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Wine by the Spoon in Chi Le Ma

The gastro project 'Wine by the spoon' after visiting Plitvice and Međimurje, returned home to Zagreb. As befits the cosmopolitan spirit of our metropolis, the door to this event was opened by the new Asian restaurant Chi Le Ma, where it was a great challenge to pair exotic dishes with Croatian wines.

Chi Le Ma bases dishes on Chinese, Thai and Japanese cuisines adapted to European tastes. The name of the restaurant comes from the Chinese language in which ‘Chi Le Ma?’ (Did you eat?), In the old days of famine, it was a common saying and a question to people you care about. Over time, the saying has grown into a culinary philosophy, which is passed down by the Chinese owner, - Mr. Bill. He opened restaurants with this name in several cities (Warsaw, Amsterdam, Belgrade, Podgorica), and his Croatian partner Filip Špiranec helped him expand the chain to Zagreb. The restaurant on Cvjetna cesta 13 in Zagreb was opened at the end of last year, and the manager is an experienced caterer Selmir Bešić.

Chinese chef Mao Hailin set the rules of the kitchen, and after two months of training he left the job to the local forces. Goran Galić and Dominik Letinčić mastered Eastern culinary skills well, which was confirmed by the guests from the media at the 14th edition of 'Wine with spoons (and sticks)', as this event was called. The popular Spring Rolls (beef, spring onions, garam masala-spice mix) were served as a welcome, not with wine but with tonic and Gin Murska dekla, Međimurje craft, made in London Dry style. The Jarec Kure wine brand was presented with the pinnacle of the Pinot Blanc winery vintage 2020, with Hokkaido pumpkin cream soup with pumpkin oil and seeds.

This was followed by Gyoza, ravioli-like pasta, stuffed with chicken, Chinese cabbage and various spices, which was excellently matched by Bolfan Sauvignon 2019, inspired by promoter Boris Nećemer and invited to try the Bolfan Vinski vrh picnic area. In an informal survey among guests, this combination of food and wine was declared the best.

'Wine with spoons (and sticks)' was an opportunity to present the top quality San Antonio olive oil from the eponymous station in Vodnjan, owned by Marijan Marjanović. They produce five types of oils (Buža, Karbonaca, Leccino, Bjelica and Mix San Antonio) for which, in addition to Croatia and Europe, they have won numerous awards from New York to Japan.

One of the specialties of the house are Eight Treasures, a dish of three types of meat (beef, chicken, pork), vegetables (onions, peppers, mushrooms) and two other Chinese spices. They are served with rice decorated with sprouts, and it is up to the guests to decide whether to use spoons or chopsticks. Sosich Malvazija 2017 from Vižinada still fought hard with this spicy dish. This wine from the La pregiata (precious Italian) line can be predicted to last at least another ten years. It, was introduced by sommelier Nedeljka Krupljan, a well-known promoter of wine, distillates and olive oils as part of her project Cheers With You.

The Kaboom dessert, breaded ice cream with white chocolate and vanilla, was accompanied by Zlatno brdo Graševina 2020 from Baranja's Zmajevac, and was presented by the co-owner of the winery Ana Matijević, daughter of the owner Goran Matijević.

Photo: Marko Čolić

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