Asparagus and cuttlefish in the restaurant Dorina, Plomin
Perched on a clifftop overlooking the gorgeous Plomin Bay, the old town of Plomin is often overlooked as sleepy small town next to the huge electric plant chimney. The position may be unfortunate for Plomin, but it is unfair to say this is not a splendid destination on the eastern coast of Istria. So, don’t be lazy to stop over and walk within the medieval walls of Plomin and it you get hungry to not hesitate to visit the restaurant Dorina. This place is far more than a casual stopover for a lunch. Situated beneath the Plomin Hill, the southernmost point of the Učka Mountain, this family-run business exists since anyone can remember. Since 1965 late Dorina Knapić served here legendary prosciutto sandwiches, homemade red wine, traditionally prepared olives and – badges.
Since 1994 this is a restaurant, named after the lady of the house. Her son Loris and daughter-in-law Sandra now care for all four corners and for many guests who already know the bright smiles, hospitality and homemade cooking using everything you could find in near surroundings. Indeed, it is such a blessing to live in the Mediterranean where almost everything one sees is often edible. We came here as the Labin area offered its guests the menus based on asparagus and cuttlefish, spring delicacies that blend karstic region with the sea. Asparagus is, of course, picked by the cooks themselves, on the slopes of surrounding hills and further down near the Plomin Bay.
The waitress Kristina gives us beautiful homemade Biska and Loza brandies, before the kitchen staff surprises us with marinated cuttlefish served on spring salad. Soft and full of flavour, evidently fresh cuttlefish is a nice introduction to the philosophy of the restaurant Dorina: salad is even more interesting, as it contains the herbs and vegetables from the backyard, edible dandelion and asparagus from the surrounding hills. A few drops of extra-virgin olive oil from Motovunski Novaki and a sip of great Merlot from Ravalico winery from Nova Vas near Brtonigla, and this appetizer becomes a festival of spring palate!
And spring might be among the best seasons to visit Plomin. At this time, one can easily stroll round the church of St. George (Sv. Juraj), whose belltower is visible from afar, and look upon the antique relief of the pagan god Silvanus and valuable Glagolitic inscription called the Plomin inscription. Also, it is a time when a bellflower of Plomin grows, a protected purple flower that enchants the whole area with its mystical colour. Dorina lives in shadow of these walls and fortifications, built between the 13th and 14th century, and Mrs Sandra uses its contours in handmade special menus, dedicated to the seasonal dishes.
Asparagus, as classical spring seasonal ingredient, is done in so many ways in Dorina: one such way is classic favourite spring bites with eggs and ham; another is cream soup with asparagus, a pure delight and refreshing soup with bruschetta and cheese cream. From scent and deep green colour, to the tremendous taste, this soup is true essence of asparagus and a testimony to the kitchen staff. It is headed by chef Marko Ponjavić, and his assistants Zvjezdana Vosilla, Ljubimka Starčević and Sadija Plavčić. In their free time, one can find them on the slopes of Plomin Hills, looking for spring delights. They walk through the footsteps of old Romans and Illyrian pirates, church dignitaries and skilful seamen. One may ask why is the town so high above such a beautiful harbour, now Plominska Luka (Plomin Port); in 1599 the pirates attacked the place and thus it was called Fianona – Flanona. According to a legend, the pirates killed everyone in Plomin, but a grandma and her granddaughter hid themselves in a chimney. We don’t know their names, but in Italian, they are fia e nonna – Fianona.
While we listen this story from the past times, we are served with pork medallions. Soft meat cubes come with beautiful polenta mixed with asparagus, prosciutto and cheese, and slightly grilled. If you think we enjoyed pork more, you’re wrong. Although it is greatly made, we enjoyed the polenta more because of its excellent taste. After this meat dish, we had another very interesting and very springily recipe coming from the island of Korčula. It is cuttlefish with tomato and fresh Adriatic chickpea, served with rice with asparagus. One cannot go more seasonal than this and the dish itself is a geography on a plate, as these ingredients are presently available on Adriatic coast. The plentiful dish is a showcase of kitchen’s thoughtful tact, for which we are greatly thankful.
Plomin once had more than 800 people, nowadays only 120. It would be impossible to find anyone of them that doesn’t know anything about krafi. This Labin region cheese and dough specialty is sour or sweet dessert, and Dorina surprised us with beautiful two sweet sorts for dessert. One is made in traditional way, on butter, while the other came with quince and orange sauce. It is always done with mint, as this is an addition known in Knapić home for generations. It goes well with homemade teranino, sweet Teran digestif with full aroma and taste. Mrs Knapić puts inside forest berries, lemon and orange zest, cherry syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, and many other ingredients.
Plomin 54, 52234 Plomin
Telefon: 052863023, 098366321
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