Category Archives: Rural homes and appartments


Dukat is tightly tied to the Slavonian soul. These are golden coins that people wear as a necklace, as part of the Slavonian folk costume. It is passed on though generations, making it one of the most valuable family heritages. Dukat is thus a name that preserves Slavonian culture and habits, and is regarded as very special. And when looking for a very classic and traditional Slavonian homemade cooking in Nova Gradiška, the Restaurant Dukat is prime spot.

Situated on the outskirts of the town, Dukat is beautifully styled as an old Slavonian interior. Wooden indoors welcomes the guests to an ideal family enterprise of rural gastronomy. The family Arić comes from nearby village of Gornji Crnogovci. Two brothers with their families travelled around and found their way to stay in Sava Valley and beautiful Slavonia. Their idea was to produce on their homestead, prepare in on the estate, and present it in their restaurant, which was once horse stable. And they have succeed marvellously!

Family cares for agriculture but also animals, especially the authentic Slavonian species of black swine (fajferica), Slavonian oxen (podolci), Posavac horses, deer, etc. Their products of traditional Slavonian cuisine are prepared according to the highest quality markers in the Nova Gradiška manufactory.

In the old household in Gornji Crnogovci the Arić brothers saw their dreams come true – they reconstructed the old home of their grandparents and made “Matin i Anin stan” (the home of Mate and Ana), a spectacular agritourism close to the Sava River. Orchards, agricultural buildings, and small lake are typical examples of traditional rural architecture in Slavonia, but the agritourism also offers two manifestations presented as heritage to this region, traditional Slavonian pig slaughtering (kolinje, svinjokolja) and traditional women games.

We have visited the restaurant itself to feel the essence of Slavonian hearty cooking and meaty products. With a sip of plum rakija, itself a valuable addition to the local gastronomy, we started the Slavonian gastronomic journey with care for history and originality. The best way to start is to have a plate of Slavonian favourites, homemade dried sausage kulin, sausages, bacon, greaves, cheese, and hot peppers.

Main dish is as meaty as it gets. Smoked pork chops, stuffed pork loin, filled turkey steak and an imaginative array of chicken dishes (chicken fillet in seed crust gives precedence to the pumpkin, sesame, and flax seeds; chicken fillet in ham sauce accentuates homemade ham, while Šokadija is jolly combination of chicken, wine, peppers, mushrooms, and herbs) are included in the best ready meals.

Specialities are rather more interesting. Baked Bread Soup may be considered to be more Central Croatian thing, but it surely gives a local characteristic in Nova Gradiška. Veal baked in a traditional oven with a side dish or rolled veal or turkey made in same oven all bear innovative local names (Bećar, Lola, everything connected to the bohemian lifestyle in Slavonia).

If you order it a day or two before, you may enjoy here roast lamb and baked veal, or you may opt for excellent freshwater fish, especially carp or fish stew (fiš paprikaš). Hake is also present, thus giving a nice alternative to the meat. Unfortunately, given the local readiness to go to the restaurants not so much for the specialties but for the grill, this place serves grilled meat, pizza, and even calamari, which is a sad story repeated all over Croatia.

Because meat specialties are so prevalent, the best wine to go along would be traditionally good Graševina, of which Slavonia is famous and respected, but even more so with excellent Frankovka Ferinčanci which we tried with Bećarski steak. Indeed, the time of the Slavonian red wines has come. And Dukat makes it even better in the natural atmosphere of Slavonian home and hospitality, with an obligation to visit the agritourism as well.

Restaurant Dukat
Bana Ivana Mažuranića 27, Nova Gradiška
00385 35 330 180


When you come to Krško, be sure to visits its surroundings. The countryside of Posavje region is the land of pristine flavours, traditional food, and excellent wines. These delights locals call the “River of Flavours” and indeed it is. You will first receive a warm greeting and an amazing hospitality, just as we experienced it in the restaurant Ribnik near Brestanica.

