Wednesday, February 26, 2014

fish market

Zagreb's Dolac Market has a great little fish section with friendly fishmongers and a decent variety of goodies. I'm not sure why I'm drawn to fish markets—perhaps it's the colours, patterns, and shapes of the fish, or the boisterousness of the fishmongers (which seems to be pretty much universal)— it's certainly not the smell.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

rakija, venison, pizza, and coffee

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!

the orange glow of streetlamps

art by night

During the the Long Night of the Museums in Zagreb, we followed a crowd of people on the street into a building which housed a wonderfully odd collection of contemporary art. Some of it was quite cool (I really, really like the ones posted above and below), but mostly I found photographing the viewers much more interesting than photographing the pieces themselves.

Regrettably, I did not get the names of the artists or the name of the museum— if anyone knows or has any ideas, please let me know!

Saturday, February 22, 2014


The insect collection at the Hrvatski prirodoslovni muzej, Zagreb's natural history museum.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


As I have mentioned several times in the past, when visiting a non-Muslim country, I get a little pork-crazy. The first night we were in Zagreb, we headed out to look for some of that other white meat, and found a nice little restaurant hidden in an alley. I have no idea where it was or what it was called, but they brewed their own beer and had a mean sausage. The beer was fantastic, and I wish I had remembered where the place was so we could have gone back.

I was delighted to discover that Zagreb is a city that offers sausages from stands on the street— one of the best things to keep that stomach silent when you are wandering about town. Really, what's better than a delicious sausage shoved into a cylindrical bread filled with mustard? You can also accompany this yummy treat with some hot spiced wine, which is a wonderful thing in winter.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Zagreb's Cathedral of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a great example of Gothic architecture. The first structure was completed in 1217, but underwent several reconstructions (due to a Tatar invasion and an earthquake) and additions before it became the beauty we see today. Some of the fortifications that were built to keep the Ottomans at bay still stand, as you can see in the stone tower below:

The detail above the entrance is simply exquisite, and had it not been for the freezing, damp February weather, I would have been tempted to sketch some of it— though lately it seems it takes a lot for me to get out a pencil and sketchbook. I'm not allowing myself a new book until I finish the one I have completely.