Maundy Thursday in Croatia

Maundy Thursday is a day when Easter holidays start. On this day Last Supper was served, when Jesus Christ gave to his disciples many messages. Traditionally, Croatian churches rang all bells on Maundy Thursday, but after the Holy Mass the bells are tied together until Holy Saturday. All ornamets are removed from the altar, in effort to show grief for Christ’s suffering. The alter itself is covered with black cloth.

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This is also Chism Mass, when Bishop or Archbishop blesses three oils: the oil for ill people, which is used to cure the sick, the catechumen oil for Confirmation, and mix of olive oil and balsam used for the baptism, confirmation, and clerical and episcopal ordination.

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In the evening, in every parish Mass of the Last Supper is celebrated. Before the Mass, the priest empties tabernacle (the cabinet in which the sacramental bread are kept). He sings the glory, and then the bell rings and does not ring until the Easter. After reading the Gospel priest often ritually washes the feet. In the days of the Holy Triduum, ie. From Thursday to Saturday, regularly peasants did not perform manual work in the field. In those days there was no ringing church bells. In Dalmatia, it is customary that on Holy Thursday the church bells are tied.

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The practice of šibarenje is known in Istria and Slavonia, where it is called “šibarine”. Somewhere on Holy Thursday after three hours does not affect the country and going to Mass. In Dalmatia, where on Holy Thursday, and somewhere else in all the days of the Holy Triduum, people were beating wooden sticks or birch on the church pews so long until they have broken the stick, and the act is called “beat the Barabbas”, reminiscent of Barabbas, the participant of the process of Jesus before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. Sticks were of old vineyards or olive branches, or hawthorn.

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In Labin, and somewhere else in Istria, on Maundy Thursday people are eating cabbage for dinner, because it was believed that at the last supper Christ ate cabbage with his disciples. That is why this day is also called Cabbage Thursday.

Procession “Za Križen” – Following the Cross on island of Hvar

After mass on Maundy Thursday before the Christian holiday of Easter, each of six villages on the Dalmatian island of Hvar in southern Croatia sends out a group that will proceed through the other villages in a circle, covering twenty-five kilometres in eight hours before returning home. Each party in this community-organized Za Krizen (‘following the cross’) procession is led by a cross-bearer who walks barefoot or in socks, never resting.

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The cross-bearer, formerly selected from among religious brotherhoods and today chosen by registration up to twenty years in advance, has a much-desired and respected position, reflecting the devotion of the individual bearer and his family. He is followed by two friends with candelabra and others carrying candles and lanterns, five choral singers who sing the Lamentation of the Virgin Mary at several points along the way, and many worshippers of all ages from Croatia and abroad wearing the tunics of religious brotherhoods.

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krizi_danasThe procession is greeted by the priests of each of the other five villages and returns home; the cross-bearer runs the last hundred metres to receive the blessing of his home priest. A long-established and inalienable part of Hvar religious and cultural identity, the procession connects the communities of the island to each other and to the world Catholic community. The Procession is inscribed in 2009 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in UNESCO.

Kolar Wine – Suza of Baranja

In the north of Croatian part of Baranja, which is a distinctly lowland area “Banska Kosa” Hill is located, which is ideal for growing of wine grapes. Name “Baranja” itself is probably connected to these good conditions, because in Hungarian boranya means wine mother. These ideal conditions for wine grape cultivation and production of excellent wines have also been recognized by the Romans who, more than 2,000 years ago, have named the Banska Kosa Hill “Mons aureus”, or golden hill.

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Baranja hill is one of top-quality Croatian wine-growing districts. The climatic conditions with annual rainfall average of 686 cubic mm, are favorable for cultivation of wine grape, while the annual temperature sum in the vegetation period is 3,479 degrees Celsius, and autumn is warmer than spring. In this fantastic region is situated a farmstead of family Kolar.

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Wines nourished in the Kolar family cellar, at the foot of the Baranja Mountain were passionately in love with the sun and were refined by diligent people. They are always willing to talk about the alliance of the sun and man. In Suza, a small place in midst of Baranja. Lajoš and Ilona Kolar, together with their daughters Sibila and Kinga, and son-in-law Mario, care for the heritage of their family in agriculture and vineyard. Today they have tasting room, restaurant, and camping place.

