Enough of bustling metropolis for you? Anyone seeking somewhat slower rythm of life, with some homemade foods next to it? I have a perfect solution for you! Last Saturday I went to Ivanić Grad, a journey with a pleasant surprise. Ivanić Grad is only 40 kilometres away from Zagreb and is situated on the edge of Zagreb County. It has some 15 thousand inhabitants and it is mostly known for the Naftalan health facility. Naftalan is a Croatian word for a mineral oil found in earth and provides natural health substances. It is used since old time for protecting health and treating diseases and malfunctions. There are only two known findings of naftalan oil, one in Azerbaijan, and other here in Ivanić Grad. As all other oil, it is made of biological and organic material, based on thousands upon thousands of years of microorganisms' alluvion. And it wasn't recently that people realised its healthy properties. Naftlan is used for some 600 or 700 years and world-known traveller from Croatia Marco Polo wrote about its effectivness.
Still, we didn't come here to bath in naftalan. Fortunately, we had another attraction why we went to this picturesque small town near Zagreb. Every Saturday, the Tourist Bord of Ivanić Grad prepares a manifestation „Subotom, u Ivanić“ (Saturdays in Ivanić). It is a promotion of local family farms and forgotten traditional meals.
A square next to the town market is place where food stalls are positioned and families show their products and local specialties. Ivanić Grad and its surroundings is especially known for pumpkings. In autumn this year, it will host 14th pumkin festival Bučijada, a manifestation honouring her majesty pumpkin. Thus, one can find many pumpkin products, such as pumpkin oil, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin flour etc. So many pumpkins made us look around; just next door is a Tourist Info Centre where I met Mrs Ankica Bešter, director of the Tourist Bord. She took me through the stalls, and suddenly we are friends with friendly locals, hard-working people proud of their products. Their love for land and agriculture is evident and the result is easily visible in the homemade offer.
A special mention goes to the white sausage (bela kobasa), almost forgotten produce that Ivanić-Grand wants to brand as their authentic dish. These sausages are characteristic of the border regions of western Moslavina and of the part of Posavina that leans on it. They are made from pork's underbelly, which is soft and succulent and greasy, and thus unsuitable for drying. Combined with corn flour, an interesting product can be obtained that can be stored for a long time, eaten in the original form, cooked or baked, and it is a combination of plants and meat from local countryside. Likewise, the thick hose that would otherwise be thrown out is used, and here it serves as a quality natural wrap.
In the vicinity of market I also visited the Fifth Toys Festival, organised in park Zelenjak. It is a noble event, where adults may be reminded how important it is to play together with their children. Organisers – association Tetragon, Tvornica smijeha (The Factory of Laugh) and the Tourist Bord – gathered everyone who are connected to toys and play under the title „playing never makes us tired“. If this brings you back to the childhood or makes you smile, then they have done their job well. On display were wooden traditional toys, modern toys, people could take part in competitions and magic shows, children films, and various workshops. And if your belly hurts from laugh, you could just relax and join the organised city tour.
Myself, I would take a bike and just tour the countryside. There are several beautiful routes to cover. For example, blue route takes you to Sava River, while two others – yellow and orange – connects to Moslavina region. Sava route may be especially interesting as it crosses the river, but not with a bridge; you need to take a small wooden ferry which is a rare possibility to feel this mighty and long river.
But, you're hungry, right? Luckily, there is plenty to visit in Ivanić Grad and its surroundings. Few real gastrotravellers from Zagreb never heard for the Kezele rural estate. The Kezele family has preserved seven traditional houses and rural facilities used for tourist purposes. Particularly interesting family ethnographic collection with as many as 4,000 items. Family's pride is a vineyard of 3 hectares and a cellar where high quality and top quality wines are produced, among which the autochthonous Moslavina variety Škrlet is highlighted. Apart from enjoying traditional gastronomy, guests can hike, go horseback riding, go on a jogging trail to the lake, ride bicycles, feed homemade animals, etc. There are 3-star holiday houses in the estate.
We invite you also to visit the Old Mill Kunek and Petek agritourism. The Old Mill is situated in Kloštar Ivanić, a nice place near Ivanić Grad that features well known cloister, but also largely developed fruit growing, viticulture and vegetable growing. Represented branches of livestock breeding in this area are pig breeding, cattle breeding and horse breeding (Croatian posavac). You will be amazed by the Old Mill's kitchen, where old Moslavina dishes are all sorted out: polenta (žganci) with various supplements, savoury soups, roast meat with supplements, jellies and spices, Moslavina brašnjaci - sausages of corn flour and meat, homemade bread, cheese with cream, and everything else according to your wishes and orders.
The region is bordering Moslavina and some would say that Ivanić is part of Moslavina. We wouldn't indulge deeper in the local identities, but if we look at wine we could see there is an evident connection: the Škrlet white wine. Every year, Ivanić Grad hosts the Škrletovo Manifestation, dedicated to this wine. Last year, the winery Voštinić-Klasnić was proclaimed to have the best Škrlet.
Surely, this is a region so close to the Croatian capital and yet unexplored. So, pack lightly and enjoy the forthcoming summer in Ivanić Grad!
Gallery (photos by Taste of Adriatic & Tourist Board of Ivanić Grad: