Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Montenegro and Croatia: Eating the Adriatic

Alright, time for what you've all been waiting to read about: the food! ERMG the food! Warning: if you don't love seafood, this is not the post for you. But if you do, read on friends and prepare to die of jealousy/experience an insatiable urge to buy a flight the Dalmatian Coast now now.

I think we'll do this photo-slideshow style, with a brief introductory note. I was far more impressed by the food in Budva, Montenegro, than that in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Like many tourist destinations, I felt like Dubrovnik's food was solidly ok but a bit overpriced (relative to the region of course). If, like almost everyone in Dubrovnik, I was on my honeymoon and happily spending all the dollars (or kuna, as it were), then I think the fancy food would be excellent. But for a moderately-spending traveler it was good but not great. Montenegro, on the other hand, was GREAT. Maybe this was just the luck of where we ate. I don't know. But I do know that I will never forget a few of the following meals! 

Our first night in Montenegro, tripadvisor dos not steer us wrong. We went to Konoba Knez, a tiny one-man-show locates under an ancient arch in the old city. It's tricky to find, but just ask directions at any restaurant and they'll help you out. 

Though we were presented with menus, we quickly learned that this is the kind of place that the owner/chef/waiter makes you what he wants to make you, and you enjoy it. The meal began (and ended) with surprise shots of grappa -- oof! First up was fresh bread and a massive platter of mussels with a garlicy herby sauce.

After that (pictures at the beginning of this post), was an even more massive platter of the best cooked seafood I've ever eaten. Shrimp, grilled octopus and calamari, and tender whitefish, on a bed of lettuce with cooked Swiss chard and boiled potatoes. Memories of this dish will haunt me forever. 

It was about $35 US per person, including local wine and a cookie/fruit platter for dessert. (No but for reals, my mouth is watering right now as I blog on the bus just remembering that octopus and calamari.)

And speaking of octopus and calamari, on to my next favorite meal! You may recall that on our first full day in Budva we took a taxi to a beautiful beach called Sveti Stefan. There weren't many food options open, so we got cappuccinos and later lunch at my new favorite restaurant: Olive. 

I ordered the seafood salad, and for just 7.5 euro experienced the most delicious and refreshing assortment of squid, octopus, and salmon, all perfectly cooked (no rubber garden hoses here!), dressed with olive oil and dill and served on top of tiny potatoes and avocado. SWOON.

The next night: more calamari! (We tried to have at least one calamari experience per day). Sadly I can't remember the name of this restaurant, but, ooh hello beautiful. 

Next, on to Croatia! As I mentioned, I was a little less wowed by the food of Dubrovnik, but certain dishes deserve a shout-out. 

One of the best things I ate in Dubrovnik wasn't seafood at all, but the Bosnian meat burek at Taj Mahal (which I've already blogged about, but will happily feature again).

And the spinach burek of course. This you can get at almost any bakery, and I highly recommend bringing it with you to eat on the beach after a swim. The heat of the sun will make the cheese meatier and the pastry flakier/butterier! (Burek must just mean pastry filled with something and rolled up? Unclear.)

On our last night in Dubrovnik we wanted to go out with a bang. Unfortunately the restaurant we chose took forever (for reals, over an hour...I'm not really into restaurant shaming, but fyi Lajk is not as good as tripadvisor says it is). We didn't eat until after 10, so basically we were starving and anything would have been good. But on the bright side, the squid ink pasta was really flavorful and interesting. You know how people talk about the "umami" taste? That's what this tasted like. The shrimp and calamari in it were ok, but in an interesting inverse of the usual, the pasta itself was the best part.

And that, my friends, is that. To recap: calamari, octopus, Konoba Knez, Olive Restaurant, eating all the things all the time. TAKE ME BAAAACCCCKKKK.