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Baranja is populated with mixed Croatian and Hungarian population. Suza is first mentioned as Chuza in King Bela IV’s Charter of Donation from 1252. In the period between 1698 and 1734 the village used to be the property of Eugene of Savoy, and during the Revolution of 1848-1849 the inhabitants were freed from serfdom.Today it is an agricultural village. The inhabitants grow wheat, barley, corn, sunflower, grape and fruits. If you mention Suza, everyone in Baranja will tell you the place is known for its country pub “Kovač čarda”, visited daily by families from neighbouring Hungary because of its fish stew. Apart from that, in the main road of Suza are cellars with famous Baranja wine by Ljudevit Kolar. It is also worth mentioning that there are several pairs of white stork nesting in the village.

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Because Suza in Croatian means “tear”, Kolar Family took the name as a signature, naming its products Suza of Baranja (Tear of Baranja). The original name of the place, Chuza, has less romantic meaning – it was a prison place.

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The wine story of Kolar family is indeed an experience of Baranja. Fresh white Graševina has optimal neutrality and is recommended as first wine, excellent with spicy food, white meat or fish. Although Graševina is a signature wine of continental Croatia, Kolar’s Sauvignon stands out. This white wine with slight greenish colour has a smell of elder and slight bitterness characteristic for the Baranja terroir. Harmony of Sauvignon made this wine the awarding wine of the Kolar cellar.

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Pinot White is a wine of sort aroma, with yellow-green colour. Harmonised bitterness comes from the vineyard which needs a bit more of sunshine. Nevertheless, the wine is very individualised, perfect for solo enjoyment. This sort is very sensible on frost. Pinot Grigio, on the other hand, is more accentuated, with dark green-yellow colour and aroma of dried fruit, maybe even honey. This very rich and typical sort is a wine for special occastions, demanding but very stimulating.

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Chardonnay is Kolar’s choice for pure enjoyment. Greenish and yellowish colour, it is very drinkable, harmonious, and wide in flavour. It is early wine, and has ideal combination with ham and hot peppers in the Danube valleys, and Kolars say it is served excellently with cooled homemade strawberries. Traminer is wine for which Baranja is famous, especially in the terrains of Kotlina, Suza and Zmajevac, traditional wine making regions. It is made in smaller quantities, but has tremendous smell, gold-yellow colour, with mighty aroma. Great choice as an aperitif and with desserts. And for the gastronomical adventure, best choice would be rhine riesling, whose nobility is famous for generations in Baranja.

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Family also makes red wines. Pinot Negro is formidable, red-rubin colored wine, with aroma of riped grapes. It is good choice for the dark meat and game dishes, drinkable with cooked meat, and even chicken, but excellent with salted roasted duck or goose, spicy sauces and mature cheese. Cabernet Sauvignon is mystical red dry wine, with intensive rubin-red colour, well formed and full of taste. Its grape is picked last in the season of red wines, practically several days before first snow. Excellent choice with mature cheeses and noble meals of large game. Frankovka is cozy red wine, known in Baranja as wine for nobility, ideal for spicy game dishes and dessert cheeses. Additionally, Kolar family makes great Rose.

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Especially appealing are the colours of bottle stickers. The colours are joyful, even radiant. They follow folk patterns of Baranja with additional imagination based on the tastes of particular wine. With these colours, Kolar’s wine stands out and is a good marketing starting point.

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All visitors to Kolar family cellar will be invited to the degustation. The restaurant is a special story. One part is made in once real wine cellar, with brick vaults. Another is made in a wooden place, with timber from the Baranja woods. Both parts cater for 36 persons and works upon the reservation of minimum ten persons. The menu offers some domestic dishes, such as Čobanac with pork legs (a shephard’s stew), paprikaš, fiš made of mixed fish, veal perkelt, and local desserts strudel (cheese and raisins, apples, cherries) and gužvara (with nuts, poppy, cocoa).

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As elsewhere in Baranja, fish from rivers and lakes are abudant on the menu, with special emphasis on carp, luce, and perch. You may also spend your nights in three double rooms, and also in the newly made camping site. In that way you can truly get to know this magical land in the northeastern Croatia!

8dae4700290978aafc5694b4d7d28966Podrumi Kolar
Maršala Tita 141, 31308 Suza
+385 31 733081, +385 31 733006
+385 91 524 9351, +385 91 539 9614
ljudevit.kolar@os.t-com.hr, kinga.kolar@os.t-com.hr
http://www.podrumi-kolar.com/

Credits for some photos and text: Podrumi Kolar

Istrian Flavours of Loborika Cheese

The region of southwestern Istria is blessed with meadows and pastures, and is known for the tradition of making Istrian cheese. In small place of Loborika, just 7 km outside Pula, Vesna Grubešić, with husband, son, daugher and the son-in-law run a family dairy. Their cheeses are made according to the tradition and with the HACCP system, confirming the family’s dedication to the autochtonous production and consumer protection.

