soberandhungry's Blog

we love wine, we love food and we love sharing


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Vis – Croatia – where to eat / best restaurant: Konoba Stončica

After a couple of nights in Split we embarked on our next adventure to Vis the farthest inhabited island off the Croatian mainland. The ferry took a couple of hours and as we entered the harbour we were both pretty chuffed that we had decided to visit. Vis is stunning.

The island itself is not huge with an area of 90.26 square kilometres but it felt like there was a lot to do and the size of the island makes it accessible for exploration! All around the edges of the island are small intimate beaches and our host had recommended a small sandy beach which stood out amongst the pebble beaches we had become accustomed to in Croatia. This adventure led us to discover Konoba Stončica which was our favorite find on the island.

We rented bicycles to get there and where feeling pretty parched as we manoeuvred our way down the side of a hill to lock up our bikes.  Only intending to stay for a drink our eyes were drawn to the food and we stayed for 3 hours! Here we discovered some delicious Croatian Rose that we later discovered was a highly rated brand, the best Octopus Salad we have ever had and Croatian’s can cook potatoes as well as my mum’s Sunday Roasties. Again, the fish came out on a silver plate and they only had the freshest in stock (some items on the menu were not available because they had not been caught) and again we feasted on the best seafood that the Dalmatian sea had to offer. The total bill came to 575.00kn (2 people). After the meal we enjoyed some snorkelling in the sea.

TripAdviosr’s no 1 restaurant at the time of publishing this post is Roki’s. They specialize in ‘Peka’. A Peka is a large metal baking dish with a bell-shaped dome lid. It is used to cook food in an open fireplace, with hot coals and embers placed on top of the dome for even, slow cooking. You need to book 3 hours in advance and we chose the lamb. All the vegetables where freshly plucked from their gardens and their wine is home-made. The restaurant is situated in the heart of Vis and the owner will arrange a car to pick you up. It is worth a visit if you have the time. The total bill came to 496.12kn (2 people)

Some other useful notes if you are off to Vis:  

  • Outdoor Cinema: for 25kn you can sit out under the stars and watch one of the latest blockbusters (in English with Croatian subtitles, need a total of 8 people for the film to show)
  • Rent a bike: to get to all the beaches
  • Rent a Scooter: to get to Komiža which is the other side of the island. Ride through all the vineyards that make up 20% of the arable land
  • War History: we did not find the time to do it, but Vis is island steeped in war history. As well as tours revealing Vis’s secrets, there is a World War Two US bomber at the bottom of the ocean if you are into Scuba Diving. One for our to do list next time.
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Split – Croatia – where to eat / best restaurant: Konoba Matejuška

Following on from our amazing holiday in Pula we quickly booked another holiday back to Croatia to satisfy our hunger for Dalmatian life! This time we planned to visit 3 new areas. Firstly we went to Split, the second-largest city in Croatia. Our apartment was in the old town a stone’s throw away from the Diocletian’s Palace (a Unesco World Heritage site). We had done our research ahead of the trip and knew which bars and restaurants we needed to frequent for our short stay ahead of travelling to Vis.

The number 1 restaurant on TripAdvisor, as well as our favourite, was Konoba Matejuška. Situated off a side street from the main Riva, this unassuming restaurant probably only seats around 20 people. We had emailed and called ahead to book to no avail. On our first day we walked to the restaurant to book ourselves in and found that there was only one table available during our stay late in the evening (they do not check their emails we were informed).

On our arrival we were greeted by a very friendly waiter and ordered the local wine (the wine is usually classed as first rate or second rate, if you go for first rate you are getting a top notch bottle). He then came out with a huge silver plate of fish. You select your fish from the plate and that is what they cook with the fish charged by weight! For our starter we had muscles in a white wine sauce and squid ink risotto. The muscles were cleaned really well and were huge – the biggest muscles I have ever seen and the squid ink risotto was exquisite. We chose a large Sea Bass and a mixed fish plate including Tuna and Shark (with a side salad to add some colour). Our waiter de-boned the white fish at the table which was charming and impressive. The total bill came to 1,109.90kn (for 4).

