ŠULJKI IN VAGABUNDINA KOLIBA – DINING IN THE VINODOL WOODEN REALM
Updated: Feb 19, 2019
The wooden realm surrounds Vinodol Valley. Locals describe this small region by a proverb: A step away from the sea, two steps from the snow (Korak od mora, dva od sniga). Indeed, many inhabitants of Vinodol have a hut, a shed, or a house in forest nearby. It connects Vinodol with mountainous region of Gorski kotar, and adds to the experience of this place. Beautiful mountain peaks, excellent belvederes, forest paths, everything here is made for active tourism.
Whether you fish, cycle, climb or hunt, Vinodol can offer it all. Six marked cycling routes and seven walking and mountain trails which run along the beautiful areas of Vinodol allow our guests to experience the beauties of Vinodol, preserved nature and cultural-historical heritage. If you decide to hang-glide or paraglide, the vistas of the entire Kvarner will take your breath away.
Passionate fishermen or hunters can capture capital fish or game in Vinodol. The area of Vinodol also encompasses the woodland area where visitors find refreshment from the summer heat, and in the winter, they often enjoy the snow and go sleighing or for a walk.
But it is the belvederes, called The Eyes of Vinodol that take the breath away. There are six of them, and offer bird’s eye view. We visited Slipica, which stands 446 meters above sea level. It is situated at the meeting point of the Mediterranean and continental climate, in the vegetation zone of bay oak and hop hornbeam forests. Stump forests of bay oak and hop hornbeam are found above the belvedere, and stony cliffs, sandbanks, and rocky grounds are found below.
The belvedere is situated on the fifth kilometre of the Bribir – Lukovo – Lič road, above Bribir, on a steep stony cliff. The belvedere offers magnificent view of Velebit, the Velebit Strait, Kvarner islands, Učka, Novi Vinodolski and the Valley of Vinodol, all the way to Grižane. The road continues, passing the lavender and sage fields, the home of bees and horses that gaze freely in this karstic pastures. The scenery changes, becomes more stony and mountainous. Suddenly, we arrive at a mountain plain, where a small village Lukovo sits. Today, it is holiday place, where people from nearby towns spend their weekends, often away from the summer heat.
A little further is a goal of our mountain ride – mountaineering hut Vagabundina koliba with its exquisite cuisine. And this is indeed a place of magical atmosphere, nestled next to the forest road, and surrounded by high mountain peaks. It functions as an official mountaineering hut, connected to the network of huts in Croatia, and on particular hiking trails. But its quality lies in food, originality, and the welcoming heart of its owners. Under the kitchen authority of Draženka Savić, and expert mountain knowledge of her husband, this is the place to visit.
Our own visit focused on a particular autochthonic Vinodol dish – šuljki. Also known as Bribir macaroons, it is a specific dish made for the peasants and hard workers. Basis is black flour, so the macaroons are darker in colour. It comes with homemade butter and cheese, škripavac or parmesan, or hard Primorje (seaside) cheese. Flour and water make a dough, and it should be 2-5 mm thick. Cubes of 5 cm are made, and varieties of macaroons are formed; some make leaves, other diagonal fuggi-style pasta.
They are cooked in salted water for some ten minutes. In the meantime, grated cheese is put on bottom of a pot, then row of šuljkiis added, again cheese, again šuljki, always with a pinch of salt (if cheese is not very salty). Pasta should be on top of a pot. Meanwhile, in a frying pan butter is melted and rest of cheese is added inside. The mix of melted butter and fried cheese spill over the šuljki and the dish is ready. It should be eaten hot.
Gastronomic adventure in Vagabundina koliba is based on self-grown vegetables in the woods. The menu in Vinodol was always fulfilled by self-grown plants – asparagus, dandelion, fennel, dandelion greens, lamb’s-quarters, and wild fruit such as sorb-apple, strawberries, raspberries, hawthorn, rose hip etc.
The area is also favourable for fruit growing, especially of cherries , figs and grape-wine and excellent brandy is made of these fruits. Level of imagination and knowledge here is simply stunning. The basis is mountain food, which means there is lots of game and wild, but the place is a paradise for vegetarians too. Combined Vagabund plate is homemade favourite. It consists of spinach burgers, fried mushrooms and vegetables, polenta, homemade sausages, steak, and stewed barley. Excellent addition is spread made from cottage cheese and bear leek, and bread with spinach or herbs.
The cosy and homely forest atmosphere is additionally accentuated with herbal brandies and liquors, but mostly by smile and hospitality of its owners.
Vagabundina koliba 51253 Bribir, Kičeri 31a – Ravno bb Tel: 051 / 248 708, 098 / 9432 885 E-mail: email@example.com(Draženka Savić)
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