It is always a sheer pleasure to recommend a restaurant and its kitchen, and this time it is the Bistro Babriga in Velika Gorica. Maybe you’d think that Velika Gorica doesn’t have so many tourist attractions, but if you look for a gastronomic getaway, a visit to Babriga should be very satisfying.
It is a family restaurant opened in 1994. Mr. and Mrs. Jančić first opened it as a café, and after their son, Tomislav went to a school to become a chef, they transformed it into a charming restaurant. Very hospitable Mrs. Đurđica greeted us and proudly showed the place, including a beautiful garden. We couldn’t not to notice a sign “Flavours of Zagreb region”, which is given by the Tourist Board of the Zagreb County.
We visited Babriga in the week of Turopolje cuisine, a gastronomy manifestation in which the restaurant takes part from its beginning. Turopolje is historical and cultural micro-region near Zagreb. It got its name after “tur”, an ancient bull who went to oblivion in the early 1800s. Turopolje is rich with woodlands and fields, a treasure of agricultural products which turn to be an excellent basis for the gastronomical offer. Turopolje is also a very noble place, as Croatian-Hungarian king Bela IV. gave the people of Turopolje the noble titles and granted them ownership of the land. Even today, noble Turopolje families gather in associations.
Tomislav Jančić binds this treasure of tradition with interesting and new ways in his kitchen, always combining old and new. In a cosy ambient of homely atmosphere, we tried two very typical meals, duck breasts with fruit sauce and homemade croquettes (pačja prsa s voćnim umakom I domaćim lulekima) and pork fillet (lungić) filled with ham and cheese and served with peppers and mushroom crème, dill sauce, and pumpkin puree.
Duck may well be the taste of Turopolje. Traditionally bred on the homesteads, duck is rewarding poultry here and part of the culinary heritage. It blends greatly with any fruity addition and the one we tried was a perfect connection between meaty breast and juicy sauce in which you can dip your luleki (a childhood’s favourite snack). Lungić is also a very typical meal of Zagreb area, where ham and cheese mix with pure meat, but the sides are even more interesting, evoking the essence of autumn.
Turopolje is a region where traditionally ducks and pork is present on the table. Because of the vast forests here, mushrooms, wood berries, and game are also prevalent. A dish that needs to be specially mentioned is white polenta with homemade cream (beli žganci s tropom), a specific Turopolje dish which is made proudly in Babriga.
These are just some of the many dishes on the menu, including very popular brunches (gablec) based on home cooking. Mrs. Đurđica remembers old flavours and aromas and tries to rediscover it in Babriga’s kitchen. One such food memory is surely bazlamača – Croatian traditional corn and cheese cake, which takes two days to prepare. On the first day, the corn flour is mixed with cheese, while on the second day the cake is baked. Turopolje is known for various strudels and homemade cakes with cottage cheese (gibanica), which you can always try in Babriga. A word of advice: do try the homemade corn bread when you’re in Babriga!
Every praise goes to the chef Tomislav Jančić, who made the menu, as well as the promising young cook Mario Turković. They care for the traditional Turopolje cuisine presented in this restaurant. Thus, Babriga is must-try place in Velika Gorica, indeed an excellent introduction to the culinary heritage of Turopolje!