Another restaurant that is worth noting is Trattoria Bajamont. Although it is not rated in the top 50 restaurants on Trip Advisor (and has some mixed reviews), other bloggers rated it, as did we. The muscles did have a little crunch at times but the sauce they were in was amazing. As we were looking at the menu the waitress came out to cross out all the dishes that had been sold out and we were quick to secure a spaghetti and scampi (king prawns) and a spaghetti and mixed sea food dish. They were both substantial portions and we enjoyed sitting outside the restaurant on a rickety small street in the heart of the old town. The total bill came to 435kn (for 2).

Some other useful notes if you are off to Split: 

  • Bobis: within the Diocletian’s palace there is a  bakery chain called Bobis – great for a cheap light bite.
  • The Basement of the Diocletian’s Palace: For 40kn you can go under the Palace and walk around the impressive basements (also good for GOT fans I am informed)
  • Tour Ticket: you pay 10-20kn to get into the attractions within the center. Rather than paying individually the most cost efficient way is to by a muti-ticket for 45kn which will get you into the Cathedral, Treasury, Crypt, Bell Tower and Baptistery.
  • Rent a bike: Split is really bike-friendly, we would recommend renting a bike and cycling around ‘Marjan’ a hill on the peninsula of the city. It is covered in a dense Mediterranean pine forest and completely surrounded by the city and the sea, making it a unique sight.
  • Froggyland: a fun collection of stuffed frogs in human poses 35.00kn


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‘Seven’ Course Tasting Menu – Typing Room Bethnal Green

Stepping out of Bethnal Green station onto an unassuming crossroads, you would not know that a mini Old Street has formed on Paradise Row and an innovative modern restaurant serving European dishes has appeared in East London’s Town Hall.

My friend recommended visiting Paradise Row’s Mother’s Kelly which boasts 23 taps of beer with massive fridges full of bottled goodies, before heading to Pen and Patriot for a very posh cocktail and smoothly moving on to Typing Room for my anniversary dinner (Pen and Patriot is next to Typing Room). Although named after the building’s original typing room in which all communications from the mayoral, council and judicial system were scribbled, it is a far cry from what I imagine a ‘typing room’ would have looked like. With teal / grey walls, open seating and a bustling kitchen to our right, we sat through a ‘Seven’ Course Tasting Menu’ with accompanying wines.

I will let the pictures below do the talking…


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Ginger, Rum and Raisin Fritule

As well as wine tasting, we also attended an Istrain Cooking demonstration where we learnt how to make “fritule”. Fritule could be likened to mini donuts. They originate from the historic Croatian coastal region of Dalmatia. We were informed that every good Croation wife must know how to make fritule for special occasions. Here is my take on fritule, I need a bit more practise as a few of mine grew ‘tails’ and they should be neat little round balls – they still tasted good though! Ginger, Rum and Raisin Fritule

  • 1/8 cup Raisins
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger (approx 3 cubes)
  • 1 tbsp dark rum Rum
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 180g Set Yogurt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 12 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Sunflower oil (for frying)
  • Bowl of hot water
  • Icing sugar

Instructions:

  1. Soak the fruit in alcohol over night in a bowl
  2. Whisk the eggs and sugar in a bowl
  3. Add the vanilla extract and solid yogurt and mix
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix slowly with a metal spoon
  5. Add the fruit
  6. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan. Dip a teaspoon in a bowl of hot water. Take pieced of the dough and drop into the hot oil. Clean the spoon with the hot water each time.
  7. Fry each ball on all sides until golden brown.
  8. Drain the balls and place in a bowl, sprinkle with icing sugar

Original Recipe: Antonia’s fritule recipe (makes several for 15 people) Simple to make, and even easier to eat. Fritule are small balls of doughy-goodness, often dusted in powdered sugar as an extra treat. Ingredients:

  • Cranberries or Raisins – a good handful
  • 1 tbsp Rum or Grappa
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Lemon Peel (rind of a whole lemon)
  • 180g Set Yogurt
  • 12 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Sunflower oil (for frying)
  • Bowl of hot water
  • Icing sugar


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Gingerbread Men – Updated Recipe

I am obviously a member of the bake club at work! When my turn came to feed the hungry team I opted for Gingerbread Men. Everyone loves the nostalgia of a Gingerbread Man, and being from Grantham, where they have been producing Gingerbread since the early 1700’s, it seemed like the only option. This recipe makes 10-12 and is an update to my previous recipe.