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Family Grubešić offers cow’s and sheep cheese, and many varieties. Extra-hard cow cheese has specific aroma and intensive taste, thanks to time spent in the process of ripening. The cheese is coated with a herbal spread, which forms a thin crust. Same cheese is made in half-hard form.

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Hard sheep cheese is seasonal product, as it depends on the seasonal production of the sheep’s milk. This cheese combines the smells of spring and summer in the southern Istria. Combination of sheep and cow cheese makes a unique taste. Unavoidably, Loborika too makes cheese with truffles, which is in many ways a signature cheese of the Istrian Peninsula. Among other tastes is cheese with olives, called Buža (a domestic sort of olive) and cheese with peppers.

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This „terra magica“ is providing simple tastes. A bit of cheese, homemade bread, and sip of red wine is enough to experience the fullness of tastes in Istria. Cheese from aromatic mediterranean meadows, full of thyme, rosemary, and other herbs, can also be savoured in the Loborika bistro.

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Next to sixteen varieties of pizza, Loborika offers home made pasta, prosciutto, sausages, ombolo, sauerkraut, minestrone and the whole dairy package, making it the staple of the Istrian cuisine.

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Vesna Loborika
Loborika 31, Marčana

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052/550-492, 091/253-5891
vesna.loborika@email.t-com.hr
www.vesna-loborika.hr

Day of Asparagus in Istria

21.3.-15.5.

Asparagus lovers don’t miss the Days of Istrian Asparagus! The scent of asparagus and the warmth of Istrian hospitality will pervade the restaurants of north-western Istria between March 21 and May 15. During March, April and May the ninth Days of Istrian Asparagus will give true “asparagus lovers” an opportunity to relish in imaginative, delicious and fragrant delicacies made from Istrian wild asparagus, ranging from the renowned “fritaja” (omelettes), soups, homemade pastas and risottos to ingenious combinations with meat and fish and scrumptious desserts.

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Asparagus is one of the most appreciated wild plant varieties growing in Istria, picked from mid March to late April. Since it grows in less accessible places, often protected by thorny bushes, its picking requires eye of a hawk, iron will and not being afraid of an occasional scratch. Asparagus is a well-known keeper of health and in terms of nutrition, an excellently balanced foodstuff. We needn’t neglect the fact that this wonderful plant has been considered an aphrodisiac from times immemorial due to its high vitamin E content, often spoken of as the fertility vitamin.

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Since wild asparagus contain all the fullness of bitterish flavour, paired with fresh indigenous Istrian foodstuffs they will delight the palate of true connoisseurs with a virtual explosion of aromas.Food, medicine, aphrodisiac….It’s no wonder that we dedicated an entire manifestation to this plant. After only one visit, you will want to try everything from the prestigious list of restaurants and taverns hosting the Days of Istrian Asparagus

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Contact
Tourist Boards of the cities of Umag-Novigrad-Brtonigla-Buje
Email: gourmet@coloursofistria.com
Phone: +385 52 757 075

From tradition to Pepefiš – unique tastes of Živko Dražin

Ever tried octopus salad or marinated anchovies? Of course you have! But what about peppers stuffed with anchovies? Not likely, as it is international patent and protected recipe of Mr Živko Radin from Kaštel Kambelovac in Dalmatia! Usually he makes anchovies, sardines and marinades in traditional Dalmatian way, but Pepefiš turned out to be a major hit.

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Traditionally marinated anchovies are put in the sweet-hot peppers, making a unique and interesting taste. Appetizer or snack, this signature product of Dražin is excellent addition to the Croatian maritime diet. But other products stem also from the long fishing heritage.

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Kaštel Kambelovac is traditional fishing place. Generations have been working as fishermen, who ate “hard bread with seven crusts”, dipped in the Kaštela wine and olive oil. They preserved the way of salting and marinating fish, and Dražin family is among those who transferred this tradition to the present day. This makes his products of high quality, with domestic ingredients and traditional preparations.

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Salting the fish is old way of preserving it. Once, it was the main fish product from this region. People mostly salted blue fish, anchovies and sardines. Today, people rediscover the values of salted fish and traditional preparation. With imaginative combinations, new products emerge, which can satisfy even the most demanding palates.

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Apart from Pepefiš, which is personal brand of Živko Dražin, the family makes octopus salad, marinated anchovy and saddled seabeam fillets, marinated shrimps, salted anchovies’ fillet, olives, fish pates and other products famous from the Central Dalmatian region.

