by Valerio Baranović
Croatia is not a street food country, until a few years ago, ‘street’ food was limited to bakeries, but fortunately for all lovers of good snacks, that has changed.
Advent fairs and little houses now compete to attract as many gourmands as possible who are eager for something they haven’t tried before. It is no longer enough to cook a sausage in a cauldron and cover it with mustard.
This is how Adventura in Šibenik stands out with its increasingly better offer, and this year it has exceeded all expectations.
Through 13 little houses, visitors are taken on a journey through interesting local foods and spices and herbs from all over the world, the combinations of which will surprise you.
Even those who like something more traditional will not be disappointed, and Adventura was the first among similar events to jump into the zero waste policy, both by utilising every part of the food, through ecologically sustainable tableware, cutlery to cups made of reusable plastic.
As the slogan says, I armed myself only with a smile, a black pen for notes, a camera in my hand and went to all the houses in order to find something that I had never before seen, smelled, tasted, eaten….
Festina Lente: Pulled pork
Is there anything better than slow food served in a fast food way? Not really! So at the first little house, at the suggestion of the chef, I decided on the already legendary pulled pork. The meat was marinated for 24 hours in a mixture of ten spices, then roasted for 8 hours and shredded, which was certainly not difficult because it melts in your mouth.
Pulled pork at the ‘Festina Lente’ house is served in a brioche bun with homemade BBQ sauce, red and white cabbage with homemade cream and crunchy onions. Those who like textures will not be disappointed. The soft meat, the refreshing purple layer and the crispy onion give you something different with every bite, and everyone who eats it has a smile from ear to ear!
Roberto: Jota u pispalju
The little house named after the botanist Roberto de Visiani offers an autochthonous dish, that is, a combination of two autochthonous dishes combined in a very interesting way. It is said that when the wind blows, a plate of jota warms the body, and we can add that the smell of pispalj warms the soul. It’s about neglected heavy foods that come back to the fore with this creative street food.
In this hot reminder of my childhood, which my grandmother often prepared for me, there is cream of white beans, sweet sauerkraut (or greens) with sugar, cinnamon and cloves, homemade sausage stewed in garlic, pickled cabbage and sriracha, and the sauce is from mileram with red pepper and lemon zest.
I didn’t expect cumin to go perfectly with it, which they didn’t tell me because it’s a secret, but it’s hard not to recognise it even though it’s perfectly balanced with the other spices.
A je to: I tako (a je) to
If someone told me that the hilarious duo Pat and Mat got into cooking, and that their inspiration was Mexico, I wouldn’t believe it. Until I came to ‘A je to’, I asked what they recommended, and the answer was ‘I tako (a je) to’.
Ground beef, burrito mix of spices, tomatoes, salad, cheese sauce, grated cheese and siesta tortilla chips, they put it all together and spared no expense, this can easily be a meal for two people. They made sure that it was not, as they say, too Mexican, but they counted on low temperatures, so it is well seasoned, although those who are not used to such food, will not be slapped nor will there will be “fire” in their mouths.
Lola: Domaća kobasica Lola
Do you know what layers of smoke look like? No? Neither did I until I tried the Lola pork sausage dried on the smoke of the “secret” wood, in which the spices are also a secret, but I found out that there are bacon cubes inside and that almond shells are added on the last day.
It is served with homemade onion jam with homemade honey, fried onions, sauerkraut, cheddar cheese and mustard sauce. First it is cooked in a cauldron and then it goes on the grill. Another great dish perfect for the hungry!
Tri Piruna: Gulaš od divljači
It’s great that more and more top restaurants decide to present their creativity at Advent houses during winter. The ingenious ‘Tri Piruna’ delighted me with the dish, for which my first comment was ‘this is like what my grandmother used to make, but it’s even better’.
Venison, roe deer and wild boar are marinated in red wine, onions, garlic and undisclosed spices, then cooked and cooked and cooked some more and served with mini gnocchi, grated cheese and Sil-gochu, or chilli threads. I also saw the chef enjoying my delighted expression. He deserved it!
Fjaka Bar: Pecalice
Modern gastronomy needs to use every part of the food, and the Fjaka house takes special care of this with its pecalice. These are the edges that remain when meat is processed, they are covered with fat, and you know what they say, ‘fat is flavour’.
On the other hand, there are shallots, pan-seared sauerkraut, I liked the green pepper sauce with whiskey, Worcester sauce and onion jam. A real brunch!
Pa-kai: Bao ban s buncekom
If every house was a neighbourhood, Pa-kai would be ‘Little Asia’. I tried the steamed homemade bun, which is so soft that I’m almost sure it serenaded me with the first bite.
Purple onion with horseradish and mayonnaise, smoked buncek (ham hock), apple, celery and mustard seeds, and nori furikake, i.e. pieces of dried nori algae with white and black sesame, are a serious combination for a well-rounded dish.
If you know what umami is, you know what I mean. This is definitely not another attempt at Asian food in a Mediterranean way that I often see in Dalmatian restaurants.
Maron: Veliki burger od divljači
One of the houses that doesn’t change its proven star is Maron. Their big burger, which is really, really big, is made from deer and boar meat from Gorski Kotar. And then they take you to India with a mango curry sauce that is so well balanced, nothing jumps out, and it perfectly highlights the game that should be the star of the dish.
On the other side of these rich flavours, he ‘pushes vegetables’, which will make you not even realise that you are full, but of course, it’s Advent, you don’t look at calories!
The Grinch has decided to open a house on Adventura this year and, unlike the other houses, they are trying to drive away as many people as possible. Everything is green, from the pastries made by a baker from Tribunj to the beer.
I tried to find out what was inside, but I couldn’t. That is, but as the Grinch decided. They say that the meat is from a jackdaw that was run over near Unešić, deboned by his uncle, and Grandma Mraz ground it. I found out that the pancetta was from Miljevac, and he corrected us about one thing that I was sure about. Those aren’t pumpkin seeds, those are tanned flies!
Mamas & Papas: Istarska kobasica s topljenim raclette sirom
“Basic” sausages from Adventura were driven out by those like Istrian sausages with Raclette cheese. They are made from domestic pork from a small family butcher above Poreč, and is lightly seasoned with Istrian herbs.
It is served in a warm pastry, topped with melted Raclette Swiss cheese, on which they sprinkled čvarci from Slavonia’s champion Hrvoje Kralj, and for more texture, there are crispy onions, sweet onions and pickles.
They tell me it’s great with their traditional rum punch made of black tea, dark rum, lemon, orange and ginger. I checked, they are right!
Tonka: Fritule i palačinke
Fritule are a ‘slippery ground’, grandma’s are mostly the best, and the closest you can get at Adventura is at Tonka’s little house, which is known to everyone who has ever come to Parkić.
They would say that these are traditional fritule of generation X that you will not be able to stop eating, it is recommended that you sprinkle them only with sugar and let your luck grow with each one. Just like with their pancakes. Trust me!
Vesela kućica: Fritule
If the previous fritule were for generation X, these are definitely for millennials, generation y, z… Anyone who enjoys a sweet bomb with toppings, biscuits, candies and who wants an ‘Insta friendly’ dessert, this is the right place.
Rudolfova slatka kućica: Bubble waffles
We all know what classic waffles are, but these are much more fun – they’re spherical! This now popular form that originates from Macau and Hong Kong has spread around the world, so it is logical that it should also come to Adventura.
They will entertain the youngest, and it depends on them how colourful they will be. Nutella, chocolate, whipped cream, mousse, candies… Who could resist them!
by Valerio Baranović