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 http://www.hr.masnec.net https://www.facebook.com/seoskiturizam.masnec firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by: Andrea Seifert, www.mint-media.hr and Masnec Family