Typical local dishes in Posavje include flat cake with overheated cream (puhla s pregreto smetano), flat cake with cottage cheese (cop na lop), buckwheat cake (bizeljski ajdov kolač), cottage cheese dumplings (pečeni sirovi štruklji), carrot soup (korejevc), Krško-polje pig delicacies, colt, fish… everything cooked with fresh, authentic and local ingredients. Local action group Posavje is very active in raising the value of local products and services, establishing locally based sustainable food supply, and overall development of rural regions.

One such product is Krško-polje pig (krškopoljski prašič), the only autochthonic Slovenian pig sort. It is historically raised in the Dolenjska region, which abounds with valleys, already in 1850ies. This black-and-white pig gives particularly soft and delicious ham and praised lard. Especially pleasing are dried meat products, which go well with cviček.

In place of Raka, the Tourist Association Lovrenc Raka began a project “Best from Raka”, an innovative conception of presenting the autochthon onion sort (čebula, raška č’bula). They try to promote this piece of local agricultural heritage further in local and national restaurants and inns, as unavoidable part of the Slovenian culinary offer.

Raka was once famous for red onion, grown in hard but fertile ground. Almost every household had onions to sell, and the seed was carefully preserved. Raška č’bula was once staple food, used every day in local homes. It is powerful antiseptic which protects from illness and strengthens immunity. It is eaten raw, with sausages, ham, or just with bread. Local folk medicine also used this onion to cure. Today, probably the most famous čebula grower was Mr Učnik, grandfather of Melanija Trump who was born in nearby Sevnica!

We learn more about raška č’bula in the Cvičkov hram wine house. This is the centre point of Raka events. Day of St. Lawrence is onion and wine day, and traditional fire-fighter party is being held. People also walk through the Čebula path from Raka to Krakovski gozd and Kostanjevica. We try the specific čebula onion soup with bits of bread soaked in it (čebulova juha). Quite simple and different from the famous French onion soup, it replenishes body and soul. No wonder, as it was usually served after the Sunday church mass. This onion blends well with marinated trout, with mushrooms and salad, as basis for onion jam together with pork roast, or as an onion pie.

Tourist Association Lovrenc Raka
Raka 36a, 8274 Raka
041/532 727

Čebula also goes well with cviček, wine classified with recognised traditional name. It has quite unique blend of various reds (modra frankinja, žametna črtnina – 70 per cent) and white varieties (kraljevina, laški rizling, rumeni plavec, zeleni silvanec – 30 per cent). It is a dry wine with low alcohol, up to maximum 10 per cent, and somewhat higher acidity. Cviček enchants with its light red colour and ruby casts; Slovenes are particularly proud of it. It has fresh fruity aromas, with an emphasis on raspberry and cherry. Our hosts claim it also has healing properties!

Cviček is known in this region since 1500’s and mentioned even in the great Slovenian historian Valvasor’s work as Marwein, a jolly wine of Dolenjska. Today, some 20 million litres of cviček is produced in Dolenjska region, and cviček wine maker association numbers more than 200 people. In Raka they gather in Cvičkov hram (the embassy of cviček), which has educative and pleasurable parts. In the basement is a wine cellar that can accommodate up to 70 guests. We enjoyed it with opnion soup and homemade sausages and bacon, while listening to gorgeous Lovrenci male a cappela band. The upper floor is made of oak logs and is a modern version of the 18th century house (gorniki).

Another famous wine of Posavje region is Modra Frankinja (Blue Franconian). It is one of the most favourite red sorts in continental parts of ex-Austro-Hungarian Empire. In Slovenia, Posavje and Podravje (regions characterised by the Sava and Drava rivers) offer a particularly good terroir for this wine. It contains lots of antioxidants, making it perfect wine for meaty and fatty meals, full of cholesterols. Modra frankinja is also part of cviček.

A special treat is to book your accommodation in a vineyard cottage (zidanice). It is a unique trademark of Posavje, where lots of vineyard cottages, wineries, and wine cellars make a heaven for wine tourists. Most wine cottages are not at all small or excessively rustic – they are now real villas in the rural surroundings of Posavje wine hills.

