A way to this woman’s heart is totally

Through her stomach.

Wine. Croatian wine. Not two words you’d put together readily I guess, but it’s a thriving industry, based on the stacks of it available in the shops and the wine shops selling it. Bottles seem to be about the 30-40kuna level, e.g. an embarrassing £3.75 to £4 for an actually drinkable bottle that doesn’t leave you with a pounding sulphite headache. There was a wine shop that opened about 11am and appeared to have once been someone’s front room, now converted into a bar, with 3 metal ‘still’ type contraptions at the back that held the home-made stuff – presumably white, red and rose rocket fuel. Occasionally you’d see someone in there with the owner early doors, mind you, there’d be people with beers at 11am sitting outside cafes so why it should seem a bit odd to be doing it indoors a

Alongside wine, the other big seller is lavender, in all forms, as a lil’ ol’ lady sachet (as in something you’d put in your chest of drawers, not down yer lady knicker drawers), to a liqueur, to ice cream, to any ol’ gubbins as long as it could be contained in something suitably garishly purple, that was also, ideally flammable. I didn’t try any of the options, except in a lil’ lip balm courtesy of Hag Made beauty products store, without a hag in sight except yours truly.

There is a gorgeous delicatessen Za Pod Zub nearby that sells a myriad of items, mainly in liquid form, and all the things that make you think ‘dammit, should have not been so tight and wish I’d paid to put my bag in the hold.

So maybe a bit more than the vinegar….

From barrel aged vinegar (ok, I bought one of them as it was 100ml and was ready to sacrifice a sunscreen if I got questioned with my placky bag of bottles), to locally crafted gins, to olive oils, and beers, then there was the cheeses, the meats, sausage, nuts, seeds, and crisps, as well as the flavored salts, the fish, the ice cream, coffee. You name it, you could have it, and then display / serve it up on local olive wood boards alongside hand-made ceramic bowls, and then when you were seated, you’d wash up with a local tea towel. It was a dangerous place to visit for a magpie like me. The carry-on bag thing did keep me in check, which was a pisser as my bag ended up in the hold at Split airport, due to ‘people having bags’…. Argh!

Next on the top (food and beverage) ten things to love about Starigrad is the ice cream….to die for, ok, I exaggerate, but good enough to leave your sunglasses behind for. My lunchtime routine became ‘make salad’, ‘eat salad’ = good, stroll down to town = exercise = thumbs up, go to Specials, buy ice cream (a cone, obvs, with 2 flavours, he’ll yeah) = even better. Pootle back feeling sated and ready to crack on with work. What’s way to start an afternoon. Spoilt for choice, however am now thinking I’d like to visit ice cream parlour ‘Bolic‘which is in anotherStarigrad, to see if it was as nuts as all that.

That’s strawberry on top, surely that counts as one of my 5 a day?

My one disappointment of a meal was my last night’s, which was at Heritage Villa Apollon. A stunning building that also housed a B&B. Of course, it pissed with rain on the last night, and threats of it blowing a hoolie meant everyone had ducked in to the nearest eatery as early as possible, so I was stuffed for a table till 8.30 (practically bedtime). Wandering back, it had stopped raining but was a bit parky, and they had seats but only outside. Foof. Should have given up at that point, but I persisted. I ordered the cheeseboard starter and the squid ink risotto. The cheeseboard was stunning, and big enough for two. It came with bread, olives, a jam, and enough cheese to set up as a rival to Za Pod Zub.

Cheeseboard heavenliness

I had to smuggle bits out in my bag (I say, ‘I had to’, but in reality I thought ‘great, that’s breakfast on the boat sorted tomorrow ‘). Consequently I was Harry von Stuffers. Thankfully a 45min delay for my main meant I had a bit of room it when it finally arrived. However this space was soon gone as the over-salted, over cooked, very starchy risotto hit my gut like a Guinness turd hitting the bowl after a night on the lash. Thud….The next thud was the disappointment leeching from my body. I managed about 3 mouthfuls or so it looked like,the bowl it came in appeared to be Starigrad’s answer to The Magic Porridge Pot, nothing was making it diminish any further, except to throw it in the harbour. I was worried if I laid down I’d never get up again it had been so heavy.

Luckily my bed proved to be uncomfortably helpful that night in ensuring I was up by 5am for the ferry, however I think the starchy O’D of risotto ensured I zonked straight out on the car ferry, only awakening 10mins before we docked, all disoriented and wondering if I’d drooled, snored, or both.

Hvar won my heart, it was a gently low key introduction to Croatia but a warm and fuzzy one, so next year I’m trying Dubrovnik on for size, we’ll see if they have what it takes.

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