Benkovac Wine Tasting

Earlier this spring we had a pleasure to show our hospitality to several quite interesting guests from USA. Mr. Frank Dietrich of Blue Danube Wines, joined by his staff, wine writer Marcy Gordon and Zdravko and Marion Podolski of GoHvar blog all joined us at a very special little tasting in Benkovac.

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The tasting was held at a 15th century Benkovac castle – an impressive historic monument that was nicely restored and now houses a local museum. It is often used as a great presentation venue for various events.

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When the guests arrived, the food was also served. Just small bites but very tasty and quite authentic: escargot done the traditional way for the region…

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and prisnac.

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Lady in typical Bukovica outfit.

But the stars of the day were, of course, local wines! All the major wine makers showed up: Škaulj, Figurica, Masvin…

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Mr. Šime Škaulj from Nadin at his stand

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Figurica from Smilčić

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Almost all wines were organic and had the eco label which was a bit surprising but I am glad that the wine makers of the region are taking the right path after the war and neglected vineyards. Most of the wines were local maraština (white), merlot, plavac but also Masvin served their own Crljenak which was surprisingly good.

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One of more interesting wines was Asseria by small Bačić winery as it was a blend of several wines and also local maraska cherry brandy.

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The event was a great success and the best proof how a very unique settings can serve as a fabulous place for small and intimate events. The organisation was at a high level and all wines served proved that the quality is (finally) coming back to the region of Ravni Kotari. The region was once a major exporter of wines but, in the past 60-70 years has lost all the quality in favor of mass production… Badel, a major Croatian company for wine and liquor, made the tide turn with their Korlat vineyards and now is being followed by small local winemakers all over the region.

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The Benkovac tourist board with Bankovac Museum did a wonderful job in organizing everything!

So, what to say but “Živjeli!”

Explore more of Croatian food and wine with our Culinary Croatia.

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Secret Dalmatia cooks for homeless

We are lucky to have met dozens of great people in our line of work. Many amazing people are working with us with one goal: to provide great experiences for travelers. One of them is Lana Iljadica who is not only our dear friend and one of the best guides ever but also a person with love for everyone. She runs a project called O La La 366 – the goal is that volunteers team up any day they can and cook one meal for the people in need. You can find out more on their FB page (in Croatian): https://www.facebook.com/groups/123892347724030/?fref=ts

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So, as Mariana who is part of Secret Dalmatia does this whenever she can, we got the April 17th as “our” date. It is always easier when you have a professional managing everything and actually knowing what to do when cooking for 30 people so it was time for another great person we are blessed to know. Tatjana happily accepted our invitation and we were all meeting in front of a supermarket in Trogir on the 17th.

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At Tatjana’s

The shopping was quick as there were 5 of us and with a great list so next stop Tatjana’s Trogir home. Many will recognize it being featured in Adrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods Croatia but this is also a place where we have our, now famous, cooking class and special “behind the closed doors” experiences.

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And cutting and chopping and peeling…

Tatjana assigned the tasks and Mariana, Dubravka and Marija were quickly at their stations with aprons on.

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I have chosen an important task of documenting everything and cutting the bacon :)))

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It was an afternoon of hard work but also a lot of fun and VERY delicious food!

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Soon, the aromas and scent of some great dishes filled the air and nearby streets outside Tatjana’s 12th century courtyard. It was the time for tasting and packing.

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Banana bread muffins (with chocolate)

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The food for all 33 of the guests was ready by 6 PM and packed. There were three courses + salad prepared. All in unmistakable Tatjana’s creative way! A fiesta of tastes and colors. Anyone who has eaten there at least once will know what I mean 😉

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Starting packing

The dinner was served at 7:30 at the homeless shelter in Split. We did not go with Mariana, Dubravka and Tatiana as we had to go back home but seeing those happy faces was a very rewarding experience according to the girls! Happy to do the same at least one more time this year!

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The cooking team!

If there is anybody else who would like to help and “donate” a dinner, feel free to contact O La La 366 at their Facebook page!

Ruinart Champagne dinner at Pelegrini

We have been invited by chef Rudi for an evening of Ruinart champagnes paired with his (always) great dishes. Pelegrini is one of the top 3 restaurants in the Country and always an absolute pleasure to dine at so we could not refuse.

After a short intro by a local importer of Ruinart champagnes, we started with carpaccio of oysters and Angus beef with spices and rice chips.

Next dish was gazpacho with scampi and strawberies-an explosion of tastes masterfully blended together!


Everything so far was paired with Ruinart brut. Our next wine was a superb Ruinart Blanc de Blanc.

A dish that followed was scampi wrapped in smoked pečenica bacon on nori algae with banana gnochi.

Pork ears with potatoe purre and mustard followed. Perfectly balanced dish again!


We moved to Ruinart Rose next and the first dish with this wine was octopus (cooked and fried) on purre of beans.

Next was Dom Ruinart (2004). One of My favorite champagnes! Perfect in every way.


And it went perfectly well with veal shank with baked picant cheese iz mišine. Mango purre was a Superb addition!

Before dessert, we had a strawbery mousse with some sort of jello of olive oil and lemon juice. Pure perfection!

Dessert that followed was a bit of surprise. Very American. Oreo cookie tart with peanut butter and chocolate. Raspberry on top and raspberry coulis.

The dinner ended with their own version of traditional mađarica cake made of carob.


Simply put, Pelegrini did it again! Rudi never fails and always delivers exeptional experience. Ruinart champagnes just Made everything extra special!