Winter Rhapsody in Stancija Kovačići

The search for traditional Liburnian gastronomy in times of carnival led us to a homestead located in the less familiar place Rukavac, near Matulji. A rural estate has found its place among family homes. It was built in 1880s and since then has remained in the same family, who converted the estate into a refined experience of gastronomy pleasures, with quite unique view of Lisina Mountain. It is a gorgeous wood park at a foot of mountain chain Ćićarija, which provides numerous short and long walkways thought it as well as hiking paths.

Former house for labourers in the field, for whom homesteads were intended, heirs to the Ružić and Frlan family now turned it into a holiday home for gastronomads. They enjoy the rich variety of tastes among which are Grobnik cheese and curd, Istrian prosciutto, truffles, all aroma and flavour with the addition of olive oil and seasoning with herbs growing around the restaurant, which the chef and owner, Vinko Frlan, carefully chooses when creates his exquisite meals.

His father still makes excellent brandies based on herbs and fruits in the region. Rukavac herb brandy (rukavačka travarica) is of his making, as he handpicks Mediterranean herbs and makes indeed great brandy. We also tried fig brandy, which has excellent aroma and even better taste. It is great aperitif for imaginative winter menu we have tried in Stancija.

Elaborative start began with smoked beef carpaccio with Grobnik cheese and olives. Slightly smoky carpaccio reminds on the meat freshness and enchants with its red colour, while grated Grobnik cheese is usually salty but also young and without strong taste. It comes from another famous carnival region of Grobnik. Everyone here is connected by bell ringers’ tradition and indeed Mr Frlan is also Halubje bell ringer. The cheese saltiness is additionally eased with extra virgin olive oil from Nino Činić in Krasica near Buje. He cultivates leccino sort; young olive oil with an aroma of mowed grass fits well with black olives and rucola on the carpaccio.

We enjoy homemade bread, small round bites of traditional perfectness, still warm from the oven. Home wine, cabernet blend and Malvasia would go well with all Stancija meals, but more elaborative wine list is available, mostly of Istrian wines.

Main course consisted of crisp pastry, bacon and boškarin sausage, leek, prosciutto and curd. Boškarin is popular name for authentic Istrian beef and its sausage is finely baked; more and more flavours open up when you chew the sausage and enjoy its mild and meaty taste. The sausage lays on basis of crisp pastry and curd, which gives specific milky aroma and balanced essence of leek. On top comes rich and salty prosciutto.

Almost as a surprise comes poached egg inside this dish, and it completely changes the flavour, giving an impression of two dishes inside one. Very balanced combination emerges as arty expressions of winter and carnival traditions of this region between sea and mountains. Sausages are unavoidable feature of carnival food, while its origin gives local authenticity. And everyone knows what kind of combination eggs and bacon give!

Second main course was again pleasure for senses; in a basket made of dough beef Bolognese with mushrooms and béchamel sauce is served. First comes the strong essence of boletus, picked often in neighbouring woodlands. The dish is rich, layered, and meaty, with big chunks of mushrooms.

Dessert of this winterish gastronomic journey is chestnut tiramisu, with caramel and cream dressing, excellent finish for anyone who likes less sweet desserts. In special occasions one can also try rukavački presnac here, which is gastronomic heritage of this place.

In the restaurant of the homestead Kovačići you can always taste homemade pasta and fresh baked bread. These culinary challenges and delights are not hidden away from the guests. Homestead offers many cooking schools, which combines Croatian traditional culinary delicacies in a memorable, interactive and imaginative way. We surely did experience it in the beautiful, cosy and warm dining room.

A complete offer if fulfilled with four spacious double bedrooms and one single bedroom, equipped with all the necessary modern day appliances. Although the rooms do not reflect a traditional style, they are tastefully decorated in accordance with the view from the window. Guests also have access to bikes with which you could explore the whole surrounding area of Matulji, and for those looking for more adrenaline there are mountain bikes, hiking and tennis courts.