Gingerbread2Ingredients

  • 350g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 125g butter (take it out of the fridge 15 mins before), plus extra for greesing
  • 175g light soft brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tbsp honey

 To decorate

  • Writing icing
  • Smarties

 Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (I have a new super hot oven, so set mine to 170C).
  2. Sift together the first four dry ingredients. Add the butter in cubes. Using your hands, crumble into the mix to produce breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  3. Lightly beat the egg and honey together, add to dry mix and mould until the mixture comes together into a shiney ball.
  4. Grease 2 x baking trays with butter.
  5. Roll the dough out to a 0.5cm thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them (important as they will grow).
  6. Bake for 8-9 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Move to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  7. When cooled decorate with the writing icing and Smarties.

You can find out more about Grantham Gingerbread here: http://granthamgingerbread.com/


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Istrian Wine Tasting in Pula (Croatia)

We have just come back from a wonderful holiday in Pula in Croatia. I had no preconceived notions of what to expect aside from some stunning views.  Our all inclusive holiday (whoop!) led us to the heart of Istria, the largest peninsula in Croatia, situated in the northern Adriatic. I can confirm the scenery is amazing, the weather was perfect, the coast is clean, the seawater is really clear (we enjoyed some Scuba Diving) AND the food and wine is top notch!!

Not one to shy away from the activities on offer at the hotel, I was front of the class for the wine tasting.

The geographical setting of Istria is certainly a big factor in their wine. During Roman domination Pula, which is very close to Italy, got the rank of a Roman colony, and the Romans bought with them Ampitheatres, Catholisism and grapes.

We tried three wines Vina Laguna Rose, Medea Malvazija Istarska and Medea Merlot.

IstrianWineTasting

Vina Laguna Rose 2013 12.0%

Some in the group would usually shy away from a Rose, but this was a refreshing summer wine that everyone enjoyed.

  • Description: Fruity, crisp and light.
  • Serve at 10 degrees.

Medea Malvazija Istarska 2014 13.5%

We were told not to drink Istrian wine from 2014 as the rain last year had drained away the sugars in the grapes. However, this young, straw yellow wine was very paletable!

  • Description: Flowery smell, apples, honey, fresh and expressed.
  • Serve at 10 degrees.

Medea Merlot 2013 13.5%

The Romans did much to spread the viticulture throughout the world. The final wine that we tasted was the favourite; the dense, ruby red Merlot (French grape) with good Croatian ‘Wine Tears’ (rather than legs as we usually describe it). It complimented the cheese from Istria (which was similar to a Chedder).

  • Description: Tannings, rich, forrest fruits, cloves, vanilla, dry and balanced.
  • Serve at 18-20 degrees, open 30 mins before serving.

If you have a chance to visit Pula, I would recommend it. We stayed at Park Plaza Histria Pula. Our lovely Guest and Entertainment Officer Antonia lead the wine tasting as well as cycling, Pilates, fitness, arts and crafts and cooking presentations to name but a few. We Scuba Dived with Orca: orcadiving.hr.


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Boozy Butter Icing

I have recently created some very successful cakes. It can only be put down to my new found love of boozy icing! It tastes superb.

Boozy Icing

Ingredients:

  • 170g unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp honey Jack / Jack Daniel’s

Incredibly easy – mix the above together and paste all over the cake! The above will be enough for 12 cupcakes or a 8inch cake (both inside and top). Enjoy!