Goodbye teens! That's what you could call the 19th edition of the oenogastro project Wine with a spoon, which after a short trip to Slovenia, returned to where it started - in Zagreb. A cheerful and educational evening of delicious food and top wines was held in the tavern Pri dečkima in Trnovčica (Gornja Dubrava), which opened last year in October. The guys are: chef Mateo Pus and his business partner Tomislav Škof, who comes from the IT sector, but is also a great fan of gastronomy.
Although he is only 27 years old, Mateo Pus has gained a lot of experience working in prestigious Zagreb restaurants such as ManO, Noel, Bota Šare, Pomeri and Kaiser. In short, cooking at Pri dečkima could be described as traditional with a modern approach. "Influenced, but not the way my mother and grandmother cooked," said Mateo, adding that all the dishes presented at this dinner are on their regular menu.
Before the food and wines started, Franko Šimić from the Šimić family distillery in Požega presented brandies that whetted the appetite of guests from the world of media: Viljamovka, Šljivovica and Kajsija, as they call apricot brandy and Višnjevac liqueur. The Šimić family also grows fruit on their property, and their brandies and liqueurs are completely natural, produced using the latest German technology, and their top quality is evidenced by the numerous awards they have won in the country and abroad.
For starters, a hand-cut veal tartare was served on homemade bread, characterised by the fact that it does not have a lot of spices, as is done with classic tartare. In addition, Kutjevo Maximo brut, the first commercial sparkling wine from graševina, produced using the classic method, was poured into glasses. This matching was especially praised by sommelier Tomislav Jakopović, who was also among the guests.
Help in serving was provided by another dečko - the attraction of the evening, the robot waiter Keenon Dinerbot T8. Before getting down to business, the robot was programmed what to do and mapped the restaurant space with its advanced cameras and lasers to 'record' the table layout. "The longer it works and serves, the better the robot will adapt to the restaurant and guests thanks to advanced technology.
It scans the events on the route it passes, slows down if someone appears in front of it, intelligently avoids obstacles with a binocular vision plan. He quickly becomes a favourite of the guests, but also a colleague of the waiters who are not robots, because in addition to serving food and drinks, he quickly takes the empty plates back to the kitchen. It can carry about five kilograms of food on each tray, serve four tables at the same time, works 24 hours a day if needed, does not ask for salary or sick leave,' joked Tomislav Kovač, director of the Zagreb company Unitrg, which distributes them on the Croatian market.
After the robot completed the first task and announced the future, it was followed by a return to something traditional. From the Kutjevo winery, which has been operating continuously since 1232, a pleasant surprise followed - Graševina Vinkomir 2022 - with creamy polenta with cream and bacon. Matko Kovačić, representative of the Kutjevo winery, introduced the attendees to all the benefits of Graševina, which, according to him, is still an undervalued variety. This one is quite atypical, stylistically quite different from the popular Top Graševina. The grapes come from a vineyard in the elite location of Vinkomir, next to which a restaurant with a view of Kutjevo's Golden Valley will be opened in the spring, Kovačić announced.
Since in addition to big wineries, lesser-known ones are also promoted at these events, the organizers Renata Cisar and Mustafa Topčagić found a 'house wine' in Dečki - Dvoršak Rhine Riesling 2023 from the winery of the same name in Sveti Križ, not far from the Tuheljski spa in Zagorje. It was presented by Srećko Dvoršak, whose family is engaged in agriculture and cattle breeding, and soon they will open a winery where, in addition to Rhine Riesling, you will be able to taste their Muscat yellow and Graševina, which is also the wine of Pri dečkima. Nevertheless, for the presentation, they brought Rhine Riesling, which perfectly complemented the incredibly tasty combination, locally called Krumpir i čvarci.
Then we moved on to a slightly more complex dish - Lamb ragout with spittle and porcini mushrooms - accompanied by a wine with a more complex name - Blaufränkisch 2020, from the Trs winery from Ilok, aged for a year in oak barrels, which gives it a rich and long-lasting taste. To simplify, we are talking about the Germanized name of the blue frankfurter, whose autochthonousness is recognized by everyone in Central Europe, including us in Croatia. The wine has a deep dark ruby red colour, nuanced fruity aromas dominated by ripe berries with fine background notes of dark chocolate, as emphasized by Iva Slišković, representative of the Trs winery.
We also had the opportunity to taste their cold-pressed grape seed oil, which is used in gastronomy and cosmetics; it also has health benefits for heart patients, and is also rich in vitamin E. 1 deciliter of oil is obtained from 1 kilogram of grape seeds, so it is understandable why it is so appreciated among consumers.
The real treat was yet to follow – Aged pork belly baked under a baking sheet with honey – a dish that young chef Mateo is particularly proud of. He recently presented it on HTV along with New Year's food recommendations. And the best recommendation for the accompanying wine came from the Opus winery from Komarna, in the south of Dalmatia. Family member and their Zagreb representative Andrea Popić brought the 'divine nectar from the stone', Opus Bridge Plavac mali 2018, a wine that was created as a result of triple insolation of grapes with sun, sea and stone. The first Pošip was recently released from the Opus winery, and there are high expectations from the harvest of a very demanding and not so widespread Grk grape.
The regional representation of winemakers is rounded off with Istria and Muscat rose 2022 from the Matić winery from Baškoti near Višnjan. This autochthonous aromatic wine, produced by only six wineries in Istria, was an excellent choice with carrot cake with thyme cream and candied walnuts. The owner of the winery, Milenko Matić, grows as many as 12 wine varieties, among which Malvasia is the most dominant. His Muscat rose was inspired by wine connoisseur Marko Havaši, emphasizing that this wine means love, so it would be appropriate if it were on restaurant tables for the upcoming Valentine's Day. The very name of the wine reminds of red roses and delights with the colour of the melted petals, with a smell reminiscent of raspberries and strawberries.
As usual at previous events, the best combination of food and wine was chosen, and this time it was Kutjevo Graševina Vinkomir 2022 and creamy polenta with cream and bacon. With some more Šimić's "travel brandy", in a warm and cordial atmosphere, the 19th Wine by the Spoonful came to an end, whose organisers are already starting to prepare the 20th anniversary event, which will be followed by a series of good food, wine and a few more surprises.
Fama / Foto: Nikola Zoko