A bee jumps all over the table, trying to take a sip from elderflower juice beautifully prepared by Mr Gani Ramadani, the charismatic owner of the Family Farm Kate. His piece of heaven on Earth is situated on a green hill just outside Vrbovsko. Sitting under a large tree and trying his homemade juices is a rest like no other!
Master Gani, as we call him, also makes something he calls “pear in bottle”; it is in fact a pear brandy, but just made with mild percentage of alcohol. The pear is called “tepka”, an old sort of pear, once widespread in this region because of its resistance to low temperatures. That said, Vrbovsko has a special microclimate that allows many cultures to grow here, much more than in the rest of Gorski Kotar. The pear ferments in autumn and winter and is an excellent antivirus cure (of course)!
After some chatting, Master Gani takes us for a tour of his estate. A word of advice: the farm is not very big, but it includes lots of climbing. A splendid view of surrounding mountains, especially the characteristic Klek, is a remarkable sight! This is where Master Gani works, with help of his wife. Together they care for loads of vegetables and flowers, selling seeds, seedlings, and products made from various herbs and spices, forest berries, fruits, root vegetables, beans, salads, etc.
Master Gani is especially proud on his mild and hot peppers, watermelons, and turnips, partly as he cares for it based on his experience from native Macedonia. A quite special thing are pumpkins, possibly the most recognisable product from Vrbovsko. Everything here is done with pumpkins: a thick and sweet soup, pasta, or baked and sweet like a chestnut!
Pumpkin was almost forgotten vegetable some 15 years ago but makes a steady and big return. In fact, the pumpkin festival in autumn is the biggest gastronomy event in Vrbovsko, where Mr Gani regularly gets highest prises. A lot of it comes from Master Gani’s yard, especially Golden Muscat pumpkin, Cabbaccio, Hokkaido, Buterina, etc. It is very positive plant to other growing stuff, and can grow up to 60 kilos! A quite special thing given that everything in Master Gani’s homestead is done eco-friendly!
Pickles, jams, juices, everything comes from careful hands of Master Gani. No wonder, since he is among the best kitchen-oven builders in Croatia! There are numerous restaurants and pizzerias all over the country where old style bread-oven are a testimony to his talents.
You can find OPG Kate if you drive to the edge of Vrbovsko, following the old road to Zagreb. First house on the right side, all surrounded by flowers, is the cosy home of Ramadani’s!