I wasn't in Croatia long enough to sample a lot of its cuisine, but I did have a lovely meal at a little restaurant somewhere on the way to the Natural History Museum. I can't remember where I had read about the national drink, a liquor called rakija (not to be confused with Turkish rakı), but I was delighted to discover it on the menu in a wide variety of flavours. Rakija can be distilled from just about any kind of fermented fruit or herbs, but I chose pear (which was out of this world), while Pedro chose a soothing herbal blend.
Since we were in our typical away-in-a-land-of-pork mode, we selected a pork sausage appetizer, which turned out to taste just like a spicy chouriço— this made us a little homesick for Portugal.
The main dish had to be the venison stew that was offered, as we have yet to find any venison in Turkey— I don't know if deer is even eaten here, but I'm sure there has to be someone eating it in this large, varied country. The stew was ridiculously good and hearty, the perfect remedy for a chilled body, plus it came with pillowy gnocchi— yes, gnocchi.
I must admit that I had forgotten about Croatia's proximity to Italy, and it never occurred to me that there would be any culinary crossovers, but there was plenty of evidence of such a cultural blending— even though Italian eateries are a global phenomenon. This is why I did not feel guilty scarfing down a slice of pizza for lunch one day.
And the coffee, I wondered— would there be traces of the Ottoman's presence in a Croatian cup of joe, or would it lean more towards Italy?
It was espresso and fancy things done to espresso; smooth, and not as tough as the Portuguese version. I can easily drink a litre of filtered coffee on a school day, but can only stomach about two Portuguese espressos— several hours apart. But you know what they say about spoonfuls of sugar...
they help the café go down— especially when in the form of a sensuous gelato or cake!