Stancija Kovačići
Rukavac 51, 51211, Matulji
+ 385 51 272 106

Photos by Stancija Kovačići and Taste of Adriatic

Fairytale at Stara Vodenica

Family ethno hotel “Stara Vodenica” (Old Watermill) of family Galić is situated close to Klanjec and near the Sutla River. You cannot miss it on the road as the exterior resembles fairytale place with a distinctive Zagorje features. Family Galić transformed it based on years of tourism experience. Now it welcomes visitors from all around the world in a picturesque corner of Hrvatsko Zagorje, with River Sutla, Klanjec, Kumrovec, and Castle of Veliki Tabor in easy reach by car.

We came to Stara Vodenica after long day of visiting the area and trying local specialties. As a reward, bright smile of staff and welcoming drink with Mr Galić waited for us, along a substantial dinner. The restaurant of this place is decorated in rural Zagorje style, evoking memories of the old, and grandma’s fireplace. Every meal is done in stone oven and the offer is based on traditional Zagorje dishes such as baked beans with sausages, turkey and duck with mlinci, filled Zagorje loaf, baked štrukli, along homemade Zagorje peasant bread.

Hospitality in Zagorje is always present. Thus, we enjoyed talking to the owner while sipping a glass of homemade rakija, before venturing off to the adventure of Zagorje dinner. Situated next to the fireplace, we enjoyed beautiful mushroom soup. Forget all the tastes in city restaurants, this is soup made from hand-picked mushrooms in Sutla valley. Soft chunks of various mushrooms blend perfectly with the broth.

Next, we had Zagorje’s famous and signature dish duck with mlinci. Mlinci, a thin dried flatbread prepared by simply pouring it in boiled salted water, is by its simplicity a true opposition to the knowledge of slowly baking duck and making it a soft main dish. Nowhere in Croatia is duck more popular than in Zagorje and people here are masters in making it.

For dessert you will probably find grandma’s apple pie, pancakes with grandma’s jam, or baked štrukli, another famous Zagorje meal, often eaten not only as a dessert but also as an appetizer. With some homemade red wine, our dinner was a very pleasant finish of the day, with a found memory of duck with mlinci.

Stara vodenica was also our resting place for the night. None of the rooms is the same, and they are all made in Zagorje rustic style. The furniture inside is made from old oak woods, and every rooms is equipped with a TV, air condition, bathroom. Small details are what brings happiness to guests and make the stay here very enjoyable. Sleeping here is indeed almost like a fairytale.

But the real fairytale is to be found around the restaurant and hotel itself. It is a park with old fashioned rural wooden houses, a true historical mill, and animal farm with hens, chickens, dog, goats, etc. In warmer months the park is filled with people sitting on wooden benches and massive wooden tables, enjoying the pleasant green area not far from the Sutla River.

For those who stay here over summer, an outdoor swimming pool may come handy. Otherwise, there is wellness option, with massage and Jacuzzi. Or you may just visit the wine cellar next door and find many top quality wines from all around Croatia and Slovenia.

There are some major master plans to spread the experience and success of Stara Vodenica and make a fairytale village all the way to Sutla. This would greatly enhance the touristic offer of this destination and indeed make our own fairytales known in the wider world. A great experience, enjoyable night, and in every way a place to visit again.

Staying at Stara Vodenica was kindly provided by the Tourist Board of Klanjec.

Seoski turizam “Stara vodenica”
Gredice 32 Klanjec
tel/fax: +385 49 550 577
mob: +385 91 5422 747, +385 98 625 537

Photos by: Andrea Seifert, and Stara Vodenica (outdoors)

Bright Smile and Hospitality at Masnec Homestead

To sit in dining room of Masnec rural tourism on hills above Zagorska sela is indeed like sitting in a comfortable home, next to a fireplace, and with a jolly company enjoying excellent rural cuisine. We came here party unannounced, but it wasn’t a problem for Fanika Masnec, the lady of the house. With a bright smile she brought us the family’s graševina wine and asked to wait just a few minutes before she gets us some specialties of the house.

