I live by many rules, too many some would say but one of them is play to your strengths. There are some things that I just was not born to do. Mathematics, baking, walking on uneven surfaces without difficulty and in a similar vein, walk in heels.
Of course though, there are things that I’d like to think I can do quite well quite easily. This list is not flattering but it is true, marinating, watching reality tv and/or cooking shows or reality cooking shows, putting together a travel itinerary, using headings.*
It’s a rule that I’d like all of my holiday destinations to adhere to as well, but alas, they don’t always. Croatia in summer though, adheres to my rule. We are getting along just fine.
Before we left for Croatia, a country visited by many of our friends before us, CMJ and I were told numerous times that it was ‘beautiful’ but that ‘the food wasn’t that great.’ So expecting heavy stews and substandard pizza we set off on an overnight ferry from Bari in Italy to Dubrovnik, I wasn’t looking forward to the fare about as much as I was already missing our pastas, light fluffy pizza bases in Naples and gelato every day. That’s right every day.
Arriving in Dubrovnik at the same time as about 4 large cruise ships meant that Dubrovnik was heaving on that particular day. Crowds followed guides holding up paddles and umbrellas and giving guided tours through walkie talkie devices. It was hot, crowded and we were in no mood to explore the old town, but to make time for lying on beaches in the afternoon, we would. The sacrifices I know.
Unable to muster the strength to tell a good restaurant from a bad one, I pulled out our Lonely Planet guide and flicked straight to “our pick” for Dubrovnik. The Lonely Planet’s restaurant picks have let me down before (I think mostly they get too excited about the publicity and then once they are listed either hike up the prices or skimp on the quality) so I was not hopeful. What’s more the restaurant was right on the dock in the middle of the old town of Dubrovnik, tourist and cruise ship HQ.
But we sat, drank our sparkling mineral water (as we do in Europe) and then were treated to what was still, 7 days later, one of our stand out meals Croatia. More importantly we were reminded of the joy of grilled squid and grilled seafood more generally.
We were, of course, on the coast.
It arrived, smothered in olive oil, lemon juices and perhaps a dash of oregano. Crunchy in parts and juicy and filled with flavour in others. It was perfect and provided the necessary energy for swimming in rocky city beaches with perfectly clear water. Croatia, well done on playing to your strengths which of course aren’t limited to grilling seafood, but that is one clear strength, put that on your list.
*I know, I don’t use them here, but trust me, they appear in lots of my other written work. See emails. One day I’ll be able to use them in tweets.
Antica Osteria Pisano
Piazzetta Crocelle ai Mannesi 1,
corner of Via Duomo & Spaccanapoli
Na Ponti bb, Dubrovnik 20000