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Živko Dražin
RIBA DRAŽIN j.d.o.o.Biskupa Frane Franića 78, 21214 Kaštel Kambelovac
Tel. +385 21 220 329
Mob +385 92 102 8065
http://www.riba-drazin.com
zivko.drazin@st.t-com.hr

Novosel Kulen – Pure Taste of Slavonia

To have 40 years of family tradition and devotion of three generations – this means the products coming from the Novosel family are outstanding. For so many years a small family farm in Gat makes the best product of Slavonian cuisine: Kulen.

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Kulen is a traditional cured meat from Slavonia, a region of forests and wide cultivated plains in eastern Croatia. The traditional production technique involves grinding up the least prized cuts of pork along with the belly fat, seasoning it with salt, spices, paprika and garlic, then packing it into the cecum (a part of the large intestine).

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Once tied, the sausages are hung in a smoking room, where they remain for several weeks to be smoked at fairly low temperatures over hornbeam ash and beech wood.

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In the past kulen was considered a very valuable sausage and so was rarely destined for everyday consumption. As only one kulen could be made per pig, and the number of pigs slaughtered by every family was small, it was only eaten on special occasions. It is a traditional product form Slavonia in eastern Croatia, typically made with meat from the local black pig breed.

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Today, only about 200 of these animals remain due to the introduction of new, more productive crossbreed pigs that are better adapted to industrial-style farming. The tradition of keeping the local pigs in oak forests has also become more difficult. As a result, fewer than 30 producers still make kulen today.

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Novosel family is one of them. Their kulen started to win numerous awards, and earned the support of customers, whose demand increases greatly. Apart from excellent kulen, made in the traditional way and based on the best pork meat, fifty years old family recipe, superb local peppers, garlic and salt, without additives and preservatives, unavoidably Novosel family makes kulen’s follower Kulenova seka (Kulen Sister).

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Novosel’s say: “Everything same, but still different than kulen”. And they are right. When the kulen meat is stuffed into the small intestine, the thinness makes it require less smoking and drying and thus also takes less time to mature. This type of sausage is often referred to as kulenova seka.

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Among other products, Novosel family makes Slavonian sausage, bacon, čvarci, and natural and healthy fat (lard). Their farm is located in place of Gat, close to town of Belišće, in a beautiful surrounding of Slavonian plain, between river Drava and Karašica.

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If you pass here, do not forget to visit Slađan Novosel and his family, who will welcome you with best products of Slavonian soul!

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OPG Novosel

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K. Zvonimira 31, 31554 Gat-Belišće
Tel/Fax +385 31 674 164
Mob. +385 98 334 759
www.kulennovosel.com
info@kulennovosel.com

Photo credits: Taste of Adriatic and OPG Novosel

Honey and Fruit Story of Family Farina

In vicinity of Istrian Poreč, homestead of family Farina is famous for agricultural tradition. Alessandro Farina and his wife Aleksija offer their products since 1986 when beekeeping was introduced on their farm. Until 2008 it was just a casual hobby, consisting of few hives. Due to the increased interest in honey and other bee products, Farina’s increased the number of hives to 15 units and established beekiping farm. Today they count over 40 hives that are stationed in two apiaries, and major grazing is acacia and meadow.

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Farina farm started also to make honeydew and acacia honey with nuts and hazelnuts. Honey products are additionally complemented with beautiful hand-made figures of little fairies, angels, bees, wooden spoons. These decorations make Farina’s honey distinguishable and excellent gift or souvenir for sweet tooths!

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Inspired by the fact that family has free land available, with a possibility of irrigation, they tried to plant blackberries and raspberries. And what a success it was! Given the fine ground and air, plantations were slowly growing, and today raspberries and blackberries cover 0,4 ha area. They are harvested by eco-principles, as Farina farm works under the eco control, which gives customers an additional guarantee to eat healthy and organic fruits.

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Growing demand for ecologically grown food was translated to vegetables too. Farina farm now grows potatoe, onion, various herbs, tomatoes, peppers, beans, turnips, etc. Apart from it, Farina family has more than 100 olive trees, mostly leccino and belica sorts. Considering still small quantities, extra virgin olive oil will become product of the house in years to come.