Family Masnec is among the first in Zagorje and whole Croatia to open this new style of tourism. Tremendous love for local tradition and history kept them going even in hard times. Today, Masnec homestead is a place where you can experience the beauty of Zagorje scenery and enjoy the traditional gastronomy of this area. All the products are made on the estate, including the wine in nearby vineyard.

You may also choose to stay in the house, as Masnec family provides accommodation for guests. If that happens, you will be awaken with bird singing overlooking castle of Veliki Tabor and small chapels on hilltops, far away from the hustle and bustle of city stress and traffic. Unfortunately, we weren’t so happy, but hospitality and care given to us was great. Mr Masnec even came from pig slaughter tradition (kolinje) just to talk with us and take us to his wine cellar.

Our own gastronomy journey began with a beautifully layered and strong taste of pâté made mostly of pork liver. Spread on homemade bread, it is absolute top of appetizers at Masnec, especially with a sip of graševina on side. The rest of appetizers consist of zaseka (spread made of bacon, lard, and seasoning) and smoked sausage, which boasts with fresh taste and rich natural fat, without much black pepper which can be usually found in sausages all around Croatia.

We also had an opportunity to taste cooked štrukli, a signature dish of Zagorje. It is a simple pastry filled with cheese, often baked or cooked, and with addition of fried bread crumbles or cinnamon. Although simple in ingredients it is considered to be a very special delicacy with many varieties. Less known are štrukli soup or štrukli as side dish for meat. Masnec štrukli have a pinch of cinnamon on top, giving it a totally new flavour.

Mrs Fanika is not only the lady of the house, but she uses organic vegetables from her own garden, including tomatoes, peppers, hot peppers, parsley, pumpkin, salad. Everything else comes from the visual range, as neighbours usually work in agriculture. Dogs guard the house, but particular love of Masnec Family is for horses and few of them live on the estate.

Before leaving the homestead we have visited the wine cellar. It is situated in a nearby wine house with big place for festivities, and with a typical wine cellar. Mr. Masnec showed us his pride of wine making, featuring excellent Graševina, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Frankinja, and mixed white wine. Good wine asks for much work, but in Zagorje people know also how to celebrate afterwards. The Masnec vineyard is definitely one such spot, and grape harvest is a festival for everyone who visits the place at that time.

Seoski turizam Masnec
Luka Poljanska 41, 49296 Zagorska Sela
tel: +385 49 552 133, fax: +385 49 501 998
mob: +385 99 601 38 49

Photos by: Andrea Seifert, and Masnec Family

Apartment Dijana

On a spot from where you can enjoy beautiful view on the old town of Bakar as well as the Bakar Bay stands a house with nicely decorated apartment Dijana. New decorated apartment is located just five minutes walk from the old town and everything you might need for your stay – market, bakery, post office, coffee bars, restaurants…



The apartment consists of two bedrooms, one with double bed, and another with two single beds. There is a separate bathroom with shower. You can also use the kitchen, equipped with oven, coffee machine and all the other necessary utensils.




The kitchen is combined with a living room, where you can enjoy air-conditioned space with TV and WI-FI access. But it would be a shame to spend days inside, as the owners will welcome you to a garden where you can relax and enjoy beautiful sea view. The peaceful surrounding of this family house will give you a true anti-stress therapy!




The apartment has its own access and free parking lot, and caters for up to six persons. It is indeed very close by car to get almost anywhere – Rijeka and Krk are less than 10 kilometres away, as well as numerous beaches in summer. The owners will be happy to help you with advices and showing the way how to best and easy enjoy your holiday time in any time of the year!



Apartment Dijana
Klanac 175/A, Bakar
+385 92 199 7591

Holiday House Zulejka, Sabljaci

On the shores of mythical lake Sabljaci, and with a stunning view on the forests and mountains, is situated the Holiday House Zulejka. The house is named after Zulejka or Đula. Zulejka was of noble origin and her parents, as was the custom in those times, promised her to an elderly nobleman. Meanwhile, after a great battle against the Turks, a young captain Milan Juraić from the border arrived in Ogulin. He defended the Frankopan fort in Tounj. When Zulejka saw him she fell in love at first sight. Milan was killed in a battle against the Turks, and when Zulejka heard this she threw herself into the abyss of the River Dobra.



