Mrs. Marčela Kolman enchants every visitor. Dressed all in black she seems as if she had just arrived from the Spanish Meseta and brought all the best out of this Iberian country. Mio Corazon is really a small corner of Spain in the heart of Zagreb and its outside look makes guests look just to enter fast into this place. By entering this tapas bar, at the same time, we become part of the Spanish heart and soul that Marčela brought with herself after years spent in Barcelona, and is running this place together with business partner Marta Mužar.
Soon we sit under dried plants, garlic and paprika, surrounded by typical antique Spanish furniture, paintings and used items coming from Spain, Croatia and even from the guests who come here regularly, obviously trying to create their own living room in this cosy interior. In front of us there is a plate of tapas and a refreshing Sangria. Sangria is a flavoured drink that is usually made of black but also of white wine. Usually, in Spain, it is made with orange or some other fruit. Young Croatians usually encounter Sangria during their high school journeys in Spain, when the first alcoholic experiences are perpetuality preserved in mind by this mild drink. In addition to the classic Sangria, in Mio Corazon nine others varieties can be tested, whose recipes were made in the house.
Among them are three Sangrias made with black wine. Corazon is made with forest fruit and ginger, Gitana with strawberries and basil, while the imaginative Te Odio is quite counterintuitive (translated: I hate you, if you have not learned this classic word from Mexican soap operas) because it is made up of warm ingredients of cherry, cinnamon and cloves. The most basic sangria of white wine is Blanco with seasonal fruit, and Marcela’s ingenuity has created Chiquitita with peach, as well as Bruja (the Witch) with apple, honey, cinnamon and anise, which is drank hot. Tropical is with inevitable pineapple, and Voodoo is a special Sangria that includes super-secret surprise ingredients, which turns the guest into zombies. For those who are afraid of zombies there is Virgin Mary, non-alcoholic sangria. Do not be afraid if you get the whole bottle of Tequila on the table. It's in fact ordinary water, which is why some members of our team came from ecstasy to melancholy in just a few seconds.
Mio Corazon, or My Heart in translation, immediately gives us thoughts about love. And love has indeed created this place in the meeting of Spaniard with Chilean roots Julio and Marčela in Barcelona. Julio served in the Catalan capital as a DJ in a nightclub where Marčela came often. They met, and the rest of the story is recognizable to everyone. It did not take long for her to persuade Julio to move to Zagreb, where they live and breathe both in Croatian and Spanish way. Croatians and Spaniards have a lot of similarity – both like to hang out, are open, and are especially loyal to trying out various foods. That's why the tapas bar immediately came to mind of this married couple. Marčela deals with the kitchen, and Julio chooses music.
The Latin American connection is manifested in many and mostly famous cocktails, as well as in chupitos, or tequilas in various combinations. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are also found in smoothies. Arriving at the Spanish tapas bar always includes enjoying the beer (especially pay attention to San Miguel), and particularly the wine. The Spanish wine list is dominated by red sorts of Rosario (once an altar wine, rich in flavour of fruit and berries, which can be enjoyed with lighter food), Monte Plogar (excellent wine from the Cariñena region, with strong aroma of forest fruits, ideal for stronger meat dishes), Cabernet Tempranillo (the most famous Spanish red wine with fruity and nutty flavours) and El Chocolatero (rich and intense wine from Aragon), and only white variety offered is Paco do Bispo, which is not Spanish but Portuguese wine, but everything remains within the Iberian peninsula.
Tapas - small snacks are part of the long tradition of Spanish lifestyle, as there is a need for at least a few simple foods that are complemented by numerous encounters. Most of these snacks are created by Marcela, although Croats (as well as all peoples) are somewhat conservative with new flavours. The guests mostly like tapas made with the rucola pesto, Pag cheese with dried tomato, hot peppers and olives. Among other tapas are those with prosciutto, beets, tuna, hummus, sausage, zucchini, pumpkin seeds, apricot, mozzarella and bacon. Such a wide choice is obviously showing the best options throughout the year.
The more developed tastes include tapas with eggs, chicken, paprika, cheese and jam, seafood, salmon, artichoke and brie cheese, green marinated tomatoes, livers, spiced cheese and gorgonzola. Of course, it is always possible to create your own tapas, with the ingredients that best match your taste. The sweet offer at Mio Corazon is always a surprise. Cakes are prepared from the ingredients that were in the fridge at that moment.
Across the street from Mio Corazon, there is another part of this inn. It is a very special bar, which most resembles the Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos). Freddy Krueger waits you by the entrance, while the many skulls and skeletons remind you of Mexico, but here you can see characters from action cartoons, Barbies, Hello Kitty and various other toys. All this reflects the enduring game in which Marčela and Julio enjoy, who happily live their fellowship in love and spread a positive spirit among their guests. Each visit to Mio Corazon, even if you have only a Sangria and a tapas slice, will be relieved by the spirit of a friendly and emotional Spain.
Tapas Bar Mio Corazon
Radićeva 16, Zagreb
00 385 91 621 7763
Gallery (Photos by Taste of Adriatic & Mio Corazon)