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OPG Farina
Farini 16, 52463, Višnjan
+385 52 449 624
+385 97 76 76 598
opg.farina@gmail.com

Photo credits: OPG Farina

Oleum olivarum in Krasica

March 12-13, Krasica

Krasica, a picturesque village in the vicinity of Buje, will host the 19th “Oleum olivarum”, one of the oldest olive oil fairs in Croatia. Over time, the manifestation developed into an international festival of olive oils participated in by scientific-research institutions, olive growers and olive oil manufacturers from Croatia, Italy and Slovenia.

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Since at “Oleum olivarum” oils are analysed in keeping with the highest standards in the region, an increasing number of olive growers are registering for the fair to receive recognitions facilitating and raising the successfulness of the presentation of their olive oils to the target market.In the framework of the two-day program, the hosts of the “Oleum olivarum” manifestation will organize the tasting of top olive oils for participants and visitors, combined with Istrian dishes and domestic wines and honey offered at occasional stalls, organize expert lectures, award medals to olive oil manufacturers, while authors of artworks thematizing olives will be presented awards in the framework of a visual arts competition.

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Krasica will enchant you with its beauty, its view of the fertile, cultivated slopes and terraces covered with olive trees and wine grapes, extending all the way to the valley of the river of Mirna and even further, all to the sea.You are invited to visit this part of Istria and discover its roots and natural beauties, experiencing the magical atmosphere in which the beauty of unspoiled nature is combined with the hospitality of industrious and humble people devoted to the authentic values and traditions which stand the test of time.
Contact Buje Tourist Board
Email: info@tzg-buje.hr
Phone: +385 52 773 353

Taste of Rakija – Fruit Brandies of Šimić Family

Among the most famous Slavonian products “rakija” (brandy) stands out. This almost legendary drink is a sign of true hospitality of a generous Croatian. Rakija is that ace in the sleeve, that secret weapon against all that is enemy to common man. It will destroy bacteria, relieve you of stomach and muscle pain, annihilate any virus and disinfect a wound instantly. In fact, it used to be called «aqua vitae». Other than its evident medicinal use, it goes down extremely well in any possible occasion. A popular joke says: “Nokia connecting people – Rakija correcting people”!

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There is a saying among Croatians: ‘if you haven’t tried homemade Rakija, then you just haven’t tried Rakija at all’. And this is where Zlatko Šimić from Slavonian city of Požega stands out. His dedication to traditional rakija making makes him proud Slavonian from Vallis Aurea – Golden Valley, as Požega and its surrounding was known already in Roman times.

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Mr Šimić makes his rakija from fruits grown in orchard in village of Marindvor, near Požega. This is result of knowledge, excellent ecological conditions, and not least great effort and hard work. End result is original Croatian rakija, and two of them really stand out.

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Famous Požega williams rakija is made from williams pear, possibly most classy of all rakijas in Croatia. Typical for the north-eastern part of Croatia, this is one of the most respected varieties of Rakija in the country. Its basic ingredient is a pear and is not to be confused with the liqueur made out of pears, which is bright red and quite often consumed with a dash of milk. It is one of those Rakijas that is made out of pure varieties of fruit that is rich with sugar and acids. It is redundant to mention that Viljamovka is never mixed with anything; it’s supposed to be drunk in its purest form because of its highly specific fruity taste.

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Another famous rakija from Šimić’s repertoire is šljivovica – made from plumb (šljiva). In order to actually create this drink, the chosen fruit has to go through fermentation and distillation. And that’s where the magic happens. In the case of “šljivovica” if you distil the fermented plum too early, the consequences can be dire because if the sugar within the plum isn’t heated enough, the quantity and quality of the beverage will suffer for it. Šljivovica is for many queen of all rakijas and Šimić makes it in such a way that it brings taste and smell of fruit over the alcohol – a sign of excellently made rakija.

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Lozovača is third product of desire by Šimić family. A truly good Loza is hard to find since its very often enriched with various herbs so the herb to alcohol ratio really has to be spot on. Šimić makes it out of five sorts of grape, and has specific elegance, nobleness and balance of flavour. For those who like sweet rakija, there is excellent sour cherry rakija.

Šimić is famous for its fruit rakijas. Apple rakija is made by careful use of technique and destilation of apples. It has very smooth and easy aroma of fresh fruit, with mild aroma of apple. Sweet cherry rakija is also very smooth and makes excellent choice for digestive or aperitif.

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Family orchards and destillery work in Požega are part of everyday life of Šimić family since 1995. For visit and buying of products contact the owner:

Zlatko Šimić: 098 / 256 878
Tel: 034 274-392
Fax: 034 274 – 392
email: rakiasimic@gmail.com
http://www.willijams.hr