There are no abysses in the Zulejka House. Instead, it offers accommodation in newly decorated and equipped holiday house for six persons. The ground floor features living room, completely equipped kitchen, dining room, and bathroom.



holidey-home-zulejka-65 holidey-home-zulejka-66

The upper floor is where two double-bed bedrooms are situated, also with a bathroom. They are beautifully decorated, with feeling of lots of space.





The house is surrounded by greenery. There is a garden here, with a grill, and terrace with a sitting place, a perfect relaxation area where you can have barbecue with your family and friends. Your dog may enjoy as well, as the house is open to pets.


Next to the house is free parking place. The quality and the pleasant temperature of water in Lake Sabljaci during the summer provide opportunities for refreshment, but for those who want to spend a little more energy and enjoy a longer swimming route the River Dobra is also suitable for swimming. Lake Sabljaci provides an opportunity for rowers and a real challenge for the lovers of windsurfing.

Holiday House Zulejka
Ribarići 43F, 47 300 Ogulin
00 385 98 650-573

Agritourism Ograde – Rural Peace in Middle of Istria

After two days traveling through Istria in search of good food and drink, reading of the map we find a tiny village Lindarski katun. Driving between Žminj and Pazin, with occasional of route headings on local roads, we come across closed bronze gate. And behind those gates a path stretches emphasizing the size of the property. The gate is here to ensure a deep calm provided by the hosts, and the arrival is only possible with prior notice, although you won’t be left behind closed gate if you stumble upon it. Our announcement allows us a delightful drive under the century old trees, past rural houses to the tavern and Šajina’s family house, which is also on the estate, the last house on it.


We are being greeted by a smiling owner Davorka Šajina, who was just tidying up after guest’s lunch. Ms. Davorka undoubtedly enjoys cooking, being a professional cook herself, and she will gladly praise herself for being the most prominent Croatian rural women. It is an award she received back in 2009, but already in 2007 she received an award from the Croatian Tourist Board for Employee of the Year.


These awards hang on the wall of the tavern, where dishes are often prepared under the hearthstone, as well as other authentic Istrian dishes: prosciutto, cheese, pljukanci, domestic chickens, homemade sausages, pork loin, seasonal soups and dishes with mushrooms and asparagus with other sweets. The tavern can accommodate 25 to 30 people, but sitting on the porch of the house, overlooking a field of corn or apple trees, with a glass of homemade Malvasia or Teran gives you a special sensation.


It is right here that the hosts often spend a summer evening with the guest, offering them homemade brandy from Istrian grass, as well as brandy from juniper (Smrekovača), walnut (Orahovac), honey (Medovača) or plain Biska. Cheerful companionship persists deep into the night, but the family is always ready and willing on an early morning to tend to the other residents of the estate.


Among some of the residents, there are horses, pigs, chickens and sheep. Virtue of Ms. Davorka is her love for the children, to whom she aims to convey knowledge about coexistence with animals. For that reason she welcomes preschool and primary school generations to familiarize them with the symbiosis of man, animal and nature.


But “adult children” have a lot of things to do around the farm. Šajina family organizes recreational riding through nature, as well as engaging in seasonal agricultural work such as planting, sowing, reaping the benefits, hoeing, mowing and harvesting of fruits and to circle it all preparing lunch and dinner. Agritourism is open to various cooking workshops of preparing traditional dishes, canning, spinning wool and weaving baskets, for guests as well as hikers and other nature lovers.


Accommodation is available in two separate houses. Older stone house accommodates six to eight people in three bedrooms. The area has a rustic decoration and furniture.

Agroturizam Ograde
Lindarski katun 60, Pazin+385(0)52 693 035, +385(0)98 723 442