In Nico's bistro in the heart of Zagreb (Augusta Cesarca 4), the 17th Wine by the Spoon was held, a gastronomic project that promotes the culture of consumption of top-quality wines and food. Guests from the world of media were greeted by the bistro manager, Ivan Srdar, who ensured that everything was at a high level, stressing that Italian cuisine is cherished at their place, and the new chef Marko Rerečić showed his skills. The owners of Nico's, which was opened at the end of last year, are Irena Kolovrat and Mario Sabolić, and the main manager of the bistro, Marinko Čeko, is currently 'training' their eponymous trattoria in Dubrovnik into the new season.
The chilly evening in Zagreb was brightened up at the beginning by the bubbles of Memoria sparkling wine, served with steak tartar snacks, and presented by Hrvoje Sarić, sales manager of Enosophija for the Zagreb area. The Memory label is made to record festive moments by circling the date and writing the reason for the celebration on a blank line. The sparkling wine belongs to the Brut natural category, made using the classic method from the Rhein Riesling variety from Potkovo near Feričanac in Slavonia. It aged for three years in the bottle without adding expedition liqueur.
The warm appetizer, Ravioli stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach in salsa with basil, was also accompanied by Riesling (vintage 2022), but in a c form, and arrived from the winery Consul from Vetovo, which is slowly and successfully making its way onto the market. Their representative from Zagreb, Ivana Pranjić, spoke inspiredly about Consul Winery from its prestigious wine location in the Kutjevo area. She explained that the name of the winery evokes the time of the Romans, who had vineyards in that area and are just continuing the tradition.
Osso Bucco, a dish that became popular in our country through the TV series 'Sopranos', is slow-cooked veal shank, and for this occasion, it is garnished with risotto alla milanese and gremolata. Toasted breadcrumbs with garlic, parsley, and lemon zest provided additional flavor, and the Herzegovinian Blatina barrique 2020 from the Nuić cellar was an excellent accompaniment to this Italian specialty. The plume of red wines from Herzegovina, carefully nurtured by father Josip and son Vlatko Nuić, comes from the vineyard in Crnopod, a place between Međugorje and Ljubuški. A rich body and pronounced tannins characterize the dark ruby red Blatina, so it went well with Osso bucca with a distinctive taste. The Nuić family leads its private and business life between Herzegovina and Austria, so none of them could present the winery and the wine. But it was done very successfully by Renata Cisar, who, along with wine lover Mustafa Topčagić, co-authors the project 'Wine with a spoon'.
The short break before the new course of food and wine was an opportunity to get acquainted with the company Alpeks Gastro, which offers a wide range of small inventories for catering and was presented by Sandra Šicel and Marina Vrban. Alpeks Gastro supplies all types of catering facilities, hotel chains, and various institutions throughout Croatia, and their cash & carry store is located in the Family Mall in Zagreb. By monitoring trends, product knowledge, competence, and work, Alpeks Gastro sets new milestones in the supply of target customer groups.
After Osso Bucco and Blatina, we moved on to a slightly lighter dish - A fried pork fillet. This still underappreciated Adriatic fish is enriched with egg white and almonds, served with potato salad with garlic, radicchio, arugula, and arugula pesto. The guests' votes showed that it was also the best pairing with the wine, Vislander's Vugava 2021. Behind this autochthonous variety from the island of Vis lies an exciting family story about the vineyard restoration, partly revealed by the owner's representative, Sandra Vojković. Vugaves are usually a little heavier and more alcoholic. Still, this one of theirs from the first vintage from Dračevo Polje is more drinkable, modern, lighter, and creamier, with a relatively high 12.5% alcohol content.
The gastronomic adventure ended with lemon pudding with boiled apples in sugar syrup sprinkled with coconut crumbs. This exciting dessert is not accompanied by wine but by refreshing cocktails from Fever Tree Tonic and two types of Gin - Sloe Gin Karolina 58 and Distilled Gin Aldo 52 - from the Sempervivum distillery from the village of Veleniki near Poreč, owned by Marko Fabić, whose distillates have won awards at prestigious world competitions - Terana barrique won a gold medal in Lyon, Gin Karolina won the Trophy Grand Gold in Frankfurt, Gin Aldo silver at the London Spirits Competition, Pelinkovac gold at the Vinistra, Istriana barrique silver at the London Spirit Competition... And on the tables, at the guests' will, were aperitif or digestif, their Komovica Istriana barrique, Pelinkovac, and Teranino barrique.
The unique olive oils of the KuSshh brand revealed interesting tastes and smells from the island of Krk. Growing herbs on their own ecological plantation, this brand's domestic and natural products are designed and handcrafted by Monika Kovač and Nives Matić. Their premium olive oils with five different flavors, extra virgin, chili pepper, lemon, orange, and Mediterranean herbs, did not leave anyone indifferent.
And this latest edition of 'Wine with a Spoon' was another unique evening in which we really enjoyed and had a pleasant time, but we also learned something about food and wine, and that in the finest possible way.
Text: Mustafa Topčagić
FAMA / Photo: Nikola Zoko