ own journey, Lošinj created a massage, delicacies, natural cosmetics, ancient cuisine, souvenirs, and all other interesting inspirations. The ancient cuisine follows the traits of Greek trade and food researches, and today we know that everyday food of most Greek people was simple and basic. Cereals, olives, and wine were consumed most often, and along with fish and other seafood, they were the core of the Greek diet.

Breakfast comprised of barley cake, dates, figs, and wine, or they simply ate bread soaked in diluted wine. For lunch, they had barley soup or barley bread and cooked vegetables, however, dinner was abundant and included fish, sausages, cheese, bread, nuts, and honey. For special banquets for weddings, the birth of a child or winning a competition, they prepared oxen meat, sheep, goats, poultry, thrushes, quails, rabbits, and other game. As far as legumes were concerned, they prepared chickpeas, lentils, peas, and beans. Their favourite fruits were figs, grapes, apples, pears, dates, and blackberries. Honey was used as a sweetener.

The Greeks also knew lemon, cedar, parsley, basil, and pepper but they weren’t used as spices. They were added in medicinal preparations, and some of them were used for insect control.

Muzej Apoksiomena,
Riva lošinjskih kapetana 13, HR-51550 Mali Lošinj
+385 51 734 260
info@muzejapoksiomena.hr
http://www.muzejapoksiomena.hr/

Blue World in Lošinj

Yes, I’ve adopted a dolphin! Its name is Boa, she has offsprings and has problems with breathing. Nevertheless, I tell everyone I’ve adopted it. Sure, it was part of the visit to the Blue World Institute, Lošinj’s educational centre about the sea, where we heard many thoughts and activities regarding the protection of sea world and biodiversity.

Research focuses on large marine vertebrates (mostly Cetaceans, sea turtles and cartilaginous fish) with an aim to contribute to their and marine environment protection and conservation. Results of research are translated into activities aimed at raising public awareness and education. Our offices and field activities are based on Adriatic islands, showing our support to the sustainable development of local, insular communities through cooperation and an interdisciplinary approach to conservation.

In 2003 Blue World opened the first marine education centre on the eastern Adriatic coast. In the centre, there are permanent and temporary exhibitions and interactive multimedia presentations. In addition, the centre hosts workshops and lectures for the education of visitors and different interest and age groups. The programme is being continuously updated and changed and has been approved by Croatian Education and Teacher Training Agency.

The most significant project of the conservation programme has been the involvement of Blue World Institute in the development of the Cres-Lošinj MPA, the first such area for dolphins in the entire Mediterranean. Blue World Institute supports permanent protection of this area through support of the process of transparent public participation and establishment for the local protected area management institution.

Blue World Institute of Marine Research and Conservation

Lošinj Marine Education Centre
Kaštel 24, 51551 Veli Lošinj
Telephone: +385 51 604 666, Fax:+385 51 604 668
E-mail: info@blue-world.org  or adp.losinj@gmail.com
http://www.blue-world.org

Taste the Sea

Within the FLAG Vela Vrata, several taverns and restaurants received the award for clean, fresh, and local menu delivered by the local fishermen. These include tavern Tramerka in Volosko, tavern Kali in Medveja, tavern Zijavica in Mošćenička Draga, restaurant Mareta in Martinšćica, and restaurant Za Kantuni in Mali Lošinj. We’ve visited several of them.

Fish’n’Sheep – Gastronomy tradition of Cres in tavern Mareta

Za Kantuni – Great Seafood round the Corner

FLAG Vela Vrata created a two-day touristic itinerary suited to the small groups interested in maritime traditions and gastronomy of the Kvarner area. This itinerary joins tourism, fishery, restaurants and environment protection into one coherent and interesting offer. We’ve experienced this tour with pleasure and learn many interesting things about Cres, Lošinj, and Liburnian coast.

The island of Cres is a place of unspoiled and rugged Mediterranean beauty. Coastal villages swarm with charming little bays, secluded beaches and the clean sea. A huge number of walking tracks, footpaths and hiking trails leading up to the out-of-the-way bays surround small villages located at the very coastline.

Harmony of sea and imagination at Zijavica

The city of Cres is the biggest town on the island and its administrative centre, surrounded by ancient olive groves and small fortresses, with preserved old town and spectacular surroundings.

It is from here that we embarked on a touristic ship owned by fisherman Đildo Damjanjević. His dual business proves to be an excellent combination as the tourists can learn first-hand how the fishermen’s life looks like. Every day, when the weather permits, Damjanjević and his son sail out to the sea. The family is known for catching prime-quality Adriatic scampi. Everybody seems to agree with the claim that the most delicious scampi in the world come “from the blue mud of Kvarner Bay”. Many gourmets from across the globe are willing to pay much more for the Kvarner scampi than for any other type of this delicacy.

Mr. Damjanjević talks to us about catching the scampi. This delicacy is caught exclusively with fishing traps on a long line (vrša). Nowadays there are more scampi than before because there are less fishermen. Some 300 traps are thrown into the waters around Cres daily. From the 50-55 metres deep they catch some 4-5 kilos of scampi, and they are always solidly sold to the local restaurants. The price is hefty, but the flavour of real Adriatic Scampi is magnificent.

The boat takes us to the Orada Adriatic fish farm to see the possibilities of aquaculture development. Bream and bass are two sorts of fish raised in an open bay off the Cres cliffs. While we were looking at the farm itself, suddenly we were surprised by two dolphins. Their duet and tranquil play enchanted us all. We met another fisherman with traps, and the whole experience can be told for family and friends, while speaker gets an aura of adventure!

Adventurers have to eat and we did try ingenious small bites, deep-fried mussels, salted sardines with olive oil, and fig cake with Istrian sausage made with gastronomy snails, a perfect combination of Tavern Kali (which is famous for fig cakes and fruity vinegars) and company Manjon, a 60-years old business of family Cvjetković from Matulji, whose main product is gastronomy snails.