The hotel Zvonimir is situated in the heart of Otočac, providing the citizens and their guests a great opportunity to relax and dine in the very centre of the town. For us, however, it was an opportunity to learn more about the cuisine in the Gacka Valley.
The hospitable staff of the hotel’s restaurant cared enormously for us, making sure we don’t go to bed hungry. And what a dinner it was! While already trying the old-style miller’s trout, baked in the corn flour, our main course was trout again, but now ordinary fried, just as it is usual in this region. But trout came first as a trout pâté, a great idea that should’ve been on a far better toast. Still, even as it was, the pâté is ideal combination of fish taste and spices, and as such an excellent appetizer.
Second appetizer was basa with cooked potatoes. Basa is a dish where sour milk and butter are added to boiled milk and once hardened placed in clean gauze and strained. It has a rich flavour, with unmistaken reminder on fresh milk. This appetizer is a combination of basa on baked potatoes, itself a staple food in Lika. One could say that potato is so important for Lika diet, that by common opinion everyone would die of hunger if there wouldn’t be a dish with potatoes once a day on the dining table. The mix of basa and potatoes is excellent, balanced, and slightly warm, just enough for potatoes to get their flavour and for basa not to melt.
Another famous Lika potato meal is police. It has nothing to do with the law and order or hunting the criminals, as in Croatian it simply means halves. The potato is cut in half, baked with skin, and usually covered in the end with a strip of bacon. In cold winter nights, police is great way to break the long hours between lunch and dinner, and today it accompanies many meals in Lika. The bacon served to us was indeed finely cut, with rich flavour, distinctive fat, and absolutely beautiful colour. No wonder there was not a bit left on the plate!
And there was trout as a main dish, served untraditionally with a Swiss chard, but we can omit this minor mistake. The fish is fresh, juicy, meaty, with a beautiful and shiny colour of the skin, and indeed the signature dish of the whole Gacka Valley.
If in a hurry, or just wanting to dine greatly in the town of Otočac, do not look further. A pleasant staff, great tradition, and fresh food will give you a truly Gacka dinner!