Hiking the Secret Dalmatia way

Running the agency specializing in authentic experiences is always a pleasure but some days are even more pleasurable than the others! It is especially the case when I am taking some clients hiking! So, for the past few months I was in touch with the Frlekins of California who spend their summer on Prvić Island just off the coast of Vodice. They were interested in cooking class at Pelegrini and wine pairing lunch at Bibich. Since Kristi was a supporter of my blog since the beginning, I thought it would be a good thing to show more of Dalmatia’s hidden treasures.


Since we had few hours before the scheduled wine tour and lunch, I decided to stick to the hinterland of Vodice. The area is simply spectacular and, if we had better people running tourism in this area, the monuments and sights of Bribir and Ostrovica would have at least few small groups exploring at all times. But, better for us who enjoy silence and less crowded sights!

Mackov kamen

So we first went to the mysterious Ostrovica – once a famous strategic fortress, today a sleepy hamlet where life slowly returns… We were climbing the pyramid shaped hill to the unique “monument” in Croatia – a carved rock on top of a steep hill. Known also as “Mačkov kamen” by locals, the monument was most likely a sacred place of some ancient Illyrian cult. As original inhabitants of this area, Illyrians and everything about them is still shrouded in mystery since they had not written anything… Everything we know about them comes from the Romans who conquered the Illyrian tribes after nearly 200 years of wars.

As one of my favorite places in Dalmatia, this rock deserves a better article of it’s own!
Same goes for another sight – Bribirska glavica!

Roman monuments...

The “Croatian Troy” as it is often called for numerous layers of all civilizations that lived and still live in this area, Bribirska glavica is a very impressive site even for those who have a very little interest in history. The panorama of a valley of Bribir and Ostrovica, plants and a vas number of monuments will make you feel like stepping back in time! However, the strong sun on Summer days or strong winds in the winter, bring you back fast!
But there are those who love summer heat!

Zelembac lizzard - protected!

As the noon approached we made a quick stop to Skradin and back to Plastovo to Bibic winery.
Alen was already there waiting for us. And, as usual, we had no idea what will be served. Ok, I know how they work but Kristi and Gabe, John and Susan had no idea what was coming 🙂
John and Susan used to own a vineyard in Sonoma so, as winemakers, they were quite interested to see how it is done in Croatia.

At the table

I will not go in describing the menu in detail as all EIGHT courses were pieces of art! Perfectly paired with excellent Bibich wines: a pure masterpiece for all senses!
I have to repeat once again, and I stand firmly behind my words, Vesna Bibich is by far the most amazing chef in the country! Yeah, yeah, all of us (ok, not me) can cook something interesting but this is light years beyond that!

Veal on green pea puree under the foam of Parmesan cheese!

It simply does not do justice to talk about this food as the tastes were unbelievable! The whole idea of Bibich menu is to play with various combinations of authentic tastes (which are outstanding!)

The lunch ended with us touring the cellar and enjoying a new batch of Decanter award winning Ambra with some sweet chocolate tastes. The maraschino/chocolate combination is simply PERFECT!

Chocolate ending

The time flies when you are in a pleasant company and all four of my new friends are definitely great and interesting people so the departure came fairly quickly. I was glad that they enjoyed hiking and exploring Dalmatian hinterland as well as a fabulous wine pairing lunch at (always) great Bibich wine cellar.

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  1. Dear Alan, our day with you was so amazing–we still can’t believe we got to experience the spectacular ancient sites of Ostrovica and Bribirska Glavica in the morning, and the most incredible contemporary cuisine of our lives in the afternoon. We live in French Laundry country and weren’t a bit surprised to learn that Thomas Keller’s partner spent several days at Bibic eating and drinking with Alen and Vesna recently. John and Susan, Gabe and I will never forget that day, that meal and the incredible wines of Bibic!

  2. Also I must add: thank you so much for setting up our terrific Culinary Croatia cooking experience with Chef Rudi at Pelegrini in Sibenik!!! From hot-out-of- the-oven chocolate croissants to shopping for lunch ingredients at the open air market to hands on preparation of bread, truffle risotto and filet mignon with fava bean pesto! Incredible! Rudi is not only an exceptionally talented chef, he is also a born instructor and an absolute delight to spend the day with.

  3. Thank you Kristi! It was great meeting you in person and spending the day with you! (we should repeat this :))

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