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.


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.


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…


and prisnac.


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…

Mr. Šime Škaulj from Nadin at his stand


Figurica from Smilčić


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.


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.




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.


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

So, what to say but “Živjeli!”

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Aerodrom Vis

This past summer I spent quite a bit of time on Vis and what to do but to explore and enjoy this spectacular island. One of my favorite discoveries was Aerodrom. It is gostionica or some sort of inn but now that term is rarely used as it is now almost archaic. Now you have wine bars, lounge bars…all sort of fancy stuff as we are, of course, fancy and modern. But Aerodrom is fancy. In a retro, “lost in the 1930s” type a way. And I love it.

Outside seating at Aerodrom
Outside seating at Aerodrom

This summer they opened late and were only serving their plavac and vugava wines. Both great! One can also purchase wine at Aerodrom as it is also a wine cellar. They were promising me some food but did not happen this year. For next year, I do expect something interesting. Something traditionally from Vis but with a modern twist.

Interior - sort of a museum of wines
Interior – sort of a museum of wines

Interior is beautiful. Decorated again in the style of the 1930s, it keeps telling the story of once great wine making tradition of Vis island. Now, only few wine makers are left… Aerodrom is also a wine cellar but the wine making facilities are located in the closed part of this traditional building.

A glass of plavac
A glass of plavac

Aerodrom got it’s name after a nearby WW2 air field in Plisko poje that was used by the Allies. The nearby fields were leveled to become an airport for US and British flying fortresses in the final months of the war. Later, wine making returned but the signal posts are still there keeping the memory alive. Now, Aerodrom is a perfect place for an evening getaway from the peak season crowds of Vis and Komiza.

The hot summer night
The hot summer night

Chilled glass of vugava is not to be missed in the hot summer night…

Food and wine tours in Croatia

Restaurant Apolon, Stari Grad, Hvar Island

Recently, we have been invited to inspect Hotel Apolon in Stari Grad on Hvar Island. It was a pleasant surprise over a year ago when I first visited but, what intrigued me even more, was the restaurant that everyone was raving about. So, we used the opportunity to visit and taste some of their favorites.

Hotel restaurant Apolon, Stari Grad, Hvar
Hotel restaurant Apolon

There are several great hotel-restaurants in Croatia but not so many in Dalmatia which is a pity considering all the riches we have: from seafood to fruit, from herbs to meat. But, several attempts are already making a big difference. One of them is Apolon.

I have to admit that, when I first saw their menu, I was not impressed. Used to modern cuisine in better restaurants, their offer looks sort of boring with only typical classics you can find in, pretty much any tavern or regular seafood restaurant.

Apolon menu
Apolon menu

But I was seriously wrong…

The manager Rico explained their/his philosophy and he is spot on! Why reinventing something that is so superb? Dalmatian cuisine has it all and all it needs is a modern touch and someone creative to put it on the table. Of course, there are GREAT chefs all over the coast that are bringing that fresh air to our culinary scene.

We started with a bruschetta and every single dish was nothing short of superb! Not only in their taste but also in quite creative presentation by young chef Duje.

Apolon bruschetta
Apolon bruschetta
Cold seafood starter
Cold seafood starter
Squid stew
Squid stew
Deconstructed apple pie
Deconstructed apple pie

Some will immediately notice similarities with Grašo restaurant (in Split) menu. The chef spent some time cooking there but everything at Apolon is seriously better that at Grašo. Somehow feels fresh and modern while the tastes are superb! Everything is simply delicious and each one of the dishes that were brought out is worth coming back. Seafood, of course, is the main reason to come as it is very fresh. Most of the vegetables are grown in the restaurant garden or they buy them from organic producers on the island.

Chef Duje
Chef Duje and manager Rico

Needles to talk about the wine list as Apolon is on Hvar; famous for Tomić, Duboković, Plenković… and many other great wine producers.

Again, a VERY pleasant surprise and well worth stop on either your cruise or a getaway from Hvar town crowds. Stari Grad feels like stepping back in time. Thanks to Restaurant Apolon, not in culinary way.

Culinary Tours in Croatia