Tag Archives: Cres

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

Feel the Sea

Maritime and fishery tradition in the Northern Adriatic is very old and survives until today. Here is what we’ve found out on our tour of the FLAG Vela Vrata:

Blue World in Lošinj

House of the Sea – Maritime Museum in Mošćenička Draga

Apoxyomenos – Bronze Effigy of Ancient Lošinj

We have also visited the House of the Lovran Guc.

Among different boats used in the Adriatic, Lovran Guc is specific for its elegance and form. It was made by Nino Gasparinic in Lovran, a small town settled in a picturesque bay, surrounded by Mediterranean herbs and slopes of Mt. Učka. The boat was being built between 1850s up to the present day. Within the Lovran’s fort there is a small museum dedicated to this unique ship.

All the gratitude for that museum goes to Silvano Raffaelli from Lovran who says that plastic boats will never have the same navigation possibilities as the wooden ones. Lovran shipbuilders made a boat that suits best the needs of navigators and fishermen.

Small, light and maneuverable boat is easily used in fisheries, and is adaptable to hide quickly if the sudden bura wind starts to blow. Still, a significant maritime knowledge is needed to steer the boat. Every year, Lovran stages the guc regatta.

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.


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

Martinšćica is a small fishing village turned into one of the most beloved tourist vacation places on the island of Cres, and Mareta is its prime gastronomy point. It is owned by the family Saganić, and the owner Alfred Saganić is professional fisherman. Of course, the question about the freshness of the menu is quite obsolete here.

Bright smiles of immaculately dressed waitresses and friendly owners welcomed us to the restaurant’s terrace, surrounded by lush olive groves and dry stone walls. It reminds us on several very important features of Cres, one of the most beautiful islands in the Adriatic: its people lived here since prehistory, using the stone to build forts and houses, while fish and olive oil were staples so important that Cres even today rests upon these ingredients for the basis of island’s culinary experiences. Quite literary, fish on plate here connects you through centuries with same tastes that once dominated on Cres.

After sipping mild homemade chestnut brandy, fish plates came on our table. Pleasing arrangement was intact for just few seconds before the desire for taste rushed us to seek aromas of octopus salad, marinated anchovies, marinated bonito (palamida), spider crab salad. One can indeed taste the freshness of sea. The octopus is soft and tender, and one cannot decide which part of this plate is more fresh and tasty. Another great addition is olive oil, made by the family itself, and it is just a short moment of time before people start dipping bread into the golden drops of Mediterranean heritage.

Some curious looking tools came afterwards, scaring us with possible existence of dentist nearby, but the fear vanishes instantly after Adriatic scampi arrived. Served with polenta and tremendously good sauce, tools come handy if you don’t want to have red dots all over your clothes. After few trials and errors, people mostly use fingers to extract those mouthful pieces of meat hiding beneath cooked and red scampi’s shell.

In meantime, owner’s father Vitomir Saganić calls us to walk behind the house and enjoy in the opening of peka or čripnja, a classic Adriatic iron baking lid. Beneath is octopus with potatoes and Mediterranean herbs, old-fashioned and traditional dish favourite among the gastronomads. The precision in making it is based on years of experiences, constant care for the fire, and the balance between octopus, potatoes, their weight and time. It is helpful if you’ve finished catering school in Mali Lošinj and culinary school in Opatija, and if you’re secretary of the sport fishermen association Crab, as in the case of Mr Vitomir.

Her majesty octopus came with a scent of rosemary and tender taste, rich and plentiful, even delicate. For generations was octopus feeding substance of the island’s life, as much as was the lamb. Cres is famous for its lamb, which is also present on the Mareta’s menu. Rich herbal diet makes Cres lamb aromatic and with less fat, and prime example we saw running through the restaurant’s terrace. It is the family’s darling, still suckling lamb who found refuge from photographs behind the owners who were playing cards. It was almost mythical and primordial sight of old men playing card games and a lamb hiding between them, everything surrounded by olives and dry stone walls. Indeed, a picture that tells thousands of words!

Lamb was also the basis for our dessert. Do not wonder, as we did more than you can imagine! It is tradition on Cres to use every bit of lamb and so it is with lamb’s stomach to make “olito nadenjeno” or filled stomach. The sheep stomach is dried for a few days and then filled with a mix of flour, water, orange peel, sugar, raisins, and dried fig juice. It contains the sheep fat, and is cooked for four hours to become jelly from inside. Before serving, it is sliced and slightly fried in a pan. It has a specific taste and specific scent, and for every lamb fan this is heavenly dessert. Very old dish has jelly structure and is not too sweet.

In Mareta you can also enjoy other old-style cuisine containing lamb. Almost every family had a sheep and people use to make sheep soup, dried sheep meat, and excellent tripe. Thus, Mareta is indeed a place where you can taste the fishermen’s and shepherd’s tradition of Cres at its finest.

Miholašćica 1c, Martinšćica
Tel +385 51 574 325