Međimurje Small and Big
Our Međimurje is small and big in terms of wines and local food. The twelfth edition of the gastro gastronomic project ‘Wine by the Spoon’ was held at the Castellum Hotel in Čakovec. The traditional dishes of Međimurje in five courses, prepared in a modern way, were presented by chef Damir Medved, and they are accompanied by five wines from the Štrigova Cellar (Pinot Blanc, Rhine Riesling, Chardonnay, Muscat Ottonel and Muscat Yellow), which were recently awarded at London's International Wine Challenge (IWC).
Snacks made of meat from Tiblica and spread of pumpkin and cracklings were welcome for the guests from the media world, who gathered in Međimurje as part of the three-day ‘women’s trip’ Women’s day by modniALMAnah. Nikola Vrbanić, oenologist of the Štrigova Cellar, with these finger foods, suggested Pinot Noir of the 2020 vintage.
The ‘King of Wine’ Rhine Riesling, also from last year’s harvest, was light and fluttery enough to blend nicely with Pumpkin Cream Soup with toasted pits and pumpkin oil. This area is known for quality pumpkins and pumpkin oil, and this seemingly simple soup is just one of the dishes that stimulate the imagination in the creation and top performance. For a warm appetizer, chef Damir Medved chose Trganci with pieces of steak, which perfectly complemented the playful Chardonnay 2020. This combination of dishes and wine was declared the best that evening in which 'Međimurje malo' from famous songs was presented with rich and sumptuous plates as unforgettable delicacies.
In the break between meals, the commercial director Karlo Kramar spoke about the Štrigova cellar. The Štrigova cellar, which dates back to 1963, is the oldest winery in the area, producing 1.7 million litres a year. Nine varieties of wine are grown on 85 hectares of vineyards, the most represented of which are Graševina, Sauvignon, Rhine Riesling and Traminer, and so far they have won 114 awards at various competitions. Recently, they are owned by the Trade Company Varaždin, and in addition to the tasting room in Štrigova, they have two wine shops in Varaždin and one each in Čakovec and Bjelovar. Less well known is the fact that their archive, with 30,000 bottles, is the third-largest in Croatia, right after Kutjevo and Ilok.
A small hour of the history of the Štrigova Cellar was interrupted by the main dish - Turkey rolls with grinders in panada on celery and sweet potato foam. The witty chef Medved knew that turkey could not do without grinders, but he did not serve them in a classic way but practically wrapped in a roll. Celery has long been used in local cuisine, but in this way, it has given even more with sweet potatoes, a tasty and healthy plant that dangerously competes with the famous Međimurje potatoes. This extremely interesting dish was accompanied by an unusual selection of wines. Discreetly aromatic, semi-dry Muscat Ottonel 2019, otherwise very rare in Croatian winemaking, would usually be drunk with lighter salads and desserts. But with its fullness and low alcohol content (10%), it blended quite well with this delicacy of Castellum’s cuisine.
Those who prefer the ‘classic’ Muscat Yellow, like the one from the 2020 vintage, have come to their senses with Međimurska gibanica, without which any serious gastronomic finish in northwestern Croatia is unthinkable. The project was supported by the media but also by Rudi Grula, president of the Međimurje County Tourist Board.
Photo: Nikola Zoko